Monthly Wrap-Ups

What I’ve Been Reading: August, September & October 2017 [#25]

Random blog post being published because I simply can’t stand not talking about books. But don’t expect another post for a while. 🙂

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
2 stars

I think it’s good to read classics. Sadly, my interest in most of them is pretty minimal so I skim a lot, but at least I can say I’ve read The Jungle Book and know its general story. Perhaps one day I’ll finally even watch the Disney animated classic and the live-action remake…

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
5 stars. Reread.

I rewatched Hayao Miyazaki’s animated film and got inspired to reread the book. ❤

The Unearthly by Laura Thalassa
4 stars

I absolutely loved Laura’s The Vanishing Girl and The Decaying Empire — when is the third book coming out?! Anyway, I finally picked up The Unearthly, the first book in a YA series. Read it in one sitting. A little absurd, not as good as the other two books of hers I’ve read, but very enjoyable nonetheless.

Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith
5 stars

Poetry by the awesome Danez Smith. And I got my copy signed!!

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
2 stars

Ditto above regarding my thoughts on classics and how I read most classics. I got the overall story of The Scarlet Letter. Did I savor every word? Of course not, my attention was probably 50% present.

Footfall at Follies by C.D. Noir
5 stars

Favorite book I’ve read since last checking in on the blog! You know I love my adult thrillers, and while this is more mystery than thriller, it revolves around the Broadway dance industry, which I know quite a bit about and find fascinating. Footfall at Follies takes place in the heart of New York City, in Times Square. It’s fast-paced, full of wonderful description, has wildly colorful characters, and a really original mystery at its core. I highly recommend checking this out if you like mysteries!

What was your favorite book you read in recent months?
Have you read any of these books?
If not, do any of them pique your interest?
Comment below letting me know!

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Musings & Discussions

3rd Year Blogiversary! & Farewell…

Exactly 3 years ago I published my first review to The Leaning Tower of Tomes, Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. Since then, my reading habits grew enormously and this blog became a successful, happy little place of mine on the internet. I read the most I’ve ever reading during a period of time and I connected with super cool, real people all over the world. I read many books outside my initial comfort zone of YA, expanding into graphic novels and adult thrillers. From blogging I’ve learned skills I currently use at various jobs and I feel comfortable sharing my opinions and writing publicly. The past three years have been amazing.

I have decided to step away from book blogging for the time being. I’m about to go to university with a maxed-out schedule, and I really haven’t been reading much anyway. (*cough* K-dramas *cough*) This year marked a lot of big, new changes in my life, all of which I’m happy about, but that definitely were very time-consuming and stressful. Reading sort of fell to the wayside and I still haven’t thrusted myself back into the vigor of consuming a book every few days.

I want to thank everyone who visited The Leaning Tower of Tomes and whom I communicated with about bookish things. I would not have continued talking about my reading endeavors if no one had been around to converse with me, and I am super grateful that my three-year experience was fantastic. If you ever stopped by this blog, thanks, I’m glad you came and I hope you liked what you saw.

I’ll be leaving the blog up indefinitely with all of its reviews and posts for everyone to peruse. Who knows, maybe I’ll feel inspired to take up blogging again. I put a lot of work into this site and I’m proud of it. But I’m not disappearing forever! I’m still on Goodreads and will forever be recording the books I read and want to read, so feel free to say hi.

Happy three-year blogging anniversary to me. 🙂

Farewell for now!

Book Reviews · Monthly Wrap-Ups

Reading Wrap-up: July 2017

Hello! It’s been a while.

Before I write a final sappy post for The Leaning Tower of Tomes, here’s what I read in July 2017. Surprisingly, I read 6 books! 4 were required for a Creative Writing course I took, but I’m glad I read books I wouldn’t have picked up otherwise.

What I read in July 2017:

China’s Son: Growing Up in the Cultural Revolution by Da Chen

A gut-wrenching memoir about the author’s childhood during the Cultural Revolution, and the trials he went through to secure an education.

Old Snow, poems by Bei Dao, translated by Bonnie S. McDougall and Chen Maiping

Poems revolving around the author’s life after the Tiananmen Square incident in 1989.

The Lake Has No Saint by Stacey Waite

Poems about the author’s identity struggle growing up.

When My Brother Was an Aztec by Natalie Diaz

Poems about the author’s childhood and culture growing up on a Reservation.

How To Be Drawn by Terrance Hayes

Confusing as heck, honestly. Extremely different and original, but hard to decipher.

We the Animals by Justin Torres

A dark, beautiful coming of age novella.

What was your favorite book you read in July?
Have you read any of these books?
If not, do any of them pique your interest?
Comment below letting me know!

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Book Reviews · Monthly Wrap-Ups · Musings & Discussions

What I’ve Recently Read, Plus Thoughts on Going Forward

It’s been a month. How is everyone doing? Life has been crazy for me. I’m moving from the home I grew up in and going to another state. A fresh new start. I’ll also be starting university at the end of the summer. I’m super excited. But I already know I won’t be reading much once school starts.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how reading and blogging aren’t enticing me as much as they used to. I’ve gone through slumps in the past purely because of burnout. But now that my life is going to dramatically change, I’ve had to think about managing my time going forward.

I still love reading and will always read voraciously, but with work and now college fast approaching, I find that while I do still read, I don’t have the time to devote to writing reviews. I do love blogging and it’s taught me incredibly useful skills that I am actively using at one of my jobs. Book blogging kept me sane while I was going through a rough patch and trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I am blessed that I joined the book community and met and talked to other readers when I didn’t have any IRL friends who read the same types of books as me.

I plan to try to keep up posting at least once a month up until my third year blogging anniversary on August 24th, literally the week before I start classes. After the summer is over, though, I won’t promise anything. It seems like this will be the right timing to let go of The Leaning Tower of Tomes…

But until August 24th rolls around — here’s a look at what I’ve read in the past two months. I’ll admit, I have only read three books since I posted my review of Wild Orchid. And because I’m in the middle of packing, working two jobs, and getting my wisdom teeth out, I don’t know if I’ll be reading much of anything until I get settled in my new place. Still, I plan to read as much as I can over the summer.

What I Read in April and May 2017:


Paper Girls, Vol. 2 by Brian K. Vaughan, art by Cliff Chiang, colors by Matt Wilson, letters by Jared K. Fletcher (Paper Girls, #2) | Image Comics, November 2016. Paperback, 128 pages.

  • Maybe it’s because I read a physical copy, but I enjoyed Paper Girls, Volume 2 much more than Volume 1. The time-travel/alternate-worlds aspect was poppin’ and I felt much more invested in the mystery. ♥♥♥♥

The Legion of Regrettable Super Villains by Jon Morris | Quirk Books, March 2017. Hardcover, 256 pages. I received a copy from the publisher.

  • Quirk Books publishes the most amazing coffee table books, that’s what I’ve decided. The Legion of Regrettable Super Villains is basically an encyclopedia of super villains from comics that weren’t so super. ♥♥♥

Monstress, Vol. 1 by Marjorie Liu, art by Sana Takeda, lettering by Rus Wooton (Monstress, collected, #1) | Image Comics, July 2016. Paperback, 202 pages.

  • Now. THIS. Was quite something! Effing dark but so intriguing. I can see why it’s been so hyped. I didn’t love it with every ounce of my being (those cat info-dumps were tedious…), but I am definitely a fan of the story and artwork. Especially the artwork. ♥♥♥♥

So that’s what I’ve been up to lately. There’s just been so much going on I haven’t been in the mood to sit down and read. Escaping into Korean drama land and K-pop is so much easier for my brain to handle these days. And, you know, the books I typically read are complex and dark fantasies. I just need a break.

See you next month!

What was your favorite book you read in the past few months?
Have you read any of these books?
If not, do any of them pique your interest?
Comment below letting me know!

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Book Reviews

Wild Orchid by Cameron Dokey | Book Review

Wild Orchid by Cameron Dokey. Once Upon a Time, #15.

My copy: Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division), February 2012. Paperback, 199 pages. [From Once omnibus.]

Source: Library.



Wielding a sword as deftly as an embroidery needle, Mulan is unlike any other girl in China. When the emperor summons a great army, each family must send a male to fight, tom-boyish Mulan is determined to spare her aging father and bring her family honor, so she disguises herself and answers the call.

But Mulan never expects to find a friend, let alone a soul mate, in the commander of her division, Prince Jian. For all of Mulan’s courage with a bow and arrow, is she brave enough to share her true identity and feelings with Prince Jian?

Thoughts on Wild Orchid:

It’s so short. I wanted this to be longer! 200 pages for a Mulan telling just was NOT enough.

As in <200 pages short. I really appreciated the long set-up so that we could learn about Mulan as a person and see the relationships she had with her family and friends. But because of the lengthy introduction, the story began very slow — and then it felt like the actual war story was super condensed. Mulan doesn’t leave for war until more than 100 pages in! And then the romance felt very rushed and insta-lovey and thin, even if it was sweet.

Continue reading “Wild Orchid by Cameron Dokey | Book Review”

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday [#41] — Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine.

What book am I eagerly anticipating at this moment? Why it just so happens to be…

Flame in the Mist
by Renee Ahdieh

Releases May 16th, 2017 from G.P. Putnam’s Sons BFYR



The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor’s favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family’s standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.

Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she’s quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she’s ever known.

Asian setting! Specifically Japan. Which means samurai. And there’s a girl pretending to be a boy. Which will definitely confuse the heck out of her two love interests — I’m assuming it’ll be a love triangle, since both boys were mentioned in the blurb. I’m okay with that, if it’s done well. But the best part of all… apparently this is a Mulan retelling???!!!!! Except… Mulan is a Chinese legend, and this story is set in Japan??? Like, why? Why can’t you set a Mulan retelling in China? Well, apparently this is ALSO a 47 Ronin retelling, so a mash-up of two stories, and 47 Ronin is set in Japan. So I guess that’s why Renee Ahdieh chose to set her story in Japan, perhaps the 47 Ronin elements are more prevalent than the Mulan elements. But still… as a Chinese American always looking for protagonists who are of Chinese heritage, this disappoints me a bit. Nonetheless, I’m looking forward to Flame in the Mist. I’ve never read a Mulan retelling of any kind, so this should be interesting.

Are you looking forward to reading Flame in the Mist?
What can’t you wait to read right now?

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Book Reviews

Serpentine by Cindy Pon | Book Review

Serpentine by Cindy Pon. Serpentine, #1.

My copy: Month9Books, September 2015. Hardcover, 274 pages.

Source: Library.



Inspired by the rich history of Chinese mythology, this sweeping fantasy is set in the ancient Kingdom of Xia and tells the coming of age story of Skybright, a young girl who worries about her growing otherness. As she turns 16, Skybright notices troubling changes. By day, she is a companion and handmaid to the youngest daughter of a very wealthy family. But nighttime brings with it a darkness that not even daybreak can quell. When her plight can no longer be denied, Skybright learns that despite a dark destiny, she must struggle to retain her sense of self – even as she falls in love for the first time.

Friendship. Skybright, the heroine of the story, is best friends, practically sisters, with Zhen Ni, who she helps as a handmaiden. The girls share an incredibly strong bond, having grown up together. It’s a friendship full of love in a totally platonic way. They’re just two girls who would fight the world and the underworld for each other. They do have their bumps and rough patches, especially when another girl comes into the picture, but I loved how much they genuinely cared about each other, and how they valued each other’s opinions. The only thing I didn’t like was the fact that Skybright didn’t feel secure enough to trust Zhen Ni with her big secret. I really believe Zhen Ni would have stood by Skybright’s side through all of her confusion regarding her serpent form, and I couldn’t believe that Skybright never confided in Zhen Ni.

Continue reading “Serpentine by Cindy Pon | Book Review”

Book Reviews

Dirty Little Secrets by Liliana Hart | Book Review

Dirty Little Secrets by Liliana Hart. J.J. Graves Mystery, #1.

My copy: Createspace, July 2011. Paperback, 307 pages.

Source: Own



J.J. Graves has seen a lot of dead bodies in her line of work…

She’s not only in the mortuary business, but she’s also the coroner for King George County, Virginia. When a grisly murder is discovered in the small town of Bloody Mary, it’s up to J.J. and her best friend, Detective Jack Lawson, to bring the victim justice.

The murders are piling up…

The residents of Blood Mary are dropping like flies, and when a popular mystery writer shows up on J.J.’s doorstep with plans of writing his new book about the Bloody Mary Serial Killer, J.J. has to decide if he might be going above and beyond the call of duty to create the spine tinglers he’s so well known for. It only clouds the issue and puts her reputation on the line when the attraction between them spirals out of control.

And passions are rising…

J.J and Jack are in a race against time. They discover each victim had a shocking secret, and the very foundation of J.J.’s life is in danger of crumbling when it turns out she’s harboring secrets of her own—secrets that make her the perfect victim in a deadly game.

Dirty Little Secrets started off as a small town who-dun-it mystery, which I wish it’d kept more to. Instead, we got lots of love triangle angst and frequent steamy scenes (nothing gratuitous, but I was like, hey, aren’t you supposed to be solving a murder?) and I wondered if I was reading a mystery or a romance at times. Which wasn’t a bad thing at all. I just wasn’t expecting the romance. I suppose I prefer my mysteries purely focused on the mystery.

Continue reading “Dirty Little Secrets by Liliana Hart | Book Review”

Top Ten Tuesday

Amazing books I gobbled up in one sitting | Top Ten Tuesday [#23]

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

The following are 4 and 5 star books I remember reading in one sitting because they were so good. I’m leaving off graphic novels and manga simply because visual books are usually pretty quick reads. Click on a title to read my review! Now, onto the list…

The Top Ten (*cough* twelve):

Continue reading “Amazing books I gobbled up in one sitting | Top Ten Tuesday [#23]”

Book Reviews

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones | Book Review

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones.

My copy: Thomas Dunne Books (St. Martin’s Griffin), February 2017. Hardcover, 436 pages.

Source: Library.



Dark, romantic, and unforgettable, Wintersong is an enchanting coming-of-age story for fans of Labyrinth and The Beauty and the Beast.

The last night of the year. Now the days of winter begin and the Goblin King rides abroad, searching for his bride…

All her life, Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, dangerous Goblin King. They’ve enraptured her mind, her spirit, and inspired her musical compositions. Now eighteen and helping to run her family’s inn, Liesl can’t help but feel that her musical dreams and childhood fantasies are slipping away.

But when her own sister is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl has no choice but to journey to the Underground to save her. Drawn to the strange, captivating world she finds—and the mysterious man who rules it—she soon faces an impossible decision. And with time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.

Rich with music and magic, S. Jae-Jones’s Wintersong will sweep you away into a world you won’t soon forget.

Liesl, a gifted composer, has always lived in the shadow of her younger siblings. Her brother, Josef, is a violin virtuoso. Her sister, Kathe, is an absolute beauty. However, the three siblings all care deeply about one another, and when Kathe is captured by the Goblin King, Liesl embarks on a journey to bring her sister back to the world of the living.

Continue reading “Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones | Book Review”