A Conversation with Lyn Liao Butler



In this day and age, the definition of “family” is so different. Embrace whatever family you have, whether it is by blood, adoption, or found family.

Red Thread of Fate charts Tam Kwan's journey to find healing and community following a tragedy. After her husband, Tony, and his cousin, Mia, are killed in a car accident, Tam struggles with her guilt and grief. To complicate matters, she becomes the official guardian of Mia's five-year-old daughter, Angela, and an adopted son from China, whom she intended to raise with her husband, within weeks of the accident. As she navigates her new responsibilities as a mother, she must also grapple with family secrets that threaten to upend her relationships with the living and the dead. Red Thread of Fate releases on February 8, 2022. 

A Review of Intimacies by Katie Kitamura


“I no longer believed that equanimity was either tenable or desirable. It corroded everything inside. I had never met a person with greater equanimity than the former president. But this applied to all of them—to the prosecution and the defense, to the judges and even the other interpreters. They were able to work. They had the right temperament for the job. But at what internal cost?”

Words matter. They can start and end wars and hold the best and worst of our nature. Spoken and reserved, they reflect the intricacies of our engagements with each other. The unnamed narrator of Katie Kitamura’s 2021 novel, Intimacies, leads a life that exemplifies how language – and, more importantly, the power of the people behind them – can mold identities and change worlds. 

My Top 5 Books of 2021


 “She’d spend her time preparing for her future, living in books until the exciting part of her life would begin. Things would matter then. In fact, everything would be different.” 

Mary H. K. Choi, Emergency Contact

As we settle into the new year, I continue to find comfort and inspiration in books. While looking back on my reads from the year past, I identified five books that stood out to me for their insight, daring, or entertainment. As promised, here are my top five books of 2021.


2022 is ours.


"Yes, we have a long way to go,
but we have already come so far.
Here’s to breathing deep
and making the most
of where we are."
- Morgan Harper Nichols

Memory keeps the dead alive: a review of Must I Go by Yiyun Li



Thank you to the publisher, Random House, for providing me with an advanced reader copy for review. Receiving this galley does not impact my review of the book.

“People are like flowers. Some are born rare species, and they are assigned certified gardeners, and people line up to catch a glimpse when they bloom...Yet in the end all flowers blossom for the same purpose, and none of them last unless you press them between pages.”


Democracy is never assured: a review of Twilight of Democracy


 "There is no single explanation, and I will not offer either a grand theory or a universal solution. But there is a theme: given the right conditions, any society can turn against democracy. Indeed, if history is anything to go by, all of our societies will."

On January 6, 2021, a mob attacked the United States Capitol. Armed with weapons and white supremacist paraphernalia, including the Confederate flag, KKK signs, and Nazi symbols, the rioters interrupted Congress's Electoral College vote certification process to confirm Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 election. They threatened, stole, hurt, raged, and defiled. Five people were killed. The insurrectionists attacked American democracy in the name of a leader they believed was unfairly stripped of power: Donald Trump.

Why do events like the riot happen? How do alt-right groups championing authoritarianism gain traction in democratic societies, and why are they spreading around the world?

The Best 50 Books of 2020 (ft. The Bookish Community!)


Looking for book recommendations for your 2021 reading list? Look no further.

The coming new year compels reflection. To look back on the last year in books, I've invited over 50 passionate readers, including bloggers, booktubers, and bookstagrammers, to share the stories that captivated them most this year. These are the 50 best books of 2020:

Welcome, 2021: What I Read, Blogged, & Experienced in 2020


 “There’ll be happiness after you, but there was happiness because of you. Both of these things can be true. There is happiness, past the blood and bruise, past the curses and the cries.”

from Taylor Swift’s “Happiness”


Racism, the Goldfinch, & Literary Canon


Notwithstanding its success, The Goldfinch relied on clichés rooted in racial and ethnic stereotypes to realize its settings and elevate the protagonist.

I picked up The Goldfinch on a whim during my last visit to the library. While surveying the shelves for books that would inspire me to read again after an intense academic semester, Tartt’s name caught my eye. Previously, I read and enjoyed her novel The Secret History, a fascinating and disturbing exploration of what drives a group of elite college students to murder a fellow classmate. I borrowed The Goldfinch on the promise of The Secret History; at the time, I knew nothing of its plot or its critical acclaim. I was later surprised to find that, despite the dissent of a few literary critics who dismissed the writing as childish, The Goldfinch is a popular and generally well-respected book that I’d simply missed out on. (Granted, I was 12 years old at the time of its release, but as a book blogger I would have expected it to at least cross my periphery). In fact, Tartt’s almost 800-page tome sold over 1.5 million copies within the first months of its release, was hailed by the New York Times Book Review, among others, as “a rarity” and “a smartly written literary novel”, and received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2014. While reading, I was thus even more surprised to discover how, notwithstanding its success, The Goldfinch relied on clichés rooted in racial and ethnic stereotypes to realize its settings and elevate the protagonist.


The Sophomore Slump: Reflecting on Fall 2020


Dear reader, I hope that you are doing well. It’s been too long since I last wrote. I’ve missed the comfort of this space, but I also acknowledge that this academic semester demanded my complete attention. As I reflect on this past fall, I feel like a more whole person. I am not new; I haven’t changed, necessarily, but I feel evolved. Realized. Experiencing college amidst a global pandemic, a strenuous election season, and my own self-doubts challenged me to think critically about myself and the world. Like many, I have cried and smiled throughout the past few months. I have reflected. And while I still lack many answers, grappling with uncertainty guided my path toward a greater sense of self.