Book Review: Doon

A woman dressed in a burgundy dress stands on a stone bridge, leading through mist to a green hillside
Doon Cover

Doon, Carey Corp & Lorie Langdon ( Book 1 of Doon Trilogy, Blink, 2013, ppbk, 399 pp, plus my version has a bonus of chapter 1 of the next book) (read 10/19/19)

At the time of this review (3/6/2021), the book holds a 4.4-star review on Amazon with 359 reviews.

Genre: Young Adult, Fairy Tales with Romance

Book Obtained By: Bought from author Langdon at an event

My Chocolate Rating on Scale of 5: 5 Godiva Chocolates (sinfully good)

Spoiler-Free Review

I read this book well over a year ago, so this is one of my short reviews. This was a delightful book, told in alternating first-person points of view: Veronica (Vee) and Mackenna (Kenna). The authors primarily take point on one character each when they draft the book.  Kenna is all about the theater—it’s what moves her, and it’s a great lens for her when she’s telling her part of the story. Vee is the cheerleader who loves to read, and is losing control of her life.

The characters are best friends because of their differences, the way they support each other and, at times, drive the other nuts. Their adventure kicks into high gear when they visit Scottland during summer break. Vee thinks she’s going crazy, having visions of a boy no one else can see. Then she sees him in Scotland. A letter from Kenna’s aunt tells a tale so outrageous—about a land that appears every one hundred years. And so Kenna and Vee attempt to reach that mythical land.

But it’s no happily ever after they’ve reached. This land’s in trouble, and these girls might be good, or might be evil. The growing romance between Vee and Jamie, that boy she’d been seeing, does not come easy. Since I hadn’t seen Brigadoon for a good 20 years, I didn’t remember why Brigadoon has this trait of appearing once in a hundred years. The authors tell a great story about that origin, and why no one trusts Vee and Kenna.

Friendships will be tested, hearts will be broken, and dreams must be chosen or given up. Do you stay in the land where you’re loved and needed, or do you return to the world where you’re loved and needed, and other dreams await?

I’ve given this my five chocolates for two reasons—while I may not remember even the basics of the plot, I do remember devouring the book because it was such a fun read with the girls’ different personalities. I cared about them both, I cared about the boys they were falling in love with, and I did not want Doon to end.

If you enjoy fairy tales, or romances, consider giving this a read.

Follow Corp and Langdon at their websites:

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Book Review: Wicked Fox

Cover of book shows Korean teen girl with her back to a boy. Behind them, a blood moon.
Jacket art by Miranda Meeks; Cover Design by Dana Li.

Wicked Fox, Kat  Cho (Book 1 of 2, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2019, hardbound).

420 pages. At the time of this review (12/3/2019), the book holds a 4.3-star review on Amazon with 81 reviews.

Genre: Young Adult

Book Obtained By: borrowed from Westerville Public Library after I saw blurb somewhere. When I visited the library the week they set up for “Wizards and Wands” (Harry Potter themed event), I scanned the YA new titles and immediately grabbed it. Glad I did!

My Chocolate Rating on Scale of 5: 5 Godiva Chocolates (sinfully good)

Spoiler-Free Review

Do you love YoungAdult books with heart, fantastic characters, some romance, and the ability to make you weep periodically for characters’ burdens, their decisions, their family? Then this book is for you. It’s a wonderful young adult fantasy, the debut by Kat Cho. She uses a Korean folk tale about gumiho (9-tailed foxes) as the base for her original work. The story is set largely in modern-day Seoul, Korea. It’s told from two points of view:  Miyoung, the teenage female gumiho; and Jihoon, the boy she saves from a dokkaebi (goblin). Both have complete arcs.

Cho introduces us to this richly built world of Korean culture, from school to food to family. Whether it’s a mother, or a halmeoni (grandmother), or a friend, each character Cho introduces plays a role. The plot and subplots weave deftly together for a fast read. I never skimmed.

Miyoung must decide what path she’ll walk, for she survives by stealing the life force of men. Even though she chooses evil ones, she still bears the burden of gaining immortality at their expense. When she meets Jihoon, her relationship challenges the core of her mother’s teachings. Miyoung needs every bit of supernatural strength she possesses to survive the challenges Cho has in store for her.

Likewise, Jihoon must decide who he wants to be. Until Miyoung crashes into his life, he has goofed off at school but worked hard at the family’s restaurant. His fractured family means scars he has to address. The richness of his school life introduces us to his closest friends as well as enemies.

The book alternates between Miyoung’s and Jihoon’s points of view. Also mixed in, Cho has crafted gumiho folk tales that illuminate what gumiho have endured in Korea’s history. They add a wonderful depth to the story.

The lyrical prose drew me in, beautiful without outweighing the story. Cho paints this world through her character’s eyes, their attitudes, their hopes and fears. It’s always clear who’s telling the story.  The italicized snippets call out the folk tale, told with a different voice. They build the world wonderfully.  Take this snippet of a folk tale:

“NOT ALL PREDATORS are monsters. But if you beat them enough, they’ll bite.

This was a lesson learned by a small village in the late nineteenth century.

Empress Myeongseong, known as Queen Min, sought to bring modernization to Joseon.

During that time lived a gumiho. She chose to reside in a small town that climbed one of the craggy mountains scattered across the country. Though most gumiho lived a nomadic life, she’d fallen in love with her isolated village and the people in it.”

You might want to skip the epilogue. It’s the setup for book two, and the longer road Miyoung and Jihoon (and hopefully other characters I loved) face. Book two’s release is scheduled for summer 2020.

This book is everything that is wonderful about #ownvoices, #diversity. I hope you’ll give it a read.

The Author

Follow Cho at her website.

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Book Review: MILA 2.0

MILA 2.0, Debra D (Katherine Tegen Books, 2013, Book 1 of a trilogy, 470 pp.)

A dark-haired girl, with part of her skin drawn as blocks drifting off to the right
Book Cover

At the time of this review (3/14/2019), the book holds a 4.1-star review on Amazon with 251 reviews.

Young Adult, mystery/thriller with a sci-fi edge

Book Obtained By: Won as part of a YA basket of books donated by Editor Lydia Sharp of Entangled Publishing, at the NEORWA Cleveland Rocks Conference, Sept. 2018).

My Chocolate Rating on Scale of 5: 4 Ghirardelli Salty Caramels (just shy of perfection)

From the back cover

“Mila was living with her mother in a small Minnesota town when she discovered she was also living a lie. She was never meant to learn the truth about her identity. She was never supposed to remember the past—that she was built in a computer science lab and programmed to do things real people would never do.

Now she has no choice but to run—from the dangerous operatives who want her terminated because she knows too much, and a mysterious group who wants to capture her alive and unlock her advanced technology.

Evading her enemies won’t help Mila escape the cruel reality of what she is, but what she’s becoming now is beyond anyone’s imagination, including her own . . . and that just might save her life.”

Spoiler-Free Review

Get ready to cheer for Mila as she struggles to find herself after making the earth-shattering discovery that she was created in a lab. Her mom has a lot of explaining to do, but Mila’s not ready to hear much of it. She’d rather chase after the boy who’s caught her eye.

One by one, the stories she knows about herself fall under her analytical gaze. What and who can she believe, trust? That cute guy teases against everything her mom has taught her. This is YA, so with that hint of first love, I know it’ll play a role in the book. Driza sets a fast, tense pace, filled with teenagers you’ll love and hate.

You’ll disappear into Mila’s slightly off world. BFF Kaylee pops from the page with her rapid-fire talk and her boy-hungry eyes. From homeroom to wandering the halls to hanging out after school, or home with her mom-vet at the place they’re renting, Driza sets up this cool girl who doesn’t quite fit in, but who does when you’re the dreaded new girl at the school? Just wait until Driza reveals more of Mila’s background, building us to the impending tipping point in Mila’s life.

Those discoveries ratchet up the tension. Who wants her back, and what will they do to Mila, her mom, her friends, if they find her?

As Driza introduces characters, I connect with some and dislike or hate others, all for the right reasons. Driza shows me the world through Mila’s eyes, and I trust her view. When she senses a person’s off, I believe it because Driza has shown me that through the character’s actions. Some of these characters I hope to see redeemed. Others, I’m fine if they turn out as dark as they seem, and Driza has me rooting for them to get the end they deserve.

By the end of the book, Driza ties off the story lines so that this stands as a complete novel, but I know more is coming since this is a trilogy. All the books have been released, along with prequel. Towards the end Driza introduced another character and gave me clues hinting the character is NOT the fully in-control person she thinks herself to be. I’m betting she’ll be in a future book, and if so, it’ll be fun seeing where Driza takes her.

I enjoyed this strong debut (the first book the author has released). I gave it a 4 rather than a 5 because it was easier for me to put down versus the books that allow me to set aside what I’m supposed to be doing in favor of a few more chapters. Mila’s a smart girl, but there were places where I figured she should have “gotten” something before she did. Writers like to give us readers the chance to figure it out, adding the tension as we ache for the character to make the same connection. While I didn’t find the book predictable, no plot twists took me totally by surprise.

All in all, and enjoyable read. While I do want to continue her story, I have so many books on my shelves, I’ll turn to them. I do intend, someday, to either borrow the rest of the series from the library or ask for them for as birthday gifts.

About the Author

Learn more about Debra Driza at her publisher’s page.

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