Lately, I’ve gotten my hands (err…my screen) on a handful of early e-arcs of books that come out this year–and books that I’ve been chomping at the bit to read. (Thanks, NetGalley!) I’m going to share reviews so you can prep your TBRs!
First up: a charming, adorable, and k-pop filled YA romance:
XOXO by Axie Oh
HarperCollins, On Sale: July 13, 2021
Jenny didn’t get to be an award-winning, classically trained cellist without choosing practice over fun. That is, until the night she meets Jaewoo. Mysterious, handsome, and just a little bit tormented, Jaewoo is exactly the kind of distraction Jenny would normally avoid. And yet, she finds herself pulled into spending an unforgettable evening wandering Los Angeles with him on the night before his flight home to South Korea.
With Jaewoo an ocean away, there’s no use in dreaming of what could have been. But when Jenny and her mother move to Seoul to take care of her ailing grandmother, who does she meet at the elite arts academy she’s just been accepted to? Jaewoo.
Finding the dreamy stranger who swept you off your feet in your homeroom is one thing, but Jaewoo isn’t just any student. Turns out, Jaewoo is a member of one of the biggest K-pop bands in the world. And like most K-pop idols, Jaewoo is strictly forbidden from dating anyone.
When a relationship means not only jeopardizing her place at her dream music school but also endangering everything Jaewoo’s worked for, Jenny has to decide once and for all just how much she’s willing to risk for love. XOXO is a new romance that proves chasing your dreams doesn’t have to mean sacrificing your heart, from acclaimed author Axie Oh.
My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5
I thought this was a sweet and enjoyable YA, rich with culture (brb booking a trip to Seoul immediately), a swoonworthy k-pop-filled romance, and relatable themes, like the pressure to meet parental expectations, and figuring out your future. I thought it was a unique and well-written debut by Axie Oh, and I’m looking forward to more of her books. (And aren’t we all a sucker for a good Forbidden Love romance??)
The only cons for me were that at times, it felt like the main character was more Middle-Grade-like in her behaviors and personality. I felt like she should been written a bit more teenager-y to match the YA romance storyline and more mature adolescent themes. I also thought that the end was a bit rushed. We don’t like to be tortured by the drama, but I think the reader needs to remain in the angst for a bit to really enjoy the final HEA. The pacing was great throughout except for the last stretch, and I wanted that to last longer.
Overall, a solid and wonderfully sweet read that’ll you definitely want to pick up this summer.