Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Happy Book Birthday, Lia Park and the Heavenly Heirlooms by Jenna Yoon!

It's celebration time! Today's read is hitting the shelves today and is the second in the Lia Park series. I did read the first one (yes, you can gasp in amazement) and enjoyed it quite a bit. So, when this one came out, of course I wanted to take a peek. 

Ready for magic, adventure, and mystery, too?

by Jenna Yoon
Middle Grade Fantasy
352 pages
ages 8 to 12

Perfect for fans of the Gifted Clans and Aru Shah series, this thrilling second book of the middle grade fantasy Lia Park series sees Lia and Joon on a mission to protect important magical objects—and themselves—from a mysterious enemy.

Twelve-year-old Lia Park and her best friend, Joon, are now full-time students at International Magic Academy after defeating corrupt diviner Gaya, and their first assignment is an ambitious one. The evil nine-headed monster and King of Darkness, Jihaedaegukjeok, wants to destroy the three Heavenly Heirlooms that create fire and light to plunge the world into darkness and destroy humanity.

The heirlooms can only be destroyed if they are all together, so over time, they have been hidden carefully with magic. Except now, one of them is missing. Lia, Joon, and their classmates have been tasked with recovering the lost heirloom and bringing it to IMA for safekeeping. They expected the task to be difficult, but the number of obstacles the magic trainees run into makes Lia start to wonder if the sabotage could be coming from someone inside the school.

GOODREADS    /     AMAZON    /     B&N 


If magic and adventure weren't enough, this read works in Japanese mythology, friendship, and family love, too.

Lia is off to the IMA (International Magic Academy) and, of course, Joon is with her. While excited, she's also a bit unsure. Not only does she do her best to hide her white streak of hair to avoid attention (doesn't want others knowing she's the famous girl who defeated Gaya), but everyone else there has known about their magic for years. When her magic refuses to function properly, she's the center of the school's gossip, and even Joon seems to be taking sides against her. But these personal problems are going to have to be shoved aside. The King of Darkness has appeared and is determined to destroy the world if someone doesn't stop him.

This is the second book in the Lia Park series and continues Lia's adventures after book one. While it isn't too difficult to sink into this read without reading the first book, I'd still recommend starting at the beginning since earlier events are mentioned several times.

The first chapters start off with rich imagination as Lia enters the IMA for the first time. The magical surroundings and details create a whimsical atmosphere for the academy. This does remind of similar settings, though: broken into four houses/sections of students, a type of choosing ceremony... It's magically familiar while still being original and does draw in. 

Lia's frustration and uncertainty makes her easy to identify with, especially with Joon's behavior (which had me wondering but might work with a big twist at the end). Then, there are the new friends...or not. While the forming friendships appear golden, there's enough doubt and suspicion to even keep that aspect uncertain. Around every corner, a new secret appears and nobody seems to be telling Lia everything. Not even Joon. So, tension is definitely kept high on this end. The occasional family warmth adds lovely balance to all of this.

While monsters keep Lia and friends on their toes, it's the workings of the IMA (and more?) which dig the mystery and secrets in deep, and prepare the foundation for the books to come. These hints trickle in during the rest of the action, making sure there isn't a single boring moment, and promises tons of richness and intrigue to come. With all of this, the 350 or so pages go by quickly, and the last chapters felt rushed. But it ends well enough, and I'm looking forward to seeing what Lia Park and her friends will face next.

And here she is...

Jenna Yoon studied Art History at Wellesley College and received her master’s degree in Korean art history from Ewha Womans University. She’s lived about half her life in both Korea and the United States. When she’s not writing, Jenna loves to travel, find yummy eats, play board games, and take skin care very seriously. Currently, she lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and two kids.

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