Tag Archives: Social Media

Review: Going Dark by Melissa da la Cruz

Going Dark by Melissa de la Cruz cover shows a girl facing the camera, her face dark. She holds up a photograph of a girl's face partly over hers.

Going Dark
Melissa de la Cruz
Union Square Co.
Published January 31, 2023

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About Going Dark

“An intense rollercoaster of a thriller and a searing indictment of which victims get our attention and sympathy.”
#1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Marie Lu

In this ripped-from-the-headlines GONE GIRL meets A GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO MURDER, #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz weaves a white-knuckle YA thriller about a beautiful young influencer who vanishes after going on vacation with her boyfriend.


The Influencer
Amelia Ashley shares everything with her followers – her favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurants, her best fashion tips, and her European trip-of-a-lifetime with her hot boyfriend.

The Boyfriend
Josh has no choice but to return home without Amelia after she abandons him in Rome. He has no clue where she went or how her blood got in his suitcase. Why won’t anyone believe him?

The Hacker
To Harper Delgado, Amelia Ashley is just another missing white girl whipping up a media frenzy. But with each digital knot she untangles about the influencer, Harper wonders: who is Amelia Ashley?

The Other Girl
Two years ago, another girl went missing, one who never made headlines or had a trending hashtag.

The Truth
Amelia’s disappearance has captured the world’s attention. What comes next? Watch this space…

Told through a mixture of social media posts, diary entries, and firsthand accounts, GOING DARK is a gripping, suspenseful thriller about all the missing girls who fall off the radar, perfect for true crime fans and readers of ONE OF US IS LYING by Karen M. McManus.

My Review

I read this book really, really fast. I think I read the first 150 pages in under two hours? That’s unbelievably fast for me. It’s not easy to write in a way that can be consumed so quickly, so I feel like that in and of itself shows some big storytelling ability.

I can definitely see the comparison to ONE OF US IS LYING. GOING DARK had that same kind of danger-around-every-corner, clues-dropping-any-minute intensity. It was so easy to get swept away in the mystery and in trying to piece together all the clues. I loved that part of it.

The only thing I can say in terms of anything I wish had been different is that I wish the story hadn’t begun with Josh’s point of view. I can see why it had to, though. Once the story began introducing other perspectives, I was totally hooked.

I liked the thoughtful way the story explored how some missing persons cases can become big headlines while others don’t get enough attention from media and police. I also loved the relationship between sisters in the book. (You know I love sister stories!)

All in all, I really enjoyed reading GOING DARK, and I definitely think fans of Karen McManus or Courtney Summers would enjoy this book.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 12 up.

Harper is a Brown girl. Mignon and her sister are Chinese on their dad’s side.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Strong profanity used infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between boy and girl.

Spiritual Content
A girl sees and talks to another girl who isn’t there. She knows the other girl isn’t real but takes comfort in being able to speak with her.

Violent Content
Some descriptions of a boy acting possessively and in a controlling way. In one scene someone describes holding someone down against their will, killing them. A girl is stabbed in the stomach.

Drug Content
A group drinks wine at a house in Italy. They’re all of legal drinking age.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of GOING DARK in exchange for my honest review. All opinions my own.

Review: No Filter and Other Lies by Crystal Maldonado

No Filter and Other Lies
Crystal Maldonado
Holiday House
Published February 8, 2022

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About No Filter and Other Lies

You should know, right now, that I’m a liar.

They’re usually little lies. Tiny lies. Baby lies. Not so much lies as lie adjacent.

But they’re still lies.

Twenty one-year-old Max Monroe has it all: beauty, friends, and a glittering life filled with adventure. With tons of followers on Instagram, her picture-perfect existence seems eminently enviable.

Except it’s all fake.

Max is actually 16-year-old Kat Sanchez, a quiet and sarcastic teenager living in drab Bakersfield, California. Nothing glamorous in her existence–just sprawl, bad house parties, a crap school year, and the awkwardness of dealing with her best friend Hari’s unrequited love. But while Kat’s life is far from perfect, she thrives as Max: doling out advice, sharing beautiful photos, networking with famous influencers, even making a real friend in a follower named Elena. The closer Elena and “Max” get–texting, Snapping, and even calling–the more Kat feels she has to keep up the facade.

But when one of Max’s posts goes ultra-viral and gets back to the very person she’s been stealing photos from, her entire world – real and fake — comes crashing down around her. She has to figure out a way to get herself out of the huge web of lies she’s created without hurting the people she loves.

But it might already be too late.

My Review

I had a hard time getting into this book. The writing and the voice are both strong– which I expected, since I loved Crystal Maldonado’s debut, FAT CHANCE, CHARLIE VEGA. I just didn’t really like Kat very much, especially at the beginning.

She knows she’s a liar, but she isn’t ready to face the ways her lies hurt the people closest to her. As she wrestles with love, including her own self-love, she does a lot of growing. By the end of the story, I liked her a lot.

Her family dynamics are complicated and messy, and I found I liked that element of the book. It made Kat’s character make a lot of sense. I think it was also a big part of what made her realize the harmfulness and ugliness of her own behavior.

On the whole, I think FAT CHANCE is still my favorite book by this author, but I did enjoy reading this one. I think fans of books like THE 9:09 PROJECT by Mark Parsons or TELL ME EVERYTHING by Sarah Enni should check this one out.

Content Notes for No Filter and Other Lies

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

Kat is bisexual and Puerto Rican on her dad’s side. One of her friends is also Puerto Rican. Her best friend is Indian American.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used pretty frequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between boy and girl. In one scene they realize they are heading toward having sex and stop. Kissing between two girls.

Spiritual Content

Violent Content
One of Kat’s friends makes fat jokes about her until she confronts him about it. One boy punches another boy in the face at a party.

Drug Content
Kat and her friends go to a party at her best friend’s house where teens drink alcohol. Kat and her best friend both drink too much and make some choices they regret later.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of NO FILTER AND OTHER LIES in exchange for my honest review.

Review: The Marvelous by Claire Kann

The Marvelous
Claire Kann
Swoon Reads
Published June 8, 2021

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About The Marvelous

Everyone thinks they know Jewel Van Hanen. Heiress turned actress turned social media darling who created the massively popular video-sharing app, Golden Rule.

After mysteriously disappearing for a year, Jewel makes her dramatic return with an announcement: she has chosen a few lucky Golden Rule users to spend an unforgettable weekend at her private estate. But once they arrive, Jewel ingeniously flips the script: the guests are now players in an elaborate estate-wide game. And she’s tailored every challenge and obstacle to test whether they have what it takes to win–at any cost.

Told from the perspective of three dazzling players–Nicole: the new queen of Golden Rule; Luna: Jewel’s biggest fan; and Stella: a brilliant outsider–this novel will charm its way into your heart and keep you guessing how it all ends because money isn’t the only thing at stake.

My Review

The concept of this book had pretty much already hooked me before I ever opened the first page. And then, the writing hit me. Wowza. I am a huge fan of Kann’s style in this book. It’s smart, a little bit sharp, and just never stops delivering great moments.

I’ve read some solve-the-riddle type stories before that, when I got to the finish of the riddle, left me feeling like, wait that was it? THE MARVELOUS absolutely delivered on an ending as fabulous as its setup.

So that’s the plot in all it’s amazing, twisty, high-stakes glory. I need to talk about the characters. At first I think I had a tendency to mix up Luna and Nicole. Maybe because of the similarity in them both not living with parents? I’m not sure. Once I was a few chapters in and knew them both better, I was mystified at myself for ever having confused them.

I loved Luna’s exuberance and her easy friendship with Alex. Nicole’s more self-contained nature and her compassion totally won me over. And then there’s Stella At All Times. At first I wasn’t sure what to make of her. Once she found her feet in the game and once I felt like I really got into her head, I couldn’t wait for the chapters from her point-of-view.

THE MARVELOUS is one of those books that I thought I’d enjoy but not rave about, and I was so wrong. There’s SO MUCH about this book that I loved. If you like twisty, mystery-slash-riddle stories with strong characters, you have to check this one out. I think fans of ONE OF US IS LYING will love THE MARVELOUS.

Check Out Twinkl’s 2021 TBR List

My review of THE MARVELOUS is featured on a book resource site called Twinkl in their 2021 TBR List! You can see it and a whole bunch of other great reading recommendations in that list. It’s totally worth checking out.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

Major characters are Black. A couple characters are LGBT+

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
References to attraction, some hand holding. A girl falls asleep with a boy.

Spiritual Content

Violent Content
Some dangerous situations. No blood and gore.

Drug Content

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of The Marvelous in exchange for my honest review.

Review: You Can Go Your Own Way by Eric Smith

You Can Go Your Own Way
Eric Smith
Inkyard Press
Published November 2, 2021

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About You Can Go Your Own Way

Adam Stillwater is in over his head. At least, that’s what his best friend would say. And his mom. And the guy who runs the hardware store down the street. But this pinball arcade is the only piece of his dad that Adam has left, and he’s determined to protect it from Philadelphia’s newest tech mogul, who wants to turn it into another one of his cold, lifeless gaming cafés.

Whitney Mitchell doesn’t know how she got here. Her parents split up. She lost all her friends. Her boyfriend dumped her. And now she’s spending her senior year running social media for her dad’s chain of super successful gaming cafés—which mostly consists of trading insults with that decrepit old pinball arcade across town.

But when a huge snowstorm hits, Adam and Whitney suddenly find themselves trapped inside the arcade. Cut off from their families, their worlds, and their responsibilities, the tension between them seems to melt away, leaving something else in its place. But what happens when the storm stops?

My Review

One of the things I really enjoyed about this book is the nostalgic feel of Adam’s chapters. It’s a contemporary novel, set in the present day (minus covid), but Adam has a lot of love for bands his dad loved and for the vintage pinball machines his dad was obsessed with before he died. I haven’t played a lot of pinball in my life, but I felt like the descriptions of the game play and the machines made perfect sense and was really engaging. I also couldn’t help connecting with Adam and his complex, unresolved grief with all his nerdy amazingness.

Whitney is super different than Adam is. She’s sleek, cool, and incredibly driven, and yet I felt an instant connection with her, too. I really appreciated her wit and tenacity. She is definitely one of those characters who acts tough and has a soft heart underneath, and I love those!

In addition to all of that, there are some very fun social media situations and conversations, plus a community of indie business owners who all show up for each other. If you know me, you know community is another thing that I tend to adore in the books I read. It just feels so real, and makes the characters feel like part of a real world, you know?

YOU CAN GO YOUR OWN WAY is the first book by Eric Smith that I’ve read, though I’m pretty sure I own his others! Reading this made me really want to read everything he’s written. I felt like the relationships were super real and the characters were really easy to connect with. I think readers who enjoy contemporary romance will have a lot to love in this book.

I suppose my only complaint is the ear worm that constantly happens to me every time I read the title. Every. Time. I guess I can live with a little music in my head. Ha!

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

Adam’s dad is Sicilian and his mom is Palestinian.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used fairly frequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between boy and girl. References to making out.

Spiritual Content

Violent Content
Adam tries to clean up glass from a broken pinball game and cuts his hand. A storm breaks some windows, causing some damage.

Drug Content
Whitney attends a party at her boyfriend’s house where kids are drinking alcohol.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of YOU CAN GO YOUR OWN WAY in exchange for my honest review.

Review: Liked by Kari Kampakis

Liked: Whose Approval are You Living For?
Kari Kampakis
Thomas Nelson
Published November 15, 2016

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Maintaining an online presence through social media can be tricky to navigate no matter your age. Author Kari Kampakis presents advice to teen girls about using social media in a way that’s godly and healthy, too. She discusses ways to keep priorities straight—making sure life doesn’t become about how many “likes” you accrue on a post or photo. She discusses how to handle relationship issues that can arise from miscommunication or thoughtlessness on social media. Through each page, Kampakis shares her wisdom like a cheerleader, making the reader feel like she’s totally on your side and wants the best for you.

We haven’t quite crossed the kids-on-social-media barrier yet in our house, but it’s fast approaching. I found this book as I began to look for resources on good guidelines and recommendations for keeping a balance of freedom and supervision as well as something that my girl and I can read and talk about before starting that wild foray into the online community. Okay, that sounded bad. I hope it won’t be a wild foray. She’s a good kid, so I’m not worried, but it’s a lot of responsibility, you know? In just a few seconds you can post something that can lead to massive regrets later. So yeah, I definitely wanted someone who has been through the trenches (Kampakis has four daughters of her own) to offer some counsel and wisdom.

Which is exactly what I found in this book. Each chapter has bulleted lists exploring some of the ideas, like twenty ways to grow an active faith, or eight ways to be a world changer. They’re big ideas, but the author breaks them down into bite-sized, practical steps. Each chapter also features discussion questions and highlighted Bible verses. The book would make a great small group study or a one-on-one resource for accountability partners or a mom and daughter team to share.

The only thing that occurred to me about the book is that it’s so clearly meant for girls, and I didn’t think it necessarily needs to be that way. A lot of the concepts really come down to identifying insecurity and good friendships versus bad ones, and all that information seems relevant to boys, too. If it had been less girl-geared, it would maybe made a good resource for mixed groups.

Other than that thought, I really enjoyed this book and have already talked to my daughter about studying it together. I definitely recommend this for parents and especially younger teens who are beginning to explore the social media world.

Recommended for Ages 11 up.

Cultural Elements
No race information given in the snippets of stories about girls that open each chapter.

Profanity/Crude Language Content

Romance/Sexual Content
There’s one very brief and gentle mention that references girls having regrets about posting compromising pictures online afterward. Kampakis also recommends having someone check any photos uploaded to be sure there’s nothing inappropriate in them. She uses the example that someone wanted to share a picture that had, in the background, a girl who was changing clothes. The girl taking the picture hadn’t noticed it.

Spiritual Content
The book focuses a lot on how a girl’s relationship with God should shape the rest of her life, including her social media presence. Uses NLT version for Bible references.

Violent Content

Drug Content

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.