Check out a few of my favorites reads from the year.
Seoulmates by Susan Lee
When Hannah’s boyfriend, Nate, breaks up with her, saying they have nothing in common, Hannah knows she will do anything to get him back. If he’s into K-pop and K-dramas, then she will be too. The only problem – she’s been avoiding her Korean heritage to try to fit in. Then her ex-best friend, Jacob Kim a.k.a. the newest K-drama star, comes back to town. He wants a break from fame and the pressures that come with it. This might be a recipe for the perfect summer, if Jacob and Hannah can only figure out what went so wrong with their friendship and figure out where their relationship will go from here.
Seoulmates was absolutely amazing. If you like rom-coms, you have to read this book. The banter between Hannah and Jacob is fun, but never feels forced. Jacob gives insight into the pitfalls of fame and how hard it can be to live in the spotlight. It’s entertaining to see how the relationships develop in this book. They have it all: miscommunication, jealousy, love and cute inside jokes.
If you like Seoulmates, check out Once Upon a K-Prom by Kat Cho.
One For All by Lillie Lainoff
Growing up in the time of the Musketeers, Tania de Batz dreams of being one like her father. But as a a girl with a chronic illness that makes her dizzy all the time, the dream seems impossible. When her father is murdered, Tania follows his dying wish for her to attend L’Academie des Mariees, a finishing school.
She’s also hoping to solve the mystery of her father’s murder. Tania quickly discovers this is not a normal finishing school. It actually trains women to be a new form of Musketeers. While facing incredible obstacles, Tania must prove to everyone, including herself, that even seemingly impossible dreams are possible, especially when you are part of a team.
One for All does not shy away from the real issues faced by individuals with chronic illnesses. The main character shows how difficult it can be to navigate society and all of its expectations while fighting an illness she cannot predict or control. The author takes great care to show there is hope, even in the midst of great struggle. I love the gender-bending this book uses to retell a familiar story with women taking center stage.
If you enjoy One for All, check out the inspiration for the story: The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas.
The Prison Healer series by Lynette Noni
Kiva Meriden spent 10 years as the prison healer in the infamous prison Zalindov. When the Rebel Queen is captured and delivered to Zalindov sick and unconscious, Kiva is ordered to keep her alive. The authorities want the Rebel Queen to participate in the Trial by Ordeal, an impossible series of challenges almost no one survives.
The orders come from multiple places, but the one Kiva cares about the most comes from her family in a coded message: “Don’t let her die. We are coming.” Knowing the queen will never survive the Trial, Kiva volunteers to take her place. She must navigate an impossible Trial, a mysterious plague, a rebellion, and love all at the same time, with the knowledge that success will bring both her and the queen freedom. Failure will bring death. Let the Trial begin.
The Prison Healer series has been one of my favorite reads, particularly since the series is complete. The last book, The Blood Traitor, was released earlier this year. This series kept me guessing from beginning to end with numerous plot twists expertly woven into each book. At only 17 years old, Kiva has seen more death than most people will witness in their entire lifetime. Despite everything, she refuses to let her heart harden toward the prisoners and staff who torment her or to give up, even in the face of impossible odds.
If you like The Prison Healer, check out the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas.