The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid | BOOK REVIEW

Title: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Pages: 388 pages
Release Date: June 13th, 2017
Source: Hardcover from Book of the Month
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Historical Fiction
Rating: 5/5 stars
Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn's luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the '80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn's story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique's own in tragic and irreversible ways.

Written with Reid's signature talent for creating "complex, likable characters" (Real Simple), this is a mesmerizing journey through the splendor of old Hollywood into the harsh realities of the present day as two women struggle with what it means—and what it costs—to face the truth.

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I find it extremely refreshing to step away from the Young Adult genre I'm so used to reading. I always find it so comforting to come back to writing reviews after taking a semi-long hiatus. I don't think I'll ever forget how to write reviews, however, if I did I'd trust that you'd call me out on it.

I don't really know why I decided to start this book. I had heard a tremendous amount of buzz when it first came out, but it all kind of died down after that. Now this book is regarded as a cult classic and only those who have read it will ever know of its greatness. As soon as I started reading, I was captivated. I guess you could say I was as captivated with this book as the whole world was captivated with Evelyn Hugo (well in the book). Reid wastes no time getting into the story. This book is truly a testament to exquisite writing. I found it incredible how she could fit Evelyn's entire life story into 388 pages.

It's safe to say that this book has made me fall in love with historical fiction all over again. The last time I read historical fiction was when I read Secrets of Nanreath Hall by Alix Rickloff, and that was at the beginning of 2017. I am a stranger to this genre. I don't know how Reid makes old Hollywood look so illustrious and also so mysterious like you desperately want to be a part of it. This book will have you panting for answers because the book hints at this massive reveal at the end of the book but it literally doesn't get revealed until the last few pages. I hate that I had to wait so long, but I love how a book made me feel that way; like I couldn't physically put it down. I was tortured every time I had an assignment and it kept me from reading. It's also the whole lure of entering the glamorous and secretive world of Hollywood. This book is incredibly addicting.

Evelyn Hugo is one of the most complex characters I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. At some points, I just wanted to scream through the pages and throw this book on the floor in frustration at her. In others, I wanted to console her. Either way, Evelyn Hugo is a fucking legend. She's a badass woman who was very misunderstood, but this book gives you all the information and lets you make the final call about what kind of person she was. I loved that!

Yes, everything that everyone's saying about this book is true. Don't you just want to read it and be apart of the club that has experienced this book's magic? With a dazzling and diverse cast of characters in a secretive world of Hollywood, this book is likely to change the way you think about historical fiction novels. To put it simply, if there was such a thing as the Book Oscars, this book would go home with Best Novel. I can't wait to see what else Reid has in store for historical fiction.

5 Reasons to Pick Up Wicked Fox by Kat Cho

Title: Wicked Fox
Author: Kat Cho
Pages: 432 pages
Release Date: June 25th, 2019
Source: ARC from Publisher
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Mythology
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.

Buy it now! 
Welcome to my stop on the #WickedFox blog tour! I'm honored to be a part of this tour and to share this awesome book with you guys, which will be hitting shelves on June 25th. I know sometimes choosing new books to read can be difficult, especially when your TBR is towering over. So I'm here to make your life easier, by providing you with 5 simple reasons why you should read Wicked Fox by Kat Cho, laden with GIFs from your favorite Kdramas and Kpop artists! 

1. Korean Culture

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With her new book, Kat Cho wanted to incorporate much of her Korean heritage into this fantastical story. She definitely succeeded. The book takes place in modern day Seoul and gives you a glimpse into what it's like to live in the hustling and bustling metropolis. From the familiar Kdrama and Kpop references to the inclusion of classic and cultural Korean dishes, this book is sure to warm the hearts of many Asian readers as well as become a heartwarming introduction to Korean culture to non-Asian readers. I won't spoil the references, but I'll just say that I squealed with recognition every time I came across a reference! 

2. Like watching a Kdrama

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What's better than being able to read a Kdrama? This book has all the addictive elements that you love from your favorite Kdramas- a great conflict, hate-to-love romance, cute and steamy scenes that make you root for the two characters and some good old humor. It's also a plus that it's fantasy and there's some Korean mythology weaved into the story. 

3. Dark and Dangerous

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The cover may look all fluttery and light-hearted, but this book is actually quite dark. I mean our main protagonist consumes the energy of men to survive, how could it be darker than that? Kat Cho's writing is exceptional, filled with dark humor and even darker characters. Cho creates a creepy atmosphere, where our beloved character's lives could be at stake at any moment. 

4. Fast-paced and Entertaining

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This book is a real page turner, and I found myself absorbed in the stories of the characters. Bear with me it is quite a chunker, but the story itself is fast-paced and addicting. I found the constant witty banter between Miyoung and Jihoon to be so addicting because I was always interested in seeing what the other person said next. You'll likely find yourself staying up past your bedtime to finish just one more chapter. 

5. It's got BALL - Bad Ass Leading Ladies

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Okay. OKAY. We love a book that is modern feminism with a paranormal fantasy twist. All the women in this book are absolutely FIREE and stole the whole show from the romance. After all, the book starts off with Miyoung saving Jihoon's life! My favorite character in the entire book was actually Jihoon's halmeoni (grandmother). She is a caring and fiercely independent women, who isn't afraid of anything. Be prepared to read about these women kicking ass, both figuratively and literally! 

Kat Cho

Kat Cho used to hide books under the bathroom sink and then sneak in there to read after bedtime. Her parents pretended not to know. This helped when she decided to write a dinosaur time-travel novel at the tender age of nine. Sadly, that book was not published. She currently lives and works in NYC and spends her free time trying to figure out what kind of puppy to adopt.

Website | Instagram | Twitter 

POC in Pub Presents: Diversity in Design

Last month, People of Color in Publishing organized a "Diversity in Design" event at Penguin Random House. Aimed at recent graduates and junior/senior art students of color, the event had me equal parts excited and nervous. While I already have some design experience in publishing, I knew this would be another great opportunity to network and hear from professionals.

Views from Penguin Random House
We have all heard the phrase "(Insert any industry) is so white," and the design/publishing industry is no different. Walking into the room of the event and seeing people of so many different races and ethnicities was welcoming and hopeful. As I looked around and saw my peers carrying their backpacks and portfolios, I realized this was the next generation of designers who would change the status quo.

After checking in and piling food on our plates, the event kicked off with a panel of Penguin Random House designers. The speakers included a junior designer, creative director, assistant director (digital campaigns & media planning), senior designer, junior art director, and marketing manager. They spoke about their paths to design as well as to their current position, being the only POC in the room, and how being a POC can consciously or subconsciously affect our perspectives. Furthermore, they showed a sampling of their design work (aka book covers).

In the next portion of the event, a different set of speakers presented best practices and tips for resume, cover letter, website, and portfolio. They showed examples of such from applicants and people who were subsequently hired. Lastly, we had the opportunity for a designer to review our portfolio and have an intimate conversation. I spoke with an art director and we discussed my portfolio, my future goals as a designer, and how it is possible to integrate your personal passion projects into your work career.

Thank you to People of Color in Publishing for setting up this wonderful event and the Penguin Random House employees who shared their time and experience with us! I recommend visiting People Of Color in Publishing's website if you are a person of color wanting to pursue a career in publishing.

A shelfie at Penguin Random House :)
A grassroots organization created by book publishing professionals dedicated to supporting, empowering, and uplifting racially and ethnically marginalized members throughout the industry, we seek to create a safe and inclusive space celebrating and promoting diversity.

Through a planning committee and network of chaired subcommittees, we advocate and foster career development and advancement of people of color (including Native/Indigenous) professionals’
and writers’ work.

This Book Is Not Yet Rated by Peter Bognanni | Author Interview

Title: This Book Is Not Yet Rated
Author: Peter Bognanni
Pages: 336 pages
Source: Hardcover from publisher
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
The Green Street Cinema has always been a sanctuary for Ethan. Maybe it's because movies help him make sense of real life, or maybe it's because the cinema is the one place he can go to still feel close to his dad, a film professor who died three years ago. Either way, it's a place worth fighting for, especially when developers threaten to tear it down to build a luxury condos.

They say it's structurally unsound and riddled with health code violations. They clearly don't understand that the crumbling columns and even Brando, the giant rat with a taste for sour patch kids, are a part of the fabric of this place that holds together the misfits and the dreamers of the changing neighborhood the cinema house has served for so many years.

Now it's up to the employees of the Green Street Cinema--Sweet Lou the organist with a penchant for not-so-sweet language; Anjo the projectionist, nicknamed the Oracle for her opaque-but-always-true proclamations; Griffin and Lucas who work the concessions, if they work at all; and Ethan, known as "Wendy," the leader of these Lost Boys--to save the place they love.

It's going to take a movie miracle if the Green Street is going to have a happy ending. And when Raina, Ethan's oldest friend (and possible soul mate?), comes back home from Hollywood where she's been starring in B-movies about time-traveling cats, Ethan thinks that miracle just may have been delivered. But life and love aren't always like the movies. And when the employees of the Green Street ask what happens in the end to the Lost Boys, Ethan has to share three words he's not been ready to say.

Out now! 
I am so excited to be apart of this tour and to present an interview with the brilliant Peter Bognanni. Peter is actually a professor at the college I attend, and I sat in on one of his creative classes when I was a prospective student. it brings me great joy to support the work and creativity of my profs who love what they do and enjoy teaching their craft with students who aspire to do the same. So without further ado, I asked Peter some questions about his writing process and his teachings.

Q: This novel is a lot different than your previous Young Adult novel, Things I'm Seeing Without You. How do you decide the subject matter of your books before you write them?

Usually I realize I have a book idea if there’s an obsession that I just can’t let go of. In the case of Things I’m Seeing Without You, it was the idea of digital grief and mourning someone you only knew on the internet. For this book, it was the idea of finding your first work family. I kept coming back to these ideas and taking notes. Then I took notes on the notes. Before too long, I had the beginnings of a book.

Q: What inspired the story of This Book Is Not Yet Rated? Are there going to be movie references scattered throughout the book?

I grew up watching a lot of movies. My dad was a film buff and we used to go to the movies almost every Saturday when I was growing up. Later I worked at a small movie theater in Minneapolis called the Oak Street Cinema. Then, my first book was made into a movie and I got a chance to see what things were like on that side of things. All of these experiences cohered into book about the movies, family relationships, and a friendship between a theater worker and an actress. Oh, and yes, lots of film references!

Q: So not only are you an established Young Adult author, but you're also a professor of Creative Writing. What experiences have you gained as an author that you feel are valuable to share with your students?

I mostly teach the craft of writing, so branching out from adult to young adult has opened up another avenue for classes. I taught a YA literature course at Macalester for the first time last year, and the student work was amazing. I always start with the art of telling a good story, making a narrative work, creating tension and urgency, making the reader care. From there, I move to the smaller, fancier things like lyricism, psychic distance, and point of view.

Q: What's the most important writing tip you give to your students who are aspiring writers?

When you’re young, you just have to keep working. You wrote something good? Great, get back to work. Something bad? Make more work. It takes a while to find your own truth and the style that makes it unique. And most problems along the way can be solved by just writing your way through them. The rest of the answers are in books. So read lots of those.

Author Info
Peter Bognanni is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. His debut novel, The House of Tomorrow, won the Los Angeles Times Book prize for first fiction and the ALA Alex Award and has been adapted into a feature film. He teaches creative writing at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota. 

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