Tag Archive | South Korea

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.

How can he love her, the most WICKED FOX? by Kat Cho (YA book review)

book cover of Wicked Fox, by Kat Cho. G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

An evil man’s soul sucked dry under Seoul’s full moon,
a human teen attacked by a goblin nearby,
who exactly is the new girl at his school?

Jihoon’s carefully cultivated disdain for schoolwork and academic status hides his insecurities about being abandoned to grandmother’s stern and loving care.

New student Miyoung tries to be unremarkable, but her supernatural beauty and strength alert the haters, like at the half-human spirit-fox’s last school.

Only by feeding on the gi life-force of humans can Miyoung and her full-gumiho mother stay immortal – now a detective is finding a pattern in ‘random’ murders during each full moon.

Both fatherless, their mothers distant, feeling so alone in the world… as their paths cross and recross – during full moons and at school – Jihoon and Miyoung start to fall for one another.

But Miyoung uses her greatest secret strength to save Jihoon during an attack which leaves his grandmother in a coma and both teens vulnerable to forces seeking to destroy them!

The legend of the nine-tailed gumiho’s origin threads through this tale of love and sacrifice – Happy #bookbirthday to The Wicked Fox!

How much would you give up to save someone you loved?
**kmm

Book info: Wicked Fox (Gumiho, book 1) / Kat Cho. G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

K/drama-inspired, I Believe in a Thing Called Love, by Maurene Goo (book review)

book cover of I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maureen Goo, published by Margaret Ferguson Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comGrades = stellar!
Extracurriculars = outstanding!
Romance = zero, zip, zilch.

Once she sees Luca, Desi is ready to make him fall in love with her – and she has the perfect step-by-step plan in her dad’s extensive K Drama series video collection!

Read the first chapter here (thanks to publisher!), then head to your local library or independent bookstore for this 2017 novel and its many, many kinds of drama.

Any dating ‘flailures’ on your love-life list?
**kmm

Book info: I Believe in a Thing Called Love / Maurene Goo. Margaret Ferguson Books, 2017.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: With a plan, she can do anything – so Desi decides that cute new guy Luca will become her first-ever boyfriend, through the tried-and-true steps from the Korean dramas that her father loves so much – what could possibly go wrong?

Super-student, soccer star Desi is determined to get into Stanford, honoring her late mother and making her dad proud. But in the romance department, she’s had zero success.

Moody artist Luca’s arrival at her California high school makes Desi willing to risk yet another possibly humiliating try at flirting and relationships.

But wait! What if she simply used the steps that every Korean drama romance follows?

Despite warnings from her best friends (who’ve seen too many of her flirting ‘flailures’), Desi outlines her “K Drama Steps to True Love” and goes after Luca!

Flat tire blowout, romantic boat ride turned rescue, graffiti-enhancement missions… what?!

First kiss, yes! First boyfriend, likely! (as long as Luca doesn’t find out that Desi is directing their every move toward love…)

K is for North Korea & wishing on Every Falling Star, by Sungju Lee & Susan McClelland (book review)

book cover of Every Falling Star by Sungju Lee and Susan McClelland published by Amulet Books  | recommended on BooksYALove.comPrivilege to poverty,
family love to forlorn abandonment,
North Korea then is still North Korea now.

From the easy life as child of favored Army officer to outcast thief and gang member, Sungju kept trying to understand the ‘why’ of changes and finally knew that risking death to escape from North Korea was better than living in his homeland impoverished by dictatorship and lies.

This finalist for the 2016 CYBILS Award for young adult nonfiction brings us unsettling glimpses into a world rarely seen and difficult to imagine.

Without the support of your family, how would you survive a hostile new environment?
**kmm

Book info: Every Falling Star: The True Story of How I Survived and Escaped North Korea / Sungju Lee and Susan McClelland. Amulet Books, 2016.   [author Facebook page]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Sungju’s family is flung from high-status to deep poverty after a regime change, as his autobiography reveals the disinformation used to repress North Korean citizens

In a forced relocation from the capital city to a desolate rural town after his father is removed from the military, food and clothing are in short supply, Father reluctantly leaves to find more, Mother doesn’t return from visiting relatives, and suddenly young teen Sungju finds himself living on the street and running a gang of homeless kids.

Why haven’t his parents returned?
What else can he do to survive?
How did Sungju escape to write this memoir?

Almost dystopian in its bleakness and violence, this true story of family, loss, and hope echoes what countless other children and families experience in North Korea even today.