About Me

“I couldn’t live a week without a private library – indeed, I’d part with all my furniture and squat and sleep on the floor before I’d let go of the 1500 or so books I possess.”

– H.P. Lovecraft

My name is Catherine Puma, and this is my personal book review blog. I am constantly reading, and strive to give back to the book publishing community by reviewing the books I read. Writing reviews also helps stay focused on the craft of writing while I am reading, allows me to practice my writing skills outside of an academic or professional structure, and formulates talking points when I encounter people who have read the same books as I have.

I am currently a Research Assistant at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Washington, DC, and I have a B.S. in Environmental Sciences & English from the University of Notre Dame. For the entirety of my life, my mind has essentially been split between the hard sciences or classic literature. I have an exponentially growing To Read list and am always on the lookout for books that’ll ensnare the senses and feed my intellect.

While most of my book reviews might be centered around the genres of popular science books or Western fiction traditions, I implore you to not hesitate in suggesting something for me to read. There is merit to so many different ways of reading, and I am interested in experiencing many. Since graduating from college, listening to audio books while completing tasks that occupy my hands (answering email, organizing files, doing laundry, cuddling my dog, etc.) has allowed me to continue endeavors to be constantly reading, even when I cannot shut myself away to read and read for hours on end without doing anything else. As much as I would love to do that sometimes, I have obligations as an employee, wife, daughter, sister, dog mom, roommate, and friend.

This first post is just a short introduction to how I approach the act of reading and then writing reviews of those books. Hopefully, this project will allow me to collate my thoughts on some of the things I have read recently in a constructive way. This blog will probably grow and change over time, and that is one of the beautiful facets of starting something new.

Keep reading & writing!

Sponsored Post Learn from the experts: Create a successful blog with our brand new courseThe WordPress.com Blog

WordPress.com is excited to announce our newest offering: a course just for beginning bloggers where you’ll learn everything you need to know about blogging from the most trusted experts in the industry. We have helped millions of blogs get up and running, we know what works, and we want you to to know everything we know. This course provides all the fundamental skills and inspiration you need to get your blog started, an interactive community forum, and content updated annually.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

REVIEW: 4 / 5 stars

This book is a great modern adaptation of key old Norse mythology stories. I do not believe all of the Norse stories are represented here, but many are, and of course all the humorous and action-oriented tales are included! Neil Gaiman might be better known for his novels, such as American Gods, but he is also a really big fan of Norse mythology. I really appreciated the introduction by the author; it was great to hear Gaiman talking about how he first came across the stories and his advocation for retelling them.

These are great! While I prefer more direct translations of The Prose Edda and The Poetic Edda, this is a modern retelling of them. I really enjoyed the freshness of this audio experience, but that might be in part because I already liked the original tales. While I of course will always advocate for studying translations that are closer to the originals, this could be a bridge that gets younger people or those that are less academically inclined interested in these tales.

As Hamilton: The Musical got a younger generation interested in American history, so too can exercises such as Norse Mythology get people interested in older texts. This is great to have if you are a fan of Norse mythology (especially Thor, Loki, and Odin), Old Norse, Nordic history and culture, Icelandic history and culture, as well as Viking history and culture. Because of the narrative structure of gods and creatures getting into trouble and having to cleverly get themselves into better situations, I would also recommend this to fans of other mythologies, such as Greek/Roman/Egyptian/Mesopotamian. Even if you’ve never read the Norse tales before, there is a lot to gain here.

The Audible narration is by Neil Gaiman himself, and while sometimes author-narration comes off as simply vanity reads, Gaiman performs these perfectly! He does different voices for different characters, and even Fenryr is done really well. Loki’s delivery is PERFECT! The ridiculousness and humor of these were highlighted so well. What a joy. I’m not a fan of Gaiman’s other work, so don’t dismiss this if you’re not a Gaiman fan.

These stories are great fun, and Neil Gaiman handles them well. I’ll be re-reading this sometime and recommending to many.

Song of Achilles & Circe by Madeline Miller

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

REVIEW: 5 / 5 stars

2018 was a really good for me in terms of reading good books, and Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles is one of those books that has definitely stuck with me. The vivid and fully realized characters, as well as an interesting new take on a classical tale, draws me back to this story again and again from time to time.

The Song of Achilles features much of the content that is told in Homer’s The Iliad, though not everything is highlighted because Miller does a phenomenal job of scaling such a large war from the perspective of a finite set of characters. I would characterize this piece as more of a ballad of Achilles’ and Patroclus’ relationship, which is much more developed here than in The Iliad. I LIVED FOR the LGBTQ elements in this story, and it is so touching yet so tragic at the same time. I was crying when I was reading the ending in public, and I will probably cry again when I re-read this someday.

I completely agree with Miller’s decision to tell this story from Patroclus’ POV. Achilles is an interesting character for sure, but he is so stubborn for most of the action that takes place on the beaches of Troy, that a book told from his personal perspective might end up being really repetitive in these parts. I also really appreciate that this goes into so much of Achilles’ and Patroclus’ lives before joining Troy, and highlights how much certain soldiers tried not to be pressed into the service of fighting to get Helen back for Menelaus.

When Achilles and Patroclus are on that island together while Achilles is training…. so many good moments. ❤ I also loved how the build up to Patroclus taking Achilles’ armor to fight on the battlefield in his stead was done. I have read folklore retellings and modern fantasy in which gods and goddesses are written poorly, but Miller is such a master at making gods and goddesses relevant and interesting and important to the development of plot. Achilles’ mom and Apollo and just everyone else are really impressive.

I read this before Miller’s latter work, and probably more widely renown, Circe. I definitely recommend that one as well. I listened to The Song of Achilles on audiobook, and the narrator for my edition, Fazer Douglas, is perfect. I know this book isn’t for everyone, but the premise and content and delivery of this tale are just all right up my alley. This is the kind of thing I want to freaking WRITE! This is definitely on my To Read Again List.


Circe by Madeline Miller

REVIEW: 5 / 5 stars

Circe is a character study novel focused on the lesser known goddess of the same name in Greek mythology. While within the same sphere as Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles, Athena and Odysseus are really the only characters that cross over, which of course makes sense if you’re familiar with your Greek mythology. One of the things I appreciate most about Miller’s storytelling, however, is that you DON’T need to know the history of these characters in order to enjoy this work to its fullest. I purposefully did not refresh my memory on Circe’s story before reading this book, and I was not disappointed! Miller artfully weaves backstory and characterizing descriptions into action scenes that flesh out her magnificent world and full-bodied characters without either giving away too little or too much context.

The prose descriptions are poetically beautiful, and the Audible audio book version narrated by Perdita Weeks is perfectly cast. I did not cry as I did while listening to The Song of Achilles the year before I read this, but my heart twanged at the tragic moments. I am not surprised at all that there are long lists of favorite Circe quotes out there. Circe’s internal thought processes and her revelations about others’ motivations throughout the narrative are tactfully unveiled.

Being Greek mythology, Circe features gods, goddesses, demigods, monsters, beasts, and humans. And yet, Miller deftly demonstrates the limitations to powers that at face value seem boundless, and expertly portrays the follies and faults to immortality. The ending kind of skips the last twists so Circe can reflect on events, then backtracks a bit so the last paragraph can describe one of her most powerful spells (which was a little confusing), but overall the novel was well structured.

I loved loved so much of this book and will be recommending it to many. Any fan of Greek mythology, The Song of Achilles, The Iliad, The Odyssey, strong female characters, well written male lovers, a lyrical writing style, character studies, and even maybe Roman/Roman mythology stories would be interested in this. This could be a great introduction to Greek mythology for those who may have heard of some stories but do not know everything.

In large part due to Miller’s compelling storytelling talent, I finally got around to finally reading Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey last year. I will be keeping an eye on Miller’s hopefully very long and prolific career.

The Iliad & The Odyssey by Homer

The Iliad by Homer

REVIEW: 5 / 5 stars

The Iliad is the classic Ancient Greek tale of Achilles and Agamemnon, and the Siege and subsequent Fall of Troy. While Paris and Helen are mentioned, the protagonists are mainly “the Achaeans” AKA “the Danaans” camped out in their ships on the Trojan beaches.

I loved the description of the action sequences and that every character had their own backstory. No one was completely evil and no one was completely good either, which lends itself well to interesting encounters when different individuals face off one another. Sometimes the battle scenes would go on for a while, but the diversity in which deaths were described during all of the battles was so riveting! The drama and stakes are high. Key characters like Achilles, Odysseus, Athena, Apollo, Hector, and King Priam were captivating.

In all honesty, I read this after reading The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, so I was shipping Patroclus & Achilles so hard way before Achilles overreacts to Pactroclus’ death. I also saw the Netflix mini-series “Troy: Fall of a City” before reading this, so I’m imagining Louis Hunter as Paris, Bella Dayne as Helen, Jonas Armstrong as Menelaus, Joseph Mawle as Odysseus, Tom Westen-Jones as Hector, Chloe Pirrie as Andromache, Johnny Harris as Agamemnon, and Alfred Enoch as Aeneus. Mini-series with Joseph Mawle as Odysseus, please please please!

Regardless of what adaptation of this tale you might or might not have experienced previously, there is so much to enjoy in the original! I was pleasantly surprised by how active the gods and goddesses were, and the parts in which they changed the weather, inspired heroes, or directly interfered with human affairs were great reads.

I read an English translation, so I cannot speak to possible merits or reading this in Ancient Greek. Nonetheless, I really appreciated the narrative parallels in which events surrounding the deaths of Sarpedon, half-human son of Zeus, and Patroclus, comrade of Achilles, were described.

I would recommend this to any fan of Greece, Ancient Greece, Greek literature, Roman literature, Greek mythology, Roman mythology, classical literature, the classics, the Odyssey, Game of Thrones, and/or Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles and Circe novels. I loved it! Taking a refresher break, but then reading Homer’s The Odyssey this year, too!


The Odyssey by Homer

REVIEW: 5 / 5 stars

This is so good! The action scenes are really vivid and I am glad I got around to reading this classic in full. So much about this story isn’t portrayed well in the adaptations that have been made. The Odyssey is also shorter than The Iliad, so it was not too much to get through.

Although The Iliad is longer, I think reading The Iliad first gave me a better appreciation for the moments in The Odyssey when characters and references to the earlier story comes into play within the more popular story. Knowing Odysseus’ and his men’s history validates the struggles they have already gone through, and explains why they are so frustrated and sometimes do not listen to Odysseus’ orders. Odysseus’ men are not evil nor stupid; they are exhausted and haggard.

Furthermore, the scenes with Agamemnon’s, Achilles’, and Patroclus’ ghosts in the underworld are so much more profound after experiencing previous discussions with these characters on the shore of Troy. I thought the parallels made between Agamemnon’s marriage and Odysseus’ marriage were done really well.

I definitely advocate people to read this classic, even if you have seen many adaptations and therefore think you know all the key plot points in this story. Some highlights from the original that I liked include:

  • Odysseus taunting the Cyclops unnecessarily,
  • Penelope testing Odysseus to ensure it truly is him upon his return,
  • and the satisfying slaughter of the insolent suitors in Odysseus’ house.

Madeline Miller’s characterization of Athena in Circe occupied much space in my mind whenever Athena was in play during The Odyssey.

Because of how prevalent it is in popular culture, I was surprised that the Trojan Horse is hardly mentioned. I was also previously unaware how much of Odysseus’ travels are dictated retrospectively instead of chronologically told. I do believe this supports the belief that The Odyssey was originally told with the intention of being heard rather than read.

I am so glad I read this; this kind of story is right up my alley. I recommend this to all fans of Ancient Greece, Greco-Roman stories, entertainment adaptations of these tales, classic literature, the classics, heroic narratives, the relationship between gods and men, and Greek mythology.

What a Fish Knows by Jonathan Balcombe

What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousins by Jonathan Balcombe

REVIEW: 3 / 5 stars

Published in 2016, What a Fish Knows is a popular science nonfiction book that has been on my To Read list for a few years now. Jonathan Balcombe uses anecdotes, interviews, and studies he finds interesting to mention some of what humans have observed about the lives of our underwater cousins. While aquariums, household pets, and decorative koi ponds are also mentioned, most of the tales in this book are about wild examples from African cichlids, to Hawaiian cleaner wrasses, Atlantic goliath grouper, deep-sea lantern fish, and even some touches upon sharks and rays (my personal favorites).

I do appreciate the way this is structured. Different parts are about what a fish perceives, feels, thinks, who a fish knows, and how a fish breeds. These parts are then further broken up into chapters on various senses and stimulii, intelligence and problem-solving, social contracts and interactions, and sexual and parenting activities. This book does not have to be read in order, so although it’s a conversation-driven chapter book with few photos or charts/diagrams/maps, readers can skip to the topics they find most interesting.

However, although there are parts of this I really enjoyed and I did learn some interesting facts about different fish species, overall there is something off about the content’s presentation. What’s being said about fishes is important, but ethologist Balcombe’s tone is nearly unbearably pretentious, self-righteous, self-centered, and judgmental. He scoffs at experts and makes fun of the scientific process. He is anti-fisheries and vehemently vegan, but doesn’t have anything bad to say about decorative privately-owned aquariums or entertainment facilities like SeaWorld.

He’s entitled to his own opinions, but he spends too much time JUST being opinionated in this book. This would have been significantly improved if it stressed more on the end of explaining fish-facts.

While reading this, I kept thinking about the other popular science nonfiction books about fishes that are so much BETTER than this one. Top choices that come to mind include:
Mark Kurlansky’s Salmon,
– Sy Montgomery’s The Soul of an Octopus,
– Paul Greenberg’s Four Fish, and
– Danna Staaf’s Squid Empire.

Overall, am I glad I read this? Sure, I guess. But I will be recommending many other books to people before I ever think of recommending this one.

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

HAPPY PRIDE MONTH 2020! I thought I would read and review Autoboyography by Christina Lauren to celebrate.

REVIEW: 4 / 5 stars

Five minutes after finishing this audiobook, I rated this 5/5 stars because I enjoyed it so much while reading it. However, upon reflection, I recognize a couple of flaws in the story and incomplete elements that require me to review this book at 4/5 stars.

Autoboyography is a contemporary Western USA high school story mainly told from the close first person POV of self-proclaimed recently re-closeted half-Jewish queer kid. Tanner is bisexual, and while out in CA, for his high school years in super-Mormon Provo, Utah, he is closeted again. This becomes challenging when he starts falling for the Bishop’s hot 19-year-old son, who also turns out to be an in-denial closeted gay kid.

The structure of this novel is centered around a senior seminar creative writing class, in which students have to write a first draft of a book manuscript by the end of the year, and Tanner writes about his relationship with Sebastian. As a creative writer myself who has done NaNoWriMo and taken some creative writing classes, I really loved the meta-structure of this book BEING the autobiography Tanner writes while experiencing this formative year in his life.

Full disclosure, I am not LDS (Latter Day Saints, AKA: Mormon) and do not know about the LDS experience outside of what I learned from reading Tara Westover’s Educated memoir (which is GREAT by the way, I highly recommend). However, my audiobook ends with a 24min interview with the authors, during which they describe interviewing LDS and ex-LDS members to make sure they got religious facts right, as well as staying in Provo, UT for weeks to get a feel for the town. As such, I trust they get LDS elements correct, but of course leave those criticisms to members of the LDS community.

As an LGBTQ book, I really appreciated the complex representations of bisexual, gay, allies, and non-supporters/homophobes in this story, and I think the authors do a great job of characterizing the main characters’ relationships with their respective parents. As a romance, I really loved some of Tanner and Sebastian’s scenes, especially how important hiking in the isolated mountains of Utah became to their routine as a secret couple. All of their intimate/kissing scenes are PERFECT! I loved how Sebastian’s experiences during these shone through even though told in Tanner’s POV.

Even so, there are some issues which prevent this book from being a 5/5 star review. #InstaLove is a cliche. Both Tanner and Sebastian have siblings, and while we get a good interaction or two with them, they aren’t mentioned at all towards the end even though they’re supposed to be “close” or whatever. Prom is a stickler stressful event discussed earlier on, but we never actually see Prom or find out what happens there. I know the authors wanted a happily-ever-after ending, but the “wrap-ups” seem sloppy and incomplete. I feel like a shorter book length was prioritized over properly winding down post-climax. I liked the POV shift 5/6ths of the way through the book and loved how Sebastian’s book tour is handled, but we never see the large life-changing decisions Sebastian makes which effect his career, relationships, school, and living situation. There is a huge time jump, so the last chapter feels more like a lazy epilogue.

Overall, many elements in this book were so sweet/funny.sexy and important to read. Tanner’s prose and perspective are the strongest sections of this work; the sloppy ending is its biggest weakness. I am so glad I read this, especially for Pride Month 2020, and now want to visit some of those Utah hiking trails!

Meaningful Relationships by Carol Ann Lloyd

How to Build Meaningful Relationships Through Conversation by Carol Ann Lloyd, The Great Courses

REVIEW: 3 / 5 stars

How to Build Meaningful Relationships Through Conversation is a series of 10 self-help lectures produced by The Great Courses, published by Audible, and performed by professional communications coach Carol Ann Lloyd. A truncated version of this could be given as a TED Talk, and that is kind of how it sounded.

This gets its value from its applicability to our daily lives, regardless of our age or employment status. I learned some helpful things to keep in mind during my own professional and personal communications. Bonding experiences with coworkers, peers, and networking events are really important. Certain pertinent topics include: understanding different styles of speech, managing technology in modern conversations, and having clear goals that you want accomplished as a result of a conversation before beginning.

One of the great things about The Great Courses is that listeners get to hear from the experts themselves. However, one of the very downsides to The Great Courses can be the fact that the experts give their own talks. This might not be so apparent if watching a video, but when a sore speaker delivers an audio-only performance, it can really sour the experience. I know it’s not something that Lloyd can really change, but I HAD to dock 1 star from my review because her voice was just so annoying. For a speaking coach, she has such a whiny way of speaking! I almost couldn’t stand it. This would be a lot better as a mini-book rather than an audio production.

One of my favorite parts of this its references to Shakespeare. He is a master storyteller and an excellent author to use for examples of conversation, because as a playwright, most of his renowned work involves characters speaking to one another. Lloyd’s “real life” examples are all conglomerate cases with white-washed white suburbia names, which is boring and offensive, so those were unpleasant for me, and as such I had to dock another star.

Either way, this is OK to listen to for some advice on how to have better conversations with others, especially for workplace professional settings. Wish I could get that annoying voice out of my head, though, so definitely only listen to once.

The Science of Sci-Fi by Erin Macdonald

The Science of Sci-Fi: From Warp Speed to Interstellar Travel by Erin Macdonald, The Great Courses

REVIEW: 4 / 5 stars

This collection of 10 lectures about science commonly found in science fiction is great for any fan of classic and current sci-fi media, especially movies, television shows, and video games.

Scientific concepts discussed include, but are not limited to:
– warp speed, interstellar travel, time travel, black holes, gravitational waves, solar sails, space and time dilations, and quantum physics.

Science fiction references include, but are not limited to, examples from:
– Interstellar, Star Trek: Original Series, Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Discovery, X-Files, Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica, Bioshock, and Portal.

Professor Erin Macdonald, astrophysicist and science communicator, is the speaker of this series of The Great Courses lectures. She does a good job of explaining scientific topics, both general and more complicated. Her joy at these interesting topics and sci-fi examples is a pleasure to listen to.

The only thing I didn’t like was that Macdonald kind of talks down to her audience in the first one or two lessons. She says, “Don’t worry, hang in there, I’m getting to the sci-fi part soon” multiple times, as though she’s addressing a bunch of idiots who can’t follow a 30min scientific discussion. Someone who listens to this should WANT to know about the science behind their favorite sci-fi franchises. Macdonald speaks mostly to people who spend more time at COMICCON than reading a book, which I found annoying, but oh well.

Overall, though, this was fun to listen to. Kind of like a long form podcast. Macdonald speaks well and carries audiences through her lectures. I was pleasantly surprised that more recently released examples, such as those from “Star Trek: Discovery”, were mentioned. I would recommend to all those interested. I would have personally enjoyed more science and less sci-fi discussion, but maybe that’s just me.

The Burnout Generation by Anne Helen Petersen

The Burnout Generation by Anne Helen Petersen, an Audible Original

REVIEW: 2 / 5 stars

This nearly 2 hour Audible Original audio performance is an investigative journalistic piece in which Anne Helen Petersen interviews 4 people about their experiences and how they dealt with burnout. I appreciated that Petersen spoke to two men and two women, and each had very different employment obligations to give different perspectives on the same topic.

The best part of this is the discussion on social media personas and how self-marketing strategies dictate people be funny, witty, happy, and relevant online all the time. This can be quite taxiing on the emotional well being, to have expectations of “always being on” even for recreational activities.

Even though there are some good nuggets in this, it doesn’t really educate the audience on the scope of what’s being discussed or offer any sort of conclusion. Petersen assumes that burnout only applies to millennials, and doesn’t recognize the difficulty of older generations trying to keep up with those who grew up with social media technology.

There are some scattered pieces of advice on how to manage burnout, but this piece doesn’t seem like it would significantly help someone actually experiencing burnout. Even more so, Petersen does not explicitly explain this supposed “crisis”, so this doesn’t seem like it would be useful to anyone who isn’t already aware of what burnout is and how it affects people. As such, it is extremely difficult to determine who this is supposed to be FOR. I won’t be recommending it to anyone.

Blood, Sweat, and Pixels by Jason Schreier

Blood, Sweat, and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games are Made by Jason Schreier

REVIEW: 4 / 5 stars

This deep dive journalism work into the development process behind making video games is so fascinating! I loved listening to this, almost couldn’t stop listening, and recommend it to anyone who plays even just 1-2 video games a year. I am glad I listened to this audio book on my computer, so I could Google certain video games to remind myself what the subjects look like.

If you are interested in reading this, I recommend you to do so over the next few years. This is the kind of important topic that will need to be re-addressed every 10-15 years because all the examples here are relevant to today’s situation but new games are released every single year and the industry is constantly evolving. Many of the topics discussed here, such as crunch culture and the gender representation gap, could be different in 15 years, or they could be the same. Either way, it could be interesting to explore.

The video games mentioned here include, but are not limited to:
– Uncharted 4,
– Destiny,
– Stardew Valley,
– Shovel Knight,
– The Witcher 3, and
– Star Wars 1313.

Each video game development history is discussed in its own chapter, which I thought a logical and clean way to structure the book. I appreciated that not all of the video games mentioned are from the same genre. And while App development is mentioned in one paragraph, this kept to PC and console games, which helped to keep the field of references focused.

This book definitely allows me to appreciate the challenges of developing the video games I know, love, and am looking forward to. I also have a greater understanding of the sheer diversity in management and development style that went into these games. Some include: Stardew Valley being completely developed by one guy, Destiny’s relationship to the Halo series, Shovel Knight’s team of 5 democratically split guys, the power of E3 and Kickstarter, Witcher 3’s proud Polish heritage, and how Star Wars 1313 “served at the pleasure of George Lucas” for better or worse.

This is such an engaging read, and so relevant to so many people’s lives!

I give this only 4/5 stars, however, for two main reasons. First is the fact that this ages itself so soon after publication, because the examples are so specific. These are great, but there are no general overview introductory chapter on the industry, which would have better set these examples into a larger context.

Second is that it sort of just ends, without any concluding chapter about how the industry should improve its operations. Schreier is great at reporting, but only gives us the current state of things. He doesn’t reflect on anything. Does he think the crunch culture should be changed, and if so, how? I don’t know; he never says.

The Golden Orchard by Flora Ahn

The Golden Orchard by Flora Ahn

REVIEW: 5 / 5 stars

The Golden Orchard is a novel in which heart, family, food, friendship, and time travel are in abundance. This audio book is only 5 hr 15 min long, so I wasn’t expecting a very profound story, and thus was pleasantly surprised at the depth that this goes into. I definitely recommend to all those who might be interested in this.

Although this table is categorized as suitable for those nine years and older, the quality to which this is written makes it applicable to adult listeners as well. The subject matter includes middle school group projects and classroom crushes, but it also deals with grief, loss, determinism, neglect, and Alzeimers Disease. The family dynamics are so believable, and I loved how the protagonist becomes more mature as she learns how to navigate the “friend-Maya” and “family-Maya” parts of herself.

I really appreciated how food, home cooking, and family histories were all woven together here. My upbringing is Sicilian Italian and Cantonese Chinese, so food is imperative to our self identity as a social unit. From the book description, I didn’t get that the main characters are South Korean, but maybe someone more familiar with the culture would pick up on “Halmunee” being Grandmother in Korean. Most of my prior knowledge of Korean literature comes from The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See and Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. I really appreciated the primarily Korean cast in this.

Overall, this is a lovely read with great world building and solid heart. The messages this conveys are sound advice for us all, not just children. This is the best Audible Original I have experienced all year so far, and it is not one I will soon forget.