Cover Image: Gorgeous Gruesome Faces

Gorgeous Gruesome Faces

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She used to have it all. Money, fame, friends, power—everything a teen girl could dream of. All Sunny ever really cared for were her two bandmates and best friends, Candie and Mina. But after one too many disagreements led to an unforgivable act of revenge, the friendship falls apart and the band suffers. And worst of all, the guilt of what they had done was too much for one of them, leaving Sunny and Candie as a dissolving duo. But Candie goes on to further her stardom, while Sunny gets left behind and forgotten.

But when she hears Candie promoting a talent agency looking for K-Pop performers, Sunny sees it as a second chance. Selected to compete, Sunny decides to go all the way to show she does have what it takes to be a star. But the competition is far more cutthroat than she remembers, and this time it’s different not having Candie by her side. Because now she sees the wrath she tried to ignore in Candie, and can’t deny it’s connected to the harrowing injuries the other girls are receiving. Is Candie back to using her dark magic, and how long does she have to stop Candie before she becomes Candie’s next victim?

This was a wonderful surrealistic thriller. idk too much about K-Pop but that didn’t matter because Cheng drew me in with sympathy for Sunny almost immediately. I was rooting for her during the whole competition and her investigation into the weirdness surrounding Candie. This book had all the dark and creepy vibes mixed with the glitz and glamour of K-Pop and the heartbreak of abusive men and dying friendships. I thought Cheng did a great job of bringing all of these things together and resolving them at the end. Highly recommend this and will be on the lookout for other YA thrillers by Cheng!

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A creepy YA horror novel about teen idols, pop music, the entertainment industry, East Asian beauty standards and toxic fan culture. I recommend it if you enjoyed horror movies centred around performance arts, like Perfect Blue, Suspiria and The Neon Demon etc.
What I liked even more than the spooky workshop storyline was the revealing of the behind-the-scenes drama of a young idol's life: social media pressure, fan theories, relationship scandals, tour fatigue, body issues, personal insecurities. Candice and Sunny are written really well, and incorporating a sapphic homoerotic relationship into into a narrative about performed performed public identities versus private reality, added new layer and pathos.
That aside, there is also a cosmic, supernatural horror element mixed with East Asian folklore, which I thought was very cleverly used. I must say, I preferred the old timeline to the current workshop horror story, probably because the time given to the character work is better and more effective than some of the spooky action, although I liked how the book didn't shy away from GROTESQUE body horror. Hell yeah, we love Asian horror stories that are not afraid to get gory and twisted.
Overall, as someone who loves anti-consumerist horror, this was perfect for me. I've always spoken vocally about people's fetishization of the K-pop/East Asian idol culture, and if you're one of those who wants to give up your life and move to Seoul for Jungkook, please read this lol. Can't wait for the sequel.
4 stars for blood, body horror, K-pop, dance battles, murderous sapphics, glitter gore and deranged fans.

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thank you so much to the publisher and colored pages blog tours for gifting me an early copy in exchange for an honest review!!

my obession with Korea has now brought me to this book and for that i'm grateful because it really was amazing 😱😱 starting from the fact that it reads suuuuper fast and there comes the time that you start to not believe what you're reading, so that makes it even more enjoyable. the characters felt real, with their normal teenage issues and always making mistakes, i found out i prefer the MCs to do just that. and the drama... i was literally not expecting the supernatural element to come out in full force but when it did i was hooked, loved every single thing about it. and it presents with an important critic to the trainee programs, how boys and girls works so hard and then the industry exploits them to the limit, i loved reading about it and the consecuences it brings, it's something that should be considered more.
i really liked the book overall and now i wanna see what the author comes up next with 😊💜

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3.5 rounded up to 4

This was not at all what I was expecting, but it was a unique experience. Based on the blurb, I honestly thought it was going to be a Sapphic romance set against the backdrop of k-pop music, and it sort of was, but it was much more a horror story than a romance. The horror seems to have a supernatural source, but it also seems to be an indictment of the K-pop machine and the harm it has done to the kids who don't make it, as well as maybe to some of the kids who do! As I said, it was a unique experience, and I was strangely fascinated throughout.

It was the cover and title that first caught my eye, but then I looked up the author and realized she grew up in Taiwan (I am a Taiwanese American) and it made me want to read it all the more. The story is told from Sunny's point-of-view and it moves back and forth between then and now. You quickly find out that Sunny was part of a trio in K-pop and some sort of tragedy befell them that ended up destroying her career before it ever really got off the ground. While you know that one of their group tragically lost her life in the prologue, the story takes it time revealing the details of how it all came to be and how that may be affecting Sunny's now.

I think the story took some time to develop, but once I was about a third of the way through, the pacing picked up and I found myself more and more engrossed in the story. I didn't initially realize this was a series, and while this story ends with us wanting to know more, it does a good job of answering many of the questions I had throughout the story about what happened in the past, what was really happening and what that now means for Sunny and Candie.

I found Sunny to be a likable character. She was very insecure, but considering what she went through and how those who were supposed to be fans absolutely eviscerated her, she made a lot of sense. I liked how her relationship with her mom underwent some change (for the better) in this story, even if her mom wasn't in the story that much. It really had a lot to do with what Sunny experienced and how that helped her to grow from those experiences.

I had a harder time with Candie, especially at the beginning, but the author did a good job making me like the Candie and Sunny team by the end of the book. I think the author did a good job giving us hints of Sunny's attraction, even from the beginning, but without making it the point of the book. It made the love that developed more natural, at least in my mind. The supernatural stuff was a bit weird at first, but I liked that the author incorporated Asian folklore, especially a story that I have never heard before. While this was a slow start, the latter half of the book and the ending made me want to tune in for the next book!

Overall, not what I expected, but it was a good introduction to the author for me!

I received an advance review copy for free from Netgalley and the publishers, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

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Eighteen-year-old Sunny Lee had it all—she was a Kpop star on the rise alongside her two best friends Candie and Mina—until a shocking scandal ended it all. Now she spends her time longing for a return to what once was. When she finds out Candie is attending a new competitive Kpop workshop in her hometown, Sunny decides to audition and join her, hoping to finally confront what happened between them and also figure out what actually happened the night that Mina jumped to her death.

But things just get more confusing when Sunny arrives at the workshop. She doesn’t find the answers she’s looking for, but she does find herself haunted by ghostly visions while strange “accidents” start happening to her fellow competitors. As weird things keep happening, Sunny starts to wonder if Candie—and her otherworldly secrets—are behind everything.

Utilizing dual timelines like a pro, Cheng creates an atmosphere of elevated mystery as the reader follows Sunny’s journey to find out the truth. The shared history between Candie and Sunny is slowly revealed to the reader as we also watch them reconnect (poorly) in the present timeline, providing an intriguing contrast that keeps us guessing. In addition, being able to witness the development of their relationship with each other as well as with Mina causes an even deeper stab to the heart with each turn of the page.

Despite the thrills and chills experienced as Sunny dives deeper into the workshop, Cheng is also able to create a bit of a romantic atmosphere. By no means would I classify this story as a romance (at least not in its entirety), but something about the way the story was told and the way that Sunny’s relationships developed in both the past and the present spoke of romance to me.

And that ending was everything I could have hoped for! I spent a majority of the book completely entranced and confused (in the best way) and the climax really brought the story together and explained everything well. Not only did all the plot lines presented in this book get neatly wrapped up, but Cheng also left the door open for more and I, for one, hope that there will be at least one more book set in this world! (And since Goodreads lists this book as the first in a series, I think I’m gonna get my wish!)

GORGEOUS GRUESOME FACES by debut author Linda Cheng is stunning sapphic thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher for free and have voluntarily written this review.

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K-pop and horror? My high school creative writing students flipped when I told them about this book: it's the perfect combination of two of their very favorite things. Several of them are reading the book now that it's out and we use it as an example in some of our conversations around creating tension.

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Sunny is still recovering from the crash and burn of her girl group disbanding. Told using two timelines - past and present, Cheng slowly builds the plot. At times slow and methodical but worth finishing.
Queer. Family legend. Angry ancestor desperate for freedom. Good read!

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Super captivating from the beginning! I do not read a lot of books in this genre, and this was definitely something new to me. I look forward to what Linda Cheng writes in the future.

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I went into this book knowing that it loosely was a thriller, but holy hell was I not ready for how this book unfolded.

This story follows our MC Sunny who was once a part of a successful KPop trio that fell apart following a scandal. When Sunny finds out her ex-band mate Candie is entering a local competition, she enters to finally get some answers. However, Sunny starts seeing ghosts of her other band mate and horrifying “accidents” start happening.

Sunny has been THROUGH it, and she hasn’t really processed her trauma. That being said, I had a hard time getting a read on Sunny’s motivations for a lot of things until later in the book. Don’t me wrong, I was cheering for her though because I love mess.

This author nailed the spine tingling atmosphere that has your hairs standing on end. There were definitely moments when I just wasn’t even sure what was real or not. The gore was also top notch (and definitely not for the faint of heart).

Overall, if you love chilling stories with messy queer teens then you need this book!

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Despite the rough start and some minor complaint, Gorgeous Gruesome Faces really lived up to all my expectations! It has a great discussion on k-pop and some discussion on intergenerational relationships, with unique twist and mystery that got me flipping the pages. Plus, I really enjoyed the focus on friendships, character growth, and moving on from the past for your present! It was a great book and despite ending quite neatly, I’m looking forward for its sequel

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Gorgeous Gruesome Girls has some very bone-chilling body horror scenes that often will make you pause and sit back. (Fair warning don’t read it while eating). The author has done a very good job connecting the horror elements with the K-pop industry and its unrealistic body expectations from their idols. The rigorous training, diets, and trying to control their personal lives all of it is used in this book in the best way.
There are folktales and Sapphics committing crimes. There are girl friendships and everything in between with no stereotypical woman being jealous and betraying each other. I loved how strong the bond was between the characters.
Gorgeous Gruesome Faces is the perfect horror story to read if you still want to hold on to the spooky season and it’s queer. Fans of K-pop stories and Sapphic story lovers will love this.

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I dnfed this book, I really didn't like the characters or the storyline. I wish I would have enjoyed this more.

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"You think about the girls like you, who sacrifice so much to be accepted, who bare their souls and twist themselves into impossible shapes for the world to enjoy,only to be torn apart and destroyed."

Sunny, Mina and Candie win roles on the teen show, Sweet Cadence, before debuting as a K-Pop group. The girls become close friends until Mina dies, which sends Sunny into a deep depression and Candie moves on with her life without them. When Sunny learns that Candie is auditioning for a new K-Pop talent show, Sunny decides the only way she can make things right between them is to audition too, only once there she realizes there is more happening that what she signed up for.

This was a fun read. I loved that this was set in the glamorous world of K-Pop and that there were supernatural elements. This had a few creepy moments, a lot of sass and snark from Sunny and a good memory of what it was like to be a teen girl. I really enjoyed this debut and look forward to reading more from Linda Cheng.

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I honestly had no clue what to expect going into this book. It ended up reminding me a little of a mashup of The Honeys and Our Crooked Hearts.

I liked the twists along the way because they kept me guessing and at any given moment I didn’t really know what was going on.

I did find that it took a little to fully get into the story and that some of the past timeline chapters were unnecessary.

I would still likely recommend this book to anyone looking for a slow burn YA thriller.

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A combination of horror, K-pop, and sapphic characters immediately had me hooked when I first heard about this book, and Linda Cheng delivers on all of that and more in this twisty supernatural horror about a cutthroat idol competition. Cutting back and forth between past and present it weaves the story of 3 girls who rose to fame, and the 2 that are left seemingly trying to claw their way back to the top after their group’s untimely demise, and the loss of their friend. Whatever I originally anticipated the twists and turns of this book would be about, I didn’t even have the faintest idea what an enthralling web Cheng would end up spinning as the past and present revealed themselves as the story went on. While there are some loose threads I’m still curious about and a few things I wish had been a little smoother, all in all I really enjoyed this book and I can’t wait to see what happens next in the GGF universe!

Hands down the best part of this book is the horror/thriller elements. There’s this sensation that something is deeply wrong from the beginning and yet it’s hard to fathom just how wrong things seem to get, to the point I almost had to put my book down but couldn’t because I was so invested in what was going to happen next. The body horror is gruesome without feeling gratuitous. There are some elements that I wish had been woven into the story earlier on and that I think would have continued to heighten that sense of wrongness and made the ending a little more high-stakes, but overall it was horrifying and wonderful.

The way that the K-pop and showbiz elements were woven in also worked well for me, calling upon some ideas of the idol industry while still being a little more in the realm of Western media, letting the story be a little more unique. The characters themselves were pretty interesting although Sunny and Candie clearly get the most overall attention, at times to the detriment of the others but never to a terribly noticeable degree (and honestly it works with the plot). The aforementioned sapphic romance doesn’t exactly show up until the second half of the book but honestly there’s hints of it from the very beginning, without the characters even truly realising. It wasn’t a specifically standout element, but I certainly wasn’t mad about it.

I really enjoyed reading this book and honestly kept me hooked throughout. There are a few things I might wish were different after finishing it but honestly my biggest takeaway is that I’m excited for the next book and I’m interested to see how this book will develop after the initial ‘big bad’ is seemingly vanquished. Definitely worth the read!

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4.5/5 ⭐️
Sunny used to be part of a teen K-Pop TV show with Candie and Mina. Mina died under tragic circumstances and since then, Sunny hasn’t seen or talked to Candie. However, she jumps at an opportunity to be part of a new KPop group after seeing Candie announce a workshop she is joining. However, strange things keep happening.

What a creepy good book! I thought the horror was just the right level here and I was so intrigued. The author also used flashbacks perfectly to help build suspense. It does seem based on goodreads there will be a sequel so I’m intrigued to see where that goes. I’d definitely recommend this to those who like spooky without gore!

I received my copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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It's not often that I find a book involving several of my interests, but Gorgeous Gruesome Faces easily ticked several boxes. Horror meets queerness meets YA meets K-pop is the base description of this title, and I was into it very quickly once I started reading. There are strong gothic vibes as well, coupled with the sometimes obvious, but not unwelcome, commentary on social norms and expectations. This turned into a quick read, and has quite a stunning cover too.

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Gorgeous Gruesome Faces is the perfect blend of horror, mystery, and fantasy. The story is centered around a grueling and cutthroat K-pop competition where girls are vying to be the next big star. How much are these girls willing to sacrifice to become the next K-pop sensation?

I really enjoyed this book. I was immersed in this story from the first chapter. The story is told in past and present timelines, but it was still easy to follow. I loved the horror and fantasy elements throughout the story. There’s also some romance thrown into this book that I liked. The story ended on a bit of a cliffhanger and it looks like this is the start of a series. I hope there’s a second book because I need to know what happens next!

I definitely recommend this one, especially if you love young adult horror/fantasy books.

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two years ago, sunny lee’s chance at stardom blew up. she can’t let the past—including her former best friend and groupmate, candie—go, which leads her to participating in a k-pop workshop. she’s expecting this workshop to be difficult, but not deadly. now, she’s trying to stay on top while also trying to survive.

i loved the social commentary about stardom, friendship, and more. the k-pop industry is definitely cutthroat, though this book takes that term a bit more literally. i really liked sunny as a main character. i also enjoyed how the story unfurled, with some chapters set in the present and some set in the past. this book didn’t captivate me quite as much as i hoped it would, but i would still recommend to YA readers.

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A Kpop thriller?? Sign me up please!!

The vibes of this were so clear and I loved the presence of Sunny's PTSD. The characters were all really strong and well developed. I got a little lost in the the pacing of the plot at some points but it was overall an enjoyable read.

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