New Release: Five Midnights by Ann Dávila Cardinal

After looking for some horror books to try and get into, I found this book by chance on NetGalley and was not disappointed!

Click the image to go to the Amazon page

Published: June 4, 2019 (today!)
Author: Ann Dávila Cardinal
My NetGalley Rating: 5/5

My NetGalley Review:

It might look like I give a lot of positive reviews, but it’s more the fact that I’m extremely choosy about the books I spend my time with. I’m glad I picked this one up when I was perusing through NetGalley!

I’m a big fan of creepy stories, and have had an extremely hard time finding a good creepy story to read. This one definitely tickled my fancy. The author did a fantastic job in transporting the reader to Puerto Rico, the beautiful areas to the crime ridden ones, to move the story along. I felt like I could picture the locations that they went to.

The romance in this book was fantastic. I appreciate an author who can cultivate relationships and not just plunge the poor reader into a cold bath of “I love you soooo much”although it might not be relevant. I felt that the ending was a bit rushed, but I felt satisfied after seeing the loose ends tied up.

As a biracial person myself, I found the focus on identity to be grating at first, but it did make sense as the story continued. I can’t dock stars for that. 🙂

If you enjoy creepy things, with a bit of romance and mystery in a tropical setting, I’d suggest picking up the book… it just came out today!

What I liked about the book:

When I enjoy a good book, I want to read it during work, not only after work! I binged this book today whenever I had a chance to pull out my Kindle at work and kept reading because I really had to find out how this whole thing was going to end.

This author really did her research on drugs and drug addiction, which I noticed from the last few pages of the book that she did quite a bit of research into this whole novel. The pang of desire for an addict and how easy it is to start using was just so well written out that I could really feel for the characters who were involved with addiction. It was interesting to see how many characters addiction touched in this story.

I also enjoyed the characters. They had realistic drives and interests with backgrounds and history that made sense to their personalities. Relationships were cultivated and not forced, which I really appreciated since I really abhor super romantic and not realistic romantic writing. It felt like romance was a side point and not the focus, which was great because Ann Dávila Cardinal really focused on the creepy stuff! Yay!!!

Speaking of creepy: I enjoyed the thread of unease throughout the book. I also enjoy SCP Foundation stories. It’s not totally on the same level of SCP, but is definitely a step in that direction that is hard to find for some reason.

What I wasn’t a fan of:

The main thing I wasn’t a fan of in the writing was just how quickly everything wrapped up into a nice bow. I wasn’t totally expecting some of the main characters to do what they did at the end, and those relationships felt a tad rushed. (It might be because it’s also a YA — this isn’t my typical genre so I’m not sure what to expect) ((I also edited my original statement because I don’t want to spoil the story))

One minor thing that did get on my nerves was the focus on being biracial and not belonging. I totally get that there’s a reason for it, but it hit a little too close to home for me as a biracial person… though Ann might know as well, being a Gringa-Rican!

Who is this for?

Anyone who is looking for a quick read of multicultural urban horror!

Book Review Round-Up: May 2019

It’s been a loooooong time! I’ve been meaning to write some new stuff, but between work, health, and life stuff getting in the way, it’s been hard to sit down to write anything. For the first time in forever I’ve reviewed some ARCs that I downloaded from NetGalley. Enjoy!

Note: Updated 6/2 to reflect the other handful of books that I read before the end of May!

The A to Z of Eating Disorders by Emma Woolf
Released September 2017
Rating 5/5

As weird as it is to say, I’m actually a fan of this book and wasn’t sure what to expect when I first downloaded it besides discussion on eating disorders. This book alphabetizes different words and concepts around eating disorders into a literal A through Z guide, with a short but succinct description of each concept that pulls the emotion out of eating disorders. There are other related concepts that are included but not specific to eating disorders, e.g. how the human body works and other related psychiatric disorders like depression.

I also appreciate that “clean eating” and “orthorexia” are included in this reference along with Celiac (Coeliac) Disease. Those of us with Celiac Disease and other diseases related to food are at risk of falling into those rabbit holes given how strict we need to be with food avoidance; it can be too easy to restrict our diet unnecessarily for fear out of becoming sick, especially when a lot of the foods we can buy commercially come from the health food marketplace or brands.

I would actually like to get a copy of this book at some point as it would make a good health reference.

A Radical Guide for Women with ADHD: Embrace Neurodiversity, Live Boldy, and Break Through Barriers by Sari Solden
Releasing July 2019
Rating 5/5

I love, love, love a good self-help book, and even better when it’s a workbook. This workbook is a must for any woman with ADHD, especially since a majority of the books available are directed at men suffering from ADHD or the spouses of male ADHD sufferers. Women sufferers have different struggles and weaknesses that we’re now just getting to hear about them, which is more important than ever given that there are a number of people who still believe women do not get ADHD!

This book is not focused on ‘fixing’ the woman with ADHD. This workbook is focused on the woman with ADHD coming to terms that it is a part of who they are and that is not something to be ashamed about (although society might try to say otherwise!). There are a lot of self-reflection and guided activities in this workbook that effortlessly blend in with each chapter, and the ‘stories’ from different women that are scattered throughout the book really bring home the point that ‘you are not alone in dealing with ADHD.’

I would highly suggest any woman with ADHD get a physical copy of this book to highlight and write in.

Buzz Books: Young Adult Fall/Winter 2019

My rating: 4/5

It was a tad disappointing with how few excerpts were in this buzz ARC as I’m trying to range out of my comfort zone genre wise. The range of choices in this ARC were pretty good, though. Although I’m not typically a fan of YA, I did find one book that I did want to pick up: Julia Drake’s The Last True Poets Of The Sea.

I really enjoyed her writing, as it made me feel like a teen again going through the uncomfortable “finding yourself” stage in life without glamorizing or romanticizing that awkward time. I want to read more! This was a great way to sample a diverse number of YA books!

Better Allies: Everyday actions to create inclusive, engaging workplaces by Karen Catlin
Released January 2019

Rating: 5/5

I’ve really enjoyed this book. As a background, I’m a mixed Asian woman. The author does a really good job at explaining privilege and how to be an ally to others. She also does a good job at explaining that although we may have hardships, we still may have privilege that affords us more opportunities than others, which is important to think about as we attempt to be allies with friends, families, coworkers, and just others in general.

As a mixed Asian woman, I do understand I have privilege that is not afforded to some of my friends and coworkers, while I also have hardships that my other friends and coworkers do not experience.

One of the biggest gripes around being an ally is actually discussed by this author: listen to the people you ally with for their input AND support them to talk for themselves. Like the example of a woman being talked over, where instead of naming her idea and summarizing her point, allow her to speak her thought so the idea is truly attributed to her. I think this book is something that people should read in general. Even as a WOC, I found ideas to take away from this book on how I could be a better ally for other people.

Saint Young Men by Hikaru Nakamura
Released April 2019 in USA

My rating: 5/5

I really like this series! I’ve read this before, and picked it up so I could have another read. It’s a slice-of-life type of manga about Jesus and Buddha living together as roommates in Japan… it’s so silly, but enjoyable to see them in stereotypical manga situations with the additional twist of them being religious icons. I’d suggest this to anyone who wants something more light hearted to read.

PREGNANT WITH A ROYAL BABY!: Harlequin Manga by Susan Meier, Motoyo Fujiwara
Released May 2019

My rating: 4/5

I’m a connoisseur of shoujo manga, and this surprisingly hit the spot for this reader. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I saw a lot of Harlqeuin Mangas pop up on NetGalley, but I’m now looking to request more!

I thought the artist did a pretty good job illustrating the story, and the comic flowed nicely. The art style fits the romantic/dramatic feel of the genre. I wasn’t totally crazy about the writing itself and part of the ending made me go “blehhhh,” but it was nice to have the story wrapped up within a single book instead forcing the reader to suffer through books upon books before anything gets accomplished story wise.

I don’t have a lot of time anymore to read 25+ chapter comics, and I’ve become frustrated with the series that just. never. end. I like that I could just sit down for a quick romance session and complete the story. Yay!

Married Roommates: How To Go From a Relationship That Just Survives To A Marriage That Thrives by Talia and Allen Wagner
Released April 2019

My rating: 5/5

As someone who’s been in a relationship and marriage for a long time, I wanted to review this book as I wanted to see what being “married roommates” entailed. It serves as a kind of warning for married couples to not become complacent, but also serves as insight if you do find your marriage falling into this direction.

I actually really enjoyed the mini stories: they were super authentic, and the fact that we see both sides of the issue is helpful and reminds the reader that there are two sides to every issue. There are a lot of no duh advice in here, but that doesn’t mean that maybe we forget as we run through the daily lives as married couples and need a reminder of what’s really important.

This is something that I feel that newly married couples would benefit from.

Mindfulness for Insomnia: A Four-Week Guided Program to Relax Your Body, Calm Your Mind, and Get the Sleep You Need by Catherine Polan Orzech, William H. Moorcroft, PhD
Releases July 2019

My rating: 2/5

I had a really, really hard time getting through this. I found it to be a pretty dry read, and I didn’t feel inspired to really get into the method. A lot of the exercises are really more about meditation and becoming mindful of oneself, but perhaps I was expecting something different when I requested this ARC. I think this would be good for someone who wants a concrete plan to help with insomnia but not really something I’d immediately suggest to someone else with insomnia.

The Racial Healing Handbook: Practical Activities to Help You Challenge Privilege, Confront Systemic Racism, and Engage in Collective Healing by Anneliese A Singh
Releases August 2019

My rating: 5/5

This is meant for white people or people who have little to no understanding of racial issues and racial inequalities. I really enjoyed the fact that the author included a section on microaggressions and examples on them AND WHY THEY ARE BAD. I liked the activities as it makes the person really think about race in regards to themselves and the people they know.

I don’t like having this on ebook though. This is a book you HAVE to buy a paper copy of this book to get the best formatting to take advantage of all the activities.

Traveling with Celiac Disease: O’ahu, Hawai’i

Celiac Disease (CD) can be a real pain in the ass when it comes to traveling. From bringing food onto an airplane, to making sure the CD-sufferer has safe food and snacks throughout the entirety of the trip, it becomes a real ordeal to travel. Some destinations are way more Celiac-friendly than others. This means that a lot more prep and research has to go into any trip.

Our rules for safe Celiac eating:

  1. 100% dedicated gluten free facilities are always the best.
  2. Restaurants with dedicated food allergy areas and protocols are second best.
  3. Restaurants with airborne flour are a hard no. Looking at you, non-segregated pizza spots.
  4. Other restaurants that are confused when Celiac or wheat allergies are mentioned is a hard no. These places are extremely risky.
  5. Every restaurant that is not 100% dedicated gf gets questioned on how safe they are, and the order noted it is for a Celiac and gluten-allergic eater. Gluten-allergy doesn’t exist, but more people recognize the severity of an allergy versus Celiac Disease.

We recently traveled to O’ahu to celebrate our cousin’s wedding, and it was a treat! Perusing Find Me Gluten Free got me very concerned about what I’d be able to eat since it didn’t seem like a lot at first glance, but being located in an extremely touristy area worked to my advance in finding safe food.

We stayed around Ko’Olina in a villa with a full kitchen. All of the resorts around us had restaurants that could reliably accommodate CD, but we kept heading back to Aulani (Disney). Character dining, buffet, Disney! 🐶

Hawaiian Airlines: Breakfast

Hawaiian Airlines breakfast box

Breakfast box!

Surprisingly, we actually got breakfast on our flight to Honolulu. The yogurt was actually gluten free, and the silverware wrapped in plastic, so the cross-com risk was minimal. I stayed away from the grapes, granola, and the wrapped onion corn cake thing, just in case.

(The cake smelled really good, though!)


ABC Store/Island Market by ABC

Island Country Markets by ABC Stores in Ko'Olina

Taken by Yelper T. Anthony N.

Unfortunately no pictures from me, but the Island Market in Ko’Olina was surprisingly well stocked for cooking at the villa. They stock fresh vegetables, eggs, and steak… While also stocking gluten-free bread, drinks (ok maybe I wouldn’t splurge for a $10 orange juice carton but hey), snacks, and pineapple Dole Whip.

Other ABC Stores also stock gf snacks. They’re all over the place, so it’s a safe spot to stop by for a quick refuel. Safe snacks are marked with a “gluten free” sign.


Aulani’s Poolside Food (Off the Hook & Papalua Shave Ice)

Disney’s Aulani resort has a number of on-site restaurants and eateries, including some poolside options that are a tad less expensive.

Unfortunately no pictures of this either, but I got a bomb set of kalua pork tacos in corn tortillas with pineapple salsa and avocado with a side of fruit. The food options I had were burgers with gf buns, tacos, salads, and flatbread. Nothing from the fryer unfortunately, but with that many options it wasn’t at all an issue.

The shaved ice from Papalua is gluten free. I didn’t inquire about getting the condensed milk at the time, but the shaved ice by itself was pretty darn good. 🐠


Aulani’s Makahiki Character Breakfast Buffet


Character breakfast was a real treat at Disneyland, but I found that Aulani’s character breakfast was just as good. Disneyland’s Mickey waffles win out for being mochiko based, but Aulani won with an eggs benedict — something I never really had a chance to have before. In this buffet, the chef will walk you down the buffet and ask you what you want to eat. Food came directly from the back with allergy sticks on them. It was a really good variety!

The show was also cute, and it was totally worth it. Loved hearing the auntie sing and go through the different routines. We had a visit with Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and Goofy at our table. 🙂

Aulani’s Makahiki Dinner Buffet


Non-character dinner, and that’s OK! My only complaint is that this buffet is totally aimed at the seafood lovers. I got to have a lot of different foods for dinner buffet, which was totally awesome. Same thing as breakfast: chef walked me through the line and asked what I wanted. I’ve never had poke and some of the other foods before, so I got a plate. (When we went to Disneyland’s Storytellers Cafe for dinner buffet, they couldn’t accommodate me at the time and I went for a meal instead. So it was nice to have another buffet style meal.)

Meals I received:

  • Rice, mashed potatoes, prime rib, and fruit
  • Pasta bolognese
  • Poke 🙂
  • Ham & prime rib
  • Sushi
  • Glazed salmon, pork chops, some other beef thing
  • Tapioca pudding w/ mango and fresh fruit on top
  • Pineapple & watermelon


Dole Plantation – BBQ Corn

No pictures of this one either, but there’s a stand right outside of the Dole Plantation building that has BBQ corn. I pestered them enough times to figure out that yes, it is gluten free, no, they don’t deal with gluten in the stand, and that they use Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce if you get that corn.


What I missed

There were multiple restaurants that I missed in Ko’Olina that were Celiac safe: Ama’Ama in Aulani, Longboards at the Marriott, and one at the Four Seasons. Ama’Ama has a beautiful view of the sunset in the evening, but with the amount of food and leftovers I had it just didn’t make sense to spend more $$$. There were also a few restaurants in Waikiki itself that were Celiac safe and you can find those on Find Me Gluten Free that I also skipped for the above reasons.



Get a place with a kitchenette just so you’re not spending a lot of money, but otherwise, O’ahu was totally fun and safe for this Celiac sufferer.

Must Read Fall 2018 Comics

Header - Review

I’m a little behind on doing anything with my blog for some really good reasons. Work, work travel, work, work projects, school, school papers, personal life… lots of stuff going on. In the meantime, I saw that three of my favorite artists are releasing comic books! THEY DELIVERED. Here are some mini-reviews I posted on my Goodreads.

FYI: These are all advance reading copies (ARCs).

super chill - a year of living anxiously

Super Chill: A Year of Living Anxiously – Adam Ellis
Releases on Oct 23, 2018
If his stuff looks familiar, it’s because he used to be a comic artist for Buzzfeed. By far my favorite of the releases this fall.
A great collection of comics by Adam. I was super happy to see that a lot of the comics in this book were content new to me, still in his signature style that touches on a lot of fun and sometimes way too real topics. I really enjoyed reading this and can’t wait to read more from him.

sharky malarkey

Sharky Malarkey – Megan Nicole Dong (Sketchshark)
Releases on September 18, 2018
A fun assortment of comics by Megan, a.k.a. sketchshark! The comics and illustrations are just so much fun and very lively. There’s a lot of social commentary and poking fun at real life situations, and I love the comics about Chaos, her cat. A definite read for any comic fan.

emotions explained with buff dudes

Emotions Explained w/ Buff Dudes – Andrew Tsyaston (Shenpai)
Releases on October 16, 2018
I’m a big Shenpai fan, and was super excited to see his book on here. His comics are very cartoony and simple, but he really tackles some tough issues in a comedic way that I can easily relate to, like depression, self-esteem, and other touchy subjects. It’s a quick read but super funny. Must read! My only complaint is that I’ve read most of the content previously.

Revisiting Harry Potter #2 and #3

Header - Review

With the hope of finishing the Harry Potter series by Halloween, and the small chance of actually doing so, I’ve continued on!

I started the Chamber of Secrets on my return flight back from the midwest, and finally finished getting through the Prisoner of Azkaban last week. When I was a kid, I didn’t realize how silly some things were… like Lockhart. Oh my goodness. Not sure I exactly had an opinion on him as a kid, but after re-reading the book, I felt like he would be one of those annoying guys posting on Instagram all the time about the stuff that he’s done for attention. Nope.jpg.

The Prisoner of Azkaban, on the other hand, was such a joy to reread. My favorite chapter is the chapter with the Knight Bus: the mix of magic and reality really started the book off on the right note. For some reason, Prizoner of Azkaban is where I’ve always felt like the series really started expanding and where I felt that the situations became more dramatic and important.

Also that this book had important situations spanning the entire book — e.g. Buckbeak — whereas it felt like the previous two books tended to have a lot of the action right at the end of the book. Although I have nothing against that, this need and desire to see how the trial ends up and everything else made me keep reading and reading and reading.

I’m excited to get into the 4th book, but I’m a bit nervous as well given the length of the book and juggling school/work. I’m not sure I’ll hit that Halloween timeline, but maybe Christmas will do. 🙂


Corel Painter 2019 Demo Review

I’ve been wanting to buy Corel Painter for quite some time now, but the steep price tag always turned me away from actually buying it after trying the demo. Now that I’m a student, I can finally take advantage of the under $100 price tag (much much better), and with Painter 2019 available to demo, I can try it out with the expectation of getting it this time. 🙂

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As a digital artist, I found that accessing the brushes were very easy and straight forward. I enjoyed the default paper textures and brushes (and their algorithms) that made drawing a really fun experience, without a lot of the customization and fuss that come with a lot of other drawing programs. It’s very user friendly.

One downside I’ve had with Painter is that when attempting to paint on the selected layer only, it’s persistent throughout the entire picture. Compared to other programs, this is something odd to get used to. Usually the option is layer-by-layer rather than the entire image, which can be helpful for quickly going between layers and doing touch-ups. I’ve found myself having to continuously check when my brush doesn’t show.

Another downside (maybe I haven’t found it yet) is that the font selection doesn’t display how it looks, unlike in Photoshop where you can get a feeling for what font you’ll be using beforehand. Instead of scrolling through a bazillion font changes. 🙂

I’ll be playing more with the program but at this price it is something that will be a good add to my collection.

Top 5 Wednesday (7/4): Best Books of 2018

This meme was created by Lainey and is currently hosted by Sam on Goodreads. Join us!

Happy Independence Day! We have a nice break this week due to the holiday, so time to take a quick breather and share what some of my favorites are for this year. This list includes both writing, graphic novels and manga.

  1. America is not the heart by Elaine CastilloAmerica is Not the Heart by Elaine Castillo
    An historical fiction looking at the cross-section of being Filipino and American in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 80’s/90’s. Seriously, a must read novel. I love the fact that the author writes the experience of being Filipino so well that I’m reminded of my in-laws, and catches the feeling of being an Asian person in the 90’s. I also enjoyed the inclusion of the LGBTQ element, which was totally unexpected but handled really well.

  2. The Eating Instinct by Virginia Sole-SmithThe Eating Instinct: Food Culture, Body Image, and Guilt in America by Virginia Sole-Smith
    This book hasn’t been released yet, but from an ARC I received, this book is seriously top on the list for non-fiction books for me this year. As a person with Celiac Disease, this book somehow caught a lot of the complex feelings around food and eating and placed it into a book. I never knew what orthorexia was before this, but I think this is going to become a bigger issue as time goes by. I’m looking forward to reviewing this book closer to it being released in November.

    tokyo tarareba girls

  3. Tokyo Tarareba Girls, Vol. 1 by Akiko Higashimura
    Just got this from NetGalley yesterday, and I do-not-regret-it! On first view, I was taken aback because the main characters did remind me of the characters from Princess Jellyfish. Reading into it, though, I was soooo pleasantly surprised. She really captures being an ADULT woman trying to navigate love and life, and this is geared towards your older readers who can really relate either personally or through friends.

    kimetsu no yaiba

  4. 鬼滅の刃 1 [Kimetsu no Yaiba 1] by Koyoharu Gotouge
    A 80’s/90’s style shonen that DOESN’T make you feel like it’s going to drag on for-ev-er. A really enjoyable action-packed read.


  5. 古見さんは、コミュ症です [Komi-san has a communication problem] by Tomohito Oda
    Bite-sized. Fluffy. Happiness. So cute. Just read it. Here’s my previous review on the series.