Author: Rowena

Review: Heart and Seoul by Jen Frederick

Posted May 10, 2021 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Heart and Seoul by Jen FrederickReviewer: Rowena
Heart and Seoul by Jen Frederick
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: May 11, 2021
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 352
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Rowena's 2021 Review Pile Challenge
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three-half-stars

From USA Today bestselling author Jen Frederick comes a heart-wrenching yet hopeful romance that shows that the price of belonging is often steeper than expected.

As a Korean adoptee, Hara Wilson doesn’t need anyone telling her she looks different from her white parents. She knows. Every time Hara looks in the mirror, she’s reminded that she doesn’t look like anyone else in her family—not her loving mother, Ellen; not her jerk of a father, Pat; and certainly not like Pat’s new wife and new “real” son.

At the age of twenty-five, she thought she had come to terms with it all, but when her father suddenly dies, an offhand comment at his funeral triggers an identity crisis that has her running off to Seoul in search of her roots.

What Hara finds there has all the makings of a classic K-drama: a tall, mysterious stranger who greets her at the airport, spontaneous adventures across the city, and a mess of familial ties, along with a red string of destiny that winds its way around her heart and soul. Hara goes to Korea looking for answers, but what she gets instead is love—a forbidden love that will either welcome Hara home…or destroy her chance of finding one.

Heart and Seoul is about the emotional journey of Hara Wilson. Hara was abandoned when she was just a baby, outside of a police station in South Korea. She was adopted and raised by Pat and Ellen Wilson in Des Moines, Iowa. She grew up being the only Korean in a sea of white faces and she was uncomfortable being the only one that didn’t look like everyone else. Being teased about the way she looks, the way she smells and the Korean food her Mom tried to make for her made her want nothing to do with being Korean. So when you grow up rejecting your ethnicity, when it finally hits you in the face that no matter how far you run away from what you are, it doesn’t change a hot damn thing.

When she hears an offhand comment at her father’s funeral, Hara begins to question who she is and becomes curious about where she comes from so she books a trip to Seoul to find some answers for herself. What she finds over there is a whole lot more than she bargained for and her life is upended. The truth about her present, the truth about her past, and where she goes from here is enough to drive anyone crazy and it’s driving Hara crazy. Her entire life has been thrown for a loop and she spends the whole of this book trying to sort through how she feels about the truths uncovered and it hurt my heart more than once.

Getting to know Hara reminded me a lot of myself when I was younger. Growing up in the states, as a person of color, your culture is always weird and the food you eat, the way that your home is set up is always a discussion that made me feel uncomfortable with my white friends. So I understood Hara when she said that she rejected being Korean in Iowa. I did pretty much the same thing when I was in high school because it was easier to blend in when you liked the same things that everyone else did. I remember getting so embarrassed when my Mom and Dad would speak Samoan when they came to my school or if we were out and about. I just wanted them to blend in with everyone else around us and speak English. Like Hara, I finally wised up and decided that blending in and denying that I’m Samoan was not something I wanted to do anymore. I never hated being Samoan, I just hid it when around my non-Samoan friends. So I really connected with everything Hara went through in this story. My heart went out to her and I rooted for her to really come into her own.

The love interest in this one melted me a little and I pictured Park Seo Joon from What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim as Choi Yu Jun. I liked seeing him try to woo Hara and I really enjoyed seeing him try to get Hara to understand that no matter where she grew up or how little she knew about the Korean culture, she was still Korean. Nobody could take that away from her and their romance was just super cute and I enjoyed it.

I will say that while I did really enjoy the story and Hara’s journey, there were parts of this story that I felt weren’t needed and kind of dragged the story a bit. There was a lot going on with Hara’s trip and everything she was going through internally that a lot of the stuff that happened directly to her felt unnecessary. I was also not super thrilled with the ending. It felt too unresolved. I get that this was more of a women’s fiction story than a romance but I really just needed more of a solid resolution to everything that happened at the end. I’m wondering if there’s going to be a follow-up book to this one. I’m so on board for another one if that’s the plan.

Final Grade

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson.

Posted April 22, 2021 by Rowena in Reviews | 10 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson.Reviewer: Rowena
Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 368
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four-stars

Amy Curry thinks her life sucks. Her mom decides to move from California to Connecticut to start anew--just in time for Amy's senior year. Her dad recently died in a car accident. So Amy embarks on a road trip to escape from it all, driving cross-country from the home she's always known toward her new life. Joining Amy on the road trip is Roger, the son of Amy's mother's old friend. Amy hasn't seen him in years, and she is less than thrilled to be driving across the country with a guy she barely knows. So she's surprised to find that she is developing a crush on him. At the same time, she's coming to terms with her father's death and how to put her own life back together after the accident. Told in traditional narrative as well as scraps from the road -- diner napkins, motel receipts, postcards--this is the story of one girl's journey to find herself.

This review was originally posted on April 28, 2011.

Always listen to Ames when she recommends a book to read because she always hits it out of the park with her book pimps. This is one of the books that Ames told me a long time ago to read and though I really wanted to read it, I kept putting it off until finally…I picked it up and couldn’t put it down.

Oh man did I love this book. It starts off great and ends spectacular. I loved it. Every bleeping single thing about it. I really enjoyed getting to know Amy through her adventures but also getting to know Roger as well. I’ll be honest and tell you that I seriously wanted to go on a road trip after reading this book. It was that fantastic!

One of the things that I really enjoyed about this book was the traveling journal that Amy kept throughout the trip. Seeing the receipts for the places that her and Roger ate at made me that much more apart of their journey. I thought it was adorable.

Even though this book was a little on the light side, I think Matson did a wonderful job of keeping us right smack dab in the middle of Amy’s grief. She didn’t make light of it or breeze over it in the story, she added it to the story and I appreciated the addition. Once we finally got the entire story, I already knew it but still, it was nice how she slid that in and didn’t just leave us hanging with it all. I’m glad that we found out exactly what happened. I felt like Roger, finding out bits and pieces of it until Amy was ready to tell the story.

I can’t remember ever feeling like the story slowed or dragged because for me, I couldn’t read this book fast enough. When I was finished with the book, I went back and read through my favorite parts of the book. Yes, I enjoyed the book that much. I thought that both Amy and Roger were great characters that I’d love to revisit over and over again. I can already tell that this book is going to be one of my comfort reads in the future, one of those books that I come back to just because.

I definitely recommend this book, it was light and cute and just an all around great read. If you’re looking for something light, contemporary and cute, this is the book for you. The characters are charming, the story flows nicely and you’re not going to want to put it down. Just a fabulous all around read.

4 out of 5

four-stars


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The Weekly Recap: March 29 – April 4, 2021

Posted April 4, 2021 by Rowena in Features, Giveaway Winners | 3 Comments

Happy Easter Sunday, everyone!

We hope that you’re enjoying your weekend and that you’re reading all of the best books. If you were too busy to check the blog this week, we’ve got you covered.

Here’s what you missed on Book Binge.

What We Reviewed

Holly’s review of One Fine Fae by Molly Harper | 3.75 out of 5

What We Posted

What Are You Reading? (561)
WTF Cover Saturday (395)
Sunday Spotlight: The Kingmaker by Kennedy Ryan

Current Giveaways

Sunday Spotlight: April 2021

Giveaway Winners

B N
Denise
Glenda

Monthly Reads: January 2021

Jen M
Erin
Kim

Monthly Reads: February 2021

Kareni

Sunday Spotlight: February 2021

Denise

Sunday Spotlight: March 2021

Winners: Please shoot us an email at admin[at]thebookbinge.com and let us know which book you want as your prize. You have two weeks to get back to us before we choose another winner. Check back on Sundays to see if you’re a winner in one of our giveaways.

That does it for this week’s recap. How was your week in books? Get any new books you want to share? Please share in the comments.


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Sunday Spotlight: The Kingmaker by Kennedy Ryan

Posted April 4, 2021 by Rowena in Features | 4 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

This week’s Sunday Spotlight features an oldie, but goodie. In the world we’re living in right now, it would be amazing to have someone like Lennix Moon Hunter to help us through these politically charged times. Maxim and Lennix’s romance wasn’t an easy one but it was one of the most satisfying reads that I’ve had in a while. It’s quite a memorable read and I highly recommend it for the below quotes and so much more.

Sunday Spotlight: The Kingmaker by Kennedy RyanThe Kingmaker by Kennedy Ryan
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: November 17, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 369
Add It: Goodreads
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"I'd do anything to keep her."

Power. Passion. Betrayal.

Rita Award-winning author Kennedy Ryan delivers the epic first installment of the All the King's Men Duet.

Raised to rule, bred to lead and weaned on a diet of ruthless ambition.

In a world of haves and have nots, my family has it all, and I want nothing to do with it.

My path takes me far from home and paints me as the black sheep. At odds with my father, I'm determined to build my own empire. I have rules, but Lennix Hunter is the exception to every one of them. From the moment we meet, something sparks between us. But my family stole from hers and my father is the man she hates most. I lied to have her, and will do anything to keep her. Though she tries to hate me, too, the inexorable pull between us will not be denied.

And neither will I.

Memorable Quotes

“If a kiss has a color, this one is the muted shades of the sky overhead, a ménage à trois of midnight and indigo and moonshine silver. If a kiss has a sound, this one is the concert of our breaths and sighs and moans. If a kiss has a taste, it tastes like this. Hunger flavored with yearning and spiced with desperation.”

“I know it’s unreasonable because I met her no more than an hour ago. We’ve had one conversation. Some people leave an impression. Lennix Moon Hunter has left more than an impression. She’s left her mark on me. And it’s shaped like a star.”

“Do what you need to do. Change your world,” he says softly, his eyes connected to mine so intensely there’s no hope of looking away. “I have to go make my world, but when the time is right, I’ll be back for you.”

All the King’s Men

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: April 2021

Do you love this book as much as I do? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Kennedy Ryan

Kennedy Ryan is a Southern girl gone Southern California. A Top 100 Amazon Bestseller, Kennedy writes romance about remarkable women who find a way to thrive even in tough times, the love they find, and the men who cherish them.

She is a wife to her lifetime lover and mother to an extraordinary son. She has always leveraged her journalism background to write for charity and non-profit organizations, but enjoys writing to raise Autism awareness most. A contributor for Modern Mom Magazine, Kennedy’s writings have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul, USA Today and many others. The founder and executive director of a foundation serving Georgia families living with Autism, Kennedy has appeared on Headline News, Montel Williams, NPR and other outlets as a voice for families living with autism.


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Throwback Thursday Review: Chasing Fire by Nora Roberts

Posted March 18, 2021 by Rowena in Reviews | 5 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Chasing Fire by Nora RobertsReviewer: Rowena
Chasing Fire by Nora Roberts
Publisher: Piatkus
Publication Date: April 14, 2011
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: No
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 477
Add It: Goodreads
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three-stars

Little else in life is as dangerous as fire jumping. Flying past towering pillars of smoke, parachuting down to the edge of an all-consuming blaze, shoveling and sawing for hours upon hours, days at a time, all to hold the line and push back against the raw power of Mother Nature.

But there's also little else as thrilling - at least to Rowan Tripp. The Missoula smoke jumpers are one of the most exclusive fire-fighting squads in the nation, and the job is in Rowan's blood: her father is a legend in the field. She's been fighting fires since her eighteenth birthday. At this point, returning to the wilds of Montana for the season feels like coming home - even with reminders of the partner she lost last season still lingering in the air.

Fortunately, this year's rookie crop is among the strongest ever - and Gulliver Curry's one of the best. He's also a walking contradiction, a hotshot firefighter with a big vocabulary, and a winter job at a kid's arcade. He came to Missoula to follow in the footsteps of Lucas "Iron Man" Tripp, yet he's instantly more fascinated by his hero's daughter. Rowan, as a rule, doesn't hook up with other smoke jumpers, but Gull is convinced he can change her mind. And damn if he doesn't make a good case to be an exception to the rule.

Everything is thrown off balance, though, when a dark presence lashes out against Rowan, looking to blame someone for last year's tragedy. Rowan knows she can't complicate things with Gull - any distractions in the air or on the ground could be lethal. But if she doesn't find someone she can lean on when the heat gets intense, her life may go down in flames.

This review was originally posted on May 31, 2011.

It took me a while to read this book. It started off pretty great but as the book wore on, I found myself wanting to move on to the next book already. That bummed me out because I love Nora Roberts. She always has the ability to make any occupation under the sun seem so hot dang interesting. I’ve never thought about fire jumpers but holy goodness, are they intense or what? I couldn’t imagine myself jumping out of planes into the thick of roaring fires to try to contain them. I couldn’t imagine having a loved one be part of this occupation either, those long nights when they’re out on a fire and waiting to hear back from them to make sure they’re alright.

This book tells the story of how Rowan Tripp and Gulliver Curry fell in love. Rowan is a seasoned fire jumper and Gulliver is a rookie fire jumper. Gulliver likes what he sees whenever Rowan is around and his flirty attitude and general hotness are totally wearing Ro down. There’s a crazy person out to get the fire jumpers and all fingers seem to be pointed at Dolly, the ex-girlfriend of a fire jumper that died a year or so ago. She blames the fire jumper crew, especially Ro (who was Jimmy’s partner) and she’s done a bang-up job of telling them (Ro) exactly how she feels about them (her).

Nora Roberts writes a lot of fantabulous books and while I did start off enjoying the heck out of this book, overall this story dragged for me. There’s a lot of unnecessary information going on in this book. Lots of things going on as well and while it usually works for me, the secondary romance between Ro’s father and one of his customers didn’t really get me excited to continue reading the story.

The romance between Ro and Gully showed such promise in the beginning but teetered off somewhere in the middle. Ro’s trust issues and all the craziness that comes with all of the drama at work (Dolly destroying Ro’s room, the destruction of the room, etc…) should have made this book more interesting but for some reason, it just wasn’t. The book isn’t bad, it’s just not in your face exciting either. The characters, the story, the setting, it’s all painted with such pretty words but that’s about it. The book has great imagery when it comes to the actual fires and what goes down at the firehouse but other than that, things were just okay.

I enjoyed getting to know everyone in the story but I can’t honestly say that these characters will stay with me the way that other books by Nora Roberts have.

3 out of 5

three-stars


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