ARC Review: Somewhere Only We Know

Title: Somewhere Only We Know

Author: Maurene Goo

Rating: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

Publication Date: May 7, 2019

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Hello, my loves! A quick update on life before I start the review. You may have noticed I’ve been away for a bit, well on my birthday, my friend and I decided we are going to make a spontaneous trip…… to THAILAND!! And the best part is it’s for a BTS concert. Are you seeing today’s theme is Kpop?

It’s been a while since I’ve read contemporary… like a LONG time. Seriously think the last real one was the Fault in Our Stars??? But this year I’ve read 2! I’ve never been a romance kinda gal, but friends….. I ADORED THIS BOOK. Seriously, it was over and I just wanted to immediately buy all of Maurene Goo’s books. (Stupid spending ban) Am I into contemporary books now? 2019 is really shaping up to be the year of new books. New Year, New Me.

So what is Somewhere Only We Know about…

Lucky/Fern: an up and coming Korean-American idol. At 18, she’s just finished her last concert in Hong Kong after a long Asian tour. Her next stop is to come to America for American debut that hopefully wins her some new fans. She loves to perform and sing, but lately has been just going through the motions. Although she is originally from America, she moved at a young age to Seoul to pursue a music career. She has a very clean record and has not been involved in any scandals. Lucky is her stage name.

Jack: an 18 old Korean-American, who moved with his family to Hong Kong just a few years ago. He’s just graduated from high school and is taking a gap year, working for his father’s bank. He has a passion for photography but doesn’t think his parents would approve of him going to school for it. He also moonlights as a tabloid photographer, photographing all the dirt he can find on famous people.

Lucky’s search for a hamburger is what brings these two characters together in Hong Kong. Think Roman Holiday in Hong Kong. Both Jack and Lucky have secrets they are keeping from each other but still managed to have a fun 24 hours together filled with food, a little romance, Hong Kong scenery and more food.

“Jack, there is actual goodness and badness, you know that right? Like there’s life that is quality and there’s a life that is….empty.”

This was a joy to read from the very beginning. I’m a huge fan of Kpop (BTS FOR LIFE) so I was already really excited for this to come out. But it was the growth in characters that really sold me. Told from both Jack and Lucky’s perspective, I thought this was a really cool premise. Two polar opposite characters spend a fun-filled day together and help each other become better versions of themselves.

It’s hard to write a book based on a mostly 24-hour time window, and Maurene does a wonderful job. It’s paced so well that I kept forgetting this was all happening in such one day. The setting of Hong Kong leaps off the page as the author is very descriptive with the sights, tastes of Hong Kong. Was Hong Kong on my list of places to visit…yes. But now it’s at the top of the list of places I would like to visit.

I really liked Somewhere Only We Know. I thought it had a cute plot, precious characters and a setting I would kill to be in right now. 2019 is the year I read other genres besides just fantasy and comics, lol. Is this the best contemporary book I’ve ever read, who knows. But I enjoyed it and I think a lot of people will all enjoy this incredibly cute story.

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

ARC Review: A Curse So Dark and Lonely

Title: A Curse So Dark and Lonely

Author: Brigid Kemmerer

Rating: β˜…β˜…β˜…

Publication Date: February 5,2019

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A Curse So Dark and Lonely is a modern retelling of the Beauty and the Beast. It features a much darker story then the old classic. With the “beast” being cursed to repeat the same three months over and over until he find the person to fall in love with him. After three hundred seasons and countless bloodshed, this is finally

Friends, I gotta be honest. I completely forgot what this book was about until I started reading it. I’m not the biggest fan of Beauty and the Beast retellings, but I have read some good ones in recent years. I was really excited to read this book, but it was just so so for me.

“Failure isn’t absolute. Just because you couldn’t save everyone doesn’t mean you didn’t save anyone.”

Harper is from DC and she’s had a Rough β„’life. Her mother is dying of cancer and her family cannot afford medical treatments. Her brother, Jake is forced to work for the crime lords to just scrape by. Harper also has Cerebral Palsy. Based on my own personal experiences with this disability and the story itself, its given that Harper is a little more high functioning. She was a pretty cool character, who stuck to her guns and just wanted to make sure her family was safe. She was badass and had no problem telling anyone off including the prince.

Rhen is pretty much over everything and it shows. Reminded me of Rhys a bit from The Court Series. Every time a girl doesn’t fall in love with him, he turns into a different beast and no one is safe from him.

Grey was my dude. Probably my fave character. Loyal to a fault, he is the only one left with Rhen and has seen what happens after every single season. He is also given the ability to travel between the worlds and kidnaps the girls for each season.

The problem I always have with Beauty and the Beast retellings is someone is still kidnapped and held against their will. What made this book so interesting was that Harper was not the intended target, it was a mistake for her to be taken. And so she is already beyond apprehensive about Rhen and Grey and the whole curse. It made Harper’s relationships with both men more realistic and I appreciated it.

“We are not always presented with the choices we want, but choices exist nonetheless.”

My favorite part of this whole book was the theme of choice. Y’all know I love Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier and damn, Rhen and Bucky would be self-loathing best friends for sure. Rhen has been cursed by Lilith and in turn, has killed many people close to him. Harper has had to watch her mother slowly deteriorate and her brother does questionable things. But sometimes things are out of our control. Yes, there are choices we can make, but sometimes it doesn’t matter what is chosen, things still happen.

Overall, I didn’t hate this and I didn’t absolutely love it either. A Curse So Dark and Lonely is a LONG book and sometimes you really felt how long. Some things were a little cliched and Lilith showing up was just annoying sometimes. The ending felt rushed and scrambled, but I saw this isn’t standalone. So maybe I’ll like the second one a little better.

But while I wasn’t the biggest of fans for this book. I can see how some people would really enjoy this. This still had some cool twists and turns and was a good retelling of a beloved classic.

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The Girl in the Tower (The Winternight Trilogy #2) by Katherine Arden


β€œYou are immortal, and perhaps I seem small to you,” she said at last fiercely. β€œBut my life is not your game.”

Title: The Girl in the Tower (The Winternight Trilogy #2)

Author: Katherine Arden

Rating: β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

Publication Date: December 5, 2017

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  1. The Bear and the Nightingale  β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…

The Bear and the Nightingale is one of my favorite books so of course, I was beyond excited to reread The Girl in the Tower. If Bear and the Nightingale is a breathtaking fairy tale, than The Girl in the Tower is an epic adventure. 

The Girl in the Tower picks up right where The Bear and the Nightingale ended. Vasya needs to make a choice: go to the convent or marry. But for Vasya, she chooses a third option: travel the world with Solovey. But it’s hard to travel as an unmarried female, so Vasya travels disguised as a boy. Although Vasya enjoys the freedom, she is still grieving the loss of her father. It is hard to travel alone and soon Vasya runs into people who need her help. Unable to do anything but help others in need, Vasya is once again put back into society. 

Vasya then crosses paths with her older brother Sasha, who had become a monk and her sister Olga, who has married a prince and has a family of her own. Meeting her siblings unexpectedly forces Vasya to keep up the disguise of being a boy. This creates some tension for Vasya and her older siblings who have also not seen her in over 10 years.

Most of this story takes place in Moscow and it is very much different from the life Vasya is used to in the wilderness of Northern Russia. The kind creatures she has been so used to are powerless in the more modern world of Moscow. Vaysa has yet to find out what her disguise means for her siblings and their lives in Moscow. Betrayal is coming and Vasya will soon discover the city is not at all as it seems.

“I did not know I was lonely, she thought, until I was no longer alone.”

Once again I found myself really connected to the story because of three things: the characters arcs, the setting and the overall themes of the story.

This series has some of the best characters, I’ve ever read.  While Bear and the Nightingale had Vasya growing physically, Girl in the Tower has Vasya growing emotionally. I think her growth as a character really shined in this sequel. We see Vasya struggle with her loneliness, her family and a new city. She discovers her lies and half-truths have real consequences to her, her family and for Moscow.

But it’s not just Vasya, Katherine Arden is able to create a beautiful world filled with some of the most interesting characters. Not a single character is wasted in terms of development. We get more frost demon, Morozko!! With his much bigger role, Morozko was able to give us great balance to Vasya’s wildfire spirit. We learn more about him and his motives for always coming to Vasya’s aid. 

“Every time you take one path, you must live with the memory of the other: of a life left unchosen.”

It’s been two months since I read this last, and I already want to read it again. The setting for this sequel has changed a little, with us being in Moscow. But it’s still just as atmospheric. You feel how old and new Moscow is to Vasya. Rich and descriptive, you will think you are actually transported into the world Katherine Arden has created.

β€œDo you think that is all I want, in all my lifeβ€” a royal dowry, and a man to force his children into me”

The Themes!!! Vasya is the biggest feminist, ahead of her time.  She has never tried to follow social norms and her clear want for freedom is so prevalent in Girl in the Tower. This whole series is about a girl who refuses to conform to gender roles and just wants to travel. I mean what an icon. She knew traveling would be hard for a women, so she disguises herself as a boy. She risked her life to save other girls who had been kidnapped. Vasilisa Petrovna’s entire character is wrapped around this theme of gender roles and social norms. It’s what makes her a great protagonist. She’s independent, strong-willed. She’s not afraid to fail and she does fail a lot in this book. She knows the risks of being unwed, but it’s worth it to her to find her own happiness.

“A woman married. Or she became a nun. Or she died. That was what being a women meant. What then, was she?”

Her step-mother acted as a foil for Vasya’s attitude towards magic and tradition. But in this sequel, it’s her sister who acts as the foil. The opposites of having a family vs wanting to be free. While Olga misses some of her freedoms, she does understand her sense of duty to her family and her role as a woman. Whereas, Vasya clearly wants to be free of the burdens of being married. I absolutely love the way Arden uniquely, creates tension between the sisters centered on this plot device. Honestly, I could talk about Vasya until I’m blue in the face.

This series, this book, these characters mean everything to me. If there’s one series I wish I could reread over again for the first time, it’s this one. Do yourself some self-care and pick up this book. Come fall in love with a frost demon, a talking horse, and a girl who just wants freedom.

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