4.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · Young Adult

ARC Review | Just for Clicks by Kara McDowell

38349296

 

Just for Clicks by Kara McDowell 

Published: February 19, 2019

Publisher: Amberjack

Pages: 337

Genres: young adult, contemporary fiction, contemporary romance

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: books about bloggers and the internet life, fun but serious young adult novels, mother daughter dynamics

Foodie Vibes: candy corn and a Halloween movie to watch with your not yet boyfriend 

 

Synopsis: 

Mommy blogs are great . . . unless the blog happens to belong to your mom.

Twin sisters Claire & Poppy are accidental social media stars thanks to Mom going viral when they were babies. Now, as teens, they’re expected to contribute by building their own brand. Attending a NY fashion week and receiving fan mail is a blast. Fending off internet trolls and would-be kidnappers? Not so much. Poppy embraces it. Claire hates it. Will anybody accept her as “just Claire”? And what should Claire do about Mom’s old journals? The handwritten entries definitely don’t sound like Mom’s perfect blog persona. Worse, one of them divulges a secret that leaves Claire wondering what else in her life might be nothing but a sham . . .

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Amberjack, and Kara McDowell for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Just for Clicks centers around Claire, Poppy – her twin sister, and their mother. Since they were little girls Claire and Poppy have been vlogging, blogging and doing all sorts of paid sponsorships for their mom’s online brand. The blog started as a way for their mom to share their family moments with friends and also allowed her to support herself and her family after her husband passed away. 

I like that the book explores how a well intentioned start can spiral a bit out of control if one doesn’t stop to reevaluate their life choices every so often. Also the contrast between Claire not enjoying the Internet fandom and Poppy loving it, allows for an interesting multifaceted look at the internet life a s career. Neither twin is wrong, just different. It’s nice to see that there’s not the good twin, bad twin dynamic going on. I also appreciated that communication played a big role in the story. Watching the characters learn how to communicate their needs to others was wonderful. And some of the revelations … let’s just say, it keeps things interesting!

There were very few moments that I didn’t enjoy. If I’m being very critical, then some of the miscommunications or non communications became almost annoying after awhile. 

But overall, I really enjoyed this fun upbeat look into the behind the scenes world of internet fame as a career. Complex relationships, relatable struggles and a whole lot of fun. Definitely recommend!

 

Add to your Goodreads TBR

 

How do you deal with the downsides of blogging? 

 

Come say hi!

Twitter: @BooksAndLife1

Instagram: @BooksLifeAndEverythingNice

Goodreads: Amanda (Books, Life and Everything Nice)

Facebook: @BooksLifeAndEverythingNice

3.5 Star Books · Book Reviews · coming of age · Literary Fiction · mental health · Young Adult

Drowning In Light by Anna Benoit

35958245

 

Drowning in Light by Anna Benoit

Published: August 5, 2017

Publisher: Self Published

Pages: 350

Genres: young adult, coming of age, literary fiction, mental health

Rating: 3.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: flawed characters, books about drug abuse

Foodie Vibes: meals you don’t finish, more alcohol and pills can you can comprehend 

 

Synopsis: 

It all started with a single pain pill.

Up until that pill, high school junior Matt Davidson had it all—or, at least, everyone thought he had it all. A star athlete from a good family, no one suspected the trouble lurking beneath Matt’s carefully constructed façade. And Matt was just fine with that. Because if anyone could hear the dark thoughts that cluttered his mind, they’d know what a selfish, miserable mess he really was.

Matt thinks he can stop. He knows he can stop. And he will, just not yet. Because nothing but the pills can give him a break from his thoughts. Nothing else makes him invincible. Nothing else halts the sinking spiral of his depression.

Nothing… until he meets Amy, a mysterious and beautiful classmate who sparks a passion in him he’s never felt before. As their relationship progresses, Matt knows he can’t have them both. But he also knows he needs his pills. And when he’s finally forced to choose, the decision isn’t as easy as he’d hoped.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley and Anna Benoit for an ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Drowning in Light tells the story of Matt, a guy in high school. On the outside he seems to have to all. But if you look closer, his dad’s abusive and has alcohol problems of his own. His mom means well, but doesn’t realize the extent of her son’s problems. She’s content to let things go and believe it will all work out in the end. Matt struggles with drug abuse that has him in a downward spiral. He’s miserable, not coping well, and really doesn’t have a handle on anything anymore. 

The book is not your typical manic pixie dream girl type story. It’s real, raw and complex. His friend/girlfriend doesn’t magically make things better. She tries to help, but has her own baggage to deal with so it’s not a perfect recovery story by any means. I like that it’s a fairly realistic story of drug abuse. I don’t have personal experience with drug abuse, so maybe I’m way off base here. 

However, it was very frustrating at times to read about all of his mistakes and refusal for help. I felt very annoyed towards Matt at times. Also his lifestyle wasn’t that enjoyable to read about. Duh, it’s drug abuse, doing whatever you need to score more pills, and lying to everyone. But I guess I was hoping for more positivity at some point. I was also so frustrated with the adults in his life. Nobody was taking responsibility for making sure Matt got the help he so desperately needed. 

All in all, a realistic portrayal of drug abuse that made for a frustrating read. A good book that doesn’t gloss of the difficult parts of mental illness and drug abuse. 

 

Are you a fan of books with flawed characters? 

4 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Domestic Fiction · suspense · thriller

ARC Review | The Au Pair

37561550.jpg

 

The Au Pair 

Published: January 8, 2019

Publisher: Berkley Books

Pages: 368

Genres: thriller, suspense, domestic fiction

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: the Roanoke Girls, unsettling families, books about houses that take on a story of their own, twin mysteries 

Foodie Vibes: apricots fresh off the trees

 

Synopsis:

Seraphine Mayes and her twin brother Danny were born in the middle of summer at their family’s estate on the Norfolk coast. Within hours of their birth, their mother threw herself from the cliffs, the au pair fled, and the village thrilled with whispers of dark cloaks, changelings, and the aloof couple who drew a young nanny into their inner circle.

Now an adult, Seraphine mourns the recent death of her father. While going through his belongings, she uncovers a family photograph that raises dangerous questions. It was taken on the day the twins were born, and in the photo, their mother, surrounded by her husband and her young son, is beautifully dressed, smiling serenely, and holding just one baby.

Who is the child and what really happened that day?

One person knows the truth, if only Seraphine can find her.

 

Review:

I won this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads, Berkley Books, and Emma Rous for an ARC copy. As always, an honest review from me.

The Au Pair is an almost other worldly tale of a family who lives at Summerbourne, the massive infamous property. One summer they hire Laura to be the au pair to Edwin, their young son. We soon learn that there is something odd about the family. Twins are common at Summerbourne, but twins never last. Myths, creepy stories, and tall tales are spread by the towns people about the happenings at the house. It makes for a creepy, suspense filled and almost cultish read. I love it! The property and strong family matriarch, Vera, set up the entire story. There is a certain undeniable, almost indescribable feel to the book. It gets under your skin and doesn’t let up, forcing your to keep turning the pages.

The book starts out in 2017 right after the adult childrens’ father has died. After some strange happenings and unanswered questions Seraphine, the daughter, decides she will get her answers about her mysterious family once and for all. The chapters alternate between present day and 1993, right before Seraphine and her twin brother are born. It’s an effective way to tell the story. 

However between the changes in time and confusion about identity, I had a bit of trouble distinguishing between a few non central characters. Eventually I figured it out, but it was frustrating. Also, I wish Laura was a more well defined character. She’s meant to be a more submissive personality, compared to all the Summerbournes. However, Laura plays such a vital role in the story that she needed more depth and influence. 

All in all, the intensity, suspense, and family secrets make The Au Pair an undeniably good read.

 

If you could have a home anywhere in the world, where would it be located?

4.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Christmas · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · Holidays · romance

New Release | Snowflakes Over Holly Cove by Lucy Coleman

41049859

 

Snowflakes Over Holly Cove by Lucy Coleman

Published: September 18, 2018

Publisher: Aria 

Pages: 426

Genres: contemporary fiction, contemporary romance, romance, Christmas, holidays 

Rating: 4.5 stars 

Recommend to fans of: sweet holiday romances that aren’t over the top Christmasy, the movie The Holiday, relaxing beachside vacations that make you so badly want to be there 

Foodie Vibes: mug of hot cocoa and homemade Christmas cookies ~ so cozy 

 

Synopsis:

The perfect Christmas romance for fans of Karen Swan.

As the snowflakes start to fall, the village of Holly Cove welcomes a new tenant to the beautiful old cottage on the beach…

For lifestyle magazine journaist Tia Armstrong, relationships, as well as Christmas, have lost all their magic. Yet Tia is up against a Christmas deadline for her latest article ‘Love is, actually, all around’…

So Tia heads to Holly Cove where the restorative sea air, and rugged stranger Nic, slowly but surely start mending her broken heart.

Tia didn’t expect a white Christmas, and she certainly never dared dream that all her Chiristmas wishes might just come true…

Set in Caswell Bay on the stunningly rugged Gower Coast, the cottage nestles amid the limestone cliffs and the woodlands; the emotions run as turbulently as the wind-swept sea.

As cosy as a marshmallow-topped cup of cocoa, fall in love with a heart-warming festive story from the bestselling author of The French Adventure.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Aria Books and Lucy Coleman for the ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

My rating is actually 4.5 stars, but since there aren’t half stars I always round up.

Please transport me to Holly Cove right now! The beauty and unpredictability of the ocean, the picturesque views, kind people, and relaxing atmosphere is amazing. It sounds like the perfect place for me.

Tia is sent to Holly Cove by her boss months before the holiday season. She works at a magazine that’s planning to feature couples in love in a series of articles around the holiday season. Tia’s also had a rough time in her personal life and even had to take time off of work. She’s given six weeks to relax, recharge and also interview the couples/create all of the magazine content. It’s a sweet gesture by her boss, but is it only that?

I loved the people in Holly Cove. They’re nice, introverted, private and a little awkward but mean well. All in all, they’re my kind of people. The setting is gorgeous beyond gorgeous. Seriously, take me there! The relationships are slowly revealed over time, unravelling the nuances and hurt from many years.

The book is so lovely. However, if I’m being nit picky, Tia’s relationship with Nic was not surprising, but the readers needed more hints as to what she was thinking. It seemed to happen quickly, even though it didn’t.

All in all, Snowflakes Over Holly Cove is a wonderful book to read anytime of year. The holiday season will make it extra special. I definitely recommend this cozy relaxing read.

 

What’s your favorite winter holiday tradition? 

4 Star Books · Book Reviews · Domestic Fiction · fiction · mental health · Uncategorized

Saving Phoebe Murrow by Herta Feely

29373263

 

Saving Phoebe Murrow by Herta Feely

Published: September 2, 2016

Publisher: Upperhand Press, LLC

Pages: 425

Genres: fiction, domestic fiction

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: Lifetime Movies, over the top parents, Law & Order SVU, books about family dynamics

Foodie Vibes: carrot juice and French fries ~ oh, the contradictions of being a teenager

 

Synopsis: 

A story about the timeless struggle between mothers and their teen daughters with a razor-sharp 21st century twist. This heart-wrenching, harrowing debut novel for fans of Big Little Lies (Liane Moriarty) and Reconstructing Amelia (Kimberly McCreight) will make you question what’s needed to keep your children from harm.

Phoebe’s mother, Isabel, is precariously balancing her career and her family. Hard-working and caring, worried but supportive, all Isabel wants, in a world of bullies and temptations, is to keep her daughter Phoebe safe. With her busy schedule, though, she fails to recognize another mother’s mounting fury and the danger Phoebe faces by flirting with a mysterious boy on Facebook. A cyber-bullying episode aimed at Phoebe pushes her to the edge with horrific consequences. In her search for justice, Isabel, a DC lawyer, sets out to find the culprit behind this cruel incident.

Saving Phoebe Murrow, set amidst the complicated web of adolescent relationships, tells a story of miscommunication and malice, drugs and Facebook, prejudice and revenge.

 

Review: 

Thank you to NetGalley, the author and publisher for an ebook copy for review. As always, an honest review from me.

Trigger warning: many fairly graphic mentions of self harm and suicide. Please do not read this book if you’re not in a mentally healthy place, especially if you’re sensitive to these topics in particular.

That being said I enjoyed the whirlwind of drama and incredibly serious topics. It reminds me of a mix between a Lifetime movie and episode of Law and Order SVU. Kind of a perfect combo. We get an in depth look at the challenges and drama of teenage girls lives from the perspective of them and their parents. 

I really liked reading about Phoebe and her mother. I wish the story focused more on them. I disliked the amount of focus put on Phoebe’s dad and Sandy, the mother of Phoebe’s classmate/friend. The difference between the parenting styles was both horrifying and interesting. 

I so disliked the character of Sandy. She was so psychologically unbalanced and awful. She meant well, for her daughter, so at least she has that going for her. The focus was on her too much, when I felt it should have been more on Phoebe. Also the trope of parents providing teens with alcohol and getting in legal trouble has been done a lot before. But it’s still something that people could be reminded of. 

All in all, Saving Phoebe Murrow is highly entertaining, drama filled, and a warning for parents and teens alike.

 

If you could turn a TV show into a book, which show would you choose? 

4 Star Books · Book Reviews · Middle Grade

Holes by Louis Sachar

1099952

 

Another Random Question of the Review to start off with:

What book did you not enjoy the first time, but ended up loving as a reread?

 

Holes by Louis Sachar

Published: August 20, 1998

Publisher: Frances Foster Books ~ Scholastic for the paperback version

Pages: 240

Genres: middle grade

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: books for the whole family, life lessons, character growth, redemption

Read with food: a tall glass of ice cold water

 

Synopsis:

A miscarriage of justice sends Stanley Yelnats to a harsh juvenile detention center. While the warden claims that the hard labor that the boys are subjected to is meant to build character, it becomes clear that she is really using the boys to hunt for a fortune buried by a Wild West outlaw. The outlaw’s story and a curse put on Stanley’s great-great-grandfather are part of a compelling puzzle that has taken generations to unravel.

 

Review: 

Way back in elementary school this book was required reading for me. I absolutely hated the book. I must have understood the general concepts, because I did well on all my tests. Straight A’s, thank you very much. #nerdalert However, I didn’t truly understand the nuances of the life lessons the author was trying to accomplish with the book. So I’m really glad the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2018 encouraged me to go back and reread this assigned book that I originally hated.

As an adult, I really enjoyed Holes. I’m not really a middle grade book reader, but it’s a book that people of all ages can enjoy and learn from. The relevant concepts introduced are child labor, jails, incarceration, the unfairness of the justice system and world in general, deceitful people, learning, personal growth, precious resources, friendship, and finding strength within yourself to accomplish great things. Wow! That’s a lot of hard hitting, important life lessons al jam packed into a middle grade book. No wonder it’s so popular.

I really enjoyed Holes and recommend you give it a read or reread. If you’re a parent, Holes could be a book you group read as a family, and discuss the relevant topics. Might even help explain some of the things going on in the media today.