Book Review: XOXO by Axie Oh

Release Date: 13 Jul 2021

Description

Jenny’s never had much time for boys, K-pop, or really anything besides her dream of being a professional cellist. But when she finds herself falling for a K-pop idol, she has to decide whether their love is worth the risk. A modern forbidden romance wrapped in the glamorous and exclusive world of K-pop, XOXO is perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Maurene Goo.

Jenny didn’t get to be an award-winning, classically trained cellist without choosing practice over fun. That is, until the night she meets Jaewoo. Mysterious, handsome, and just a little bit tormented, Jaewoo is exactly the kind of distraction Jenny would normally avoid. And yet, she finds herself pulled into spending an unforgettable evening wandering Los Angeles with him on the night before his flight home to South Korea.

With Jaewoo an ocean away, there’s no use in dreaming of what could have been. But when Jenny and her mother move to Seoul to take care of her ailing grandmother, who does she meet at the elite arts academy she’s just been accepted to? Jaewoo.

Finding the dreamy stranger who swept you off your feet in your homeroom is one thing, but Jaewoo isn’t just any student. Turns out, Jaewoo is a member of one of the biggest K-pop bands in the world. And like most K-pop idols, Jaewoo is strictly forbidden from dating anyone.

When a relationship means not only jeopardizing her place at her dream music school but also endangering everything Jaewoo’s worked for, Jenny has to decide once and for all just how much she’s willing to risk for love. XOXO is a new romance that proves chasing your dreams doesn’t have to mean sacrificing your heart, from acclaimed author Axie Oh. 


My Review

Delightful book.

To me, it showed that what truly matters is universal. It crosses cultural boundaries. These are: Family. Friends. Hope. Love. Themes that I love in books.

The story is fast past, and does give you enough to feel complete. But it also makes you want to read about the other characters.

I received an ARC from the publisher. (Thank you!)


Let’s Chat Books

Now I’m going to bring up other books. (After all, this is a book blog. You might want to check these out too! ) This book reminded me of some other books I’ve read. For one, for a girl who is into classical music who runs into a successful pop star, there is Buxton Peaks by Julie Spencer. In XOXO, Jenny Go is an aspiring cellist. The pop star is Jaewoo. Just like in Buxton Peaks, Jenny has no knowledge of who the celebrity is. Yet, during the course of meeting him, and falling in love with him, she’ll come to know and love his music. This is probably a common theme in celebrity romance novels.

As for Kpop/Kdrama books, I thought of Jennie Bennett’s charming romances. In XOXO, Jae Woo runs away for a moment and meets our female leading lady In Runaway Pop Star, we have the same thing happening. And I enjoyed how this book made me think of other good books I have read.

For traveling to Korea, and a short whirlwind romance, I also thought of Flower Boy Tour Guide by Shannon Kent.

Again, these are delightful books. If you like Axie Oh, you’ll enjoy these too.

Remember, LOVE is UNIVERSAL! It transcends cultures. It is a powerful uniting force.

New Release: Runaway Pop-Star by Jennie Bennett

 

Jackie Bartell has always loved Take5’s Jax, but the pop star has been missing for over a year. When playing a gig with her ska band near the Santa Monica Pier, she spots Jax listening at the back of the room. Dropping her trumpet, she runs after him. As much as she tries to catch up, she can’t match his speed and soon he crosses the busy highway, begging her not to follow.
Several months later, Jackie walks into a local music shop to apply for a job and finds herself face to face with Jax once more. This time, she manages to keep her cool, and Jax doesn’t seem to recognize her with a new haircut and color.
With her passion for music and a kind heart, she nails the interview and her biggest dream comes true—getting to spend every day with her favorite pop-star. She only wants his friendship, but Jax’s flirtations grow stronger as time passes, and Jackie can’t resist his charm.
Everything would be fairy-tale perfect, except for the lie she keeps of Jax’s identity. With their relationship growing stronger every day, Jackie must decide between honesty and love.


My Review:

Once again, Jennie Bennett delivers a cute romantic comedy.   The  story had flawed characters that grow during the tale. A few times I had to shake my head at Jackie’s antics, or at the conclusions she came to. But Jax was equally flawed. This makes them real. And it’s each other that brings about the best in each other, and it makes you really root for them.If you like sweet young adult romances, I recommend this book. It will have you smiling and laughing all the way to the end.


Temporarily  on sale for 99 cents! Grab your copy today!

New Release: Barefoot Seouls

Tired of trying to make it in LA, Heather North jumps at the opportunity to teach English in Seoul. But the land of kimchi and hanboks proves problematic when she unexpectedly finds herself jobless, homeless, and friendless in a foreign country.

Enters Hwa Yoon Joon, a young man Heather met at LAX and who wants her to teach him acting lessons. This is something Heather could do, especially if it helped her with her other problems. But in his youthful enthusiasm to get training he had to lie to his mother and manager that Heather is his American girlfriend and sneak her into his own apartment, going against his contract, until he can find a better situation.

When Heather discovers that the cute Yoon is really a Kpop star she realizes that going against his “contract” has much bigger ramifications than he let on. Even being seen with him could jeopardize everything for him. She knows she has to leave him behind but she has nowhere else to go, and no one she would rather be with.


 

My Review:

This was  a darling little romantic comedy. From the moment Heather loses her shoes at the airport, she’s on a downward spiral of disaster. This is also when her Prince Charming, Yoon, steps in.

If you like sweet romance and a fairy tale happy ever after then this book is for your.


 

 

Chuseok Festival of Books

I remember the Scholastic Book Fair at school. It was one of my favorite events. (I also enjoyed browsing those book flyers.)

Chuseok is sometimes called the Korean Thanksgiving. It’s a three day major harvest festival holiday in the middle of August.

Our harvest here at the Roxbury is, of course, books.


First up, here is a title I first discovered on Wattpad. I remember laughing a lot.

priestess and the dragon

For five hundred years a vengeful dragon has been sealed in stone, until a princess makes a terrible mistake unleashing him to fulfill a destiny centuries in the making.

BUY ON AMAZON


This next one I haven’t read yet, but it is on my to be read list.

kitsune

Rin is a Kitsune, or at least she was until a witch’s spell turned her human. To regain her powers, Rin must make the lord’s son fall in love with her before the next full moon. She thought it would be easy, her kind have been seducing humans for centuries. But Hikaru is different. He’s handsome, intelligent, and kind –the opposite of everything she’s assumed about humans. The plan is to seduce him and get back her powers, there’s no room for love.

BUY ON AMAZON


Another book I discovered first on wattpad is by author JC Kang. His epic fantasy series infuses Chinese culture with elves and dragons.

songs of insurrection

Only the lost magic of Dragon Songs can save the realm. Only a naïve girl with the perfect voice can rediscover it.

Blessed with an unrivaled voice, Kaiya dreams of a time when music could summon typhoons and rout armies. Maybe then, the imperial court would see the awkward, gangly princess as more than a singing fool.

When members of the emperor’s elite spy clan uncover a brewing insurrection, the court hopes to appease the ringleader by offering Kaiya as a bride.

Obediently wedding the depraved rebel lord means giving up her music. Confronting him with the growing power of her voice could kill her.

BUY ON AMAZON


 

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Sometimes winning is everything.

Champion swimmer Aerin Keane is ready to give up her dreams of college swimming and a shot at the Olympics. As she starts senior year in her third high school, Aerin’s determined to leave her family troubles behind and be like all the other girls at Two Rivers. She’s got a new image and a new attitude. She doesn’t want to win anymore. She’s swimming for fun, no longer the freak who wins every race, every title, only to find herself alone.

But when her desire to be just one of the girls collides with her desire to be the best Two Rivers has ever seen, will Aerin sacrifice her new friendships to break a longstanding school record that comes with a $50,000 scholarship?

BUY ON AMAZON


And now for some of my favorites to enjoy on a nice autumn day.

A Stand-alone Novel from the BESTSELLING Kpop romance series.

Corrine Miller-Hayden has a secret. As captain of the cheer team and a Texas beauty queen, she wouldn’t dare tell anyone about her closet K-pop music obsession.

That is, until she runs into her Minji, her ultimate bias, at a fan gathering. She never dreamed she’d touch Minji, let alone accidentally take his phone.

When they meet again at a pep-rally, it’s not like Corrine imagined. She thought she’d be showing off, but instead she becomes the target of a dye-filled water balloon attack. Abby was supposed to be her best friend, not the girl who openly shamed her in front of the whole school.

Minji saves her, not only from embarrassment, but from her own stuck-up self.

Can she love Minji openly, and keep her fangirling a secret?

 


 

Fed up with a string of bad blind dates, health blogger Alyssa Wu wants to drown her sorrows in ice cream. But there’s one more evening she must endure—a fake date with her best friend Barry Chang. They must convince her family they’re in love, an act which may (or may not) be easy to pull off, thanks to the magic of some mistletoe.


Librarian Chloe McAlister finds solace in her books—and hats—but doesn’t know where to turn when her longtime crush gets engaged. On a whim, she signs up for a speed-dating mixer and convinces her best friend, Dill Thomas, to attend. All goes as planned until she realizes Dill means more to her than she thought … and he goes and falls for someone else.


 

When she was nine-years-old, Katie knew she wanted Chris to give her her first kiss. It wasn’t because she was in love with him (no way, he was her best friend! Besides, she was in love with his fourteen-year-old big brother), it was because she could make him do anything she wanted.

Besides, it didn’t really mean anything. It was only a kiss after all.


Twenty-four-year-old photographer’s apprentice Regina has always felt like the plain, dull orange next to the shiny red apple that is her best friend Lana. But then she meets Ben—the first guy to ever break Lana’s heart, and the first guy to ever make Regina feel that he only has eyes for her. As Regina finds herself falling hard for Ben, she also finds herself breaking all the rules of best-friendship. Will she give up the love of her life for Lana, or will she finally realize that she deserves her share of the spotlight, too?

When Sparks Fly can be read as a standalone novel, but it is also a prequel to Ines Bautista-Yao’s other book Only A Kiss.


Marianne Daventry will do anything to escape the boredom of Bath and the amorous attentions of an unwanted suitor. So when an invitation arrives from her twin sister, Cecily, to join her at a sprawling country estate, she jumps at the chance. Thinking she’ll be able to relax and enjoy her beloved English countryside while her sister snags the handsome heir of Edenbrooke, Marianne finds that even the best laid plans can go awry.


 

Lord Fenton is a gambler and a dandy, and he will be stripped of his wealth and position unless he rises to his responsibility—one of which is to marry. Far from being a giddy groom, Fenton chooses the unobjectionable Alice Stanbridge simply because he had known her as a young girl and his mother feels Alice would make a good wife.

Alice, however, has harbored feelings for Fenton since their first meeting years ago, and his proposal is a dream come true. Not only would a match with the most-eligible bachelor in London secure her future, but it will also give her a place of distinction and admiration. Had anyone admired Alice for anything before now?

When Alice learns that she is not only an unwanted wife, but a demanded one, however, she closes her heart. Only when Lord Fenton faces the greatest trial of his life does he begin to find love beyond the folly. Could a great love come from a beginning such as this?


 

When Persephone Lancaster receives a marriage proposal from the ill-tempered Duke of Kielder, she refuses—and then reconsiders. The obscene sum of money he’s offering Persephone would save her family from ruin. With her characteristic optimism, she travels to the far reaches of Northumberland to wed a greatly feared stranger. Lodged deep in a thick forest infested with wild dogs, the Duke’s castle is as cold and forbidding as the Duke himself, a man with terrible scars on his body and his soul. But the Duke’s steely determination to protect his heart at all costs is challenged by his growing attachment to his lovely and gentle bride. With caring persistence, Persephone attempts to pierce the Duke’s armor and reach the man beneath. Yet he cannot tolerate such exposure, and his repeated rejections take their toll. But when grave danger arises, the Duke realizes he must face the risk of revealing his true feelings or lose the woman he cannot live without.


 

Enter Atolas, a world where swords and daggers both extend life and end it; where magic is feared by all but a few; where feuds and friendships influence kingdoms and courtships. Henry and Isabelle have secretly sworn to marry despite his lowly station. Though Henry is but a carpenter, his devotion drives him to commit an unthinkable act that may cost both of them their lives. Unknown to either, a dark prophecy has set in motion events which will affect not only them, but the thrones of rulers throughout all of Atolas by eclipsing the world in shadow. But all is not lost while hope remains in the guise of an unlikely hero and the strength of friendship.


 

Henry Vestin always believed that, despite being a carpenter with no training in swordplay or survival, he could lead Isabelle and his friends to safety. He thought he could defy an emperor and protect Isabelle from harm. He was certain that love and friendship would help them survive.

He was wrong.

The second volume in the Tale of Light and Shadow series follows Henry and his friends after the disastrous battle at the Iron Pass. Horrors await the band of travelers in strange new lands. Crippled and broken, Henry must rely on his friends more than ever. New allies and foes find them at every turn, but which are friendly and which are deadly? Isabelle, now a slave in Neverak, finds herself surrounded by enemies, uncertain about the fate of her friends, and relying on only herself to survive. The Emperor moves forward with his plans of conquest, spurred on by the Seer’s dark prophecy, but he has not forgotten those who defied him.

Return to the world of Atolas, where swords and daggers extend life or end it, where feuds and friendships influence kingdoms and courtships, and where magic is feared by all but a few.


This next book I only recently discovered. I reached out to the author, and I’m delighted to bring this book to the festival.  Kpop, Ghosts, and a Nine tailed fox is what caught my eye.

Update: Content Warning. The author had told me  he would give the book the rating PG13.    After reading, the dragons feel that the book is really R.   Adult  language, sexual situations/sexual abuse.

 

Yubin knows she’s different than the other girls in the pop group SIITY. Yes, they all got sucked into the same machine, giving up schooling and signing ridiculously long contracts before anyone knew if they’d be successful, but that’s how pop stars are made in Korea. Yubin is supposed to be thankful for that, but she isn’t. She doesn’t even like the girls she performs with.

She’s more connected to her former schoolmate Jieun, even though all they ever do is text. Over the last two months, Jieun has become her confidant and best friend, connecting Yubin to the real world in a way she desperately needs. Now that SIITY is going to appear on the reality show The Incredible Race: Asia, Yubin will need that connection more than ever, which is why she’s devastated to discover Jieun has been dead five years and is actually haunting her.

If that weren’t enough, Yubin’s not the only SIITY member with issues. Rena’s father is emotionally abusive. Somi has a learning disability, and after a near death experience, Tae-eun becomes a nine-tailed fox woman. The only way they’ll survive the show, each other, and the supernatural currents buffeting them is to work together and win the hearts of their fans. Because if they don’t, they have nothing to go back to even if they survive what’s trying to kill them.


The heart must be protected at all costs… but will Cassidy be able to afford the price? Cassidy has distanced herself from childhood friend, Tristan. She’s moved on from their days of best friend-hood and is attending college. And dating one of the most eligible males on campus. Life couldn’t be better. Really. Tristan has devoted himself to Cassidy since they were children together. But no matter what he did, she’s never treated him like more than her best friend. He knows they can have something deeper. If only he can find the key to unlocking her fearful heart.


Sixteen-year-old Jae Hwa Lee is a Korean-American girl with a black belt, a deadly proclivity with steel-tipped arrows, and a chip on her shoulder the size of Korea itself. When her widowed dad uproots her to Seoul from her home in L.A., Jae thinks her biggest challenges will be fitting into a new school and dealing with her dismissive Korean grandfather. Then she discovers that a Korean demi-god, Haemosu, has been stealing the soul of the oldest daughter of each generation in her family for centuries. And she’s next.

But that’s not Jae’s only problem.

There’s also Marc. Irresistible and charming, Marc threatens to break the barriers around Jae’s heart. As the two grow closer, Jae must decide if she can trust him. But Marc has a secret of his own—one that could help Jae overturn the curse on her family for good. It turns out that Jae’s been wrong about a lot of things: her grandfather is her greatest ally, even the tough girl can fall in love, and Korea might just be the home she’s always been looking for.


And from the Roxbury Dragons

 

Evangeline lost her mother to cancer, and her father is rarely home. Lonely and unhappy, she wishes someone would be there for her. A short time later, she is transported to Joseon era Korea.

This could be any Korean drama fans dream. Believing she is dreaming, she quickly accepts her new circumstances. Besides, it doesn’t hurt that Beom is handsome and reminds her of her favorite actor.

As for Beom, he’s not sure what to make of the maiden who mysteriously materialized before his eyes. But one thing he knows for sure is, he must help her return home to her world; yet the longer he is with her, the more he wants her to stay. When the time comes, will he be able to let her go?


Eun Na is working hard to help her father pay off a debt to a merciless lord when she meets two very different men by chance. One is a well-meaning noble who doesn’t believe in magic. The other: a mysterious stranger who is forced to take the ethereal form of a ghost each night.


 

The lonely sea dragon,Yong, wants a bride.

Chung Jo wants her father to regain his sight.

They will strike a bargain, and Chung Jo travels to Yong’s palace beneath the sea.


Forced into running when her village is destroyed, Elodia is about to discover a dragon egg and her destiny as a witch.

***
Fearing the growing power and wealth of the Guilds, the Imperial Emperor orders the destruction of a single guild to keep the people in line.

Childhood sweethearts Elodia and Eli are driven apart when her village is destroyed. When Eli hears the gun fire, he tries to get to Elodia to protect her. By the time he gets there, it’s already too late, and Elodia is gone. Eli goes on a desperate quest to find Elodia.

Forced in to hiding, Elodia makes her way to safety. Uncovering a dragon’s egg, she also learns that she is a witch, and that there is a freedom movement preparing to fight against the oppressive government.

Will they be reunited?

 


kari_read2iwelcomecommentsblinkie1_otto-1

What are some of your favorite books? Tell me in the comments. (Readers, don’t forget to check to see if something interests you!)

Book Review: K-Love (A Korean Drama Series, Book 1)

KloveChase has been set up. She finds herself on a blind date with a Korean hottie, and all because her mom obsessively loves Korean romance dramas. It turns out that Daniel Bak is actually really dreamy, but things take a turn for the worse when Chase happens upon stolen research on her university professor’s laptop. It throws her into the arms of wealthy corporate heir Hyun Tae, who also happens to be Daniel’s best friend.

Caught between both men, and hunted down by a vengeful CEO, Chase must rely on Hyun Tae’s protection. But when the drama settles, where will her heart land?

BUY

 

 


My Review:

I loved this book. I loved Chase’s mother, Chase, Hyun Tae,  Daniel, and Jooh Suh.  Each character fit in nicely.

There were a few things to note: the authors are human. There are a few errors (omissions and typos.)  I mention this only so that readers that have trouble turning off their internal proof-reading app, they are aware, so that hopefully the little hiccups won’t distract too much from an otherwise fun story.

The other issue would be there’s Korean phrases written out so readers could attempt to pronounce it, but no translation was given. This does not distract too much from the story though. (But moving forward I would hope a glossary is added.)

Overall, this was an excellent book. If you like Korean dramas, you’ll enjoy this. If you like adventure and romance together, you’ll like this. However unlikely a romance is between an American college student, and a Korean chaebol (rich heir to a big company), or celebrity is, this is still fun. After all, aren’t books supposed to give us a break from daily life and allow us to dream?

Chase’s mother asks Korean student, Kim Hyun Tae if he’d go on a blind date with her daugher, Chase. He says no, but his best friend Daniel says yes. And so begins the simple love triangle present in many Kdramas.

Chase meets Hyun Tae first, and this should have been a hint to me that he was the actual male lead. (I couldn’t decide at first if it was Hyun Tae or Daniel, because of which one accepted the blind date.) He’s polite, she’s a klutz.

Daniel asks her out on the blind date via a text, while she’s in heading to her first class–gym. There she meets Daniel. (Kdrama watchers, you can probably guess how that goes.) Daniel recognizes her, but doesn’t introduce himself yet. This boy has a secret to keep, and he plans to keep it.

Of course, love never runs smooth. We have spies, and a company take down in the works, all while Chase, Hyun Tae, and Daniel have to navigate love.

Grab your copy, and let me know what you think. 🙂

You can visit Devon Atwood and Alice Cornwall at their blog.

New Release: Celebrity Superhero

celebritysuperhero

When Anna Eom isn’t reading fantasy novels, she’s obsessing over her favorite K-pop group, SUPER. Each boy in the group has a different superpower, but Sungwook stands out from the crowd with his super-speed and super-strength, not to mention his super-hotness.

The day that SUPER’s latest music video drops, Anna’s mom does the worst thing imaginable and cuts the wi-fi to make her clean house instead. All because some old family friends are visiting them from Korea. Not only are the almost-strangers cutting her time short with her favorite K-pop group, but she knows she’s going to be thrown together with a boy she only remembers as a bully.

Caleb might be her age, but the last time she saw him ten years ago he stole her precious Disney princess necklace. What’s worse is Anna’s mom has threatened to clear her bookshelves if she doesn’t greet the old friends at the door with a fragile vase as a gift.

Anna complies, planning on getting back to her books as soon as she can, but when her parents open the door it’s not Caleb standing on the other side, but Sungwook from SUPER. Judging by the way he caught the vase she dropped with lighting speed, his super-powers might not be fiction.

BUY 


I had the pleasure of reading this before it was out. I’ve been wanting to share it for awhile now, but set the goal of announcing on it’s release day. This book was delightful. I read it the first time in one day. This book is a delightful romantic comedy, complete with hilarious mix-ups, and adventure.

Even if you don’t particularly like Kpop, you’ll connecting with Anna. What teenager hasn’t daydreamed of dating/marrying their favorite celebrity?

Imagine you discover the kid you don’t remember fondly, that your parents want you to marry, is that celebrity?

Imagine he seems to do some extraordinarily feats, just like in his videos?

And he’s keeping something a secret from you, and even admits as much?

What conclusions will bookish Anna come to?

Read this book for an enjoyable story.