Publisher: Simon Pulse


Friday, June 07, 2019

Don’t Read on An Empty Stomach: Hungry Hearts edited by Elsie Chapman and Caroline Tung Richmond

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Don’t Read on An Empty Stomach: Hungry Hearts edited by Elsie Chapman and Caroline Tung Richmond
Hungry Hearts
Caroline Tung Richmond, Elsie Chapman
Genre: Anthology, Contemporary, Magical Realism
Publication date: June 18th, 2019
by Simon Pulse

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From some of your favorite bestselling and critically acclaimed authors—including Sandhya Menon, Anna-Marie McLemore, and Rin Chupeco—comes a collection of interconnected short stories that explore the intersection of family, culture, and food in the lives of thirteen teens.

A shy teenager attempts to express how she really feels through the confections she makes at her family’s pasteleria. A tourist from Montenegro desperately seeks a magic soup dumpling that could cure his fear of death. An aspiring chef realizes that butter and soul are the key ingredients to win a cooking competition that could win him the money to save his mother’s life.

Welcome to Hungry Hearts Row, where the answers to most of life’s hard questions are kneaded, rolled, baked. Where a typical greeting is, “Have you had anything to eat?” Where magic and food and love are sometimes one and the same.

Told in interconnected short stories, Hungry Hearts explores the many meanings food can take on beyond mere nourishment. It can symbolize love and despair, family and culture, belonging and home.
-A copy was provided by Simon Pulse for review-

If you, like me, are a great lover of both food and books, this anthology will immediately appeal to you. There are a ton of anthologies published each year and sometimes it’s hard to keep track all of them but what makes this one worthy of being on your TBR is that it isn’t just a collection of stories. It’s a collection of stories that is intertwined. Main characters from individual stories make appearances in stories outside of their own, secondary character from individual stories will make appearances in stories outside of their own. It’s quite marvelous and I cannot imagine the amount of work the authors must have put in to make something as cohesive as this.

Hungry Hearts is set in the mystical Hungry Hearts Row. A place where magic and food meet to truly change the lives of people who both visit and live here. Over the course of thirteen different stories, we get to ‘taste’ different kinds of food, meet characters struggling with everything from grief to bravery and truly get a feel for how magical Hungry Hearts Row is. A warning though, don’t dive into this anthology on an empty stomach because nothing you eat could ever live up to the food found in this neighborhood. I would literally kill to have some of Lila’s magical pastries and a nice bowl of ash-e-reshte.

Like always, not all stories truly worked for me but I found that the interconnectedness made it much easier for me to still enjoy stories that I didn’t love. Here were my top three stories.

Side Work by Sara Farizan

After a DIU derails her future plans, Laleh is stuck working in her uncle’s Persian food restaurant to pay off the cost of the damages to her father’s car. She feels stifled by her parents’ disappointment in her and isn’t sure what’s next anymore. A chance encounter with the girl she never called back gives Laleh a new direction and soon she finds herself more invested in her future and the future of her uncle’s restaurant.


The Slender One
by Caroline Tung Richmond

I don’t know about you but to me, there is always something so cathartic about reading about a character who is struggling with their cultural identity and over the course of a story, makes peace with it?? Charlie Ma recently got a full scholarship to a fancy private school and is excited for a new start. A place where no one has met his weird grandma, no one remembers the scrawny kid he used to be. Over the course of this short story, Charlie ends up being tasked with helping a malicious ghost make their peace during the Hungry Ghost festival and while he is reluctant at first, he ends up embracing his skills and making a new, non-asshole friend!

Rain by Sangu Mandanna

Anna’s mother passed away several months ago and neither her nor her father really know how to deal with it. When her maternal aunt invites her and her father for a visit to Hungry Hearts Row, they take up the chance to get away from everything. Anna and her father slowly reconnect over some magical Pan Dulce and attempting to recreate her mom’s Coorg Pandhi Curry and figure out their new path forward.

4 Stars
4 Hot Espressos

Not Bennett’s Best: Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

Not Bennett’s Best: Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

Posted by on 04/16/2019 • 0 Comments

I didn’t think I’d ever read a Jenn Bennett book I didn’t love but… unfortunately… Serious Moonlight just didn’t do it for me. It isn’t that it isn’t enjoyable but over the past five years, I’ve come to expect a lot from a Jenn Bennett book and Serious Moonlight just didn’t live up to those expectations for me.

I think, a big part of the problem was that I didn’t love the characters as much and therefore wasn’t as invested in their relationship. While Birdie’s personality and trust issues make sense given her extremely sheltered upbringing, it really started getting on my nerves when we were almost 400 pages in and still dealing with her trust issues. I also thought it was super weird that Birdie didn’t have a single…

Incredibly Hilarious and Deeply Sad: The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried

Incredibly Hilarious and Deeply Sad: The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried

Posted by on 02/05/2019 • 1 Comment

So I was going to open this review on a whole tangent about how long I’ve been reading Shaun David Hutchinson but when I went onto Goodreads, I realized I haven’t even READ ALL OF HIS BOOKS because I am a terrible person. But, in some ways, opening an SDH book is so familiar and comfortable even though, including The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried, I’ve read all of three books by Shaun David Hutchinson.

The Past and Other Things That Should Say Buried is more reminiscent of some of Hutchinson’s earlier stuff in that it is more lighthearted but that’s not saying much when even at his most light hearted, Hutchinson never fails to punch you in the feels. The best way to really describe…

Old School YA PNR Vibes: Slayer by Kiersten White

Old School YA PNR Vibes: Slayer by Kiersten White

Posted by on 01/31/2019 • 1 Comment

While I’d heard a couple of things about Slayer, they were mostly about Buffy and how the book was set in the same world as Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I’ve seen less than half an episode of the show so I immediately checked out and assumed it would not appeal to me as someone who does not care about the show. Then I read the synopsis. I got old-school YA feels from the blurb and I’ve been craving old school YA for ages so I was immediately drawn in.

I think the best way to sum up my feelings about Slayer is that the first half was a solid 3 stars and the second half was a solid 4 stars. The first half is sort of slow and takes a…

Imperfect but 100% Lovable: From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon

Imperfect but 100% Lovable: From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon

Posted by on 07/11/2018 • 3 Comments

So, even though When Dimple Met Rishi was one of my most anticipated books of 2017 and I winded up with two/three copies of it, I actually never ended up reading it. Of course, Sandhya Menon is a champ and regardless of whether or not I had read When Dimple Met Rishi, From Twinkle, With Love was already on my TBR and most anticipated for 2018. Of course, May went back, Twinkle came out and I still hadn’t read it because that’s WHO I AM. A PROCRASTINATOR. But. then. I decided to do a thing. I decided to read the GODDAMN BOOK and it was absolutely, 100% worth it. 

I think it is worth it to mention that I found that Twinkle wasn’t as easy to get into. It’s written exclusively in letters so it…

Adventurous and Swoony: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

Adventurous and Swoony: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

Posted by on 03/30/2018 • 1 Comment

I’ve been reading Jenn Bennett for half a decade now and she’s been one of those authors I basically just read anything by. I don’t need a summary or acclaim, I JUST NEED BOOKS BY JENN BENNETT. This book had the added advantage of having an enemies-to-lovers/friends-to-lovers romance trope and an survival-esque story so like… yeah.

Unsurprisingly, I loved this book but I also got to buddy-read it with a close friend which made my experience reading it all the more better. But as anyone knows, loving a book doesn’t make writing a review any easier. It probably makes it a lot harder.

Zorie and Lennon used to be the best of friends and were on their way to becoming something more when something goes wrong. Now they go out…

Didn’t Love: American Panda by Gloria Chao

Didn’t Love: American Panda by Gloria Chao

Posted by on 02/02/2018 • 3 Comments

American Panda was one of my most anticipated novels of 2018 so it is truly unfortunate that I did not, in fact, love it. I do want to start off by saying that I don’t intend to discourage anyone from reading the book in this review, just convey my experience with it. We are at a point in time where even though there is a large influx in diverse books, we still don’t have nearly enough. Stats show that the number of diverse books published by diverse authors every year is so dismal. I hope that this book will allow many many many kids to see themselves reflected in the story and that they will be able to cherish it.

That said, my biggest issue with the book is not…

‘Stranded in an Airport’ Story I’ve Been Waiting For: The Chaos of Standing Still by Jessica Brody

‘Stranded in an Airport’ Story I’ve Been Waiting For: The Chaos of Standing Still by Jessica Brody

Posted by on 01/12/2018 • 6 Comments

The first discovered Jessica Brody with 52 Reasons to Hate My Father. She immediately had my intention and I really wanted to read everything she wrote but I quickly found out that perhaps everything she wrote wasn’t for me. Which is unfortunate because I really enjoyed her writing style. But then I came The Chaos of Standing Still, a book that demanded my attention.

At 403 pages The Chaos of Standing Still is not a short book but don’t let it fool you. Those 403 pages FLY BY. There are books I’ve read where even 300 pages feel like they are too fucking much but Jessica Brody knows how to pace a story well. In fact she probably deserves an award because there have not been many times in my…