Cover Image: Fireworks


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Member Reviews

As her senior year draws to a close, Lulu learns that her childhood best friend, and current K-pop star, Kite (Kai) will be returning home for the summer. She hasn't seen him in four years, but growing up, these neighbors were inseparable. What will things be like? Will they spend time together again?

This childhood friends-to-lovers, celebrity romance captures the feelings of reconnecting with someone who used to be integral to your day-to-day experience and the sense of things shifting and changing as one leaves high school and prepares for college.

I appreciated how the author addressed the mental health aspects and stress of celebrity, not just the pressure put on Kai as part of a K-pop group, but also the obsession of and invasion of privacy by some of the super fans.

Read this one for the supportive friendships, the stray neighborhood cat, and the feelings of first love.

Representation: AAPI, LGBTQ+ (Bi MC), mental health

Heat level: Kissing only

CW: divorced parents, infidelity, strained familial relationships, invasion of privacy, underage drinking

I received an advance copy from Random House Children's, Underlined, and NetGalley. Review opinions are my own.
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This is definitely on the higher end of 3 stars.

It's very similar to ‘Once Upon a K-Prom,’ which I adored, so this had me fangirling all over again. And honestly, I'm not a fan of k-pop, but I LOVE reading about it. So I wish there was a little more of the band/other boys in this, but I did enjoy reading about the “normal” side of things. And I also thought the childhood friends to sweethearts was done really well.

And the only reason I'm not rounding up is because of the ending. It's just wayyy too abrupt and open-ended for my personal liking. Honestly, if a sequel isn't the plan, then an epilogue definitely should have been included. 

But overall, this is a quick and fun read. For sure one to pick up if you want to scratch that k-pop itch.
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Initially, I expected a romance set over 4th of July because of the title.  It quickly became apparent this was not the case, which made the book even better for me as a reader and librarian purchasing titles! Holiday books are great, but it tends to limit the timeframe a book is appealing to readers.  I hope there is a sequel, because the story ended way too quickly!
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I love K-drama and my niece has introduced me to BTS so I thought I would read this advance copy of Fireworks.  Lulu Li misses her best friend and neighbor, Kai.  He left years ago to join a South Korean talent agency.  The agency works with kids to educate and train them to be idols in the K-drama or K-pop industry.  It had been a dream of Kai's. Lulu supported him following his dream but didn't know they wouldn't be able to keep in touch.  The only way she has news of him is through fan sites and it hurts.  

Kai wasn't their to help her through her parents divorce and so Lulu feels abandoned by her dad and Kai in a way.  When Lulu hears the rumor Kai is coming home on a medical hiatus on a fan site, she doesn't know if she should believe it.  Will Kai even want to talk to her or remember her?   Has fame gone to his head, is he a different person now?   Is he really sick, or hurt; or is he in hiding?   

Lulu's two best friend's are excited at the possibility of meeting Kai, stage name Kite.  They are fans of his idol group Karnival.  Can Lulu be a good friend to Kai, Stephanie and Esther without betraying their trust?  Why is Kai being so secretive about his time in Korea?  How will things change now that Lulu and her friends have graduated high school and are going to different schools?  Big changes are in store for the foursome and they only have the summer to figure things out.  

Fireworks is an excellent debut novel.  I love the story and adored Lulu and her friends and family.  I can't wait to read more by Alice Lin.
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4 Stars

This was a super sweet and quick YA romance!

I would start by saying that I think this does lean more towards early YA in terms of content and conflict, but as an adult who enjoys all levels of YA, I still found this refreshing and enjoyable!

This is a friends to lovers trope and boy/girl next door trope as well as famous/non-famous trope! The first half of the book was quick and totally had my attention as our main character struggled to come to terms with feelings for her now-famous childhood BFF, but once they got together, I felt like the story slowed and the conflicts that popped up were a bit jarring.

The main hero is a K-pop idol and the insights I to the stress and struggles for these idols was well done and I loved how it showed the non-glamorous side. Our Maine heroine was bi and that rep felt PERFECT and shown to be naturally her vs a random thing told to us as a diversity plug. And speaking of diversity, the main characters are Chinese American and I loved their family, food, and friendships all show and highlighted through a cultural lens. Warning YOU WILL BE HUNGRY READING THIS BOOK!

I found this book and story to be enjoyable and think it makes the perfect summer read!
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This was a pretty cute but slightly generic rom-com. However, fans of K-Pop who are devouring everything related will definitely enjoy it regardless!
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Fireworks was a sweet YA read - really enjoyed the friendships here as well as the K-Pop elements.

✔️ Childhood friends to lovers
✔️ Dating a K-Pop Star
✔️ LGBTQIA rep (FMC is bisexual)

I loved the premise of the book: a romance with a famous boy-next-door. I also loved that he's a K-Pop star trying to spend the summer as a normal teen and the adventures they had along with Lulu's BFFs - those were probably my favorite scenes in this book.

The friendship between Lulu and Kai was handled well - loved them trying to come back to each other and be close again. While I was happy it  bloomed into a romance, it didn't feel very swoony - I think maybe not enough build or pining or either of their parts.

While I was appreciative of the bisexual rep, it was only present for a small part of the story (a female asked out the FMC and she declined). Aside from Kai, the only other date she went on in the book is with another male and her celeb crushes that were prominently mentioned were also males (could have mentioned a K-Pop girl group here). 

The first half was stronger than the back half of the book. The storyline with her dad felt a little cliche and didn't work for me.

I did really like that it showed the downside of fame and fandom. Also loved Kai's sister the more I got to know her - she was a standout side character.

While not a perfect read, this was a fun one and worth checking out.  Thanks to @netgalley and @randomhousekids for early access to this book in exchange for my honest review.
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There's so much for kids to like about this book. There's a lot of information about K-Pop and K-Pop members. For Asian folx, there are a lot of mirrors about Asian identity, family, and culture. Of course there are two main characters, a girl and a boy, who clearly are going to get together. The lead female character is bisexual, so that's also an important identity to show for Asians. 

The book is overall enjoyable, and not very dramatic. It is pretty predictable, actually, and I can see kids liking this as a quick read about some of the things they like to do in their spare time (listen to music, talk about pop culture, fashion, hang out with friends).

Thank you NetGalley for the digital ARC of this book.
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K-pop meets friends to lovers in Fireworks, so what's not to love right? Unfortunately, I did not enjoy this book. The main character's voice was so juvenile, and I know this is YA but she sounded way more middle grade. If that was Lin's intent then I think she did a good job, and this book would better for younger teens or middle grade readers. So while this was not for me, perhaps young students with a love of K-pop will enjoy it.
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This YA novel is absolutely for both Kpop fans, and for those looking for a great summer read (or if you're like me, both!). Overall, I would definitely recommend it!

I received an e-ARC from the publisher.
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This book melted my soul. I absolutely loved it. My only complaint is that I wasn't reading this while I was on vacation because it would've been the perfect book to curl up with.
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I wanted to like this more than I did. Don't get me wrong. It is a sweet story of childhood best friends, separated after he leaves to be a K-pop idol, then try to navigate a new relationship together while keeping it a secret from the world. I also loved how Lulu being bi isn't just a one-off note. It's a non-issue pressence in the book. Love it. However, there were big topics that were not treated as such. Kite's mental health, the strain on K-pop idols, toxic fandoms... these were treated lightly in favor of the budding romance. The second half through in a conflict that was resolved in an unsatisfying way. It was like the author had this idea, and I was interested to see how it went, but it was settled super quick, and mostly off screen. It was frustrating! This seems like a stand-alone, but I would love a second book to expand on the LDR, and how Kite handles what happens after. 

I wanted more from this. It was a cute, fun read, but it gave me less than it promised.
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𝟐.𝟕𝟓 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐬 ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆


Fireworks follows 𝗟𝘂𝗹𝘂 𝗟𝗶 (h) reconnecting with her childhood best friend, who is now a K-pop idol, 𝗞𝗮𝗶 𝗫𝘂 “𝗞𝗶𝘁𝗲” (H), after he takes a break from all his idol activities and returns home. Being next-door neighbors again, the two rekindle their friendship and make up for the lost time. In addition, the two navigate their personal dilemmas and confide in each other about their internal dilemmas as they grow closer. 


Lulu Li “Lovely” (h) – wants to do something business-related for college because it's a versatile field, and switch to East Asian studies, a K-pop stan and loves Karnival but hides it from everyone

Kai Xu “Kite” (H) – the youngest member of the K-pop group Karnival, sub-vocalist and a pianist dropped out of eighth grade to become a K-pop trainee with Dream Pop Media


There was a lack of development between Kai and Lulu’s relationship, and their feelings for each other were not that believable despite the history of their friendship. I felt like she was infatuated with the “Kite” as a member of Fireworks rather than Kai, the boy she knew from childhood, mainly because she used his stage name to address him. It is hard to believe that she knew she was in love with him based on their limited interactions, and there was no evidence to indicate that he was ever in love with her either. Perhaps it was a childhood crush on both ends; however, the four years of lost communication and disconnecting did not indicate that they cared enough to fight for their friendship. Especially upon his return, they automatically fell back into place, and she was internally fangirling, even though he was her childhood best friend. It was my least favorite aspect that she was a fan of him as an idol, and she would revert to stan behavior instead of treating him like the boy she once knew. Personally, their friendship should have been developed better, and they should have addressed the years of lost contact because they pretended like it never happened. He briefly mentioned that he would have missed her too much, and it would have been difficult for him as a trainee, but I wasn’t attached to their friendship. This dynamic escalated pretty quickly, so it felt like insta-love, which is one of my least favorite tropes, but there were moments that the two shared that were wholesome. 

The friendship dynamics in this book were interesting; it felt like the romance was a subplot, so we viewed different aspects outside of Kai and Lulu. It is a single POV, so we don’t really know how Kai was feeling the entire time, but he eventually overcame and communicated with his band members about how he felt about how he was being treated. But, again, I wish it was developed, and there were more band dynamics because it was a central part of his identity, and we never got to see them together besides that one scene.

There were many aspects that were never resolved and conversations that should have been held but never happened. However, they are teenagers so it's understandable that they feel they are avoidant their emotions instead of confronting them. I just wish they had a better response to events going on around them because there were open-ended conversations. 


This book has diverse characters and LGBTQ+ representation intertwined within the main and side characters, which was my favorite aspect. However, it was a very quick-paced book, so it was difficult to connect with the characters, especially when it had an abrupt ending. It felt rushed, and there wasn’t proper closure with the characters and coming to terms with their dynamic, whether family or personal struggles. Often, they lacked communication, and I wished they had confided in each other instead of shutting each other out. It was an interesting concept, but there was no chemistry between the characters even though they were childhood friends, time passed, and they didn’t know each other, as well as they, thought they did.
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This was a really good read. I've become a big fan of K-Pop/K-Drama inspired books and this one was no different. For this book, I would've loved more of the love interest's perspective but I liked that there was articles and texts in there that helped move the story line along and paint the picture of what is going on in story and even providing insight to the past. I liked how light it was and the comedic moments within it.
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Fireworks by Alice Lin is a lovely young adult romance that will take your breath away. This was a sweet read, and the friendship to lovers trope was cute.
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3.5 stars for Fireworks by Alice Lin 

This was a great teen fiction book. It had the perfectly built romance story and great plot details too. I really enjoyed Lulu's character. She has an amazing mom, great friends and an awesome personality. It's refreshing to have such an MC. Kite really didn't have much of a personality, which is the only downside I saw. I would have loved to have him POV mixed in so that he could feel more "real." Other than that, pretty solid read.
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Lulu and Kai were next-door neighbors. Until one day, Kai was whisked away to South Korea to become a K-pop singer. Lulu hasn’t heard from Kai, whose stage name is Kite, in years. When his band Karnival announces he will be taking a break for health reasons, the last thing Lulu expects is to see him back in her neighborhood. With the help of an adorable kitten and meddling best friends, will Lulu and Kite find their way back to friendship and maybe more? 

Fireworks is an extremely cute and lighthearted romance. Alice Lin does an amazing job of incorporating LGBTQ+ representation into the novel. Lulu is bi, with additional LGBTQ+ representation casually worked in throughout the story. I enjoyed how Lulu’s identity is still vitally important, but not necessarily the focus of the romance. Instead, Kite and her friends accept her unconditionally and instead focus on the perils of dating a K-pop star. 

Fireworks does not shy away from how invasive fandom can become, creating many obstacles for Lulu and Kite to work through. The ending felt a bit rushed, I wanted to have Kite and Lulu work through more of the challenges between them. Fireworks is a charming and endearing romance! Fans of K-pop, YA contemporary, and lighthearted summer romances will enjoy Fireworks. This is the perfect book for younger YA readers who have wondered what it might be like to date a K-pop star. Fireworks releases June 7, 2022. Thank you to Alice Lin, Underlined, Random House Children’s, and Netgalley for a free ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

For publisher: My review will be posted on Instagram, Goodreads, Amazon, Storygraph, Wordpress blog, and Barnes & Noble etc
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The Quick Cut: Summer plans before college get complicated when a girl's childhood friend and current member of a K-pop group returns home. Emotions and drama collide. 

A Real Review:
 Thank you to Underlined for providing the ARC for an honest review. 

Music has a way of connecting us across countries and cultures, but rarely do we get to see the personal side behind our favorite bands. For Lulu, that is an opportunity she gets again when Kite comes back to town. 

 Karnival is a popular K-pop band that Lulu happens to have a connection to. Band member Kite is her next door neighbor and childhood best friend, who she hasn't seen since he moved to South Korea and achieved his dreams. However, a sudden medical leave brings him back next door and into her everyday life. Will they pick back up where they left off? Or will his famed status make things complicated? 

 While I do not listen to K-pop music, I do enjoy the books inspired by the genre. They're so filled with passion and happiness that they always put a smile on my face. With this story centered on two friends together again, that was definitely what happened in this debut novel. 

 Lulu finished high school in fine form and is going to Rutgers in the fall. For the summer, this is her chance to make final plans and enjoy time with her best friends. It all is a setup for a great summer until Kite comes back in her life and drama ensues. They're teenagers now with problems and feelings and seeing them work through those together make you smile as a reader. They're so cute together and you want to see a happy ending for them. 

 Kite seemingly has the dream life and in this story, you see the pitfalls to what many consider a perfect lifestyle. He goes through so much and comes back home a shell of who he used to be. It makes you realize that the people we idolize are just human and having a reminder of that is important. 

 A K-pop story that will touch your heart. 

My rating: 5 out of 5
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Thank you to #NetGalley, Alice Lin, and the publisher for the eARC copy of "Fireworks" in exchange for an honest opinion. 
Lulu has nothing but high hopes for her last summer at home before she heads off to college but when her former best friend and now famous k-pop star, Kite, comes home for a medical leave her plans don't go as planned.
As Lulu and Kite start to reconnect and become closer again, Kite's sister Connie warns Lulu to not get close to her brother but as Lulu's growing feelings for Kite grow stronger will she be able to stay away?
This was a cute YA read that I enjoyed. I do not know much about K-Pop bands but I am really enjoying all the books that are coming out about them. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a cute YA read or anyone that loves K-Pop groups!
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This has some drama--especially in the second half--but the aspect I appreciate most about this book is how grounded it is. Lulu's relationships with her friends and family are heartwarming in their depth and in their stability. I was also glad to see that Lin described Lulu's regular teenage activities (going to parties, hanging out at amusement parks, having sleepovers with her friends); it feels like not many authors of YA novels know how teenagers really act. And, of course, Lulu's relationship with Kite is swoony and sweet. (I wish we had gotten to explore more of Lulu's sexual identity, but I'm glad there's some LGBTQ+ representation from her and her friends.)
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