reading for one hour every day | review corner

by - 3:30 PM

Hello there! I've been on a reading high and have come up with plenty of lofty plans for the remainder of August as I'm in denial that September is approaching. Somehow, one of these plans have come to fruition and was 100% spurred because I watched Sunny Kim's Reading 200 pgs a day Challenge

I took this as an opportunity to tackle some of the books on my tbr that I've started and...left sitting in the dust. With how much fun I had tracking the pages and minutes, I might have to return to this challenge if I find myself struggling to read during the school year.

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pages: 304  | source: e-book arc, NetGalley
publication date: September 12, 2023
genre: ya, contemporary, coming of age
rating: 6.5/10

B O O K S H O P *    |    G O O D R E A D S    

I received a digital ARC from the publisher -  I was not compensated for this review and all thoughts are my own honest opinion.

The Name Drop is perfect for fans of rom-com kdrama fans who love a case of mistaken identity and the heartwarming vibes from a coming-of-age story. When Jessica (Yoo-jin Lee #1) finds herself in a first class seat to her new internship, she doesn't think much about it. That is until she finds herself in a completely different intern program and living in a bougie NYC brownstone. When Elijah (Yoo-jin Lee #2) finds himself in a cramped apartment with other interns, he thinks his CEO father is trying to teach him a lesson. Discovering the case of mistaken identity becomes the perfect opportunity for him to fly under the radar of his oppressive father's control and enjoy a summer in the city while Jessica can do all the work and get the connections she needs.

When I initially started The Name Drop it took me a while to get into the story. The characters are in their late teens but the prose read very young in tone. However, it isn't difficult to understand and you easily become enamored with the characters and their goals to make the most out of the summer in NYC. Jessica is the lovable female lead who has a habit of oversharing when nervous and is determined to make her parents proud. Her interactions with Elijah were so cute and I was already picturing them in a classic kdrama scene (cue emotional OST music and Subway ads). I loved seeing them overcome their differences and work together with each other and the intern team to break against the limitations the adults place on them for simply being younger. 

The Name Drop manages to capture literal summer sunshine and coffee-run internships while also providing a dose of adorable friendships and romance as it highlights the importance of knowing one's worth and the endless possibilities that come with the next chapter of your life.

I received a digital ARC from the publisher -  I was not compensated for this review and all thoughts are my own honest opinion.

favorite line: Be happy. Every single day, make choices to make yourself happy.

pages: 352  | source: e-book, own
publication date: June 20, 2023
genre: ya, contemporary, coming of age
rating: 8.5/10

B O O K S H O P *    |    G O O D R E A D S    

When I say that An Echo in the City changed my life, know that I don't say those words lightly. I was deathly afraid to pick this up initially because the 2019 Hong Kong protests hit really close to home. As a Taiwanese-American, you don't have to search too far on the internet to see the rising tensions and understand why my heart physically ached while reading this story. Phoenix and Kai find themselves on opposite sides of a growing political upheaval and each made decisions they think is best for themselves and their country, even if it risks ripping them apart. The tensions are so high I was getting chills and my heart felt like it was running a marathon. Amidst the chaos, an incredibly sweet but dangerous love story also begins to blossom.

While I had my fears going into this book, I also had some reservations - especially with knowing that Kai would provide insight into the police side of the protest. I loved how the author didn't try to justify the police or even humanize them for all the evil and pain they caused. We just saw Kai and saw his struggle to comprehend what was going on and how he feared hoping for a better alternative. An Echo in City goes beyond just a commentary on the protests themselves as both Phoenix and Kai became incredibly real individuals that represented a spectrum of uncertainty and societal failures on the younger generation. From the difference in social class privilege to familial expectations, reading their story was like getting hit in the heart and I understood their struggles more deeply than I anticipated.

It is really sad when something that happened only four years ago feels like a historical event and is constantly reflected in the current news as we have to continue to fight. My favorite line below absolutely destroyed me with the realization that as a child of immigrants, my parents have fought so hard for my future, and with the current state of the world, my generation now has to fight for them.

favorite line: We have each other. It is a sad day when only children are willing to fight for their future.

pages: 464  | source: physical/gifted from publisher
publication date: April 18, 2023
genre: adult, fantasy, sci-fi, action & adventure
rating: 7.2/10

B O O K S H O P *    |    G O O D R E A D S    

I received a physical copy from the publisher -  I was not compensated for this review and all thoughts are my own honest opinion.

This book took me four months to read because I was petrified for the characters. I am the self-proclaimed queen of conflict avoidance and when I tell you I was anxious and unwell for Kenna and the squad, I was literally worried sick. The Blood Gift follows Kenna after going rogue and trying to find allies in an attempt to stop the war and impending genocide on her country by the Accacian Empire. After being Chosen by the goddess Amaka, Kenna knows her only course of action is to try and assassinate Accacia's bloodthirsty tyrant. What she doesn't expect is finding unexpected but equally as deadly allies and more power than she ever anticipated flowing through her veins.

I'm doing a lot of proclaiming in this review but N.E. Davenport is seriously one of the best plot/pace-driven authors I've read in a while. Once I sat down and actually got over my initial anxiety, I literally could not stop reading. The characters already went through hell in The Blood Trials and they go through it again in this sequel. There's blood galore (fitting since the magic is blood-based) and so many deaths, it's not for the faint of heart. As intense as the story itself is, I've also developed a fondness for everyone on Kenna's rogue squad, even Caiman who was absolutely insufferable in book one. This elite group of killers has somehow made it into my list of favorite found families because they're literally getting beaten down constantly but continue to stand their ground and have each other's backs. 

Dare I say I want more of this world after finishing the conclusion to this duology? The world-building was able to expand so much along with the magical history. It's a brutal ride and my heart literally died for the characters multiple times but it was absolutely fantastic.

I received a physical copy from the publisher -  I was not compensated for this review and all thoughts are my own honest opinion.

favorite line: I'd go to war with the very cosmos to hand you that.

pages: 454  | source: physical, own
publication date: July 6, 2021
genre: ya, fantasy, fairytale & folklore
rating: 6.8/10

B O O K S H O P *    |    G O O D R E A D S    

With the prequel's release only a few weeks away, I finally sat myself down and finish Six Crimson Cranes and once again bow down to Elizabeth Lim for delivering an incredibly magical tale. Shiori is somewhat of an entitled princess at the start, loved by her father and brothers, and very unhappy about being betrothed. When she discovers her innate magical abilities, she hides them from her family until an incident reveals them to her stepmother, who is also hiding some magical secrets of her own. The Nameless Queen turns Shiori's brothers into cranes and curses the princess - for every word she speaks, one of her brothers will die. 

The inspirational fairytale is one that I've grown up with and always had a fondness for so it's no surprise that I loved how it was  spun something familiar into a brand new story. Shiori is incredibly headstrong and her character growth throughout all the trials of reuniting with her brothers and figuring how to break the curse hones her determined and stubborn personality. We're transported into the kingdom of Kiata as the disappearance of the royal heirs breeds unrest and Shiori finds herself in the middle of the chaos, with her magic tested and hunted. I would be lying if I didn't also acknowledge Takkan, Shiori's betrothed, who once again reminded me that Elizabeth Lim just writes male characters that raise the bar each time (I'm still not over Edan and now we have Takkan). Needless to say, the characters are easily lovable and with each revealed secret, I was cheering for Shiori to win.

Six Crimson Cranes weaves together familiarity with an Asian-inspired twist and creates a world full of characters that I've grown incredibly attached to and will be jumping into its sequel immediately because I cannot wait to see how their journey continues.

favorite line: I would tell you stories from dawn to dusk if it meant filling your eyes with happiness.

I am genuinely so proud of myself that I actually stuck with my TBR and came incredibly close to finishing all the books. My biggest takeaway is that putting a timer on something really helps to force my focus so I can't get away with any excuses about continuing a story. Not gonna lie, I'm relieved to check these books on my currently-reading list because the pile was getting way out of hand and also pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed each book.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'll continue this upward trend of reading into the new school year but if you have any tips/schedules that have worked for you, please let me know!

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  1. So glad this experiment helped you finish some of the books on your tbr and that you ended up enjoying them, Riv. I'm adding An Echo in the City to my tbr, it sounds interesting.

    1. it definitely surprised me! I can't wait to hear your thoughts on echo!! ♡

  2. Ooh I really enjoyed all of your reviews and glad to read you had a great time reading them! The Name Drop sounds really fun and I need to get to Six Crimson Cranes asap!

    1. name drop definitely gives all the kdrama vibes! can't wait to hear your thoughts on scc too! ♡