Happy Lunar New Year and happy TATBILB 3 day!! In honor of the last installment of the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before trilogy on Netflix, I’m back a full year after my original To All the Books I’ve Loved Before post with part two! This time, I’m focusing on some of the key themes in Always and Forever, Lara Jean, like navigating grief and the future, as well as first loves and old/new friendships. So grab a cup of tea and a cozy blanket, because I’m here with recommendations that will cure your TATBILB hangover!Read more
Thank you to Simon & Schuster and Netgalley for providing me an ARC of the book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. All quotes are from an advance copy and are subject to change in final publication.
Reading this book made me crave Vietnamese food so much I could practically taste it. A Pho Love Story is a cute, heartfelt love story between the two main characters, Linh and Bao, but what really made it shine for me were the family dynamics and nuanced portrayals of Asian parents. To me, the title is less about Bao and Linh, and more about the sacrifices of their parents for the sake of their children than anything else, and that’s exactly what I love about it.Read more
Happy new journal! This month’s book inspiration is A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow, and it’s one I’ve been saving since I read it in November. While the colors are very much Lila and Orion inspired, and the quotes were some of my favorites from the book, the idea of the fans came from some random stuff around my room. I was actually kind of nervous to use these colors just because the last time I tried them I felt a little iffy, but I actually love how they turned out!
Without further ado, grab some tea and a pastry, and your own journal if you’re inspired, and scroll on to look at my January journal theme!
I think I was extra nervous to start just because I started a new journal for the year, and I haven’t been feeling super inspired lately. I’ve been putting more pressure on myself to create things and I think maybe I let myself hold back a bit.
What’s funny is that at the same time I’m in a creative rut, I find myself in a reading rut as well! The world works in mysterious ways, so I’m hoping I can navigate my way out of all these weird mindsets, hence my lists and empty spaces meant to “clear my mind.” We’ll see if it works *crosses fingers*
This was when I started to get really excited about this theme. I’m not always a perfectionist when it comes to art, but I couldn’t help but feel relieved when my first weekly spread turned out almost exactly how it turned out in my head!
Aaaaaaand then it went (slightly) downhill again. If you really look, you’ll notice that this is in fact NOT the second week of January, but the third. The second week did NOT look like the thing I had in my head, but this was definitely the month for accepting the little wins and taking punches as they come. In other words, I had an Orion week.
I might be the most proud of this last week. I experimented with making patterns on the marker bits and it almost looked like washi tape! Not to mention the color combo is visually stunning.
I hope you found my journal spreads as soothing as I did making them, and if you’re new to these segments, let us know how you like them! Lauren just started a reading journal and I’m just waiting to see how pretty it is.
Wishing you all the best, here’s to tea, tomorrow, and fake washi tape.
Title: A Wish in the Dark
Author: Christina Soontornvat
Publication Date: March 24th, 2020
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Source: eBook gifted by Skye <3
Age Range & Genre: middle grade, fantasy
Representation: all-Thai cast
Content warnings: death, fire, mentions of drowning
2020…what a major dumpster fire. Finishing college and graduating into a pandemic has left me with a lot of uncertainties, but not all of them are bad. Remote opportunities have been popping up all over publishing, which is a huge deal for many people living outside of New York and hoping to break into the industry, especially BIPOC (now if one of them could just hire me…). For a while, I had what I thought was a concrete, post-grad plan, and the pandemic completely threw that out the window. For someone like me, who relies on structure and certainty, this was terrifying for a while – and honestly, I’m still terrified sometimes. But I’m also really excited about where the future will take me as I figure out what I’m truly passionate about. I’m a pragmatist, so my career and education plans have always focused on stability and security, but I’m learning to take chances on myself and my future in order to ensure that it’s the one I want.
I’ve been a reader for my entire life. I’ve fluctuated between wanting to be an author, an English teacher, an editor, a lawyer – I still kind of want to be all of those things, actually. My aspirations have shifted throughout high school and college, but my core interests haven’t; whatever I ended up doing, all I knew was that I wanted it to be related to my English degree. Love Yo Shelf has been an integral part of helping me realize that I’m still very much a book nerd at heart, and whatever I do in the future, I want it to relate back to books. 2020 most definitely and objectively sucked, but here are some books that provided some much needed comfort along the way.Read more
Thank you to Quill Tree Books for providing me an ARC of the book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. All quotes are from an advance copy and are subject to change in final publication.
Title: Clues to the Universe
Author: Christina Li
Publication Date: January 12th, 2021
Publisher: Quill Tree Books (HarperCollins)
Source: Digital ARC via publisher
Age Range & Genre: Middle grade, historical fiction
Representation: biracial Chinese/white mc
Content warnings: mentioned death of a loved one, grief, bullying, abandonment, mentions of divorce
We are unbelievably excited to launch Love Yo Shelf 2.0!! For a while, Love Yo Shelf manifested as an idea, where we really wanted to evoke specific feelings of welcome and warmth for anyone who visited our blog, but we lacked a cohesive image that truly represented both that feeling and what the blog meant to us. After a lot of chaotic back and forth through text, plus a bare bones “sketch” in Nana’s notes app that will never see the light of day, we landed on a concept that combined the best parts of the blog, and were extremely lucky to work with Vinny @ Film and Fiction for our redesign. Now, Love Yo Shelf looks how it’s always made us feel, and we couldn’t be more thrilled about it!Read more
For such short novellas, Nghi Vo sure does pack a punch. For those of you who have been with us for a while, you already know that here at Love Yo Shelf, we love, well, love. A good love story, whether it’s between lovers, friends, enemies, or even places, stays with you for a long time in the most subtle ways. The Singing Hills Cycle is no different. Both stories create such vibrant histories with truly remarkable characters who reminded me how important it is to do everything with empathy, wit, and all the strength I can muster.
Synopsis: A young royal from the far north is sent south for a political marriage. Alone and sometimes reviled, she has only her servants on her side. This evocative debut chronicles her rise to power through the eyes of her handmaiden, at once feminist high fantasy and a thrilling indictment of monarchy.
When I first started The Empress of Salt and Fortune, I must admit I was a bit confused (though, mostly because of my tendency to forget what I’ve read in synopses), but once it clicked into place, I couldn’t finish it quickly enough. The Empress of Salt and Fortune was inventive and masterfully told from the unexpected perspective of handmaiden Rabbit to cleric Chih and their sassy companion, Almost Brilliant. The significance of the recording of history takes center stage in both stories in entirely different ways. In TEOSAF, the significance lies in the act of remembering.
Accuracy above all things. You will never remember the great if you do not remember the small.
As Rabbit recalls the tale of Empress In-yo in pieces, it becomes clear that these large aspects of their lives come from and produce small, seemingly obscure meanings, and In-yo becomes living proof that meaning is made. It doesn’t exist in a vacuum, because we as people don’t exist in a vacuum. One of my favorite aspects of this story is that In-yo herself is a living memory; Rabbit’s recollection of her breathes life into every laugh, every secret code, and every order that she’s given. In every way, The Empress of Salt and Fortune was a love letter written to all the women who had been forgotten in In-yo’s story, pieces of their power being returned to them the more Chih learns.
Empress In-yo herself is truly the embodiment of strength (that being said without ever actually meeting her), and her relationship with Rabbit is one of the most quietly intricate and thoroughly heart-wrenching loves I’ve been able to read about. Again I say, in such few words, Nghi Vo has excelled in the art of making the words count.
Synopsis: The cleric Chih finds themself and their companions at the mercy of a band of fierce tigers who ache with hunger. To stay alive until the mammoths can save them, Chih must unwind the intricate, layered story of the tiger and her scholar lover—a woman of courage, intelligence, and beauty—and discover how truth can survive becoming history.
Although When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain can be read as a standalone, I highly recommend reading them together; the feeling was something magical. In this story of Anh, the significance of recording history lies in how a story gets remembered, and how time and people twist the truth.
So question it now.
Instead of Chih being in the position to record an untold story, they must now tell a story in their attempts to stay alive. The story of the tiger Ho Thi Thao and the scholar Trung Dieu is one that was told to Chih as a child, and one that they’re forced to question now when faced with tigers who might know the story a different way. Normally, when we read stories about two different sides, they’re stories of victors and heroes, but in a story of love and betrayal, warped by time and ego, how do decide which story to tell?
As Chih told their story – and the tigers stepped in to correct their version of it – I found myself transported to Anh, watching a history change in front of me. Where In-yo’s story was a love letter to forgotten women and those who are regaining their power, Ho Thi Thao and Dieu’s story was a love letter to what once was. Together, The Singing Hills Cycle is a lyrical test of time and love, and serves as a reminder to question the stories we’re told because at the end of the day, what we learn from them is due to how they’re told, what we make of them, and how we carry them afterwards.
In case you couldn’t tell, The Singing Hills Cycle has quickly become a favorite comfort read of mine. On top of being a quick read, they’re the kinds of stories that sneak up on you bit by bit, and leave you with a sense of yearning for more.
If you’re planning to read When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain when it comes out Dec. 8, don’t forget to (re)read The Empress of Salt and Fortune. If you can think of any other favorite dual-sided stories, list them down in the comments for everyone to check out!
Links to The Singing Hills Cycle:
Until my next love letter to you,