Tag Archive | Korean American

You need to love someone or even like them for ALL THE RIGHT REASONS, by Bethany Mangle (YA book review)

book cover of All the Right Reasons, by Bethany Mangle. Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books / S&S. | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Venting about her dad’s terrible behavior,
privately on her video diary –
oops, on the public channel = goes viral!

It’s a long way from Ohio to Key West, but here they are – fitness expert Mom and 17-year-old Cara, as stars in the new reality show “Second Chance Romance,” here to choose a guy and his kid as a possible instant family!

This gigantic mansion with luxury everything is a far cry from generic oatmeal and overdue bills that made up their everyday life after Dad dumped Mom on their 20th anniversary for a client at the boutique gym that they both still own (and Dad won’t buy Mom’s share).

Together Mom and Cara navigate this new world of filming lingo (another take? really?!) and makeup stylists and designer clothes around the clock and enough to eat, trying to imagine each dad and child as their new family, thankful for their “handler” Sam who tries to keep things rolling smoothly for them.

Cara and Mom have to agree on which pairs to eliminate, which is easy at the beginning, but gets more difficult as they go along.

Brad works hard to woo Mom, but his teen daughter (the shampoo model, as she keeps reminding everyone) is charming to the adults, utterly awful to the other kids.

Connor catches Cara’s attention on the very first evening, but she can’t have a crush on a contestant’s son when they could become siblings, right? He’s so real, so matter-of-fact about how Ehlers-Danlos affects his daily life.

Of course, the show’s producers magnify every conflict or sign of interest for maximum drama! Too bad they aren’t funny and mellow and human like Sam.

Why can’t Mom see past the facades of some contestants?
Which of these kids could Cara live with as a step-sibling?
How can they possibly choose by the show’s filming deadline?

By the author of Prepped (recommended here), who lives with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and is a Korean adoptee with white parents like Cara.

Would you ever appear on a reality show?
**kmm

Book info: All the Right Reasons / Bethany Mangle. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

K-Beauty MADE IN KOREA, competition made right here! by Sarah Suk (YA book review)

book cover of Made in Korea, by Sarah Suk. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Gel masks, lip balms,
toners, serums, and BB creams –
K-beauty is the best!

As her senior year begins, Valerie is relieved to find that her fellow students still line up every Monday afternoon to buy the quality Korean beauty products that she and her cousin Charlie sell at their Pacific Northwest high school.

But showcasing her entrepreneurship on college applications is at risk when this new guy Wes starts selling beauty products that his mom gets from big K-Pop groups… on Monday afternoons!

The competition between Valerie and Wes heats up at the Halloween Market and carnival, with their personal bet – winner of the Haunted House race has to advertise the other’s business all night – and then grows!

Wes just wants to make money for the music lessons that his parents refuse to pay for and get the courage to apply to music school that they think is utter foolishness. Making an enemy of a great girl like Valerie is an unintentional side-effect.

Valerie really doesn’t need the drama of Wes and Pauline’s business right now – she started V&C Beauty to make enough money to take her grandmother traveling abroad as Halmeoni has always wished, and that’s what she’s going to do!

Is someone spying on her business plans? On his business plans?
Are the sparks between Wes and Valerie more than just competition?
Is Charlie going to let Pauline break his heart again by asking her to prom?

In alternating sections, Valerie and Wes relay the ups and downs of their senior year as these Korean-American teens reach for their dreams and wonder if there’s room for love in this K-beauty war. Read the first chapter here free, courtesy of the publisher.

Any K-beauty secrets to share?
**kmm

Book info: Made in Korea / Sarah Suk. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

THE JASMINE PROJECT – everyone’s finding her the perfect guy (secretly), by Meredith Ireland (YA book review)

book cover of The Jasmine Project, by Meredith Ireland. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

He dumped her?!
Future plans now murky,
her family wants to fix it… look out!

Jasmine had everything arranged, counting down to graduation, moving into an apartment with her longtime boyfriend Paul, starting nursing school (it’s a secure career… sigh).

Her family and enormous network of cousins and aunts know that Paul is cheating on her before the Korean adoptee does (not savvy about social media at all).

To help Jasmine get over Paul, her Filipino-white family decides to bring the best young bachelors in central Florida to her graduation party (big sister Cari’s podcast about The Bachelor is really popular).

All a secret from Jasmine, including the bets that Davey takes on which guy she’ll bring to the family Fourth of July party! (her adopted Dominican younger brother will surely grow up to be a bookie…)

Maybe it will be Justin, her junior high pal back from four years in Texas (so cute, so grown up).

Or Eugene, son of famous restaurant chefs (Jasmine dreams of cooking, not nursing).

Perhaps Aaron, the minor league pitcher from Nashville (that accent, those manners).

Everyone involved knows the rules, except Jasmine of course, but when some bachelors go rogue and Paul contacts her mid-summer (he never did treat her right), who knows what will happen by July!

Funniest inter-generational group texts ever punctuate this story of Jasmine discovering who she really is and what she wants for her own future.

Grab this debut novel at your local library or independent bookstore to find out who Jasmine chooses.

What’s your best “we met at a party” story?
**kmm

Book info: The Jasmine Project / Meredith Ireland. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

P is PREPPED to survive any disaster…almost, by Bethany Mangle (YA book review)

book cover of Prepped, by Bethany Mangle. Published by Margaret K. McElderry/Simon Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Ready for fire, falling into icy waters,
nuclear fallout, kidnap attempts,
but not real-life like other families…

Growing up with doomsday preppers means constant vigilance and training – high school senior Becca has the scars to prove it. Both sets of grandparents established this Ohio neighborhood of survivalists, hidden bunkers in their backyards and all.

Everyone else in town thinks they’re an end-times cult, but there’s no religion here, just paranoia and preparation and more paranoid preparation.

When Roy Kang’s family joined the group, “genetic diversity” was her parents’ first thought, so he and Becca are paired for marriage soon and will learn trades that’ll benefit the group, no matter what they want.

Becca believes in science, her physics teacher believes she can get a full scholarship far away from here, and somehow dumb-as-a-rock Roy turns out to be much smarter than their parents think.

“Always be ready for the worst day of your life,” but improbably her Dad wasn’t, so now Mom’s in charge and pushing younger kids into hazardous training early.

How can she and Roy leave without tripping the perimeter alarms?
Could their new non-prepper friend really help them escape?
How can Becca leave her 10-year-old sister Katie here?

Love could make them a family, but bone-deep fear of everything makes life unbearable in this debut novel of surviving more than just improbable disasters.

Where would a full-ride scholarship take you?
**kmm

Book info: Prepped / Bethany Mangle. Margaret K. McElderry Books/ Simon Schuster, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Will she SHINE as K-pop star? by Jessica Jung (book review)

book cover of Shine, by Jessica Jung. Published by Simon & Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Not Korean enough in Seoul,
not American enough in New York City –
does she have enough to make it as a star?

Her family’s support of Rachel’s quest to become a K-pop performer is both a comfort and a cage.

Umma, Appa, and her little sister left behind their lives in New York City six years ago when they moved to Seoul so she could train with DB Studios.

But the 17 year old must live at home instead at DB’s trainee house, attending school full-time, then cramming all rehearsals and lessons into the weekends…and doing her homework.

No boys, no social media, weekly weigh-ins – competition is fierce as DB plans to announce its new girl group soon.

Amid mounting pressures to excel in singing, dancing, interviewing skills, and poise, snooty heiress Mina leads her crew in harassing Rachel as a camera-shy American princess.

Rachel’s chance encounter with Jason Lee, internationally famous Korean-Canadian star of DB’s hit boy group, leads to an opportunity to perform with him – can she beat out Mina?

Romantic relationships are forbidden by DB Studios – is her friendship with Jason okay?

One poor decision makes Rachel’s mother furious and disappointed – will the huge disruption of her family’s lives be for nothing?

Written by former K-pop star Jessica Jung, this debut novel takes us behind the glitz of costumes, choreography, and luxury travel to the grind, sweat, and tears of the K-pop studios’ trainee system.

Read chapter one here, courtesy of the publisher, to meet Rachel, Mina, and the DB trainees striving for the chance to Shine on the international music scene.

How far would you travel to pursue your dream?
**kmm

Book info: Shine / Jessica Jung. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2020. [author interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher through Edelweiss.

Y for be yourself? PIPPA PARK RAISES HER GAME, by Erin Yun (middle grade book review)

book cover of Pippa Park Raises Her Game, by Erin Yun. Published by Fabled Films Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Scholarship to private school? Cool!
Expectations from family? Heavy.
Keep both worlds apart? Ummm…maybe?

Pippa loves basketball, but her big sister won’t let her try out for the middle school team until her grades are better. Algebra tutor, from snooty Lakeview Private? Yuck.

Their mother agrees, back in Korea after her work visa in Massachusetts expired. Good grades will be Pippa’s path forward, beyond the family laundromat and its long hours of work.

When Lakeview offers Pippa a basketball scholarship, Omma and sister are delighted. Pippa decides to reinvent herself as a cool girl… but can she do it at the same school as her math tutor Eliot, where his father is the principal?!

How can Pippa keep her fancy new friends from knowing her humble origins?
Can she keep up her grades to keep this scholarship?
Who recommended her for this scholarship anyway?

Worried about her best friend since forever Buddy, about Omma’s health, about playing against her old school in the big game… action on and off the court is getting intense!

How hard is it to live up to family expectations?
**kmm

Book info: Pippa Park Raises Her Game / Erin Yun. Fabled Films Press, 2020. [book site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

K is Kels in WHAT I LIKE ABOUT YOU, by Marisa Kanter (book review)

book cover of What I Like About You, by Marisa Kanter. Published by Simon Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Kels blogs about YA books and baking,
Nash is an amazing graphic novelist,
their online friendship is epic, but IRL…

Halle wants to work in publishing on her own merits, not as famous Grams’ granddaughter, so online she is Kels who matches her exquisite cupcakes with talk-worthy books.

The 17 year old wanted her senior year in one place, not traipsing around the world with their famous filmmaker parents, so it was logical that she and baseball-playing brother Ollie stay with Gramps… in Nash’s town?!

At school, at synagogue, the attraction between Halle and one-quarter Korean Jewish Nash is growing – why can’t Halle tell him the truth about who she is online?

NYU will be Nash’s escape from his clingy parents, Halle’s ticket to becoming a publicist – what if they don’t get in? What if they both do?

Published just last week, debut novel What I Like About You is available from your local indie bookstore (order directly or through bookshop.org) or check WorldCat to see if your library has the eBook. Be sure to request it at your library so they order print copy, too.

So when is it okay to be two people at the same time?
**kmm

Book info: What I Like About You / Marisa Kanter. Simon & Schuster Teen, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Y is for THE WAY YOU MAKE ME FEEL, by Maurene Goo (YA book review)

book cover of The Way You Make Me Feel, by Maurene Goo. Published by Farrar Strauss Giroux Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

School success is everything – or it’s not.
Being a laid-back parent is great for your kid – or it isn’t.
Friendship is worth working for – yes, yes it is.

A Carrie-style stunt at prom lands boundary-pushing Clara and goody-goody Rose together in the same summer job to pay back the school – no spa life in Tulum with Clara’s jetsetting influencer mom, no prestigious internship for Rose’s college applications.

Yep, two not-friends working in a food truck for the entire sweltering LA summer, cooking the Korean-Brazilian fusion food that’s made Clara’s dad legendary – no time for screw-ups or bickering when the lunch rush is on.

Can jokester Clara please her Korean cool-dad enough to get time off and visit her Brazilian influencer mom in paradise?

Can by-the-rules Rose squeeze in dance practices around the full KoBra truck schedule and meet the very high expectations of her African American parents?

Can Hamlet’s homesickness for Beijing and love for California stop tugging at him long enough for him to get Clara to go out with him?

This summer before their senior year will be anything but boring!

Out next week in paperback! From the author of I Believe In a Thing Called Love (which I loved & recommended here).

Best-planned prank that you never pulled?
**kmm

Book info: The Way You Make Me Feel / Maurene Goo. Farrar Strauss Giroux Books for Young Readers, hardcover 2018, paperback 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Surgery to get The Fold or not? by An Na (book review)

book cover of The Fold by An Na, published by Atheneum | recommended on BooksYALove.com“Western” eyes!
Korean eyelids just aren’t the same.
Plastic surgery to get “the fold” or not?

Read the first chapter here (free, courtesy of the publisher) to discover the depth of Joyce’s crush on John Ford Kang, then check out The Fold in hardcover or paperback at your local library or independent bookstore to see how far she’ll go to make him really notice her!

Ever considered plastic surgery?
**kmm

Book info: The Fold / An Na. Atheneum, 2008 hardcover, 2017 paperback. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When her aunt offers to pay for plastic surgery, pain-averse Joyce must decide how far she’ll go to get her crush’s attention and win his heart.

Adding the eyelid “fold” is a routine procedure for Korean-American women, but everyone can see how Auntie Gomo is addicted to plastic surgery.

Not as smart or pretty as older sister Helen, not as funny as younger brother Andy, Joyce feels like a nobody as her junior year ends and adorable John Paul Kang signs her yearbook with the wrong name.

Work in their parents’ restaurant all summer while Helen does a prestigious internship at college? Not fair.

John Paul comes to the restaurant when her eyes are swollen from chili powder accident? Oh no!

Dr. Reiner says the eyelid surgery is her decision, but how can Joyce disappoint her aunt? Oh my…

Maybe it’ll all be worth it if John Paul notices her enough at church and school to remember her name. Her best friend Gina agrees, her new friend Sam isn’t so sure…

P for Penny & Sam, linked as Emergency Contact & maybe more, by Mary H.K. Choi (book review)

book cover of Emergency Contact, by Mary H.K. Choi, published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.comCollege will be better than high school, of course.
Learning fiction writing from an amazing author!
Connecting with Sam is…um …just text, okay?

Her mom still acts and dresses like a teen, her new roommate Jude is vibrantly alive, so Penny is grateful for the quiet text life she has with Sam (who is 21, but somehow Jude’s former step-uncle).

But can the Korean-American teen become brave enough to write like she should, go out with Jude and Mallory, actually visit Sam in person at the coffeehouse?

And P is also for “plans busted to smithereens” as this debut novel told in alternating chapters by Penny and Sam (lots of texts) moved onto the New York Times Bestsellers list last week before our A-to-Z got to P!!

Yes, Mary will be at the North Texas Teen Book Festival on Saturday, 20 April 2018, and you should be there, too!

Real life or by text?
**kmm

Book info: Emergency Contact / Mary H.K. Choi. Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.