3 star, YA

Review: Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo

10 00 p.m.: Lucky is the biggest K-pop star on the scene, and she’s just performed her hit song “Heartbeat” in Hong Kong to thousands of adoring fans. She’s about to debut on The Tonight Show in America, hopefully a breakout performance for her career. But right now? She’s in her fancy hotel, trying to fall asleep but dying for a hamburger.

11 00 p.m.: Jack is sneaking into a fancy hotel, on assignment for his tabloid job that he keeps secret from his parents. On his way out of the hotel, he runs into a girl wearing slippers, a girl who is single-mindedly determined to find a hamburger. She looks kind of familiar. She’s very cute. He’s maybe curious.

12:00 a.m.: Nothing will ever be the same.

Does anyone else just have the song Somewhere Only We Know stuck in their heads whenever you see this title? No? Just me?

I had the pleasure of reading this book as an audiobook during some down time, which definitely enhanced the experience in my opinion. Otherwise, this rating may have dropped by 1.

Somewhere Only We Know is reminiscent of Gayle Forman’s Just One Day type of romance wherein our protagonist sets out on some wild one-day adventure with someone new generally across a wonderful locale. Mix into this is the celebrity meets ordinary citizen trope and that seemed like the perfect combination in a relaxing read.

And for the most part, it was. Lucky was a character I could sympathize with as she struggled with anxiety while juggling the demands of a successful K-pop career. The K-pop industry is known for its intensive training to shape their stars – aka investments – into a marketable star. Lucky was in the midst of this, about to embark on the next frontier in her career – America.

But then she meets savvy Jack, just trying to survive and figure things out in his life after high school. Having moved to Hong Kong with his family for his dad’s work a year ago, he found himself doing well in celebrity tabloid work in this city that still felt new to him in some ways. What were the odds he’d bump into an actual celebrity without maneuvering himself into such a situation?

The premise was cute. You know things will go down weirdly once Lucky found out her identity as a K-pop star was blown and she’s not just a fun, ordinary girl Jack decided to show around the city. But it sure took a long time to get there. The buildup was almost too long because Jack figured out who she was fairly early on in the book, and we’re just left feeling sorry for poor naive Lucky as Jack continued with his deception.

The romance that also builds as the two went around exploring Jack’s favourite places was also a little hard for me to always believe. I understand the connection for Lucky as this was the first guy she ever really got to interact with outside of her management’s scrutiny. There’s this newfound freedom that’s exhilarating and can easily be transferred to the person who brought such a gift to her. For Jack? Was it just because she was famous? I don’t think so, yet her excitement over absolutely everything didn’t make her personality shine through as much when this overshadowed everything else about her.

What I will say that really saved the story comes down to two things:

  1. I absolutely adored the locale in this book. There aren’t any YA books I’ve found that feature Hong Kong so prominently. As this is where my family is from, reading the descriptions of the food and tourist areas Jack brought Lucky to was an excruciating yearning to revisit this wondrous city. If Hong Kong is known for anything, it’s the amazing variety of foods. I loved listening to the book describe in detail things I remember from my past visits that it almost felt like I was back there.
  2. The other thing is the ending. Once you hold out for the climax when the other shoe finally drops, it’s totally worth it. I loved the way the author chose to deal with the aftermath of what you’d totally expect is going to be a messy fall out. It wasn’t prettily wrapped up in a bow, but it also brought a sense of joy and realness to this story.

While there were clearly pros and cons to this book, I still had a good experience with it. I love travel escapism books and this totally delivered, especially in a city that most YA never gets to see up close and personal. The Asian culture shines through in implicit ways because it is literally the backdrop of everything happening. It makes me feel proud to see my city represented like this, and I’m so grateful to Maurene Goo for writing it. I would still tell you to give this novel a chance. You never know if it’s the next read you’ll fall in love with. And maybe want to book a ticket to Hong Kong right away (when it’s safe to).

Overall Recommendation:

Somewhere Only We Know was an ode to Hong Kong, my family’s city, that made me want to be there with our protagonists as they embarked on a one-day wild trip around all the wondrous sights and foods. Lucky was a sweet but naive girl who struggled secretly on her own as she put on a different persona for her fans as a wildly popular K-pop star. When she finds the one boy who didn’t seem to know who she was, she obviously uses this newfound freedom to explore. While the premise was fun and cute, the execution could’ve been a little faster paced as we’re always left waiting for the other shoe to drop from near the beginning once Jack, our love interest, couldn’t keep up his deception. The ending was worth the wait though, and this book overall was entertaining and full of book escapism at its best.


Let’s Talk Bookish – Keeping Up With New Releases

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books & Dani @ Literary Lion, where they discuss certain topics, share their opinions, and spread the love by visiting each others’ posts.


Prompts: How current is your reading? Do you tend to read recently published books or pick from the publishing backlog, and why? Is there any particular merit to keeping up with current releases, or is it all hype? How has book blogging changed your habits on this front? And, in the future, are you thinking you want your reading to shift either way? 

Welcome to the last week of LTB in November, everyone! It’s almost December, and the snow is probably coming soon (oh boy), but it’s nice to sit down and cozy up and discuss another LTB by the (imaginary) fire. The topic today is great and I’d love to hear how you all keep up with the new releases, if at all!

I’d say my reading is not always that current. I do try and read some new stuff and review it for you all, but often times there’s a lot of good books released that I haven’t got to yet! I would say Andge is usually more caught up, or at least does many more ARCs, so hopefully her posts satisfy those of you who are ahead of the curve.

I think here at DTRH we do have a good mix of both oldies and new releases. I don’t think we particularly pick one or the other to publish about though. I think generally we try and read new stuff to provide a good resource for those who want to read reviews about possible reads. On the other hand, if there are old goodies that we haven’t posted about, then of course we read them and post for you all! We wouldn’t skip books and not come back to them because they aren’t “current” anymore.

There is definitely “hype” around reviewing something that everyone else is reading and reviewing, but I think there’s also merit to having your resource available contemporaneously with other bloggers. I’m sure readers all have blogs and opinions that they trust more—I know there are definitely reviews I trust over others.

Blogging has definitely changed my habits. Before I would just read whatever, whenever. But now that I consider that my review may have an audience, I try not to always post about outdated things that everyone has probably read already. That being said, even if everyone has read it, sometimes it’s just nice to hear a concurring opinion about a book that you liked/disliked.

In the future here at DTRH, I think we will definitely be striving to be a better resource and providing very up-to-date reviews, if possible. That being said, if you all have any suggestions of books you want reviewed here, please let us know! Or if perhaps you enjoy the current mix of current and non-current releases, you can also let us know below. Any suggestions are always welcome, of course!

4.5 star

Review: The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

A female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them—setting three lives across centuries on a dangerous collision course.

Rule #1: The poison must never be used to harm another woman.
Rule #2: The names of the murderer and her victim must be recorded in the apothecary’s register.

One cold February evening in 1791, at the back of a dark London alley in a hidden apothecary shop, Nella awaits her newest customer. Once a respected healer, Nella now uses her knowledge for a darker purpose—selling well-disguised poisons to desperate women who would kill to be free of the men in their lives. But when her new patron turns out to be a precocious twelve-year-old named Eliza Fanning, an unexpected friendship sets in motion a string of events that jeopardizes Nella’s world and threatens to expose the many women whose names are written in her register.

In present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, reeling from the discovery of her husband’s infidelity. When she finds an old apothecary vial near the river Thames, she can’t resist investigating, only to realize she’s found a link to the unsolved “apothecary murders” that haunted London over two centuries ago. As she deepens her search, Caroline’s life collides with Nella’s and Eliza’s in a stunning twist of fate—and not everyone will survive.

This was one of my anticipated reads since March, and I finally got around to it! I’m quite torn between giving it 5 Drink Me Potions or not, but in the end I decided that it wasn’t quite worthy of the last little half potion. But that gives it such a negative connotation, it’s better for you to all see it for the merits that I’m giving it 4.5 Drink Me Potions, and let me guide you through that below!

The Lost Apothecary is a historical fiction that revolves around two timelines, one in the late eighteenth century and the other in modern day. The historical time line revolves around a fallen apothecary that once dispensed healing remedies, now poisons. The modern day witnesses the perfect marriage falling from grace. We follow both timelines as they parallel each other in more ways than one would imagine two lives two centuries apart. How do they intersect? This will be the biggest mystery of them all in this thrilling historical narrative.

Continue reading “Review: The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner”