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.  


A Conversation with Maurene Goo



“I really hope that readers take from this story, the importance of, like you said, empathy and understanding others’ experiences. Because that is really powerful.”

Blog Tour + Thoughts: We Are Not Free by Traci Chee


Thank you to Colored Pages Bookish Tours and HMH Teen for providing me with an advanced reader copy for this book tour.

  "You move, or you do not move; you freeze, or you act; it doesn't matter. You are too dangerous anyway, too yellow, too slow, too stupid, too weak anyway. You are arrested anyway. You are beaten anyway."

During World War II, the United States government held thousands of Japanese-Americans in internment camps. Driven by xenophobia and racism, America justified the forced removal of families from their neighborhoods under the guise of identifying Japanese spies. Despite the fact that these individuals were citizens and some even fought in the American military, over 120,000 Japanese-Americans were uprooted from their lives and relocated to ten camps. They were forced to carry registration papers and abandon their belongings and businesses. In camps and in their own communities, Japanese-Americans were subject to discrimination, maltreatment, and even violence at the hands of government officials and other Americans. In We Are Not Free, author Traci Chee details the experiences of fourteen second-generation Japanese-American teenagers who must endure hatred and hardship.


Solitude & Self-Reflection: A Recap of Summer 2020


"When we realize that we have the awesome power to paint our life story, we are free."
Happy August, all! I hope that in this time of uncertainty, you are safe and well. I have a hard time believing that it's already August. I have now been living at home for nearly five months. My university recently pushed our return to campus to September, although we will be resuming remote classes in ten days. I appreciate my school's efforts to ensure that students and faculty will stay healthy. I also yearn for the comfort of a campus learning environment and the relationships I could have developed with fellow classmates this summer and school year. In the short time I was at college, I remember being struck by how unique a situation it was to be completely surrounded by passionate, curious individuals all around my age. Typically, the only people I encountered outside of my age were professors. In a way, I was living in a bubble. Simultaneously, I was experiencing a new world.

Blog Tour + Book Review: Vanessa Yu's Magical Paris Tea Shop


Thank you to Caffeine Book Tours and Penguin Random House for providing me with an advanced reader copy for review. Receiving this galley does not impact my opinion of the book.

"There isn't anything wrong with knowing that something will expire. It focuses you: treasure the time you have together."

Vanessa Yu's Magical Paris Tea Shop follows Chinese-American accountant Vanessa Yu's pursuit of self-discovery in the City of Love. Since she was young, Vanessa has possessed the ability to tell fortunes based on the remnants of their tea (or other drink). Unfortunately, the accountant has no control over her power: she bursts with a prophecy every time she catches sight of the bottom of a cup. To worsen matters, her ability has left her so unable to sustain a long-term relationship that her aunts demand she see a matchmaker. When Vanessa spoils a wedding by accidentally predicting the groom's future infidelity, she becomes determined to control her power. She leaves her job in America behind to study under the tutelage of her Aunt Evelyn, an expert fortune-teller, in Paris. As Vanessa explores the city, she discovers magic and love and learns that her actions can be stronger than fate.