Posted in Release Day!

Just Published: Boys I Know by Anna Gracia!

Hey y’all! Just a reminder that Boys I Know by Anna Gracia release today! Check out the full review here or grab a copy of your own!

Recommended: yup
For women learning about themselves (especially romantically/sexually), for a story about a young woman figuring out what she wants and how to go after it

Summary

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June Chu is the “just good enough” girl. Good enough to line the shelves with a slew of third-place trophies and steal secret kisses from her AP Bio partner, Rhys. But not good enough to meet literally any of her Taiwanese mother’s unrelenting expectations or to get Rhys to commit to anything beyond a well-timed joke.

While June’s mother insists she follow in her (perfect) sister’s footsteps and get a (full-ride) violin scholarship to Northwestern (to study pre-med), June doesn’t see the point in trying too hard if she’s destined to fall short anyway. Instead, she focuses her efforts on making her relationship with Rhys “official.” But after her methodically-planned, tipsily-executed scheme explodes on the level of a nuclear disaster, she flings herself into a new relationship with a guy who’s not allergic to the word “girlfriend.”

But as the line between sex and love blurs, and pressure to map out her entire future threatens to burst, June will have to decide on whose terms she’s going to live her life—even if it means fraying her relationship with her mother beyond repair.

Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: Boys I Know by Anna Gracia (7/26/22)

Boys I Know by Anna Gracia
Expected Release: July 26, 2022

Recommended: yup
For women learning about themselves (especially romantically/sexually), for a story about a young woman figuring out what she wants and how to go after it

Summary

June Chu is the “just good enough” girl. Good enough to line the shelves with a slew of third-place trophies and steal secret kisses from her AP Bio partner, Rhys. But not good enough to meet literally any of her Taiwanese mother’s unrelenting expectations or to get Rhys to commit to anything beyond a well-timed joke.

While June’s mother insists she follow in her (perfect) sister’s footsteps and get a (full-ride) violin scholarship to Northwestern (to study pre-med), June doesn’t see the point in trying too hard if she’s destined to fall short anyway. Instead, she focuses her efforts on making her relationship with Rhys “official.” But after her methodically-planned, tipsily-executed scheme explodes on the level of a nuclear disaster, she flings herself into a new relationship with a guy who’s not allergic to the word “girlfriend.”

But as the line between sex and love blurs, and pressure to map out her entire future threatens to burst, June will have to decide on whose terms she’s going to live her life—even if it means fraying her relationship with her mother beyond repair.

Thoughts

Although this story is titled “Boys I Know,” June is not defined by men (or, well, boys). I love that she forges her own identity throughout her various attempts at love and sex, despite feeling swept away and overwhelmed by life at times.

One review quote on this book was along the lines of “I wish I had this book when I was the character’s age.” And yo, I feel that. 17-23 probably would have been a REALLY helpful time to read this book. I have never read a fiction novel that talks so honestly about sex and trying to figure out what feels good and how to get it (and enjoy it). It’s explicit in that it describes sex bluntly with none of that demure fade-to-black implication in some young adult novels. This book genuinely treats the reader as a young ADULT and the depictions of sex match that. It’s not raunchy and dramatic, but it’s open and genuine.

Continue reading “ARC Review: Boys I Know by Anna Gracia (7/26/22)”
Posted in Reviews

Review: Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt

Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt

Recommended: ehhh
For people who don’t care if the octopus is a small part of this and not the heart of it, for folks who enjoy understated stories with quiet character development, for a gentle mystery. Not for likeable characters, engaging plot, or vivid emotions.

Summary

After Tova Sullivan’s husband died, she began working the night shift at the Sowell Bay Aquarium, mopping floors and tidying up. Keeping busy has always helped her cope, which she’s been doing since her eighteen-year-old son, Erik, mysteriously vanished on a boat in Puget Sound over thirty years ago.

Tova becomes acquainted with curmudgeonly Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus living at the aquarium. Marcellus knows more than anyone can imagine but wouldn’t dream of lifting one of his eight arms for his human captors–until he forms a remarkable friendship with Tova.

Ever the detective, Marcellus deduces what happened the night Tova’s son disappeared. And now Marcellus must use every trick his old invertebrate body can muster to unearth the truth for her before it’s too late.

Thoughts

Who else came to this book lured in by the promise of narration via octopus? I imagine lots of people, myself among them.

Who else was disappointed by the lack of octopus narration?
🙋‍♀️🙋‍♀️🙋‍♀️

There are a few good chapters of it for sure, but they’re short at two or three pages each and make up overall a small (but impactful) portion of the story. My expectations for this were WAY off, as I thought it’d be closer to 50%, so when I got into this and realized it was mostly narrated from two humans (with the occasional omniscient view of side characters where fitting) I was quickly put off of it. This was not what I signed up for.

Continue reading “Review: Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt”
Posted in Reviews

Review: The Noh Family by Grace K. Shim

The Noh Family by Grace K. Shim
A fast forward Friday pick!

Recommended: eh
For a identity & family story set in Korea, for little tidbits of fashion, travel, and K-drama fandom. but it also has a character who seems much younger than her age, and makes thoughtless decisions

Summary

When her friends gift her a 23-and-Me test as a gag, high school senior Chloe Kang doesn’t think much of trying it out. She doesn’t believe anything will come of it–she’s an only child, her mother is an orphan, and her father died in Seoul before she was even born, and before her mother moved to Oklahoma. It’s been just Chloe and her mom her whole life. But the DNA test reveals something Chloe never expected–she’s got a whole extended family from her father’s side half a world away in Korea. Her father’s family are owners of a famous high-end department store, and are among the richest families in Seoul. When they learn she exists, they are excited to meet her. Her mother has huge reservations, she hasn’t had a great relationship with her husband’s family, which is why she’s kept them secret, but she can’t stop Chloe from traveling to Seoul to spend two weeks getting to know the Noh family.

Chloe is whisked into the lap of luxury, but something feels wrong. Chloe wants to shake it off–she’s busy enjoying the delights of Seoul with new friend Miso Dan, the daughter of one of her mother’s grade school friends. And as an aspiring fashion designer, she’s loving the couture clothes her department store owning family gives her access to. But soon Chloe will discover the reason why her mother never told her about her dad’s family, and why the Nohs wanted her in Seoul in the first place. Could joining the Noh family be worse than having no family at all?

Thoughts

This was solidly ok. It read quickly, partly because the plot was very straightforward and unsurprising. It was pretty predictable, even from startling early on. That’s not necessarily bad, but I don’t expect to be thinking about this book in a month from now. It’s one that will probably remain in the moments where I was reading it and not be carried forward much past that.

Continue reading “Review: The Noh Family by Grace K. Shim”
Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Noh Family, 5/3/22

Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is
Expected Release: May 3, 2022

Why wait on this one?

  • I have a type, and that type is Korean-Americans learning about their roots /Korean family and going to Korea. I’m an absolute sucker for them and could probably make a whole list by now of the books I’ve read with that exact plot. And I will keep reading them. Enter: The Noh Family (Noh is an unusual name, I’m curious if that will come up!)
  • AHHHH SECRET FAMILY WITH FAMILY SECRETS!!!! I’m not much for gossip in my real life, but when it comes to books, I am all about learning everyone’s hidden pieces of their lives! Especially if it’s heartwarming at the end. I hope this will be heartwarming at the end. ^.^
  • Something about the unfathomably rich families of Korea also fascinates me. The pervasive way they exist in and shape the culture itself is more so even than here in America, with words like chaebol just to express the luck / goal of being in one of these families. And frankly, just the setting is enough for me! I love connecting experiences of the characters with my own from when I lived there. Even just seeing the Namsan Tower on the cover was enough to prompt a big smile!
  • Side note that the prompting event of her friends giving an orphan who never knew her father a DNA test kit seems like kind of a shitty thing to do? Especially when labeled a “gag gift?” I’m curious to see how that scene goes down.

Summary

When her friends gift her a 23-and-Me test as a gag, high school senior Chloe Kang doesn’t think much of trying it out. She doesn’t believe anything will come of it–she’s an only child, her mother is an orphan, and her father died in Seoul before she was even born, and before her mother moved to Oklahoma. It’s been just Chloe and her mom her whole life. But the DNA test reveals something Chloe never expected–she’s got a whole extended family from her father’s side half a world away in Korea. Her father’s family are owners of a famous high-end department store, and are among the richest families in Seoul. When they learn she exists, they are excited to meet her. Her mother has huge reservations, she hasn’t had a great relationship with her husband’s family, which is why she’s kept them secret, but she can’t stop Chloe from travelling to Seoul to spend two weeks getting to know the Noh family.

Chloe is whisked into the lap of luxury, but something feels wrong. Chloe wants to shake it off–she’s busy enjoying the delights of Seoul with new friend Miso Dan, the daughter of one of her mother’s grade school friends. And as an aspiring fashion designer, she’s loving the couture clothes her department store owning family gives her access to. But soon Chloe will discover the reason why her mother never told her about her dad’s family, and why the Nohs wanted her in Seoul in the first place. Could joining the Noh family be worse than having no family at all?

Posted in Release Day!

Just Published: Red Thread of Fate by Lyn Liao Butler!

Hey y’all! Just a reminder that Red Thread of Fate by Lyn Liao Butler released today! Check out the full review here or grab a copy of your own!

Recommended: sure
For a drama that has a bit of everything, and yet doesn’t feel like it’s crammed too full of things; for a strong focus on family and forgiveness (of others, yourself, the world…)

Summary

Two days before Tam and Tony Kwan receive their letter of acceptance for the son they are adopting from China, Tony and his estranged cousin Mia are killed unexpectedly in an accident. A shell-shocked Tam learns she is named the guardian to Mia’s five-year-old daughter, Angela. With no other family around, Tam has no choice but to agree to take in the girl she hasn’t seen since the child was an infant.

Overwhelmed by her life suddenly being upended, Tam must also decide if she will complete the adoption on her own and bring home the son waiting for her in a Chinese orphanage. But when a long-concealed secret comes to light just as she and Angela start to bond, their fragile family is threatened. As Tam begins to unravel the events of Tony and Mia’s past in China, she discovers the true meaning of love and the threads that bind her to the family she is fated to have.

Posted in Reviews

Mini Review: Heart and Seoul by Jen Frederick

Heart and Seoul by Jen Frederick

Definitely not the ending I expected but good. I’m curious to see where the next goes, but I also feel like I could not read it and wouldn’t think about it that much. Her relationship with Yujun was kind of weird to me, right from the start.

Also my book was weirdly missing pages from 182 to 215 and I had no issue picking up where it cut out, so that’s either a good thing (explained so well throughout that it was easy to understand) or a bad thing (nothing important happened in 40 pages).

Continue reading “Mini Review: Heart and Seoul by Jen Frederick”
Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Fire with Fire, 6/8/21

Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is Fire with Fire by Destiny Soria! (Oi, it’s also not Friday, because apparently I’m back to my spotty schedule. 😅)
Expected Release: June 8, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • Dragons and magic will always be an easy sell for me. Here we’ve got the added tension of dragon hunting v. saving them. I want to hear this author’s interpretation and invented lore for them and the world.
  • Dani goes from a dragon-hunter-in-training plus regular high school student, weird mix) to being bonded with a dragon and totally changing sides to being desperate to help stop the fighting. (Is this How To Train Your Dragon? Because I LOVE that movie.)
  • Dani’s sister Eden is WAY more into the dragon hunting thing, and once Dani goes to the other side, Eden seeks out sorcerer’s to try to save her sister from what she sees as certain doom (and probably some shades of madness too). I love that even though they’re now on opposite sides, their connection and love remains. Isn’t that what’s always needed? People with opposing views who are still trying to understand the other.

Summary

Dani and Eden Rivera were both born to kill dragons, but the sisters couldn’t be more different. For Dani, dragon slaying takes a back seat to normal high school life, while Eden prioritizes training above everything else. Yet they both agree on one thing: it’s kill or be killed where dragons are concerned.

Until Dani comes face-to-face with one and forges a rare and magical bond with him. As she gets to know Nox, she realizes that everything she thought she knew about dragons is wrong. With Dani lost to the dragons, Eden turns to the mysterious and alluring sorcerers to help save her sister. Now on opposite sides of the conflict, the sisters will do whatever it takes to save the other. But the two are playing with magic that is more dangerous than they know, and there is another, more powerful enemy waiting for them both in the shadows.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Last Story of Mina Lee, 9/1/20

In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! This one, The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim, is pretty in keeping with my love of learning about other’s experiences and particularly about Korean experiences.
Expected release date: September 1, 2020

  • Unsurprisingly, I’m excited about this because it’s an Asian female familial generational story. While that feels really specific, I realized I love these as I’ve been reading more in the past few months! (Ex. Unbound, The Joy Luck Club)
  • This also seems like its going to be two books in one, in a good way. I get the mystery with Margot around her mother’s death, and I get the love story probably gone wrong with Mina back in her youth. Watching the two intertwine and fitting the clues to the facts is so satisfying.
  • As I get older, I grow to appreciate how parents are still just people. Learning about your parents, the history you never knew, the secrets hidden behind the titles of mom or dad, I find it fascinating now. Learning Mina’s story through the context of Margot’s revelations will require Margot to retrofit her understanding of her mother with the new background. And also, like, who killed her???
  • The historical context of immigrating to the US and the difficulties that can come with it will reflect easily onto current day, I believe. Empathy when reading is a draw for me, as is learning about history and lives that I have never undergone (and likely never would).

Summary:
Margot Lee’s mother, Mina, isn’t returning her calls. It’s a mystery to twenty-six-year-old Margot, until she visits her childhood apartment in Koreatown, LA, and finds that her mother has suspiciously died. The discovery sends Margot digging through the past, unraveling the tenuous invisible strings that held together her single mother’s life as a Korean War orphan and an undocumented immigrant, only to realize how little she truly knew about her mother.

Interwoven with Margot’s present-day search is Mina’s story of her first year in Los Angeles as she navigates the promises and perils of the American myth of reinvention. While she’s barely earning a living by stocking shelves at a Korean grocery store, the last thing Mina ever expects is to fall in love. But that love story sets in motion a series of events that have consequences for years to come, leading up to the truth of what happened the night of her death.

Posted in Cover Roulette

Cover Roulette: The Joy Luck Club

I did my first cover roulette post a while ago for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and it was so fun I wanted to do another! Luckily I found another popular book that has had many different editions made, and I wondered…

What other awesome covers have I missed?

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan just had it’s 30 year anniversary in 2019. In her preface to the 30th anniversary edition, Tan says that she expected her little collection of stories to disappear off shelves by six months after publication, as most debut books do. And, well… now she’s writing a 30 year anniversary preface for yet another re-publication. Pretty awesome.

I’m also finally picking this book up. It’s one of those “been meaning to for years” books that I’ve been interested in, but just never got around to. Well, now I’m around to it! Which made it feel like the perfect pick to check out some of the many covers it’s had from 30+ years of popularity.


The Cover I Know

In my college library basement, I stumbled on the “Amy Tan” section. Loved the gorgeous simple covers, already knew I’d probably love her works. Finally reading it now. ^.^

2016 Russian: A Takeover / Merge

I adore this cover interpretation. The Chinese dragon wrapping around the Statue of Liberty, such an American symbol. I love the way it shows the cultures blending, as the fire from the torch becomes like the dragon’s fire, and I just absolutely love it entirely.

Continue reading “Cover Roulette: The Joy Luck Club”