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WICKED FOX by Kat Cho

A fresh and addictive fantasy-romance set in modern-day Seoul.

Eighteen-year-old Gu Miyoung has a secret–she’s a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men in order to survive. Because so few believe in the old tales anymore, and with so many evil men no one will miss, the modern city of Seoul is the perfect place to hide and hunt.

But after feeding one full moon, Miyoung crosses paths with Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest. Against her better judgment, she violates the rules of survival to rescue the boy, losing her fox bead–her gumiho soul–in the process.

Jihoon knows Miyoung is more than just a beautiful girl–he saw her nine tails the night she saved his life. His grandmother used to tell him stories of the gumiho, of their power and the danger they pose to humans. He’s drawn to her anyway.

With murderous forces lurking in the background, Miyoung and Jihoon develop a tenuous friendship that blossoms into something more. But when a young shaman tries to reunite Miyoung with her bead, the consequences are disastrous . . . forcing Miyoung to choose between her immortal life and Jihoon’s.


Title : Wicked Fox
Author Kat Cho
Series : Gumiho (book one)
Format : ARC
Page Count : 448
Genre : YA paranormal/fantasy
Publisher : G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date : June 25, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating
: ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

This is a paranormal fantasy, with a heavy focus on Korean mythology, set in present day Seol. And boy did it hook me right away.

My mother says gumiho are always women because we gain our power from the moon.”
And what is a man?
Dinner.”

Honesty, the first 1/3rd of this book was nonstop delight. It was interesting, refreshing, funny, thrilling.. I loved both our heroine, a half-human half-nine-tailed fox — who chooses to siphon the life force from evil men to survive (unlike her mother, a full gumiho, who prefers to go straight for the liver) — and our plucky, clumsy, devil-may-care hero, who has the good (or bad, depending on your point of view) fortune to be rescued by her. 

[his grandmother] used to tell Jihoon stories about [goblins] tricking humans and nine-tailed foxes eating the livers of men. Horror stories camouflaged as fables to teach lessons. But those types of stories were supposed to stay in books, not come to life and almost choke him to death.

Both characters have endured the loss of parents and are variations of isolated or alone : Miyoung because she doesn’t fit in, and her mother has taught her to not stand out so as to never give herself away, and Jihoon who, despite having two good friends, just tends to keep things light, and on the surface, so he can’t be hurt by further loss. 

And your father is a gumiho, too?
He was human.”
Was? Is he dead?
How should I know? I’ve never met the guy.”
How dysfunctionally ordinary.”

I loved that, without feeling heavy handed about it, these characters also put the more typical fantasy gender stereotypes somewhat on their head. Miyoung is the one with the power, the strength, and she’s the one recusing the hero. But she’s also the monster.

When you’re constantly treated as a pariah, and labeled bad, you might begin living up to the expectation.”

Things get — extra — complicated when Miyoung’s bead, her soul, is separated from her body, and there are shamans, secrets, and betrayals galore. I especially enjoyed events right around this time, when Miyoung is trying to solve her problem without crossing her stern mother, when she’s trying to fend off Jihoon’s attempts at friendship, and all the funny little exchanges they have. But this book did kind of falter shortly after most of that early action and things felt pretty dragged out. This is also a pretty long book (over four hundred pages) so a long book was made to feel longer because stuff just.. isn’t happening?

If I die, it’s not for you. I’m dying for me.”

That said, I found the world effortless to lose myself in. The writing, the mythology, the worldbuilding, the chapters that showcased and told us of past Gumihos, it was all fascinating. The characters, too, I really liked and it was, at times, really funny. And while the middle did drag, I thought the ending captured some of that early magic for me, so I’ll definitely read on (not sure if this is a duology or a trilogy at this point).

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT SWEETIE by Sandhya Menon

Ashish Patel didn’t know love could be so…sucky. After he’s dumped by his ex-girlfriend, his mojo goes AWOL. Even worse, his parents are annoyingly, smugly confident they could find him a better match. So, in a moment of weakness, Ash challenges them to set him up.

The Patels insist that Ashish date an Indian-American girl—under contract. Per subclause 1(a), he’ll be taking his date on “fun” excursions like visiting the Hindu temple and his eccentric Gita Auntie. Kill him now. How is this ever going to work?

Sweetie Nair is many things: a formidable track athlete who can outrun most people in California, a loyal friend, a shower-singing champion. Oh, and she’s also fat. To Sweetie’s traditional parents, this last detail is the kiss of death.

Sweetie loves her parents, but she’s so tired of being told she’s lacking because she’s fat. She decides it’s time to kick off the Sassy Sweetie Project, where she’ll show the world (and herself) what she’s really made of.

Ashish and Sweetie both have something to prove. But with each date they realize there’s an unexpected magic growing between them. Can they find their true selves without losing each other?


Title : There’s Something About Sweetie
Author Sandhya Menon
Series : When Dimple Met Rishi (book two)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 384
Genre : YA contemporary
Publisher : Simon Pulse
Release Date : May 14, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

So, don’t pelt me with rotten fruit, but I have to get this out of the way : THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT SWEETIE was very.. sweet. Kind of gooey. I wonder if it was a deliberate choice in order to balance out the less-than-fun fatphobic elements of the story or if that’s just the author’s preference (I’ve read WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI but it was a few years ago and I can’t remember what the sweet factor was like, so, anyway..).

Resisting fatphobic messages was one thing — but what about the insidious, internalized fat phobia she carried around?

I was really keen on this one because of the aforementioned fat issue. As per the summary, Sweetie was toted to be big and beautiful and trying to be braver, bolder, in the face of her mother’s criticisms and constant need to hold her back for fear of what others might say or do. And this definitely lived up to that. I actually really really adored Sweetie. I liked how she pushed herself to take risks, to stand up for herself, how she was confident in herself despite the fact that everything (society, media) and everyone (family, peers) would have her believe there was something wrong with her. But I also appreciated her moments of doubt, of frustration, with her body — we all have that one area, or more, no matter our size, that we just dislike — that just proved she was human, too. 

“The word ‘fat’ isn’t inherently bad or gross. It’s people who’ve made it the way. ‘Fat’ is just the opposite of ‘thin’, and no one flinches at that one. So, to me, ‘fat’ is just another word that describes me, like ‘brown’ or ‘girl’ or ‘athlete’.”

As for Ashish, this is where the connection to the first book came. He’s Rishi’s little brother; confident, cocky, not-quite-connected-to-his-culture, and also recently heartbroken and reeling from the fact that for all his cool player ways he actually loved his ex, and doesn’t know how to move on. Desperate to change things up, get his groove back, he follows in Rishi’s footsteps and has his parents set him up with someone they approve of. And in comes Sweetie. Nothing like the previous girls he dated and yet.. 

Ashish was one of those naturally flirty people. It was, like, his resting state. He had resting flirty face.

I loved their connection, I loved their differences, I loved their individual sets of friends, and all the diversity within the pages. I’ll admit that some of the monologue-y impassioned speeches or wise observations were a little much, and kind of over the top, and not hardly what I think we’d see from sixteen and seventeen year olds. But they were passionate and wise and accurate. So, thumbs up, but maybe a little too much and a few too many. 

There’s your typical ‘hide something for good-ish reasons and have it blow up in your face’ drama, which is hardly limited to YA and happens in all romance, and some issues or conversations did feel repetitive, plus Sweetie’s mother as the sole hold out only to have the eleventh hour epiphany was kind of.. shrug. Again, typical, and I would’ve liked to have seen more gradual awareness in that transition but alas. The romance, too, is definitely a fall hard and fall fast situation and, again, ooey gooey sweet, but I still liked it.

He was doing his trademark smolder-smirk; she could see it in her peripheral vision. It was thirty percent smirk and seventy percent smolder, and she didn’t even have fire protection in the car.

If you want a diverse, feel good, YA contemporary that’s heavy on the romance and heavy on self-acceptance, this is the book for you.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

THE TAKEOVER EFFECT by Nisha Sharma – double review!

Hemdeep Singh knows exactly what he wants. With his intelligence and determination, he has what it takes to build his own legacy away from Bharat, Inc. and the empire his father created. But when his brother calls him home, Hem puts his dreams on hold once again to help save the company he walked away from. That’s when he encounters the devastating Mina Kohli in the Bharat boardroom, and he realizes he’s in for more than he had bargained.

Mina will do whatever it takes to regain control of her mother’s law firm, even if it means agreeing to an arranged marriage. Her newest case assignment is to assist Bharat in the midst of a potential takeover. It could be the key to finally achieving her goal while preventing her marriage to a man she doesn’t love—as long as her explosive attraction to Hem doesn’t get in the way.

As Mina and Hem work to save Bharat, they not only uncover secrets that could threaten the existence of the company, but they also learn that in a winner-takes-all game, love always comes out on top.


Title : The Takeover Effect
Author : Nisha Sharma
Series : The Singh Family (book one)
Format : eARC / OverDrive (ebook)
Page Count : 384
Publisher : Avon Impulse
Release Date : April 2, 2019

Reviewer : Micky / Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

I had high hopes for THE TAKEOVER EFFECT and my hopes were realised. I have really enjoyed previous desi contemporary romantic reads so I knew this was a book worth taking a chance on. THE TAKEOVER EFFECT was about equality in the workplace, legacy and it had an office setting with a whole spaghetti of problems because the mix of family and work is complicated.

Mina was a feminist to the core and I delighted in her character. This was a woman who knew herself, had drive and was a realistic beacon for readers. Mina’s work as a lawyer found her in an unbiased role assessing an attempt to buy out a multi-million dollar company. Here she met Hem, eldest brother and ex-CEO of the organisation. Hem was a strong Sikh man with feminist sensibilities (hooray) and what ensued between these two was a slow-burn of sizzling chemistry set in a great plot. I loved watching the connection between these two grow.

The story was interesting from the start with some fast-paced excitement towards the end. I really enjoyed the other characters, they gave depth to the read and I am envisaging future stories for a number of them; I want books with Raj and the other brothers. I have found a new author to keep watch for and I am delighted. More of these desi diverse reads please, the book world needs them.

I voluntarily read an early copy of this book. Thank you Avon Impulse and Edelweiss.


Hollis’ 2 star review

If you strip away the romance, and left this story as a tense corporate espionage and family feud-y business takeover thriller, I think I would’ve loved THE TAKEOVER EFFECT. But the romance was very prominent and gross characters (who are supposed to be gross) were extra awful by toying with the heroine and threatening arranged marriages if she didn’t comply with their shady nonsense. Which, I mean, I think I could’ve been okay with just that as a blackmail tactic when, again, paired with the tense business politics and schemes. But the actual romance plot just dragged it all down for me.

I didn’t love the romance, obviously, and didn’t love the characters together. Infact, maybe didn’t love the hero at all? Mina was strong, feminine, feminist, but I also feel like she got railroaded by the hero a bit. She stood up to him but she also let herself be convinced, consumed, and let him distract her beyond sense and logic despite how hard she tried to stay professional. Add to the that the fact that the hero went alpha at every given moment? No me gusta. The fact that we also had constant comparisons, or references or throwaway lines, in association with the hero’s “evil ex” was too much. It was to the romance’s detriment that so much time was spent tripping over this character that didn’t even have her own page time and it felt a little like the author was trying so hard to compare the two women in order to sell us on Mina. Did it work? No. Because I was too distracted by Lisa’s ghostly presence in these situations that had nothing to do with her.

Also, the sex scenes? Can’t say they did anything for me. They felt very abrupt, often shoehorned into important dialogue or emotional scenes, and they were too out of place, over too quickly, for any connection to be given to them. I like sexy times as much as the next person but I like them better when they have a purpose or build the relationship. These didn’t.

I will likely read on in the series because the writing wasn’t bad, even if some moments felt a little cheese, and because maybe it was just these characters that failed to sell me on the swoonytimes; other brothers and/or family members, who I assume will get their own stories, might appeal more (the one I most want is the cousin & PA m/m romance because yes hi I want that hate banter please).