Monday, August 27, 2018

Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Title: Summer Bird Blue
Author: Akemi Dawn Bowman
Publisher: Simon Schuster
Publication date: September 11, 2018
Pages: 368
Source/format: e-ARC//Publisher

Rating: ☆☆☆☆1/2

Synopsis (from

Rumi Seto spends a lot of time worrying she doesn’t have the answers to everything. What to eat, where to go, whom to love. But there is one thing she is absolutely sure of—she wants to spend the rest of her life writing music with her younger sister, Lea.

Then Lea dies in a car accident, and her mother sends her away to live with her aunt in Hawaii while she deals with her own grief. Now thousands of miles from home, Rumi struggles to navigate the loss of her sister, being abandoned by her mother, and the absence of music in her life. With the help of the “boys next door”—a teenage surfer named Kai, who smiles too much and doesn’t take anything seriously, and an eighty-year-old named George Watanabe, who succumbed to his own grief years ago—Rumi attempts to find her way back to her music, to write the song she and Lea never had the chance to finish.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

"Music is what makes up the single soul we share. I don’t think I’ll ever find another person in the entire world who understands me the way Lea does. We’re the only two people in the universe who speak our language."

The first chapter introduces readers to Rumi Seto, Lea and their mother before the accident. Rumi and Lea are inseparable and they knew each other so well. They understood each other when others didn't. Lea's death impacted the family. Rumi felt alone and her mother started to abandon her even though her Aunt Ani keeps reminding Rumi's mother that she needs to remember that she still has another daughter. Because Rumi's mother was so distant, Rumi ended up living with her aunt in Hawaii.

Rumi once promised Lea three wishes to make up one Christmas. Two wishes were fulfilled and one was not yet. Rumi knew that she had to finish "Summer Bird Blue." Both sisters loved music and Rumi feels like she needs to finish the song in order to fulfill the wish for Lea. They were each other's best friend. Aunty Ani hopes that music will help Rumi heal but Rumi is having a hard time moving on.

Kai Yamada and Gareth befriend Rumi and when Rumi moves to Hawaii. Kai is interested in Rumi but Rumi turns down his advances. After all, she is all temporary living in Hawaii so her mother can mourn. However, Rumi does give in to at least become friends with Kai. Rumi also befriends Hannah and Jerrod. While Rumi struggles to move on after her sister passes, Kai is struggling to figure out what he wants to do with his life. His father wants Kai to join the navy but Kai wants to go to college. Rumi doesn't pay attention to Kai until he sings. She is actually entranced by his singing probably because music is so important in her life. Lately she has been distancing herself from music because it reminds her too much of Lea.

After reading Starfish, I found Akemi Dawn Bowman's writing honest and real. She writes about some tough topics that teens go through and she paints a journey of growth of how a character can overcome their fears and live their lives to the fullest. Summer Bird Blue tackles grief of the loss of Rumi's sister, Lea, and the feeling of abandonment of parents who doesn't say goodbye. I feel a lot of my students can relate to this book with a loss of an immediate family member or feeling like they have a disconnect with their parents.

Rumi's mother sends Rumi to live with her aunt in Hawaii away from Rumi's home in Washington. When Rumi was younger, her father left the family a little bit after Lea was born, never to return back to see his family. Rumi finds solace spending time with her next door neighbor, Mr. Wantanabe. He keeps Rumi balanced between her grieving for Lea and her trying to fit in with her peers. I see him as a father figure that Rumi never had. She asks him for advice and pours her soul when playing his piano and ukulele. They also relate to losing someone in their life that they are close to. Rumi lost her sister and Mr. Wantanabe lost his wife.

Summer Bird Blue is split into three sections: Summer, Bird and Blue which represent different stages in Rumi's mourning. Throughout the book, there are memory flashbacks with Lea makes an appearance during times when Rumi is trying live her life and she is constantly reminded of Lea based on what she sees, does, hear, etc.

By the end of the novel, Rumi learns how to cope with Lea's death and she even mentions how she misses her mother. Rumi learns to open her heart to live her life without worrying that she will be heartbroken. Kai is Rumi's rock and he is helping her heal. He stands by her side when she needs him the most.

Bowman discusses mental health within the novel in a way where asking for help isn't shameful. Each person copes differently when they lose someone dear to them. Some might turn to music, some to food and some might check themselves into a clinic. As Aunty Ani mentions, "Grief is a monster--not everyone gets out alive, and those who do might only survive in pieces. But it's a monster that can be conquered, with time." 

Rumi needs friends and that's what she finds when she moves to Hawaii. Even though she is not romantically interested in Kai, she learns more about herself and identifies as asexual. This is my first novel that I read that has an asexual character and I hope it's not my last. Also, this novel has a highly diverse cast of characters.

Summer Bird Blue is a compelling yet an emotionally well written novel about grief, loss, forgiveness, acceptance, compassion and finding oneself. Summer Bird Blue is just as beautiful as Bowman's debut novel, Starfish. I highly recommend this book.

Monday, August 20, 2018

To All The Boy's I've Loved Before Film Review

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I cried and laughed during this film adaptation of To All The Boy's I've Loved Before. I watched it three times this weekend. Not only is the film well casted but it captures the essence of the book with the same title. To All The Boy's I've Loved Before, the novel, is one of my favorite books of all time. Actually, I love the whole trilogy. Jenny Han wrote a book that I can re-read again and again and I will never get sick of it. I see myself in Lara Jean Song Covey and can relate to her love for baking, love for vintage things, love for writing letters and the fact that she has great taste in style. If you haven't noticed the ice blue pops of color throughout the film, you must know that I am all for it! I have to say that everything in the film is aesthetically pleasing.

Viewers follow Lara Jean on a path of finding herself. When she starts "dating" Peter Kavinsky, her father hasn't seen her this happy for a long time. This happiness reminds him of Lara Jean's mom when she was alive. Dr. Covey wants his daughter to be happy. Even Lara Jean's friend, Chris, notices that Lara Jean is happier with Peter.

Peter challenges Lara Jean to step outside of her comfort zone. Although a hot tub video popped up, Lara Jean musters the courage to stand up for herself. Peter also stands up for her as well. There is one scene at the Corner Cafe where Lara Jean admits that she is scared to be in a relationship and that's why she doesn't have a boyfriend. Lara Jean is scared that if she lets people in, she will lose them...just like her mother. I feel that this scene is very important and I am glad it was in the film.

The relationship between Dr. Covey and his daughters shows a very positive and supportive family dynamic. Although there may be same squabbles between the Song Covey sisters, the sisterly love between Margot, Lara Jean and Kitty is strong. This romantic comedy is the perfect combination of humor, mostly through Kitty, to endearing love notes and the connection that Lara Jean and Peter have.

To All the Boys I've Loved Before shows how everyone doesn't have the perfect family with two parents and a couple of kids living in a nice house with happy lives. Lara Jean lost her mother at a young age and Peter's father walked about on his family and is remarried and has another family. A lot of people can relate to both family dynamics.

This is one of the very few Asian led films I've seen in a long time and I love that there is Asian representation in a young adult book to film adaptation. Hollywood has a long history of whitewashing and I am glad to see Asian actresses play the Song Covey sisters. Representation matters! Also, who noticed Jenny Han's cameo in the film? The film adaptation is well casted and the soundtrack is perfect!

Can I say that having JAM at the end of the film is the perfect segway into a sequel? Great call for including that scene at the end of the film. I would love to see P.S. I Still Love You turn into a film adaptation! If you haven't read the To All the Boys I've Loved Before trilogy, please read them! Also, please root for more films!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Top Ten Favorite Book Blogs/Bookish Websites

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and the meme moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. This week's Top Ten Tuesday asks bloggers to list their top ten favorite book blogs/bookish websites. The following websites are in no particular order. 

1. The Perpetual Page Turner is a blog that I have been following for at least 5 years. Jamie is amazing and I always look forward to her posts. Her blog is mainly a lifestyle blog now but there are still a good amount of book related posts even after she had her daughter. She is super nice too. I got to meet Jamie a few times at BEA before. Jamie also used to host the The Broke and Bookish Secret Santa annually and also of course is one of the founders of The Broke and the Bookish.

2. Goodreads is the Facebook for book lovers. Anything you possible need to know about a certain title is listed on Goodreads. You can befriend others, join book clubs, enter giveaways, participate in group forum threads, and organize all your book that you own or plan to read. There are multiple ways to organize your books which is great. Also, you can post reviews, rate books and check ebook deals.

3. So Obsessed With started as a book blog but is now more of a lifestyle blog. I love how Hannah includes posts about how she uses traveler's notebooks and happy planners. She has great organizational posts including one about how to maximize the usage of Goodreads.

4. Alexa Loves Books is one of the blogs I have been following since I got into book blogging. Not only do I love all of her posts but she has some fun and unique features that she co-hosts with Rachel from Hello, Chelly. There are ones about trips that she goes on with Rachel, Table for Two foodie reviews and Friends with ARCs. Occasionally her husband will post some reviews as well.

5. Hello, Chelly is run by Rachel one of my favorite features that she has called Book Bags that incorporates her love for handbags and book covers. Of course, as I mentioned above, I enjoy the co-feaures she does with Alexa which includes Table for Two and Friends with ARCs.

6. Miss Print is a blog that I frequently check for reviews in general. I trust Emma's insight about most books that she reads. I often like to read Miss Print's Week in Review where Emma shares all the posts of the week and talks about what has been going on in her life for that week. I have a shelf on Goodreads that I labeled as Emma Reads. Based on Emma's reviews, I will add some books that I am unsure about or haven't heard about until I read Emma's review.

7. Overdrive is an excellent website for people who love to read e-books and audiobooks. Overdrive is connected to many library networks and you can request ebooks to read for free! I love being able to browse the catalog to see what is available right away but you can always request a title and Overdrive will notify when the ebook or audiobook is ready to download by e-mail. All you need is a library card to access titles on Overdrive.

8. Edelweiss is not only a website to request e-ARCS but it's also a great website to access publishers' seasonal title catalogs. I love to read up more information about each title and each title's marketing plans. I also review books on Edelweiss as well.

9. The Book Addict's Guide is a book blog run by Brittany and she is also the creator of Novelly Yours candles. I enjoy reading Brittany's reviews and Brittany is one of the co-hosts of On The Same Page Secret Sister project which I participated in for a few rounds. I actually met quite a lot of bookish people through #OTSPSecretSister.

10. So...I couldn't figure which blogger or website to include as my final one. There are just too many to choose from.

What are some of your favorite blogs or bookish websites to visit?

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Harry Potter Conventions in 2019

So it's that time of year where I am going to chat about Harry Potter conventions. We are about one year out until MISTI-Con 2019! And there will be two LeakyCons next year! I am not one for LeakyCon usually but because they are returning to Boston after ten years, I am considering attending LeakyCon. MISTI-Con will take place from July 18-21, 2019 in Tarrytown, NY. LeakyCon 9 ¾ will take place August 9-11, 2019 in Dallas, TX at Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention and the LeakyCon10 will take place October 11-13, 2019 at the Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center in Boston, MA. Leviosa is going to be next year too but this time in Los Angeles at the Loews Hollywood Hotel instead of Las Vegas. Leviosa 2019 will take place June 27-28, 2019. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can attend Leviosa 2019 because financially I can’t afford three Harry Potter cons in one year. Also, Boston and Tarrytown are more doable since I live about 20-30 minutes away from Boston.

MISTI-Con is usually in Laconia, NH at the Margate but next year, it will relocate to a Doubletree in Tarrytown, NH. Not only is the new location near Sleepy Hollow but the new location will be able to accommodate more people. Only down side that it won't be completely Muggle free. Also, instead of having the convention in May, the convention will be held in July. I assume it’s because kids are still in school in May and a good amount of attendees work in higher education. I am excited to reunite with my HP friends and I am looking forward to meeting new people. Right now, early registration, VIP registration and guided passes are available. If you register now, you will be able to get a group code in an e-mail to get first dibs on rooms. Literally on the first day when the rooms were available for people who already registered, I booked a room for four nights.

MISTI-Con 2017

Harry Potter conventions provide a different way to experience the magic of Harry Potter. The experience is different from reading the books, watching the films, participating in Quidditch or even attending the Wizarding of Harry Potter theme parks. Harry Potter cons open doors to long lasting friendships. You will never feel out of place. You will never feel lonely. You will always be in your element connecting with others who also share the same love for Harry Potter. No matter if you have other interests, you will at least bond over the wonderful magical world of Harry Potter. Everyone is super welcoming at Harry Potter conventions. I am a very introverted person and it’s usually very hard for me to meet people. However, at Harry Potter cons, I flourish. It’s very easy to strike a conversation with people about something you love so much. Harry Potter conventions will provide entertainment, fantastic programming, interactive workshops and of course as I said before, those long lasting friendships. A Harry Potter con is a family reunion and an avenue to meet new people. You will always find home and your family within Harry Potter.

If you want to read more information about previous Harry Potter conventions I’ve attended in the past, check out these posts. Unfortunately, I attended HPEF's Ascendio 2012 and MISTI-Con 2013 before I decided to blog about conventions.


Day 1 and Day 2 Recap
Day 3 and Day 4 Recap


Day 1: The Beginning
Day 2 Recap
Day 3 Recap
Day 4 and Day 5 Recap


Day 1 Recap
Day 2 Recap
Day 3 Recap
Day 4 and Day 5 Recap

Also, if you plan on attending any of the mentioned Harry Potter conventions, please let me know. I would love to meet up if you do plan to attend MISTI-Con 2019 and LeakyCon 10.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Aladdin at the Boston Opera House Recap

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I was fortunate to see Aladdin on Friday, July 20th. Not only was the musical at the gorgeous Boston Opera House, but my fiancé, my two friends and I had amazing seats! We sat in the front row of the dress circle and I highly recommend dress circle seats over orchestra seats. Not only do you have a fantastic view of the stage but dress circle seats are probably some of the best seats I've ever had. It's probably due to the fact that the front row has more leg room and no one in front of you to obstruct your view.

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With its magical lamp and enchanted carpet, Aladdin took musicals to a whole new level. Of course, the Genie stole the show! Michael James Fox was phenomenal! Just enough comedy to make the audience laugh but he really carried out the show. I loved how he starts off the show with pulling out Red Sox hat from his pocket instead of the magical lamp.

The ensemble kicked ass with the wonderful choreography and the constant costume changes. The special effects were in your face in a good way from sparklers to flowing streamers. It brought the show into a more animated experience. Not only were classic songs sung but there are new numbers too. Because the show couldn't have animals on set, Iago was still Jafar's right hand man to handle all the dirty deeds and also as a laughing companion. Abu was replaced by three friends named Kassim, Babkak and Omar. But Abu's photo did show up on a sign! I was a little sad that Rajah wasn't seen on stage. Three handmaidens replaced Rajah as Jasmine's companions. The creepy cave voice was perfect for the Cave of Wonders. it added just the right amount of mysteriousness. Although some of the details from the beloved animated film was omitted, the musical followed the main premise of the storyline. However, I felt the end was rushed a bit with Jafar's wishes.

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Welcome to Agrabah! Aladdin is colorful, splendid and sensational! It's a musical for all ages and it's probably the best musical I've seen live. I highly recommend it seeing it at least once if not more. Join Genie, Aladdin and Jasmine for a ride of a lifetime.