Thursday, July 27, 2017

Recommendation: The Lady of Royale Street - Thea de Salle: Wedding Planning and Hate to Love

In THE LADY OF ROYALE STREET, devout Alex comes to his brother's rescue as a makeshift wedding planner and really doesn't get along with the bridesmaid Theresa.

What intrigued me: I love all other companion novels. Favorite series and author!

Anxious Anger and No-Nonsense

THE LADY OF ROYALE STREET is such a rollercoaster. Alex and Theresa go through that typical hate-turns-into-love storyline that will have you biting your fingernails, getting  angry, and jumping up and down with excitement while swooning all the way through the story and ultimately being very sad that it's over. De Salle created fantastically unique characters with these two that feel absolutely real. I feel like I've said that in all my reviews of this series, ha.

Alex owns a hotel, loves to work out, and is also very religious-- and gets upset about everything. This guy will literally turn red in the face at every minor inconvenience, as a sort of defense mechanism for his anxieties. With characters like that in a romance it's easy to slip into abuse romanticization territory, especially when their significant other ends up forgiving them all the time, but I felt like De Salle made it very clear that Alex' behavior is unacceptable and that this is one of his flaws. He owns up to it multiple times and actively tries to better himself, I really enjoyed seeing him work on that. It's refreshing to see characters with flaws like that and Theresa is exactly the no-nonsense kind of girl that Alex needs and puts him in his place all the time, which I looooved.

All the feels

A huge part of THE LADY OF ROYALE STREET is obviously also the wedding to which it leads up. Every single character from the previous companion novels makes an appearance, including the protagonist pairings Sol & Rain and Maddy & Darren being happy in love, and you will be overcome by your feelings! Theresa and Alex are fun in their own ways, especially during the phase in which they absolutely despise each other, but I loved the side characters a little more. This was definitely my favorite part of the THE LADY OF ROYALE STREET, checking up with the other characters. It's really fun to see the developments since the previous novels unfold.

Theresa and Alex definitely have my favorite love story of the series-- their relationship progression feels so real and realistic and they are SO adorable together, the end truly had me shed a tear. Or seven. Shh. You can always count on De Salle shattering all your feelings with her wonderful happy endings. (Pun intended...?)

While THE LADY OF ROYALE STREET obviously works as a stand-alone, I definitely recommend reading them in order for maximum feels. I adored this.


Rating:

★★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

THE LADY OF ROYALE STREET is the conclusion of my favorite companion series of the year and works as a stand-alone, too. Either way, it absolutely hit me right in the feelings, I loved to read about two devout Christians struggling to combine faith with having a naughty affair, even though this is usually totally not my genre. De Salle charmed me with anxious and angry Alex and chaotic and confident Theresa. I will miss these two!


More NOLA Nights reviews

So I kind of also made a buzzfeed quiz?

...and of course I also made aesthetics for Theresa and Alex!




Additional Info

Published: August 21st 2017
Pages: 250
Publisher: Pocket Books
Genre: Adult / Romance
ISBN: 9781501156106
Series: Nola Nights (#3)

Synopsis:
"Alex DuMont is everything his brother Sol isn’t: regimented, serious, and devout. Between twelve-hour workdays, service to the church, punishing daily workouts, and bi-weekly therapy sessions, Alex is, as Sol once put it, “a kettle perpetually whistling as it boils itself to death.” So when Sol announces his marriage to Arianna Barrington, heiress and society sweetheart, Alex is the absolute worst choice to be his best man. Sol asks anyway and Alex reluctantly agrees. It’s only a week, after all, and Alex should be able to stop himself from throttling his big brother for a meager seven days. Probably. Maybe.

Theresa Ivarson is Arianna’s best friend and the maid of honor. A decorated photojournalist who interrupts her globetrotting to stand beside her friend, Theresa is beautiful, witty, and unafraid to speak her mind. So when she is faced with working with the best man from Hell, a Viking who doesn’t know how to smile, is bossy, and about as pleasant as a cactus, the sparks are bound to fly—and not in the good way. To make matters worse, Sol and Rain's wedding planner was hit by a bus the week before their special day, and Alex and Theresa find themselves at the center of a list-ditch effort to pull the wedding together. But when you can’t decide if you want to kiss or kill someone, something’s bound to break. "
(Source: Goodreads)

What's your favorite Adult Romance?



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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

10 Bookish Things That Make Readers Happy | #BloggerConfessions






Sometimes you just have to make a list of all the bookish delights in the world. 





#10: Converting non-readers
It makes me speechless to hear from someone that usually doesn't read much that they liked a book I told them to read! Such a great feeling.

#9: People asking for book recommendations
:) It makes me so happy to be given this honor. I'd like to thank the academy, my mom, ...

#8: Reading a sequel 3 years late and still remembering the characters
I think we all collectively deserve a medal for this.

#7: That feeling when a love interest gets introduced and you already know they're going going to be your new love
Truly a blessing.

#6: Finding out your favorite author has a new book coming out... in a year
I DON'T CARE I WILL START HYPING THE SECOND I FIND OUT.. and then I will suffer precisely 4.5 breakdowns while realizing that one year is a godawfully long time to have to wait for a book.

#5: Getting to that line in the book that explains the title
It's just like:

#4: Buying a used book and then seeing that it's signed (to someone else)
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

#3: Coming across a new book store
My favorite thing is just walking around in my neighborhood (where I usually know EVERYTHING) but then seeing that a new book store has opened. AHH

#2: Meeting someone that likes your favorite book
As much as I love discussing books generally, it's even better when I'm talking to someone that is just as obsessed with that one obscure side character from the third sequel to my favorite book who only had two sentences but won my heart.

#1: The smell of a new book
Honestly, there is nothing better than this. I wish my house smelled like new books all the time.

What are some bookish things that make you happy?

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Monday, July 24, 2017

The Magic of the Buffer Contemporary Read: Learn About my Blogging Success Secret | Book Blogging Tips (#65)


Today I'll introduce you to one of the most important lessons I have learned in my blogging career. 

Maybe you've notice that I read a lot of contemporary, but not necessarily because I love the genre so much. They're buffer reads. 



What are you talking about?

I'm one of those people that can easily read too many high-concept reads. I love fantasy books with imaginative extensive world building and I love genre fiction in general - I love dystopian, paranormal, sci-fi - all of them, please. But sometimes, when you're reading a book with a really complicated world, it can overwhelm you. 

  • Sometimes that happens while reading when you just get fed up with the world and need to pause for a couple of times. 
  • Sometimes that happens after reading when you enter a massive reading slump after you try to pick up similar novels. And that's where my magic trick comes in. 

Here's the trick:

I read a YA contemporary without any magical elements every time I finish a high-concept book.

It works like magic, usually I even read them as companions. If you're a person who loves to read many books at once like me, make sure there's a contemporary in there because you're going to need it. Whenever you're stuck with your high fantasy book for example, pop in and read a couple of pages of the contemporary. Something light set in the real world always always goes a long way to cure me from those temporary reading blocks or slumps that I'm sure you all are familiar with.

You need to stock up on those. Get yourself a lot of contemporary reads that you can read on the side while you're ploughing through something really dry and/or high-concept books. It prevents slumps, demotivation, and wanting to DNF. I hardly ever DNF anymore since I started using this technique and it absolutely saved me from the worst of all reading slumps multiple times. There's just something about a light contemporary that really enables you to go back to that high-concept read with more motivation.

Some specific tips: If you're not a YA Contemporary person, try Chick-Lit. Usually they're really light romance-centric or even just humor-centric books that will make your forget about eeeeeverrything around you and do the job perfectly. I've already exhausted by go-to reading slump curing books by Sophie Kinsella, so I usually go for anything YA that looks fluffy. Books by Jennifer E. Smith are excellent to use as buffer reads, too, by the way.

What are your blogging success secrets?


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Saturday, July 22, 2017

[Review] The Young Elites (#1) - Marie Lu: Witch Hunts and Renaissance Vibes

In THE YOUNG ELITES, Adelina survived a fever that gave her special powers. When she accidentally kills her father and is sentenced to death, someone saves her last minute.

What intrigued me: I didn't quite know what this was about but just heard anti-heroine and immediately got a copy.

Flawless writing but confusing setting

THE YOUNG ELITES is a typical fantasy take on witch hunts set in medieval-inspired world with Italian renaissance influences with a side of Greek mythology. The world is actually what I struggled the most with. Lu didn't manage to conjure up images in my mind and really grip me and get me invested in it. I struggled with the city names and settings from the first to last page, never quite knowing where what is taking place and how I'm supposed to picture it.

The powers of the Elites remind me a lot of fanfiction meets superheroes in a very unflattering way. Everyone who was affected by a fever years ago grew strangely-colored hair and weirdly colored eyes. Throw in a couple of scars and you got yourself the Elites. The concept is so nice but the execution makes me not want to take the Elites and their mission seriously. Paired with the fact that they're all gorgeous and good-looking and coming from rich families, I just couldn't. I was hoping to read about actual outcasts, to read about gritty, bitter antiheroes. THE YOUNG ELITES will definitely not give you that experience.

Too Angsty and Not Badass Enough

Nonetheless, Lu is an incredible writer. There is so much beauty and emotion packed within the first 50 pages that I thought I was going to love this. You can easily feel Adelina's pain and will find yourself rooting for her from the first page. I like the overall concept of these outcasts teaming up to reclaim the throne under the command of the wayward prince. It makes for a really interesting premise, but beyond that severely lacks in storytelling. 

The story takes forever to actually get going. It essentially feels like Adelina is walking through the world endlessly meeting new people who explain the world to her and give more info dumps, but you'll still find yourself confused by what's actually happening. It's such a slow story. I think with that premise THE YOUNG ELITES should have been an action-packed story about a secret society of badass warriors. It just doesn't read like that. 

Rating:

★★½

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

THE YOUNG ELITES feels like an angsty dystopia when it should've been the start of a series of blood-thirsty warrior chronicle books. It's definitely an interesting spin on the genre, but couldn't win my heart because the story itself just doesn't pack a punch.



Additional Info

Published: October 7th 2014
Pages: 355
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA / High Fantasy
ISBN: 9780399167836

Synopsis:
"I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all. 

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen. 

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt."(Source: Goodreads)



Have you read THE YOUNG ELITES?

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Recommendation: Inkheart (Inkworld #1) - Cornelia Funke: Reading Book Characters to Life and Getting Sucked into Books

In INKHEART, Meggie's dad has the ability to read book characters into life.

What intrigued me: My dad got me a copy of this when I was 10 or 11 and it's been one of my favorite book series ever since.

Beautifully written and 100% original

Even though INKHEART was released more than 10 years ago it remains one of the most unique, original, and fascinating high fantasy releases I've ever read or heard about. The fantastic concept immediately sucks you into the story and paired with Funke's incredibly nuanced, beautiful writing it is an absolute delight. It definitely isn't an easy read though at about 500+ pages. INKHEART absolutely reads and feels like the start of an epic series. 

On the whole, INKHEART isn't my favorite Inkworld novel because it works more as an introduction. The beauty about the Inkworld books is that while each book feels concise and would as well work as a stand-alone, you'll be compelled to pick the next one up the second you finished. At the core this is a 1,500 page story. But then again, this series is so fantastic that even the weakest novel is a very clear five star read.

Not your usual YA read

The characters are masterfully planned with extensive backstories and such attention to detail that they will feel real to you and you'll catch yourself wondering if you could read them to life like Mo if you tried.

However, while this story remains excellent, after ten years of reading YA there are some things you have to know if you plan on picking this up. First - this isn't YA as we know it now. It's a mixture of MG and YA that works as a crossover title. INKHEART deals with dark themes while centering around a 12 year old protagonist. It's definitely not a read I'd recommend for MG age children/readers.

Second, this is a very slowly paced story. These books are meant - needed- to be read together. I personally started out with the second book INKSPELL, which is set in the Inkworld and remains my absolute favorite. INKHEART is a must-read. 

Rating:

★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

INKHEART is an absolute must-read for every book lover and high fantasy reader.



Additional Info

Published: June 1st 2005
Pages: 548
Publisher: Scholastic
Genre: YA / Urban Fantasy
ISBN: 9780439709101

Synopsis:
"Twelve-year-old Meggie learns that her father, who repairs and binds books for a living, can "read" fictional characters to life when one of those characters abducts them and tries to force him into service.

Characters from books literally leap off the page in this engrossing fantasy. Meggie has had her father to herself since her mother went away when she was young. Mo taught her to read when she was five, and the two share a mutual love of books. He can "read" characters out of books. When she was three, he read aloud from a book called Inkheart and released characters into the real world. At the same time, Meggie's mother disappeared into the story. This "story within a story" will delight not just fantasy fans, but all readers who like an exciting plot with larger-than-life characters.
 "(Source: Goodreads)



Have you read any books by Cornelia Funke?

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

7 Blogger Problems That No Longer Faze Me | #BloggerConfessions

I'm hoping not too many of you noticed, but I've had some MAJOR theme problems in the last days and I figured why not channel this into a blog post? 

Throughout my blogging career, lots of things that used to absolute devastate me, no longer really are an issue for me. Let's talk about those. 



#7. Theme Drama!
We know it all, we hate it all. Sometimes your theme randomly breaks or your hosting platform randomly decides that there's an error now that seems unfixable. I've always customized my themes alone and that always proved to be a headache (still is!). Mini!Blogger!Me would've probably deleted the entire blog or massively freaked out over something like this happening and breaking my entire page, but these days I'm just like? Well. Shit happens.

#6. Getting Declined on Netgalley
That used to bother me SO MUCH to the point that I was wondering if I'm doing something wrong blogging-wise because so many publishers wouldn't accept any of my requests. Fast-forward about 2 years later and I'm pretty much getting the majority of the ARCs that are available to my country, it's really just an issue of blog-size unfortunately. And people familiarizing themselves your style. I still have never been approved for anything on Edelweiss, though, haha.

#5. Followers! Unfollowers! Help!

I know this is a stupid thing to hear when you're a blogger with a two or one digit following, but seriously - at some point it no longer hurts you when you see that counter go down a bit. I'm by no means anywhere near being a big blogger, not even medium-sized in my opinion, but I magically stopped caring eventually. Don't like my blog? No problem! Be happy about the people who appreciate you, don't bother spending any time thinking about the ones who don't. And really, blogging just for followers is so 2011. Blog because you like it, not becaue you want to be big.

#4. Not Being Scheduled Regularly
You guys know that I'm notorious for scheduling my blog months in advance. But weirdly, I don't mind when I'm not 100% on my one-post-every-other-day schedule. I really don't mind. Blogging regularly is important, sure, but not to such an extent that I angst about missing a day or two anymore. Meh.

#3. Your Social Media Following Isn't Growing!!!
Drama, drama. Just when I thought I'd stopped caring about followers when it comes to my blog, I started worrying about the same thing on social media. Especially when you're really on top of your game and spend a lot of time on one specific site, you'll probably go through the same stages again that you went through on your blog. I'm glad to say that that stuff won't bother you anymore soon either.

#2. Inventing New Content 24/7
I was SO big on that back when I started. I used to experiment a lot with memes, new features that didn't last long - at this point I don't even bother thinking up something new anymore. I got YA Talk, Book Blogging Tips, Book Blogging Etiquette, and #BloggerConfessions and that is more than enough for me! 

#1. Page Views Aren't Growing!!
Who cares. Seriously. I'm by no means at the height of my page views right now, but I really don't mind. I haven't been on my statistics page in months.


Trust me, if you're worried about one of those things RIGHT NOW, this stuff is super temporary. In a week or two you won't even remember what you used to stress about. In a year or two, you'll have ascended to the magical place of I-Don't-Care Land where none of these even matter.




More #BloggerConfessions:

7 Reasons Why I Prefer Young Adult books over Adult books




What are some blogging problems that no longer send you deep into the depths of blogging angst despair?



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Sunday, July 16, 2017

[Review] Ivory and Bone (#1) - Julie Eshbaugh: Prehistoric Times and Romance

In IVORY AND BONE, Kol's clan is running out of women to marry when a new clan arrives and brings lots of eligible teenage girls with them.

What intrigued me: I've read very few novels set in prehistoric times.

A regular romance story

IVORY AND BONE has an incredibly sad tone. The story is told from protagonist Kol's point of view as he tells the story of how they met to his injured lover Mya to soothe her. The second person narration is actually quite pleasant and works absolutely in favor of the story. Eshbaugh writes in lush flowery prose, a little too much so for my personal taste.

While IVORY AND BONE is trying to be extremely authentic when it comes to descriptions and things the characters use to survive, it's lacking authenticity in the parts that actually matter to make it a compelling narrative. IVORY AND BONE is a deeply romanticized story of two prehistoric teens falling in love. 

The setting is great, the concept could be nice, it's certainly original but IVORY AND BONE relies too much on that. This is neither historical fantasy as it says in the blurb, nor any different than any other romance in a different setting. Even more so because I feel like the setting doesn't do the story any favors, if there were actual fantasy elements and things beyond the premise of a clan of people living in the middle of nowhere meeting another clan of people - it could be epic.  


Strives for authenticity instead of entertainment

Ultimately it's not only the lack of world building and innovation that goes beyond a cool setting that made this a disappointment. It's also the lack of action and urgency. The romance itself isn't nearly captivating enough to carry a 400-page-novel, at least it isn't for me. What makes even is worse it that the writing tries to make up for that with lengthy, unnecessary scenery descriptions, which I'm just really not a fan of.

You'll find lots of passages passively narrating how the characters walk up mountains and descriptions of the tools they use. This very much showcases what immense research Eshbaugh put into this but at the end of the day the story just doesn't entertain and I couldn't imagine picking up more books in this series. I easily and quickly lost interest in the story, which is a shame because the writing is excellent and the premise, as I said, absolutely unique and fantastic.


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

IVORY AND BONE has a very unique premise and is incredibly well-researched but absolutely loses itself in striving for authenticity in the prehistoric setting instead of narrating a compelling story. If you're a romance reader I think you might still enjoy this but I found myself too easily bored by the lack of action.



Additional Info

Published: June 7th 2016
Pages: 371
Publisher: Harper Teen
Genre: Historical Fiction
ISBN: 9780062399250

Synopsis:
"A prehistoric fantasy—with allusions to Pride and Prejudice.

Hunting, gathering, and keeping his family safe—that’s the life seventeen-year-old Kol knows. Then bold, enigmatic Mya arrives from the south with her family, and Kol is captivated. He wants her to like and trust him, but any hopes of impressing her are ruined when he makes a careless—and nearly grave—mistake. However, there’s something more to Mya’s cool disdain…a history wrought with loss that comes to light when another clan arrives. With them is Lo, an enemy from Mya’s past who Mya swears has ulterior motives.

As Kol gets to know Lo, tensions between Mya and Lo escalate until violence erupts. Faced with shattering losses, Kol is forced to question every person he’s trusted. One thing is for sure: this was a war that Mya or Lo—Kol doesn’t know which—had been planning all along.
 "(Source: Goodreads)

Have you read novels set in prehistoric times before?

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Friday, July 14, 2017

Best Books, Sequels, Releases, Most Anticipated, EVERYTHING about My 2017 Reads | Mid-Year Book Freakout TAG

I saw this over on AJ's blog and liked it so much that I decided to do it as well! I'm definitely having a mid-year book freakout at the moment because I've barely read 50 books this year so far! 

All time low! Don't know what's happening. I gotta catch up.

#1. Best book read this year
This is very hard to say, I guess THE WOMEN IN THE WALLS by Amy Lukavics. I loved this so much that I can't stop talking about it!

#2. Best sequel this year
You guys probably know I don't do sequels, I've actually only read one so far this year and wasn't very impressed with it, WAKING GODS by Sylvain Neuvel. Ancient space robots though, yeahhhh

#3. New release I haven't read yet, but want to
DEAR MARTIN by Nic Stone. I am working on it! I'm waiting for the perfect time because this book will break my heart and I want to give it the fairest shot possible. Can't afford to not love this!

#4. Most anticipated release for second half of year
WICKED LIKE A WILDFIRE by Lana Popovic. *eye emoji* I'm waiting. I love witchy books.

#5. Biggest disappointment
ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis. What happened there? I love space and I was really looking forward to loving this, but I really, really did not.

#6. Biggest Surprise
THE HOLLOW GIRL by Hillary Monahan. I am so impressed with this book. It really shouldn't have suprised me that I ended up loving this to be honest because I have such a long history of adoring witchy books, haha.

#7. Favorite new author (Debut or new to me)
Thea de Salle! I'm neckdeep in her NOLA nights series and I need more people to talk about this with, I'm dying here! If you love intersectional romance, pleaseeeeeeee


#8. Newest fictional crush
Sol DuMont from THE KING OF BOURBON STREET by Thea de Salle. Duh. My flamboyant bisexual boyfriend is everything.

#9. Newest favorite character
*looks to the floor* Sol DuMont...

#10. Book that made me cry
Mh, I don't think there was one. Still waiting on a tear-jerker.

#11. Book that made me happy
HOW TO MAKE A WISH by Ashley Herring Blake. Love me some black biracial bisexual representation.

#12. Favorite book to film adaptation
I HAVEN'T SEEN A SINGLE ONE THIS YEAR! At least none of a book that I actually read. I'm terrible at this tag.

#13. Favorite post I've done this year
I've had the honor of hosting a Q&A with an author I admire, Hannah Moskowitz, after lovingggggg her Deaf bisexual romance WILD.

#14. Most beautiful book I've bought or received this year


  • Physically? The German edition of LAST SEEN by Lucy Clarke is the prettiest book I've ever seen. 
  • Content-wise? HOW TO MAKE A WISH by Ashley Herring Blake

#15. Book I need to read by end of the year
More like bookS.
  • TASH HEARTS TOLSTOY by Kathryn Ormsbee
  • THE LADY OF ROYALE STREET by Thea de Salle
  • THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN by Paula Hawkins
  • THE HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY by Douglas Adams
  • THE DIVINERS by Libba Bray
  • DARK VISIONS by L.J. Smith
... so many and that's only like the top six. I'm working on it.

If you decide to do the tag, please link it in the comments so I can stop by and read!



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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

If You Loved That, You'll Love This - Korean Edition with Axie Oh + GIVEAWAY: Win 5 Copies of Rebel Seoul!

Another round of recommendations! This time I had the pleasure of hosting Axie Oh, author of the upcoming YA Sci-Fi REBEL SEOUL, pitched as Pacific Rim meets Korean drama. 

Hi everyone! Excited to share some of my favorite Korean American and Korean authors with you in this awesome Bookavid feature. I really enjoyed “f/f recommendations with Julia Ember”, so very thrilled to be invited! Here we go:




If you love Daniel José Older's SHADOWSHAPER
Then you'll love Ellen Oh's PROPHECY

Both of these books are fast-paced adventures with courageous heroines chasing after their destinies. They're rooted strongly in their settings—modern Brooklyn in SHADOWSHAPER and ancient Korea in PROPHECY. And each integrates culture into their world building in both a macro- and micro- level. For example, with PROPHECY, on a macro-level, it’s set in a fantasy Korea and has Korean names and places. But on a micro-level the details are distinct and specific. The rhythm of the language, the interactions between the characters, who the characters are—their desires and fears—all contribute to building a world that feels like ancient Korea (but with magic)!

If you love  Jenny Han's TO ALL THE BOYS I'VE LOVED BEFORE
Then you'll love Maurene Goo's I BELIEVE IN A THING CALLED LOVE

This pairing might be a little obvious, but I can't help myself! Other than having very long (adorable) titles, both of these books are feel good contemporaries with realistic high school experiences and just the right amount of K-drama flair to give it that extra *gochujang (this was a really bad joke, sorry). Both books were featured on the popular Korean drama blog DRAMABEANS, here and here, because of their fun homage to K-dramas. Definitely two books close to my heart.

If you love Neil Gaiman’s TRIGGER WARNING
Then you'll love Yoon Ha Lee’s CONSERVATION OF SHADOWS

CONSERVATION OF SHADOWS may very well be my favorite short story collection. Like Gaiman, Lee's writing is literary, weird, gorgeous and imaginative. My favorite short story in this collection, “Effigy Nights,” was a 2014 nominee for the World Fantasy Award for Best Short Story. The story itself is…indescribable, but in short, it’s about a city of artisans under attack by enemy starships. The only way for them to repel the attack is by summoning soldiers from books of legend by cutting them out from paper with scissors. Amazing, right? Other elements in his short stories include: mecha, necromancy, Korean history, mathematics and black holes.


If you love Lauren Oliver’s DELIRIUM
Then you'll love Gabrielle Zevin’s ALL THESE THINGS I'VE DONE

Both of these books are literary dystopias with great characters and writing. Like DELIRIUM, the world in ALL THESE THINGS I’VE DONE is similar to our own but for one disparate element i.e. love is outlawed in the world of DELIRIUM and chocolate is outlawed in the world of ATTID. Both books are written like contemporaries, but that added element gives them a fantasy-edge to keep things interesting. I've been a fan of Zevin's work since high school, but ATTID is a personal favorite. It’s set in a run-down New York where chocolate (the drug of choice) is outlawed. The heroine of the novel, Anya Balanchine, is the heiress to New York’s most notorious crime family. At the same time, she’s juggling Catholic school and nursing a flirtation with the new assistant DA’s son.


If you love Erin Morgenstern’s THE NIGHT CIRCUS 
Then you'll love Ha Il-Kwon’s ANNARASUMANARA

ANNARASUMANARA is a webtoon set in Korea about Yun Ai, an 11th grade student whose hardships have left her embittered. Still, as a young girl, she used to want to be a magician. When she stumbles upon an abandoned circus, a mysterious magician appears before her and asks, “Do you believe in magic?” The story goes from there and it’s enchanting.

Both THE NIGHT CIRCUS and ANNARASUMANARA follow a loose plot with gorgeous imagery (visual and textual images in the case of ANNARASUMANARA). They both center in and around a circus and are told in vignette-like chapters. The main difference is that THE NIGHT CIRCUS is fantasy, while ANNARASUMANARA is magical realism.




Axie Oh is a first generation Korean American, born in NYC and raised in New Jersey. She studied Korean history and creative writing as an undergrad at the University of California – San Diego and is currently pursuing an MFA at Lesley University in Writing for Young People. Her passions include K-pop, anime, stationery supplies, and milk tea. She currently resides in Las Vegas, Nevada with her puppy, Toro.
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REBEL SEOUL, out on September 15th 2017 with Tu Books

"After a great war, the East Pacific is in ruins. In brutal Neo Seoul, where status comes from success in combat, ex-gang member Lee Jaewon is a talented pilot rising in the ranks of the academy. Abandoned as a kid in the slums of Old Seoul by his rebel father, Jaewon desires only to escape his past and prove himself a loyal soldier of the Neo State.

When Jaewon is recruited into the most lucrative weapons development division in Neo Seoul, he is eager to claim his best shot at military glory. But the mission becomes more complicated when he meets Tera, a test subject in the government’s supersoldier project. Tera was trained for one purpose: to pilot one of the lethal God Machines, massive robots for a never-ending war.

With secret orders to report on Tera, Jaewon becomes Tera’s partner, earning her reluctant respect. But as respect turns to love, Jaewon begins to question his loyalty to an oppressive regime that creates weapons out of humans. As the project prepares to go public amidst rumors of a rebellion, Jaewon must decide where he stands—as a soldier of the Neo State, or a rebel of the people.

Pacific Rim meets Korean action dramas in this mind-blowing, New Visions Award-winning science fiction debut."

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N


a Rafflecopter giveaway What's your favorite read by a Korean author OR with Korean characters?




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Monday, July 10, 2017

[Review] Last Seen - Lucy Clarke: Seaside Towns and Disappearances

In LAST SEEN, seven years ago the sons of best friends Sarah and Isla disappeared, only one of them returned, and on the anniversary of the tragedy, the other one disappears.

What intrigued me: Was in the mood for a thriller.

Beautiful Writing

LAST SEEN is a very character-driven, super slow book. It's essentially a psychological, a little dark drama involving family secrets. Clarke's writing is beautiful and lyrical, reminds me a lot of Brunonia Barry's actually, which is definitely a compliment. 

There is something dreamy and magical about the way she paints this seaside town and the prose absolutely creates an uncanny atmosphere that makes LAST SEEN very unique. 

I struggled a lot with LAST SEEN, a lot of the plot is reliant on you listening carefully when backstories get unravelled one by one, and I just couldn't bring up enough of an attention span for the dozens of flashbacks and monologues. Unfortunately, this is one of those subjective things that inevitably always make me lose interest in books. I was looking for something more fast-paced, and this is absolutely not what LAST SEEN is. Regardless, the mystery at the core of the story surely is interesting and I do see a lot of people enjoying this, but subjectively, it wasn't my thing.

Very Character-Driven

I guess you have to have a knick for Adult fiction that's more on the women's fiction side than the thriller side to enjoy this, which is certainly not a bad thing. Especially because of the multiple POVs I struggled to establish the very essential connection to the protagonists that you inevitably need to even remotely care for the story. 

I just wasn't invested in Isla's or Sarah's struggles. I really, really deeply struggled to empathize with their friendship and their worries. A lot of the story is spent establishing how their friendship developed in the wake of the tragedies and you have to truly care about that in order to like LAST SEEN. It's more family drama and women's fiction than thriller. Maybe I was in the wrong mood when I picked this up, maybe it's just not my thing. 


Rating:

★★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

LAST SEEN is a beautifully written character-driven mystery set in a dreamy seaside town and I'm sure a lot of people will love this. This had a lot of things that I subjectively don't like in my thrillers, so this wasn't really for me.



Additional Info

Published: June 2017
Pages: 416
Publisher: Piper
Genre: Adult / Thriller
ISBN: 978-3-492-06027-1

Synopsis:
"In a small seaside community, there’s always somebody watching…

Twisty, pacy, and superbly plotted, Last Seen is the perfect psychological page-turner for fans of Clare Mackintosh and Sabine Durrant.

Seven years ago, two boys went missing at sea – and only one was brought to shore. The Sandbank, a remote stretch of coast dotted with beach huts, was scarred forever.

Sarah’s son survived, but on the anniversary of the accident, he disappears without trace. As new secrets begin to surface, The Sandbank hums with tension and unanswered questions. Sarah’s search grows more desperate and she starts to mistrust everyone she knows – and she’s right to.

Someone saw everything on that fateful day seven years ago. And they’ll do anything to keep the truth buried."
(Source: Goodreads)

What's your favorite thriller?



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Saturday, July 8, 2017

7 Tips for Organizing Your Review Index | Book Blogging Tips (#64)



As a book blogger it's essential to have a review index. If you don't have a page dedicated to all your reviews, you should definitely look into getting one. Here are all the ways to organize them and some tips.








#1: Don't just link to your tagged reviews page.
Nobody likes this and nobody will actually seek out more reviews you posted when you do this. There is no way of finding what you're looking for if you have one of these so PLEASE just make a review index.

#2: There are five (and more) ways to organize your review index.

Alphabetically - By Author - By Genre - By Rating - By Publisher

At the end of the day it comes down to personal preference which one you pick, but I suggest making at least(!) two different ones. My most viewed one is the one by genre and I tend to go for that usually when I'm looking at a new blog so if you only want to do one, that's a safe bet.

#3: Link back to your other pages if you have any.
For example, if you have an index for reviews by genre and reviews by authors, it's nice if you have a backlink at the top of the page that links to the respective other one. 

Your viewers will love you for having an index that's easy to navigate and nested page tabs at the top of your site sometimes don't work as well on all browsers (unless you've checked that!)

#4: Don't decorate.
Usually I always say you have to decorate your posts with something, whether it's pictures, graphics, or simply using italic, bold, and different font sizes. Your review index isn't the place for this. It has to be a very plain page that simply does the job when someone is looking for a specific review. I'd even say be careful with using bigger fonts. 

Sometimes it's nice when you want to distinguish the individual letters, but please don't put every single review in a giant font so that your index will lose the classic list look that absolutely works best for your viewers.

#5: Periodically check if the links work.
Sometimes I go back to randomly click on some of my reviews in my index and see if they link correctly. It happens a lot that you'll end up changing the date of a scheduled review and forget changing the link on your index page. 

#6: Don't sort by date!!!!
This is super unhelpful for anyone who's looking for something specific. You can't have a review index only listed by date published - this tells the average reader who's never been on your blog exactly zilch about where to find that specific review you did that they've been looking for. Nothing's more frustrating than having to click ctrl+f on a blog and manually search for a review because the blogger did a crappy job with their index. 

#7: Link to your index.
I can't believe I have to say this, but why do all the work if you don't have it in a tab at the top of your page? This isn't negotiable, it HAS to be in a tab that every reader immediately sees. Putting in a sidebar makes it difficult to find and most people don't even look at sidebars in general. So please. 


At the end of the day it's your own decision how you want to organize your index and as I always say - my suggestions are nothing more than tips and by no means a "do it my way or don't do it at all" guide. 

Do you have some more tips for organizing your review index? How is yours organized?


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