House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland
Published: 4.6.21 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA Paranormal Horror
Details: 304 Pages, Print, E-Book, Audio
Rating: 5 Stars
Series: Standalone

REVIEW

Disclaimer: I borrowed my audiobook copy from the local library. I read and reviewed this book voluntarily. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Content warnings at the end of the review.

“I’d realized there were scarier things in the world than the monsters that lived in my nightmares.”

I wanted nothing more than to find a book that I could immerse myself into. I asked everyone for recommendations on a book that would sweep me away. I was driving home and thought, maybe I should try the audiobook. So many people have told me that the audiobook is incredible and they were not wrong. Haunting, creepy, unputdownable. The prose is captivating and intoxicating, so much so that my husband listened with me and the binged it the next day. This is a story about love, loss, heartbreak, and the bonds that people share… what someone is willing to do for the ones they love. I will think for a very long time.

Something is wrong with the Hollow sisters. Iris, Vivi, and Grey disappeared without a trace, returning a month later with no memory, hair and eyes different colors, and a half moon scar at the base of their throats. Seventeen year old Iris spends her time attending her lavish private school, trying to stay away from the public eye, while her sisters rebelled. She becomes frightened as she’s being followed by a horned man (historically having stalkers due to their unsolved disappearance as children). When Grey goes missing under mysterious circumstances, Iris and Vivi begin following the increasingly bizarre trail of breadcrumbs left for them, unraveling the past that they desperately want to forget.

I seriously could not put this book down. Once I started, I realized how dark and atmospheric this book was going to be. The narrator, Eleanor Bennett, was phenomenal. I honestly don’t know if I will ever reread the physical copy of this because it is THAT good. I immediately felt connected to the Hollow sisters. Their shared pain, their dedication to one another, their love… Iris states many times that she would be nothing without them and you can tell that they all have a strange, yet beautiful obsession with one another. I really appreciated the conversational style Sutherland used. It’s rare that I read a book and think, “this is exactly what it would sound like if this were real…” It felt like real young adults having real young adult conversations and it helped me feel connected to the story. The narrator did an incredible job at controlling the tone of the story.

Side characters were well fleshed out and felt as if they all had their own places within this story. Cate, their mother, was overbearing, protective, and sometimes cruel in conversation with the sisters. Vivi and Grey both struggled with Iris’ blind loyalty to Cate. At one point, Vivi stated, “that’s a pretty heaven burden to bear, being everything for someone,” when Iris says she wants Cate to move with her when she goes to University. The horned masked stalker/villain had such an interesting back story that honestly I did not see that coming. And Tyler – what an addition to this twisting tale. So often we find significant others, co-workers, classmate etc being used as a throwaway plot device and I did not feel this way at all.

House of Hollow is by far the most atmospheric book I’ve ever read; Sutherland deserves five stars for world building alone. Once I started listening to the details of the story, I was hooked, whisked away to this creepy town. The author loved to use descriptive words, especially about the smell of things and places to really set the tone. Scent is such a huge factor in whether or not something is “grotesque” and she really understood that concept and used it to her advantage to make you believe you too could smell the rotting decay. It definitely is not for weak stomachs.

As far as horrors go, this wasn’t a book that made me feel like I couldn’t sleep but it was chilling enough to make me look over my shoulder when I was alone in the kitchen. This standalone YA paranormal horror really does mess with you mentally as you never are quite sure if the narrator is is reliable or not. If you are a fan of Stranger Things, a deep and rich prose, and world building that will make you question your own reality, then this book is for you.

Content Warnings: suicide and suicidal ideations, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, child death, parental death, self harm, stalking, violence, attempted rape, murder, gore


SPOILERS

Let’s talk about Cate for a second. At first, I thought – how could she be so cold to her children. How could a mother deny comfort and love. It broke me to pieces when she told Iris not to call her “mama” and to refer to her only as her first name… but you soon begin to understand why. I really appreciated the fact that she understood that her daughters were gone but she would rather have something rather than nothing, and she did remain dedicated to them (except for Grey 🌚)

The scene with Tyler reuniting with my sister was possibly the saddest scene in the entire story. I have to give mad props to Sutherland for making me feel this gut wrenching feeling about a side character and leaving it as one of the most memorable scenes. I also loved that Tyler was a Korean supermodel. I’m not biased or anything (okay I am because I am Korean), but the representation felt nice and not forced.

Speaking of representation, QUEER CHARACTERS! It was such an amazing surprise for me to find out that Iris was Bi and Vivi was a lesbian. I also loved that that was normalized and not used as a plot device or some part of a painful story regarding their sexuality.

The ambiguous ending leaves me BEGGING for more. It reminds me of the end of Stranger Things at each seasons end. You can close that book forever always wondering where your beloved characters go, or you can pick up with the little snippets left behind and write more stories. I want Tyler to come back!!!


Rachael

Small Favors By Erin A. Craig

Small Favors by Erin A. Craig
Published: 7.27.21 by Delacorte Press
Genre: YA Historical Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal Fantasy, Rumpelstiltskin Retelling
Details: 480 Pages, Print, E-Book, Audio
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Series: Standalone

REVIEW

Disclaimer: First and foremost, I would like to thank Penguin Random House Audio for providing me a complimentary audiobook of Small Favors in exchange for an honest review! Content warnings at the end of the review.

Ellerie Downing, a beekeepers daughter, lives in the quiet, isolated town of Amity Falls, where the townsfolk work hard at making sure everyone succeeds after early settlers fought off devilish creatures that lived in the woods. This dark, atmospheric, young adult horror opens up to a bloody end to a failed supply run, making everyone question the motives of the neighbors they’ve vowed to protect. Soon after, bad omens plague them; animals are maimed and deformed, crops are destroyed, and a catastrophic event sows mistrust within this community. Fearing starvation through the winter, lack of medical supplies, low ammunition, and a stranger appearing from the woods draws concerned feelings from the town. Being stuck within the borders of this creepy forest, with visitors being rare, makes the arrival of a strange boy all the more concerning. This book provides a very claustrophobic atmosphere which adds to the intensity of the plot. It also added psychological thrill which kept me listening until late into the night!

That being said, the character development and overall plot had some holes which made me lose some interest in the story. The behavior of Ellerie’s 8 year old sister was unconvincing, the narrator made her sound like she was 4 which frustrated me a bit as I always have trouble with authors/narrators not understand the tone of children they add to their stories. This being a Rumpelstiltskin retelling held true, with mystical creatures offering small favors in exchange for a little mayhem within the town, though we don’t learn much about the monsters until the very end, and even then it was slightly anticlimactic.

Overall, I enjoyed this story. My teenage self would give this a 3.5 star and would recommend this to anyone who enjoyed House of Salt and Sorrows, The Hollow Places, Rules for Vanishing, and other YA horror!

Content Warnings: pet/animal euthanasia, farm animal death, familial death, self harm/blood magic, fear of starvation, fire/severe burns


SPOILERS

Sam, Ellerie’s brother, was a throwaway character. He was extremely under developed and used as a plot device, even at the end. There was zero closure for his motives, leaving you with many questions about why he made the choices that he did. It frustrated me that there wasn’t much clarity for Ellerie and she was just okay with her brother being a jerk even until his death. Essentially going 🤷🏻‍♀️ immediately after his death scene (this was the same reaction Rebecca, his pregnant ex girlfriend had after learning that he’s dead). This frustrated me because it was completely for shock and it felt like having no emotional resolution for him (whether that be good or bad) was cheap. He was a character that the author could abuse and then forget about and critically, it just doesn’t sit well for character development.

The plot revolves around the townsfolk and how everyone works so hard to make sure they all succeed through the harsh winter, so when the town goes up in flames, Ellerie turns her back to the mayhem and then rides off to find her parents which were also used as a plot device and forgotten about as well.

The main villain was easily defeated, in a very unrealistic way (yes I know this is fantasy but there are certain things that you just shake your head at) and didn’t provide many answers to Ellerie’s desperate questions. Ellerie also makes choices that are completely useless and just made the book seem to drag. The paranormal elements of the book seemed disjointed within the story and was more-so confusing than it was revealing. The “small favors” parts of the book were not explored, just explained quickly – we don’t really get to see/read about WHAT the small favors actually were or why, just that it was happening. There were little instances like this that turned me off a bit when it started off with great potential.


Rachael

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: May 14th, 2019
Genre: Adult Fiction/Contemporary
Rating: 4 Stars

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Synopsis:

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.


DISCLAIMER:
This book was purchase by me. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.


REVIEW

People had been telling me to read this book FOR-EVER! I mean, every time I was looking for a rec for adult contemporary they’d tell me to read this. I am so glad I did.

This book is HILARIOUS. I have not laughed so hard during a book in so long. The writing style is perfect and sounds like real conversations people would have. The hate-to-love trope is one of my favorites (except for bully romance). The main characters are totally likable and I cannot stop thinking about it.

I first read the e-book and then I listened to the audio. The audio made this book come to life and made all of the jokes 10x funnier! Olive and Ethan get into some prime shenanigans and the *villain* is someone you wouldn’t expect. I was all over the place with this book.

I really wish there was more steam though. This book is perfect if you’re looking for steam but not the smut! I also didn’t super love the conflict part – I was so angry and I felt like it actually just could have done without that and it still be an enjoyable book!

This book is available for now at most book retailers, in store or online!

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Soulwalkers by Cassidy Thomas

Soulwalkers by Cassidy Thomas
Publisher: Little Big Books
Publication Date: December 3rd, 2019
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Rating: 4 Stars

Synopsis:

Kia LaStrauss can see into your soul with the touch of her hand. She can see your fears, desires, wants. She can see your past. Your present. Your future. She is a Soulwalker. 

New Orleans is the city Kia calls home: a city of revelry, jazz, wonder, and magic. She grew up listening to stories of magic and mysticism, but they were just stories… or so she thought. After experiencing two visions of the future, Kia learns of the existence of Soulwalkers, and that she is one of them. With the help of her mentor Ian, she begins to learn what she is capable of, and the consequences of her newfound power. But even Ian cannot prepare her for what she will discover. 

Kia is thrown into a world once unimaginable, where the touch of a hand could kill her and every new discovery can change the course of her life forever. 


DISCLAIMER:
Thank you Cassidy Thomas for this free finished copy to read and review. This is no way shapes my opinions, all thoughts expressed are my own.


REVIEW

I really enjoyed this YA urban fantasy! I love stories that center in New Orleans because the world-building is always so rich. Within this world, we have Soulwalkers, people who can see your soul with a touch… however, there is a balance to this magic system. This adds a level of stress to this ability, throwing me for a loop when you learn about Kia’s first walk. This book explores more magic than soul walking but I don’t want to say too much and spoil the surprises! This book has many twists and turns, some totally unexpected! This is a super quick, exciting read and I would recommend this to anyone who likes books you can devour in a sitting!

I liked the multiple points of view as I’m always wondering what everyone is thinking other than the MC. It just gives a book more depth to me.

***could be considered spoilery***

I enjoyed the romance aspect as I’m a total romance sucker. The only thing I think can be worked upon is the term of endearment. Ian would call Kia kid when they had a “mentor/student,” relationship but once it was more it seemed a bit demeaning. Calling the person you’re interested in as “kid,” isn’t for me, but honestly I think it could just be my own opinion! Other than that, I was totally rooting for the characters!

This book is available for preorder on Amazon and will be available 12/3!

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Topic Tuesday – Problematic Themes in Literature

Hellllllo everyone! I hope everyone is having an amazing Tuesday! I had to wait until nap time before I could jump on! Below is a triggering topic, so if you are triggered and upset easily, please do not continue reading. I want my blog to be a safe space for everyone! It’s going to be a doozy!


After reading The Wicked Deep, I wanted to talk about problematic themes in literature. Now, I’m not one to get offended easily. I have gone through a fair amount of trauma in my past, which I am very open out; thankfully for me not a lot triggers me into panic. However, there are some topics that make people upset. There are many problematic themes like violence against women, rape, abusive partners that make it into our books.

I for one do not like reading Bully Romance, which is a huge reason as to why I did not like the After series. The reason why I don’t like it is not because of the topic itself, but it’s because sometimes those themes do not serve as a vehicle for the plot. Sometimes these characters are just shitty to be shitty and I can’t stand behind that. With books like The Cruel Prince, Jude and Cardan are SO MEAN to each other and there really isn’t much reason for it other than to be a dick (in my opinion, don’t @ me LOL). In After, Harden and what’s her face (I forgot already), were abusive to each other and then they would make up and then everyone would just gloss over it. They would have intense sex and then all is forgiven until they are screaming at each other in public and emotionally manipulating each other. That is NOT okay for me.

What I mean for a problematic theme to be a vehicle for the plot, is that it has to be addressed in some way and have a meaningful impact on those characters. There are many books out there that talk about race and prejudice and we see those characters go through some tough stuff, but it gets resolved. Someone learns something from it. The aggressor realizes that it’s NOT okay to behave this way. Most of the time, especially in YA literature, we don’t see it addressed – everyone just sweeps it under the rug.

Now to The Wicked Deep. If you haven’t read it, don’t read this paragraph as I will be discussing spoilers. The Wicked Deep is about the spirit of 3 dead sister witches who inhabit the body of girls and lure boys to their death out of revenge from their drowning. Penny, the main character, has what I believe is sex with the main love interest, Bo. Later on it is revealed that it is a sister witch, Hazel, inhabiting her body and she used Penny’s body to get close to Bo. The author literally swept this under the rug. No one even talked about how fucked up that was, not even Bo! Hazel says, please don’t tell Penny what happened, I will leave the good memories for her. Like ? Then we are not told if Bo reveals the truth, which I’m sure he doesn’t since the ending he’s still obsessed with Hazel even though he’s with the real Penny.

That is rape you guys. Penny did not consent to this. It doesn’t matter that she was unaware and that a witch possessed her. It doesn’t matter that Hazel left the “good memories.” Penny could not consent. I am not pointing all of the blame on Bo as he did not know at the time, but I do think it was his responsibility to tell her the truth once he knew and she was Penny again. I had a long conversation with Kibby (www.somethingofthebook.com IG: @somethingofthebook) about how wrong this, in fact she’s the one who initially brought it up and I was like wait no, wtf, I didn’t even think of this!

If the author were to have made Bo reveal what happened and discussed how wrong that was even for a freaking paragraph, I would be singing a different tune. This is how we perpetuate rape culture. It is NOT cute that Bo and Penny are now together and Hazel is a ghost in the wind still whispering she loves him. NO! It’s like Bo got to have his cake and eat it too (thank you Kat IG: @kathardistywrites for this phrasing because it’s PERFECT).

Don’t get me wrong, I still think this is an enjoyable book, but those things need to be fixed. We cannot keep sweeping these problematic themes under the rug. They have to be there for a reason, it has to drive the plot forward. I heard people are boycotting Ninth House because of a problematic theme but then from others I hear it’s addressed in the story. It’s okay to have traumatic events in book! What’s not okay is acting like it’s normal and not discussing the issue for those characters and for the readers.


Well,  thank you all for reading my rant if you’ve made it this far! How do you view problematic themes in literature?

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Mood Monday – New Week/New TBR!

How can it be the second week of October already? This week will be a whirlwind for me as I’ll be headed off to LA with my mom on Saturday morning for a quick trip to KoreaTown! Words cannot express how excited I am! It’s also the last week of the #housecupreadathon19 for October over on Instagram! I’m excited to see who is in the lead!

I am starting off this week with a brand new TBR! I am going to be reading The Wicked Deep and Blackbirds! Kelli (@starlightfaerytale) is going to the Morristown Book Festival soon so we are trying to read books from authors going to that event (Chuck Wendig). I’m also trying to fit in a few short books (Soulwalkers) and write some reviews! Lord only knows where I’ll find the time!

This weekend I read Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (gothic novella) which was Narrated by David Tennant, Rose Leslie, and Phoebe Fox! This audio drama was SO STINKING GOOD y’all! I mean it was legit like listening to a movie. The voice acting was just phenomenal! It’s a super short audible original, the book is about 100ish pages. This was written in 1872, 26 years before Dracula! The female vampire is in love with another woman! Yay LGBT in the 1800s!! I totally recommend this novella via audio!

I hope everyone has an amazing week!

TGIF – Who Else is Busy AF?

WOW! This week just flew by! I totally forgot to post my Thirsty Thursday new and upcoming release post! I might post that this weekend. Chuck and I have spent a lot of time redoing our nook’s flooring! The old owners put laminate over the hardwood so we tore out the old and installed stuff that looks like wood!

Don’t mind my crazy mess 😂 we are going to paint the walls and of course clean up my shelves when everything is done! We still have some to go along the edges but hopefully that’ll be complete by Sunday!

I finished reading A Thousand Pieces of You last night and needless to say I’m not that impressed. I’m going to go ahead and finish the series and I will write a review for the series as a whole. Today I’m going to finish up To Kill a Kingdom, which I am reading for research purposes with my friend to help her with her book! Then I will get to The Wicked Deep!

I’ve heard some mixed reviews about this book, especially about the last page so I’m curious if I will feel the same way. I’m typically an easy raider because I rate critically rather than personally which I think is important. I can’t stand when people write books that are for younger audiences or forgenres they know they don’t like and rate the books poorly!

I hope everyone has an amazing weekend!

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Alone for the Holidays by Vivien Mayfair

Alone for the Holidays by Vivien Mayfair
Publisher: Bramble House Publishing
Publication Date: July 16th, 2019
Genre: Adult Contemporary
Rating: 3 Stars

Synopsis:

Giving up on Christmas after too many of them alone, Clara Neverov is a popular Romance author, recently divorced and bitter. She adores the solitary life free from Scrooges and messy entanglements. When a mysterious editor from a Goodreads book group she cares about shares a sad story about being alone for the holidays after his wife passes away, she accidentally invites him to spend them with her.

The only problem is that her snowy country cottage is nowhere close to the magical Santa’s wonderland that she described. In fact, it closely resembles the undergrown Grinch’s lair on a bad day. 

The situation goes from bad to worse when Finn Jacobs drops an email that he’s on his way to spend Christmas with her. He doesn’t mention an arrival date and he believes her to be a trim blond bookshop clerk she’s been posing as so she can enjoy her online life, free of her own identity. With some festive holiday intervention, icy roads slam her truck right into his car, where she quickly finds herself desperately scrambling for another false identity, terrified he’ll learn the truth.


DISCLAIMER:
Thank you Book Sirens, Vivien Mayfair, and Bramble House Books for this free copy to read and review. This is no way shapes my opinions, all thoughts expressed are my own.


REVIEW

I really enjoyed this novella! I don’t know why I was in the Christmas mood but when Book Sirens gave me the copy to review and I saw how short it was, I definitely wanted to give it a go. This book kept my attention all of the way through but it did have some issues.

I really liked that our main character was not the typical polished perfect princess as we see in most romance novels. I love that she has self-confidence issues that are real and not in the, oh I’m just a mousy girl but I’m actually a mega babe when I do my hair if you know what I mean. I liked the idea of the false identity and all of the holiday activities that they did together to grow close. I thought the INSTALOVE was a little over the top but what can you expect from a romance novella. It was quick and to the point!

What I didn’t like was the fact that she only based her self-worth on what the love interest, Finn, thought of her. I don’t really feel like that she grew as a character because in the end she still felt down on herself. I also felt like the way Finn behaved was out of character during one scene. It was to the point that I did not like him through the rest of the book even when he was supposed to be redeemed.

Overall, I liked this novella and I’m curious about her other books as this was my first experience with her writing!

This book is available NOW on Amazon Kindle for $.99 or free with KindleUnlimited!

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House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig
Genre:
Young Adult Fantasy/Retelling
Publisher:
Delacorte Press
Publishing Date: August 6, 2019
Rating:
4.5 Stars

House of Salt and Sorrows

Synopsis:
In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.


*Disclaimer*
This book was purchased by me; all thoughts and opinions expressed are strictly my own.

THIS BOOK.

I had been interested in reading this book and threw it on my TBR to read next month once I saw the cover. I usually am not persuaded by covers, but come on guys, look at it! So I went about the month of August cruising through my TBR… and then I saw my friend Grace (@fictionaladventures) on Instagram stare blankly into the camera with her humongous eyes saying, “I am in shock. I don’t think I will ever stop thinking about this book.” I immediately got it and started reading that night, finishing a day later.

This novel is a 12 Dancing Princesses retelling; I have never read the original, hell, I hadn’t even read the synopsis for this book! I went into it totally blind and 100% off of the recommendation of Grace and her Instagram review!

The first thing that shocked me was how creepy it was. I got the feeling that it would be a bit dark because of the title and the cover but once the visions started appearing (again, I hadn’t read the synopsis) I was super nervous. I remember thinking, okay this is NOT what I thought this book was going to be. I laid in bed with the covers pulled up wanting to know and not wanting to know what was going to happen next. The twists and turns in this book are totally unexpected. I was continuously changing my ideas on what was happening as things were revealed. The end was unexpected! I really enjoyed this book, the writing style was totally intoxicating. I truly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys retellings, creepy books, strong women, and plot twists!

Overall, I rated this a 4.5 there’s one aspect of the book that was necessary for the entirety of the book itself and the direction it went, but I somewhat wish it were different. I felt like that one of the *twists* lessened the thrill of the story just a bit, which took the creepy factor away from that point forward. Maybe if it were revealed more towards the end I would have felt differently!

You can purchase this book from most book sellers, Amazon, or other online retailers!

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Frankly in Love by David Yoon

Frankly in Love by David Yoon
Genre:
 Young Adult Contemporary Publisher: Putnam/Penguin Teen
Publication Date: 
September 10, 2019
Rating: 4.5 Stars ⭐️

Synopsis:

Two friends. One fake dating scheme. What could possibly go wrong? 

Frank Li has two names. There’s Frank Li, his American name. Then there’s Sung-Min Li, his Korean name. No one uses his Korean name, not even his parents. Frank barely speaks any Korean. He was born and raised in Southern California. Even so, his parents still expect him to end up with a nice Korean girl–which is a problem, since Frank is finally dating the girl of his dreams: Brit Means. Brit, who is funny and nerdy just like him. Brit, who makes him laugh like no one else. Brit . . . who is white. 

As Frank falls in love for the very first time, he’s forced to confront the fact that while his parents sacrificed everything to raise him in the land of opportunity, their traditional expectations don’t leave a lot of room for him to be a regular American teen. Desperate to be with Brit without his parents finding out, Frank turns to family friend Joy Song, who is in a similar bind. Together, they come up with a plan to help each other and keep their parents off their backs. Frank thinks he’s found the solution to all his problems, but when life throws him a curveball, he’s left wondering whether he ever really knew anything about love—or himself—at all. 


**REVIEW**
Disclaimer: First and foremost I would like to thank David Yoon and Penguin Teen for providing me an ARC in exchange for an honest review. This in no way sways my opinions, all thoughts expressed are my own.

Frankly in Love was everything that I needed. I am a first generation (half) Korean American, and although my expectations on love were much different as my mom married my white dad and left Korea for him, there were so many times where I felt connected to Frank and his experience within the colliding cultures.

I loved this book. I found myself laughing, aching with pain, drooling from the food (Frank ordered my fave dish at a restaurant, Mul Nengmyeon!!!), and connecting to the story most of all. The feeling of not knowing where I belong – not being Korean enough for the Super Koreans, not being white enough to not be targeted racially by others… it was a hard time growing up. I really appreciated the realness of this story, how I could put myself in Frank/Joy’s shoes and truly FEEL my life in that moment. Finding representation that’s true to me and not built on stereotypes was refreshing and honestly… heartbreaking.


The reason I gave it a 4.5⭐️ and not 5 – Could be considered spoilery:

This book was phenomenal, While I loved and adored this book, as an adult reader, instalove isn’t my favorite trope. It’s hard for me to remember that side of me from high school, even though I know that’s exactly what teenagers are like. I also didn’t think that the twist with Frank’s bff Q was handled in the best way possible. I felt as if Q was such an important character and that his relationship with Frank was strong enough for him to handle the truth.


Overall, this is a perfect YA contemporary for me. I felt emotionally invested in the characters, I miss them now that I’m done reading. If you like instalove, POC MCs, and realistic issues, then definitely check this out!

You can pre-order this book at AMAZON, or search any retailer online or book store closest to you! Available September 10, 2019!


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