Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books I Read In 2019

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 books that they reads in 2019. I have to say 2019 had a lot of wonderful reads. I did not include some of my re-reads in the mix. Although I love To All the Boys I Loved Before trilogy and the Little Elliot books, I wanted other books to shine for my favorite reads of the year. I couldn't limit myself to ten books. I also decided to categorize my books by genre/format. The following titles are in no particular order. 

Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson
Frankly in Love by David Yoon

The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee
An Affair of Poisons by Addie Thorley

Finale by Stephanie Garber, 3rd and last installment in the Caraval series.

Killing November by Adriana Mather

The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker
In Real Life by Cory Doctorow
The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell

AUDIO BOOKS (love the narrators)
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander - Eddie Redmayne narrates this audio book and he is phenomenal, especially since he is Newt in the film adaptation. Just like in the films, he makes the character! No one else could have been casted as Newt overall.

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan - I loved the narrator for this audio book. She definitely kept me entertained. 

What are your favorite books that you've read this year?

Friday, December 20, 2019

In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang

Title: In Real Life
Author: Cory Doctorow
Illustrator: Jen Wang
Publisher: First Second
Publication date: October 14, 2014
Pages: 175
Source/format: Paperback//Library

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

Anda loves Coarsegold Online, the massively-multiplayer role-playing game where she spends most of her free time. It's a place where she can be a leader, a fighter, a hero. It's a place where she can meet people from all over the world, and make friends.

But things become a lot more complicated when Anda befriends a gold farmer--a poor Chinese kid whose avatar in the game illegally collects valuable objects and then sells them to players from developed countries with money to burn. This behavior is strictly against the rules in Coarsegold, but Anda soon comes to realize that questions of right and wrong are a lot less straightforward when a real person's real livelihood is at stake.

From acclaimed teen author (Little Brother, For the Win) and Boing Boing editor Cory Doctorow and Koko Be Good creator Jen Wang, In Real Life is a perceptive and high-stakes look at adolescence, gaming, poverty, and culture clash.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

In Real Life is so much more than video games and LARPing. It's about female empowerment, human rights and doing the right thing.

When Anda's class has a lady named Liza visit to introduce students to a multiplayer online game called Coarsegold Online, Anda jumps on the opportunity to connect with other girls online. She convinced her mother to let her sign up at a $12 monthly cost. Anda's avatar leveled up quickly and she joins Clan Fahrenheit that is lead by Lucy aka Sarge. Through one of the missions, Anda meets Raymond, a 16-year-old Chinese boy, who is a gold farmer. However, Anda finds out that Raymond's real job is to gold farm in order to make a living. He is exploited. Through Raymond's friends and Anda's Fahrenheit guild, she is able to start a movement to prevent bullying and for everyone to access equal human rights.

Jen Wang illustrated the cover perfectly. On the left, we have Anda in her real-life persona while on the right we have her Coarsegold Online alter ego, Kalidestroyer. With engaging illustrations and a diverse character cast, I am excited to see more from Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang. In Real Life is captivating and the plot and illustrations draw readers in.

In Real Life discusses video games, politics and economics through sequential art. This graphic novel would be a great addition to read class regarding injustices around the world economically. Online gaming isn't just for the rich who can afford to pay a monthly fee. In fact, online gaming can hide so much more. It really makes you think about what is underneath the surface. Everything isn't what appears to be.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Winter TBR 2019-2020

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 books on the winter TBR list. The following titles are in no particular order.

1. Don't Read the Comments by Eric Smith is about two teens who bond over video games. One streams and supports her family by playing a certain video game. The other spends his free time writing games for a local developer while his mothers wants him to pursue a career as a doctor. Of course their worlds collide because of their interest in videogames.

2. Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen is about Ever Wong who gets sent from Ohio to Taiwan to learn Mandarin during the summer. However, the program that Ever attends is infamously known as a teen meet-market nicknamed Loveboat.

3. The Circus Rose by Betsy Cornwell is advertised as 'a queer retelling of “Snow White and Rose Red' in which teenage twins battle evil religious extremists to save their loves and their circus family." I always enjoy reading Cornwell's retellings of fairy tales and I cannot wait to read this novel.

4. The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski is a LGBTQIA+ fantasy about different castes. It's the first book in a series. Nirrim is of a low caste. Those low castes are forbidden from sampling sweets or wearing colors. Sid talks about a rumor where the High Caste possesses magic and Sid encourages Nirrim to seek magic.

5. Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare is the first book in The Last Hours, the sequel series to The Infernal Devices trilogy. Clare highlights the Edwardian London time period where James and Lucie Herondale are teens who associate with the Blackthorns and the Carstairs. Follow Will's and Tessa's children with their friends as they battle for what is right. For those who don't know, The Infernal Devices is one of my all-time favorite series. I cannot wait to read more about the children of TID.

6. Harley in the Sky by Akemi Dawn Bowman is about a trapeze artist whose parents run a circus in Las Vegas. After an argument with her parents, Harley joins rival traveling circus Maison du Mystère where she is thrown into a brutal yet beautiful world.

7. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo is Bardugo's first adult novel and is book one in a series. Alex Stern has a traumatic and complex history. At the hospital, she was given a second chance. A chance to attend prestigious Yale but at a cost. Alex is tasked to monitor the secret societies at Yale. I am intrigued to see what direction Bardugo takes.

8. Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O'Connell. I am getting into a lot of graphic novels lately and many people recommended this one. Laura Dean is a popular girl in school and a total heartbreaker because she isn't a good girlfriend. Young love and relationships are explored in this graphic novel. It helps readers see how to embrace a healthy relationship and how to ditch the toxic ones.

9. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan is a book that has been on my TBR for a long time. I am actually currently listening to this title via audiobook. It's quite enjoyable via audiobook. I am very picky when it comes to audiobooks but the narrator does well with all character voices and points of view. For those who don't know, Nicholas Young invites his girlfriend, Rebecca Chu, to attend a wedding in his home country of Singapore. However, Rachel doesn't know that Nick is very well off and part of the elite social class. Here readers explore the gossiping, the high expectations to be met, old money vs new money and the glitz and glamour of the super-rich.

10. Buttermilk Graffiti by Edward Lee is a biography and cookbook in one. Readers can dive in and be immersed in the history of food. Lee describes his experience traveling around the United States and sampling some of the best food. He talks about how food has a story behind the recipe and how immigrants built the melting-pot of American food. I am currently reading this book now and I am enjoying it a lot.

What books are on your Winter TBR list? There are so many awesome books to read but such little time. I am going to try to pick up all these books on this list to read. A couple I am currently reading and the rest are on my docket to read. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Merry Christmas, Little Elliot by Mike Curato

Title: Merry Christmas, Little Elliot
Author and Illustrator: Mike Curato
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Publication date: September 11, 2018
Pages: 40
Source/format: Hardcover//Library
Rating: 1/2

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

Best friends Little Elliot and Mouse are back for another adventure--and this time, they're looking for Christmas spirit!

Little Elliot the elephant isn't quite sure what Christmas spirit is, but he suspects he doesn't have it. Not even a visit to Santa Claus can put Elliot in the right mood. But when chance blows a letter for Santa into Elliot and Mouse's path, the two friends discover what Christmas is all about--and make a new friend, too. A heartfelt celebration of the season of giving! Perfect for sharing around the holidays.


Elliot and Mouse spend one December day visiting Santa in New York City. While Mouse asks Santa for a toy train, Little Elliot asks Santa for Christmas spirit. Unfortunately, Santa can't give him Christmas spirit and he tells Little Elliot that he can't give him Christmas spirit since he has to find that out for himself.

Mike Curato's heartfelt picture book celebrates the friendship between old and new friends. He depicts the true meaning of Christmas; it's not about the toys but it's about the experience and finding what is meaningful to you during this time of year. Little Elliot and Mouse try to find Christmas spirit through multiple avenues such as seeing the Nutcracker, visiting Rockefeller Center and even going sledding. When Little Elliot finds a red envelope addressed to Santa at the North Pole, he is one step closer to finding the Christmas spirit.

Merry Christmas, Little Elliot has a cheerful cover with a red background with wonderful typography fitting for the season and the plot of the story. Merry Christmas is written as if a child is addressing a letter to Santa. Little Elliot is illustrated to look like a looping ribbon with one i dotted with an ornament. Under the dust jacket, the book is designed to look like the red envelope that Little Elliot finds. Curato's illustrations are always delightful to look at. With the muted tones of color, the timelessness of the illustrations will last for years to come.

Merry Christmas, Little Elliot is a fun and merry book perfect for the Christmas season and during the colder winter months. If you need a bit of cheering up and some happy spirit, check out this book along with the rest of Curato's Little Elliot series.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

Title: The Prince and the Dressmaker
Author and Illustrator: Jen Wang
Publisher: First Second
Publication date: February 13, 2018
Pages: 277
Source/format: Paperback//Library
Rating: 1/2

Synopsis (from goodreads.com):

Paris, at the dawn of the modern age:

Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride―or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia―the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!

Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances―one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend? Jen Wang weaves an exuberantly romantic tale of identity, young love, art, and family. A fairy tale for any age, The Prince and the Dressmaker will steal your heart.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

The Prince and the Dressmaker starts off like any other fairytale but this fairytale is an unconventional one. Two young adults have high expectations to live up to but they delve into their passions with the support of one another. Frances is a seamstress who aspires to be a designer. Prince Sebastian is expected to betroth another on his 16th birthday and lead his family as a royal. However, Sebastian's passion is to wear the stunning pieces that Frances creates as the alter ego, Lady Crystallia. With Frances's stunning craftsmanship and Lady Crystallia's fantastic personality, the duo becomes a sensation in France.

Frances is accepting of Sebastian's desire to wear dresses, his self-expression and gender fluidity. Their friendship grows stronger every day as well as their character development. Although they had a minor falling out, they come to support each other during tough times. Sebastian becomes free while being Lady Crystallia while Frances enjoys designing pieces that are beyond the norm. The duo knows what each other needs in terms of what makes them happy.

Jen Wang's storytelling is alluring. This modern take on a fairytale is redefined. The sequential paneling with vibrant gorgeous dresses brings life to purposeful muted/monochromatic panels of daily life. The chapters breaks with the dress patterns is a nice detail and I adore the white space. Wang adds life to each character through their facial expressions and words.

With a mix of high fashion, living up to expectations, finding one's true self and friendship, The Prince and the Dressmaker is a charming stand-alone graphic novel to pick up and read.