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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Relese & Review - How to Make Out by Brianna R. Shrum

Title: How To Make Out
Author: Brianna R. Shrum
Publication Date: September 6th, 2016
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Category/Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
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.
Buy Links: Amazon

2.5 “Unrealistic blogging experience” Stars

ARC via Edelweiss

Thank you, Sky Pony Press!

Well, this was the “unlikable characters in YA contemporary” weekend here. After Aubree from “Wanderlost”,  we now have sixteen-year-old Renley, who acted like a thirteen-year-old the entire book.

“How to Make Out” has a fun premise involving the blogging world and a love triangle with one of my favorite tropes: falling for your best friend. Unfortunately, neither the blogging experience feels realistic nor the main character is likable enough to carry the story and add a different angle to the love triangle.

Renley is introduced as a student who’s really good with numbers, a daughter with a troubled relationship with her divorced parents, and the girl who knows her best friend has the hots for her but isn’t willing to be with him because he’s a man whore. All valid points. Until Renley’s actions paint a not-so-pretty and guilt-free picture of her life.

When the opportunity to go to NYC arises, Renley needs to make plans to earn money for the trip. She can’t really count on her parents for that, so she needs to take matters into her own hands. All good, right? Except the solution the author finds is completely unrealistic. Look, we know how blogging works and there’s just no way I can believe Renly created a blog with a “How to” theme and suddenly turned into this super blogger who’s making tons of money overnight by having people pay her to give information they can find online for free. It just doesn’t work like that. Even if I ignored that, it still wouldn’t have happened as quickly as it did. It takes years and lots of work to build a following, and it certainly takes much more effort than Renley put on her blog to start making as much money.

The whole blogging thing fell flat, and as consequence it hurt the rest of the story, because Renley’s turned into this horrible character because of a blogging experience that wasn’t even believable.

Let me just say that Renley wasn’t all bad, but I can’t exactly solely blame the blog for what she turned into.

See… Renley’s relationship with her parents was beyond complicated. Her father had cheated on her mother and married (or moved in?) with his lover, with whom Renley now lived. Her mother left her cheating husband (good for her!) and her daughter (WTF?), remarried and never looked back. Renley obviously missed her mother and tried to keep in touch with the woman, but she wanted nothing to do with her. It was sad. Very sad. And it helped explain some of Renley’s actions, but it didn’t give her a free pass to be stubborn, selfish and not care about her friend’s feelings.

The thing is: Renley was a horrible friend. Horrible.

First, she was horrible to April.  The way she treated her “best friend” when she started hanging out with the popular kids was just wrong. She called April names no friend should, she ditched her for no good reason, she broke promises because she felt like it, she kept unnecessary secrets and she completely forgot about a huge event in April’s life. In the beginning of the story, April and Renley had the kind of friendship that made me smile and laugh out loud, but then Renley changed and turned into this really sucky friend. I don’t think I would’ve forgiven Renley as quickly had she done all those things to me.  Let’s just say April was a much better person than either of us.

Then there was Drew. He was Renley’s neighbor and best friend, and they had this kind of weird relationship because they slept on the same bed, but never kissed or touch despite the fact that Drew made it clear that he was in love with her. I was willing to go with it because it looked like Drew didn’t want to change what they had no matter how hurt he was by having her near and not being able to touch her. But then I still wanted Renley to feel a little more self-conscious about lying half naked next to the guy who was crazy about her when she didn’t feel the same about him. I don’t mean that she should’ve stopped being his friend or anything like that, but maybe if she wasn’t so worried about herself, she could’ve seen that she was hurting him and maybe needed to preserve his feelings? Just maybe?

Enter Seth, the cute and popular guy Renley and the rest of the school crushes on. The thing is, Seth has a freaking girlfriend, but Renley doesn’t seem to mind that because she keeps flirting with him and doesn’t think twice before hooking up with him a day after he breaks up with his girlfriend. I mean, really? Really? Is this how a likable character is supposed to act? Nope. At that point, I was ready to slap her.

Things just went downhill from there because Renley made out with Drew because of her blog, then ditched him to date Seth, then slept next to Drew when she was dating Seth, then acted like April didn’t exist, then did the most stupid things because of her blog, then then then… you get the picture.

I’m sorry, but I just couldn’t relate to Renley at all. I didn’t understand her and I didn’t think she did anything to deserve the ending she got. Sure Drew wasn’t the nicest guy around (he was a man whore and he knew it), but he was a much better friend and person that Renley, so I think he deserved better. So did April.

As to Renley’s parents, I believe that was the story that needed to be explored but wasn’t. Nothing happened to her cheating father. Nothing happened to the mother who abandoned her. Things ended exactly how they started.

The book was well written and there were great scenes between April, Renley and Drew, but unfortunately Renley’s personality made it impossible for me to enjoy it as much as I normally would.

*If you liked this review (or not), if you read the book (or not), come say hello and leave your comments bellow.

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