Book Review

Book Review: Made in Korea by Sarah Suk

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 352 pages
Author: Sarah Suk
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 18t, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Frankly in Love meets Shark Tank in this feel-good romantic comedy about two entrepreneurial Korean American teens who butt heads—and maybe fall in love—while running competing Korean beauty businesses at their high school.

There’s nothing Valerie Kwon loves more than making a good sale. Together with her cousin Charlie, they run V&C K-BEAUTY, their school’s most successful student-run enterprise. With each sale, Valerie gets closer to taking her beloved and adventurous halmeoni to her dream city, Paris.

Enter the new kid in class, Wes Jung, who is determined to pursue music after graduation despite his parents’ major disapproval. When his classmates clamor to buy the K-pop branded beauty products his mom gave him to “make new friends,” he sees an opportunity—one that may be the key to help him pay for the music school tuition he knows his parents won’t cover…

What he doesn’t realize, though, is that he is now V&C K-BEAUTY’s biggest competitor.

Stakes are high as Valerie and Wes try to outsell each other, make the most money, and take the throne for the best business in school—all while trying to resist the undeniable spark that’s crackling between them. From hiring spies to all-or-nothing bets, the competition is much more than either of them bargained for.

But one thing is clear: only one Korean business can come out on top.

IT WAS FINE.

I really liked this on audio and recommend that avenue if you love audio books like I do! Easy listen and quick to move through.

The unique setting with high school businesses is what initially drove me to pick this one up. It was one of my favorite parts of the book. I think it would’ve been cool if my school had offered opportunities like that. This was a unique high school contemporary plot.

Wes was my true hero. He was adorable and such a cinnamon roll. I love his shy self, and also the side of him that learned to stand up for his passions and choices. He exhibited the most growth over the story and his relationship with Valerie was precious. Valerie I struggled with because she was intensely stubborn until almost the very end. By then I was over the whole scenario and it created some unnecessary drama. It felt like enemies to lovers with only one person thinking they were enemies.

Lots of great learning topics too. From sibling rivalries and demanding parents, and having to prove yourself over and over again. I liked a lot of these conversations too because it felt true to the YA nature of the book and reminded me of many things I went through in high school too.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary Romance
  • Language: some
  • Romance: kisses
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: a grandparent with Parkinson’s

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Long Story Short by Serena Kaylor

Rating: ★★★★★
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 336 pages
Author: Serena Kaylor
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: July 26th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Growing up homeschooled in Berkeley, California, Beatrice Quinn is a statistical genius who has dreamed her whole life of discovering new mathematical challenges at a school like Oxford University. She always thought the hardest part would be getting in, not convincing her parents to let her go. But while math has always made sense to Beatrice, making friends is a problem she hasn’t been able to solve, so her parents are worried about sending her halfway across the world. The compromise: the Connecticut Shakespearean Summer Academy and a detailed list of teenage milestones to check off. She has six weeks to show her parents she can pull off the role of “normal” teenager and won’t spend the rest of her life hiding in a library.

Unfortunately, hearts and hormones don’t follow any rules, and there is no equation for teenage interactions. When she’s adopted by a group of eclectic theater kids, and immediately makes an enemy of the popular—and, annoyingly gorgeous—British son of the camp founders, she realizes that relationships are trickier than calculus. With her future on the line, this girl genius stumbles through illicit parties, double dog dares, and more than your fair share of Shakespeare. But before the final curtain falls, will Beatrice realize that there’s more to life than she can find in the pages of a book?

In this sparkling debut from Serena Kaylor, Long Story Short is a YA rom-com about a homeschooled math genius who finds herself out of her element at a theater summer camp and learns that life—and love—can’t be lived by the (text)book.

Thank you to the publisher for an eARC.

ABSOLUTELY LOVED.

I had a few friends rave about this book so I was sufficiently hyped by the time I picked it up, and it did not disappoint. LST was incredible and I’m in awe at this debut.

I resonated with Beatrice so much. I love that she was a socially awkward heroine, who knew what she wanted, but needed a few more steps to get there. I appreciated that true support from her parents and how walking into the summer camp beautiful friendships grew. I LOVED the friendships and how supportive they were. And also how they showed making mistakes and apologizing. There’s room for growth in a safe space. Beatrice changed leaps and bounds, and yet still remained at her core, herself. The anxiety rep was one of my favorites too. I liked the approach to it and the openness of speaking to a therapist as well. The combination made for the best kind of read.

The romance (because we know I’m a sucker for romance) was perrrrrfect. The angsty hate to love vibes were off the charts. The banter and swoony moments, and gosh dang THE HANDS TOUCHING. A small hand touch moment IS THE BEST DANG THING. I don’t know how many times I started chanting, kiss kiss kiss. I was on the edge of my seat with Beatrice and Nik and it was everything I love in a YA romance.

This setting took me by surprise too. I’m hit/miss on summer camp books. Clearly this was a HIT. I was even enjoying all of the Shakespeare stuff too! And that Shakespeare line battle? GOLD. I think I could probably go on forever about my new found love for this book (and author). Read it. Read it. Read it.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: kisses
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: underage alcohol consumption, panic attack (on page), depictions of anxiety

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Book Review

Book Review: XOXO by Axie Oh

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 352 pages
Author: Axie Oh
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: July 13th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Cello prodigy Jenny has one goal: to get into a prestigious music conservatory. When she meets mysterious, handsome Jaewoo in her uncle’s Los Angeles karaoke bar, it’s clear he’s the kind of boy who would uproot her careful plans. But in a moment of spontaneity, she allows him to pull her out of her comfort zone for one unforgettable night of adventure…before he disappears without a word.

Three months later, when Jenny and her mother arrive in South Korea to take care of her ailing grandmother, she’s shocked to discover that Jaewoo is a student at the same elite arts academy where she’s enrolled for the semester. And he’s not just any student. He’s a member of one of the biggest K-pop bands in the world—and he’s strictly forbidden from dating.

When a relationship means throwing Jenny’s life off the path she’s spent years mapping out, she’ll have to decide once and for all just how much she’s willing to risk for love.

ABSOLUTELY ADORED.

This book was so dang cute!! I loved it. It also made me very hungry and all of the Korean dishes sounded delicious. I loved the cultural aspects too and being in Seoul and getting an idea for what being a K-pop star entails. Learning about training, the schools, how groups are formed. It was great getting a better understanding of a world I didn’t know much about.

The romance was precious. I thought Jenny and Jaewoo had a fun and interesting meet-cute. There were many unique aspects to a young adult contemporary romance and it was a breath of fresh air. A quick meeting led to a bit of slow burn as they tackled feelings for one another. I love the Jenny was a cellist and both had their complete own lives and passions they enjoyed. Choosing to be together was something they both wanted and I love a good, mushy ending scene. If you’re looking for a celebrity / forbidden romance in YA form, this is one to read!!

Full of tight friendships, those mean girls you expect, and running away from paparazzi, I definitely felt like I was watching a drama. Though it never went over board. I love how natural the movement of the story went and how easy it was to read. I was enamored from chapter one and I can’t wait to read more from this author.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary Romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses / make-outs

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Book Review

Book Review: A Taste for Love by Jennifer Yen

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 304 pages
Author: Jennifer Yen
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: February 2nd, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

For fans of Jenny Han, Jane Austen, and The Great British Baking Show, A Taste for Love, is a delicious rom com about first love, familial expectations, and making the perfect bao.

To her friends, high school senior Liza Yang is nearly perfect. Smart, kind, and pretty, she dreams big and never shies away from a challenge. But to her mom, Liza is anything but. Compared to her older sister Jeannie, Liza is stubborn, rebellious, and worst of all, determined to push back against all of Mrs. Yang’s traditional values, especially when it comes to dating.

The one thing mother and daughter do agree on is their love of baking. Mrs. Yang is the owner of Houston’s popular Yin & Yang Bakery. With college just around the corner, Liza agrees to help out at the bakery’s annual junior competition to prove to her mom that she’s more than her rebellious tendencies once and for all. But when Liza arrives on the first day of the bake-off, she realizes there’s a catch: all of the contestants are young Asian American men her mother has handpicked for Liza to date.

The bachelorette situation Liza has found herself in is made even worse when she happens to be grudgingly attracted to one of the contestants; the stoic, impenetrable, annoyingly hot James Wong. As she battles against her feelings for James, and for her mother’s approval, Liza begins to realize there’s no tried and true recipe for love.

MOSTLY CUTE.

I read this in about a day (via audio book). I loved the fast pace and all of the baking. It made me want to whip out my mixer and try out new recipes. The GBBO allusions were clear, but the addition of the “dating pool” idea was humorous.

The other side plots were a biiiiit much. I felt like they added extreme levels of drama and took away from the romance. I didn’t know where I was supposed to see the focus. There were many side stories that didn’t truly affect the main character or even necessarily the love interest. All of this took me out of the novel multiple times.

What I got of the romance was pretty cute. It was a very little enemies to lovers, but once misunderstandings were put aside I thought Liza and James were adorable. I would have really loved to see even more of them and have the story feel like it was directed at them.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary Romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: kisses
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: body shaming, racism, sexual assault mentioned, cheating

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