Book Review: Made in Korea by Sarah Suk – K-Beauty and K-Pop Come Head-to-Head in this Delightful Rivals-to-Lovers YA Rom-Com

Blurb:

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.

I was provided an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Reading Made in Korea felt like a balm to the soul. There is something so satisfying about reading a romantic contemporary that just hits all the good spots: great storytelling, a rivals-to-lovers romance that I absolutely adored and rooted for, a cast of characters that were all flawed yet earnestly human, and nestled in between a tender story about ambition, identity, and acceptance from family.

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Book Review: Pawcasso by Remy Lai – A Heartfelt and Gorgeous Graphic Novel about Paw-esome Dogs, Community, and Kindness

Blurb:

Pawcasso is a basket-toting dog who does his family’s grocery shopping on his own. When 11-year-old Jo is mistaken as his owner by a group of kids, she goes along with the lie in the hopes of making new friends. Soon the town becomes divided over whether Pawcasso should be allowed to roam free, and Jo worries that her lies will be exposed—and endanger Pawcasso and her new friendships.

I was provided an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

If you have followed me for awhile, then you will know that I love everything that Remy Lai has written. From her tender and hilarious story about cakes and grief to her fun and poignant story about family and flying, Remy’s stories are undeniably full of heart and humour. I’m delighted to share that Remy’s latest book, Pawcasso, her new middle-grade graphic novel, is no exception!

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Book Review: Between Perfect and Real by Ray Stoeve – An Affirming and Personal Debut about Coming Out and Coming into the Person You Were Meant to Be

Between Perf
Blurb:

Dean Foster knows he’s a trans guy. He’s watched enough YouTube videos and done enough questioning to be sure. But everyone at his high school thinks he’s a lesbian—including his girlfriend Zoe, and his theater director, who just cast him as a “nontraditional” Romeo. He wonders if maybe it would be easier to wait until college to come out. But as he plays Romeo every day in rehearsals, Dean realizes he wants everyone to see him as he really is now––not just on the stage, but everywhere in his life. Dean knows what he needs to do. Can playing a role help Dean be his true self? 

When I finished Between Perfect and Real in one sitting, I think I just held this book to my chest and whispered to myself: this book is going to save lives. What a stunning, earnest, and affirming book Between Perfect and Real is. I loved this book whole-heartedly, and it is a fantastic addition to young adult trans literature that speaks to its vulnerable yet powerful personal truth.

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Book Review: Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury – A Dark and Compelling Urban Fantasy About Witches, Family, the Price of Magic, and Love

Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury
Blurb:

After years of waiting for her Calling—a trial every witch must pass in order to come into their powers—the one thing Voya Thomas didn’t expect was to fail. When Voya’s ancestor gives her an unprecedented second chance to complete her Calling, she agrees—and then is horrified when her task is to kill her first love. And this time, failure means every Thomas witch will be stripped of their magic.

Voya is determined to save her family’s magic no matter the cost. The problem is, Voya has never been in love, so for her to succeed, she’ll first have to find the perfect guy—and fast. Fortunately, a genetic matchmaking program has just hit the market. Her plan is to join the program, fall in love, and complete her task before the deadline. What she doesn’t count on is being paired with the infuriating Luc—how can she fall in love with a guy who seemingly wants nothing to do with her?

With mounting pressure from her family, Voya is caught between her morality and her duty to her bloodline. If she wants to save their heritage and Luc, she’ll have to find something her ancestor wants more than blood. And in witchcraft, blood is everything. 

I was provided an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

‘Woah’ was the word that escaped my mouth when I finished this. Because holy smokes, Blood Like Magic is truly unlike any book that I have read before. With its fascinating take on a not-so-distant futurism blended with witches, a story that explores how far you would go to save your family, the price we pay for love, and the looming question of ‘if you had to sacrifice your first love to save your family, would you?’, Blood Like Magic is undeniably compelling and fascinating. I had such a wonderful time with this book, and I’m excited to share with you all my thoughts on this book.

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Book Review: Gearbreakers by Zoe Hana Mikuta – As Vicious as a Serrated Blade; a Queer Mecha-Dystopia about Identity, Love, and Teens in a Futile War

Gearbreakers
Blurb:

We went past praying to deities and started to build them instead...

The shadow of Godolia’s tyrannical rule is spreading, aided by their giant mechanized weapons known as Windups. War and oppression are everyday constants for the people of the Badlands, who live under the thumb of their cruel Godolia overlords.

Eris Shindanai is a Gearbreaker, a brash young rebel who specializes in taking down Windups from the inside. When one of her missions goes awry and she finds herself in a Godolia prison, Eris meets Sona Steelcrest, a cybernetically enhanced Windup pilot. At first Eris sees Sona as her mortal enemy, but Sona has a secret: She has intentionally infiltrated the Windup program to destroy Godolia from within.

As the clock ticks down to their deadliest mission yet, a direct attack to end Godolia’s reign once and for all, Eris and Sona grow closer–as comrades, friends, and perhaps something more…

I was provided an eARC from the publicist in exchange for an honest review.

Gearbreakers by Zoe Hana Mikuta was one of my most anticipated books of 2021. Give me a story about mecha god-like machines that shake the earth, angry queer girls, and enemies-to-lovers, and I will probably be first in line to read it. Though Gearbreakers was not quite what I expected, I ultimately enjoyed this action-packed story, primarily for its unexpectedly compelling and evocative themes.

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