Book Review: Once Upon a K-Prom by Kat Cho – An Adorable Childhood Friends-to-Lovers Romance and a Tribute to K-Pop and its Stars

Blurb:

Elena Soo has always felt overshadowed. Whether by her more successful older sisters, her more popular twin brother, or her more outgoing best friend, everyone except Elena seems to know exactly who they are and what they want. But she is certain about one thing – she has no interest in going to prom. While the rest of the school is giddy over corsages and dresses, Elena would rather spend her time working to save the local community center, the one place that’s always made her feel like she belonged.

So when international K-pop superstar Robbie Choi shows up at her house to ask her to prom, Elena is more confused than ever. Because the one person who always accepted Elena as she is? Her childhood best friend, Robbie Choi. And the one thing she maybe, possibly, secretly wants more than anything? For the two of them to keep the promise they made each other as kids: to go to prom together. But that was seven years ago, and with this new K-pop persona, pink hair, and stylish clothes, Robbie is nothing like the sweet, goofy boy she remembers. The boy she shared all her secrets with. The boy she used to love.

Besides, prom with a guy who comes with hordes of screaming fans, online haters, and relentless paparazzi is the last thing Elena wants – even if she can’t stop thinking about Robbie’s smile…right?

I was provided a review copy by the publisher in an exchange for an honest review.

Readers who love stories that have K-Pop and are about K-Pop stars: Once Upon a K-Prom is a must-read for you. The story follows Korean-American teen Elena, who would rather spend her money saving the local community centre than going to something as silly as a prom. One day, her childhood sweetheart Robbie appears at her door, following up on his promise that he made to her as children – except she hasn’t seen Robbie since they were ten years old and now he’s one of the hottest K-Pop stars in the world.

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Book Review: Tokyo Dreaming by Emiko Jean – Princess Izumi Returns in this Fantastic and Emotionally Nuanced Sequel

Blurb:

When Japanese-American Izumi Tanaka learned her father was the Crown Prince of Japan, she became a princess overnight. Now, she’s overcome conniving cousins, salacious press, and an imperial scandal to finally find a place she belongs. She has a perfect bodyguard turned boyfriend. Her stinky dog, Tamagotchi, is living with her in Tokyo. Her parents have even rekindled their college romance and are engaged. A royal wedding is on the horizon! Izumi’s life is a Tokyo dream come true.

Only…

Her parents’ engagement hits a brick wall. The Imperial Household Council refuses to approve the marriage citing concerns about Izumi and her mother’s lack of pedigree. And on top of it all, her bodyguard turned boyfriend makes a shocking decision about their relationship. At the threat of everything falling apart, Izumi vows to do whatever it takes to help win over the council. Which means upping her newly acquired princess game.

But at what cost? Izumi will do anything to help her parents achieve their happily ever after, but what if playing the perfect princess means sacrificing her own? Will she find a way to forge her own path and follow her heart?

Note: The following review contains spoilers to Tokyo Ever After.

Tokyo Ever After was one of my favourite books of last year – a gorgeous story that fulfilled every Princess Diaries-esque dream that I had and made me giddy with joy. Tokyo Dreaming, the sequel, follow Izumi once more as she continues to navigate the challenges of being a princess of Japan. With her family now all together, the life that she always dreamed is now within her fingertips – until her parents’ engagement hits a brick wall when The Imperial Household Council refuses to approve of their marriage. Determined to win over the council and to ensure her parents’ own happily ever after, Izumi decides to up her princess game – but at what cost?

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Pondathon II: Presenting the Pondathon Garden Showcase!

Pondathon II is a year-long gardening-themed readathon hosted by The Quiet Pond! Help us restore the forest by reading to earn plants and decorate your own garden. For more information about Pondathon, read our Readathon Information Post or check out our Pondathon II Portal.

The story:

There seems to be some pomp and circumstance at the Pond today. A sign welcoming visitors has been erected, flowers of all colours line the pathway, and it looks like the Pond friends seem to be wearing their best!

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Book Review: Hell Followed With Us by Andrew Joseph White – Critical, Angry, and Teeth-Bared; a Post-Apocalyptic Horror about Religious Trauma and Queer Rage

Hell Followe
Blurb:

Prepare to die. His kingdom is near.

Sixteen-year-old trans boy Benji is on the run from the cult that raised him—the fundamentalist sect that unleashed Armageddon and decimated the world’s population. Desperately, he searches for a place where the cult can’t get their hands on him, or more importantly, on the bioweapon they infected him with.

But when cornered by monsters born from the destruction, Benji is rescued by a group of teens from the local Acheson LGBTQ+ Center, affectionately known as the ALC. The ALC’s leader, Nick, is gorgeous, autistic, and a deadly shot, and he knows Benji’s darkest secret: the cult’s bioweapon is mutating him into a monster deadly enough to wipe humanity from the earth once and for all.

Still, Nick offers Benji shelter among his ragtag group of queer teens, as long as Benji can control the monster and use its power to defend the ALC. Eager to belong, Benji accepts Nick’s terms…until he discovers the ALC’s mysterious leader has a hidden agenda, and more than a few secrets of his own.

A furious, queer debut novel about embracing the monster within and unleashing its power against your oppressors. Perfect for fans of Gideon the Ninth and Annihilation.

I received a digital advanced readers copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Hell Followed with Us is queer rage incarnate. This post-apocalyptic horror YA delves into religious trauma and queer survival that is all at once terrifying, furious, yet emotional. Set in the distant future, Hell Followed with Us follows trans boy Benji as he escapes the fundamentalist cult that raised him and destroyed the world and its population. After he is rescued by a group of queer teens who have made a home in the local LGBTQ+ Centre, Benji must keep his terrible secret: that the cult has infected him with a bioweapon that is mutating him into a monster powerful enough to destroy the world once and for all.

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