River of Stars by Vanessa Hua #AsianLitBingo

At Perfume Bay, women are getting ready to give birth. It is a facility specifically for women from China who want to have their babies in America, for to be born in America gives their babies citizenship.

Scarlett is one of the twelve pregnant women, sent there by her lover Boss Yeung, a powerful man with lots of guanxi and gets her the best room in the house.

But at an ultrasound, Scarlett discovers that the baby boy she’s been expecting is actually a girl. Another daughter for Boss Yeung. She worries about the future of her daughter, and when she learns that Boss Yeung wants to pay her to hand over the baby, whom he still thinks is a boy, she decides to run away. Another Perfurme Bay inhabitant, Daisy, a teenager whose parents sent her away to have her baby, takes off with her too.

The two pregnant women head to San Francisco’s Chinatown where they struggle to figure out how to support themselves and their two babies. Meanwhile, Boss Yeung continues to search for his son, and Daisy begins to search for the father of her baby. Scarlett’s tourist visa is expiring and while desperately trying to scrounge for money for rent and necessities, she also has to worry about how to stay on in the US.

A solid story about motherhood and the American dream. The desperation and struggles that  the two women go through is honest and moving.

(Spoiler alert!)

 

 

 

 

The women’s stories were compelling but the men in this story seem rather uneven. Boss Yeung, I can’t really tell sometimes whether we are meant to dislike him or not. At times he’s  heartless or is he really just in pursuit of his true love? But for me, the part that doesn’t seem to sit well with the rest of the book is the super-sweet ending that Daisy receives. Maybe if her ending turned out different, I would have rated this higher. Maybe if the book had kept more of its focus on the two women? It bothered me, this saccharine ending. Maybe I am just too skeptical…

 

 

 

I read this for Asian Lit Bingo – Asian Immigrant MC

Advertisements

Library Loot (May 22 to 28)

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Unmarriageable – Soniah Kamal

A scandal and vicious rumor concerning the Binat family have destroyed their fortune and prospects for desirable marriages, but Alys, the second and most practical of the five Binat daughters, has found happiness teaching English literature to schoolgirls. Knowing that many of her students won’t make it to graduation before dropping out to marry and have children, Alys teaches them about Jane Austen and her other literary heroes and hopes to inspire the girls to dream of more.

When an invitation arrives to the biggest wedding their small town has seen in years, Mrs. Binat, certain that their luck is about to change, excitedly sets to work preparing her daughters to fish for rich, eligible bachelors. On the first night of the festivities, Alys’s lovely older sister, Jena, catches the eye of Fahad “Bungles” Bingla, the wildly successful—and single—entrepreneur. But Bungles’s friend Valentine Darsee is clearly unimpressed by the Binat family. Alys accidentally overhears his unflattering assessment of her and quickly dismisses him and his snobbish ways. As the days of lavish wedding parties unfold, the Binats wait breathlessly to see if Jena will land a proposal—and Alys begins to realize that Darsee’s brusque manner may be hiding a very different man from the one she saw at first glance.

Told with wry wit and colorful prose, Unmarriageable is a charming update on Jane Austen’s beloved novel and an exhilarating exploration of love, marriage, class, and sisterhood.

 

 

If You Leave Me – Crystal Hana Kim

An emotionally riveting debut novel about war, family, and forbidden love—the unforgettable saga of two ill-fated lovers in Korea and the heartbreaking choices they’re forced to make in the years surrounding the civil war that continues to haunt us today

When the communist-backed army from the North invades her home, sixteen-year-old Haemi Lee, along with her widowed mother and ailing brother, is forced to flee to a refugee camp along the coast. For a few hours each night, she escapes her family’s makeshift home and tragic circumstances with her childhood friend, Kyunghwan.

Focused on finishing school, Kyunghwan doesn’t realize his older and wealthier cousin, Jisoo, has his sights set on the beautiful and spirited Haemi—and is determined to marry her before joining the fight. But as Haemi becomes a wife, then a mother, her decision to forsake the boy she always loved for the security of her family sets off a dramatic saga that will have profound effects for generations to come.

Richly told and deeply moving, If You Leave Me is a stunning portrait of war and refugee life, a passionate and timeless romance, and a heartrending exploration of one woman’s longing for autonomy in a rapidly changing world.

 

 

The kids’ loot:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What did you get from your library this week?

 

 

Not Your Sidekick by CB Lee #AsianLitBingo

I’ve had this book on my TBR for a while but never got around to picking it up from the library. But I wanted to read a book with an Asian superhero for Asian Lit Bingo so this filled the theme perfectly.

Although when we first meet Jess Tran, she’s desperately trying to find out what exactly her superpower is – does she even have any in the first place? Why so desperate? Well, it is post World War III, and there are meta-humans. More specifically, her parents are superheroes – her father can fly and so can her older sister. Her parents are Smasher and Shockwave, the two resident heroes of Andover. C-list heroes that is.

And since Jess will be turning 17 in a week, she needs to find out what powers she has, as no one has presented with powers after the age of 17.

She doesn’t even have an “unacceptable” ability like the power to change the colour of her fingernails. She’s resigned to the possibility that she will never have powers and lands herself a dream internship instead. But it turns out that she’s working for the town’s villains (and her parents’ enemies). On the other hand, she gets to work with Abby, whom Jess has had a secret crush on.

I love that Jess is bisexual Vietnamese- Chinese, and that she struggles with trying to figure out who she is. The background to the story is fun and Jess and her friends are very appealing. The romance in the story was sweet too. But parts of the book were a bit meandering and the plot wasn’t the greatest. I don’t want to spoil it for you but it’s kind of the way Superman puts on his glasses and tada he is unrecognisable as Clark Kent.

It was a fun read though and I’m looking forward to reading the second book in the series, Not Your Villain, which has Bells as the main character.

Library Loot (May 15 to 21)

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

 

Happy Wednesday!

I’m again concentrating on Asian-authored books this month for Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. But I also happened to have picked up a book that I had a hold on for a bit. I’m not entirely sure though about this one as I’ve read some so-so reviews on it.

 

Don’t forget to link up!

 

 

 

Edinburgh – Alexander Chee

Twelve-year-old Fee is a gifted Korean-American soprano in a boys’ choir in Maine whose choir director reveals himself to be a serial pedophile. Fee and his friends are forced to bear grief, shame, and pain that endure long after the director is imprisoned. Fee survives even as his friends do not, but a deep-seated horror and dread accompany him through his self-destructive college days and after, until the day he meets a beautiful young student named Warden and is forced to confront the demons of his brutal past.

My Brother’s Husband Vol 2 – Gengoroh Tagame

The concluding volume in the story of Yaichi, his daughter Kana, and how their meeting Mike Flanagan–Yaichi’s brother-in-law–changes their lives and perceptions of acceptance of homosexuality in their contemporary Japanese culture.

As Mike continues his journey of discovery concerning Ryoji’s past, Yaichi gradually comes to understand that being gay is just another way of being human. And that, in many ways, remains a radical concept in Japan even today. In the meantime, the bond between Mike and young Kana grows ever stronger, and yet he is going to have to return to Canada soon–a fact that fills them both with impending heartbreak. But not before more than a few revelations come to light.

 

Not Your Sidekick – CB Lee

Welcome to Andover… where superpowers are common, but internships are complicated. Just ask high school nobody, Jessica Tran. Despite her heroic lineage, Jess is resigned to a life without superpowers and is merely looking to beef-up her college applications when she stumbles upon the perfect (paid!) internship—only it turns out to be for the town’s most heinous supervillain. On the upside, she gets to work with her longtime secret crush, Abby, who Jess thinks may have a secret of her own. Then there’s the budding attraction to her fellow intern, the mysterious “M,” who never seems to be in the same place as Abby. But what starts as a fun way to spite her superhero parents takes a sudden and dangerous turn when she uncovers a plot larger than heroes and villains altogether.

Machines Like Me – Ian McEwan

Machines Like Me occurs in an alternative 1980s London. Charlie, drifting through life and dodging full-time employment, is in love with Miranda, a bright student who lives with a terrible secret. When Charlie comes into money, he buys Adam, one of the first batch of synthetic humans. With Miranda’s assistance, he co-designs Adam’s personality. This near-perfect human is beautiful, strong and clever – a love triangle soon forms. These three beings will confront a profound moral dilemma. Ian McEwan’s subversive and entertaining new novel poses fundamental questions: what makes us human? Our outward deeds or our inner lives? Could a machine understand the human heart? This provocative and thrilling tale warns of the power to invent things beyond our control.

 

 

The kids’ loot:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What did you get from your library this week?

 

This post contains affiliate links from Book Depository.  If you buy via these links it means I receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you). 

Adaptations that are better than the books #TopTenTuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is:

(Page to Screen Freebie)

And so I decided to go with.. Adaptations that are better than the books!

I know, quelle horreur!

But yes, there are some that I’ve felt were just better. Maybe the condensed storyline helped, or maybe it was just a story that was better told on the screen, whether it’s a TV series or movie.

The Magicians – Lev Grossman

I didn’t want to watch this TV series at first. Mostly because the books were just so-so reads to me, especially the first book which I did not like but somehow I continued on with the rest of the series. But I just watched one episode to give it a chance and Oh My, it was amazing. It took a while to get into, and the first few episodes were still only so-so but it seemed to find its footing not long after. And I absolutely loved it, especially High Queen Margo and Elliott. And I love how in some episodes they incorporate music and singing – the very best episode is the David Bowie tribute!

The Martian – Andy Weir

Ok I did not like this book at all. I mean the story idea was great but it just was so unnecessarily long and needed more editing. But the movie was pretty good.

 

How To Train Your Dragon series – Cressida Cowell

I loved the first movie, and the second was ok, and the third in the end, was a nice ending to the series (and hopefully that was the end, as I really hate when the studios try to squeeze yet another sequel in a bid to make more money). So I was really kind of surprised (not in a good way) by how different the books are, especially how different Toothless is, not just in terms of size but character.

Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien

Please don’t yell at me! The books were really long and I’ve watched these movies so many times and yet still never went back to the books. Also, I like that the movies actually had Arwen as a prominent character whereas she is more like a footnote in the books.

 

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

Again, for me, this was a great story idea but I wasn’t wowed by the writing. And I felt like the movie really just opened it up so much, especially the part where they are in The Shining!

Do you agree? What are some adaptations that you felt worked better than the books?

 


Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018.

 

 

 

Library Loot (May 8 to 14)

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

 

 

 

Hello! It’s Wednesday again! And I have a nice lot of library books this week.

The library has seen some changes in the past month or so. There’s a nice new reading area which hopefully I’ll get to take some photos of soon. And the kids’ section has been updated with better shelves for its growing collection of picture books!

Claire has the link-up this week.

 

The Far Field – Madhuri Vijay

An elegant, epic debut novel that follows one young woman’s search for a lost figure from her childhood, a journey that takes her from Southern India to Kashmir and to the brink of a devastating political and personal reckoning.

In the wake of her mother’s death, Shalini, a privileged and restless young woman from Bangalore, sets out for a remote Himalayan village in the troubled northern region of Kashmir. Certain that the loss of her mother is somehow connected to the decade-old disappearance of Bashir Ahmed, a charming Kashmiri salesman who frequented her childhood home, she is determined to confront him. But upon her arrival, Shalini is brought face to face with Kashmir’s politics, as well as the tangled history of the local family that takes her in. And when life in the village turns volatile and old hatreds threaten to erupt into violence, Shalini finds herself forced to make a series of choices that could hold dangerous repercussions for the very people she has come to love.

With rare acumen and evocative prose, in The Far Field Madhuri Vijay masterfully examines Indian politics, class prejudice, and sexuality through the lens of an outsider, offering a profound meditation on grief, guilt and the limits of compassion.

 

A River of Stars – Vanessa Hua

In a powerful debut novel about motherhood, immigration, and identity, a pregnant Chinese woman makes her way to California and stakes a claim to the American dream.

Holed up with other moms-to-be in a secret maternity home in Los Angeles, Scarlett Chen is far from her native China, where she worked in a factory job and fell in love with the owner, Boss Yeung. Now she’s carrying his baby. Already married with three daughters, he’s overjoyed because the doctors confirmed he will finally have the son he has always wanted. To ensure that his son has every advantage, he has shipped Scarlett off to give birth on American soil. U.S. citizenship will open doors for their little prince.

As Scarlett awaits the baby’s arrival, she chokes down bitter medicinal stews and spars with her imperious housemates. The only one who fits in even less is Daisy, a spirited teenager and fellow unwed mother who is being kept apart from her American boyfriend.

Then a new sonogram of Scarlett’s baby reveals the unexpected. Panicked, she escapes by hijacking a van–only to discover that she has a stowaway: Daisy, who intends to track down the father of her child. They flee to San Francisco’s bustling Chinatown, where Scarlett will join countless immigrants desperately trying to seize their piece of the American dream. What Scarlett doesn’t know is that her baby’s father is not far behind her.

A River of Stars is an entertaining, wildly unpredictable adventure, told with empathy and wit. It’s a vivid examination of home and belonging, and a moving portrayal of a woman determined to build her own future.

 

The Way You Make Me Feel – Maurene Goo

Clara Shin lives for pranks and disruption. When she takes one joke too far, her dad sentences her to a summer working on his food truck, the Honeycut, alongside her uptight classmate Rose Carver. Not the carefree summer Clara imagined. But maybe Rose isn’t so bad. Maybe the boy named Hamlet (yes, Hamlet) on the truck next door is pretty cute. Maybe Clara’s estranged mum deserves a second chance. What if taking these relationships seriously means leaving her old self behind? From the author of I Believe in a Thing Called Love comes another funny story of friendship, romance, and discovering that even when life gets serious, it can still be seriously fun.

The kids’ loot:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What did you get from your library this week?

 

This post contains affiliate links from Book Depository.  If you buy via these links it means I receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you). 

#APICelebrAsian – top API-authored books

This month is Asian American Pacific Islander (API) Heritage Month and on Instagram I am featuring API-authored books as part of #APICelebrAsian. This weekend, the topic is favourite API-authored books.

Here are the books that are in the photo which I first posted on Instagram

The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki (Japanese/Fiction)

Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho (Malaysian/Speculative fiction )

Mãn by Kim Thuy (Vietnamese/Fiction)

The Housekeeper and the Professor
The Diving Pool
by Yoko Ogawa
(Japanese/Fiction)

Inheritance
Sugarbread
by Balli Kaur Jaswal (Sikh-Singaporean/Fiction)

Half a Lifelong Romance
Love in a Fallen City
by Eileen Chang
(Chinese/Fiction)

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (Korean/Historical fiction)

The Song Poet by Kao Kaila Yang  (Hmong/Memoir)

Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo (Chinese-Malaysian/Historical fiction)

Shelter by Jung Yun (Korean/Fiction)

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang (Chinese/Graphic novel)

When the Emperor was Divine by Julie Otsuka (Japanese/ Historical fiction)

The Wildings by Nilanjana Roy (Indian/Speculative fiction)

Kinder than Solitude by Yiyun Li (Chinese/Fiction)

Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata (Japanese/Middle Grade)

向左走向右走 (Turn Left, Turn Right) by Jimmy Liao (Taiwanese/Graphic novel)

The Year She Left Us by Kathryn Ma (Chinese/Fiction)

Are some of these among your favourites too?