✿Ring Around the Prose✿


travel reading

Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Brief synopsis (Goodreads): The nation of Panem, formed from a post-apocalyptic North America, is a country that consists of a wealthy Capitol region surrounded by 12 poorer districts. Early in its history, a rebellion led by a 13th district against the Capitol resulted in its destruction and the creation of an annual televised event known as the Hunger Games. In punishment, and as a reminder of the power and grace of the Capitol, each district must yield one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 through a lottery system to participate in the games. The ‘tributes’ are chosen during the annual Reaping and are forced to fight to the death, leaving only one survivor to claim victory.

When 16-year-old Katniss’s young sister, Prim, is selected as District 12’s female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart Peeta, are pitted against bigger, stronger representatives, some of whom have trained for this their whole lives. , she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.

Rating✈  Travel companion

Long story short (no spoilers): On the whole I thought this was a very enjoyable read. The premise was equal parts intriguing and horrifying, making me very curious to know more about it. After reading this I’m eager to find out what happens in the next book.

So, let’s get into it!

What I liked:

  • A complex female character takes center stage. I always find it refreshing to see a female protagonist be the hero of a book/TV show/movie that would usually fall under the “roles for boys” category. While representation is getting better, there still aren’t very many leading action roles for women, so it’s still an important achievement to celebrate. In particular it’s Katniss’ complexity I like; not only is she a match for her adversaries in the Hunger Games, but she is more than just a “strong female” archetype. She is also resilient, empathetic, lonely, and disillusioned. And that makes for a much interesting protagonist.
  • Themes in the book are (sadly) relatable. Voyeurism, materialism, desensitization, wealth inequality, tyrannical oppression…I’d go on, but it’s too depressing.
  • Good pacing, good action. The amount of time spent on each stage seemed fitting. The book is divided into two parts: the first comprises Katniss’ introduction, the Reaping, and getting ready for the Hunger Games; the second follows the actual Hunger Games and is almost three times as long as the first part.

What I didn’t like:

  • The limited perspective. A minor vexation, but it would have been nice to know how other characters were dealing with their respective circumstances, specifically Peeta, Gale, Prim, and Haymitch. It would have added to their development throughout the book as well as allowed us to get a more complete understanding of Katniss through their eyes.

Keep reading for a spoiler book and movie review!

Continue reading “Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins”


June and July Book Haul!

It’s been a while, but in honor of National Book Lovers Day, I thought I’d share my June and July book haul!

June was especially fun because I got a chance to spend a couple of hours at the Bay Area Book Festival in Berkeley (one of the perks of living in such a fun city!). There were so many tables hosted by small businesses and local publishers, and I was happy for an opportunity to support Asian and Asian-American authors.

They had a printing press so I made a small notebook!

July was a little slower because I was traveling. However, to prep for my trip I bought a couple of things for my Kindle. I finally finished A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings on plane and train rides, so that was exciting!

Let me know if you’ve read or are planning to read any of these!

Continue reading “June and July Book Haul!”

Rainy updates

Hi everyone!

I’m currently in Saigon, Vietnam waiting for the monsoon-like downpour to end before heading back out to practice my narrowly-missing-scooters skills. The hostel where I’m staying has a computer so I thought I’d use this opportunity to give you some updates about my reading challenge progress!

I’ve been using long plane and bus rides to my advantage, and I’m happy to announce that in the past two weeks I’ve read two books (two more than I thought I’d finish)! The most exciting one was Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. I know I’m tardy to the party…but at least I made it!

You remember Archimedes, my faithful Kindle, right?

The other novel I finished was Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde, book two in the Thursday Next series.


If the rain doesn’t let up, book reviews will be posted sooner rather than later…If you’re curious about my travels, you can check out my travel blog here. Hope you all are having a lovely summer!


I’m traveling around South East Asia for the next month meaning my reading updates will be extremely unreliable. Don’t worry though! I’ve packed enough book-things to fill in all those hours on and in-between the plane, bus, and tuk-tuk rides.

If you’re curious about where I’m going and what I’m doing, you can follow along. And feel free to email me your mailing address if you want a postcard 🙂

Hope you all are well, and I shall catch you on the flip-side. Happy reading!

May Book Haul

May book haul
Not pictured: Swamplandia! by Karen Russell, American Gods by Neil Gaiman, and Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart

I got my hands on more books than I expected to this month. Most were from local bookstores, three were given to me by friends, two were e-books from Amazon, and one was from Book of the Month. As much as I could I tried to balance getting books that are on my TBR lists and new titles I hadn’t heard of that piqued my curiosity.

It’s hard to decide what to read first, but I’m most excited for 2666 by Roberto Bolaño, Delicious! by Ruth Reichl, and Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh.

May Book Haul titles:

  1. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
  2. Paula by Isabele Allende
  3. Wizard of the Crow by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o
  4. Party Headquarters by Georgi Tenev
  5. 2666 by Roberto Bolaño
  6. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  7. The Fun Parts by Sam Lipsyte
  8. Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
  9. Hip: The History by John Leland
  10. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
  11. A Man For All Seasons by Robert Bolt
  12. Delicious! by Ruth Reichl
  13. Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
  14. Cleaning Up New York by Bob Rosenthal
  15. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  16. The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
  17. Holy Cow by Sarah Macdonald
  18. Naked by David Sedaris
  19. Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman
  20. Amor and Psycho by Carolyn Cooke
  21. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
  22. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
  23. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
  24. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
  25. The Naked Pint by Christina Perozzi and Hallie Beaune
  26. Heat & Light by Jennifer Haigh
  27. Think Like a Freak by Stephen J. Dubner and Steven Levitt
  28. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
  29. Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart

New TRLs are up!

I’ve added a handful of new TRLs to my page, so check them out if you’re stuck in a reading rut and don’t know which book to devour next.

New additions include:

  1. Lady Adventurers—women traveling the world and overcoming all sorts of obstacles
  2. Books and travel
  3. South East Asian authors—writers originating from and writing about Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, East Timor, Brunei, Christmas Island, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.
  4. Enchanting—for people who have read Harry Potter a billion times
  5. Books every feminist should read

The lists can be found at the top of my page, under the “Reading Lists” tab. If there’s a book you think should be on one (or more) of those lists, let me know!

Review: More Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin

Brief synopsis: The second installment of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City series follows many of the characters from the first novel as they navigate the alternative lifestyles and underground culture of San Francisco in the 1970s. There’s Mary Ann Singleton, a new transplant from Cleveland, Ohio, who leaves a sheltered life behind; Michael Tolliver, affectionately known as “Mouse”, looking for prince charming;  Mona Ramsey, Mary Ann’s bohemian neighbor; and Anna Madrigal, the motherly landlady of 28 Barbary Lane, the place Mary Ann, Michael, and Mona call home.

Rating✈  Travel companion

Long story short: Having grown up in the San Francisco Bay Area, I simply adore this series. The characters are a diverse set of people and the way their narratives weave in and out is engaging and keeps the reader on her toes. Chapters switch back and forth between different stories, but each is connected to the overall arch of the novel.

Continue reading “Review: More Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin”

Review: Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World by Rita Golden Gelman

Brief synopsis (from the back cover)Tales of a Female Nomad is the story of Rita Golden Gelman, an ordinary woman who is living an extraordinary existence. At the age of forty-eight, on the verge of a divorce, Rita left an elegant life in L.A. to follow her dream of connecting with people in cultures all over the world. In 1986 she sold her possessions and became a nomad, living in a Zapotec village in Mexico, sleeping with sea lions on the Galapagos Islands, and residing everywhere from thatched huts to regal palaces. She has observed orangutans in the rain forest of Borneo, visited trance healers and dens of black magic, and cooked with women on fires all over the world. Rita’s example encourages us all to dust off our dreams and rediscover the joy, the exuberance, and the hidden spirit that so many of us bury when we become adults.

Rating✈  Travel companion

Long story short: It took me longer than I expected to get through this book, not because it was boring, but because there was just so much to it that needed slow and careful unpacking (see what I did there? Heh).

Gelman writes about her experiences traveling through Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Israel, Galápagos Islands, Indonesia, Canada, New Zealand, and Thailand. I personally enjoyed the second half of the book a lot more starting with her trip to the Galápagos Islands, when the narrative became more fluid as Gelman became more comfortable in her new nomad lifestyle.

I took a lot of notes…

Continue reading “Review: Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World by Rita Golden Gelman”

Review: The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who Got Trapped in an Ikea Wardrobe by Romain Puértolas


Brief synopsis (from the inside cover): One day a fakir leaves his small village in India and lands in Paris. A professional con artist, he is on a pilgrimage to IKEA, where he intends to obtain an object he covets above all others: a brand new bed of nails. Without adequate euros in the pockets of his silk trousers, he is confident, all the same, that his counterfeit €100 note (printed on one side only) and his usual bag of tricks will suffice. But when a swindled cab driver seeks his murderous revenge, the fakir accidentally embarks on a European tour, fatefully beginning in a wardrobe of the iconic Swedish retailer. As his journey progresses in the most unpredictable of ways, the fakir finds unlikely friends in even unlikelier places. To his surprise–and to a Bollywood beat–the stirrings of love well up in the heart of our hero, as his adventures lead to profound and moving questions of the perils of emigration and the universal desire to seek a better life in an often dangerous world.

Rating✈  Travel companion

Long story short: I read this book while on my trip back from Seattle and couldn’t have asked for a better travel companion. Not only was Ajatashatru, the protagonist, doing a lot of traveling himself, but the story was easy to get into and difficult to put down because it was so unpredictable.

Despite being a light read, The Extraordinary Journey features an array of different personalities and even some character development. Ajatashatru goes from being a selfish trickster to somebody who starts caring for others, and shares some surprising words of wisdom.

I don’t want to give away too much of the story, because I think it’s best if you go in knowing as little as possible. Do you have a book that makes for good reading when you’re on the go?

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