Book Review: China Rich Girlfriend

Image via Goodreads

Rating: 4 out of 5

I find it tragic that people of color are not better depicted in mass media, whether in movies, music, or fiction.

Asians particularly suffer from inequality in the entertainment industry, considering how many stories either whitewash history (*cough*The Last Samurai*cough*) or resort to straight-up yellowface (remember Breakfast at Tiffany’s?)

The lack of Asian representation is a great disservice to the world, which is why I’m so happy for Kevin Kwan’s breakthrough success as a writer.

After gobbling up his debut novel Crazy Rich Asians, I have been counting down the days until the release of its sequel China Rich Girlfriend. And I was not disappointed!

China Rich Girlfriend is a fantastic summer read, as it follows the lives of newlyweds Nick and Rachel along with their cuckoo relatives. Rachel is briefly reunited with her long-lost father, only to have him disappear on her again thanks to his controlling wife’s meddling.

The extended honeymoon she planned in China to get to know her family becomes a jet-setting distraction orchestrated by her half-brother Carlton and his girlfriend Colette. If Rachel thought that her husband’s family in Singapore was crazy rich, she’s in for a world of surprise when she learns about the billionaires of Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Readers should be forewarned that although Nick and Rachel play major roles in this sequel, they do not take center stage. Significant subplots are dedicated to Nick’s cousin Astrid’s tumultuous marriage and the personal rebranding of soap opera star Kitty Pong as she attempts to climb the social ladder as Mrs. Bernard Tai.

They’re certainly welcome storylines, however, as my only complaint was that the book had too many characters and not enough time to give them all enough of the spotlight! It’s so easy to get immersed in this dazzling universe of fine art, afternoon tea, and sports car racing, that I can see many more books in this series.

China Rich Girlfriend simultaneously spies on the lavish lifestyles of the Asian rich and famous while reminding the audience that ‘Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems’ is not just a rap song. Rachel has a strong head on her shoulders, and it’s refreshing to watch her pity high society than get swept away by it. After all, what’s the point of all that wealth if you’re never content enough to enjoy it?

Get on this hilariously unique bandwagon before the movies hit theaters, because I believe it will be big. And if Hollywood whitewashes the films, you can be sure that I will have a meltdown of China-rich proportions!

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My Most Anticipated Books of 2015

Happy New Year everybody! There’s nothing like starting the year off right with a good book, and 2015 is shaping up to have many good books in store for us!

I wanted to share my top five most anticipated books of 2015, so let’s get right to it!

All images via Goodreads

1. The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro, release date March 3. It’s been almost an entire decade since Ishiguro’s last novel Never Let Me Go, which was awarded TIME magazine’s ‘Best Book of 2005’ and listed in its ‘Top 100 Best English-Language Novels.’ The novel is also one of my absolute favorites, and after reading The Remains of the Day and When We Were Orphans, it’s safe to say that Ishiguro is one of my most admired authors. I can’t imagine The Buried Giant being anything less than extraordinary.

2. P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han, release date June 2 (cover art TBR). This sequel to To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before follows Lara Jean as she sorts out her feelings for Peter Kavinsky, the boy who blurred the lines between pretend and real boyfriend. With all the buzz in the book blogosphere, it’s clear that Han is a rising YA star with scores of devoted fans like me who are just itching to get their hands on this book!

3. China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan, release date June 16. Crazy Rich Asians was one of the most entertaining books I read in 2014, and I cannot wait for this sequel, which continues the story of Rachel Chu, the most envied girl in the Far East. Engaged to Asia’s most eligible billionaire bachelor, she tries to balance wedding planning among the uber-rich while searching for her estranged father in China. I’m so ready for this crazy whirlwind rollercoaster!

4. If I Could Turn Back Time by Beth Harbison, release date July 28. I can’t forget Beth Harbison, who has penned some great chick-lit. I enjoyed Shoe Addicts Anonymous and Secrets of a Shoe Addict, and I’ve got When in Doubt, Add Butter waiting for me on my bookshelf. This latest novel with “Freaky Friday” similarities sounds like a hoot. A 30-something waking up in her 18-year-old body after a boating accident? Count me in!

5. Rhiannon by David Levithan, release date unknown (cover art TBR). YA fans everywhere are hyperventilating over this companion book to Every Day, this time written from the perspective of A’s love interest Rhiannon. Every Day has to be the most unique romance that I have ever read, and I’m sure that Levithan will knock this book out of the park like he always does!

So that’s it! Which books are you most looking forward to in 2015? Share your thoughts in the comments!

My 2014 Reading Recap!

Happy New Year’s Eve!

2014 has finally come to an end, and I’ve read some great books in the process! To recap, I have completed 20 books, totaling over 6,877 pages! Eight of these were audiobooks, which goes to show how valuable my commute is in staying on track to meet my quota.

The video above discusses my top five books in detail, but below is the full list from best to worst. 2014 was all about comedic memoirs and chick-lit, with a few YA fantasies and works of literary fiction in the mix. I’m excited to see what’s in store for the new year!

Rating: 5 out of 5
1. Yes Please – Amy Poehler (2014)

Rating: 4.5 out of 5
2. Crazy Rich Asians – Kevin Kwan (2014)
3. Hollow City – Ransom Riggs (2014)

Rating: 4 out of 5
4. The Engagements – J. Courtney Sullivan (2013)
5. Wedding Night – Sophie Kinsella (2013)
6. Afterworlds – Scott Westerfeld (2014)
7. When We Were Orphans – Kazuo Ishiguro (2000)
8. A Well-Tempered Heart – Jan-Philipp Sendker (2014)
9. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened – Jenny Lawson (2012)
10. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before – Jenny Han (2014)
11. My Horizontal Life – Chelsea Handler (2004)
12. A Lot Like Love – Julie James (2011)
13. About That Night – Julie James (2012)
14. Love Irresistibly – Julie James (2013)

Rating: 3 out of 5
15. I Know I Am, But What Are You? – Samantha Bee (2011)
16. The Bedwetter – Sarah Silverman (2010)
17. Not That Kind of Girl – Lena Dunham (2014)
18. Deeply, Desperately – Heather Webber (2010)
19. Absolutely, Positively – Heather Webber (2011)

Rating: 2 out of 5
20. Reached – Ally Condie (2012)

So have you read any of these books, and if so, what did you think? And what were your top five books of 2014?

Book Review: Crazy Rich Asians

Image via Goodreads

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

If I could describe Kevin Kwan’s debut novel Crazy Rich Asians, I would say that it’s an intelligent, Asian version of Gossip Girl: Similar to Gossip Girl, because it’s saturated with designer clothing and name dropping, but intelligent because it’s an excellent window into the world of Asian billionaires.

But the reference is also a thinly veiled excuse to use Gossip Girls gifs! 🙂

Unfortunately, that description doesn’t do the book justice. It follows Rachel Chu, an ABC (American-born Chinese), and Nicholas Young, her history professor boyfriend with whom she lives in New York. When Nick suggests they spend their summer vacation with his family in Singapore, Rachel’s excited to reach that next step in their relationship.

What she doesn’t know, however, is that Nick’s family is crazy rich–and desperate to make sure that her peasant hands never see an engagement ring or touch a dime of their money.

How rich is crazy rich? Well, for starters, it’s normal to do some retail therapy when you discover your husband cheating on you. Nick’s cousin Astrid, on the other hand, finds solace in a high-end jewelry store, spending over $1M in less than ten minutes.

Then there’s Nick’s best friend Colin Khoo, who’s having the $40M wedding of the century that includes 800 guests and performances by Cirque du Soleil. All their friends possess their own private jets, armies of servants, and stockbrokers on speed dial.

Rachel, completely oblivious to Nick’s background, must fend for herself against Nick’s meddling mother and all the mean girls vying to win the coveted spot within this old money family.

Although I don’t have experience with the .000001%, I can relate to Rachel, as I’ve dealt with a fair amount of jealousy-fueled bullying. What her enemies don’t realize is that she doesn’t have a gold-digging bone in her body and actually finds all the extravagance exhausting.

Even in my own life these past couple years, I can empathize with the frustration of running in social circles that seem leagues beyond your own. Everyone around you is blowing money on fine dining and luxury cars, and all you want is a quiet night in with ice cream and Netflix.

I’m not sure whether Kwan is crazy rich himself, but he has admitted that he “grew up in an old, established Singapore family.” He includes footnotes which explain the histories of boarding schools and other elements of Asian elite culture, so it’s safe to say that he’s well-off. In fact, he revealed that his editor made him cut certain parts of the story because, despite being entirely true, sounded way too far-fetched for even the crazy rich.

All in all, reading Crazy Rich Asians is like being a fly on the wall of people who simultaneously fascinate and disgust you. Although the ending left quite a bit to be desired, I’m intrigued to read the sequel China Rich Girlfriend, out June 16, 2015.

This novel is also getting a film adaptation written by playwright Keith Bunin, so I encourage you all to jump on the bandwagon before it takes off!