Blog Tour | Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi

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ARC acquired at Book Expo in exchange for an honest review.

“Trying to get better at the thing you want to be the best at is humiliating.”

Hello to my favorite contemporary of 2019. Friends, this book was so quiet, but so loud, and really impacted me more than any other book I’ve read all year. This is the type of story that makes you want to see the world, the type of story that heals wounds you didn’t know you had, the type of story that makes you feel seen and loved and realize you are worthy of unconditional happiness, and the type of story that will make you want to find that happiness and hold on to it with both hands. I know I probably sound so very cheesy, but this really is the type of book that you close and you just want to be a better person, and want to live a happier life, and it’s a reminder why books truly have the power to change lives. I loved this book with the sum of my being, and I’ll carry it with me and pass it along for the rest of my life.

This is a book that borderlines on Young Adult and New Adult, about two characters who find each other while they are at the crossroads of trying to find themselves, too. They have very different backgrounds, and very different current living situations, but they both bond over the unknown and the bursts of happiness that they feel while communicating with each other.

Pablo Neruda Rind – biracial (Korean and Pakistani), 20, working at a bodega in NYC, was an actual meme and now has a little bit of Instagram success because of it, and is thinking about going back to college after dropping out with a large sum of debt following him.

Leanna Smart – biracial (Mexican and white), 22, childhood star now pop singer, and trying to be happy with the content she is putting out in the world.

And one very late night, while Pablo is working in the bodega, Leanna comes in and their lives change. They are both searching for happiness, in very different ways and very different forms of outlets, but they start to think that maybe they can also find happiness together.

And Mary HK Choi delivers a story that is so beautifully written, so heartfelt, so very real, that I won’t forget it, ever. Some of the themes and discussions in this book are so important and I truly think this story is going to change lives. I feel like I normally only read one book a year that changes my life, and I think that this year’s is without a doubt Permanent Record.

Seeing Pablo question what he wants for his life, while also entering into depression because of this overwhelming debt he has accumulated because of doubt and uncertainty is something that I’ve never read about before. Never has a book really forced me to understand that Americans truly expect seventeen-year-olds and eighteen-year-olds to make choices that will impact them financially (and so many other ways) for the rest of their lives. Graduating college with 100k debt is the reality that so many people in their young twenties have, but so many also have that debt without a degree as well. It’s heartbreaking, truly, that we put this pressure on young adults and that we expect them to know how they want to spend their lives at such a young age, while also feeling that weight from society, from schools, and from their families.

“God, this country. It’s so predatory.”

And people have so many options that don’t involve school. Sometimes people find happiness chasing dreams that don’t require degrees. Sometimes people find happiness becoming celebrities in many different forms. Yes, sometimes people do find happiness with a degree that will help them live the life with the job they want. But sometimes people will find happiness simply by being on the journey of searching for happiness in the first place. There is no wrong way to find happiness, and it can be so very hard to find, but it is always so important that you search for it, because you’re so deserving of it.

I think Pablo and his situation is such a reality for so many. Finding happiness, and determination, and inspiration… it can be so very hard. And Pablo, much like many of us, is someone who doesn’t make it easy. This book, in my eyes, is also a love letter to depression awareness and how depression can come in many forms unknowingly. Pablo’s life and struggle, both academically and with his loved ones, was something so very raw, and I was so easily able to connect with, and I think many others will feel like that too. Because sometimes the weight of other peoples’ expectations can be so very heavy.

“Life isn’t a destination. It’s the continual practice of things that make you wiser and happier.”

This is ownvoices for the Korean representation, but I just want to touch on how I really loved seeing Leanna and Pablo talk about them both being biracial. It was so important and meaningful for me to see characters talk about how they are both of their races, instead of half and half. This seems like such a simple concept, something that should be easy for me to say, “hello, my name is Melanie and I’m Filipino” but it is something that I really struggle with, and I always want to break my racial identity of being Filipino and white up in percentages as a kneejerk reaction when talking about myself. And this small conversation between Pablo and Leanna just really meant so very much to me, and really hit me extremely hard. Also, just seeing Pablo having a tough time not feeling as connected to parts of his identity was really important and moving, too.

And, like always, seeing an older sibling help take care of their younger brother is something that will always resonate with me and inside my heart. Pab’s entire family dynamic really was perfection actually, because I feel like in literature, we either get really horrible parents or really perfect parents; we never really get the messy in between, where parents are supportive and loving but have a hard time showing their love and support.

Overall, I just really loved this book and it means so very much to me. The messages in this book really are life changing and I truly wish I could put this book in everyone’s hands. I feel like, much like Emergency Contact, this could be a polarizing book, but I also think it is a book that is going to touch and impact so many. I know a lot of people probably won’t love the ending, but I truly thought it was perfection and really made this book standout as a true masterpiece. And if you read through this whole review, I hope you know that I appreciate you, and that it is never too late to follow your dreams and find the happiness you deserve. Oh, also, be warned that the mention of all the snacks in this will make you extremely hungry.

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Content and Trigger Warnings: anxiety, debt, the debt crisis, credit debt, bill collectors, talk of sudden death briefly, talk of cancer, minor scene involving childhood cancer and the Make A Wish foundation, depression, codependency, and talk of assault (unwanted touching).


About the Author:

Mary H.K. Choi is a writer for The New York TimesGQWired, and The Atlantic. She has written comics for Marvel and DC, as well as a collection of essays called Oh, Never Mind. Her debut novel Emergency Contact was a New York Times bestseller. She is the host of Hey, Cool Job!, a podcast about jobs and Hey, Cool Life!, a podcast about mental health and creativity. Mary grew up in Hong Kong and Texas and now lives in New York. Follow her on Twitter @ChoitotheWorld.

Blog Tour Schedule:

August 26th – Vicky Who Reads

August 27th – Adventures of a Book Junkie

August 28th – Utopia State of Mind

August 29th – Read by Tiffany

August 30th – Rich in Color

August 31st – Your Tita Kate

September 2nd – Books on Pointe

September 3rd – Andi’s ABCs

September 4th – Book Scents

September 5th – Twirling Pages

September 6th – Bookshelves & Paperbacks

September 9th – YA Bibliophile

September 10th – Mary Had A Little Book Blog

September 11th – Chasing Faerytales

September 12th – Nicole’s Novel Reads

September 13th – Mel to the Any

The Diviners (The Diviners #1) by Libba Bray

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“The Diviners must stand, or all shall fall.”

The Diviners is a historical, paranormal fantasy set in 1920s New York City! And in this alternative history, there are people called Diviners who have magical abilities that are hidden from the world. And these powers will come in handy as a demon like being who was summoned from a Ouija board starts ritualistically killing people, while also bringing upon the apocalypse.

Evie O’Neill – Sent to NY to stay with her uncle after causing too much of a scene back home. And she has the magical ability to read objects.

Memphis Campell – Black, extremely charming and good looking, taking care of his little brother with his aunt after the loss of his mother, and in the past he had a healing ability.

Sam Lloyd – Rakish Russian Pickpocket who can make it so others do not notice him, but he is looking for answers about what happened to his mother and the project she was working on.

Theta Knight – A Dancer who ran away from a terrible past and is trying to make a new life for herself were she is in charge of her own fate.

Henry DeBois – Theta’s roommate, queer, and a musician. Henry has the magical ability to dream walk, but you do not learn a lot about it in this book.

Mabel Rose – Evie’s best friend and pen pal, who has the biggest of all crushes.

Jericho Jones – Works for Evie’s uncle Will, but may be keeping a big secret of his own.

Naughty John – Does his work with the apron on. I’ll see myself out, bye.

But we follow all of these characters, while they are slowing pieces together the clues about Naughty John’s killing, while also trying to figure everything out before it is too late. And friends? I’m going to be straight up with you, this book was pretty scary. Full disclosure, I am a big baby, but I legit read this book with the light on, during the daytime, every single day. But following along and trying to figure out what is happening, while also trying to learn about these characters and what they are able to do? It surely made for a fun reading experience.

I really loved the cast completely. All of them, truly. But Memphis really won me over very early on. First off, I am such a sucker for anything with healing powers, so he and his mystery just stole my heart. Also, he is such a good brother, and seeing him protect Isaiah really was everything to me. Also, Isaiah having the wildest powers of them all? Yeah, that’s a thing. Also, I really loved his development with Theta. We stan a power couple in this house, always and forever.

Besides the characters, I think the thing I liked most about reading The Diviners, as sad and heartbreaking as it is to say, is that we are almost in the year 2020 and not a lot has changed. From racism, and people hiding their hateful ideas behind the cover of God, to sexism, and the idea that a silent woman is the only women worth hearing, to being pure, and the pedestal that white men are willing to put their bloodline on, this is all very much a thing in 2020, even if it is not as loud. I think Libba Bray really did something so impressive with this story, and even though this book is almost a decade old and the parallels are still rampant, I still really respect her putting so much into this book.

Overall, this really did blow me away. I had my doubts going in that I wouldn’t like it, or that it wouldn’t hold up, but it truly did, and it truly made for an amazing reading experience. I can’t wait to see what the next book has in store, and I can’t wait to meet a character named Ling Chan that everyone promises me I’m going to fall in love with.

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Content and Trigger Warnings: brief animal cruelty and death, talk of domestic abuse and sexual assault in the past, abortion, loss of a loved one in the past, drugging, grief depiction, abandonment, talk of slavery, racism (always in a negative light), slaughter house setting/scene, death, murder, and ritualistic killings.

Buddy read with MadalynJane, & Chelsea! ❤

 

Save Me – BTS Webtoon (The Most Beautiful Moment in Life 0) by BigHit Entertainment & LICO

“No matter how many times I tried, I could never save all of them on my own.”

Save Me (The Most Beautiful Moment in Life 0) is a graphic work story all about BTS’s BU (Bangtan Universe), which is an alternative universe in which BTS was never formed, even though the seven members all went to school together and were close friends. Yet, when this webtoon starts out, they are all very distanced from one another. You can read this for free HERE!

Also, I very much recommend watching the music videos for I NEED U, Run, and Epilogue: Young Forever, where you will see this story come to life before your eyes. There are so many more easter eggs and so many more music videos, but I personally feel like these are the three most important to watch before or after you read this webtoon! But please know that this is a very dark story, with very dark themes and elements! So, please make sure you are in a safe headspace! And just in case, I’m going to link my content and trigger warnings at the start of this review, so you can use caution reading this review as well!

Content and Trigger Warnings: suicide, murder, death, abuse, overdosing, forced institutionalization, depression depiction, grief depiction, trauma depiction, abandonment, and loss of a loved one.

Jin is the star of this story, because he has the ability to travel back in time and is hoping that he can make things right. Jin lost touch with everyone when he studied abroad, but now he is back and a dream where all his friends are at the bottom of the ocean is haunting him. Now, he is waking up every day on April 11th, trying to remember what he experienced, and trying to come up with how he can save himself and his six lost friends from terrible fates.

Seokjin (석진) – Wakes up, missing his old friends and wondering about their whereabouts, when he slowly finds out that terrible things have happened to them all. He might have the power to save them all, but he need the help from them all to keep them safe.

Namjoon (남준) – Works at a gas station but is being detained for assaulting a driver.

Yoongi (윤기) – Is trying to commit suicide, after the death of his mother in a fire.

Hoseok (호석) – Abandoned by his mother for some time now and is now hospitalized and diagnosed with Munchausen syndrome.

Jimin (지민) – Also living in the hospital, feeling abandoned by his family, and struggling with very serious depression and suicidal thoughts.

Taehyung (태형) – Is being jailed by the police for murdering his father, who was abusive to he and his sister.

Jungkook (정국) – Looks like he was trying to commit suicide walking into traffic.

Art is breathtaking. Truly. And I read this on my iPad and the seamless flow of the story just scrolling down felt therapeutic. Really. I truly think this tale is wonderfully crafted, and this is coming from someone that doesn’t really like “Groundhogs Day” storylines where a character is forced to start a day over again and again. But Bless April 11th, and bless Kim Seokjin, because this was one of the most captivating things I’ve read all year.

The story is truly hard to read in the best way possible. ARMY loves BTS so much, that just seeing these heartbreaking alternative timelines is hard. But BTS is always so aware of their power and their platform, I think that they are bringing awareness to so many peoples actual realities.

Also, just picturing a world without BTS? I don’t want to know her. BTS is such a bright light in this trashfire world we live in. And just thinking about the generations of kids and teens listening to BTS and their message and how much positive and happy energy they are rippling through this world for lifetimes to come. I’m weeping speechlessly. And then picturing all the kids and teens of color who are growing up and seeing these seven members take over the world with their light and positivity? Giving them the confidence to do the very same, unapologetically? Wow, the actual true blessings. BTS is a gift to this world, and I’m forever thankful I’m living in it to experience it.

And as always, BTS and their genuine love for each other always shines through. These humans just truly love each other unconditionally and they value their friendship so very much. I truly think that is what the heart of this story is about; friendship, and all the immeasurable things these seven humans are willing to do for it. And the answer? It’s anything. They will do anything for their friendship.

Overall, this story just means a lot to me. You all know how hard I have fallen down the BTS rabbit hole this summer, and there is no coming back, friends. I can’t believe all the beautiful content that BTS (and bighit) gives us, and this alternative universe story is for also a highlight, as heartbreaking and heart-wrenching as it is. I for sure recommend this to any BTS fan out there, just please use caution because of all the triggers and the dark material. I purple you, friends. Happy reading.

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Top Ten Tuesday | Books On My TBR I’m Avoiding Reading

TopTenTuesday
Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018!

Hey, loves! Okay, so the ten books that I am about to talk about all have the same thing in common; I am avoiding them because they have been on my TBR for so long and I truly don’t think they are going to hold up in 2019! So, I suppose we can make this T10T kind of like a Down the TBR hole, and you call can let me know if you think I’ll enjoy any of these, or if I should yeet them off my Goodreads TBR immediately! Muhahah! 💕


The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling (2012)


The Color of Magic (Discworld #1) by Terry Pratchett (1983)


Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4) by Marissa Meyer (2015) 


Inda (Inda #1) by Sherwood Smith (2006) 


Succubus Blues (Georgina Kincaid #1) by Richelle Mead (2007) 


The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (2006) 


Lament (Books of Faerie #1) by Maggie Stiefvater (2008) 


The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard #1) by Scott Lynch (2006) 


An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes #1) by Sabaa Tahir (2015)


The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (2005) 



Okay, that’s the ten I’m picking and that I have been avoiding! Please let me know if you think any of these will hold up and be worth my time in 2019! And I hope you all are having the happiest of reading! 💗

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#FridayFrightAThon 2019


Last year, me and three of my dear friends (Amy, Jen, & Chelsea) did a readalong in October called FridayFrightAThon, where we pick a new spooky book to read with the community each Friday in the month! We loved it so much, and we hope you loved it so much, so we decided to do it again with four new books in 2019!  👻


American Predator by Maureen Callahan

“When journalist Maureen Callahan first heard about Israel Keyes in 2012, she was captivated by how a killer of this magnitude could go undetected by law enforcement for over a decade. And so began a project that consumed her for the next several years–uncovering the true story behind how the FBI ultimately caught Israel Keyes, and trying to understand what it means for a killer like Keyes to exist. A killer who left a path of monstrous, randomly committed crimes in his wake–many of which remain unsolved to this day.”


The Whisper Man by Alex North

“After the sudden death of his wife, Tom Kennedy believes a fresh start will help him and his young son Jake heal. A new beginning, a new house, a new town. Featherbank. But the town has a dark past. Twenty years ago, a serial killer abducted and murdered five residents. Until Frank Carter was finally caught, he was nicknamed “The Whisper Man,” for he would lure his victims out by whispering at their windows at night. Just as Tom and Jake settle into their new home, a young boy vanishes. His disappearance bears an unnerving resemblance to Frank Carter’s crimes, reigniting old rumors that he preyed with an accomplice. Now, detectives Amanda Beck and Pete Willis must find the boy before it is too late, even if that means Pete has to revisit his great foe in prison: The Whisper Man.”


The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

“Vincent, Jules, Sylvie, and Sam are ruthlessly ambitious high-flyers working in the lucrative world of Wall Street finance where deception and intimidation thrive. Getting rich is all that matters, and they’ll do anything to reach the top. When they are ordered to participate in a corporate team-building exercise that requires them to escape from a locked elevator, dark secrets of their team begin to be laid bare.”


The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay

“Seven-year-old Wen and her parents, Eric and Andrew, are vacationing at a remote cabin on a quiet New Hampshire lake. Their closest neighbors are more than two miles in either direction along a rutted dirt road.One afternoon, as Wen catches grasshoppers in the front yard, a stranger unexpectedly appears in the driveway. Leonard is the largest man Wen has ever seen but he is young, friendly, and he wins her over almost instantly. Leonard and Wen talk and play until Leonard abruptly apologizes and tells Wen, “None of what’s going to happen is your fault”. Three more strangers then arrive at the cabin carrying unidentifiable, menacing objects. As Wen sprints inside to warn her parents, Leonard calls out: “Your dads won’t want to let us in, Wen. But they have to. We need your help to save the world.”



And I promise we will get the break downs up soon! But hopefully you all can mark the start dates on your calendars now! Also, if you know me at all, you know I am the biggest baby in the world, and I hardly ever read thrillers, but my soft self cannot handle true crime things, so I will not be reading American Predator with you, but I promise to make up for it with the other three! I am so honored to do this readalong/readathon again with you all, and I hope you join us for a book, or two, or them all! Happy reading, friends. Stay spooky! 🎃

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Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills

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“He is my small son”

I’m going to write this review a little differently; instead of telling you the synopsis of this book right away, I’m going to show you the two parts of my heart.

Best Friends & Boy Bands – If you follow me on any social media, you will know that BTS has completely and wholeheartedly taken over my life. The amount of unconditional happiness that I have found within myself because of BTS could be a thesis statement all alone. But the pure joy I feel when I know that I will get to follow and enjoy BTS and everything they give ARMY, along side my best friends? That’s something I don’t have words for, and I don’t think I ever will, but it truly owns half of my heart.

Little Brothers & Video Games – I am very open in many reviews about my little brother being my best friend in this entire world. He always has been, and he always will be. Ever since I graduated college and moved across the country, we have kept our closeness because of video games. Don’t get me wrong, we play them nonstop when we are together, in the same room, too, but it is truly something that I’ve been able to do with him to never make me feel like I’m away from him, and because of this, this combination makes up half of my heart.

Foolish Hearts is a book that made me feel so seen and so very whole, because it combines those two halves of my heart seamlessly. Our main character, Claudia, spends her afternoons playing video games with her siblings and her best friend, not really looking to add any addition people into her life. That is, until the end of this summer, right before school is about to start up, where she has to go to a party where she accidentally overhears two girls break up.

Iris and Paige were the *it* couple at Claudia’s school, but now that they are broken up, Paige gets to still be the beloved, popular one, where Iris looks like the mean and heartless one. And when Iris and Claudia are forced to work together, not once, but twice, Claudia also uncovers Iris’s unconditional love for a boy band. And the start of a beautiful friendship blooms.

Not to get too personal in this review, but I am also pretty open about Jane being the reason that I got into BTS, and even though we were friends before, BTS really made Jane my best friend, and it really changed my life in the best way possible. The Iris and Claudia comparisons were just a little too real, but they were also a little too perfect.

So much more happens in this book, maybe with boys and them entering Claudia’s MMO and making me swoon because I’m nerdy and basic. Maybe with secrets that others were keeping from Claudia. And maybe this entire story is set with the backdrop of a school play. There is a lot to love about Foolish Hearts, but how real it felt to me and my personal experiences was really the brightest and shiniest star.

You can really tell that Emma Mills gets fandom culture. How it is so easy for people to be negative about things that (unharmfully) make people happy. But also how sharing your happiness and love for something with someone else is truly a magical feeling sent from the higher powers. How fetishizing is totally a thing that is very serious and very real, but most of the time fandoms just want to love, support, and bring happiness to the people that bring them happiness. (Protect Park Jimin at all costs!)

Overall, this was just a really personal read to me on a few levels, but I loved it completely with the sum of my being. Also, there is epilepsy rep in this story, too, and I really loved how it was written! This book is really just a love letter to friendships, and I really do feel so soft currently. But if you are into BTS, or any musical group, I really highly recommend this one. I had the goofiest smile on my face while reading this entire book, I swear. It is for sure one of the best things I’ve read all year. And even though this review already feels like a love letter to BTS, I just hope anyone who reads this review finds happiness in things they can love wholeheartedly.

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Content and Trigger Warnings: high risk childbirth, panic attacks, seizure mentions, and talk of past underage drinking.

Buddy read with Jane & Chelsea! ❤

The Tea Dragon Festival (Tea Dragon #2) by Katie O’Neill

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ARC acquired at Book Expo in exchange for an honest review.

“Just because something comes easily to you, does not mean it has no value. You find it effortless because you love it, and that is why it is your gift.”

Most of you know, that I fell head over heels in love with The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill last year, so when I got my hands on an ARC of this, I knew I had no option but to read it and fall in love with it immediately. And, dear reader, that is exactly what happened. This story, this art, and these messages are gifts from above, I swear to you all, and I recommend this companion novel to you all with my whole heart and soul.

At the very start of this graphic novel, we see some familiar faces prepping for the tea dragon festival. But this story stars Rinn who, while collecting things, meets a dragon named Aedhan, and invites them to the festival! Meanwhile, Erik and Hesekiel are back and are bounty hunters who are searching for something ancient that can put people to sleep for decades.

This is an incredibly diverse work of art. Rinn in nonbinary/genderfluid, Erik and Hesekiel are in a m/m relationship, there is Sign Language being used and being taught to the entire village, and the cast is full of people of color with visible brown skin. The actual blessings.

Seeing Aedhan teach Rinn about how dragons can shift between genders was something more beautiful that words to me. Also, seeing Aedhan help Rinn see that they are worthy and have so much value, and that they should never feel lesser for getting enjoyment and pride from gathering and forging… I’m still so soft. And this story really puts an emphasis on how you can cook with love, and how preparing and sharing food can be something so intimate and so filled with unconditional love and joy.

Overall, I really just think that this is a masterpiece. The art is truly on another level as well, and it fills my heart and soul with so much happiness. I also just really appreciate the reminder that you are always needed, and you are always worthy of value and love.

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.