Happy Valentine’s Day!!!

I made Valentine’s Day Cards! My cousin is a huge BTS fan so I made these just for her–that was originally my intention at least. I wanted to make some cards for some of my favorite book characters but I was having too much fun making these. Hopefully I’ll be able to make some next year. (They’re gifs so be wary of lots of motions..sorry!)

For some reason The Sound of Music was on my mind a few weeks ago
and then she showed me this photo of JK, reminding me of the famous Julie Andrews scene.


Are any of you Guardian: The Lonely and Great God (Goblin) fans?
You know what it means if you see the sword…right? Heh…


The rest turned into cards for me instead of her…Enjoy the cringe! Feel free to send/share!
I had a lot of fun making them. Suga’s is probably my favorite.





Jimin is just too…
{insert any adjective that describes how insanely good looking he is}

Year in Review: 2020

Heading_Reading

Year: 2020
Goal: 150 Books

Read: 236 Books (267 including rereads)

I exceeded my reading goal…twice! Originally set at 100 books, I increased it as I inched closer to it and decided to increase it to 150. I met that goal, and then just kept reading. I read over 200 books (novellas included), and it was completely unexpected. I didn’t realize how much I’d read until I made more of an effort to track what I was reading on Goodreads. I went from a very, very long reading slump to reading nearly anything that sounded interesting to me. I’m positive this was an unprecedented year for me in reading so I don’t know how much I’ll be able to read in 2021.

*2021 READING GOAL*
Read at least 125 BOOKS

 

Heading_Blogging

Year: 2020
Goal: 1
Posted: 51

One of the best things that could have happened to me this year was discovering the bookish community and subsequently the bookish blogging community, which helped me to start my own blog. When I started reading again, I did not expect to become active on Twitter and I did not expect to start a blog…until I did. I reached out to Leelynn at Sometimes Leelynn Reads and she was welcoming and super helpful. It’s the end of 2020 and I’m still navigating a lot of things including being more consistent in terms of posting and my voice. However, I recognize that my posts are dependent on my mood during or after I finish a book…so I’m a mood blogger as well as a mood reader. The most consistent I am may will be how inconsistent I am. Heh…

*2021 BLOGGING GOAL*
Cross my fingers and hope for 51 posts
Celebrate my one year milestone

These are my five star reads of the year.ttt_cover-1The Crown Jewel of 2020
This was my top read of 2020. I planned a review for Today Tonight Tomorrow but I could never get it just right. Maybe one day, I’ll actually be able to post up how amazing this book was, how it made me nostalgic, and how I sat smiling after I finished it and just thought about how much I enjoyed high school…and then I remembered the one that got away. (hahaha)

ON LIFE

  • “We’re so in love with our past, we can’t trust that there are good things waiting for us in the future. And we have to move on. We have to make bold steps and believe in ourselves and in each other.” — In Case You Missed It (Lindsey Kelk)
  • “Braveness isn’t always loud. Sometimes it’s silent. There’s braveness in sacrifice and kindness. It’s in doing a thing that needs to be done, even though it’s hard, and even though it hurts.” — A Thousand Letters (Staci Hart)
  • “You can be strong and have moments of incredible despair. Those moments are not weaknesses. They are simply moments. And they are not you.” — Hate to Want You (Alisha Rai)

ON LOVE

  • “I already know that every time with her, it will be perfect, but I could do a million takes and never feel like I got it just right. Because I didn’t get to be her first. Because she wasn’t my first. But if I can be her best and last, I might come close to showing her that it’s the first time that anything I’ve ever done with a woman has felt this good and real.” — Sleeper (Kayley Loring)
  • “A thousand leagues and a thousand sands. For you, a thousand times I would defy the sun.”  — We Hunt the Flame (Hafsah Faizal)

ON LOSS

  • “People say time heals all wounds, but that’s just a lie. Grief is a chronic disease. The pain just keeps on coming.” Midnight Valentine (J.T. Geissinger)

Sharing the Refugee Experience: The Paper Boat (2020) and The Most Beautiful Thing (2020)

Recently, I had the opportunity to review two children’s books, both providing a glimpse into the refugee experience. As a child of refugees, I grew up with the mentality that I encompass the hopes and dreams of my parents and their sacrifices. My success is not necessarily my own. My parents drilled this into me at a young age, but I don’t think I truly understood this until I was older. (While it remains a heavy burden, some days are easier than others.)

What was this idea of communal success? What were my parents’ sacrifices? Why was it important for them to see me succeed (other than being their child of course)? These ideas, these concepts were already difficult to comprehend but made more so when I was underrepresented at school and couldn’t find books that remotely shared anything close to the story of my life or that of my parents’. Lessons in the classroom were not exactly helpful either.

When I was in around 9 years old, I had an assignment to write about my ancestors in the United States. Who was I supposed to write about? My ancestors tilled the fields of China and roamed the jungles of Laos. I had no ancestors in the U.S. whom I could lay claim to, unlike my friends who discovered their connections to individuals like Annie Oakley. The first people in my family to come to the United States were my aunt and her husband, who arrived in the late 1970s just a few years before my parents. With the parameters set, I didn’t see any other option but to write about my aunt and her family. Ancestors were relatives and my aunt was a relative, right? And my aunt was in the United States, right? That fulfilled the assignment requirements…right?

When I think back on this assignment, it often feels like blasphemy. I come from a culture that believes our ancestors continue to watch over us even after they pass, bringing fortune and helping us to overcome the bad. And, I couldn’t share their stories, their accomplishments. I’ve never forgotten this experience. This memory is one that lingers, often appearing at the most unexpected moments but bringing with it my hopes and wishes for the future, for change.

The incessant call for diversity in publishing, especially as the demographics of the United States shift to become minority-majority, is an opportunity for stories that better reflect the plethora of rich narratives in our communities. When I came upon The Paper Boat (2020) and The Most Beautiful Thing (2020), I was overwhelmed with emotions. I wish I had these stories to read when I was growing up to better understand my parents, to better understand my history, to know that I wasn’t alone.

**I was provided a copy of each book through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed them. All opinions are my own. I will be purchasing them for my personal library to share with nieces and nephews.**


The Paper Boat (2020)
by Thao Lam
ISBN: 9781771473637
Publication: September 15, 2020
Goodreads Summary


Children of Southeast Asian refugees like myself will appreciate the harrowing journey Lam shares of a girl and her family’s escape from Vietnam. Presented without words, readers must interpret the story through images illustrated with collage art. It encourages a more intimate connection by having readers closely observe the actions and emotions on each page so when readers finally reach the author’s note, there is a greater emotional impact. The Paper Boat provides an opportunity to share the sacrifices of our families, passing down stories to a younger generation so they may understand their history is not only one filled with pain but also courage and hope.

Thao Lam is an award winning author and has written several children’s books that include her collage art. She was only two when her family fled Vietnam. She currently resides in Canada and is also an art buyer for an educational publishing company.


The Most Beautiful Thing (2020)
by Kao Kalia Yang
ISBN: 9781541561915
Publication: October 6, 2020
Goodreads Summary

The Most Beautiful Thing is the heartfelt story of a Hmong girl and her relationship with her grandmother. It’s a simple and meaningful story with the lesson that beauty is more than just what we can see or buy. The book is beautifully illustrated with an array of colors reminiscent of traditional Hmong clothes. I would have appreciated a book such as this when I was growing up, one with a character who looks like me and shares a similar family history. I cannot wait to share this book with my nieces once it is published so they can also see themselves reflected in the books they read.

Kao Kalia Yang is a Hmong American author, public speaker and teacher who has garnered several awards for her books. Born in the Ban Vinai Refugee Camp in 1980, she came to the United States with her family when she was seven. Currently, she resides in St. Paul, Minnesota.

**For those who do not read Hmong or are unsure how to pronounce the Hmong words, the phonetic spelling of each at the beginning of the book is helpful.

I would love to know what books you have read that you wished had been published when you were growing up? What books would you love to share with children?

Starting a (mostly) Book Blog

I was recently inspired by a tag to create a book blog. When I first started seeing it on Twitter I kept wondering who is this “#OurVoice”, this “#OwnVoice”? And then it hit me…

My Voice?

Diverse representation is needed and I can, in my own small way, contribute to this: read all kinds of books, write about them, but also make a conscious effort to read books that include main characters like me. Bascially, do what I already love and then put it in a post.

Maybe I didn’t think too much of it before, but I gravitated toward that character who had dark hair rather than the one that had blonde tresses; the girl with the brown eyes and not the blue ones. I gravitated toward that girl who was smart but quiet in school rather than the all-American girl who played sports. Don’t get me wrong. A good book is still a good book, no matter what the main character looks like. I love reading. I devour books. But descriptive representation is important.

To be frank, it was only not too long ago that I had this epiphany about what characters I identified with when I was reading as a child and, often times, even now. I always searched for something, anything I had in common with characters in books. How could I love reading so much and yet there be no books that had people who looked like me? Who do you think I loved the best in The Babysitter’s Club? Claudia Kishi? Yup. Claudia. And Dawn because she was from California. Yup, I’m from California. There’s a reason (multiple actually) that after so many years, I still remember Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. There’s a reason why I recall In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson. There’s this part I will never forget. Shirley Temple Wong is so excited to see a girl who looks like her that she goes and talks to her in Chinese, only to be told that she is American and doesn’t speak Chinese. That scene is imprinted in me! It reflects so much of my own childhood. (Also, don’t get me started on Just as Long as We’re Together and Here’s to You, Rachel Robinson. I was pretty sad because Alison, the Asian girl, didn’t get her own book.) And, if I’m being honest, I can’t remember what I ate yesterday but I remember the names of these books because they had characters that were representations of me.

This is my attempt to projecting my voice just a bit louder. And, this is also an attempt to connect with other people who enjoy reading as much as I do. (I love my friends but as one recently said to me, “I haven’t touched [a book] in I don’t know how long…” It really hurt the heart…the lungs too.)

I am Hmong. I am Asian. Most of all, I just love reading.