May 21 – 27, 2023 | Little Sparks #3

I hope it’s a good day where you are.

This week’s newsletter is short. The week flew away – I felt like a leaf constantly being flown away by the breeze when I tried to settle down.

I read:

Foster by Claire Keegan
4 stars

It was a short book, more so a short story.

The readers are exposed to the mind of a young girl as she has realised that she has been given into the care of a couple (that has lost their child) by her father because her mother is soon to give birth. Yet while she stays with this couple, wondering if she has been abandoned, she realised that they are more affectionate and caring towards her than her parents. So when it’s time for her to return home, she feels pretty disappointed.


Here’s wishing you a better week next!

May 14 – 20, 2023 | Little Sparks #2

Hello again!

How’s the weather where you are?

It’s summertime here, so the sun is out, and the temperature is excellent, at least for me.

This week was busy at work, but an overall productive reading week with books from different genres.

Here is my reading list from this week:

Exes and O’s by Amy Lea
3 stars

It plays on the trope of closed proximity, and as such, I couldn’t really see why and how the relationship turned deep. However, it did portray a healthy example of communicating in a relationship.

Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese
4 stars

At the heart of this book is the power of finding/having a sense of belonging and having the courage to start again. It does so by detailing the life of a hockey player over the span of 20 years and how the experience of colonialism and residential schools affected him.

There are many trigger warnings: abuse, sexual assault, rape, racism, racial slur, alcoholism, suicide and death.

The scarlet letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
3 stars

This year part of my reading goals is to read more classic literature. There is no particular reason why. After finishing high school, I had no literature classes that assigned old classics. I want to dissociate classic literature from “school” and “academia” and find books in this category I can enjoy.  Unfortunately, there were more parts that I didn’t enjoy than I did.

The chances that I would not have finished this book if I was reading it and not listening to it is very, very high. The writing was interesting in that it was overly complicated. I kept thinking, “there is a much easier way to say this”.

(I am very grateful I did not have to read this for school.)

The book is progressive for its time, with several empowering commentaries about how women should have autonomy for themselves. However, I don’t know if one can argue that it was overall empowering as tragedy befalls the characters at the end due to their affair, implying to readers at the time the fate of such an act.

Three stars might be a high rating for a book I didn’t really enjoy, but there were moments when I did, and I was initially very invested in the plot. Likewise, I liked how the narrator spoke to the readers at times throughout the book.

May 7 – 13, 2023 | Little Sparks #1


I have decided to change the book reviews section of the blog, which I named Little Sparks, into a weekly newsletter. This newsletter will be in a narrative style recapping the books I read during that week (or at least the books I choose to highlight for that week), and I am calling it Little Sparks.

There is some history to the name. In high school, I founded a CAS project called Little Sparks, where we (myself and three other classmates) shared book reviews on a WeChat subscription account. I was really, really proud of the idea and execution of the creative project (immensely! haha). I wished the CAS project had survived after I left high school (sadly, the junior students didn’t want to continue the project), so the name and idea never died for me. We even had a logo for the subscription account!

So, to say the least, I am thrilled about this newsletter’s birth/rebirth/debut, and I hope you stay on the journey!

Without further ado, here are the book highlights for this week:

The Stolen Heir by Holly Black (The Stolen Heir Duology #1)
4 stars rating

Last month, I finished reading The Folk of Air series by Holly Black and immensely enjoyed it. I had listed to the audiobook version of all three books and (for lack of a better word) had devoured the series. Hence, I was curious how this new series that follows Oak (the brother of the Queen in The Folk of Air, known as the reluctant prince) would turn out.

The book was very much about a quest (for revenge). It was interesting to see the element of magic take a backseat in the book as the adventure they were going on was the focus. It was a fun read (more so because I had listened to the audiobook version, and each character had a different speaker). The characters grew on me, especially Suren, whom I couldn’t figure out initially. I also marvelled at how smart and skilled they were, as highlighted by the many riddles they cracked.

I am happy it’s a duology (long fantasy series can get frustrating waiting for), and I look forward to the next book.

Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism by bell hooks
5 stars rating

A riveting read!

At the root of many issues in the US is slavery and its impacts. This book details how sexism and the women’s rights movement in the US were impacted by slavery and the consequences of slavery, from the historic devaluation of Black womanhood to the racism within the women’s movement and how Black women got involved in the feminist movement.

bell hooks made a compelling argument for how feminism needs to do more to eliminate the dominant ideology in the US that promotes a patriarchal capitalist society. It’s quite a shame that though the book was first published in 1981, little has changed today regarding how Black women are treated and seen in the US for the book to be still so relevant.


There will be more updates for my website/blog in the coming months. So, stay tuned until next week!

Warm regards,

Book Review: Finding Me

Author: Viola Davis

Genre: Memoir, Autobiography

Pages: 304 pages, 9 hours

Level of difficulty: 3/5 Dictionaries

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Brief Introduction:

Viola Davis tells her story from a crumbling apartment in Central Falls, Rhode Island, to the stage in New York City, and beyond. It tells the path she took to find her purpose and to become the famous actress we know of today.


At the center of every relationship we have, is the relationship we have with ourselves.

A deeply profound and riveting read. I highly recommend it. I learned so much from listening to Viola (I suggest picking up the audiobook version as you get to listen to it in her own words) about health, wealth, self-worth, love, and many more.

Please note that there are a lot of triggers. TW: death, sexual assault and rape

Book Review: Sometimes I Lie

Author: Alice Feeney

Genre: Psychological Thriller, Mystery

Pages: 262 pages; 10 hours (audiobook)

Level of difficulty: 3/5 Dictionaries

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Brief Introduction:

Amber wakes up in a hospital. She can’t move. She can’t speak. She can’t open her eyes. She can hear everyone around her. However, no one has any idea. As we alternative between Amber’s present, the day of the accident, and her past we learn what happens to her alongside her and find out a lot more.


Goodness, gracious! What a book! I didn’t read the synopsis, so I didn’t prepare myself for what I would be getting into – it is not for the faint of heart.

The book’s first half does the story a disservice because it is a slow pace. The second half of the book had so so many twists. The execution of these plot twists made me give the book four starts. I didn’t, however, like that the book is read from the perspective of an unreliable narrator when the topic of sexual assault is discussed. This brings me to trigger warnings: sexual assault, death, alcoholism, and stalking. I also didn’t gravitate much to the idea that the character was in a coma but was conscious – she could hear what people were saying around her, process information and “wake up” though her eyes were closed. It doesn’t seem feasible which threatens the story world as Amber’s state is the foundation of the book.

It would be interesting to read an analysis of this book from a psychological perspective / using psychological theories – there could be so much to discuss. I also think this is a book that one would better understand by reading a second time.

You may get the book here!

Book Review: Cinderella is Dead

Author: Kalynn Bayron

Genre: Fairytale Retelling, Queer, Romance

Pages: 389 pages; 11 hours (audiobook)

Level of difficulty: 3/5 Dictionaries

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Brief Introduction:

200 years after Cinderella found her prince, teen girls are required to appear at the Annual Ball and be picked by where men of the kingdom select wives based on their appearance. We follow Erin’s journey in fighting her country’s patriarchic system that oppresses not only women but the LGBT+ community.


I loved how the Cinderella fairytale was turned on its head. Instead of a love story (supposedly) we have a feminist retelling in the genre of a dystopia. It was creative from start to finish, turning everything we know about the fairytale upside down. It challenged the notion of a prince charming, a fairy godmother and heteronormativity.

However, there were some weak executions between scenes. For example, Constance happens to meet our main character when most needed and has all the tools Sophia needs. As such, the flow of the book at times was weak which takes away from the whole narrative (as a reader you are reminded that it is fiction – zapped back to the real world).

You may get the book here!

I read 110 books in 2022!

This year, I read the most number of books I have ever and it was the busiest year I’ve had since – with school, writing my undergraduate thesis, part-time work on campus, looking for a job (which is a full-time job in of itself), and then working full time.

I often get asked how I manage to read a lot, so I have taken some time to reflect on my reading habits. Here’s what I have learned so far, which will help you read more books in the new year.

  1. Read what you enjoy
    • Since the invention of Gutenberg’s printing press in 1440, it’s estimated that about 156,264,880 books have been published. I’m sure there’s even more if we consider books of different languages across the globe. With so many books worldwide, you don’t need to stick to a genre or book you don’t like. You can learn a lot from reading any single book. Thus, reading what also brings you joy is essential.
  2. You can read more than one book at a time
    • You don’t have to finish one book before going on to the next. For example, sometimes you might not be in the mood to continue reading the historical fiction novel you had started. That’s fine! You don’t have to force yourself or wait till you are back in the mood. You may read a fantasy novel in the meantime.
  3. Listen to audiobooks
    • In 2021, I read 55 books. I could double the number of books I read this year by including audiobooks on my reading list. They are a great option while doing chores, commuting or cooking (which I often do). In addition, audiobooks are a great experience. You get to hear dialogues between characters and music that was supposed to be playing in the background of a scene and immerse yourself in the book world differently.
  4. Share the books you read
    • When you read a new book, please share it with those around you. Even if you didn’t like the book, a great conversation could come out of sharing so. I often share my 5-star reads with friends and family, so I am always happy to share new 5-star reads (which means I have to read more to find more). Likewise, sharing my book reviews (however short) on the blog motivates me to read more (though I have realised writing a book review on a book I didn’t enjoy is far easier than writing one on a book I did).

Of all the 110 books I read, 22 were five stars reads (a nice coincidence). Here are just five I would like to highlight, as listed in the order I read them this year. I have explained why I enjoyed them in one sentence and included the links to book reviews for those I wrote.

  1. Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley
    • It tells a heart-wrenching yet hopeful tale of family and belonging, set in the Ojibwe reservation. (It was also my first 5-star read of the year!)
  2. Lovely War by Julie Berry
    • By far, the best audiobook I have listened to this year.
    • Book Review
  3. Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orïsha, #1) by Tomi Adeyemi
    • It is an engaging and brilliant fantasy novel based on Yoruba mythology.
    • Book Review
  4. Notes on an Execution by Danya Kukafka
    • This book lives rent-free in my head; I think about it often despite having read it in July.
    • Book Review
  5. My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth
    • I don’t think I ever felt as angry from reading a book as I did reading this.

Here’s to the joy of reading and more 5-star reads in 2023! Happy New Year!

Book Review: The Psychology of Money

Title: The Psychology of Money

Author: Morgan Housel

Genre: Non-fiction, Personal development

Pages: 252 pages; 6 hours (audiobook)

Level of difficulty: 3/5 Dictionaries

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Brief Introduction:

Doing well with money isn’t necessarily about what you know. It’s about how you behave. And behavior is hard to teach, even to really smart people. Morgan Housel shares 19 short stories exploring the strange ways people think about money and teaches you how to make better sense of one of life’s most important topics.


I really enjoyed how the lessons were conveyed through storytelling – the stories of specific individuals and companies.

Here are some lessons I learnt from the book that I would like to share:

  1. Our willingness to bare risk depends on personal history (where and when you were born)
  2. Luck and risk are duo forces in our lives
    • Success is what differentiates a bold decision and a foolish choice
    • Luck is the cousin of failure
  3. The hardest financial skill is getting the goal post to stop moving
  4. Big things can happen with small forces
    • Compound interest
  5. The only way to stay wealthy is frugality and paranoia
    • Getting money and keeping money are two different skills
  6. The key of a plan is planning for when the plan fails
    • Margin of safety is important
    • Ensure a room for error when estimating your future returns
  7. The highest dividend that money pays is freedom / control over one’s time
  8. Experience doesn’t lead to forecast abilities
  9. We underestimate how much we will change in the future
  10. The more you want something to be true, the more likely you are to believe a story that overestimates it

You may get the book here!

Book Review: The Almanack of Naval Ravikant

Title: The Almanack of Naval Ravikant: A Guide to Wealth and Happiness

Author: Eric Jorgenson

Genre: Non-fiction, Personal development

Pages: 244 pages; 5 hours (audiobook)

Level of difficulty: 3/5 Dictionaries

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Brief Introduction:

Naval Ravikant is an entrepreneur, philosopher, and investor who has captivated the world with his principles for building wealth and creating long-term happiness. The Almanack of Naval Ravikant is a collection of Naval’s wisdom and experience from the last ten years, shared as a curation of his most insightful interviews and poignant reflections.


This book is full of great advice/lessons/insights. It requires one to sit with each phrase and do some reflection during and after reading the book. Definitely, this is a book that would be best utilized by reading certain insights more than one.

The five hours I spent on the book did not go to waste, and I had quite a lot of notes. Here are just a few of my favourites insights from the book:

1. Don’t take yourself so seriously; you are just a monkey with a plan
2. Death is the most important thing that will happen to you
3. The hardest thing (in life) is figuring out what you want
4. There is no end point to self-awareness and self-discovery. It’s a lifelong process you hopefully get better and better at
5. Anger is hot coal you hold in your hands while waiting to throw at somebody
6. To find a lovely mate, be worthy of a lovely mate
7. Inspiration is perishable; act on it immediately

I highly recommend you read the book!

You may get it here!

Book Review: One True Loves

Title: One True Loves

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Genre: Romance, Contemporary

Pages: 331 pages; 8 hours (audiobook)

Level of difficulty: 3/5 Dictionaries

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Brief Introduction:

Emma Blair married her childhood sweetheart, Jesse, in her twenties. On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Years later, after much grief, Emma falls in love with an old childhood friend, Sam and soon gets engaged. However, Jesse is found alive, and what kept him through all these years was trying to get back to Emma. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves


What is true love?

Are we able to love as boldly as we did after being hurt?

This was a beautiful story about the power of love, and the notion that we have soul mates (instead of only one soul mate). The division of the book between “before Emily got engaged to Sam”, and “after her husband who was believed to be dead returns” was clear and engaging. It was also a lovely listen as an audiobook.

You may get the book here!