August 2018 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 4

A Thousand Beginnings And Endings by Ellen Oh and Elise Chapman1.A Thousand Beginnings And Endings edited by Ellen Oh & Elsie Chapman

Library | Started July 28 + Finished August 2 | Rating: ★★★★☆ | A Thousand Beginnings And Endings Full Review

Overall Thoughts: This is a wonderful YA anthology that contains 15 short stories inspired by East & South Asian Folklore/Mythology! There are stories inspired by myths/folklore from Korea, the Philippines, China, India, Vietnam, & much more! Every author’s story delivers its own unique spin to their favorite tales. Within each story, the writing pulls you in! While there were some stories I enjoyed more than others, this is not an anthology to miss! While I loved so many of the stories, these were some that were definitely my favorites: Forbidden Fruit, Olivia’s Table, Land Of The Morning Calm, The Smile, Bullet Butterfly, & Daughter Of The Sun!

Interludes From Melancholy Falls Vol. 1 by Jeff Heimbuch2. Interludes From Melancholy Falls Vol. 1 by Jeff Heimbuch

Owned | Started August 3 + Finished August 6 |Rating: ★★★★☆ | Interludes From Melancholy Falls Vol. 1 Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Fans of the Return Home podcast do not want to miss out on this short story collection! Filled with 16 short stories, Heimbuch expands on the world of the Return Home podcast, by centering the stories around the lesser known settings and characters! Told through different mediums, each story builds into the world or even an episode of the show! Because the stories are more character/plot-driven, there are moments when the descriptions were a bit minimal! However, this is a great addition for readers looking to learn more about the world of Return Home!

Shadow And Bone by Leigh Bardugo3.Shadow And Bone by Leigh Bardugo (The Grisha Trilogy #1)

Owned | Started + Finished August 14 |Rating: ★★★★★ |Tattered Sundays feat. Shadow And Bone

Overall Thoughts: Not much to say other than I loved it even more than when I read Shadow & Bone the first time! What I loved about this re-read was how I focused more on the characters & their development! I just found myself loving the characters even more (like The Darkling, Alina, etc.) and connected to the story more on a level of characters & world-building/development than just the story as a whole. I picked up on little details I forgot the first time around that also helped me as an aspiring YA Fantasy writer! 

Ace Of Shades by Amanda Foody4. Ace Of Shades by Amanda Foody (The Shadow Game #1)

Library | Started August 9 + Finished August 22 | Rating:★★★☆☆ ¾ | Ace Of Shades Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Ace Of Shades is an immersive YA Fantasy that delivers such unique and different elements through its world! What I loved the most about this book was the main characters, Enne & Levi! The dual POV really built them both as characters, but also how they see the world of New Reynes. However, there were elements that made this book fall a bit flat for me: Pacing, made-up swear words, repetition of phrases, & lack of expansion on the world + some characters! Aside from that however, the way Foody crafts her stories makes it unexpected & immersive! The journeys that Enne & Levi have ahead, is what will definitely keep me invested in  book 2!

Additional Posts From This Month:

Podcasts In Publishing feat. Sadie by Courtney Summers {Literary Listens}

Book Bytes #14

Sacred Lies Mini-Series Review

YA Contemporary Books That Need Netflix Adaptations {Book Blog Discussion}

Tattered Sundays: Shadow & Bone + My Heart And Other Black Holes

Plans For September:

~ Catch up on ARCs & read more! I was a bit disappointed at the lack of ARCs I was able to get through this month, so next month I’m really planning to catch up + read/review upcoming ARCs & ones from a week ago! 💖📚📚🎉

~ Post TBR Lists! I’ve been drafting a couple TBR lists that I’ve had in the works for a while, but just haven’t had the chance to share yet! I’m definitely planning to share them & recommend some great upcoming books! 📚✨💖💕

~ I’ve also been planning another Literary Listens post & I’m really looking forward to sharing this one! 😍💕🎙✨

~If I make time for it, I definitely want to finish up my summer reading bullet journal & talk about it on the blog! ☀📝✨📚

What books did you read this month? 😍📚

A Thousand Beginnings And Endings edited by Ellen Oh & Elsie Chapman Review

A Thousand Beginnings And Endings by Ellen Oh and Elise ChapmanA Thousand Beginnings And Endings edited by Ellen Oh & Elsie Chapman (w/ stories from: Renée Ahdieh, Elsie Chapman, Sona Charaipotra, Preeti Chhibber, Roshani Chokshi, Aliette de Bodard, Melissa de la Cruz, Julie Kagawa, Rahul Kanakia, Lori M. Lee, E.C. Myers, Ellen Oh, Cindy Pon, Aisha Saeed, Shveta Thakrar, & Alyssa Wong)

Publisher: Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins/Epic Reads)

Release Date: June 26, 2018

Pages: 336

Summary: Star-crossed lovers, meddling immortals, feigned identities, battles of wits, and dire warnings: these are the stuff of fairy tale, myth, and folklore that have drawn us in for centuries.

Fifteen bestselling and acclaimed authors reimagine the folklore and mythology of East and South Asia in short stories that are by turns enchanting, heartbreaking, romantic, and passionate.

A mountain loses her heart. Two sisters transform into birds to escape captivity. A young man learns the true meaning of sacrifice. A young woman takes up her mother’s mantle and leads the dead to their final resting place.

From fantasy to science fiction to contemporary, from romance to tales of revenge, these stories will beguile readers from start to finish.

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: A Thousand Beginnings And Endings is a stunning anthology that contains 15 short stories inspired by East and South Asian Folklore/Mythology. Through immersive writing and such heart, each unique tale comes to life on the page!

“We longed for nuance and subtlety, and layers, the embedded truths about culture that- more often than not-can only come from within…”— From The Editors (Ellen Oh & Elsie Chapman) 

I just wanted to share this quote in the beginning on the Editor’s page (that I loved) and it just really stuck with me throughout the entirety of reading this collection.

While I’m still debating between 4 & 4.5, ratings aside, overall this was a stunning anthology with incredible stories that bring to life mythology and folklore with some unique spins. (Each story also contains an author’s note sharing the inspiration and impact of each legend/folktale/mythology).

For this review I decided to make a short review for each story!

Forbidden Fruit by Roshani Chokshi: ★★★★★

This first story follows the Filipino folktale of Maria Makiling! Centering around a mountain goddess and a nearby villager named Bulan, Chokshi’s story chronicles their love for each other, but also the trials and uncertainty that come with it. Chokshi’s writing as always is descriptive, lyrical, and just beautiful! This story is filled with hope, love, heartbreak–so much emotion is poured through each moment of this story! It was definitely one of my favorites!

Olivia’s Table by Alyssa Wong: ★★★★★

Wong’s story centers around the Chinese tradition of The Hungry Ghost Festival (or Yu Lan) which takes place around “the seventh month of the lunar calendar, during late summer.” Olivia takes a trip to Arizona to visit the Grand Silver Hotel to cook a banquet for the Ghost Festival, which involves setting out food for ancestor’s, who may be alone or have unfinished business on earth, allowing them a chance to move on.

Wong’s writing allows for the Olivia’s past from the family tradition of cooking for the Ghost Festival through the women in her family, to her childhood of also doing that with her mother (who passed away), & to the present where she continued her mother’s work and wanted to honor her.

Wong’s storytelling builds the importance of family, honoring those of the past, the impact of loss, acceptance, and how family guides us and in turn, how we learn to guide ourselves + forge our own paths.

I loved the all the characters from Carlos (the hotel owner’s son), to Mei Ling ( a ghost who Olivia met in her past, when she joined her mother on a trip to her 1st Ghost Festival), even the characters just mentioned in passing from Olivia’s past girlfriend, her family, etc.

I wish that Wong’s story could be an entire novel! I would love to read more about Olivia and her story! Olivia’s Table was a spectacular story, I loved it! ❤

Steel Skin by Lori M. Lee: ★★★★☆

Set in the near future, Yer lives in a world of technology, robotics & androids. Inspired by the Hmong Folktale The Woman And The Tiger, in this sci-fi tale, Yer goes through feelings of loneliness and distance, with her father (a former robotics engineer) very busy with work, she sets up a plan with her neighbor & friend, Alang, to see what he’s up to!

With the loss of her mother, Yer wants to feel closer with her father, but has kept his distance, always busy with work.

We also get the interwoven plot-line of recalled androids and how it impacted Yer’s father’s job and the loss of her mother. It was interesting and unique element to the story that I loved!

I loved the setting especially through the description of a jungle setting with technology! The mystery and sci-fi elements are built + weaved into the story so perfectly (As a fan of sci-fi novellas, I really enjoyed this story!).

Over the course of the story, we learn more about the androids and Yer’s past! So, while a couple elements for the world-building + character development could have been expanded on, I overall really loved this story!

Still Star-Crossed by Sona Charaipotra: ★★★★☆ ½

This story is inspired by an Indian folktale of Mirza and Sahiba and within the story Charaipotra states their romance is “a warning, a lost-in-love couple…immortalized in an elegy of lust, familial drama, betrayal, & murder…”

In this story, Charaiporta spins this into a what-if tale taking place in the modern day, centering around Taara who is out dancing at a club with her friend Leela. From the club to dinner at a restaurant, even at her mother’s jewelry store, she see’s this guy, Nick, everywhere who seems to recognize her.

I loved how Taara’s mother later at their store, references the tale of Mirza and Sahiba & a story from her past about a guy she knew, because by the end when Taara see’s Nick again, it was a subtle hint that I didn’t see at first, but he leaves behind a gold anklet (that her mother has a pair to!).

With that I saw how this was a what-if reincarnation story and looking back, loved how the mystery and overall story was crafted and laid out!

The Counting Of The Vermillion Beads by Aliette De Bodard: ★★★★☆ ½

Inspired by the Vietnamese folktale of Tấm Cám where they are stepsisters and Cám is envious of Tấm’s marriage to the king, and overall they aren’t really on equal terms. However, De Bodard changes this by having the sisters support and help each other and loved how powerful that message came through in this story!

Tam & Cam work as cencus girls in the palace, but long for freedom beyond its walls. Tam is able to cross over the wall and transforms into a bird and the rest of the story follows Cam and the courage she gains to be free too!

The symbolism, writing, and powerful messages of sisterhood + freedom are so beautifully explored in this story and I really loved it!

The Land Of The Morning Calm by E.C. Myers: ★★★★★

Following the Korean epic, Chasa Bonpuli, which centers around dieties of the afterlife, ghosts (Gwisin), and much more, this story follows Sunny and how her and her father + grandfather are still aching from the loss of her mother, 5 years ago.

I loved this story so much, from the characters, story, and even the gaming/RPG elements! There’s a lot of symbolism in this story (seen especially through the game called The Land Of The Morning Calm).

This story follows Sunny’s journey back to the game since her departure from it since her mother passed + with the recent news that it’ll be taken offline.

With such powerful themes throughout this story, Sunny comes to accept the loss of her mother through the journey of the game and–it was so beautifully written!! I just felt so much from this story, it was amazing!!

The Smile by Aisha Saeed: ★★★★★

This story is inspired by a South Asian legend, where Anarkali (a dancer girl) and how she served in the court and Prince Saleem fell in love with her. Many different stories say the king sentences her to be buried in a brick tomb, even the prince helped her escape!

In Saeed’s tale, we follow Naseem who is a dancer and lives in the palace. Prince Kareem loves her, but we get the sense that Naseem longs for something more beyond the palace.

I loved this story so much, I wish Saeed would write an entire novel about this story! I loved all the setting, plot, & characters from Naseem, the prince, Naseem’s maidservant Simran, Tarek, a guard who is also Simran’s love.

This story is about freedom, sacrifice, and choice! It isn’t necessarily sad, but can be seen as both happy + sad! With Naseem forging her own path and accepting that the love she had, wasn’t exactly what she longed for.

Girls Who Twirl And Other Dangers by Preeti Chhibber: ★★★☆☆ ¾

This story is told through both a modern day celebration Navratri and the battle between shape-shifting demon Mahishasur & Durga (according to Chhibber “a physical manifestation of divine female energy” or the union of deities: Vishnu, Shiva, & Brahma).

I loved that this story explored actions and the consequences that come with them as Jaya, Jessica, & Nirali try to get back at  boy from Jaya + Nirali’s childhood (Dinesh) who embarrased Nirali when she was younger and who wasn’t all that nice to Jaya.

With Jaya focused on her & her friends plan to get back at Dinesh, it also leads Jaya to think about their plan or feelings of anger/grudges whenever she sees the Durga statue.

With that it led to an alternate story of the battler of Mahishasur & Durga  which really symbolized main themes of the story, that I found to be very interesting. Such as good vs. evil, the consequences of actions, how anger can sometimes lead to rushes in/poor judgement etc. There’s also a great focus on female friendships!

Those elements were all explored very cleverly, however, the pacing of the story did make it feel like the story dragged for me and some background characters/elements could have been expanded on a bit more!

Nothing Into All by Renée Ahdieh: ★★★★★

Inspired by the Korean fairy-tale of The Goblin Treasure, Ahdieh introduces us to Chun and Charan, brother and sister, who have been inseparable since they were young and love the outdoors (& were in search of goblins). However, an accident that causes Chun’s hand to burn, they soon start to drift apart.

Now years later, Chun has an almost jealousy for her sister and her future as a bright music student and with word that she’s caught the eye of one of the best trackers in their village, the adventure to the Goblin Tree is the only thing that still keeps them close.

As they both reach the tree (alongside some falling acorns), Charan finds herself taken underground to the land of the goblins and in exchange for 2 acorns, is given a magic club + a chance to make her wishes come true!

Though magic comes at a price as Chun (who out of jealousy & the need for his family to have better fortune) takes the club and then its up to Charan to find him!

The ending left me wanting so much more from this story! Ahdieh’s writing from emotion, characters, setting, food, etc. always has me immersed in her stories!

It was a fantastic story all around!

Spear Carrier by Rahul Kanakia: ★★★★★

In Kanakia’s story, (inspired by The Mahabharata)  a young man (who we don’t know the name of), is in a valley with hundreds of other people & creatures, to prep for some unknown battle. He comes here because one day after school, he was found by a god and was chosen, additionally he has thought constantly of what it means to be a hero.

To start this story was odd, but in a way that made it so interesting (think speculative fiction)! The first person POV really made this story for me! You get so much emotion, humor, & thought-provoking conversation from this main character throughout the story, and he just feels so real!

Just like the main character, we’re trying to figure out what’s going on and if he’ll make it back home!

I really loved this story it was fast-paced, had such a great + comedic main character, & I loved following his journey!

Code Of Honor by Melissa De La Cruz: ★★★★☆

Following the Filipino folktale of the Aswangs, (vampire-like beings), De La Cruz’s story centers around Aida, who is an Aswang. Originally from the Philippines, she flees after her mother is killed and travels across the world to end up in New York, to find others just like her!

The story was immersive and fast-paced, I was sucked in from the very beginning! The story essentially tells us everything about Aida and her life leading up to the present, where her diary has been taken and she has some suspicion of who it may be (Lilah, a classmate who doesn’t really like her).

Throughout this story I loved the strong message weaved throughout, that all Aida wants is a sense of belonging!

Bullet, Butterfly by Elsie Chapman: ★★★★★

A retelling of the Chinese Folktale, The Butterfly Lovers, follows Liang who is a recovering soldier and awaits the news of the war. He disguises himself as a girl and wants to head to the city armory. There he meets Zhu and the 2 become fast friends, but Liang knows he’s quickly falling in love with her.

Chapman’s writing brings the characters, setting, symbolism, everything to life! I would love a full length novel about Liang, Zhu & their amazing friendship 😭💕♥♥

The friendship forged between them was so beautifully written. From the secrets they share to the love they clearly have for each other–captured my heart! ❤

The symbolism of the butterfly, from the latest design of butterfly bullets (that unfurl within someone within seconds of being shot), to how butterflies means so much to the ending!!

I don’t want to spoil too much, but this story was beyond stunning! I smiled, cried–I loved this story! 

Daughter Of The Sun by Shveta Thakrar: ★★★★★

Thakrar’s tale retells the epic of Princess Savitri and Prince Satyavan. Similar to her story, the legend tells of Savitri choosing to be with Satyavan, despite his death coming in a year.

Savitri carries a light within her and as she works for a museum on an estate, she finds herself longing for freedom. She even gets told that one day she will find someone who reflects her light back to her.

So, she takes a trip through a nearby forest + lake and sees a boy, Sayavan, and its clear that he is her mirror (who is symbolized to be of darkness and her of light).

She doesn’t want to see him go, so she takes him from the lake that was going to allow him to reach home.

Despite an aspara’s warnings, she wants to get know him and he wants to know her. So, she gets told that she has one year to be with him!

The lyrical writing brought so much vibrancy to the setting, characters,folklore, and story! I adored reading about Savitri & Sayavan’s beautiful relationship, the connection they share!!

This story is about love, selflessness, and taking chances!

I loved everything about Daughter Of The Sun and I wish this was a full-length novel 😭💕💕

The Crimson Cloak by Cindy Pon:★★★★★

Based on the Chinese legend of The Cowherd & the Weaver Girl, Pon’s story follows the 7th daughter of The Jade Emperor & Heavenly Queen, who calls herself Hongyun, and how she falls in love with a mortal boy, Cowherd.

Told from a 1st person POV, we follow her story of how she met Cowherd and how she learns more about what it means to be human, as she finds herself playing and then falling for him.

The writing brings a vibrant life to the story as well as being told through a great fantastic 1st person POV, with Hongyun speaking directly to the reader.

Its a beautifully written tale of love and the beauty that comes with it. While there is also some heartbreak, it leaves you on a hopeful note! This story was wonderful!

Eyes Like Candlelight by Julie Kagawa:★★★★☆

Kagawa’s story centers around the famous mythical Kitsune of Japanese mythology. The story follows Takeo, who saved a fox when he was younger. He grows up to be a rice farmer in his small village. With a bad harvest season, he heads to offer rice to Inari (the rice god) in hopes that his village can be saved from the tax collectors.

But soon finds himself in the house belonging to Yuki and her family. He has to head home, but Yuki (trying to convince him to stay) reveals she is actually a Kitsune.

She agrees to help his family/village and get the rice ready for the collectors only if he promises to return to her + her family for 1 year right after!

I loved the writing-style of this story a lot! You really get to know each character, the setting, the stakes, and the story had me immersed start to finish!

I can’t explain, but overall it wasn’t exactly a 5-star read. However, I really enjoyed it!

There were stories I definitely loved, liked, and some moments here & there where I didn’t connect fully with some, but ratings aside this is definitely an anthology I recommend!

A Thousand Beginnings And Endings is an anthology that is filled with rich and fascinating retellings of East and South Asian mythology + folklore! The stories within this anthology cover and explore a number of themes all while allowing the each author to bring a unique spin to their favorite folktales & stories!

What I’m Currently Reading & YA Books On My June TBR!

Book Blog Discussion BannerThere’s been a lot of books I’ve made made plans to read over summer and now that I’m officially on summer break, I’m hoping to read as much of these as I can this month!

So, today I’ll be sharing with you what I’m currently reading and the other books I’m planning on getting to!

Currently Reading:

Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl1.Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl

I was able to get an ARC of Neverworld Wake from Yallwest and finally started reading it early last week, but sadly put it down to catch up on a graphic novel & Running With Lions (which I’m hoping to post my review of next week!). I’m still very interested in reading Neverworld and want to try and finish it within the coming week + post my review!

From what I know about it & have read so far, it follows Beatrice Hartley who lives in her small town working at her parents ice cream parlor.

She’s been disconnected from her 6 friends after graduation for a while, with the loss of her boyfriend Jim.

Then she returns with her friends to “Wincroft—the seaside estate where they spent so many nights sharing secrets, crushes, plans to change the world…”

Soon, they receive a mysterious knock at the door and I think, find themselves caught in a Neverworld Wake??

Overall I’d really been enjoying it so far and want to finish it! I don’t read much mystery, but Neverworld Wake has had me intrigued!

June TBR

Bruja Born by Zoraida Córdova1.Bruja Born by Zoraida Córdova (Labyrinth Lost #2)

I read and loved Labyrinth Lost when I read it back in 2016! It centered around Alex who is a bruja and an adventure that takes her on a quest to find her family after a spell she preforms, causes them to disappear!

From the Latinx rep. to themes of family (and sisterhood), all of which I could relate to so well, I fell in love with this book, from the story to the world–everything!

Now with Bruja Born finally out, I am beyond excited to get back into this amazing world & follow even more of Alex’s adventures!

Mariam Sharma Hits The Road by Sheba Karim2.Mariam Sharma Hits The Road by Sheba Karim

Similar to Neverworld Wake, I was also able to get an ARC of this from Yallwest! This book basically centers around a group of friends who go on a road trip after their freshman year at college!

As always, I’m always looking to read more #OwnVoices + diverse books and overall, Mariam Sharma just sounded like such an amazing read, perfect for summer, so I’m definitely going to be reading this one soon as well!

And being a college student myself, I’m also just looking forward to reading more college-centered & about college-aged YA characters!

A Reaper At The Gates by Sabaa Tahir3.A Reaper At The Gates by Sabaa Tahir (An Ember In The Ashes #3)

I’m such a big fan of An Ember In The Ashes quartet, so of course I would definitely have this on my TBR list! I can’t wait to read where Sabaa takes the story, characters, everything!!

I’ve had just– so many theories for where I think A Reaper At The Gates will be going, so I’m just counting down the days until this is out!

I’ve really been looking forward to reading more from Laia, Elias, etc. and am beyond excited to finally get my hands on A Reaper At The Gates!

Not The Girls Your Looking For by Aminah Mae Safi4.Not The Girls Your Looking For by Aminah Mae Safi

Similar to the other ARCs above, I was also able to get a copy of Not The Girls Your Looking For at Yallwest & even met Aminah, who was so nice! Getting the chance to talk to her about the importance of representation and books in general was just so great & I’m beyond excited to read her debut novel!

Definitely check out the summary for Not The Girls Your Looking For below & add it to your TBR if you haven’t already!

“Lulu Saad doesn’t need your advice, thank you very much. She’s got her three best friends and nothing can stop her from conquering the known world. Sure, for half a minute she thought she’d nearly drowned a cute guy at a party, but he was totally faking it. And fine, yes, she caused a scene during Ramadan. It’s all under control. Ish.

Except maybe this time she’s done a little more damage than she realizes. And if Lulu can’t find her way out of this mess soon, she’ll have to do more than repair friendships, family alliances, and wet clothing. She’ll have to go looking for herself.” 

A Thousand Beginnings And Endings by Ellen Oh and Elise Chapman5. A Thousand Beginnings And Endings edited by Ellen Oh & Elsie Chapman

I don’t usually read many anthologies, but when I first read the summary (& saw the gorgeous cover) of A Thousand Beginnings And Endings, I knew I’d have to read it!

This book will contain 15 short stories from authors of East and South Asia background, writing re imagined folklore and mythology!

I love reading about mythology and the blend of fantasy + mythology in this anthology sounds like it’ll be right up my alley!

I also do want to try to get into reading more YA anthologies and in general, it just sounds like an overall great read!

The Game Of Hope by Sandra Gulland6.The Game Of Hope by Sandra Gulland

Additionally, this was also another ARC I was able to get from Yallwest @ PenguinTeen’s booth, out of I think 3 other choices, The Game Of Hope was my pick!

Set in 1798 Paris, France, this novel is a YA Historical Fiction that centers around Napoleon’s step-daughter, Hortense de Beauharnais.

Wanting to go into this book without much knowledge, I do know it essentially follows Hortense as she goes about her daily life in boarding school, studies, arts, etc., but is unsure of where her future lies when her mother marries Napoleon.

I don’t usually read much historical fiction, but this novel just intrigued me from the summary and I’m beyond excited to read it!

And that wraps up my June TBR! 📚✨😍

What are you planning to read this month? Any of the books on your TBR similar to mine? Let’s Discuss! 📚✨☀