ARC Review: Just For Clicks by Kara McDowell

ARC Review: Just For Clicks by Kara McDowell

Hi, friends! Today I am here with my first ARC review. Here’s to hoping I get better about actually reviewing books I’m reading in general, but it doesn’t necessarily seem like it will, at least not right now.

justforclicks

*eARC provided by the publisher via netgalley

Official summary from Goodreads:

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 . . .


☆☆☆.5

This was a super cute and super fun, easy read! I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone looking for a cute and fluffy, slow burn romance.

Here’s what I really liked about it:

The discussion of family relationships and whether blood is what truly makes a family.

I am a firm believer in the idea that family is not defined by blood and always find it really interesting when books or other forms of media take on these topics. This book did a really good job of having characters have lines of conversations about families and the difference between being related by blood and being related by having actual emotional connections and I really enjoyed that aspect. Also, the family dynamics in general in this book were not the usual dynamics and I really liked how that was handled and once again, I liked how there were conversations about it between the characters.

The discussion of internet personas versus real personas and how easy it is for people to misconstrue things they see on the internet about other people’s lives.

I honestly think I chose the best possible time to read this book. I read this book while I was in the middle of a month long course on food blogs and what it takes to be a blogger and how people often have different personas on the internet than they do in their day to day life. This book did an amazing job of showing how different Claire and her whole family are in person in comparison to their online presence. Claire in particular shows how she has a completely different persona online, to the point where she feels her audience does not know who she really is.

Claire’s personality and narration.

Claire was an amazing narrator, I love her so much. For one thing, she acts like a teenager. I do not know why that seems to be such a rare thing in YA, which is supposed to be about teenagers, but it is. Claire, however, actually acts her age. She is funny, stubborn, and wears great tee shirts, I love her.

The very slow burn romance and how it seemed the whole plot didn’t revolve around it.

I did not necessarily realize this until this book, but I apparently live for slow burn romances. This one was perfect. Claire and Rafael were pulling on my heart strings and I just could not wait for the two of them to finally talk it out and get together. If you like slow burn romances, this is definitely the book for you.

Here’s what I didn’t really like:

How Claire almost refused to talk things out with her family.

There were points in the book where things would have been resolved without so much miscommunication and hurt feelings. I understand that the lack of communication was somewhat necessarily to keep mystery and suspense, but at points it just got annoying. Like, Claire, I love you, but please just go talk to your mom about all that is going on and let her explain.

How the end solution to some of the main problems just seemed kind of rushed and under explained?

That question mark is there because I am not sure now to explain this. I felt like the ending was very rushed, with a solution just being said and then done without any proper discussion or conversations about how everyone would feel about the solution. Once again, I understand why this was like this, but I would have loved for more of an explanation and more discussion about what the solution would actually mean for all of the characters.

Overall 

This is a super cute and fluffy read that I would recommend it to anyone looking for a book that fits that description. It also contains lots of really good discussion on social media, blogging in particular, which was very interesting to read about. Also, this is super weird, but you know how sometimes you need a good, fluffy contemporary to get you out of a reading slump or something similar? I imagine this would be a great book for a scenario like that, especially since its a really easy read.

Just For Clicks comes out next Tuesday, so there is still time to preorder it here or here.

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Book Review: They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

Book Review: They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

tbdate

Official summary from goodreads:

Adam Silvera reminds us that there’s no life without death and no love without loss in this devastating yet uplifting story about two people whose lives change over the course of one unforgettable day.

On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today.

Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—to live a lifetime in a single day.


 “No matter how we choose to live, we both die at the end.”

☆☆☆☆

WOW, this book wrecked me. I honestly did not expect it to because books that are meant to be sad do not normally make me sad, if that makes any sense. I also didn’t expect it because I wasn’t the biggest fan of this book for the first 30ish percent. Either way, this book was determined to break my expectations and it did I pretty good job of doing so.

Let’s Chat: Plot and World Building

Imagine getting a phone call at midnight telling you that you will die within the next 24 hours, despite the fact that you are seventeen or eighteen years old and perfectly healthy. That is what happens to Mateo and Rufus, and the book follows what the pair decide to do with their “end day.”

The premise of this plot is absolutely terrifying and anxiety inducing. If this book made me glad of anything, it is that Death Cast is not a real thing. I wouldn’t be able to handle knowing that I was somehow going to die, especially if no one could tell me how I would be dying unless it was something obvious like a terminal illness. My own personal anxiety set aside, the idea of Death Cast is fascinating. I mean, like, wow.  I loved seeing the little glimpses of how society had adapted to this sudden breakthrough. The last friend app, the blogs and forums where people can record their last days, the new businesses that sprung up designed to let people do thing they cannot do safely on their last day. It all seemed very realistic and the explanations of the changes seemed to come naturally, there were no huge info dumps anywhere.

This book is not really plot driven at all, it is definitely more character driven. This originally made the book hard for me to read, which is why I wasn’t the biggest fan of it for the first 30 or so percent. I just tend to not be into character driven contemporaries. Nonetheless, I’m very glad I stuck with it because I loved the characters after I got to know them a little better!

Let’s Chat: Characters

Mateo

“Mateo has never been good about sharing his own stuff, obviously, but you can always count on him to comment on your photo or show love to your status. If it matters to you, it matters to him.”

I loved Mateo from the first couple of pages, he was instantaneously relatable and it made the book a lot easier to get into than it would have been otherwise. I loved seeing Mateo come out of his comfort zone while still seeing how he stuck to his old principles, it was amazing.

Rufus 

Oh, Rufus. I started out this book with mixed and slightly negative feelings about Rufus given his actions during his first chapter. However, as the book went on and we got to know him better, I quickly started to like him more and more. By the end of the book, I loved him immensely and felt like he was a fully fleshed out and flawed character.

Lidia

I loved Lidia! I loved Penny! I loved her and Mateo’s interactions! I loved it! Have I made my feelings clear yet? No? Lidia was a side character that did not get much content time, but I still loved her. Seeing her relationship with her daughter and how she was coping with previous loses only to lose Mateo on top of that broke my heart into five thousand pieces. I don’t know if it’ll ever be whole again.

The Plutos

The Plutos, man. I love them. I am a huge fan of the found family dynamic, so this group almost immediately broke my heart. Seeing the other Plutos stand up for Rufus? Loved it. Loved every second of it. I really wish we had gotten to see more of these characters.

Let’s Chat: Favorite Quotes

“Life isn’t meant to be lived alone.”

“A new memory to laugh over is just as good as reflecting on an old one, I think. It may be even better.”

“There are questions I can’t answer. I cannot tell you how you will survive without me. I cannot tell you how to mourn me. I cannot convince you to not feel guilty if you forget the anniversary of my death, or if you realize days or weeks or months have gone by without thinking about me. I just want you to live.”

Let’s Chat: Overall Thoughts

I buddy read this with Brittany, from brittanythebookguru. Her review will be going up next week, and once it’s up, I’ll link it here. Buddy reading definitely added to my overall reading experience, I loved getting to discuss my frustration, happiness, and sadness with someone. Another big thing I enjoyed about this was the mental illness representation. The book made mental illness something that was normal and I loved and appreciated that so much. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves character driven stories or sad contemporaries!

Have you read this book? If so, did you enjoy it? If not, do you plan to read it? I’d love to chat about it in the comments!

Book Review: Thicker Than Water by Brigid Kemmerer

Book Review: Thicker Than Water by Brigid Kemmerer

Hi friends! Remember when I posted a list of five books that I wanted to read this year on Tuesday? Well, by Wednesday afternoon I had already read two of them, so I think I am doing fairly decent. The second of those two books was this one, Thicker Than Water, and I enjoyed it so much I decided this would be a great book to pick to write my first ever review on (yeah, I’ve actually never written a review before, I never claimed to be good at this).

thickerthanwater

Official summary from goodreads:

On his own.

Thomas Bellweather hasn’t been in town long. Just long enough for his newlywed mother to be murdered, and for his new stepdad’s cop colleagues to decide Thomas is the primary suspect.

Not that there’s any evidence. But before Thomas got to Garretts Mill there had just been one other murder in twenty years. 

The only person who believes him is Charlotte Rooker, little sister to three cops and, with her soft hands and sweet curves, straight-up dangerous to Thomas. Her best friend was the other murder vic. And she’d like a couple answers.

Answers that could get them both killed, and reveal a truth Thomas would die to keep hidden…

 

I should start out by saying that this book had me feeling a lot of emotions from the very beginning. Reading about Thomas at his mother’s funeral almost made me cry, which is pretty rare because a) normally takes me a good while to get attached to characters (sometimes even several rereads) and b) I don’t normally cry which reading books. With that out in the open, lets jump into an actual review, shall we?

 

Let’s start by talking about the elements I really loved:

Charlotte having to deal with her family’s old fashioned ideals

“Char’s family might want her to end up barefoot and pregnant, but she’s tough as nails.”

Throughout the novel, Charlotte has to put up with her family treating her like she is a weak and delicate female who can’t do anything for herself despite the fact that she has been taught how to fight and defend herself by half of her family members and in general is a very responsible girl who can (and does) handle a lot without backing down. She is also treated unfairly, a good example of this is when her parents and grandmother make her wash all the dishes from a ten person dinner by herself right after she got injured while her three perfectly capable brothers go and watch TV. Charlotte takes this and all of their other prejudices in stride, while making it very clear through little acts of defiance that she sees how this treatment is unfair and she wants to change it. I loved reading about all the little details she would add to her outfits in order to make her grandmother irritated. All in all, I really liked seeing how Charlotte handled these interactions and enjoyed having this a sort of side motif throughout the novel.

 

The murder mystery

Now, this is probably going to seem really stupid, but I had no idea this was a murder mystery. I had no idea what it was, I saw that it was by Brigid Kemmerer and that was enough for me to order it immediately. I was very pleasantly surprised, however. The mystery was so good, it had me hanging onto every word to the point where I read this in four hours because I could not put it down without finding out what had happened. I don’t know what else I can really say on this topic without spoiling anything, so I’ll stop here, just know that I really enjoyed the mystery.

 

The discussion of grief and the guilt that sometimes accompanies it 

“She deserved a better son. A better son. She deserved a better son. The problem is that I agree. A better son would have been able to stop it.”

I luckily have not gone through the process of losing a close family member, but I have watched other members of my family mourn (does that make any sense? I hope it does lmao, I don’t really want to tell my entire life story on the internet so) and the way Thomas acted in this book clearly mirrored the actions and feelings I saw in them. All of the lines about how his mother deserved a better son (see above quote and share in my pain) hurt my heart, I honestly started tearing up. It was also very interesting to see the contrast Kemmerer gave between Tom and Stan, between the man who lost his wife after ten days and the boy who lost his mother after eighteen years, to see how they both handled the situation and how they had to deal with each others presences afterwards, despite the fact that they had lost their one connection.

 

The small town setting actually being done in an accurate manner

“Danny still lives at home. Ben and Matt still come every Saturday for dinner. Small town living. You know.”

Okay, so this may just be me being overly picky, but I feel like most of the time small town settings are not done in a way that truly represents real small towns, at least not the one I live in. This novel did accurately portray one, however, and it did a very good job of it. From throwing in mentions about how the big grocery store is about a half an hour away, to mentioning that there are sections of the area where people do not have neighbors for miles, to the fact that there were areas where you can just cut through the woods and avoid major roads, it just all felt very real and honestly described a situation pretty similar to the one I grew up in. I also really really loved the Saturday night dinner thing where all of Charlotte’s siblings and their kids came to dinner, just because my family does Sunday night dinners every week and I haven’t been getting to go to them (college, man, it ruins things) so it made me feel super nostalgic and homesick even though I was literally in my bedroom at home when I read this and when I wrote this review.

 

Now, I guess we should get into the two details I wasn’t the biggest fan of (aka the reasons this wasn’t a five star read for me):

The somewhat unexplained paranormal element

Once again, this may seem really stupid, but I had no idea this book had a paranormal element. I honest to god had no idea what this book was about, I was just coming along for the ride and where ever said ride took me. Therefore, just like the fact that this book was a murder mystery, the paranormal aspect took me by surprise. I know Kemmerer can do paranormal, her Elementals series is one of my favorites of all times (how many times have I said that this week? If I had a dollar for every time I have I might be able to pay for my parking permit at school) and it is very well done for the most part. The point of all that rambling is that Kemmerer can create great, well developed and well explained paranormal worlds. This one, however, wasn’t explained nearly enough. It kind of just got thrown in towards the end with no explanation and left me feeling confused and like I kind of just had to accept what I was given without question or any added information. 

 

The relationship between Charlotte and Thomas

I know Kemmerer’s books, they always have romance. She really enjoys having characters get together at the very very end of novels and then leaving it there (I’m side eyeing you there, Sacrifice), so I was not really suprised when I romance started up in this one. That said, in all of the other Kemmerer novels I’ve read, I understood the couple getting together and appreciated it, but this one seemed odd and forced. I may be the only one that feels this way, but I just felt like the romance was unnecessary and almost took away from the plot somehow. Plus, it also just seemed like Charlotte and Thomas did not connect on a personal level in a genuine situation where one of them was not being controlled by an outside actor.