Wonton Terror

Wonton TerrorWonton Terror

By Vivien Chien

Series: A Noodle Shop Mystery #4
Source Purchased

Published by St. Martin’s Press
on August 27, 2019

three-half-stars

The Asian community is kicking off summer with the return of its popular Cleveland Night Market festivities, and Lana Lee is excited to represent the Ho-Lee Noodle House booth with her favorite chef, Peter Huang. Lana is confident that the evening marks the beginning of a great season to come. Not only is she looking forward to the warm temperatures, but her birthday is only weeks away, her handsome boyfriend, Detective Adam Trudeau, is planning a romantic get-away. Life couldn’t be better.

But before she can get too accustomed to the idea of a carefree summer, an explosion involving a nearby food truck, Wonton on Wheels, kills one of the proprietors and injures several others in the nearby vicinity.

When the authorities discover that this was no accident, the family members of the dead man become the number-one suspects in a front-page murder story. Lana and her best friend, Megan Riley, fall back into detective mode. But as they uncover family secrets of abuse and angry costumers, Lana’s own family drama raises its head. Will Lana be able to juggle everything the universe is throwing at her, or has she jumped from the frying pan to the fire?

I am not generally a cozy mystery reader, but I do enjoy this series and have been slowly working my way through it.

This book was a nice change of pace from the heavier, darker books I’d read recently. Wonton Terror is book four and was a solid story. I am enjoying this series more with each book, I think because I really enjoy Lana’s family and also because I have liked seeing Lana become more involved in the family business.

I’ve already bought the next in the series am looking forward to it!

three-half-stars

Recent Movies (2)

As I wrote in an earlier post, I’ve been watching a lot of horror movies lately. Sometimes I just have them on in the background (which is how I’ve managed to see so many), which for some reason I find comforting, and I’ve been enjoying watching a lot of new-to-me horror this year.

Here is a list of what I’ve watched in the last couple of months, in no particular order, with the ones I especially enjoyed in bold:

  1. Dead Shack
  2. Creep
  3. Blood Quantum
  4. Housebound – this was a fantastic New Zealand horror-comedy.
  5. Villainess
  6. The Invitation – I liked this a lot more than I thought I would. It was so tense!
  7. The Babadook
  8. Host – This was super fun but I can’t believe we’re already at the point of having a movie set and filmed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  9. Hell House LLC – I don’t quite know why I like this one as much as I do, but I’ve already rewatched it about four times.
  10. Found Footage 3D
  11. Blair Witch Project (rewatch)
  12. Hell House LLC 2
  13. The Conjuring
  14. Haunt
  15. Sinister
  16. Scare Me
  17. One Cut of the Dead (rewatch)
  18. Satan’s Slaves
  19. 0.00 mhz
  20. REC – I watched the original Spanish movie (finally) and really liked it. I am curious about the American remake and might check that out too.
  21. Game Over
  22. The Last Broadcast 
  23. Creepy
  24. Us – Another one that I finally watched. This was really good.
  25. Z
  26. Ruin Me
  27. I See You – This movie was not what I expected, but I liked it. I would say this is more of a thriller than a horror movie so if you don’t like scary stuff, but you do like a decent thriller, you might want to check this out.
  28. House of the Witch
  29. The Houses October Built
  30. Grave Encounters
  31. Hell House LLC 3
  32. Carrie
  33. Midsommar – This was fantastic and visually stunning. I did watch Hereditary, by the same writer and director, the next day and while that was good, I definitely liked Midsommar more.
  34. Halloween (rewatch)
  35. Hereditary
  36. The Wailing
  37. The Piper

I have so many more movies on my watch list that I’m excited to check out! Let me know if you’ve seen anything I’ve watched, or if you have any good spooky movie suggestions!

Shine

ShineShine

By Jessica Jung

Series: Shine #1
Source Received from the publisher

Published by Simon Pulse
on September 29, 2020

Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

three-half-stars

What would you give for a chance to live your dreams?

For seventeen-year-old Korean American Rachel Kim, the answer is almost everything. Six years ago, she was recruited by DB Entertainment—one of Seoul’s largest K-pop labels, known for churning out some of the world’s most popular stars. The rules are simple: Train 24/7. Be perfect. Don’t date. Easy right?

Not so much. As the dark scandals of an industry bent on controlling and commodifying beautiful girls begin to bubble up, Rachel wonders if she’s strong enough to be a winner, or if she’ll end up crushed… Especially when she begins to develop feelings for K-pop star and DB golden boy Jason Lee. It’s not just that he’s charming, sexy, and ridiculously talented. He’s also the first person who really understands how badly she wants her star to rise.

I’ve been excited about the books coming out lately about k-pop (I’ll Be The One by Lyla Lee; K-pop Confidential by Stephen Lee; and this one!).

In Shine, I loved the look into the intense, competitive world of k-pop trainees. Knowing that the author, Jessica Jung, was a member of the k-pop group Girls Generation made me believe that Rachel’s experience as a trainee was an accurate reflection of the super harsh environment and sky-high pressure and expectations put on the girls hoping to debut. And the rivalries! I liked reading about Rachel’s rivalry with Mina, another trainee, in particular.

I was more interested in Rachel’s life as a trainee than I was in the romance, and my interest waned at times when the story felt slow, but this was a fun read. Shine left just enough threads hanging to have me excited about book two already.

three-half-stars

Quick Lit

September 2020

I’ve been reading a lot lately, and not always feeling like I want to write a full review for each book read (or sometimes I just don’t have much to say about a book). So I was inspired by Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Quick Lit posts, as well as Hannah at So Obsessed With‘s monthly Quick Lit posts, and decided to do something similar as a way to briefly discuss the books I read in a month but don’t write full reviews for.

My September reading really slowed down. I was mostly spending my free time watching horror movies and consuming BTS content. I read 10 books in September, including these that have already been reviewed here on the blog:

None Shall Sleep, Ellie Marney;

Solutions and Other Problems, Allie Brosh; and

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, Victoria Schwab.

Here are my thoughts on the other books I read last month:

The Animals at Lockwood Manor, Jane Healey (library) – 4⭐

This was an absorbing story that was a good slow-build gothic-y read.

This Savage Song, Victoria Schwab (e-ARC) – 3.5⭐

Somehow this book by my favourite author was one I hadn’t read yet. I have to admit, this took a long time for me to get into and if it hadn’t been by my fave, I probably would have put it down about halfway through. But it picked up in the end and got much more intriguing, although I’m on the fence about whether or not I would read the sequel.

The New Girl, Harriet Walker (library)- 3⭐

This was good. I didn’t get as into this one as I had hoped to, but it had its moments.

The Hole, Hye-Young Pyun (owned) – 3⭐

A strange, slow, tense story that kept upping the tension and dread right to the end. I’m not sure I fully understood what was happening, but I liked trying to figure it out.

Take Me Apart, Sara Sligar (owned) – 3.5⭐

I liked this book and its slowly building tension. The more I read, the more it pulled me in, and I found myself unable to put it down after awhile.

Vita Nostra, Marina and Sergey Dyachenko; Julia Meitov Hersey (Transl.) (library) – 4⭐

This book was a fascinating mindbender! I think the comparison to The Magicians is apt, but it is also very much its own thing. I loved this dark gem!

Rules For Vanishing, Kate Alice Marshall (owned) – 3⭐

This was fine, but I didn’t love it the way I hoped it would. The story moved quickly enough, but it felt a bit muddled to me and I wasn’t invested in the characters.

What have you been reading lately?

The Searcher

The SearcherThe Searcher

By Tana French

Source Purchased

Published by Viking
on October 6, 2020

four-stars

Retired detective Cal Hooper moves to a remote village in rural Ireland. His plans are to fix up the dilapidated cottage he’s bought, to walk the mountains, to put his old police instincts to bed forever.

Then a local boy appeals to him for help. His brother is missing, and no one in the village, least of all the police, seems to care. And once again, Cal feels that restless itch.

Something is wrong in this community, and he must find out what, even if it brings trouble to his door.

I love Tana French‘s books! As soon as I heard that she had a book coming out this year, I pre-ordered. I was so excited to read this one. I quite liked her last book, which was not part of her (hopefully ongoing) Dublin Murder Squad series, and so this being another standalone story intrigued me.

The Searcher is a slow burn of a story, taking its time introducing the reader to the landscape and the characters. Even though I wasn’t sure where things were leading, I found this compulsively readable. From the first page, I felt a comfort of being wrapped up in Tana French’s words, and enjoyed spending my weekend reading this.

Along the winding way to the story’s tense finale, I felt Cal’s status as an outsider in the village, and his inability to just leave things be, now that he was no longer a cop. I felt less and less sure of who Cal should trust and what, if anything, had happened.

I will read anything by Tana French, and while my favourites of her books are from the Dublin Murder Squad series, this was pretty fantastic.

four-stars

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRueThe Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

By Victoria Schwab (as V.E. Schwab)

Source Received from the publisher

Published by Tor Books
on October 6, 2020

Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

five-stars

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore and he remembers her name.

This was probably my most-anticipated book of the year! Victoria Schwab is my favourite author, and I preordered this book as soon as I possibly could. I was therefore beyond thrilled to receive an e-ARC from Raincoast (thank you!!), and I couldn’t wait to settle in and read.

This is such an intriguing story, and from what Victoria has revealed about it over the years, I had really high expectations that I’m happy to say were exceeded!! This is a beautifully written and moving story about Addie, who wants a bigger life than what everyone else could see for her, and in a difficult moment, makes a bargain that she can’t take back.

While it was heartbreaking to read about Addie’s family no longer remembering her, and her inability to form relationships and friendships with people because of the deal she made, I loved reading about her journey through the centuries, the things she saw and the people she met, the experiences she had, and the way she learned to leave a mark through others. 

I took my time reading this book because I wanted to really luxuriate in the writing, and because it was such a slow burn that I didn’t want to rush through it. 

I’ve been thinking about Addie’s story since I finished reading, and I don’t have the words to adequately describe my love for this book and what I felt when I finished reading. I enjoyed it all, from start to finish (I particularly loved the ending), and learning that the book will be adapted as a film (written by Victoria!) was some of the best news I’ve heard all year!

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is absolutely one of my favourite reads of the year, and I cannot recommend this amazing book enough!

five-stars

Solutions And Other Problems

Solutions And Other ProblemsSolutions And Other Problems

By Allie Brosh

Source Purchased

Published by Gallery Books
on September 22, 2020

five-stars

For the first time in seven years, Allie Brosh—beloved author and artist of the extraordinary #1 New York Times bestseller Hyperbole and a Half—returns with a new collection of comedic, autobiographical, and illustrated essays.

Solutions and Other Problems includes humorous stories from Allie Brosh’s childhood; the adventures of her very bad animals; merciless dissection of her own character flaws; incisive essays on grief, loneliness, and powerlessness; as well as reflections on the absurdity of modern life.

This full-color, beautifully illustrated edition features all-new material with more than 1,600 pieces of art. Solutions and Other Problems marks the return of a beloved American humorist who has “the observational skills of a scientist, the creativity of an artist, and the wit of a comedian” (Bill Gates).

I’ve been waiting for this book for years!! I love Hyperbole and a Half so much, and I knew I would love this book too.

It was worth the wait (the release date was pushed back several times over the years; my various preorders were cancelled; etc.). Allie Brosh addresses the delay on the book and I knew some of what she had been through in the last few years but not everything. The book touches on some really difficult stuff, but it also made me laugh, and I just adore her art.

This was poignant, colourful, funny, and I just loved it.

five-stars

Leave The World Behind

Leave The World BehindLeave The World Behind

By Rumaan Alam

Source Received from the publisher

Published by Ecco
on October 6, 2020

Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

four-stars

Amanda and Clay head out to a remote corner of Long Island expecting a vacation: a quiet reprieve from life in New York City, quality time with their teenage son and daughter, and a taste of the good life in the luxurious home they’ve rented for the week. But a late-night knock on the door breaks the spell. Ruth and G. H. are an older black couple—it’s their house, and they’ve arrived in a panic. They bring the news that a sudden blackout has swept the city. But in this rural area—with the TV and internet now down, and no cell phone service—it’s hard to know what to believe.

Should Amanda and Clay trust this couple—and vice versa? What happened back in New York? Is the vacation home, isolated from civilization, a truly safe place for their families? And are they safe from one another?

Suspenseful and provocative, Rumaan Alam’s third novel is keenly attuned to the complexities of parenthood, race, and class. Leave the World Behind explores how our closest bonds are reshaped—and unexpected new ones are forged—in moments of crisis.

I read this e-ARC in a single day. Like Amanda and Clay, I was lulled into a feeling of complacency and isolation for the first few chapters, but gradually things became stranger and more tense until it was too late to doubt that something was happening. 

And the ‘what’ of it all was a backdrop to reflections on family, parenthood, class, and race. This was an intriguing, compelling story that felt all too real.

four-stars

None Shall Sleep

None Shall SleepNone Shall Sleep

By Ellie Marney

Source Purchased

Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
on September 1, 2020

four-stars

In 1982, two teenagers—serial killer survivor Emma Lewis and US Marshal candidate Travis Bell—are recruited by the FBI to interview convicted juvenile killers and provide insight and advice on cold cases. From the start, Emma and Travis develop a quick friendship, gaining information from juvenile murderers that even the FBI can’t crack. But when the team is called in to give advice on an active case—a serial killer who exclusively hunts teenagers—things begin to unravel. Working against the clock, they must turn to one of the country’s most notorious incarcerated murderers for help: teenage sociopath Simon Gutmunsson. Despite Travis’s objections, Emma becomes the conduit between Simon and the FBI team. But while Simon seems to be giving them the information they need to save lives, he’s an expert manipulator playing a very long game…and he has his sights set on Emma.

Captivating, harrowing, and chilling, None Shall Sleep is an all-too-timely exploration of not only the monsters that live among us, but also the monsters that live inside us.

This was a really gripping story about a couple of teenagers working with the FBI about serial killers. I definitely get the comparison to Silence of the Lambs. It also reminded me of Criminal Minds.

None Shall Sleep pulled me in right away and I nearly finished it in one sitting. If you’re looking for a thriller, this is a great pick! By the end, I was so tense and needing to know how it would turn out that I absolutely could not put the book down.

This is set in the early 1980s, but it doesn’t hit you over the head with its setting. I definitely recommend this for thriller fans, especially if you’re looking for a good spooky season pick that doesn’t have any supernatural or paranormal elements to it. If you want a tense, fast-paced thriller with characters that you will care about and who’s fates you’ll be invested in, this is a great read!

four-stars

Quick Lit

August 2020

I’ve been reading a lot lately, and not always feeling like I want to write a full review for each book read (or sometimes I just don’t have much to say about a book). So I was inspired by Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Quick Lit posts, as well as Hannah at So Obsessed With‘s monthly Quick Lit posts, and decided to do something similar as a way to briefly discuss the books I read in a month but don’t write full reviews for.

My reading in August slowed down (I was very busy with all of the new BTS content! Stream Dynamite!), and I read 15 books.

Here is the list of what I read in August that I have reviewed on the blog (the links will take you to to my reviews):

The Shadows, Alex North;

Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places, Colin Dickey;

Impersonation, Heidi Pitlor;

Allegedly, Tiffany D. Jackson;

Gideon the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir (this was a re-read);

Harrow the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir; and

Red Pill, Hari Kunzru.

Here are my thoughts on the rest of the books I read in August:

The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether, Edgar Allan Poe – 3⭐

I read this while I was reading Ghostland, since it was mentioned at one point in the book, and it was certainly interesting!

Vivian Apple at the End of the World, Katie Coyle (ARC) – 3.5⭐

I thought this premise was so interesting! The story moves along at a good pace, and it really grabbed me with that ending. Now I need to find book two!

10 Things I Hate About Pinky, Sandhya Menon (e-ARC) – 3⭐

I liked this book, but it was not my favourite in this series. I generally like a hate-to-love romance, but in this case, I think because I wasn’t as into these characters, the romance was not as fun for me as others in the series. 

But I liked Pinky’s passion and dedication, and I definitely had a smile on my face when I finished reading!

He Started It, Samantha Downing (e-ARC) – 2.5⭐

I was all ready for this book to be an exciting, tense, thrilling read but honestly, I did not find it all that interesting. It felt like there were long stretches where nothing was really happening – it was just a long, not very interesting roadtrip.

There were some moments in the latter half of the book that grabbed my attention, but for the most part, I found this one dull and slow, unfortunately. And I’m not sure what to make of that ending but I don’t think I liked it.

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, Haruki Murakami and Philip Gabriel (transl.) (library) – 3⭐

This was a quick, interesting read and I liked the insight into both running and Murakami’s writing process.

Lovecraft Country, Matt Ruff (purchased) – 4⭐

This was good and creepy! I loved the anthology-style, and as a side-note, I’ve been really enjoying the TV adaptation as well.

The Ghost in the House, Sara O’Leary (library) – 4⭐

This was an intriguing little novella that really drew me in. I quite enjoyed it.

The Ballad of Black Tom, Victor LaValle (purchased) – 4⭐

Another novella! I liked this one and got it because I saw it recommended frequently in discussions of Lovecraft Country. I have more by Victor LaValle in my library to read now!

What have you been reading lately?

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