Review: That Falls on You from Nowhere by John Chu

In the near future water falls from the sky whenever someone lies (either a mist or a torrential flood depending on the intensity of the lie). This makes life difficult for Matt as he maneuvers the marriage question with his lover and how best to “come out” to his traditional Chinese parents.

“Coming out would have hurt less a decade ago and it’ll hurt less now than a decade from now. Unless I just keep quiet and wait for my entire family to die off. Now there’s a cheery thought.”

I’ve been on the search for a captivating magical realism story and this one fit like a glove. The premise of That Falls on You from Nowhere remains to be completely fascinating to me: tell a lie and rain shall fall from the sky. I’m still amazed with the author for coming up with it.

On that note, I’ve gathered a list of things that left me with a content heart:

  • To-the-point writing style.
  • It was a lovely and quick distraction from daily life.
  • Superb characterization in only twenty or so pages.
  • I unexpectedly started loving Matt’s mother after this passage:

“Mom asks me if we’ve eaten. According to the textbooks, it’s a polite greeting, but she always means it literally. If I tell her I’m not hungry, she’ll say, “不餓還需要吃啊.” (Even if you’re not hungry, you still need to eat.) That must be true since that never causes the water to fall.”

  • I LIVED for those moments when it would say if water had fallen or not.
  • Then this one scene with Matt and his older sister, Michele, kind of reminded me of my favorite dynamic between Jessica Huang and her sister, Connie, in the show Fresh Off the Boat:

“You understand what I’m saying. I shouldn’t have to spell it out. You don’t trust your own sister?”
When I was eight, she convinced me that she was psychic, then foretold exactly how horrible my life would be if I didn’t do exactly as she said. It’s embarrassing how many years she got away with it. If the water had been falling back then, she’d have flooded the house.”

  • And one last thing: Matt’s partner, Gus, is an amazingly supportive love interest with such a generous soul. Which is why this next scene utterly warmed my heart:

“Matt, you’re leaving out of spite.” The doorjamb neatly frames Gus. “Okay, your sister had a bad reaction, but poe poe and gohng gohng don’t seem to be taking it badly.”
I blink and shake my head. It takes me a few seconds to realize that he’s talking about my parents.
“Did you just call my parents 婆婆 and 公公?”
“Yeah, poe poe and gohng gohng.” He looks confused. “I tried to call them Mr. and Mrs. Ho this afternoon, but they both corrected me before I got past hello. Am I pronouncing it wrong?”
“We can work on that, but that’s not my point.” I shut his suitcase. “‘婆婆’ means husband’s mother and ‘公公’ means husband’s father.”


Overall, I highly recommend you give this short story a go. Not only does it have a stunning cover, but the inside is just as phenomenal, if not more so.

4/5 stars 

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Review: The Careful Undressing of Love by Corey Ann Haydu

“Love happens at night,” Angelika says, whispering like it’s a secret some of us might not know. “So we’ll take away the night.”

This was such a quick read, almost impossible to put down. I wasn’t sure at first if I would read this, but then without noticing I was twenty pages in and feeling invested, so then I had to keep going. And now here we are.

The Careful Undressing of Love follows the Devonairre Street Girls and their eccentric little community in Brooklyn that has experienced an unusual number of tragedies, which everyone refers to as the Curse. And 75-year-old Angelika Koza is always there to remind them of it.

“If a Devonairre Street Girl falls in love with any boy, whether or not he loves her back, the boy will die. Devonairre Street Girls must not fall in love. That is the responsibility, that is the Curse, that is what is true.”

It kind of reminds me of Blue’s curse in The Raven Boys, where she has been told by her psychic family that she will kill her true love. But the Devonairre Street Girls don’t believe in their curse, or at least that’s what they tell themselves…

“Fine. It’s strange that we wear the keys, that we grow our hair, that we drink the tea and eat the cake and switch the outside lights on when the sun goes down and armor ourselves in wool.
But Santa Claus is strange, too. And lucky pennies. And horoscopes in newspapers. And unbreakable mirrors.”

I loved the magical realism in here. Their curse also brought up in my mind the question of “is it better to have loved and lost or never loved at all?” I still don’t know what my answer is or will be.

Honestly, this book had me so enthralled that upon looking out of my window, I felt surprised that Angelika Koza wasn’t lurking and judging me from across the street. She knows something extra about the world. And I can still hear her voice shoving in I’ll say it again if you weren’t listening.

Also, to keep track of the characters, here’s a list of the their quirks that I initially loved:

  • Delilah James with her made-up sayings. I’ll try to remember each and every one.
  • Lorna Ryder with her ability to hear her mother’s heart. Oh, and who loves thinking only about herself…more on that later.
  • Isla Rodriguez is an unstoppable force. She’s also the youngest of them all but growing up the fastest.
  • Charlotte, who’s together with Cruz Rodriguez, doesn’t seem to have any kind of life in her until something happens that I’ll talk about later on.

Oh, and this book address white-privilege, which yes, please:

“They’re always more concerned with Isla’s outfits than mine. The other night at Julia’s I was wearing less than Isla is now, but it didn’t incite the same kind of outrage when I walked down the street. I think Isla must notice it, too, the way her body is a particularly tense battleground compared to the rest of ours. I think of the way Ms. Abbound looked at Delilah, too. It’s uncomfortable to think of us as anything but a single organism, but of course it’s easier to be a white Devonairre Street Girl.”

I kept thinking of this:tumblr_m4ahq0osee1qzh4jxo1_500*From here on I want to discuss some spoilery stuff.*

The book also tackles Lorna’s grief after she lost her father in the Times Square Bombing almost seven years ago. The portrayal of her grief felt so real and personal and specific, and I’m still reeling.

“When Dad died, Mom said to be sure to let myself have good moments. Even when everything hurts, even when other cities are exploding and people we love are disappearing, there’s still space for sweet things. I let our elbows’ resting against each other feel good, while everything else feels bad.”

But then… then this book took a turn down the wrong lane for me. A truly wrong turn when Lorna decides to cheat multiple times on her boyfriend with Cruz, who’s still with Charlotte. However, the book comes up with a convenient way for our hetero heroine to get rid of all her hetero guilt.

“We’ve been together a long time,” Nisha says.
Charlotte looks down, but she doesn’t deny it.
“You can’t be together,” I say. “Charlotte and Cruz are together.”
I look back and forth between the two of them, the golden couple of Devonairre Street, one of the main reasons I know the Curse isn’t real, the people I’ve built a whole sense of the world on.”

I love how Lorna remembers this fact when it’s convenient for her, because the minute her lips are on Cruz’s she all, “Charlotte who?”

Also, I’m kind of livid at how this was all played out to make the herione feel OK for cheating. I was so excited about the possibility of a f/f relationship featuring in here, but making it seem like plot-twist is just not how you do it. I had to take a breather after that to calm down over how angry I was.
There are so few f/f romances out there in YA books, and I was so, so excited when I heard it was going to play a part in here. But it didn’t. It only appeared over 220 pages in (out of 288), and then it was only presented as a twist so that the main white, hetero character wouldn’t feel guilty for kissing her friend’s boyfriend. UGH. This is just such harmful representation when your whole novel is straight as fuck. Can’t we have even one good thing this year??? tumblr_of8am9j3ne1sjcdg6o1_250After that I quickly came to realize just how self-centred Lorna acts all the damn time. She lives in this bubble of “I’m so special and everyone loves or wants to be me.” And I’m like, “….people literally do not give two fucks about whether you speak or not.” Similar to what Nisha said, “But you Devonairre Street people—you’re all in your own world, aren’t you?”

I just hate, hate, hate that Lorna was the center of this novel, when there were so many more deserving souls… like Delilah. The Careful Undressing of Love should have been told through Delilah’s eyes, not Lorna’s pretentious ones. Especially once you consider the fact that Delilah lost Jack, whom she truly loved, and we barely get to see her after that. We mainly see how Lorna is hurting, and I’m like…. okay….tumblr_o0hbcon5ru1rstnf0o2_500This novel started out fantastic, but it petered out after Jack’s sudden death. And after that straight nonsense, I was out. I can’t even hide how disappointed I am. I was truly excited when I started and read the first 150 pages, but I can’t get over how the whole aforementioned situation was played. You don’t use f/f romances like that. You just don’t.

ARC kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

2/5 stars 

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying The Careful Undressing of Love, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

Review: After the Quake by Haruki Murakami

This was my first time reading Haruki Murakami’s writing, and I was indeed more than intrigued and impressed. The six stories in this mesmerizing collection are set at the time of the catastrophic 1995 Kobe earthquake, when Japan became brutally aware of the fragility of its daily existence. But the upheavals that afflict Murakami’s characters are even deeper and more mysterious, emanating from a place where the human meets the inhuman.

My two favorite stories: thailand honey pie.

thailand:

This short story follows Satsuki – a professional pathologist – moving back to Japan after she became fed up with living in America for over a decade, researching the immune function of the thyroid gland. A lot of events occur over the course of Satsuki’s story, when she ends up having her dreams foretold, which is one of my favorite things in books:

“She says that there is a stone inside your body. A hard, white stone. About the size of a child’s fist. She does not know where it came from.”
“A stone?” Satsuki asked.
“There is something written on the stone, but she cannot read it because it is in Japanese: small black characters of some kind. The stone and its inscription are old, old things. You have been living with them inside you for a very long time. You must get rid of the stone. Otherwise, after you die and are cremated, only the stone will remain.”

I live this kind of stuff.

“You are going to have a dream soon about a large snake. In your dream, it will be easing its way out of a hole in a wall—a green, scaly snake. Once it has pushed out three feet from the wall, you must grab its neck and never let go. The snake will look very frightening, but in fact it can do you no harm, so you must not be frightened. Hold on to it with both hands. Think of it as your life, and hold on to it with all your strength. Keep holding it until you wake from your dream. The snake will swallow your stone for you. Do you understand?”

It gave me chills.

thailand ends with quite an open ending as most of the stories did in this collection. Overall, it was a strange but insightful read. I liked it the most from all the other tales.

honey pie

The concluding story is about the tight-knit threesome of Junpei, Takatsuki, and Sayoko—with born short story writer, Junpei, at the center of this story. It was a lovely tale about friendships, love, storytelling, and so much more. But I especially loved the tales Junpei told Sayoko’s daughter, Sala.

“Junpei often made up stories for Sala when she went to bed. And whenever she didn’t understand something, she would ask him to explain. Junpei gave a lot of thought to his answers. Sala’s questions were always sharp and interesting, and while he was thinking about them he could also come up with new twists to the story.”

Also, how great was Sayoko with her random bra trick:

“Sayoko was wearing a baggy black crewneck sweater. She put both hands on the table and counted, “One … two … three! ” Like a turtle pulling into its shell, she slipped her right hand up inside her sleeve, and then there was a light back-scratching kind of movement. Out came the right hand again, and the left hand went up its sleeve. Sayoko turned her head just a bit, and the left hand came out holding a white bra—a small one with no wires. Without the slightest wasted motion, the hand and bra went back up the sleeve, and the hand came out again. Then the right hand pulled in, poked around at the back, and came out again. The end. Sayoko rested her right hand on her left on the table.
“Twenty-five seconds,” Sala said. “That’s great, Mommy, a new record! Your best time so far was thirty-six seconds.”

One of the funniest and brilliant moments that I’ve encountered while reading.


Overall, I’m really glad I gave this short story collection a try, and I can’t wait to read more of Haruki Murakami’s charm and wit in his other works.

4/5 stars

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying After the Quake, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!