Book Review: Kpop Confidential by Stephen Lee

And… here we have another kpop/YA book review! At the same time as I received my ARC of Shine by Jessica Jung, I also received a finished copy of Kpop Confidential, so I am adoring the theme of my autumn reading so far.

Anyway- thank you so much to Chicken House for sending me a copy of this book!

Kpop Confidential follows a fifteen year-old Korean-American girl named Candace who, on a whim, enters a global competition to become a trainee at S.A.Y Entertainment in Korea, and suddenly finds herself being swept up into the not-so-glamorous lifestyle of a celebrity-in-training.

After a begrudging acceptance from her parents, Candace leaves behind her life in the United States for a summer, with the ultimatum that she will either end the summer as a debuted kpop idol or back as a high school student in New Jersey. She is rapidly inducted into a world of no social media, brutal dieting, dating bans and torturous hours of training.

As she faces the struggles of falling in love when dating is strictly prohibited, living in a dorm with the meanest girl in training, and not being able to dance when trying to debut in a dancing idol group, Candace has to commit wholeheartedly to her new trainee lifestyle and forget that there is anything at all outside the walls of her training HQ.

This book has a protagonist who, somewhat unwillingly, finds herself stepping on some toes to get to the top, an entertaining love triangle (with, in my opinion, an obvious favourite…) and some very strong friendships that were incredibly refreshing to read about against the backdrop of all the trainee backstabbing and blackmail.

I really enjoyed this book. Perhaps because of the fifteen year old protagonist, it seemed a little younger than a lot of the YA I’ve read lately, but it was still a cute, easy read with enough drama to keep me turning the pages throughout. Without spoiling anything, I loved the direction that the story ended up going in and found myself satisfied with this book from start to finish. I would definitely recommend to kpop lovers, YA lovers and anyone looking for a whirlwind of a story about dedication, passion, drama and friendship.

Rating: 4/5

ARC Review: Shine by Jessica Jung

I am not ashamed to admit that, from the second I discovered that this book existed (or was about to exist), I didn’t stop thinking about how to get one of the gorgeous proof copies until I finally got one. I don’t talk about kpop on the internet quite as much as I’d like to, but second-generation kpop idols basically own my life when I’m not reading YA. I wanted this to be the best book I’ve ever read and I knew that the minute I started it, I’d have to read the whole thing in one sitting.

So, as you can probably guess, I ended up getting a copy (ahh!!!!) in a giveaway from Electric Monkey (thank you, I love you) and I dropped my entire TBR to read it. And, thankfully, I loved it.

This is the story of Rachel Kim, a Korean-American girl who dropped everything to move to Korea and enter the intense and mysterious world of Kpop idol training. She spends half her childhood following rules, intensively training and juggling an attempt at regular schooling and her commitment to becoming a celebrity.

Shine explores everything about idol training that you don’t get to see on social media: the insane hours of effort, the impossibility of dating bans, the extreme dieting, the falsities and manipulation that go into achieving your dream at the expense of the people you’ve grown up with, and, of course, the pure talent and determination that it takes to become an international superstar.

Rachel is a likeable and inspiring protagonist, but she is absolutely not afraid to do what’s necessary to achieve her aspirations as she realises that she is rapidly approaching being ‘too old’ to be a trainee. She is nowhere near as harsh as some of the other trainees (some of whom are downright brutal), but she’s aware of what she needs to do and will obviously sacrifice plenty to achieve her goal.

It’s likely because of her history in the industry and the fact that she went through kpop training herself, but Jessica Jung has written such a realistic and believable story that I forgot multiple times that I was reading a work of fiction. I fully believe that the way Rachel is treated is the way trainees are treated in major Korean entertainment companies, and it was scarily realistic. I felt like I appreciated kpop idols before, but this book has taken my awe of them to an entire new level.

Basically, I recommend that anyone who likes kpop reads this book. It has an entertaining amount of romance, a healthy dose of drama, and a very strong, very committed female protagonist who doesn’t allow herself to be beaten down when circumstances are so clearly against her. It was funny, dramatic and eye-opening, and I’m so glad that it was everything I hoped it was going to be.

Rating: 5/5

Shine publishes on 15th October⭐

BOOK REVIEW: THE NOTHING MAN by Catherine Ryan Howard

*Thank you to Corvus for sending me a copy in exchange for a review*

The Nothing Man is a book within a book, and both of these are equally fascinating. It follows Jim Doyle, supermarket security guard and uncaught serial killer, as he reads a recent true crime thriller by the sole survivor of his most gruesome attack. As he reads about the crimes he committed as a younger man, Jim finds himself thrilled by his ‘achievements’ and itching to commit one last murder.

I have never read a thriller in this form before, with a large part of the book being written by the victim (as a published book, with chapters, acknowledgements and a fake ISBN, which I definitely geeked out about), and the rest being told by the killer himself. It was a fascinating concept that was very well executed, and I didn’t realise I could enjoy reading the perspective of a character I intensely disliked as much as I did.

Jim is annoying and disturbed, and yet reading the story of his fairly uninteresting present life mixed into Eve’s investigative tale was gripping, as I found myself constantly waiting to see if he would do anything deadly. Reading from Eve’s perspective was also enjoyable, and I found myself excited every time part of her story came about to hear about whether she was any closer to finding Jim. It was a chase, told from both sides, and was very interesting to see play out.

The story itself primarily takes place in the past but it remained fascinating even as Jim’s killer past was discussed and it started jumping closer to his present. Parts were a little slow and the most gruesome moments of the story were largely glossed over, but I loved the concept and found myself hooked from beginning to end.

This book was an enjoyable read that certainly terrified me enough to keep me awake after reading too late, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a thriller that’s a little bit different but still equally gripping.


As mentioned in an earlier post this month, I have never done a monthly TBR, so I think that now would be a good time to mention that I’ve also never done a monthly wrap-up. But I’m so excited to post one this month.

Not only did I read more books in a single month than I have for the rest of the year (yes, I only read seven, but it’s still a step-up for me), but I enjoyed every single one! Every single book in this wrap-up is 4+ stars and I’m unbelievably happy about that.

So without further ado, the books I read this month:

The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant

There’s a review up on my blog for this one already, and it’s gushing. The writing style was gorgeous, the plot was gripping, and it’s definitely been a while since I read a book where I cared so much about an entire group of characters. I adored this book and already can’t wait for book two.


We Were Liars by E Lockhart (a re-read)

I say ‘a re-read’, but what I mean is my eighth re-read. This is my favourite stand-alone ever and I always find myself being drawn to it when I’m in a reading slump. This time, I read it on the beach (the perfect place to read this book, in case you were wondering) and I’m so happy that I found myself noticing little things that I never spotted before, even after reading it so many times.

In case you couldn’t tell from the favourite stand-alone ever part: 5/5

Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid

This is the first audiobook I’ve listened to in possibly over a year, and I really enjoyed it. It was mostly just half-an-hour here and there whilst I was walking to and from work, but I really got into the story. The narrator definitely helped and I would absolutely recommend the audiobook version specifically, but it’s generally just a poignant, funny and incredibly thought-provoking story.


The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard

This was a very gripping and very disturbing thriller. It didn’t have as much murder as I was expecting, for some reason, but it’s definitely the kind of story that makes you scared to leave your room in the middle of the night, in case a serial killer is waiting behind it. I read this in the space of a couple of days, and was creeped out the entire time so, honestly, I’m calling that a win.


Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

I read Six of Crows!!! After months of telling book-twitter that I was going to!!! And after owning a copy for years!!! I’m not really sure what to say about this book other than that I completely understand the hype. The characters are incredible, the plot is intelligent and gripping, and Leigh Bardugo’s world-building is art. I’ve been ignoring everyone’s suggestion that I read this book for years and now I’m mostly just mad at myself for doing that.


Good Girls Die First by Kathryn Foxfield

I’m going to be posting a review of this one shortly, but I will happily say now that I loved it. I’ve really struggled to get into YA horror in the past, and I often find myself disappointed in the big reveals and the jump-scares, but this book genuinely gave me nightmares. It was fast-paced, perfectly creepy, and an excellent mix of traditional horror themes and modern YA. It’s a very quick and easy read, and absolutely worth it (especially as we’re getting closer to Halloween).


Save the Date by Morgan Matson

Last but not least is definitely the odd one out on this list: a contemporary romance. I went to Waterstones on a mission for a cringey, sugary YA love story, and I have to say that I was struggling to find one. When I saw this one, about a girl, her high school crush, a cute wedding planner, and her sister’s wedding, I figured it might be exactly what I was looking for. And although there was a lot more family drama and a lot less romance than I was expecting, this book definitely fulfilled the reading craving that I’ve been having lately. It was cute, funny and a very easy read to end the month.


So that’s my August wrap-up! I’m still in the process of picking the books that I want to get through this month, but I’m so happy that it was such a good reading month and am praying for another good month as of now.

What was your favourite book that you read this month? I’d love some recommendations to add to my ever-growing TBR!


I finished this book nearly a month ago (an e-ARC that I got from Netgalley, so thank you to Harper Voyager!) but have been so ill lately that I struggled to finish writing this review (or any review… in case you’ve noticed my short, involuntary hiatus). But I finally got round to finishing the review today, after being gifted a gorgeous physical copy for my birthday yesterday, and I’m so excited to share my thoughts on this book.

The Court of Miracles is a Les Misérables retelling, kind-of, that draws the Revolution into a whole new, underground world of criminals and thieves.

It cleverly throws Eponine (now Nina) and Cosette (Ettie) into a whole new context, giving them their own secret lives and fascinating plots that make you forget that you ever thought you knew characters with these names before (a feat, when you’re in love with Les Mis). We follow them on a gripping and terrifying journey as Nina navigates the criminal underworld in search of ways to save her sister from the evil Guild Lord that has snatched her.

You do not have to have watched Les Misérables to appreciate this book, but I found the parallels to be well-done and incredibly entertaining. The two plots diverge greatly and some of the characters are barely recognizable (Javert’s new character in this book is art), so I truly think any fantasy or historical fiction lover would appreciate this book. It is a fast-paced story that paints a brutal picture of Revolutionary France, with a strong-willed, incredibly powerful protagonist to tell it, and an artfully invented underworld that sucks you in completely.

On the topic of characters, every single one was completely fascinating. Nina is strong from the beginning, but the confidence, capability and cunning that she develops throughout make her one of the toughest protagonists I’ve read for a while. Ettie was sweet and instantly likeable, developing alongside Nina in a way that it’s implied the world forces them to be. And the boys in this book all had their own charms: St Juste, with his indignation and dedication, was my particular favourite, but Montparnasse with his obvious soft spot for Nina despite his villainous role in the Court, and the Dauphin, who only became more fascinating with every meeting, were both equally interesting to read as well. I could go on about all of the Guild Lords, and villains, and even Those-Who-Walk-By-Day, but I would strongly encourage you to discover them yourselves.

The story is incredibly fast-paced, and I found it really impressive that Nina could do so many insanely dangerous things in this book, but have them all seem so believable and doable for her character. I loved slowly developing an understanding of the workings of the Court and absolutely need more about this world and these characters as soon as possible.

In case it’s not clear, I adored this book. Five stars is not enough for the masterful writing and completely engrossing world that Kester Grant has created, and I would encourage anyone looking for some escapism to get absorbed in this book. I cannot wait to see what Kester Grant writes next, and will waiting desperately for next year, and book two.



Okay, so quick disclaimer (confession?): I’ve never done a monthly TBR. Ever. I just read whatever I pick up, meaning I might read one book in a month, or fifteen (people who are able to read more than that seriously intimidate me. HOW?), and I’m so jealous of everyone who is able to set monthly reading goals and stick to them!

But I’ve been really busy lately and both my reading and my blogging (and writing and Duolingo and really any hobbies except online shopping, but we won’t get into that) have been… lacking. So I figured, what better way to get back into reading than guilt-tripping myself with a list of books that I’m making myself obligated to read. Right?!

That being said, here’s my (very modest) August TBR:

The Court of Miracles, by Kester Grant-

This is kind of cheating because I’m already most of the way through, but I will finish this book this month. It’s such an incredible story that I have no idea why I didn’t read it sooner. The Les Miserables references are making my life, and I’m finding myself getting invested in more characters than I knew I could care about.

Shine, by Jessica Jung-

This one depends on when it arrives, but I have an ARC due to be delivered towards the end of August and I’m so desperate to read this book. It combines my true loves of YA and K-pop and I have ridiculously high expectations. Also, THANK YOU to Electric Monkey for doing a YALC giveaway contest for ARCs of this- you made my year.

Six of Crows, by Leigh Bardugo-

The fact that this book is still on my TBR is embarrassing- especially now that I own two copies of it- but I can feel that August is finally the month I’m going to do it. I have hopes that this is going to become one of my favourite books (thanks Twitter) so I need to force myself to sit down and finally give it a go.

A Girl Made of Air, by Nydia Hetherington-

This book caught my eye massively when the trailer came out, and I made it my mission to get an ARC. I ended up getting it on Netgalley and, although I actually have very little idea about the plot, I’m so, so excited to give it a read! All I know is that it involves a circus and, really, that’s all I needed to know…

There’s a whole load of other books on my TBR and Netgalley shelf that I would love to get through in August, and maybe I will, but for now- this is it. I’m hoping four books will be ridiculously easy and will kickstart monthly TBRs for years to come.

I’d love to know what your reading goals are this month! If you have a book that you’re really excited to read in August, let me know down below- I’m always looking for ways to expand my ever-growing TBR…


*Thank you to Catherine Flores for sending me an e-ARC of this book to read and review*

The Story of Babushka follows a Russian Nesting Doll (a Babushka) who goes in search of the meaning of life. Her five bodies each represent different elements of her character (beauty, wealth, talent, intelligence and love) and they all go off independently throughout the story to find purpose and meaning, based on their own individual traits. This book is intended for children aged 8-14, but definitely has potential crossover interest for an older audience looking for something sweet and easy.

This was an absolute pleasure to read. It’s obviously intended for an audience slightly younger than me (I’m 21…) but I found myself just as engrossed in this story as I would have been ten years ago. Babushka’s struggles resonated with me as an adult, and I found the message to be one that would be equally understandable and enjoyable for children who are starting to ask themselves what they want to do when they grow up, as well as one that makes you really think about your own interests and ambitions, whatever your age. Babushka’s five bodies are instantly likeable and only have good intentions, so I feel that she could be a good role-model character and I’m sure that all children could instantly connect with at least one of her major traits.

The subject matter is just as fascinating as the characters. A lot is included in this story, with struggles including political and social issues, and relationship problems, all addressed in a way that may enlighten children without completely overwhelming them. A couple of the struggles that the characters face aren’t ones that are frequently addressed in younger reads, but it is written in such an accessible and understandable way that I genuinely think children would understand and learn a lot. It has a beautiful moral and such an important plot that I would certainly recommend this as an enjoyable read for adults and parents, and an educational one for slightly younger readers.

Reading this book was a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon and I cannot recommend it highly enough, for its gorgeous illustrations, its poignant message and its genuine portrayal of emotional struggles that so many people go through at some point in their lives. It’s a quick and easy book that I finished almost a week ago now and still haven’t been able to get out of my head.

Rating: 5/5

PS: As an added bonus, the author linked me to a website for the book ( which is absolutely stunning! The interactivity with the animated elements is adorable, and I’m sure that young readers who are interested in the book would love this too!

ARC REVIEW: FORESHADOW by Nova Ren Suma, Emily X.R. Pan, et al.

This is my first time reviewing a short story anthology, and only my fifth time reading one (my former favourite being Slasher Girls and Monster Boys), so I’m honestly not entirely sure how to go about this! BUT I know that I loved the collection and wanted to share my thoughts with you, so here we go:

*Thank you to Algonquin Young Readers for the e-ARC of this wonderful collection*

Foreshadow is an anthology of short stories by thirteen incredible, diverse and lesser-known Young Adult authors, introduced by a variety of famous names. Each story is followed by a short essay by Nova Ren Suma or Emily X. R. Pan about a theme, motif or technique used within, and each essay is followed by a writing prompt on a similar theme.

I adored this collection. When I first heard about it, I was instantly obsessed, and when I started reading, that didn’t change at all. The range in these stories means that there is at least one in the collection that everyone will love, and I found myself constantly surprised by the genre variance from one tale to the next. It’s consistent in the way that each story resonates with the reader, but uses an incredible array of settings, genres and voices to achieve this. It is easy to see how every single author used their own personality to shape their contribution to this collection and it was fascinating to become so invested in thirteen different plots in such a short space of time.

I do have to admit that a couple of the stories weren’t my favourite, but the entire concept of this collection completely made up for it. I found that, even if a specific story wasn’t for me, I connected with the characters anyway and looked forward to the analysis that followed. Plus, whether I loved them all or not, I can easily say that every story in this book is edited to perfection. A few of my favourites (that were 5/5 reads easily) were ESCAPE, SOLACE, GLOW and BREAK, all of which have inspired me to check out the authors in the hope that they have something else I can read immediately.

This beautiful collection showcases the diversity that Young Adult Fiction has to offer, as well as the depth that can be achieved in a short story, which is interesting for all readers, but especially for aspiring authors. This collection made me want to open up a new document and start writing after every single story, and I haven’t read anything powerful enough to inspire me like that in a long time.  I would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a diverse and thought-provoking collection of stories by up-and-coming new authors, but would argue that it’s essential reading for anyone who wants to be inspired to begin (or continue) their own writing journey.


Side note: this collection was originally a digital anthology, published at, where there are additional stories and content warnings for everything included in this collection!

Foreshadow comes out on October 20th 2020.


Hi, welcome to my first ever blog tour review! Firstly, thank you so much to Grace Vincent at Fleet for the advance copy of this book, and HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY to Amity Gaige! This was such a fascinating read and I’m so excited to be part of the blog tour.

Seawife tells the story of a woman named Juliet, whose husband convinces her to join him on a year-long trip around the Caribbean, living almost entirely on the ocean. When their voyage is over, and tragedy has struck, Juliet must adjust back into life on land and to parenting their two children in a more conventional way.

All the while, though, her mind is still on their journey across the ocean and her husband’s sailing obsession, and we learn the specifics of their trips through a combination of Juliet’s story, Michael’s logbook and, occasionally, their daughter Sybil’s thoughts and prayers.

It might just be because this isn’t a genre that I’ve really looked into, but I have never read a book like Seawife. The style and subject matter were both so completely new to me that I found myself getting quickly sucked in, and I ended up so glad that I gave this book a go! I was definitely intimidated by all of Michael’s technical terminology at the beginning, but the story is written in such a compelling and accessible way that I was genuinely interested in the technicalities of sailing by the time I finished (something I really never thought I’d say!)

Juliet speaks of the sceptics of her voyage in this book and, I admit, I also didn’t understand the allure of a life on the ocean until the story really got into it. I never would have considered the possibility of abandoning life, school, work, etc, to live in a 44 square-foot floating home, but I was very quickly hooked on learning about their new lifestyle. Their life story is beautiful, fascinating and completely believable, and it definitely made me re-evaluate my initial thoughts. By the end, it seemed strange when the characters were on land, and I wanted to hear more and more about their life on the water.

The characters in this book- primarily Juliet, her husband Michael, their daughter Sybil and their son George- were all really interesting, both in terms of their personalities and their relationships with each other, and I found myself deeply invested in the lives of each of them. I think Sybil may be my favourite character, overall. She was believable as a young child, funny and enthusiastic, but also grown-up in a way that her lifestyle would make her. George was adorable as well. Michael and Juliet were both strong-willed, firm in their beliefs and completely genuine and seeing the complexities of their marriage was fascinating.

Overall, I found this story to be a compelling depiction of the dangers and the allures of a life at sea. It’s thought-provoking, gripping and completely absorbing and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone who has ever wondered about life on the ocean, or even just anyone who wants some good, old-fashioned escapism.

RATING: 4.5/5

You can find out more about this book on the Little, Brown site, and I would definitely recommend you pick up a copy from The Hive (support your local indie!) or Waterstones.


*Thank you to Hot Key Books for the e-arc*

I don’t throw the term ‘one of the best books I’ve ever read’ around often, but it’s impossible not to consider this one of the most beautiful, poignant stories I’ve ever read, both in terms of the writing style and the dual stories.

‘Clap When You Land’ follows Yahaira and Camino, two half-siblings who don’t know that the other exists, and who find this out quite drastically following the death of their father. When they each find out that their father had two families and, effectively, two lives, they are heartbroken and confused, and having to deal with that in addition to their loss is a pain that they both face very differently and very beautifully.

I couldn’t choose a favourite character of the two. Both are strong and independent, and I think it makes the book all the more heartbreaking that they both try to be strong throughout it all. It made me more emotional to think about how much they were trying to hold it together than I think it would be to see them both fall apart. Both Yahaira and Camino are two of the most emotionally mature, and yet still believable, teenagers I’ve ever read. The other characters in the story also had an incredible amount of depth to them that I was certainly impressed by, and I found myself becoming invested in the plots of all of the characters, rather than just Yahaira and Camino.

The writing style in this book is something that totally blew me away. I have never read a book in verse before and, when I first started, I was a little sceptical about whether I would be able to read an entirely (relatively long) novel that is written this way. Within pages, though, I was completely hooked. It was so easy to get pulled through the book and I was halfway through before it even felt like I’d started. It’s such an easy book to read, despite the intense and meaningful plot.

The lives that are portrayed in this story are extremely contrasting, but both were equally captivating, and I finished this book in a day because I literally couldn’t put it down. The combination of Yahaira’s determination, Camino’s strength and an incredibly beautiful verse writing style definitely made this my most memorable book of the year so far, and I know for a fact that I will be picking up everything I can by Elizabeth Acevedo.

If you’ve read this book, I’d love to hear if you were as completely gripped as I was. Also, if you have any similar recommendations, I would love to hear them! This is a style that I think I might be quickly falling in love with….