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

ARC Review | Just for Clicks by Kara McDowell

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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

4 Star Books · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · romance · suspense

The Light to My Darkness by Ivy Smoak

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The Light to My Darkness by Ivy Smoak

Published: September 19, 2017

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Pages: 358

Genres: romance, contemporary romance, contemporary fiction, suspense 

Rating: 4 stars 

Recommend to fans of: romance novels with a mix of suspense, realistic fiction, adorable family life, couples that are #relationshipgoals 

Foodie Vibes: bananas and ice cream ~ for all those pregnancy cravings 

 

Synopsis: 

My relationship with my husband has been splashed all over the tabloids ever since we first started dating. What should I have expected when I took New York City’s most eligible bachelor off the market?

But no matter how long I’m with my husband, I can’t shake the feeling that a stroke of luck brought me here. That I don’t deserve the life around me. And I swear, if one more paparazzi takes a picture of me I’m going to freaking lose my mind.

I needed to prove to myself that I’m not worthless. So I wrote a novel under a pen name, but I’ve been rejected by so many literary agents I’ve lost count. And I’m so consumed with this idea that I need more out of life that I never had a chance to see the real story unfolding around me. The story that would threaten the life I took for granted.

 

Review:

I won this ebook for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads and Ivy Smoak for the copy. As always, an honest review from me.

The Light to My Darkness is wonderful, heartfelt, passionate, and has just enough suspense. Penny is pregnant with her second child. She craves bananas and ice cream. She looks after her adorable 3 year old, Scarlett. And her husband absolutely worships her. The only difference this time around is that she has a moderate to severe heart murmur, and the pregnancy is putting added stress on her heart. 

I really liked that this romance novel features a pregnant and married woman as the main character. Not many authors do this. Their relationship is very steamy. The stress that her health condition puts on their day to day lives is also explored. The representation is great. Scarlett is also such a smart adorable kid. The suspense of Penny’s health condition and later darker elements kept me turning the pages quickly. 

However, there are a few aspects that I’m not a huge fan of. One is the manner that the couple met. Some people don’t have a problem with it, but I did. Also the last 20% of the book had a lot of information thrown in quickly. I wish that it was further explored. And the ending … let’s just say you’ll either love it or hate it.

Overall, I really enjoyed this contemporary romance featuring a strong smart woman who is pregnant. The suspense made it even better. I definitely recommend giving The Light to My Darkness a read. 

 

Add to your Goodreads TBR

 

If you’ve been pregnant before, what’s the weirdest food craving that you experienced?

 

Come say hi!

Twitter: @BooksAndLife1

Instagram: @BooksLifeAndEverythingNice

Goodreads: Amanda (Books, Life and Everything Nice)

Facebook: @BooksLifeAndEverythingNice

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

ARC Review | The Au Pair

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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 · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · mental health · Young Adult

ARC Review | Imagine Us Happy by Jennifer Yu

Be sure to answer my question at the bottom of the page!

Please and thank you, loves 

 

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Imagine Us Happy by Jennifer Yu

Published: October 23, 2018

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Pages: 384

Genres: young adult, mental health, contemporary fiction, contemporary romance

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: realistic young adult novels, books about mental health, great friendships 

Foodie Vibes: pizza

 

Synopsis:

Stella lives with depression, and her goals for junior year are pretty much limited to surviving her classes, staying out of her parents’ constant fights and staving off unwanted feelings enough to hang out with her friends Lin and Katie.

Until Kevin. A quiet, wry senior who understands Stella and the lows she’s going through like no one else. With him, she feels less lonely, listened to—and hopeful for the first time since ever…

But to keep that feeling, Stella lets her grades go and her friendships slide. And soon she sees just how deep Kevin’s own scars go. Now little arguments are shattering. Major fights are catastrophic. And trying to hold it all together is exhausting Stella past the breaking point. With her life spinning out of control, she’s got to figure out what she truly needs, what’s worth saving—and what to let go.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Harlequin Teen and Jennifer You for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Imagine Us Happy tells the story of two teens who are navigating life, high school, relationships and family life while dealing with depression. Stella and Kevin meet at the beginning of the school year. They end up dating for the whole year. We know its not going to end well, and the book is the story of their lives the past year.

I like that the author portrays depression and therapy in a realistic manner. That it’s a process, not a magical cure that will fix everything in a few sessions. Stella is doing better because of therapy but she has to keep working on herself. It’s not easy. The book portrays the challenges of dating or any extra stress when you’re dealing with mental health issues. No that it can’t be done, but both people have to be taking care of themselves in healthy ways. 

A super realistic look at depression, dating and friendships. I think this is going to be a very popular young adult book for years to come!

 

If you could give advice to characters/people dating with mental health issues, what would you say?

3.5 Star Books · Book Reviews · Comics/Graphic Novels · politics · War

Graphic Novel | Yallah Bye by Joseph Safieddine

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Yallah Bye by Joseph Safieddine, illustrated by Kyungeun Park

Published: January 16, 2015

Publisher: Le Lombard

Pages: 168

Genres: comics, graphic novels, political, war

Rating: 3.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: political graphic novels, engaging ways to bring complex events to the masses

Foodie Vibes: a few drops of water at the bottom of your glass

 

Synopsis:

July 2006. Gabriel El Chawadi says goodbye to his family at the Paris airport as they leave for their summer vacation in southern Lebanon. But a conflict at the Israel-Lebanon border escalates into a full-blown aerial attack, and for the next few harrowing weeks, the family hides for cover with friends and relatives, watches helplessly as people and buildings are destroyed all around them, and hope against all hope that France will evacuate them to safety. Back in Paris, Gabriel watches the events unfold on television with growing horror and sends out desperate calls for help to anyone who will listen.

 

Review:

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

Yallah Bye is a beautifully illustrated, heartbreaking graphic novel. It shows the atrocities of war through it’s depiction of families struggling to survive a conflict at the Israel-Lebanon border. It shows how different people are coping with the terror, but yet are still all terrified, hurting and trying to get through each minute. The people’s fear of getting bombed is palpable throughout the intense writing and illustrations. 

Yallah Bye is a great way to learn about parts of history that often overshadowed by bigger wars. I can see it being required reading in high school history or literature classes, as a foray into teaching about these conflicts. A great way to get teens and young adults excited about history! 

However, I still didn’t fully understand all of the political and historical aspects mentioned throughout. I’m not that familiar with these, and the graphic novel can only cover so much. I wish there was a little bit more education for people who are a bit unfamiliar with the political scene during the conflicts. 

All in all, Yallah Bye is great graphic novel that educates, entertains, and connects on a human level with the readers. 

 

Have you ever read a graphic novel/comic for education purposes?

What was your experience like?

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

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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? 

4.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · LGBTQIA+ Books · Medical

ARC Book Review | Passionate Rivals by Radclyffe

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Passionate Rivals by Radclyffe

Published: September 11, 2018

Publisher: Bold Strokes Books

Pages: 240 

Genres: contemporary romance, medical, contemporary fiction, LGBTQIA+

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: hospital centric romances, women in medicine, the TV show Grey’s Anatomy

Foodie Vibes: hospital coffee and leftover pizza

 

Synopsis:

Onetime lovers, unexpected rivals…
Emmett McCabe never expected to see Sydney Stevens—a woman with whom she’d shared a brief, incendiary connection before it all went up in flames—again. Luckily, ascending the cutthroat ladder of a high-pressure surgery residency to reach the top spot makes it easy to ignore what’s missing in her life. Then Sydney reappears after nearly five years. Emmett is barely over her shock when she discovers Sydney is her new competition for the coveted chief’s position everyone, including Emmett, expects will be hers.
Professional rivalry and long-simmering passions create a combustible combination when the two are forced to work together, especially when past attractions won’t stay buried.

 

Review: 

Thank you to NetGalley, Radclyffee and Bold Strokes Books for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

If you’re looking for the book version of the medical drama, Grey’s Anatomy but with mainly lesbian relationships, Passionate Rivals is for you.

Emmett and Sydney knew each other form years ago. They had a few passionate nights but went their separate ways. Now, as resident doctors are forced to switch hospitals due to budget cuts, the two are working side by side each day. 

I absolutely enjoyed the authentic feel of the book. The friendship and competitive nature of the residents seems real and lends an ease to the story. The writing is not overly dramatic, because the day to day life of medicine is dramatic enough. It feels like a behind the scenes look at a day in the life of a resident doctor working at a hospital. Incredibly captivating! 

However this doesn’t feel like that much of a romance novel to me. Yes, there are relationships and sexy times, but the majority of it is navigating the world of being a doctor. That will naturally include romance and relationships at times, but I wouldn’t classify it as a typical romance book.

Also, it’s the fourth in the series, but I think it can absolutely be read a stand alone. I hadn’t read any other the other books before and had no trouble. I’m definitely putting the other three books on my TBR list now!

All in all, a super enjoyable read that I highly recommend. 

 

Which TV show do you wish existed as a book series?

About Me · Bookish Posts

My Most Important Book Goal

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Photo by Lum3n.com on Pexels.com

 

For the last few years I’ve set reading goals for myself at the beginning of January. I guess you could call them Bookish New Year’s Resolutions. I don’t take them too seriously, but more as guidelines of what’s important to me as a reader. 

Goals such as reading diversely (POC, female authors, LGBTQIA+, settings in other countries), completing my Goodreads challenge, completing the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge, reviewing every book I read, and participating in the BookTube-A-Thon. 

 

This year I decided to add a very important goal to my list. 

 

For 5 months or more in 2018, I want my average book rating to be 4.0 stars or higher.

 

At the end of each month I total up the star ratings I’ve given books and average them. I find it interesting to see the stats at the end of each month/year. In 2017, most months were an average of 3.5 or so. Rarely hitting that magic 4.0 stars rating average. 

 

Now you might be thinking, so what? It’s just a bunch of numbers. But the reason this goal is so important to me is that reading is supposed to be enjoyable! 

 

I created the goal to make it a priority to read books that I love. 

 

Unfortunately I’ve only had one month so far this year when I hit my goal. I’ve started rating books with 1/2 stars, so my ratings have been a bit lower than before. The rounding would bump it up, but that kind of feels like cheating to me. Since this goal is for me, I don’t want to cheat myself out of enjoyable reading. 

 

So I’m going to keep choosing books I think I’m going to love, rather than ones I think I should be reading. 

With 4 months left in the year, I’m making enjoyable reading a big priority for me. 

I’ll let you all know how it goes!

 

What are you reading goals this year?

Are you achieving them? 

Bookish Posts · the BookTube-A-Thon

What I’ve Learned from the BookTube-A-Thon!

Most of you have probably heard of it, maybe even participated in the week long reading extravaganza. Last year was the first year that I had participated as a reader. For years I had seen things about the BookTube-A-Thon on social media and watched videos, but never joined in. Last year, I figured why not? It seems like fun!

 

I am so glad that I participated. With the BookTube-A-Thon coming up soon, I wanted to share with you all what I learned from my experience participating in last year’s BookTube-A-Thon.

 

  • The book community is so nice~ from comments on my bookish Instagram posts to encouragement to meet my reading goals and motivational memes during the late night reading sprints
  • Social media helps to bring like minded people together, and that’s a wonderful thing.
  • An honest, heartfelt, positive comment on someone’s photo that they’ve clearly spent time creating means a lot. Take the time to say nice things to fellow readers.
  • A week of reading and all things bookish is just plain awesome!
  • Reading challenges are fun, but it’s okay if you don’t complete them all.
  • I have way more time in my day than I originally thought. ~ I didn’t stop doing everything else in my normal day for the week. It’s about always having a book with you, and also making my free time into reading time.
  • I felt physically better that week than I had in a long time. There’s something to be said for focusing on fun, positive, relaxing activities for yourself. Ignore the negative people and do what you love! #LifeLesson
  • Audiobooks, graphic novels and children’s books are your best friend if you want to hit the 7 books in 7 days challenge.
  • Reach out to other people participating. Interacting with fellow readers is what it’s all about!
  • Have fun! Be silly! Don’t take it too seriously
  • To show my true personality ~ I’m fairly serious and plan out what I’m going to say about books, which is good when writing book reviews. But the BookTube-A-Thon Twitter sprints taught me to be fun, not think too much about what I’m posting and even silly at times.
  • It’s okay for me to take time for me! A week where it’s about me doing what I love, caring less about what other people think, and not putting their needs above my own.
  • It is possible to read 7 books in one week, but oh my goodness, I thought my brain might fall out of my head.

 

The BookTube-A-Thon and reading in general has taught me so much more than I thought was possible.

 

A big thank you to the BookTube-A-Thon, Ariel Bissett, and all the other people who work so hard to make the event possible.

 

How many of you are planning to participate in the BookTube-A-Thon this year?

 

What have you learned from the BookTube-A-Thon, the bookish community or reading in general?

 

Peace and love,

-Amanda