PLAY IT BY EAR (Backstage Pass #2) by Tara Frejas
What does it really take to be a champion?
When East Genesis Project’s Jo Yihwan reluctantly pinch-hits for injured band mate Steven Bae in a reality TV-slash-talent competition, he decides he’s only in it to win. After all, he is representing his band, and the All-Kill Champion title had some handsome perks attached to it.
But he didn’t expect to meet a gutsy, driven teammate like Ha Yoojung, or feel drawn to her incandescent spirit week after week after week. He didn’t expect her to be carrying a devastating secret that could cost them the grand prize, either.
What starts as a competition becomes so much more. With careers, a long-held dream, and honor at stake, can Yihwan and Yoojung’s hearts survive?
Content warnings: Mentions of sexual assault
Play it By Ear follows thru East Genesis Project leader, Jo Yihwan, being paired with Ha Yoojung, a trainee, in a reality TV & talent competition called All Kill Champion. Everything about it felt authentic (like the news articles and comments from netizens, authentic af) and I was immediately sold to the idea. What started as an awkward butting of heads between Yihwan and Yoojung…gradually shifted into them being one of the show’s very competitive and creative duo. I adore their relationship, how they listen to each other’s opinions and how they take constructive criticisms. I love when they brainstorm for their performances and when they have to come up with out of the box ideas. The set-up about the competition and their experiences in it were easy to imagine. Also the EXO mentions in the book, a total win for me.
But then there’s a sudden twist in the story, one that hits too close with the recent headlines in South Korea. You may ask, what’s that? Know about the scandal after scandal being unearthed and big personalities from the entertainment, business (etc) industries linked? Okay, I think you get the hint already just by that.
We need more Ha Yoojung-like people in this planet. Seriously. She breaks down (whenever she cries I get teary eyed too) but at the end of it all she’s one tough gal. I applaud her guts to speak up and tell the world her story. Even though chances are people won’t listen to her. She choose to stand up for herself, for other women who possibly experienced it too. I love her. ❤️
The romance, check. It was there, cute even, but it didn’t overpower what this book wants to talk about. All the AmEnt and East Gen babies were great side characters. I’m keeping my eyes on you, Steven. I’m teased. 👀
I love this book and what it stands for. It wasn’t just about the fluff. It dived into something recent, crazy alarming, and I appreciate it so much that we have this narrative of Yoojung. Thank you, Tara. 💛
RATING: 4.5 STARS
PRETTY RECKLESS (All Saints High #1) by L.J. Shen
From USA Today and Washington Post bestselling author L.J. Shen comes an intense, high school enemies-to-lovers romance with a twist.
They say revenge is a dish best served cold.
I’d had four years to stew on what Daria Followhill did to me, and now my heart was completely iced.
I took her first kiss.
She took the only thing I loved.
I was poor.
She was rich.
The good thing about circumstances? They can change. Fast.
Now, I’m her parents’ latest shiny project.
Her housemate. Her tormentor. The captain of the rival football team she hates so much.
Yeah, baby girl, say it—I’m your foster brother.
There’s a price to pay for ruining the only good thing in my life, and she’s about to shell out some serious tears.
Daria Followhill thinks she is THE queen. I’m about to prove to her that she’s nothing but a spoiled princess.
Everyone loves a good old unapologetic punk.
But being a bitch? Oh, you get slammed for every snarky comment, cynical eye roll, and foot you put in your adversaries’ way.
The thing about stiletto heels is that they make a hell of a dent when you walk all over the people who try to hurt you.
In Penn Scully’s case, I pierced his heart until he bled out, then left it in a trash can on a bright summer day.
Four years ago, he asked me to save all my firsts for him.
Now he lives across the hall, and I want nothing more than to be his last everything.
His parting words when he gave me his heart were that nothing in this world is free.
Now? Now he is making me pay.
Pretty Reckless by L.J. Shen, boy oh boy you took me on such an angsty rollercoaster ride. I hate you but at the same time, I love you. You gave a total case of whiplash. 😊🙃😭🤣😡
The story and the characters certainly have a rough start. It made me feel anger. Irritation. Frustration. There isn’t a single character in here that you won’t hate. It made me question, do things like those events that happened in the book really happen in real life too? There were times when it became overly dramatic and mess. I hate how it’s an endless cycle of hating and one-upping each other. I want to escape this world L.J. Shen created but the narrative already reeled me in. I just can’t leave. I need to know how things end up and fair for everyone else.
When they started shedding their tough exterior, I found myself softening and warming up to them. Now I know. The realest thing about Pretty Reckless is how it showcased that we are just human beings, flawed and all. We make decisions, make mistakes and make up for the consequences of every action that we do in life. It’s just how it is. We do everything we can to survive with the card we’re dealt with.
No matter how I despise Daria, Penn, Via, and the rest, I still want to offer them a warm hug.
Daria x Penn’s chemistry: explosive. But you’ll see the development in it and huhu babies I want to protect them. Give and show them so love ‘cos they need it.
RATING: 4 STARS
FILTHY GODS (American Gods 0.5) by R. Scarlett
Prelude in the American Gods series.
Young. Wealthy. Elite. Attractive. The gentlemen’s secret society at Yale was filled with them.
And Nathaniel Radcliffe, the bane of my existence, was one of them.
As the right hand of the American Gods, he was conceited and arrogant. A dangerously handsome man in a tailored custom suit and shiny black oxford loafers.
The classroom was our battlefield. We made a sport out of arguing and debating, ready to do anything in order to win over the other.
Deadly opponents, deadlier minds.
I’d sworn I’d never give him the upper hand, until…
The secret I’ve been hiding for the last three years?
He just discovered it… and now he has all the power.
Filthy Gods by R. Scarlett is such an enticing and explosive prequel to the American Gods series. I love it. The prequel perfectly built up her world. We get a whiff of the atmosphere that this series is set in and the boatload of tension coming from different directions.
We feel the danger.
It teased us with the upcoming series’ lead characters and basically just made us crave for more. I think, this series has something different to offer to readers and I’m so excited for it to be in full swing.
RATING: 4 STARS