[Cake Break] Making a Comeback, Maybe

I love Jamie at Perpetual Page-Turner's feature here, where she talks to her readers as if they are meeting up for coffee. I adore getting to know a little more about her this way, so I'd like to follow her lead and maybe make some connections myself! I'm adapting it slightly because I go for sweets over coffee. So, grab something sweet to eat and chat with me?

[The List] Books I'm Attempting to Read Next

The List is a feature where I hold myself accountable regarding my TBR. This (hopefully) stops me from picking up new books despite my a pile of unread books.

Or at least, that is what this feature usually is. This time it functions a little differently, since I've found myself in that dreaded reading slump. I blame Real Life. I'm trying to pull myself out of it by hyping myself up for all the books that are waiting for me!

[Review] Olmec Obituary by L.J.M. Owen

Texture: left-unspoken.net

I love cosy mysteries and lady detectives, so naturally I was intrigued by the premise of Dr. Pimms, Intermillenial Sleuth: Dr. Elizabeth Pimms, Canberra-based archaeologist-slash-librarian, sets upon solving thousands-year-old cold cases. It's a brilliant idea. As the first installment in the series, Olmec Obituary did a great job setting up the methods of Elizabeth's detections and introducing the core cast of characters. Its inclusion of various cultures is fabulous, but there are moments that gave me pause. 

One of my favourite parts of Olmec Obituary is the murder mystery and the detective work. Since the death Elizabeth investigates happened 3000 years ago, the usual detecting procedures don't apply. She can't go around interrogating suspects or inspecting crime scenes. Instead, she hits the books, talks to experts, and works with very old bones. There's a fair sprinkling of explanations around the methods she uses, like radiocarbon and dental non-metric analysis, which was easy to follow. It could be the nerd in me, but I really enjoyed reading about Elizabeth working.

My other favourite part of the book is the family dynamic. Family plays a huge part in Elizabeth's life, and we see both the support she receives from them and the conflict and resentment she feels for them. Her grandparents are a welcomed presence in the story, in turn comforting as well as helpful. It's worth noting that Elizabeth is biracial, half-Welsh, half-Chinese, and I really enjoyed that we got to see both sides and how their influences entwine in her home. In contrast to this, however, I was less taken by the conflict between her and her sister. While at the heart of it the conflict is deeply bitter, I felt that their clashes come across as childish at times. 

There were moments when the villains felt a little caricature-ish at times in their actions and descriptions. At one stage, flecks of phlegm gathered at the corners of one of the characters' mouth because he was growing angry. A colleague called Elizabeth out, in front of everyone else they worked with, on not wishing her a happy birthday. I felt that their characterisations could use with more subtlety. 

My biggest issue about Olmec Obituary, however, revolves around a couple of lines regarding the Chinese characters. Full disclosure: I come from a diaspora and immigrant background, so I bring  my experiences of the assumptions some people make of my background and language skills when they first look at me to my reading. These experiences are why I cringed at the following occurrences in the book:

The first is when Elizabeth meets Mai, the aforementioned colleague, and remarks that Mai looks similar to Nainai, her Chinese grandma. Then it comes as a surprise to her that Mai has an Australian accent. Later in the book, she's talking to Nainai and is struck again by the fact Nainai's English is so much better than her French grandma's. Now, I think there's a plotty reason as to why Elizabeth noticed the similarities between the two Chinese women's appearances, and she may be coming to it from an archaeological perspective about bone structures or something. The delivery, however, at first read as if it was going to be an ignorant comment about how Chinese all look alike. I thought the comments about the accent and the English fluency were weird, particularly given Elizabeth's own background, as it seems underlined by an assumption that Mai would've been foreign, or that French people would be better at English by default. Other readers might not have an issue with this at all. To me, unfortunately, they stuck out. 

Overall, Olmec Obituary is a fun and interesting approach to the cosy mystery genre, and I enjoyed its focus on family. It made an effort to include a diverse cast, but there are moments in the book that jarred in my mind regarding its description of its POCs.

(I bought and read a finished copy, thinking that my request for a review copy was not going to be granted. But then it was! So I do have a review copy, but this review was formed on the basis of the finished copy.)

Reading this book contributes to the following challenges:

❥ Goodreads Challenge
❥ The Backlist Books Reader Challenge

Title: Olmec Obituary (Dr Pimms, Intermillenial Sleuth #1) ❙ Author: L.J.M. Owen ❙ Publisher: Echo Publishing ❙ Source: Bought ❙ Release Date: 1 August 2016

"Archaeologist Dr Elizabeth Pimms thoroughly enjoys digging up old skeletons. But when she is called home from Egypt after a family loss, she has to sacrifice her passions for the sake of those around her.

Attempting to settle into her new role as a librarian, while also missing her boyfriend, Elizabeth is distracted from her woes by a new mystery: a royal Olmec cemetery, discovered deep in the Mexican jungle, with a 3000-year-old ballplayer who just might be a woman.

She soon discovers there are more skeletons to deal with than those covered in dirt and dust."

[Book Talk] How I Accidentally Went on a Book Ban

I have been trying to put myself on a book budget - if not an outright book ban - for the last two years. Last year, it was overly ambitious and I failed miserably. This year, I actually haven't been keeping too close an eye on my book budget, until I was writing my May rewind post. I realised then that I hadn't bought a new book since March! How did that happen?

[Review] Laurinda by Alice Pung

You like to think that within you there is quiet courage and conviction, a sense of righteousness that is not judgmental. That's what you like to think about yourself. But you're wrong. You are not truly good until you are tested, and even then you might become a worse person.
In the hands of another writer, Laurinda may look a lot like Mean Girls. There's the rich, beautiful, shrewdly intelligent girls reigning over a private all-girl school. There's the outsider - the scholarship student, a daughter of refugees - being drawn into their orbit. In the hands of Alice Pung, though, Laurinda is a sharp observation of the power politics of teenage girls, the struggle of forming an identity when your public and private selves can't be one and the same, and even casual racism.

[Rewind] May 2017

I'm thiiiis close to freedom, you guys. I've submitted the major assignment for this semester and had my last class (hopefully not only for this semester, but for life). There are three weeks to go before I finish my internship, and then I'll be truly finished with this semester! 🎉🎉🎉 I cannot wait to relax guilt-free. I'm hoping that means more writing, whether it is for my poor abandoned novel or for this blog!

New to My Shelves

I picked up Mirror in the Sky by Aditi Khorana from the library for #AsianLitBingo! It's an interesting story, but unfortunately I didn't love it as much as I'd hoped. 

I also borrowed several audiobooks from the library. I got The Sleeper and The Spindle by Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell which was fascinating and wonderfully creepy as an audiobook, but it left me feeling unsatisfied. I'm still listening to Flying Too High (A Phryne Fisher Mystery). The Phryne Fisher books aren't appealing to me as much as the TV series. Maybe it's the lack of Phryne/Jack chemistry, but they're still quite enjoyable.


The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton. Incredibly clever plot structuring, good twists, but way, way too many characters. ✬✬✬☆ 
↠ Nora and Kettle by Lauren Nicolle Taylor. Exceeded my already high expectations. Gorgeous, heartbreaking story with characters I can root for. ✬✬✬✬✬
Internet Famous by Danika Stone. Great depiction of how real online relationships are and of a family with a child with special needs. The romance is too cheesy for me, but it may work for others! ✬✬✬✬

Other Things on the Blog

↠ I discussed the four stages I sometimes through when I discover my favourite is problematic.
↠ I participated in #AsianLitBingo and shared my TBR! I didn't get a bingo, as predicted, but I read 3 books out of 5 so I'm pleased with it.

Challenges Progress

↠ Goodreads challenge: 19/30 books
↠ Discussion challenge: 4/24 discussion posts
↠ ReadDiverse2017 challenge: 6 books
↠ #RockMyTBR challenge:  1 book
↠ Backlist Books challenge: 5 books

Around the Blogosphere

↠ Pam responds to Jo's post and talks about how the term 'diverse blogger' may be a bit othering.
↠ Tasya discusses intersectionality in diversity.

In Store for Next Month

I have quite the review backlog, so I'm hoping to catch up next month! Watch this space for reviews on Laurinda, Mirror in the Sky, and Olmec Obituary. I also have a very, very late blogoversary post to write up!

How was your May? 
What was the best book you read last month? 
Tell me something exciting/fun that has happened or made you smile recently!

[Sunday Street Team] Internet Famous by Danika Stone

Internet Famous is a lovely contemporary that shows, for better or for worse, how real online relationships and interactions are. It captures the capacity of the internet for introducing you to wonderful people you wouldn't otherwise know and for providing space to pursue the things you love. On the other hand, it shows how vulnerable it can make you. I enjoyed that and the individual characters, but the romance was a little too much for me.