My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

ARC Review: How To Make Out by Brianna Shrum

Please Note:  I received an ARC copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  This does not influence the opinions in my review in any way.

Synopsis (From GoodReads):
Sixteen-year-old Renley needs three thousand dollars for the math club’s trip to New York City, and she knows exactly how to get it: she’s going to start a how-to blog where people pay for answers to all of life’s questions from a “certified expert.” The only problems: 1) She doesn’t know how to do anything but long division and calculus. 2) She’s totally invisible to people at school. And not in a cool Gossip Girl kind of way.

So, she decides to learn to do . . . well . . . everything. When her anonymous blog shifts in a more scandalous direction and the questions (and money) start rolling in, she has to learn not just how to do waterfall braids and cat-eye makeup, but a few other things, like how to cure a hangover, how to flirt, and how to make out (something her very experienced, and very in-love-with-her neighbor, Drew, is more than willing to help with).

As her blog’s reputation skyrockets, so does “new and improved” Renley’s popularity. She’s not only nabbed the attention of the entire school, but also the eye of Seth Levine, the hot culinary wizard she’s admired from across the home-ec classroom all year.

Soon, caught up in the thrill of popularity both in and out of cyberspace, her secrets start to spiral, and she finds that she’s forgotten the most important how-to: how to be herself. When her online and real lives converge, Renley will have to make a choice: lose everything she loves in her new life, or everyone she loves in the life she left behind.

I'm not fond of writing negative reviews.  Usually they are needlessly snarky and mean.  But I do feel a responsibility to steer people away from book that I think are problematic.  And so, with this in mind, I am going to expound upon why this book didn't work for me.

What I Didn't Like:
Under the heading, "It could only happen in a novel" comes the idea that a person's blog is an instant hit (and a money-maker, to boot)!  NO WAY.  Having a hit blog is an essential part of this story, but I must say from my own experience, it takes a tremendous amount of dedication to create a popular blog.  And, even with such popularity, it is very difficult to make money from blogging.  As a blogger, I found this foundation to be insulting.

Cliched Tropes:
One of the most often used story lines in YA is the best friends who are meant for each other, if only they would give it a go.  I am not one for spoilers, but I will say that the guy, Drew, does something in this book that I consider unforgivable.  I just didn't see how Renley could get past it.

Cyber Disaster:
I have seen, first hand, the devastating effects of social media turning on young girls.  It is a life-altering event that has long-term consequences.  I think the author does a disservice to teens by downplaying what happens to Renley.  I know teens who have been threatened and had to switch schools after having issues with social media.  In this book, there are a few problems for Renley, but they seem to be easily blown over after just a few weeks.  Not realistic.

What I Did Like:
I think the theme of the book, being true to yourself and not being seduced by popularity, is a worthy subject matter.  I just think that the situations and consequences were completely unrealistic.  I wish that it would have been less contrived, and more thoughtful in its delivery.


Release Date:  September 6th, 2016

Source:  Edelweiss

Format:  ARC E-Book

Recommendation:  Although the theme is thought-provoking, this book is too unrealistic to be believable.

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