You’ve been doing skincare wrong all your life

And Dr Fayne Frey is here to tell you why, and what to do about it.

ARC review : The skincare hoax, by Dr Fayne Frey

This is a non-fiction book coming out on October 18, 2022. I received an eARC thanks to NetGalley and the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

We all want to have young and healthy skin, yet the beauty industry is so mixed in its messages that most consumers have no way to tell which skincare products are helpful and which claims are pure hype. In The Skincare Hoax, skincare expert Dr. Fayne Frey explores the “essential” product categories that are entirely unnecessary, exposes how many well-known skincare ingredients have no scientific basis, and recommends truly effective skincare products and regimens that are easy and affordable.

This book transformed my views on skincare

This book just completely transformed my entire outlook on skincare products.

No, seriously.

A whole bunch of unnecessary products

I consider myself a beauty enthusiast – I’m very interested in makeup and skincare, and try to learn more about it as the years go on, but it’s never been my specialty. This is one of the reasons why I often get quite overwhelmed by the amount of different products on the shelves when I go to stores like Sephora – between the eye creams, the moisturizers, primers, SPF foundations, day creams, night creams, essences, toners… I don’t really understand which is which, and what should be put on my face, at what time of the day, for what purpose.

This is the main reason why I picked up this book in the first place : I wanted to understand more about skincare, and make sure I was “doing it right”, so to speak. And oh boy, was I not disappointed.

Reevaluating your knowledge, one step at a time

This book makes you take a long hard look at your makeup and skincare cabinet, and want to throw out at least half of your products. Because guess what ? Apart from sunscreen (SPF 30 or over) and moisturizer, says Dr Frey, everything else is either fake or useless. Fake in the sense that it’s actually a moisturizer in a different packaging (looking at you, eye cream!). Useless in the sense that the claims that are so neatly written on the fancy little tube are unproven, void of any sense, and medically unverifiable.

It seems silly to say so, but I really did believe that face serums could be “anti-aging” and reverse wrinkles. It was written on the glass jar! Surely, marketing wouldn’t lie to me, now, would it?

Yeah. It feels really naïve, when you put it like that. But Dr Frey is here to explain the whole thing to you, step by step, and if there is one thing she seems to be really good at, it’s breaking down the science and the facts for her readers without making you feel inadequate or stupid for not having realized it sooner.

Why do we fall for the skincare hoax?

During the entire course of the book, one thing the author insists often upon is self-esteem and appreciation of our own appearance.

In her opinion, women’s poor self-esteem and confidence in their looks are strongly linked to the reasons why we keep buying all these unnecessary products, and why we fall victim to all of these marketing tactics. They’re designed to make us feel bad about ourselves, about how we look – hate the fine lines around our eyes, the softness of our cheeks, the light color differences on certain areas of our face… the worse we feel, the more – overpriced and useless – products we buy.

And I don’t know about you, but I don’t really want to waste all of my hard-earned money on a ton of products that won’t do anything for me, just because some random marketing exec decided I needed to feel bad about the way that I look.

Who is this book for?

Every friend you have that thinks eye cream and night cream are both essentials to their daily routine. That person in your class you heard complain about having acne breakouts after using a primer that was advertised as non-comedogenic. Your sister. Your mom. Every woman you know.

This is a very easy to read non-fiction, and one that I think could change – at least a little bit – the lives of a lot of people. I do believe it will slightly change mine, for the better.

Note : Once again, thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for giving me and ARC copy in exchange for an honest review!

A cute bisexual romance for fall: Never ever getting back together, by Sophie Gonzales

Sophie Gonzales’s latest YA romance

It’s no secret that I loved Sophie Gonzales’ previous books, Only mostly devastated, and Perfect on paper. With that in mind, I had high expectations for her latest YA romance novel, coming out in November this year! So when I saw it on Netgalley earlier this summer, I automatically requested it. (Before even reading the synopsis on the presentation page, which tends to happen with authors I know I’ll enjoy reading from!)

And, as always with this author, I was not disappointed.

The story so far

It’s been two years since Maya’s ex-boyfriend cheated on her, and she still can’t escape him: his sister married the crown prince of a minor European country and he captured hearts as her charming younger brother. If the world only knew the real Jordy, the manipulative liar who broke Maya’s heart.

Skye Kaplan was always cautious with her heart until Jordy said all the right things and earned her trust. Now his face is all over the media and Skye is still wondering why he stopped calling.

When Maya and Skye are invited to star on the reality dating show Second-Chance Romance, they’re whisked away to a beautiful mansion—along with four more of Jordy’s exes— to compete for his affections while the whole world watches. Skye wonders if she and Jordy can recapture the spark she knows they had, but Maya has other plans: exposing Jordy and getting revenge. As they navigate the competition, Skye and Maya discover that their real happily ever after is nothing they could have scripted.

A light and cute contemporary tale

I loved this plot. A good revenge, lots of drama, quid pro quo in the beginning, enemies-to-friends-to-lovers… what’s not to love?

Sophie Gonzales has a talent for tactfully and emotionally writing the experiences of bisexual youth. That’s something many authors struggle to do, and that I deeply appreciate in her work.

The animosity between the main characters in the beginning was very entertaining, and I especially appreciated the development of the romance, which felt very natural (and appropriately awkward at times!). The alternating points of view helped to get to know both main characters in all their complexity (even in the “enemies” phase of enemies-to-lovers).

The main antagonist, Jordy, is probably the character I’ve hated the most all year so far. However, with the dual POV, I got attached pretty quickly to the two protagonists! Skye is an easy character to love, and her anger and heartbreak when she discovers Jordy’s duplicity were very touching. Maya’s cold determination, on the other hand, was refreshing to see and moved the plot forward at a steady rhythm. There was never a dull moment!

I do feel like it would have fit the story better to have them be one or two years older than they are here, if only because it would seem more believable for Jordy to have so many exes a couple of years later. (But that might simply be me being a bit disconnected from teenagers’ experiences!) Overall, that didn’t hamper my enjoyment of the story.

Is this novel for you?

This book is scheduled to come out on November 29, 2022, and it is definitely for you if you enjoy :

  • contemporary romances
  • enemies-to-lovers
  • Wlw stories
  • dating show settings

In conclusion : I strongly recommend this book – and will definitely get a paper copy for myself when I see it hit the shelves in my city!

November wrap-up

Welcome back ! It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these posts – in fact, my last wrap-up was in May this year. There’s been a lot of changes in my life since then, but I’ve found my way back into a semi-comfortable posting schedule, which means we’re back for a November wrap-up!

Personal update

The second lockdown in our city made me lose my salary, as the restaurant I had found a new job in had to close in-doors dining spaces. But, very luckily for us, my boyfriend found a new job in an essential sector, which will be of a great help paying the bills and keeping us afloat until I can get back to work – with a little more luck, maybe in late January?

In the meantime, I’m focusing all my energy on university and all the administrative tasks that we’ve kinda forgotten over the course of this hellish year. There’s so much to do, I’m never bored!

Related posts : May 2020 wrap-up : let’s see if I hit those goals!

Keeping up with university work

This semester is hard, but so far, I’m still on course! There’s only one class out of five in which I’m not getting the grade I was aiming for – it’s going to be difficult, but there’s still one exam left, which means I’ll have one more chance to rectify the situation and get an acceptable grade that will help me get accepted into the program I’m applying for. Fingers crossed.

I’ve also gotten into an internship I wanted a lot, and it was as interesting as I expected it to be, so I’m really happy about that! Hopefully, I can finish all the tasks pertaining to that internship on time, and get a good grade for the class that goes with it.

Image by @nickmorrison on Unsplash

Playing video games

My boyfriend made me discover The Witcher : Wild Hunt, and I played it a lot in the beginning of the month. I had to slow down on that a little, though, because some changes in our lives meant an added paperwork charge : for the past two weeks or so, my evenings have been filled with administrative tasks, professional emails, talking about more administrative tasks (and stressing out about them) and some reading. Hopefully, I can get back to it as soon as my semester of university is over – this game is amazing!

Reading update

I didn’t really make a TBR for November, as I wanted to relax a little more and just read whatever I felt like reading at the time.

The new e-reader I ordered to replace my old one

Finding my old (as in, bought in 2012…) e-Reader helped me a lot! I hadn’t realized how tiring it was to read all my eBooks on my phone until I tried the paper-like screen again, and it changed everything. It’s so much more comfortable, and I can upload all my eARCs on it perfectly!

I loved using it again so much that, for Christmas, I ordered the newest version of the model I currently own – as mine is discontinued, and has been slowing down a lot and losing battery life over the years.

With the help of my old e-reader, I ended up finishing 6 books for this month :

  • Caliban’s war, by James S. A. Corey – 5 stars (this one was a re-read, and I loved it just as much as the first time!)
  • Abbadon’s gate, by James S. A. Corey – 5 stars
  • Just eat, by Bary Estabrook – 4 stars
  • Empower yourself, by Xenia Tchoumi – 2 stars
  • Bookishness, by Jessica Pressman – 3 stars
  • How to be parisian wherever you are, by Anne Berest – 1 star (yeah, this was… a miss. And a mess. You can check out my short review on Goodreads if you want the details)

On the blog, I published 8 posts this month (including this one). Check out my favorite ones!

Overall, November was a very stressful month, but I have high hopes for December (especially since my semester ends on December 16th, and I can finally have the well-deserved holiday I’ve been waiting for this entire year).

On this topic : December is the month of #BEWinter2020 ! I’m a host for three days this year, and will try to participate in the other prompts as much as I can, so keep an eye out for the hashtag on twitter and come check out all the awesome posts book bloggers will write this month!

NetGalley TBR – November 2020

Good afternoon!

Today’s post is inspired by Alexa’s NetGalley Update series, which you can go check out on her blog, Writing the universe (and don’t hesitate to follow her blog if you haven’t subscribed yet!).

These past few months, I’ve done my best to improve my NetGalley ratio, which was at a low 65 at some point this year (yeah, I know, that’s pretty bad… I might have requested a bit more books than I could actually read…).

It’s now gone up to 78%, and I’m doing everything everything I can to get it all the way up to the recommended 80% – I feel like I’d be pretty happy if I could get it to 85, but then again, since I’m not a US-based reviewer, it won’t drastically augment the number of books that are available for me, so I’m not stressing too much about it.

Related posts : The eternal frustration of an international book blogger, by @insidemylibrarymind, My story with ARCs as an international book blogger, by Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane books

My NetGalley “to read” and “to review” shelves have now been almost fully emptied, but I do still have some books I’d like to get around to reading and reviewing sometime before the end of the year :

  • Slingshot, by Mercedes Helnwein – I got an invitation to get this e-ARC in my email a while ago, and almost didn’t see it at all – it had slipped in my spam folder by accident. Fortunately, I managed to find it before the publication date!
  • Men who hate women, by Laura Bates – I read a book on this exact topic from a Québécois author last year, and I’m supposed to be taking a class on it next semester, so I thought it might be useful for me to read this one!
  • The truth and other hidden things, by Lea Geller – this just sounded fun and full of drama – exactly what I’ll need once my finals are done in mid-December!
  • Viral BS : Medical myths and why we fall for them, by Seema Yasmin – I felt like this was going to be particularly interesting considering the year we’ve just had, so my expectations are pretty high for this one!

I think I’ll prioritize them by their publication dates – the last one on the list here is due for January 2021, and it’s the earliest one here so far, which means I’ve got all the time I need to read and review them all before I end up with late ARCs.

I did wish for a lot of new ones, but I’m not holding out any hope of actually getting them, since most of them were highly anticipated YA novels for which I’m sure a lot of other people made wishes.

One thing that would be pretty useful, though, would be if NetGalley could add a “wished for” tab in the library section, so we could see those books in the same way we can see the pending requests – I’ve wasted time more than once opening a ton of NetGalley tabs to check out interesting books, only to realize that I’d been here earlier in the month / year and already wished for those…

There’s been a lot of change in my life recently, and lots of added stress, so I’m not sure how fast I’ll be able to check these books off my list, but I’m genuinely excited to read them all, so we’ll see how it goes over the month of December!

Perfect on Paper, by Sophie Gonzales

Perfect on paper is author Sophie Gonzales’s third novel, coming out in March 2021 – and if you like queer romances, YA contemporaries or just love YA romance in general, then you should definitely add this gem to your TBR.

Synopsis

Darcy Phillips:
• Can give you the solution to any of your relationship woes—for a fee.
• Uses her power for good. Most of the time.
• Really cannot stand Alexander Brougham.
• Has maybe not the best judgement when it comes to her best friend, Brooke…who is in love with someone else.
• Does not appreciate being blackmailed.

However, when Brougham catches her in the act of collecting letters from locker 89—out of which she’s been running her questionably legal, anonymous relationship advice service—that’s exactly what happens. In exchange for keeping her secret, Darcy begrudgingly agrees to become his personal dating coach—at a generous hourly rate, at least. The goal? To help him win his ex-girlfriend back.

Darcy has a good reason to keep her identity secret. If word gets out that she’s behind the locker, some things she’s not proud of will come to light, and there’s a good chance Brooke will never speak to her again.

Okay, so all she has to do is help an entitled, bratty, (annoyingly hot) guy win over a girl who’s already fallen for him once? What could go wrong?

What I liked

I had high hopes for this story, and… they were all met. And then some. Oh boy.

The themes Sophie Gonzales approaches in this book hit extremely close to home, and, as was the case with her previous novel, Only Mostly Devastated, were written in a very thoughtful, delicate way that left me unable to put it down until I had read it entirely.

The story touches on themes of internalized biphobia, LGBT+ relationships, parental conflict, lying… Expressions of emotions and feelings are on point (I might have cried, more than once) and the book is full of all the complicated relationships and drama that are so characteristic of high school experiences. The romance is also super sweet, which is always a great point.

Darcy and Brooke… the unrequited love trope is something I’m very partial towards – if it’s done well, it can be so much fun for the readers, and this one is done perfectly. I also loved the relationship between the main character and her transgender sister, and the way all of the characters were fully fleshed out and each had their own journeys throughout the course of the story. These characters aren’t perfect, they make mistakes, (and downright questionable choices, looking at you Darcy) but they try to learn from them and do better – and that makes them all the more likeable and attaching for me.

What other people didn’t like

Some people have mentioned the common plot points with the show Sex Education (the secret locker and giving advice to other students part) but, as with OMD, since I haven’t watched that show, I didn’t have any sense of déjà-vu. (Additionally, as the author said in a tweet recently, this book was mostly written by the time Sex Ed came out – it’s not plagiarism in any way!)

As an additional note : some reviewers have mentioned that this story was “unexpectedly mature” and “not appropriate for YA”. I won’t elaborate too much on that here, because it would honestly deserve an entire post, but I’ll tell you this : the most mature thing in this book is a kiss, and I think we know exactly what this person had in mind when they made this critic.

LGBT representation is not inherently “mature”. Our existences aren’t “mature”, they just are. Leave queer kids alone. Stop policing queer books.

Conclusion

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is absolutely a five stars book for me, and I would definitely recommend it to YA romance readers, and contemporary YA readers in general. Sophie Gonzales is now firmly on my list of authors I’ll read every book of, and I’m so excited to see what she writes next!

Related posts : Only Mostly Devastated, by Sophie Gonzales

5 things I want to do in June + my June TBR

June is my birthday month – I’ll be 22 on June 10th! – so I’m planning a lot for the next few weeks : I’ve got exams coming up, final projects for classes, blogging, reading… hopefully, I’ll have a nice start of the summer with all those plans!

The unrealistic June TBR

My TBR might be a little too long for me to manage this June – but I’ll try nonetheless !

So far, I’ve got these two fantasy novels to read first :

  • Words of radiance, by Brandon Sanderson – I’m at 52% in this one and hopefully will be done by Wednesday (mostly because it’s so good that I can’t put it down, even to go to sleep!)
  • Oathbringer, by Brandon Sanderson – right after I finish the previous one, because I need to know what happens to Kaladin, Shallan and the others, and I can’t possibly wait until I finish something else first.

I got into Brandon Sanderson’s books after watching one of Emily @ BookswithEmilyFox’s videos – you can find her (super fun) booktube channel here!

I’ve also downloaded much more library eBooks that I can possibly read, but I’ll do my best to get through at least those before July :

  • Don’t overthink it, by Anne Bogel
  • Furyborn, by Claire Legrand
  • The buy nothing, get everything plan, by Liesl Clark
  • What the most successful people do before breakfast, by Laura Vanderkam
  • How to hold a grudge, by Sophie Hannah
  • Rest, refocus, recharge, by Greg Wells
  • I wanted fries with that, by Amy Fish

I also have a few books from NetGalley I’m hoping to read during these coming weeks :

  • Every other weekend, by Abigail Johnson
  • Don’t read the comments, by Eric Smith
  • Martian blood, by John Pahl
  • Act like a lady, by Keltie Knight, Becca Tobin and Jac Vanek

5 goals for June

Write something (again)

One of my personal goals for may was to try to write something – and I did! It’s a small Star Trek : Alternate Original Series fanfiction that I posted on AO3, and it’s super short, but it made me happy to write it. Getting kudos and comments made me feel much more confident in my abilities to write more, so I’ll try to post something new this month too!

Related posts : check out my May wrap-up to see how well (or not) I did on last month’s goals!

Keep trying to post regularly

I’m doing my best to follow my schedule – for work, for studying, and for posting reviews and discussions here. My blog schedule for June is almost ready (it only has a few posts without full titles, so it should be good to go in a few days), and I’ll try to follow it by using my free time to plan posts in advance, save my drafts whenever I can.

This should help me avoid unexpected blogging breaks like the one I unfortunately had to take in the first weeks of May.

Pass all my exams

My intensive summer semester ends on June 23rd, with two exams on June 22nd and two final projects to turn in by that date too. I passed the midterms this week, and am hoping for good results – all that studying I’ve been doing should at least help me maintain my current GPA!

Try to cut down on takeout and restaurant food

One of my most important expenses, in May, has been takeout food.

A medium iced capp from Tim Hortons when I go to work, two bubble teas to bring home on my off days, some groceries when I leave the store I work at, a burgers and fries order at A&W… It all added up to an amount I’m really not comfortable with, and I didn’t appreciate that when I had to pay off my credit card in full at the end of the month.

Fortunately, I made enough money in May to cover those unexpected expenses (I know that having a job during the pandemic is extremely lucky and I’m doing everything I can to do it well and keep it) – but I should have been able to save that money for other things, and not waste it when we had food at home.

So yeah. In June, we’re doing better. I won’t completely ditch the iced capps or the bubble teas, but when it comes to full meals, I’d love to take some more time to prepare them at home, so I don’t have to panic next time I have to pay my bills.

Have a great birthday

I actually have two three-hours classes on my birthday, so I probably won’t spend a lot of time having fun, but I’ve bought myself a brand new book at my local library today to celebrate, and I’ve got good stuff planned! A nice meal, maybe bubble tea, and a nice evening of watching bullet journaling videos on YouTube and reading on the couch should be great as a birthday not party, and will help me relax – which is exactly what I need right now.

Hopefully, my preordered copy of Aurora Burning will arrive eventually – I’d love for it to get here for my birthday!

That’s is for this month’s goals and TBR – stay around to see if I can take on these new challenges when I post my June wrap-up post at the end of the month!

May 2020 wrap-up : let’s see if I hit those goals!

In the beginning of May, I set myself some pretty ambitious goals (at least they are for me, of course – what’s ambitious to me might be everyday life to you, in which case : you’re awesome, congratulations on being amazing and doing so much!).

So let’s go over these again and see how I did over the month !

Blogging goals

Maintain a regular posting schedule

This one was… only partly done. I’m tempted to say that it wasn’t fully my fault : me and my boyfriend moved out of our apartment on may 1st, and the technician who installed out internet connection didn’t come until a week after, so we were without a connection until may 6th or 7th, if I remember correctly.

I struggled to write blog posts in the first half of the month, the stress of the current situation catching up with me and amplifying my fears and anxiety. Luckily, things got better, and I managed to get back to my posting schedule as much as possible, so overall, I’d say I did okay!

Personal goals

Keeping up with university work

So far, so good ! My first exam of the semester was two days ago, and I think I did well – I’m hoping for good things in my two summer classes, I really like the content of the classes and the teachers are trying their best to make it fun to learn via zoom.

Playing video games

Sadly, I didn’t do as well as I wanted on this one : I’ve been extremely busy these past weeks, and just couldn’t find the time to play as much as last month. But I did work a lot of hours, so there’s a solid reason for that.

Watching TV shows

I’ve finally started watching She-Ra and the princesses of power, since I’ve already seen all of Avatar : the last airbender and of The dragon prince, and I can’t believe it took me this long to check out this show! I’m only a few episodes in and I’m already loving the story, the artworks, and the wholesome characters.

The last season of The 100 also started, so I’m watching that as soon as each episode comes out – I’ve got high expectations for this season !

Related posts : Why I love The 100, yet haven’t read the books

Writing something

I’m super proud of myself for this one, because I actually did it! Granted, it’s only a 500 words Star Trek : alternate original series fanfiction, but still : it took me a lot of courage to write and post it, and the views, kudos and comments it got on AO3 have given me a lot of encouragement to keep trying, and maybe write some more in the future!

TBR

  • Men explain things to me, by Rebecca Solnit ✔️
  • Crown of feathers, by Nicki Pau Preto – sadly didn’t have the time to read it before my library hold expired
  • Furyborn, by Claire Legrand – also deleted from my phone before I could read it
  • The 30-day money cleanse, by Ashley Feinstein Gerstley ✔️
  • Better than before, by Gretchen Rubin ✔️
  • Buy yourself the f*cking lilies, by Tara Schuster ✔️
  • Followers, by Megan Angelo ✔️
  • Surrender your sons, by Adam Sass – this was a NetGalley ARC that comes out in September 2020, you can see my review here on Goodreads! ✔️
  • The rise and fall of the dinosaurs, by Steve Brusatte ✔️
  • Caliban’s war, by James S. A. Corey ✔️

I also read some books that weren’t on my TBR at the beginning of the month, including :

  • Planetfall, by Emma Newman
  • This book betrays my brother, by Kagiso Lesego Molope
  • The sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell
  • Happily ever after & everything in between, by Debbie Tung – this was a NetGalley ARC and it comes out in June, you can see my review here on Goodreads!

And I’m now a little more than 30% into The way of kings, by Brandon Sanderson – and this book is HUGE, oh my god.

Overall, I was surprised to see that I managed to achieve most of what I’d set out to do at the end of April. I’m feeling pretty good about this, and I’m hoping I can continue that way in the future !

A practical guide on personal finance : Simplify your financial life, by Dawn Starks

I’m not going to lie – I’m a big fan of personal finance books. I’ve always been interested in learning more about managing your budgets, planning for the future and organizing your financial life in the simplest way possible.

For me, this includes carefully planning my monthly budget in my bullet journal, using my credit card carefully, and checking every time I go grocery shopping so I don’t overspend – and reading financial management books.

So when I got an ARC of Simplify Your Financial Life: 104 Easy Tips for Creating the Abundant Future You Desire, by Dawn G. Starks, I didn’t hesitate one second before sitting down in my comfy armchair and reading it intensely. And I’m really happy that I did so !

Do yourself a favor and don’t bury your head in the sand. Be brave and face your financial difficulties head-on.

Simplify your financial life, Dawn G. Starks

This is a very useful book separated in clear themes and chapters, with a ton of pertinent tips for every situation you could possibly be in. It gives you the basics of financial planning, then goes into some more details on investments, retirement funds, and savings. The information is concise and to the point, and I liked the minimalist ideals to streamline your financial planning and make it as simple as possible.

I do think this is very focused on the American perspective of personal finance, as a lot of other cultures don’t have the same habits towards credit cards mortgage and student loans as the US, and the American continent as a whole.

Nevertheless, for the people it’s geared towards, this is an excellent book to have ! I would definitely recommend it to people who are struggling a bit with how best to manage their money, make their budget, or who aren’t sure how to use their credit card in the best possible way.

ARC review : Tweet Cute, by Emma Lord

I know, I know, I’m super late in posting this review. I’ve been trying to adapt to my new university schedule and I thought I had everything under control, but this post was supposed to be up a week ago, in time for the publication of the book… and it clearly wasn’t. But hey, better late than never, right ?

Tweet Cute is author Emma Lord’s debut novel, a contemporary YA rom-com filled to the brim with cuteness, lovable characters, and a ton of food references. It’s everything I was looking for in a book at the end of 2019, and I was absolutely delighted to get to read an ARC of it through NetGalley.

Synopsis

Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming ― mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account.

Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.

What I liked

Finally, a novel where teens using social media actually act like teens using social media ! The cultural references used by Jack and Pepper make the twitter war much more realistic than lots of supposedly “teen” characters in other YA novels, whose only references are their Hogwarts houses and how much they love Lady Gaga – we get it, Harry Potter is very popular, but it’s clearly not representative of everything that teens have an interest in !

The main characters, Pepper and Jack, were what really sold me on this book from the first couple of pages in. Their characterization is well done and they come off as believable teenagers, and the alternating POV helps the readers understand their actions and their behaviours, outside of what they think of each other.

The way they talk about their challenges and struggles is extremely relatable, and the author doesn’t hesitate to tackle the subject of unhealthy competition between students and the academic pressure to get into a good college, be the best of your class, and the effects it has on teenagers’ mindsets.

What I didn’t like

One of the plot points described in the longer synopsis available on Goodreads mentions an anonymous text-chat app that Jack built – and as much as this could have been an interesting way to connect the two characters, I felt like it was a bit too underdeveloped, and could have been cut out of the story without losing much in terms of character development. For me, this specific part would have had its place in a story without the twitter war, but the two in the same narrative felt a bit too heavy in drama.

A thing I would have liked to see more of was Pepper and Jack’s respective parents. Without giving away any spoilers, they obviously play a big role in their children’s lives, and in the reasons for the “twitter war” that starts everything, and I would have loved to have a bit more insight into their motivations and their stories.

Conclusion

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Overall, I had a really good time reading this book, and I would recommend it to YA contemporary readers without hesitation : it’s fun, lighthearted, and the romance is terribly cute but also realistic enough to be believable. 

Did you get a copy of this book, or did you add it to your 2020 TBR ? Did you write and post a review of it on your blog ? Feel free to link it in the comments so I can check it out !

Short reviews : 3 NetGalley ARCs

I’ve recently reviewed a few ARCs on NetGalley that I really liked, so I thought I’d put the reviews up here too ! They’re pretty short, since I didn’t try to lengthen them a lot for Goodreads and NetGalley, so I’m making a post with the three together.

Bird brain, by Chuck Mullin

Rating: 5 out of 5.

In this extremely relatable, honest and funny book, Chuck Mullin talks about depression, anxiety, self-care, and other aspects of everyday life in a very touching way.

As a person who’s suffered from depression and anxiety for a long time, this book felt very real in its portraying of what you feel (and don’t feel) during these times. I’d definitely recommend this to people who would like to understand or empathize more with a loved one who has suffered / is currently suffering from mental illness, and to anyone interested to learning more about this.

Publication date : November 19, 2019

Out with the ex, in with the new, by Sophie Ranald

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This was a very fun read for a day off – I picked it up on my way home from he university, and ended up reading it over the weekend and enjoying it a lot ! You get attached pretty fast to the main character, Gemma, who over the course of the book kind of “grows up” as a person and starts to become more independent, discovering things about herself, what she will or won’t stand for in life, etc. The settings, the Youtube and vlogging spheres, are interesting and well described by the author, and it doesn’t fall into the “everything is perfect a fame is amazing” clichés.

Also, I hated Jack, the boyfriend-ex-boyfriend, from the moment he appeared on the page, and I was 100% rooting for Gemma and her “living my best life as a revenge” plan. Just saying.

Publication date : December 3, 2019

Everything isn’t terrible, by Kathleen Smith

Rating: 5 out of 5.

As a psychology student, I picked up this book by curiosity, and I was not disappointed. I really like reading books on this type of topic, and this one was very instructive and organized. It’s not a book that will teach you how to cope with extreme anxiety or trauma situations, but it will help you manage small to medium amounts of anxiety in your day-to-day life, deal with anxiety-inducing people, and be more mature in your interpersonal relationships.

I would recommend this book as a gift for someone who has problems with anxiety that don’t necessarily need them to go through therapy but that still bother them on a daily basis.

Publication date : December 31, 2019

Did you read ( and review ?) any of these books ? Would you be interested in reading them ? Let me know in the comments !