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: 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.

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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).

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Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Love and Olives, 11/10

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 Love and Olives by Jenna Evans Welch, which is another choice that should be no surprise to anyone who knows my reading habits. 😁
Expected release: November 10, 2020

Why wait on this one?

  • Alright, my first reason for wanting to read this is a simple one: I’ve read one of her past books in this “series” and loved it! Like Love & Gelato. I love both of those things, so how could I resist a book about it?? To be fair I don’t love olives, but I’m willing to overlook that fact for the sake of the book. ^.^
  • Now more than ever I’m aggressively pursuing sweet lighthearted stories that I just really need right now OKAY? And this story of Liv meeting her father basically for the first time in her life and trying to fit in her own image of herself and family and all the confusion that comes with identity struggles PLUS she’s in another country AND there’s this guy…
  • Remember that part above where she’s in another country? Liv goes to GREECE! This feels fitting, because the first trip abroad I took was to Italy & Greece, so this will complete the duo of my experiences with Welch’s books. And again, y’all, I usually travel so much. This year, I got one trip in before everything closed. I’m so grateful for that one trip, but now I”m trying to make up for the rest with books. So please, Mx. Welch, take me away to sunny, sandy, Santorini!!! 🤩

Summary:
Liv Varanakis doesn’t have a lot of fond memories of her father, which makes sense—he fled to Greece when she was only eight. What Liv does remember, though, is their shared love for Greek myths and the lost city of Atlantis. So when Liv suddenly receives a postcard from her father explaining that National Geographic is funding a documentary about his theories on Atlantis—and will she fly out to Greece and help?—Liv jumps at the opportunity.

But when she arrives to gorgeous Santorini, things are a little…awkward. There are so many questions, so many emotions that flood to the surface after seeing her father for the first time in years. And yet Liv doesn’t want their past to get in the way of a possible reconciliation. She also definitely doesn’t want Theo—her father’s charismatic so-called “protégé”—to witness her struggle.

And that means diving into all that Santorini has to offer—the beautiful sunsets, the turquoise water, the hidden caves, and the delicious cuisine. But not everything on the Greek island is as perfect as it seems. Because as Liv slowly begins to discover, her father may not have invited her to Greece for Atlantis, but for something much more important.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday, on Sunday! Phoenix Extravagant, 10/20

In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! However… today is Sunday. Because this week got a little bit hectic. 😂 On the bright side, now there’s even fewer days to wait until this week’s feature, Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee, comes out!
Expected Release: October 20, 2020

Why wait on this one?

  • A dramatic story of the art of war. But… literally. Gyen is just a painter, until they’re conscripted to use their artistic skills to paint the war sigils needed for the army. The reluctant savior who uncovers deeply covered secrets.
  • Oh, and did I mention that the soldiers are automatons, and the sigils animate them? It’s a robot army! Sort of! But magic regardless of what category you want to throw it into, so you know I’m all about it. Always with the magic, please. 😍
  • A renegade in pursuit of justice at all costs — and particularly when in defiance of their own government or ruling system — will probably forever appeal to me. Although lately it’s a little but uncomfortable and depressing because of how real it feels. Like, we could probably do with a dragon-stealing magic-wielding avenger right about now in the US. Or probably like four years ago.
  • I’m also trying to get better at using they as a singular pronoun and while I’m just about to the point where I don’t think twice about it, reading a book with a nonbinary character probably can’t hurt. 😄

Summary:

Gyen Jebi isn’t a fighter or a subversive. They just want to paint.

One day they’re jobless and desperate; the next, Jebi finds themself recruited by the Ministry of Armor to paint the mystical sigils that animate the occupying government’s automaton soldiers.

But when Jebi discovers the depths of the Razanei government’s horrifying crimes—and the awful source of the magical pigments they use—they find they can no longer stay out of politics.

What they can do is steal Arazi, the ministry’s mighty dragon automaton, and find a way to fight…

Posted in Reviews

Review: Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno

Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno – ⭐⭐⭐
A lovely blend of realism and modernity with believable magic and superstition. It leaves you with a wholesome feeling, optimistic despite it all.

Recommended: sure
For a blend of modern concerns and cultural influences, for a style of magic that might make you question your own beliefs, for perfectly timed jokes and references wound with community ties that go deep

Summary:
Rosa Santos is cursed by the sea-at least, that’s what they say. Dating her is bad news, especially if you’re a boy with a boat. But Rosa feels more caught than cursed. Caught between cultures and choices. Between her abuela, a beloved healer and pillar of their community, and her mother, an artist who crashes in and out of her life like a hurricane. Between Port Coral, the quirky South Florida town they call home, and Cuba, the island her abuela refuses to talk about. As her college decision looms, Rosa collides – literally – with Alex Aquino, the mysterious boy with tattoos of the ocean whose family owns the marina. With her heart, her family, and her future on the line, can Rosa break a curse and find her place beyond the horizon? 

Thoughts:
It took me a while to get through this. It also took me a while to like Rosa. The “saving the town” premise felt far too easy towards the start, and even by the end it felt like more of a footnote, a carry objective to learn about the characters. The title also sells the book short, making it sound like a light and flighty read when it actually carries a lot of weight and an important experience.

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