Latest Posts

5 star, YA

Review: Influence by Sara Shepard and Lilia Buckingham

Get ready to delve into the world of teen influencers like you’ve never done before–from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of PRETTY LITTLE LIARS Sara Shepard and sixteen-year-old actress and social media personality Lilia Buckingham comes a twisty mystery that takes place in the fiercely competitive world of Internet stars.

After a video she makes goes viral, everyone knows Delilah Rollins. And now that she’s in LA, Delilah’s standing on the edge of something incredible. Everything is going to change. She has no idea how much.

Jasmine Walters-Diaz grew up in the spotlight. A child star turned media darling, the posts of her in her classic Lulu C. rainbow skirt practically break the Internet. But if the world knew who Jasmine really was, her perfect life? Canceled.

Fiona Jacobs is so funny–the kind of girl for whom a crowd parts–no wonder she’s always smiling! But on the inside? The girl’s a hot mess. And when someone comes out of the shadows with a secret from her past, it’s one that won’t just embarrass Fiona: it will ruin her.

Who wouldn’t want to be Scarlet Leigh? Just look at her Instagram. Scarlet isn’t just styled to perfection: she is perfection. Scarlet has a gorgeous, famous boyfriend named Jack and there’s a whole fanbase about their ship. To everyone watching online, their lives seem perfect . . . but are they really? The sun is hot in California . . . and someone’s going to get burned.



Feeling my inner part Gen-Z mentality coming out here, but this was the surprise of the year so far for me. Influence follows the life of three young girls either just starting out in a career on social media or growing up as a childhood star. While I particularly loved one girl over the others, I was delighted to learn so much about what being an influencer is like through their eyes. This was only possible due to the personal knowledge and experience by one of the authors, Lilia Buckingham, an actual influential teenager who stands for justice and pride.

The story flows amazingly, with short chapters alternating between our three girls. Delilah, otherwise known as Lila D, was new to the game, having a video of her rescuing an animal from a burning building shooting her to viral fandom. I loved her because I could understand her the most. The confusion in moving to L.A, and figuring out the kind of lifestyle and rhythm influencers partake to constantly create and stay relevant for their fans. I liked that she stayed true to herself throughout, not pandering a certain persona to people to gain fame.

Jasmine was also a delight to follow. Having been a popular child star in a program for children, she was forced to maintain that persona through a literal contract for her sponsors which included a clause for morals. As in she couldn’t do anything that was deemed inappropriate by parents. The question became, how do you find yourself if you could never actually be yourself and explore? Her whole character reminded me of Miley Cyrus, and now I have even more sympathy for her who had to really go through such an ordeal in real life. And perhaps even larger spectacle to shed such image.

Lastly, there was Fiona and I’m glad the authors included her. She suffers from OCD and carries a deep secret from the past that may have triggered more of symptoms. Trying to keep everything under control while remaining calm for her fans and upcoming acting jobs is hard. It doesn’t get any better when someone started blackmailing her about this secret!

We follow these three friends as they navigate the spotlight, influencer events and gigs. I love that the authors take the time to get us settled in with their lives, the secrets they harbour, and the internal storm they each face that never surfaces on the faces they share with their audiences.

Then, this becomes a true crime mystery! Someone dies.

If you know me, you know that I absolutely ADORE mysteries, particularly whodunnits. It was like the icing on the cake. From the whole slew of cast and characters we meet through each girl, there are so many potential suspects who may want this person gone. And because we understand the intricacies of relationships behind the scenes, it’s easier to put on our detective hats and guess along as we go.

There’s also some angsty romance like the cherry on top. Delilah finds herself in a snare when a guy she had a meet-cute moment with turns out to be some famous Youtuber who is in a relationship! Oh, what will happen from that? I’m just grinning at this whole setup because it’s cheesy but so perfectly executed amidst everything else in this book. It’s not the focus for sure, but it’s a big part of Delilah’s POV and totally adds to the story.

The overall message of Influence is that it’s hard to show our real selves online, even more so when you have crafted a persona for yourself that has exploded among your fan base to the point that its taken a life of its own. While most of us may never experience such fame and the intricate balance of staying true to ourselves online, the lesson is still real and relevant regardless of how many eyes are on us. Vulnerability is hard, whether thousands of people are watching or even just one, but it’s a choice we ultimately need to make if we want to figure out who we are. What is seen on the outside may not always represent who are are inside but that doesn’t have to remain the case forever.

It is always a choice we can make for ourselves. And I love that behind the fun premise of the life of influencers, Influence is ultimately about this. Find your voice and be true to yourself.

Overall Recommendation:

Influence gives interesting insight into the lives of social media influencers, and a whopping story of the facades we show the world. I loved the realness of the three protagonists and their individual struggles as they seek out recognition, fame and ultimately, themselves. The overall pacing was great, flipping between the different POVs, with the suspense ramping up when a mystery presented itself halfway. While it may seem like strictly a teen book, I feel this story has complex layers to it that will appeal to a wider audience. Ultimately, Influence makes us question what our true selves are and how willing we are to reach for it.

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Purple, Yellow and/or Green Book Covers

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

The rules are simple:

  • Each Tuesday, Jana assigns a new topic. Create your own Top Ten list that fits that topic – putting your unique spin on it if you want.
  • Everyone is welcome to join but please link back to The Artsy Reader Girl in your own Top Ten Tuesday post.
  • Add your name to the Linky widget on that day’s post so that everyone can check out other blogger’s lists.
  • Or if you don’t have a blog, just post your answers as a comment.

Hello lovelies! It’s that time of the week again and we’re back with a new list just in time for Mardi Gras!

This week is all about book covers, particularly those in Mardi Gras colours of purple, yellow or green. While not all of them have all 3 colours, I have tried my best to collate some from my recent reads that fit and have stunning covers.

Let me know in the comments if you have read any of these, or if you think the cover is absolutely beautiful!

1. Burning Glass by Kathryn Purdie

A beautiful purple gem surrounded by jewels is the highlight of this cover

A unique debut by beloved author Kathryn Purdie following a protagonist who can feel what others feel as she rises and becomes the king’s weapon and puppet.

2. Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco

I love the golden hues in this cover, along with the image of their setting in her dress

An explosive finale to a crazy series full of murders, intrigue and the yearning for scientific advancement. There’s no better crime solving pair than the duo protagonists here!

3. The Hand on the Wall by Maureen Johnson

Simple but focuses our attention to one item and one colour

Another fantastic finale to a murder mystery in the past that may tie in with the current ordeals this isolated boarding school is facing, including fresh murders of its students.

4. Night of the Dragon by Julie Kagawa

You can really feel the Japanese-inspired art on this lovely purple cover. Does the golden title count as a cover colour?

Okay, this is also a finale (I’m so sorry everyone) but this beautiful ending of a Japanese-inspired mythology on kitsune (nine-tailed fox), samurai and ronin in imperial Japan was everything I loved in an OwnVoices tale.

5. They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman

I love the plaid skirt uniform colour! Is it weird it reminds me of my own childhood uniform? At least it was never bloody.

I’ve mentioned this one recently in another list but this is one of few YA mysteries that have executed the twists and turns surrounding the unfortunate death of a high school student well. This mystery definitely goes a little beyond just the regular whodunnit question with plenty of why questions added throughout.

6. Finale by Stephanie Garber

Two colours in this gorgeous cover! I normally don’t think purple and yellow work together but this has proved me wrong

As noted in the title, this was the conclusion to a beloved series full of illusions and enigmatic characters many fell in love with. If you have not ever been to Caraval, I would say you should definitely find your invite to this elusive place.

7. To Best the Boys by Mary Weber

I love this bird’s eye of a maze – you can even see a girl in a yellow coat in the middle. I would not want to be her

The only one I have not finished yet on this list, but one that has been high on my TBR for a while now. A story of survival and wits, with female protagonists as great as any of the boys, this maze seems as clever as it is deadly.

8. The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

Golden details surrounding a green foliage, this cover is as enticing and beautiful as its story within. (Also, are those purple flowers? *squints*)

An absolutely stunning book one that makes history feel alive and exciting! Full of treasure hunting, mysterious organizations pulling the strings and a crew of unforgettable characters, this story is a treasure such as the ones the characters seek to find.

9. 10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston

Four words. I. Want. Those. Balloons! But yes, lovely green and gold balance here

I adored this wholesome rom-com that was equal parts cute/romantic and full of family love. Perfect for this time of year to cozy up with indoors as we follow a girl who is set up on 10 blind dates by different family members.

10. A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer

Last, but not least, the cover that contains ALL three colours in a beautiful array

A middle book that in no way suffered from middle book syndrome! This series may need no introduction, but I loved this book more than the first book because it features a certain captain whom I adored. If you’ve read the recently released third book in the series, no spoilers because I’m just waiting for my copy!


What did you think about the books above? Any titles you liked or didn’t like? Which is your favourite cover? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Until next time, friends!

4 star, adult

Review: Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

What would you change if you could go back in time?

In a small back alley in Tokyo, there is a café which has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. But this coffee shop offers its customers a unique experience: the chance to travel back in time.

In Before the Coffee Gets Cold, we meet four visitors, each of whom is hoping to make use of the café’s time-travelling offer, in order to: confront the man who left them, receive a letter from their husband whose memory has been taken by early onset Alzheimer’s, to see their sister one last time, and to meet the daughter they never got the chance to know.

But the journey into the past does not come without risks: customers must sit in a particular seat, they cannot leave the café, and finally, they must return to the present before the coffee gets cold . . .

Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s beautiful, moving story explores the age-old question: what would you change if you could travel back in time? More importantly, who would you want to meet, maybe for one last time?



This one took me by surprise. Not in the sense that I didn’t think I would like it, but rather in the way that it panned out. A friend of mine suggested this to me and I happily obliged to after I heard about the concept. As I was reading the first part, I was definitely not super engrossed, but willing to press on out of interest. But after the second, third and the final part, I found that I was really enjoying it, and the rest of the book flew by for me!

Before the Coffee Gets Cold centers around a special café in Japan. Its specialty? Time travel. Say what? Yes that’s right, at this coffee shop, they offer a very special deal indeed, an opportunity to go back through time….with conditions of course. I thoroughly enjoyed the way time travel was portrayed in this novel, and how the situation was set up for it to occur. Perhaps it’s the Japanese origin of this book, or perhaps I haven’t read enough time travel stories, but this one struck me as quite unique, and the themes that it explored using its special time travel scenario was very well done.

The book is set up in four parts, each following a different individual who ends up deciding to go on this little time travelling journey. What is the price of time travel and what are the gains and risks? These are all questions that are well answered in here, in my opinion. Though of a scientific education, I am not a particular stickler for the scientific feasibility and logic of such sci-fi stories. Despite this, I found the scenarios to be quite believable, and the staff of the café really do well to add to its mysticism. Each character has their own personal growth journey, and a very particular reason why they want to travel back in time – what will they learn along the way, and will they come out the other side a changed person?

Of course in any time travel book, the mechanics and rules of all the time travel itself are very interesting and intriguing. However, the build up and growth of the characters, and the complexities of the choices one can face even with an option to travel through time, really spoke to me in this book. I really felt for each character, and struggled to contemplate what I would do in their situation. I found that each scenario in the book added more and more stakes to time travel, and this quiet underlying build up of tension and suspense also constantly pulled me forward through this story. Overall, I had a great experience reading this book, and I can solidly recommend it to all of you guys!

Note from Fives: I do believe this book is translated from Japanese though, so some of the manners of speech, etc. are more or less directly translated and were a bit odd as a North American reader. That being said they weren’t grammatically incorrect or anything – just make sure to keep that in mind if you ever find something a bit strange in the way things are said. Some things just don’t translate to English very well, and I’m glad the translator chose to keep true to the elements of Japanese culture.

Overall Recommendations

Before the Coffee Gets Cold is a tale of an interesting café with the ability to transport its patrons backwards in time. Set in Japan, translated from its original Japanese, this story follows different customers looking to tap into the special powers of this café. It has very original rules for its time travel, and undoubtedly creates complex situations in which these customers must make decisions of heavy weight. How the customers go through their decision making, and the ramifications of their choices are all explored in this short novel. What would you do if offered the chance to go back in time? A very thought-provoking novel, with ever increasing tensions with each story, brings us through an emotional journey which truly tackles the complexity of human nature. I recommend this read for sure!