Codes for Reviews

First Initial (Overall Rating):
E = Exceptional
VG = Very Good
G = Good
F = Fair
NR = Not Recommended

Second Initital (Reading Level):
A = Average Reading Level
E = Easy
M = Mature

“The views expressed are of individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of their respective institutions.”

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

K-Pop Now! The Korean music Revolution

Adult/YA Average Reading Level

VG/A Russell, Mark James. K-Pop Now! The Korean music Revolution. Rutland, VT: Tuttle, 2014.

Russell has put together a fantastic volume of information regarding the K-Pop history and industry. This is relevant to the current K-Pop craze phenomena and interest to those who are reading it for the first time or have a deep concern about their favorite groups. It will also make a great complementary addition to any classroom curriculum on the topic of Korean Culture. The layout of the book is divided into chapters that span the coverage of the land, the history, definition of K-Pop and most importantly the groups that make up K-Pop.

I am quite impressed with the book starting out describing the land of Korea and the history of the K-Pop culture. It is important for readers to know where and how K-Pop all started. Thank you for referencing to the first generation of K-Pop groups such as H.O.T, g.o.d, FINKL, S.E.S, and Shinhwa. It is also important to explain the Hallyu trend that helps shape the K-Pop culture and correlation between K-Drama and the music industry because they do go hand-in-hand. The coverage on the big three or four (SM, JYP, YG, CUBE) entertainments is a must in any book now because they practically dominated the entire K-Pop business with their artists.

The coverage of each idol groups is very uneven. Most groups have only two-page coverage. However groups like Super Junior, Big Bag, TVXQ, Girls Generations, 2NE1, and Wonder Girls have more coverage than others. Since these groups are already popular, one would really want to know more about the other groups. However, JYJ was not mentioned at all. Not sure if there is any legal issue that they cannot be mention here or why they were not mentioned as original members of the TVXQ and later they break off from the group TVXQ and became JYJ. In addition, I fail to see the mention of B1A4, Lunafly, LedApple, U-Kiss, Boyfriend, MyName, Eric Nam and Tasty. These are also popular in the K-Pop arena, especially when U-Kiss just had a tour of concerts in the United States.

In conclusion, it is good to see such thorough coverage of the K-Pop industry in this book and it is especially refreshing to see the mentioning of future stars such as BtoB, VIXX, Boys Republic, History, Lee Li, and Roy Kim.

The only thing that I can see as an improvement is that more attractive photos of the idol groups should be selected for this book especially in the cases of MBLAQ, SHINee, Super Junior and Infinite. (Maybe this is a personal Bias -- Sorry I am a big fan of all of these groups.)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

High School Fiction

VG/A. Hodge, Rosamund. Cruel Beauty. Balzer + Bray, 2014.  346p. 978-0-06-222473-6. $17.99.

Ever since her father made a bargain with the Gentle Lord for his wife to have children, Nyx has been promised as his wife when she comes of age at seventeen.  They say that the Gentle Lord is a prince of demons, who sends his demons to attack the villagers and to drive them mad. He is an immortal with magical powers, but anyone foolhardy enough to bargain with the Gentle Lord always pays a heavy price. The Gentle Lord certainly keeps his word, but he always cheats at his bargains. 

Long ago, a curse was placed on Arcadia, and for the last nine hundred years, the island has been sundered from the rest of the world, trapped in a void where they can no longer see the real sky.  Told to be the hope of her people, Nyx is committed to doing her duty - marrying the Gentle Lord and destroying him in order to avenge her dead mother and to save her kingdom.  She knows that her failure or even her success could very well mean her death.  She resents her father for not trying to save her and her twin sister for not taking her place, but she willingly goes through with the wedding ceremony. 

The Gentle Lord has given her a bargain of her own.  Every night, she is given a chance to guess his name. If she guesses correctly, she'll be granted her freedom, but if she guesses incorrectly, she'll die.

Her husband, Ignifex, is not what she expected. Nor is Shade, his shadow.  Trapped in ruined castle with labyrinthine staircases and strange doors leading to magical and dangerous secret rooms, Nyx must work to uncover his secrets. The more she learns of her husband, the more she is drawn to him and finds herself falling in love with him.  Will Nyx keep her word to destroy the Gentle Lord or will she chose the man she loves over the fate of all others?  An intriguing tale, Cruel Beauty certainly stands out among other Beauty and the Beast retellings. 

All the Truth That's In Me

G/A  Berry, Julie.  All the Truth That’s In Me.  Viking, 2013.  274p.  978-0-670-78615-2.  17.99.

After being missing for 2 years, Judith returns to her village with her tongue cut out. No one but Judith knows what happened to her and another missing girl, but she can’t tell anyone. The truth is she can speak a little, but her mother and most of the village think she is cursed, so she doesn’t speak at all. When a battle starts with another people, Judith helps rescue her village and her neighbor that she has always loved, setting off a chain of events that will change her life forever. The cover of this book is a little deceiving, it is not a modern thriller as you would expect, but a strange mystery that could be set in the past or a distant dystopian future. The reader can decide the where and when. Mystery or historical fiction fans will like this book even though it may not be their typical read. Loren Spector, LAPL, Memorial