Books for Lunar New Year

Happy Year of the Goat!

Golden-New-Year-Goat-2015

In honor of Lunar New Year (BTW, I was born year of the Tiger) I wanted to share some Asian-inspired reads. I may be wrong but it seems to me that there aren’t that many mainstream books with an Asian influence. Here are some that I’ve read and enjoyed. Leave a comment and let me know of your favorite Asian-inspired or Asian-centric books or movies. Thanks for reading!

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. Probably the most well known of this article. The movie was fantastic also. It follows 4 women and their female children as they come of age and come to terms with their mothers. A fascinating story and so well done!

Eon & Eona by Alison Goodman. This short fantasy series is an amalgam of Asian inspired culture and superstitions. It also speaks to drug use, gender issues, chauvinism and women’s roles in any culture. The dragons are a bonus. Well written, inventive, and exciting.

Gilded by Christina Farley.  After her mother’s death, Korean-American Jae-Hwa returns to Seoul with her father only to discover she is hunted by a demigod to be his mistress. Farley portrayed Jae-Hwa as a typical teenager that discounted everything her family cautioned her against and, if I must say, was a tad annoying because of it. However I enjoyed the story a lot overall and really appreciated the glimpse of Seoul – it was like taking a vacation.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. The least “Asian” story of them all. Park is half Korean in middle America during the 80’s. This love story is a must read for anyone who grew up in the era of big hair and power ballard or for fans of realistic YA. Rowell does an amazing job of writing about misfit teenagers falling in love. Fans of John Green will appreciate this story.

 

Summer 2014 At-A-Glance

July flew by with summer vacation in full swing and some bad health days as well which was no fun at all. Then came August and my daughter’s 5th birthday party to plan along with in-laws visiting. Suddenly it’s time for school again and I haven’t even written anything for my blog! My deepest apologies to all of my valued readers!

The good news is that I got back into reading mode! And….there were so many good books that I’ve already made posts about some of them! Here’s what I read this July and August. I hope you find something of interest. Just a reminder that each of the images link to the book’s Amazon page and anything you purchase helps me maintain my blog! Gracias and Happy reading!

Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble by H.P. Mallory

A really fun witchy/paranormal story. A psychic leads a very ho-hum life until she meets a warlock who unleashes her potential. Can she ever go back to her normal life of seeing the future and reading tarot cards again? This is the first in the Jolie Wilkins series. Well written and the author has spin off books as well. A good choice if you like to follow characters.

I Am the Mission by Allen Zadoff

This is the second book in the Boy Nobody series urban contemporary suspense YA . I posted reviews on both the first (I Am the Weapon). These books are well written, fast paced and great for a quick weekend read. To view my full post and review, click here. Good for teens 14+.

Dark Matter Heart by Nathan Wrann

This book surprised me by being better than I expected it to be. This is about a boy, Cor, who moves into a new town in Portland to finish off his senior year in high school. He wants to lay low but trouble always finds him. In this case, it’s a vampire from his past. Can Cor stop the murders before the police decide Cor is responsible? Very believable high school angst along with fun vampire thriller.

What a Westmoreland Wants by Brenda Jackson

If you want a quick, fun romance with a bit of Aussie this story is for you. It doesn’t have a lot of depth but the story is thorough and although it is part of a series (#19, Man of the Month) I didn’t feel like I was missing too much.

Woodsmen by Clarissa Cartharn

Just so you don’t think I like everything that I read…This book was a complete disappointment. There was no resolution to the story and no draw that made me want to read the next story. Actually there was no indication that the story continued so I was left wondering ii the point of the book was just romance rather than the more interesting freedom from persecution angle. Also there were at least 4 story lines and that’s way too many for a book this short! Not my cup of tea.

Into the Shadows by Karly Kirkpatrick

Into the Shadows is a YA Book Addicts Unite! selection. This one also was a disappointment but still worth reading. It’s book one in the series by the same name. Paivi is part of a secret group of people with special powers. Her power is seeing the future. In the middle of her freshman year of high school gifted people are rounded up and persecuted. Paivi flees with her brother and another student once their parents are taken away. This is McCarthyism with a paranormal twist. I was not a fan of the dialogue but the subject matter was this book’s redeeming quality as it could appeal to a teenager and create a parallel to our country’s recent history.

Adventures in Funeral Crashing by Milda Harris

How could I not read a book with this title? and the cover is pretty fun too. I was definitely not disappointed in this one. The premise is that a teenage girl whose mother died when she was 14 suddenly finds consolation in attending funerals. During one funeral, she runs into her crush and they become partners in solving the “crime” of his sister’s “overdose”. This was well written with just a hint of romance and very much like what a teenager’s life would be like.

Better Than Before by Kathryn Shay

I’ve been wanting to read another Kathryn Shay novel for awhile now and when this one showed up free on Amazon, I snapped it up. This is the story of Annie Hopkins and Spence Wickham. They meet on his brother’s new online dating forum and have an immediate connection. However, he was online for a bet only and decides that the truth will hurt his relationship with down-to-earth Annie. What ensues is a very real look at adult relationships and how hard it can be to overcome our own baggage. I liked the characters that Ms. Shay created and if you like stand alones that are part of a series, this would be for you. Better Than Before is part of the RightMatch.com series.

The Sun and the Moon (Lords of Conquest by Patricia Ryan

This is an historical romance set in the 1100’s England. Philippa de Paris is a scholar and independent woman which is more than rare in that era and Hugh of Wexford is a mercenary knight working for His Majesty’s chief minister, basically he’s secret service. Philippa is required by His Majesty to infiltrate a warren of sin in order to expose the plot against the king. Hugh is sent to collect, aid, and abet Philippa in her assignment. I thought that this book was a bit light weight in the history department and very heavy in the romance and sin area. It was enjoyable but not the most compelling story or characters and for some reason, I felt the timeline was too early for all of this to be believable.

The Scars of Ambition (The Cumerian Unraveling #1) by Jason Letts

This book is a fantasy world set in Cumeria which is mostly ruled by 5 major families. The main family is the Brackens who control electrical power. Lowell Bracken, the head of the family, runs the power company while his adult children prepare themselves for appropriate careers. The characters were not very likeable at all. It could be that there was just too much story to put into one book that it didn’t allow anyone to have much depth but this book just wasn’t my favorite. Its part of a series that I won’t be reading.

Where I Need to Be by Kimberly Knight

This was an enjoyable,  lightweight contemporary romance with lots of sex! It is set in San Francisco and revolves around two people involved in the fitness industry. This story is basically girl gets dumped then meets nicer boy with baggage. The question is can they carry his baggage or not. There was not a lot of plot to this and it’s part of the B&S series (not sure what that stands for) so although the ending was not a cliffhanger, the author definitely made allusions to the couple’s future. The writing was pretty good and the characters were likeable enough but it’s not the series I would read if I wanted a romance. It IS something to read if you want sex and lots of it! Do I need to say mature audiences only?

 Reign of Shadows by Melissa Wright

This story is the third in the urban fantasy Descendants series and I really enjoyed all three. They are all relatively short, very action packed and with a lot of impelling characters. The main character in this book (as well as the 2nd) is Brianna, a prophet and Shadow. She has the power to manipulate the make up of other powerful individuals (people of the Seven Lines) to either enhance or diminish their gifts. Brianna is coming to terms with her new powers and realizes that she must choose to be part of the newly discovered Shadows or stand beside the Seven Lines that she is currently protecting. Although I really enjoyed these books, I had a problem with remembering the relationships and current history of the groups and some things went unexplained. Other than that, I highly recommend them to mature teens and older.

 

April 2014 At-a-Glance

April has been so busy and I can hardly remember all of the books I’ve read.  I hope you find something that catches your fancy – there is a good variety this month.

Bride chocolateThe Bride Wore Chocolate by Shirley Jump Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance. Candace is avid an planner and part owner of a gift basket company plus she’s getting married in 2 weeks. But one thing after the next happens to put her wedding in jeopardy. When a chance encounter with a handsome stranger throws her organized world into chaos, can she trust herself to make the right decision, and keep to her vows? This was a sweet little story and I mean sweet. Lots of chocolate and I think the main reason I wanted to read it – the recipes. They all sounded decadent and yummy. I won’t be deleting this book from my kindle anytime soon – I’ve got to try out some of them desserts! Get it!

GildedGilded by Christina Farley Genre: YA Urban Fantasy. Korean-American Jae Hwa Lee has been uprooted from her home in LA to live Seoul in Korea due to her father’s promotion. She soon comes to find herself at the heart of a centuries old myth where a demi-god steals the first born daughter of every generation – and she’s up next! Very interesting Check out my full post.Get it!

Born ConfusedBorn Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier Genre YA, Contemporary fiction. Indian-American Dimple Lala is going through some identity issues being a teenager as well as one of the only Indian’s (south asian) at her school. When her parents try to set her up with a “suitable boy” she begins to have her eyes opened about what it means to be Indian, American, and a teenager, and most of all: herself. This was actually a very good book. Funny and full of teen angst. See my full post here or get it now!

Daughter of Time: A Time Travel Romance Daughter timeby Sarah Woodbury. This is the story of a mother and her 2 year old daughter who somehow end up in the 12th century Whales and into the lap of Prince Llywelyn. Not-quite-whacky hijinks ensue. This was an ok read . Definitely not my favorite romance or time travel novel. It just seemed to lack the intensity that those situations should invoke I guess. On the bright side, it was very historically accurate and a clean romance suitable for all ages. Check it out.

Love Me Anyway Love me anywayby JL Redington Genre: Contemporary Mystery. Forest Ranger Greyson Beauchene lives, works and breathes Deanli National Park. He meets up with FBI profiler Aspen O’Connell when hikers discover a casket. Sparks fly between them while they try to find the serial killer before he harms his next victim. I really was interested in this story from the beginning but by the end I didn’t feel as much for any of the characters. It was a well written, quick read with a nice ending but just not developed enough for me to read the other books in the series. Check it out.

Crashed byCrashed Dawn Robertson Genre: Adult Romance. Emily and Avery meet when she gets into a car crash and he, fireman and paramedic, pulls her to safety. Emily has a mild case of amnesia but somehow remembers the hot (ha ha ha) fireman who rescued her. All is not perfect though – Emily has a stalker and Avery’s mother dies. Can their budding relationship withstand these trials? Crashes was a fun book to read. It was a hot (again, ha ha ha) romance at times a little sweet for me but also funny and surprisingly had a deeper storyline that I had expected. It’s worth reading for the cover alone! Check it out.

Call Me Cat Call Me Catby Karpov Kinrade Genre: Adult Romance. Catelyn Travis is a good girl who gets good grades in law school, and never gets into trouble. But when a run of bad luck threatens to destroy everything she’s worked for, she’s forced to become Cat, phone sex goddess. Enter Ashton Davenport the Third, bad boy biker billionaire. He knows the stay-away-from-me good girl Catelyn but when he ends up calling her alter ego, Cat, she ends up falling for the sexy stranger. As she struggles with her two identities, the man who murdered her parents is coming after Catelyn and he knows all of her secrets. This was a actually a decent story with a plot and everything! Unfortunately, the ending was a cliffhanger which I didn’t love. I may or may not read the next in the series. Get It!

We are the Goldens Goldensby Dana Reinhardt Genre: YA. Nell worships her older sister, Layla and is excited to join her in high school. But the year takes a very different turn and what used to be two inseparable sisters becomes a cautionary tale of inappropriate relationships and how far each sister will go for love. This story was told through Nell’s eyes as if she is speaking or writing to her older sister Layla. It’s her way of hoping for her sister’s forgiveness, love, and understanding. A well written and well thought out story of the pitfalls of the teenage years. Get it!