Book Rec: Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo

Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo
If you liked... I Hear You; The Liar and His Lover; You're Beautiful

Premise: Roman Holiday meets K-pop set in Hong Kong. If you’ve seen Roman Holiday, that should say it all, but if you haven’t, the story is about a whirlwind day that Jack and K-pop star Lucky spend exploring Hong Kong, falling for each other along the way.
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I’ve suggested a comparison to the dramas listed above because they all have themes of hidden identity, take place in the music industry, and/or feature a main couple that finds themselves spending a lot of time with a stranger.

My Spoiler-Free Review

Somewhere Only We Know is a fun, contemporary YA novel about two teens finding their paths in life and trying not to lose themselves in the process. Lucky’s perspective showed the struggles of a pop star trying to stay true to her dreams. As a big K-pop fan, I love that it sheds some light specifically on what it’s like to be a K-pop star. On the other hand, Jack is a Korean American teenager figuring out what path he wants to take with his life and although his feelings are relatable, some of his actions are questionable. (But hey, teens aren’t perfect and need time to figure things out.)

I loved the Hong Kong setting—I’ve never been but I hope to make a trip in the near future! The food scenes made me so hungry and were one of my favorite parts. I only wish that perhaps the novel had ended differently. I liked the ending of Roman Holiday and thought it felt more realistic.
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Book Rec: Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

Descendant of the Crane by Joan He
If you liked... Nirvana in Fire

This Chinese-inspired young adult novel reminded me of Chinese historical dramas with a touch of magic.

Premise: When Princess Hesina of Yan’s father suddenly dies, she must take the throne and quell unrest in the kingdom. Hesina turns to illegal methods to find out the truth about how her father died, and initiates a trial that leads to devastating consequences.
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My Spoiler-Free Review

Descendant of the Crane is about a power struggle and a kingdom that has a complicated history with magic, but it’s also a coming-of-age story. Hesina is just a young woman trying to come to terms with her father’s death while finding herself entrusted with immense responsibility. She’s understandably overwhelmed. There are complicated family relationships, and I loved Hesina’s relationship with each character, her grouchy brother the general, her intimidating mother, and her adopted siblings who are her closest friends.

It does take Descendant of the Crane a while to find its rhythm, but I loved the Chinese-inspired setting. It truly reminded me of watching a Chinese historical drama. The thrilling courtroom scenes and secret plotting brought to mind my favorite Chinese drama, Nirvana in Fire, and its cunning strategist. If you’ve always wanted to read a book reminiscent of a Chinese historical drama, give Descendant of the Crane a try!

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Book Rec: Wicked Fox by Kat Cho

Wicked Fox by Kat Cho
If you liked... Goblin, aka Guardian: The Lonely and Great God
I absolutely loved Kat Cho’s new young adult novel, Wicked Fox (titled Gumiho: Wicked Fox internationally) and especially recommend it for K-drama lovers.

Premise: Miyoung is an eighteen-year old gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who feeds off human energy. In the process of saving the life of a human boy, Jihoon, Miyoung loses her fox bead and must find a way to put it back before it’s too late.

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My (Spoiler-Free) Review

I loved the way Wicked Fox blends Korean folklore with a modern-day Seoul setting and coming-of-age experiences. There are shaman and goblins, as well as school bullies, difficult relationships with parents, and delicious descriptions of food. Miyoung struggles with the morality of her existence as a gumiho, but she’s also a relatable teenage girl who learns to open up to friendship for the first time. There are plenty of lovable supporting characters, and Junu is my favorite. If you loved the drama Goblin, aka Guardian: The Lonely and Great God, then you’ll probably love Junu, too!

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