Internet Famous by Danika Stone Review

book review

This book was a #fail for me.

Internet Famous by Danika Stone follows Tumblr-esque blogger Madison “Madi” Nakama during her senior year of high school. When her mom leaves for a professor job out of town, Madi must learn to balance her blog, her senior project, and her sister’s schedule. Her world is further rocked when an online troll threatens her life on and offline.

I was interested in reading Internet Famous because I like reading books that tackle young people’s lives online compared to real life. Unfortunately for me, this book did not meet my expectations in terms of plot or characters. Overall, I had a difficult time reading this book and struggle to find a way to recommend it to other readers.

My largest issue with this book resides in the main character, Madi. Although Madi is a high school senior, her selfish and ego-centric attitude makes her appear much younger. This caused me to disconnect from her and her story completely. To the nail in the coffin for me was Madi’s blatant disrespect for authority. She handles herself inappropriately when educators point out that she does not follow rules or guidelines on her project. When asked for her identification in the school hallway (mind you, Madi does online school so every teacher may not know what she looks like in person since they do not physically see her every day), Madi’s response is extremely rude. This disrespect escalates when Madi’s project (her blog) is disqualified from her senior project because she monetized it and allowed guest posts on her blog. This leads Madi on a tirade that this teacher hates her and she is too much of a stickler for rules, when in actuality, Madi did not follow the requirements for her project. When faced with the same issue later in the novel, Madi never shows any growth in maturity. In fact, she screams in a library at the teacher, swears at the teacher, and then runs away when the teacher asks her to go to the principal’s office. Below are a few quotes from the book that best showcase Madi’s character:

“The woman’s eyes narrowed behind thick glasses. She pulled a pen from one jacket pocket, a small pad of paper from the other. “What’s the name of your sister? I need to check into this. There’s a protocol for pickups, you know. The school can’t just have anyone wandering in off the street.” The way she said anyone riled Madi. “It’s Sarah,” she said. “Now may I ask your name, ma’am? Because every teacher in this school knows I pick up Sarah from school. I’ve done it every day for the last two years.”

(in reference to her mom’s job) “Funny, u would expect a mother to be at home with her kids”

“You’d better start a rewrite,” Mrs. Preet said seriously. “The end of the year is only three weeks away and you have a semester-long assignment to redo.” “But I have final exams! I can’t just drop everything and redo my whole blog. Can’t you make an exception?” Mrs. Preet crossed her arms. “I can’t and I won’t. Doing that would make it unfair for every other student in this school.”

(after her father finds out she lied about her school project) “The Wi-Fi code is changing the minute we get back to the house. You can use your computer for submitting homework—I’ll type the code in when you need to send in your projects—but no other fooling around online until Mrs. Preet tells me you’ve passed that course.” “But you can’t just take away the Wi-Fi! That’s not fair!”

The other characters fared no better. From the love interest to they villain, they all embodied stereotypical characteristics. Like Madi, they lacked depth for readers to care about them or their importance to the story. Laurent, Madi’s love interest, is completely perfect. He’s the HoTtEsT bOy EvEr with his French accent (which is used as cheesily and unauthentically as possible throughout the novel) and forgives Madi quickly after she accuses him of horrific events that happen in the novel. Her teacher is the WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD for holding her to the same expectations as any other student. The villain, barely present in the book, only spouted the same phrases over and over. Basically, you’ve seen all of these underdeveloped characters at least a dozen times. Below are a few quotes pertaining to these characters:

I also cringed at how Madi solved the “case of the troll” and thought it promoted ineffective problem-solving strategies for teenagers who read this book and come across cyberbullying.  When Madi receives threatening comments, Madi responds impulsively which escalates the situation. After the police inform Madi that it may take months to locate the troll, she takes matters in her own hands in a way that places both herself and her sister in danger. These actions are applauded by other characters in the novel. While I am all for characters sticking up for themselves, I think the way this situation was handled was inappropriate and could encourage readers to put themselves in dangerous situations to “cancel” a troll.

As for the pacing and overall plot, this book struggled to keep me engaged. Between blog posts about 80s movies, multiple coffee dates, and internet trolls, I just could not find myself invested in any part of this story. I read this book over a span of several months because I could barely stay engaged. While I could have put this book down, I pushed through hoping for the story to change since I already finished a significant portion of the book.

To me, this book missed the mark on so many levels. I rarely rate books lower than two stars, but this is an exception. From the underdeveloped characters to the plot, nothing worked for me in this story. I give Internet Famous one out of five stars.

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ARC Review: There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon

book review

There’s something sweet(ie) about this book!

There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon follows two athletic Indian-There's Something About SweetieAmerican teenagers who develop a romantic relationship despite cultural and societal expectations. Ashish Patel finds himself heartbroken after his first love cheats on him. Despite his reservations, he asks his parents to set him up with an Indian-American girl. Enter Sweetie Nair, a top-notch track star whose mom opposes the match since she believes her daughter weighs too much. As a result, Sweetie becomes determined to prove her mother wrong.

Sandhya Menon’s books have been hit-or-miss for me. While I enjoyed When Dimple Met Rishi, it lacked the spark to make it one of my favorite contemporaries. On the other hand, I did not enjoy From Twinkle, With Love at all due to unlikable characters and an overdramatic plot. Going into There’s Something About Sweetie, I was not sure what to expect. I’m happy to say this book exceeded my expectations and ranks as my favorite among this author’s books.

I loved both Sweetie and Ashish because their personalities greatly differed from the characters in Menon’s other stories. While I enjoyed Dimple’s headstrong personality and Rishi’s gentlemanly attitude, I found Twinkle and Sahil to be watered down versions of those two characters and less likable. Sweetie possesses the same strong beliefs as Dimple, but comes across a lot more reserved and intuitive to others’ feelings. Rishi completely differs from Rishi or Sahil as he is portrayed as more “popular” and “cool.” I dislike when I read books by the same author and all of the main characters and love interests across the stories read the same. I appreciated that Sweetie and Ashish were vastly different than Menon’s other characters to set them apart.

If you have read Menon’s other two books, they follow a fairly similar formula. Each character has their passion, which is mentioned, but never as integral to the story as it may seem. I would say this is only half true for this book. Based on the synopsis, Sweetie’s track and “Sassy Sweetie Project” is mentioned, but there is a large focus on the dates that she goes on with Ashish as well. I would say the book holds true to the synopsis in this case. While the largest focus is placed on the arranged dates for Sweetie and Ashish, there is a large focus on Sweetie and how her weight is viewed through Indian culture as well. I think this will satisfy readers who were put off by the inaccurate synopses for some of Menon’s other books.

There were several other aspects of this book that I really appreciated. In the author’s note at the beginning of the story, Menon mentioned how her weight has fluctuated through the years and she has had vastly different experiences based on her weight at the time. She also mentioned that Sweetie describes herself as “fat” in the book because it is only a negative word because of societal connotations. However, she also acknowledges that some people, especially those bullied using this specific word, may feel uncomfortable when they see this word in the story and they are entitled to that feeling. I always appreciate reading about an author’s connection to a story and I thought Menon’s note before the story was incredibly thoughtful to those who may be triggered by the discrimination that Sweetie faces, especially since it often comes from close family members within this story. Just a warning: While this book does have a prevailing message of loving your body that although authentically portrays Sweetie’s experience, it may be extremely uncomfortable for some readers who struggle with body image. Since there is a large amount of negative commentary regarding Sweetie’s weight, you may want to skip this book if this triggers you.

Another aspect of this book that I really enjoyed was learning more about Indian culture. Sweetie and Ashish go on arranged dates by Ashish’s parents that are described as “typically Indian.” It was interesting to learn more about Indian culture and its influence in Indian-Americans’ lives. I think the two main characters also provided other perspectives that we have not seen yet in Menon’s books. Prior to this story, Ashish only dated white girls. Sweetie does not fit the stereotypical mold of the “perfect” Indian girl. It was interesting to read the conversations surrounding these topics in the story.

Overall, I really enjoyed There’s Something About Sweetie. I really liked the main characters and learning about a culture different than my own. I give this book four out of five stars.

 

I received a copy of this book via NetGalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

 

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April Reading Wrap-Up

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Unfortunately for me, April was not my strongest reading month. Since I focused a lot of my time and energy into Camp NaNoWriMo, there wasn’t much left for tackling my TBR. As a result, I am currently three books behind schedule to meet my yearly reading goal of 50 books. That being said, the two books that I did read this month motivated me to write some of my most detailed reviews yet. Look for those reviews within the next couple weeks! Here is what I read in April:

  • Shuffle, Repeat by Jen Klein (★ ★)

Shuffle, Repeat

While the plot intrigued me for this book and reminded me of one of my favorite young adult novels, it took a different direction than I expected which I did not really enjoy. I found the characters bland and stereotypical and the plot as nothing special for the genre.

  • Internet Famous by Danika Stone (★)

Internet Famous

The execution of this book failed on multiple levels for me. While I like reading about teenage characters with a large online presence, most of these characters came across as stereotypical, immature, or annoying. As a result, I was never invested in this story.

 

What were the best books that you read in April?

 

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Sadie by Courtney Summers Review

book review

Sadie by Courtney Summers follows Sadie who embarks on a journey to find the murderer of her dead sister, who she raised due to her mother’s lack of involvement. Fascinated by the story, a radio host follows Sadie’s tracks in hopes to find Sadie who has been missing for a long time.

While I am not a huge thriller/mystery fan, I decided to pick up Sadie due to hearing many positive reviews. I was also interested in the format, which combines Sadie’s story as well as a podcast that chronicles her journey. Although I find Sadie an interesting and enjoyable story, it did not live up to the hype for me.

Overall, Sadie is an interesting and complex character. After surviving some traumatic experiences in her childhood and raising her younger sister, Sadie presents herself as tough and serious. However, readers also get to see a more vulnerable side of Sadie through several of her interactions with other people she meets throughout her journey. However, my favorite aspect of Sadie’s character is how realistic and relatable she is as a person. There are so many Sadies out there in the world that I think would resonate with her story.

As for the format of the book, it was a bit hit-or-miss for me. I really liked the concept of following the story through Sadie’s eyes and a podcast, but for me, it did not always enhance my reading experiences. Since the podcast’s hosts follow Sadie’s footsteps, some information is repeated throughout the story. While readers sometimes see the consequences of Sadie’s actions in the book, I felt like some of the podcast did not add anything to the story after you read it from Sadie’s perspective. Working towards the climax of the story, I sometimes wanted to push through the podcast aspect and get back to Sadie’s perspective. While I understand why the podcast was necessary for some aspects of the story, I think it could have been incorporated more successfully into the story.

I also think some readers may find the story predictable and the ending as flat. While I do not read this genre often, I was still able to figure out the mystery fairly early on in the story. While I continued the book due to my investment in Sadie as a character, other readers who frequently read this genre in favor of a less predictable storyline. Additionally, some readers may find the ending of this book as unfulfilling. I understand the author’s purpose behind the ending in the story, however, some readers may feel disappointed by the somewhat open ending.

Overall, Sadie is an interesting and overall enjoyable read. While I found the story somewhat predictable, this story still stuck with me after reading. I could not help but think of all the people with a similar story to Sadie in the world. I would recommend this book to people looking for more of an impactful mystery than a true mystery or thriller. I give this book three out of five stars.

 

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April TBR

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So about last month… it was not my best reading month. As a result, I finished 0 books on my TBR. I started each of these books, but did not finish any of them. Right now, these stories aren’t grabbing me and I may need to pick them up at a later time to fully enjoy them. Here were my picks for March:

  • A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

A Curse So Dark and Lonely

  • Bookish Boyfriends: The Boy Next Story by Tiffany Schmidt

The Boy Next Story: A Bookish Boyfriends Novel

  • You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn

You'd Be Mine

 

Now… onto my choices for April!

  • Bookish Boyfriends: The Boy Next Story by Tiffany Schmidt

The Boy Next Story: A Bookish Boyfriends NovelI do want to finish this book before May, when it is released. I am very close to finishing this book. Fingers crossed that I finish it this month!

  • You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn

You'd Be Mine

I’m not too far into this book, but it was recently released. I want to read this book ASAP!

  • Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno

Don't Date Rosa Santos

This book will also be released in May, so I want to finish it during April. This book sounds right up my alley, so I hope that I enjoy it!

 

What do you plan to read in April?

 

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March Reading Wrap-Up

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March ended up being a month of ARCs! I was approved on NetGalley for a few releases that I’ve been excited for this year. While I enjoyed all of them, I was slightly disappointed in one book from a contemporary author that I loved last year. Here’s what I read (each book on this list was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review):

  • Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett (★ ★ ★ ★)

Serious Moonlight

I enjoyed Serious Moonlight much more than Alex, Approximately which is another book that I have read by this author.

  • There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon (★ ★ ★ ★)

There's Something About Sweetie

This is definitely my favorite book by Sandhya Menon yet. I found When Dimple Met Rishi slightly average and did not enjoy From Twinkle, With Love, so I’m excited to find a book by this author that I really loved.

  • Call It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer (★ ★ ★)

Call It What You Want

While I still enjoyed reading this book, the story itself never captured me like the other two contemporary books that I have read by Brigid Kemmerer.

 

 

What was the best book that you read in March?

 

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Top Ten Tuesday: Things That Make Me Pick Up a Book

top ten

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is things that make me pick up a book. There are so many new releases every year, it is hard to choose what books to bring to the front of my TBR. However, I do notice a common theme in books that I read. Generally, I will pick up a book if…

  • It is a contemporary book

My favorite genre is contemporary, so I find myself more drawn to books in this genre than other books.

  • It is a light-hearted book

I tend to prefer books that make me smile, laugh, or feel happy. While I do like the occasional more “serious” book, I prefer more light-hearted stories that guarantee a happy ending.

  • It is written by a favorite author

Even if the plot does not sound as interesting to me as their other books, I will still pick up books by my favorite authors. While this does not always work in my favor, for example 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne, I still typically find the book an okay read.

  • It has an interesting or unique premise

I love books that offer something different or unique, even if it isn’t in my preferred genre. For example, I picked up Sadie by Courtney Summers this year because the podcast element sounded unique and interesting to me. When I browsed the book aisle in middle school many years ago, I picked up The Hunger Games because it sounded interesting even though I really only read Sarah Dessen books at the time. The Hunger Games ended up being one of my favorite book series for a long time!

  • It is a hyped book

Sometimes, I feel like I wait too long after new books are released and I miss out on the initial excitement. Recently, I have picked up more and more “hyped” books to see my own opinion. While I tend to find most hyped books average, I have found quite a few books that I really enjoyed this way. I ended up really liking Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman and The Wicked King by Holly Black (although the first book in this series did not live up to the hype for me).

  • It is a stand-alone book

I definitely prefer stand-alones as opposed to series, which translates into a lot of areas of my life. I prefer reality competition shows, like Project Runway or The Bachelor, where I only need to track the story for one season as opposed to shows like Pretty Little Liars or Game of Thrones. I always drop off somewhere in the middle and never pick it back up. Likewise, it takes a lot for me to become invested in a series. As a result, I am more likely to pick up a stand-alone than something that could spin off into multiple books.

  • It has a good synopsis

Even if it isn’t my typical book pick, a book can really pull me in with a good synopsis on the back cover. Like I mentioned earlier, I picked up The Hunger Games on a whim at a bookstore because of what I found on the back cover. Additionally,

  • It has a cute cover

You should never judge a book by its cover, or so they say, but a good cover definitely pulls me in. If I see a book with a cute font and happy stock photo (think Kasie West), I can sense if a book is up my alley. Book covers are supposed to market themselves to the right people and something cute and happy definitely draws me in.

  • It is recommended by someone I trust

If my sister enjoys a book, then I will probably read it since we have similar tastes. For example, she introduced me to Sarah Dessen’s books in middle school and she quickly became one of my favorite authors. Just Listen still remains my favorite YA book about ten years later.

  • It has fan art.

If I see a lot of fan art depicting characters in a book or series, it motivates me to pick up the book. Characters make or break a book for me. If a see a lot of people enjoy the characters in a series so much that they create artwork of the characters, it makes me want to pick up the book.

 

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Book Review: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

book review

Unfortunately, too many aspects of this book did not add up.

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang follows Stella Lane, a successful mathThe Kiss Quotient (The Kiss Quotient, #1)ematician with Asperger’s. While advancing in her career, Stella becomes frustrated to see now advances in her dating life. As a result, Stella hires Michael Phan to help make her relationship ready. However, the business agreement grows complicated when Stella develops feelings for Michael.

I want to read more adult books, so I am always looking for more recommendations online. I saw many recommendations for The Kiss Quotient with many comparisons to The Hating Game and other adult books considered great stepping stones from people wanting to explore outside of the YA realm. Personally, The Kiss Quotient left me feeling unsatisfied and I find myself not buying into its hype.

After looking more into the thought behind this book, the concept still sounds interesting. The author wanted to create a story similar to Pretty Woman where the roles are reversed between the two main characters. I adore Pretty Woman, however, I think this story failed to capture what made that story so successful. For me, this book focused too heavily on the physical relationship between the two main characters. Yes, the synopsis emphasizes this aspect of the story, but I was still caught off guard that this seemed to be the only sense of the relationship between the two main characters. For me, I needed to see a stronger emotional connection between Stella and Michael to really buy into their relationship.

As for the characters, themselves they never really stood out to me and I never really connected with them. While I enjoyed that the author included a main character with autism and infused her own cultural background into the story, the characters never seemed fully developed or three dimensional. Additionally, I found Michael’s overprotectiveness a little off-putting and unhealthy. Overall, their personalities appeared very similar to countless other characters that I’ve read in books that I enjoyed a lot more. Characters are a huge factor that determines whether or not I love a story and I just never connected with these two characters.

Overall, I was pretty disappointed with this read. However, I can see why other people may enjoy this story, especially if they are huge romances fans. For me, this book fell a little flat. I give The Kiss Quotient three out of five stars.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Music I Listen to on my Way to Work

top ten

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is an audio freebie. I love listening to music, especially upbeat songs as we moved deeper into spring and into summer. I have developed a greater appreciation since my commute to work is forty minutes each way, which makes my total time on the road almost an hour and thirty minutes each day. Typically, I listen to K-Love, a Christian radio station, or put in one of the CDs in my car. Here are some of the songs that I have been listening to on my way to work (you’ll notice that my Zach Williams CD has definitely been a favorite this past month!):

  • Chainbreaker by Zach Williams
  • Rolling Stones by Lauren Daigle 
  • Best News Ever by MercyMe
  • Summer Nights from the Grease Soundtrack
  • Old Church Choir by Zach Williams
  • Born to Hand Jive from the Grease Soundtrack
  • 7 Rings by Ariana Grande
  • Survivor by Zach Williams
  • Greased Lightning by the Grease Live Cast
  • Thank U, Next by Ariana Grande 

 

What songs do you listen to on the way to work, school, etc.?

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Writing Progress: March 2019

Writing Progress

Last year in November, I participated in NaNoWriMo. While I never reached that 50,000-word goal by the end of the month, I still persisted in writing the story that I started. Much to my surprise (really, it wasn’t looking like I would ever finish!), I finish the first draft at the end of January. Since then, I created more goals (and revised them after a long break from my story) to polish up my work in progress (WIP). Currently, my goal is to complete revisions and finish the second draft of my WIP by the middle of May.

Goal #1: I will complete revisions on my WIP to complete my second draft by May 15.

Current Progress: I have revised 3 out of 20 chapters in my work in progress as of March 17, 2019.

Goal #2: I will increase my word count from approximately 35,000 words to 55,000 words by May 15.

Current Progress: My revised work in progress (Chapters 2-4) is currently at is approximately 7,800 words as of March 17, 2019.

While I am already a *little*  (read: a week or two) behind on my plan to meet these goals, I am still hopeful will spring break on the horizon to have a little more time to carry out these plans. One step that I am taking towards these goals is participating in Camp NaNoWriMo.

I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo last year (with a different story), but never joined a cabin and only kept a personal goal. This year, I decided to pick the option to randomly join a cabin with people writing in the same category (middle grade). I am hoping through collaboration with other people, I will stay more accountable for writing and also help other people successfully work on their Camp NaNoWriMo projects.

 

Are you writing anything or participating in Camp NaNoWriMo?

 

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