Lia Park and the Missing Jewel


TITLE: Lia Park and the Missing Jewel

AUTHOR: Jenna Yoon
RELEASE DATE: May 3, 2022



Perfect for fans of the Storm Runner and Aru Shah series, this thrilling middle grade fantasy follows a young girl who must venture to the undersea kingdom of the Dragon King in Korea to save her parents from an evil diviner spirit.

Twelve-year old Lia Park just wants to fit in. Her parents work with a mysterious organization that makes them ridiculously overprotective. Lia’s every move has been scrutinized since she was born, and she’d love to have the option of doing something exciting for once. So when she gets invited to the biggest birthday party of the year—and her parents say she can’t go—Lia sneaks out.

But her first act of rebellion not only breaks her parents’ rules, but also an ancient protection spell, allowing an evil diviner spirit to kidnap and ransom her parents for a powerful jewel that her family has guarded for years. With just the clothes on her back and some very rusty magical skills, Lia finds herself chasing mysterious clues that take her to her grandmother’s home in Korea.

From there, she has to make their way to the undersea kingdom of the Dragon King, the only person who knows where the powerful jewel might be. Along with her friend, Joon, Lia must dig deep and find courage to stand up for those who are weak—and become the hero her parents need.


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.

Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor by Xiran Jay Zhao

Disclaimer: I received this e-arc and physical copy from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor

Author: Xiran Jay Zhao

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 5/5

Diversity: Muslim Chinese MC and side character, Chinese side characters

Recommended For…: middle grade readers, fantasy, Chinese, Chinese history and mythology

Publication Date: May 10, 2022

Genre: MC Fantasy

Age Relevance: 12+ (racism, micro aggressions, possession, violence, death, scary moments)

Explanation of Above: There is some racism and micro aggressions shown throughout the book toward the MC. Possession by ancient ancestor is shown. There is some small violence and death in the book. There are also some scary moments that might scare some younger readers.

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Pages: 340

Synopsis: A middle grade contemporary fantasy that follows a young boy as he journeys across China to seal the underworld shut and save the mortal realm.

Zachary Ying never had many opportunities to learn about his Chinese heritage. His single mom was busy enough making sure they got by, and his schools never taught anything except Western history and myths. So Zack is woefully unprepared when he discovers he was born to host the spirit of the First Emperor of China for a vital mission: sealing the leaking portal to the Chinese underworld before the upcoming Ghost Month blows it wide open.

The mission takes an immediate wrong turn when the First Emperor botches his attempt to possess Zack’s body and binds to Zack’s AR gaming headset instead, leading to a battle where Zack’s mom’s soul gets taken by demons. Now, with one of history’s most infamous tyrants yapping in his headset, Zack must journey across China to heist magical artifacts and defeat figures from history and myth, all while learning to wield the emperor’s incredible water dragon powers.

And if Zack can’t finish the mission in time, the spirits of the underworld will flood into the mortal realm, and he could lose his mom forever

Review: For the most part this was a great book! I loved the storyline, it was unique and had a very interesting premise. I thought that the magic system and how the information was overlaid to Zachary was also interesting and well done. It’s a fun read that I think most kids would highly enjoy and one that I think that could use to help learn about the Chinese Emperors. The characters are also well developed and the world building was as well.

However, I had issue connecting to the book. I thought the book was a bit too fast paced and it took me a bit to get into it because of that pacing.

Verdict: It was great! Highly recommend!