Review: The The More The Merrier: A Clean and Wholesome Winter Romance (Seasons of Love Book 1) by Liwen Y. Ho
Fed up with a string of bad blind dates, health blogger Alyssa Wu wants to drown her sorrows in ice cream. But there’s one more evening she must endure—a fake date with her best friend Barry Chang. They must convince her family they're in love, an act which may (or may not) be easy to pull off, thanks to the magic of some mistletoe.
Amazon link here
~ My Review ~
Short and sweet. I don't know about you, but I've been in a reading funk lately. I'll pick up a book, get halfway through it and put it down. Last year, most of my books in my TBR were "DNR" (did not finish). This year, knowing what to expect and making sure we take care of our mental and emotional health by leaving our house and our bubble safely, I went back to my first love: romance novels.
Now, I had promised to read a parenting book and review it, so I did that first....while looking through my kindle for the books that I didn't have the heart and mental capacity to read over last year.
Liwen Y. Ho has written so many sweet and clean romance books and I knew I wouldn't be disappointed when I chose this book, "The More the Merrier," as my springboard, if you will, into a deeper dive of reading again. I wanted to be able to fall in love with books and I knew romance - with its' likeable and flawed characters, their 'meet cute' and 'happily ever after's would give me the comfort I so desired.
This was such a short and quick read. We meet Alyssa and her "dilemma." Classic fake boyfriend/next door neighbors/friends turned lovers. I'm pretty sure I smiled through the entire exchange between Barry, the next door neighbor who cleans up nice, and Alyssa, our by-the-book, serious heroine who needed a little fun and merry in her life. Bonus: this reminded me of a Hallmark movie and one where Asians were the lead and knowing that certain professions (doctors, engineers, lawyers) are accepted in an Asian community and some are not. For a blogger and writer like Alyssa, I completely related to her, right down to the ice cream choices and stress eating sweets.
SIDENOTE: Thank you to Liwen for getting me excited about writing my Filipino romcom and knowing how much (or how little) to share my roots and culture. And then as I struggle to describe my characters, I had to reread Alyssa and Barry. Liwen didn't do specific descriptions for them. She wrote Korean American and I pictured my Korean American friend. I knew the "looks" that Alyssa worried about getting from family and friends, having gone to so many Filipino or Asian parties where you have to introduce your person and hope to God that they pass the "they're good enough" test. I remember the struggle and having to justify my own career choices.
This was both refreshing to read but also made me realize that there aren't very many Asian romance books that I've come across or read. Or maybe I'm not trying hard enough to look. At any rate, I've got another book from Liwen that I can't wait to dive into!
About the Author
Liwen Y. Ho is an award-winning writer with a Master's degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Western Seminary. She loves makeovers of all kinds, especially those of the heart and mind. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, David, and their two children. Sign up for Liwen's newsletter for news about her upcoming releases, book giveaways and more at: eepurl.com/bt2nEL
And feel free to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She would love to hear from you!
Unveiled: A Poetry Memoir, is a collection of poetry organized into three sections: My Story, My Pain, and My Future. It was written for those that need to release their past, experience their pain, and look forward to their future. It was not written to instill pity or sorrow within you, but to spark the fire in your soul to take action and find the smallest shimmer of hope in your darkest days.
Amazon book link here:
~ My Review ~
A few poems into this story, I had to pause and take an inventory of my parenting. Ivy Cirillo's poetry memoir was haunting read. In so few words, and in poetry - known for lyrical, beauty and escapism - she depicted a tragic upbringing full of tears, trauma, abuse, alcoholism......and this is where my pause came in...neglectful parents.
I don't claim to be a perfect parent - far from it - and my heart cannot tolerate reading and seeing neglect from the child's point of view. I'm heartbroken for her. I want to wrap up this child and let her know she is loved, just as she is. And yes, grown-ups, especially moms, are flawed. But there was no excusing the pain that was inflicted, and the burden of the weight this child must have carried throughout her life.
Although she states that Unveiled "was not written to instill pity or sorrow," I felt sorrow for the length of a heartbeat but felt anger above all. Her mother should have protected her. But this isn't her mother's story. It's hers.
She wrote that she must have been born a writer because "in her darkest hours, she clung to her notebook." Reading through her the first part, "My Story" I'm glad she did just that. She wrote despite of the environment she grew up in....
So yes, don't feel pity or sorrow, but as she wrote hopefully through the third and last part "My Future," be inspired.
One of my faves, the poem
It's hard to find strength
in the pain
that you've endured,
but you have to,
for this I am sure.
I won't tell you
that it will be easy,
but I know for a fact
that it will be worth it.
~Thank you for putting your bravery into words. ~
Reviewer's note: I've never done a half rating but 5/5 is reserved for all my 'rereads.' While I could see a reread in the future.....with this particular book and theme, I would only want to reread the uplifting and encouraging parts. That's not to say I won't revisit the whole thing. Even her poems in the first part "My Story," I felt comforted.
About the Author
Ivy Cirillo is an author, mentor, and speaker. She’s a loving daughter and encouraging sister, and she’s built her brand as a blogger, social media marketer, photographer, and podcaster. She loves collecting antique typewriters, concert tickets, and passport stamps and she’ll never turn down a good barcade. She’ll challenge you to a game of darts and encourage you to pursue your dreams in between rounds. She’s forever wandering, but calls Florida home and she self-published her debut book, Unveiled: A Poetry Memoir, under The Orion Publishing House.
Find and connect with her here:
Peaceful parenting is hard enough for the average parent. Imagine trying to do it when you have the instincts of a tiger mother.
In Untigering, Iris Chen shares her journey of leaving behind authoritarian tiger parenting to embrace a respectful, relational way of raising children. As a Chinese American mom, she draws from her experiences of living in both North America and Asia and offers insights and practices to:
Heal from your childhood wounds
Change your beliefs about yourself and your children
Parent through connection instead of control
Redefine your understanding of success
Navigate and challenge cultural norms
Iris calls for a radical shift from parenting that is rooted in power to one that is grounded in partnership, but she does so with humor, humility, and empathy. This book is her invitation to you to begin your own journey of transformation as a parent.
Amazon book link here:
~ Review ~
I seldom read parenting books. When faced with a task such as looking in the mirror at my own parenting shortcomings, I tend to look the other way. Like most, Asians.
I was raised in an "authoritarian-parenting-style-meets-immigrant-parents-trying-to-navigate-western-culture" and thus, give their three girls room to grow up "just right." They were strict but not overbearing. My little sister and I were never spanked, but I saw first hand what happened when we strayed from this line my parents drew. But this isn't my older sister's story. Nor is it my parents.
This is mine and understanding the conflicts of my parenting style, my heritage and cultural worldview and how my childhood traumas shaped this illusion.
Before I picked up Iris Chen's book, I had taken steps to "change my stripes." I let my children choose activities they want to do, and if their heart isn't in it, I allow them to walk away. I've accepted and understood the fact that I will be mirrored and my images, hypocrisy, and white lies will be reflected back. Thus, I tried my hardest to speak truth and love to my kiddos and apologize when there are days I know I've fallen short - based on their scared faces. Iris' book gives me hope that I am steering this ship in the right direction. And speaking of ships, I appreciated and loved her analogy of "steel versus bamboo."
She writes, "As untigering parents, we're often afraid that if we give our kids an inch, they'll take a mile....We mean what we say and say what we mean. Rarely will we make an exception or change direction mid-course. We are solid and dependable: like steel. Unfortunately, the Titanic is also made of steel, and we all know what happened there."
I learned this growing up. There were days (and possibly years) my parents' hopes and wishes for us were ready for launch. Their daughters would be nurses, engineers or scientists. They didn't take into account that all three of us had hopes and wishes of our own. Over time, they learned to be flexible. But I can still see them shaping and trying to mold their granddaughters and grandsons. Perhaps, it is why I learned to do the exact opposite of their methods.
There are more than enough words of wisdoms and affirmations in Chen's book, sprinkled with stories of how and why she 'changed her stripes' and founded an untigering movement of peaceful parenting. Though there are parts that I fully understood and lived as child of immigrants and an immigrant herself raising first generation babies, the overall theme and commitment is universal: how to overcome the childhood chains that made us restrictive and defensive, and become flexible to our kids' needs and have a positive influence in their lives and those around us.
I recommend this book for those of us tipping on the line between what we know and saw growing up, and what we'd like to be as parents.
About the Author
Iris Chen is an author, unschooling mom, deconstructing tiger parent, and founder of the Untigering movement. As an advocate for peaceful parenting and educational freedom for children, her mission is to inspire generational and cultural transformation, especially among Asian communities. She spent 16 years living overseas in China (land of the tiger parent!), but now resides in her native California with her husband and two sons. You can read more about her adventures in parenting and unschooling at untigering.com.
Jay Reguero plans to spend the last semester of his senior year playing video games before heading to the University of Michigan in the fall. But when he discovers that his Filipino cousin Jun was murdered as part of President Duterte's war on drugs, and no one in the family wants to talk about what happened, Jay travels to the Philippines to find out the real story.
Hoping to uncover more about Jun and the events that led to his death, Jay is forced to reckon with the many sides of his cousin before he can face the whole horrible truth -- and the part he played in it.
As gripping as it is lyrical, Patron Saints of Nothing is a page-turning portrayal of the struggle to reconcile faith, family, and immigrant identity.
~ My Review ~
This was such a lovely and refreshing read. It had enough intrigue to keep you turning pages and witticism and criticism of life in general that made you think.
As for me, it was love letter home. I was born in the Philippines but moved to the states when I was 9. I've only been back once but I can picture every single person, know movements, hear the beeps of jeepneys, smell the fish markets and everything in between that Ribay wrote. It made me terribly self aware that I know next to nothing about Philippine history, so I was completely immersed in Jay, the main character. I wanted him to find answers. I wanted him to soak up every single moment he spent in the motherland, so I could pretend I was right there next to him. I winced at his uncle's words because I know family like that. I can feel both pride and shame emitting out of his uncle and I understood exactly why it's not Jay's place....it's not mine to comment either. I only see through my American eyes....even if some days, I am reminded that I am not American enough.
This was a poetic read and I couldn't put it down!
About the Author
Randy Ribay was born in the Philippines and raised in the Midwest. A graduate of the University of Colorado and the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Ribay taught English on the East Coast for a decade but now teaches in the San Francisco Bay Area. Visit his website at randyribay.com and follow him on Twitter and Instagram @randyribay.
I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.
August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.
"Wonder is the best kids' book of the year," said Emily Bazelon, senior editor at Slate.com and author of Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy. In a world where bullying among young people is an epidemic, this is a refreshing new narrative full of heart and hope. R.J. Palacio has called her debut novel “a meditation on kindness” —indeed, every reader will come away with a greater appreciation for the simple courage of friendship. Auggie is a hero to root for, a diamond in the rough who proves that you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.
I have so much to say and I still don't think it'll do this book justice. I got this from my local library and I will be purchasing this for my 6 year old to read in the future. Such a lovely read. I cried and laughed my way through this and ahh, just beautiful.
My Rating: 5/5
About the Author:
R. J. Palacio was born and raised in New York City. She attended the High School of Art and Design and the Parsons School of Design, where she majored in illustration with the hopes of someday following in the footsteps of her favorite childhood author-illustrators, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Maurice Sendak, and the D’Aulaires. She was a graphic designer and art director for many years before writing Wonder. We’re All Wonders, which is based conceptually on the themes of her novel, represents the fulfillment of her dream to write and illustrate her own picture book. R.J. is also the author of Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories and 365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne’s Book of Precepts. She lives in Brooklyn, where she is surrounded by magical water towers, with her husband, their two sons, and their two dogs, Bear and Beau. Learn more about her at rjpalacio.com or on Twitter at @RJPalacio.
The witch: supernaturally powerful, inscrutably independent, and now—indestructible. These moving, relatable poems encourage resilience and embolden women to take control of their own stories. Enemies try to judge, oppress, and marginalize her, but the witch doesn’t burn in this one.
I wasn't feeling this one, honestly. I loved her debut, "the princess saves herself in this one," and I was expecting the same level of slow build up into something like a powerful anthem mid-book, but it never got there, for me. This was almost rushed and jotted down thoughts that got turned into a book. I will say there were some poems that I was like, "ahh this one!" but those turned out to be few and far between. I still love her style and zeal but overall, this was a quick disheartening read.
My Rating: 3/5
About the Author
growing up a word-devourer & avid fairy tale lover, it was only natural that amanda lovelace began writing books of her own, & so she did. when she isn't reading or writing, she can be found waiting for pumpkin spice coffee to come back into season & binge-watching gilmore girls. (before you ask: team jess all the way). the lifelong poetess & storyteller currently lives in new jersey with her fiancé, their moody cat, & a combined book collection so large it will soon need its own home. she has her B.A. in english literature with a minor in sociology. the princess saves herself in this one is her debut poetry collection & the first book in the women are some kind of magic series. the second book in the series, the witch doesn't burn in this one, will be published in 2018.
her official website is amandalovelace.com.
you can also find her as ladybookmad on twitter, instagram,
these are the stories of
people i once knew.
they have come and
gone like ghosts in
the night. you might
~ My Review ~
I was so excited to get a signed copy of this book. I’m a huge fan of poet, Gretchen Gomez. I don’t know how many times I've readlove, & you, her debut poetry collection. From what I’ve gathered about this book is that it’s not pretty and it’s not hopeful. Even as I began to read the first few pages, I was thankful that I didn’t wait until the new year to start with this one. My family and I have had a tough year, to say the least, and to end it with this book, I realized my takeaways after reading this collection isn't to leave the past exactly as that; to have it occupy some memory but rather, confront my fears, continue to journal, and be brazen about new beginnings. In other words, stop apologizing for taking space. Own not just the pretty story about grace but what it took to get me here. But this isn't about me in this review, this is about a woman who have been burned several times over and her story of learning how to walk through fire.
When I think of ghost towns, I think “empty,” “ silent,” but walking through feeling every bit like someone or something is taking you in; watching your every move hidden in the darkness.
This collection isn’t what I’d label as “haunting.” It is a brutally honest walk through this shell of our memories and calling out every single skeleton in our proverbial closet and demanding it/them to show themselves out. There are trigger warnings peppered throughout the book, some ghosts have more than others. My hope for Gomez is this: that she found healing, not just strength in writing this brilliant and unapologetic collection.
However you find yourself in the new year, I encourage and recommend that you pick up this poetry collection. We all have our own ghosts and skeletons in the closet, may you finally confront your hidden fears and mistakes, look them in the eye, and challenge them, 'welcome to ghost town.'
My Rating: 5/5
About the Author
Gretchen Gomez is a Puerto Rican poet from The Bronx. When home you will find her watching crime shows, cuddling with her dog, or writing--trying to make sense of things. Gretchen is a full-time lover of words. She is the author of love, and you. She's also working on other collections.
You can find her here:
This is my first endeavor of publishing a book of poems composed by me. I have put a piece of my heart and soul in form of words. Hoping to touch the reader's heart.
~ My Review ~
I read this collection over the summer and felt like it matched the theme of June: promising, carefree, lovely and all things random. But then June turned to July and our family got swept in a whirl of hospital visits, prayers and pouring over Dr. Google. I stopped reading poetry for fun - which is a shame.
The recent news and grief stricken faces on TV, I needed something airy, something wild and fun. I follow Hiya on Instagram and love what she posts, and I remembered that I hadn't gotten around to doing her review. It was a treat to revisit her words of lighthearted musings which brought back beautiful memories of this summer.
This was such a great debut! Well done, Hiya!
My Rating: 4/5
About the Author
Vachaknavi Sarma aka Hiya is an automobile designer by profession. She belongs to a small town of Digboi, in the state of Assam in North Eastern India. She presently lives in Manchester, United Kingdom.
She writes poetry in her spare time. She has been writing for the past 5/6 years. Wild Imagination is her first publication. It is a collection of her very first poems.
cheyenne raine explores the themes of culture, faith, love, and more in a bilingual collection of poetry. lemon acuarelas is soaked in light and things that feel both sweet and sour.
***This collection releases on 9/14.***
Book Club Pick:
I use Goodread's rating scale
1 star – didn’t like it
2 stars – it was OK
3 stars – liked it
4 stars – really liked it
5 stars – it was so amazing, it's on my reread pile!