PS I Still Love You Review

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I’m finally getting around to reading the sequels to some books alongside reading some comics in between, such as Jenny Han’s P.S. I Still Love You and A Court of Mist and Fury is next!

I LOVED Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Seriously. Loved it. Cried my eyes out and needed to know more, obsessed over Lara Jean and Peter forever. So here are my thoughts on their continued love story.

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P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on May 26th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Friendship, Young Adult, Family
Pages: 352
Source: Amazon // Goodreads // Barnes and Nobles

Final Review: 4 out of 5

★★★★☆


Lara Jean is back at it again. Picking up right where we left off in book 1, Lara Jean’s love life is still as crazy as it was in Han’s first book. When Peter and her go back to dating, as cute as they were before, they both acknowledge that it’s far different from when they were just pretending. Lara Jean still has hesitation herself, and rightfully so. What is a girl to think when she sees her boyfriend consoling and hugging his ex-girlfriend? An ex-girlfriend who totally hates Lara Jean, by the way.

Of course Lara Jean has some concerns about her relationship with Peter, and like any young girl, she turns to another, attractive boy to help her out. One of her letters, the ones Kitty sent out? ends up getting a response. John Ambrose McClaren and Lara Jean become pen pals, friends even after years of radio silence between the two.

What happens with Lara Jean finds herself in love with two boys at once? One she knows is going to break her heart, and the other she doesn’t know if she can give her heart to.


Okay. Did I love this book? Yes. Did I love it as much as the first one? No. For some reason, I wasn’t as captivated by P.S. I Still Love You compared to To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Perhaps this is because the characters and story aren’t all that new to me anymore since I just read To All the Boys I Loved Before not too long ago, so the story isn’t as gut-wrenching as it was before.

Like snow globes, you shake them up, and for a moment everything is upside down and glitter everywhere and it’s just like magic–but then it all settles and goes back to where it’s supposed to be. Things have a way of settling back. I can’t go back (page 12).

I did, however, have intense anxiety pains whenever Lara Jean got anywhere near John Ambrose McClaren. Secretly, I wanted them to be together. How realistic? Of course Peter wouldn’t be able to get over his ex-girlfriend, Genevieve. That is some hard shit to do! Trust me. And even though this means breaking Lara Jean’s heart, I can see it happening. She would be able to explore a new life, a new not-so-naive life with John Ambrose. Maybe this could have happened if they were older, as in going off to college soon. This would prepare Lara Jean of the heartbreak but love again that could, and will, happen to her. Perhaps I’m too jaded and old to read these!

On a critical analysis standpoint, and watch out for spoilers here, I knew that Lara Jean and John Ambrose McClaren would not end up together simply by Han’s description of the two. When Lara Jean and Peter kiss, Han is extravagant in her writing, detailing every thought, touch, and experience that happens in that short second: “I kiss him before he can finish. Properly. Like I mean it. He kisses back like he means it too. Like it’s been four hundred years. And then I’m not thinking anymore and I’m just lost in the kissing” (page 21). Compare this to: “and then he kisses me. His lips are warm and firm against mine, and my eyelids flutter shut” (page 305). There is a clear difference between Lara Jean’s reaction to each kiss here and in a way, it foreshadows the outcome of her relationship with each.

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I do adore how Han seemed to get even more intimate with Lara Jean’s family. I liked that the story took a turn away from Margot and Josh (no offense, but they weren’t my favorite plot line). I loved how Kitty and Lara Jean tried, unsuccessfully, to get their father to start dating again–this is so real. How many children are raised by a single parent these days? I know it, even with two lovely parents that are divorced, that seeing them alone is sad and you want anything in the world to make them happy. And their dad just seems like the sweetest guy–I want him to be my dad! They are so sweet to him.

My dad said Peter isn’t the only boy in the world. I know this is true, of course it’s true. But look at Daddy. My mom was the only girl in the world for him. If she wasn’t, he’d have found somebody new by now. Maybe he’s been trying to protect himself from heartbreak too. Maybe we’re more alike than I ever realized (page 265).

Overall, P.S. I Still Love You is an adorable, must-read in order to complete Lara Jean’s story. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before leaves readers wanting more. Is she going to drop that letter off at Peter’s? Are they going to fall back in love–for real this time? Not only does it answer these pressing questions, but the sequel raises a few more. Is Lara Jean and Kitty’s dad ever going to find love again? What happened with the other letters Lara Jean wrote? And ultimately, are Peter and Lara Jean supposed to be together forever? All I know is that Han has amazingly insightful advice, hidden in Lara Jean and Peter, for us readers to take away:

I can see now that it’s the little things, the small efforts, that keep a relationship going. And I know now too that in some small measure I have the power ot hurt him and also the power to make it better (page 197).

Thank you, Jenny Han, for another whirlwind of emotion in P.S. I Still Love You.

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Beware That Book

I actually stepped out of my genre comfort zone and read a teen thriller! This is a first for me, guys. I normally do not enjoy dramatic books that question my own sanity, not just that of the characters and Toten’s Beware That Girl certainly does just that.

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Beware That Girl by Teresa Toten
Published by Delacorte Press on May 31st 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Thriller, Romance, Friendship
Pages: 336
Source: Amazon // Goodreads // Barnes and Nobles

Final Review 3.5 out of 5 / 5 out of 5

★★★☆☆  /   ★★★★★

Kate O’Brien finds herself as the only scholarship student at New York City’s most prestigious all-girls high school, Waverly. Her admittance isn’t only for academics, Kate has many plans when it comes her to time at Waverly.
Olivia, a mysterious, pure-bread socialite in the making owns the hallways of Waverly, but she certainly has things to hide.
The two become unlikely friends, Kate using Olivia and Olivia using Kate. However, when a new, delicious male administrator comes into the pictures, all the girls are enthralled except for Kate–she knows that something is up.
Toten keeps her readers on the edge of their seat with this thrilling depiction of wealthy girls, forbidden love, and New York City’s secrets. Every chapter reveals something different as well as raises more questions than before. Some mysteries get solved, others remain a mystery.


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I don’t even really know where to begin with this book. Usually, when I read, I dog-ear pages so I can go back and retrieve quotes or passages that really spoke to me or that I thought embodied the text as a whole. This book does not have any dog-eared corners. And not because I didn’t enjoy it or it didn’t speak to me–quite the contrary actually. This book spooked me, just like it claimed it would.
Toten powerfully creates this twisted world that is part Gossip Girl, part Pretty Little Liars, and another part psychological thriller Gone Girl. You are right in assuming that this book will lead you on a mental wild goose chase of whodunit. I have given the book 3.5 stars not out of the book being bad, but out of my fear and bias towards it. Generally, I do not reach for this genre. I, in fact, abhorred Gone Girl even though it’s my boyfriend’s favorite movie. I don’t like horror, or thriller, or anything that can be described as “scary.” I don’t see a point in freaking myself out over something, especially something that is fucked up enough to be real. I read Toten’s story and pictured the New York that I know and could almost see it happening. The girls that are close enough to my age, all with their own bottles of pills and personal therapists, all taking drugs and drinking, all wanting to sleep with a teacher (I was in high school once!).
I also wanted to give the book an accurate 5 out of 5 rating for those that do enjoy this type of genre. Toten will blow you out of the water. The twists that she throws out at all corners are unlike any other that I’ve read (probably because I don’t read these types of books). The ending? Literally, did not see that coming. Other than the Valium-coated high school girls, nothing in this story seems overdone or cliched. Everything is a surprise.
I didn’t say anything, couldn’t trust my voice. After he locked up, we walked through the crowds in silence. Except, of course, everyone in Chinatown kept calling out his name and greeting him. I kept my mouth shut. I was too busy sucking back tears. Because not for the first time, but with more fervor than I could ever remember, dear Jesus I wished that I was someone else.
If only, if only…I could be anyone else (page 271).
There are certain things I want further explained (what happened with Johnny???) but alas those much-needed answers will never come. I think this is why I dislike thriller and dramatic genres as much as I do. There are characters that just randomly disappear, storylines that don’t end nicely, and a general unease after closing the book, not a sense of release. I suppose that this is how Kate feels, though. She never gets a sense of release. She is constantly on edge, worried that her past is going sneak up on her. She has so much to lose and could be in deep danger if she is found. But what secrets does she hide? What secrets does Olivia hide? And what secrets do they have together? Neither girl is allowed a happy ending; Toten’s story is too realistic to let that happen.
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Italy, Gelato, and Romance, oh my!

Let me just start by saying this book made me want to travel. End of story.

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The Regulars by Jenna Evans Welch
Published by Simon Pulse on May 3nd 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Friendship, Romance, Travel, Family
Pages: 400
Source: Amazon // Goodreads // Barnes and Noble

Final Review 4 out of 5

★★★★☆

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Carolina, or Lina, isn’t having an easy life so far. Growing up fatherless, her mother and her share an irreparable bond. But when her mother suddenly gets diagnosed with pancreatic cancer with no hope for a long future, Lina’s life turns upside down.

So many questions swim through Lina’s head: What is she going to do now that her mother is gone? Who is her father? Why does her mom want her to go live in Italy? As her last request, Lina’s mom ships her off to Italy, to stay at a cemetery that is run by Lina’s mom’s friend Howard. Lina’s mom had never mentioned Howard before, but suddenly Lina’s grandmother says Howard is Lina’s father. This can’t be true, can it?

Following in her late mother’s footsteps, Lina begrudgingly takes on Florence, Italy. She wants to be swept off her feet by the magical city, but she can’t bring herself to want to stay. Howard is nice, yes, so are some friends that she meets, but she feels that her place is back home in the states. However, a lost journal of her mother’s winds up in her lap and she is forced to look at the city, Howard, and everything around her differently.

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This story is just so adorable, I love it. I plucked this book off of the shelf because of its cute, minimalist cover and two things one can’t not love: love and gelato. Although I wasn’t fortunate to visit Italy during my six months abroad, I knew that stepping foot into this little book would make me dream of going back.

After such a heavy and determined read of The Regulars, Welch brings me back to earth with her lighthearted voice and story. Perhaps lighthearted really isn’t the right word actually, Welch does have the power to make one crave gelato as they sob their eyes out. I actually had to stop myself from reading all the way to the end because I was crying so hard.

Though it took me a little while to fully feel absorbed by the story, once I was in, I was in. Lina became a young woman I could see myself in (although I won’t ever understand her hesitation to live in Italy. I mean, come on! It’s Italy!). Her mother passes, sending her into a totally understandable funk. Not only this but suddenly she is shipped off to a non-English speaking country to live with a man she’s never met and claims to be her long, lost father. Who wouldn’t be frightened of that life? She goes through the trials and tribulations of trusting the right and wrong people, finding out that there were many things she will never know about her mother and her time in Italy, and just who her father really is.

Of course there is a love triangle involved, every good story needs to have one:

He sat down next to me and I unwrapped the sandwich and took a bite. OF course I loved it. But it was nothing compared to how I felt about Ren.

And yes. I’d totally just compared the only guy I’d ever felt this way about to a ham sandwich (page 294).

If I had a nickel for every time I compared my boyfriend to food, I would be a healthier woman. But this isn’t just some silly way to compare her crush–Welch subtly takes her reader on a walking journey of Italy. We see the towns of Florence and Rome through Lina’s eyes and we are new to the strange, yet utterly magical world of Italy just like she is. We learn Italian words, mini history lessons regarding famous points of interests in the Florence streets, and of course how amazing real Italian food truly is. So instead of rehashing the age-old tale of “girl goes to live with an estranged father, meets a boy, falls in love, the end”, Welch spices things up by giving us a reason to want to follow Lina to Italy, eat gelato and fall in love as well.

Not only this but she gives us a reason to believe in love again. The love that Howard has for Lina’s mother is indescribable. Welch truly paints a beautifully broken relationship that hurts my heart just thinking about it.

He settled in, like he was about to tell a story he’d told a million times. “When I was twenty-five I met a woman who changed everything for me. She was bright and vibrant, and whenever I was with her I felt like I could do anything” (page 336).

I want someone to talk about me the way Howard talks about Lina’s mother–it makes me have faith in love and humanity again. It makes me want my parents, who are happily divorced and friends still, to tell me about their short-lived moment of true love. Welch breaks my heart by forcing me to know that even though things can work out for Lina because she’s still so young, sometimes love hurts like hell and it doesn’t work out, even in magical Italy.

“One day with Hadley was easily worth a lifetime in Italy” (page 344).

Love is difficult. It isn’t something that can easily be grasped by a gorgeous prince on a white horse. Sometimes we make mistakes in love and Lina learns this lesson the hard way. Her heart is broken by her mother’s death, by finding out deplorable things about her father, and by hurting someone she didn’t even realize she loved. But Howard says it perfectly: “A life without love is like a year without summer” (page 376). Regardless of how much it hurts, we all still pursue love constantly. From our parents to friends and finally to that special someone who may have been unseen at first, but now glows brightly every time we look at them.

Thank you Jenna Evans Welch for providing me with a story that melts my heart, just like gelato on a warm day.

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Welcome to my Museum of Heartbreak

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leder’s book has inspired me to create my own mini museum of heartbreak for this review. you can see different pieces of me, scattered across a handful of years, countries, and cities. this gifts came from friends, relatives, mentors, and exes have given me, as well as gifts to myself.

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The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder
Published by Simon Pulse  on June 7th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Teen Read
Pages: 288
Source: Amazon // Goodreads // Barnes and Noble

Final Review 5 out of 5

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penelope marx thinks she knows about love thanks to the many romantic stories she’s read. she knows what loving best friends are like, as seen in her two best friends ephraim and audrey, and what loving the new, mega-cool boy at school must be like. she comes to realize, though, that those ideals of love are simply that: ideal and not reality. when she actually gets the chance to date the new boy, his lips are chapped and he is actually kind of rude to her. audrey starts picking the mean girl over penelope and eph is always out dating a different girl.

she begins to realize that heartbreak is in her future, but not just from the new boy. there will be fights on subway platforms of new york, in the hallways of their school, in the natural history museum where her father works, and other scattered places around new york city; fights that involve her parents, her friends, her boyfriend, and everyone in between.

follow penelope as she learns to overcome one of the hardest obstacles we must all face at some point or another: heartbreak.

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once again, i am pretty speechless about a book, same as i was with han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. i’m speechless for different reasons, of course, but speechless nonetheless.

first and foremost, leder’s writing is utterly and completely captivating. i, and i’m sure many other creative writers, have been told countless times to “show and not tell” when it comes to our writing. there is something so lame and pointless in simply saying “the rain fell” when you could be saying something more beautiful, more poetic such as “the sky gave way to thousands of dancing droplets that heated up my skin in their tiny splotches” or something to that affect. well now times that by ten and you have leder’s voice. there are endlessly highlighted sentences and dog-eared cornered pages of this book that i keep turning back because why can’t i write like this?

Keats invited me to his party.

I wanted to hug the acne-ridden freshman passing by; I wanted to dance with the football dude laughing at a dirty joke across the hall. I wanted to burst into a full musical number, complete with a choir of singing unicorns and my cat, Ford, tap-dancing across the hall with a top hat and cane. I wanted to kiss a baby on the cheek, draw chalk tulips on the sidewalk, and buy grape popsicles for everyone in the city of New York.

Keats invited me to his party (page 68).

the story is ever so slightly cliched, but you know what, who cares? i still give it my whole five out of five stars because of leder’s writing style, characters, and storyline, though cliched yes, still captivates. truly captivates. i found myself loving each character in a different way: whether i was loving to hate the new love-interest keats (i mean come on, who doesn’t use chapstick these days? and seriously your shit with cherisse??) but also love to hate and pity and love eph because ugh eph. in a way i didn’t want the book to end how it did, but also cherished the ending as well. siiigh. i want a dreamboat, skateboarder, with beanies and long hair, and smooth lips, but also a coy smile cause he know’s–i don’t know what, but he know’s it.

He kissed me, and I thought of tearing mint leaves, of licking salt water off my lips, of the mornings you wake up heart alive, no alarm (page 140).

i found myself relating more and more to penelope as the book continued. we’re both literary nerds, we both fall in love with the wrong people at the wrong times, we put our trust into the wrong people as well, but still have close-knit group of friends that no matter who or what happens, we’re still friends. leder creates penelope to be a little like all of us–so we can see ourselves through her and her journey. we’ve all had to deal with heartbreak before, it’s one of the worst pains in the world by far, and somewhere deep we know that our heartbreak, at the ripe age of 22, is only just beginning. there’s going to be rejection letters from schools, boys or girls that decide they don’t like us anymore, a death, a disappointing parent or friend or mentor, even the inevitable end to a fantastic, noteworthy time in our lives: these are all cases of heartbreak we all encounter on a daily basis. leder simply broke it down into tender, charming little pieces for us to swallow and take with us as we curate our own museums of heartbreak.

It was Sunday, and I had never felt so pretty, so noticed, so delirious, like every part of me was light and perfumed and lovely (page 160).

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To All The Books I’ve Loved Before

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so of course i’ve heard of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and of course i was intrigued but honestly, i didn’t pick it up right away because i was hesitant. is this a book i would prefer in ebook format (and therefore cheaper)? am i really going to enjoy this or does it sound cliched to me? these questions always had me passing the book up for something else. it still sits, i believe, in my amazon kindle wish list, where it will stay until i clean that out.

all that hesitation aside, simply put, i adored this book. i seriously got a Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell vibe from Han’s writing and the characterization of lara jean. she’s timid, but loves her family deeply, doesn’t really seem bothered by boys because of her “letter solution” however there’s always one that can break that cycle. disclaimer: there is nothing wrong with putting off a Fangirl vibe–in fact, that’s amazing because i love that book too.

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To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers reprinted on January 26th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Family, Teen
Pages: 384
Source: Amazon // Goodreads // Barnes and Noble

Final Review 5 out of 5

 

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lara jean has a full family: two sisters (one older, and one younger) and their caring, single father. lara jean’s older sister, margot is leaving for university in scotland and decides to break up with her long time boyfriend, and family friend, josh. what margot doesn’t know is that her little sister has always had a crush on josh. instead of saying or doing anything about this crush, lara jean added another love letter to her collection of five. these aren’t love letters she’s received, but instead letters she’s written to the past loves of her life. once she seals that envelope, her feelings can dissipate and she can move on.

but then her letters somehow get sent to all five of her loves. what is lara jean to do with the most popular guy in school, peter, receives a letter from her and, the dreadful moment, when josh wants to talk about his?

follow lara jean try to cover up the letter fiasco while she finds out truly what loves is about.

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where do i even begin with my adoration for this book? as i said, i was hesitant in the beginning. i was really hoping that this wouldn’t end in a cliche and it TOTALLY DIDN’T. i am not going to give anything away (or at least try not to) but seriously, i was totally surprised. simply put, the book does not end wrapped up in a tight, neat bow and, in some way, it does not end in the traditional sense of “happily ever after.” han sets up her story perfect for the sequel, which i do still need to read, and in my edition gives a very cliff-hanger-y clip of P.S. I still Love You and it tormented me.

Why is it so hard to say no to him? Is this what it’s like to be in love with somebody? (page 286).

lara jean is like many average heroines we are reading these days. she is the middle child and isn’t the good or the bad one either. her older sister, margot seems like a handful but i suppose she had to be because their mother passed; kitty, on the other hand, is the youngest and therefore the rowdiest. lara jean simply rests in the middle–she reads books, bakes for her family, but also isn’t as goody-two-shoes like margot and doesn’t really know how to do all the housework.

she, like many young women, has had many loves. that one boy at summer camp in grade school, an old guy friend that seemed cute during middle school but isn’t anymore, etc. however, lara jean is too timid to act on these boys and han sets up the kicker that she actually loves josh–margot’s long time boyfriend. in the beginning, you wouldn’t even guess that that’s where this is going, but when she provides that tidbit of information, you know that the rest of the story is going to be rocky.

This is the moment I realize I don’t love him, that I haven’t for a while. That maybe I never did. Because he’s right there for the taking: I could kiss him again; I could make him mine. But I don’t want him (page 283).

every character in han’s repertoire can stand on their own. she craftily creates the characters to have enough stability to be isolated from the main story–even have their own offshoot–but not too much that they are taking away from lara jean’s journey through love. this is quite difficult to accomplish and i certainly applaud han for doing so.

i think everyone who loves a little slice of forbidden love and romance, but enjoys family reads as well should read this book. it seriously made me bawl my eyes out at like 10:30PM while my boyfriend was asleep next to me. i haven’t cried that hard from a book in such a long time that i am astounded that han was able to do it. i have completely and utterly fallen in love with peter and lara and kitty and all the characters that hold significance in han’s story. it is just so good i can’t even stand it.

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The End of the Summer Before Forever

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here’s a review that is actually on-time! melissa chamber’s new summer teen romance was just released yesterday so here is my review for it; i hope you enjoy.

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The Summer Before Forever by Melissa Chambers
Published by Entangled: digiTeen on August 22nd 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 274
Version: Digital Advanced Reader Copy
Source: Amazon // Goodreads // Barnes and Noble

Final Review 4 out of 5

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chloe drives herself, and of course her almost famous best friend jenna, to florida from her home in tennessee in order to live with her dad and his new finance for the summer. oh and her new almost step brother landon who turns out to be super hot.

while trying to understand her parents divorce and both of her parents dating other people now, chloe begins to see something in landon besides a bother. jenna decides chloe needs a summer bucket list that will end all summer bucket lists forever; this list will include things that are totally out of chloe’s comfort zone, but when landon wants to help out with the list, chloe comes around.

landon and chloe have their own challenges to face separately, but what if they decide they want to face them together? how would landon’s mom and chloe’s dad feel about how they aren’t feeling brotherly or sisterly at all–quite the opposite in fact. follow their journey as they try desperately to overcome these challenges of pain, family, and of course love.

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okay sooo i ended up falling in love with this novel. i started on shaky ground, since i read this after reading Kisses on a Paper Airplane. that novella left such a bad taste in my mouth that it transferred over, i think, into the beginning of this book. i was super hesitant while reading it, especially with the whole slight incestual relationship plot line that takes me back to shakespearean studies, but overall, to put it simply, i enjoyed this book!

i think those that enjoy fun, easygoing, but also suspenseful novel for the beach or end of summer shenanigans, will love chambers’ The Summer Before Forever. this book, though it didn’t really keep me guessing in the sense that i couldn’t figure out that the two characters could end up together in the end, but instead, they each developed their own, real-life problems that needed to be sorted out that i wasn’t expecting. most of the time, books that fit into this genre of young adult contemporary romance end in a cliche, the characters are too perfect, and everything reads like a poorly written copy of a nicholas sparks book/movie. however chambers’ story differs from that. chambers’ creates main characters, chloe, landon, and jenna, that bounce off of each other and complement each other in fantastic ways. landon, well every woman needs a landon in her life. he is sensitive, sweet, and caring, but also gorgeous–he’s definitely a reason to keep reading.

She looks up at me, and I catch her focusing on my dimple. I forget that thing’s there until I see a girl notice it (location 1581 on kindle).

though he, too, has a problem that is holding him back that i’m sure effects many other people that could be reading this book.

I stand and start counting them out. I’m somewhere around seven or eight when a kid behind me starts yelling at another kid, and I lose count, the numbers dissolving away in my brain. My face is hot, and I think beads of sweat are forming on my forehead (location 1253 on kindle).

and then there’s the main protagonist chloe. chloe is super intriguing to me because while she can come off as a cliche–the shy timid mouse compared to her slightly famous and super outgoing best friend jenna–she also has real moments too. chloe has problems at home with her dad and her parents divorce: this is a real life situation that impacts many of us. chloe is learning how to adapt to this new life that has been placed before her and everyone can relate to this whether it be because of a divorce, moving to a new town, losing someone, or anything.

Fear courses through my body as my stomach wrenches itself into knots. I’m basically a ragdoll in this dickhead’s arms. He could take me under that dock over there and rip off my clothes (location 364 on kindle).

i would say, slight disclaimer, that if you are looking for a good “bucket list” themed summer romance read, i would direct you to Since You’ve Been Gone by morgan matson. this one i felt captivated the whole summer bucket list theme much better than The Summer Before Forever did. i felt as if jenna’s bucket list was simply added to the plot to keep it going–now this worked out well for chambers because i did still enjoy the book and had a great time with the characters.

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The Rosewoods Ride: Review of the first book

1471556475902recently i did some googling and found that there are pretty awesome websites that allow someone to sign up and receive advanced reader copies of books in order to review them. one of these websites is NetGalley, so i became a professional reader (for free, i might add, and i am not getting paid for my reviews) for NetGalley and will now be posted reviews / discussions about the copies of books i’ve received (digitally) from them.

the first advanced reader copy i received, the same day i signed up too, which was pretty cool, is titled Taking the Reins and is part of a growing series called The Rosewoods.

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The Rosewoods: Taking the Reins by Katrina Abbott
Published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform on June 1st 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 178
Version: Advanced Reader Copy
Source: Amazon // Goodreads // Barnes and Noble

Final Review 3.5 out of 5

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brooklyn prescott is not a normal girl. she comes from a family that lives in secret, thanks to their government job, and who only want the best for their son and daughter. so they ship brooklyn to the states for qaulity education at Rosewood Academy. a school glittering with wealthy socialites daughters, because naturally it is an all-girl school. that certainly doesn’t stop brooklyn or her friends she meets of course.

follow brooklyn on her journey as she reinvents herself for her new friends, as she figures out which boy is the cutest and most with her time, struggles with her horseback riding, and staying out of the dean’s way all in Katrina Abbott’s quirky and inviting language.

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i am giving the first book to this series a 3.5 out of 5 because there were things that did not flow well for me, but also things that i really did enjoy. i started and completed the book in one sitting during the span of one day, which is to say that it is an easy read and i was expecting this.

what i didn’t enjoy happened the most in the beginning. i understand, since i am a write myself, that it is hard to balance the amount of background information to give the reader versus the actions that are taking place at the moment the reader steps into the scene. it felt as if Abbott provided too much background information regarding the main character, brooklyn prescott’s, previous living situation, family, hobbies, etc. all of that seemed rather forced in the beginning, and although i would agree that it is necessary (for the most part), it could have come out a little more nicer. for example, brooklyn mentions her relationship with an older brother, robert, though that takes up some space in the beginning, he is never mentioned again. i’d like to repeat, though, that this is the first book in the series and so for all i know robert could and most likely does come up again in the proceeding editions. furthermore, brooklyn’s parents are total cia, fbi, international spies and while they have a super cool-sounding job, they nor their job are ever touched on after the first few chapters. if they are going to have that interesting of a life without brooklyn in it, then why bother mentioning it? like i said, perhaps this comes up later in the series, but for the first book, a lot of information is thrown at the reader to digest that isn’t brought up later.

what i did love about the book coincides with another small caveat to what i didn’t like. i grew to totally love the  characters, particularly the male characters.i fell right into step with brooklyn’s descriptions of both will (or dave) and brady. i could feel the tension between her and her different male counterparts, as well as the tension between friends when a boy was involved. clearly the boys of Westwood, brooklyn’s brother school to her all-girl academy, are very crucial to Abbott’s story. however, this plays into what i, with a bias i will admit, dislike. i am not the type of person that loves a series, and the fact that The Rosewoods series is ten books long, loosens my enjoyment of them. what i wanted was for the relationships to be wrapped in a nice bow and completed and the end, to make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. however, abbott has other plans and leaves her story, naturally, on a cliffhanger. since the book didn’t take me long to finish, reading the next nine shouldn’t be too difficult…

“How’s this: ‘I had a great time with you last night, too, Jared. Except that when I got back to my dorm, I realized my favorite panties were gone. So today, I just couldn’t bring myself to wear any at all.”

His eyes didn’t move from mine, but he swallowed audibly (location 1930 on kindle).

i think readers who enjoy any young adult romance will enjoy this book. as i’ve mentioned before, it is an easier read so it’s perfect for the beach or a rainy day with nothing else to do. abbott’s character dialogue and brooklyn’s personality will have you turning the page over and over again, sucking in the prestigious lifestyle we all wish we could live. i thoroughly enjoyed and look forward to reading more of abbott’s work.

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Where have you been Morgan Matson? Review of Since You’ve Been Gone

now that i’m going to try cranking out one review a day, at least until i’m caught up on all the books i’ve read and completed before starting this website, it’s time for the next review!

today i’ll be talking about morgan matson’s contemporary young adult novel Since You’ve Been Gone.

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Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on May 5th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Death & Dying, Fantasy, Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 480
Source: Amazon // Goodreads // Barnes and Noble

Final Review 5 out of 5

 

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emily and sloane have been best friends for the past two years. this is not in the traditional sense at all–sloane, being the upfront, approachable, and popular friend of the two, has always been emily’s lead. since emily is more timid, introverted, and shy when it comes to live, she follows sloane’s lead. the two are content with their lifestyle and couldn’t see their friendship going any other way. but what happens when sloane randomly disappears? emily is left with heartbreak, betrayal, and a list. a list of thirteen things sloane leaves for her best friend to accomplish.

emily sets out on a wild adventure covering the length of one summer, the summer sloane leaves her, to finish the list. it has simple tasks like “apple picking at night” which is easy enough with their nearby apple orchard. but what about “skinny-dipping” or “kiss a stranger”? what was sloane thinking giving her a list full of  impossible tasks? while emily figures out the means to complete her list, she unexpectedly befriends a classmate, frank, and his best friend, collins, along with a pizza-delivery girl, dawn. the four work on making emily’s summer unforgettable even though it seems like her once best friend has forgotten about her.

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Since Sloane had come to town, I’d happily existed by her side. People called out to her by name and waved at me, and I had a feeling that the majority of my class would, like the landscaping guy, identify me as “That girl who’s always with Sloane Williams” or something along those lines. And I never minded–even just being Sloane’s friend made me much more interesting than I ever would have been on my own (page 41).

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okay to start i just want to say how much i loooved this book. i was slightly skeptical at first, wondering if it was going to turn into a murder mystery right before my eyes but really, wholeheartedly, i loved this fun, easy-going yet emotional book! i was gasping at points, half-crying at others, and chuckling throughout. i have never read one of matson’s books before so it’s safe to say that i am now excited to read her other books like Unexpected Everything or Second Chance Summer. 

matson’s voice is classic when it comes to the genre she’s writing in, but that’s okay! i wouldn’t want a emily to be a deep, brooding narrator because that’s not how she is at all. what makes matson stand out, though, is her ability to write such benign scenes and make each and every one important. for example, the countless scenes were emily and frank run together, especially in the beginning when the audience hasn’t really seen any action yet. instead of these scenes dragging on, seeming to be useless, matson creatively puts something unique into each of these scenes, something vital if you will, that allows the reader to keep up with the pace without skipping ahead.

Frank looked straight ahead, and we didn’t speak for a few minutes, and I wondered if I’d overstepped, made things worse when I was trying to make them better (page 160).

i suppose really the only thing i didn’t like, which is answered in my copy of the book which has bonus content, is some of the plot lines but this is to be expected! to say that my disappointment in pieces of the plot isn’t really matson’s fault i mean that as a writer, i understand there is only so much we can put into a book. i felt that the storyline between dawn and collins alongside frank and emily could have been a little more well-rounded and tied up. perhaps, though, this would make the book too perfect, taking away some of its realistic qualities. the fact that emily loses friends is extremely realistic: we all have to move at some point, switch schools, face challenges in relationships that lead us to separate ways from our once long-time friends. this happens to everyone at some point, so the fact that emily faces it so boldly, unabashed by it, it gives us power to do the same. i recently had to say goodbye to many close friends i made while at college and it’s heartbreaking to know that instead of only two blocks away, i’m now 4,000 miles away. our relationship will never be the same and it takes courage to identify that and even more to cope with it and change it. it takes scheduling and fights to random texts and finally happiness once two friends can reunite after separation, whether physical or mentally.

the book didn’t take me long to read at all–just a few days–which i love so i can set out on a new adventure, in a new world, with new characters. but don’t get me wrong, i’m not going to forget emily and frank, or sloane any time soon. in fact, i’ve dogeared a few scenes that inspired my own scenes for my own novel. that’s how good i think matson is at creating relationships both romantically and simple friendship.

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Nostalgia at it’s finest: Review of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

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what better way to start off my new website reviews than with the highly coveted Harry Potter and the Cursed Child? such a fitting way to profess my love of young adult literature and newfound talent in review-writing.

a bit of background if you don’t mind (and if you do, then place skip on ahead. this is a free country after all). brace yourself: i was never into harry potter as a child. GASP! UNFOLLOW! I HATE HER! i get it. i’m a horrible person and therefore have no right to review the next chapter in the series. however! i do think that this is my website–last time i checked–and have within the past five years read the seven book series multiple times. i enjoy the movies, owning the 8-bluray collection. i have even been to harry potter world in two different countries. the first, obviously the wonderful wizarding world of harry potter in orlando, florida BUT! also, the making of harry potter at the warner brothers studio in the united kingdom. so to say that i am a fan, though late, is an accurate statement.

i sought out this book the day it was released from my local barnes and nobles and was pleasantly surprised, but also fearful, at how “instock” they were. i didn’t have to bargain with the manager for the last copy, nor have to fight some fan-girl in glasses. instead, i walked right up to an overflowing display, plucked a copy off the shelf, handed one to my awaiting boyfriend, and we proceeded to the checkout. easy. perhaps the locals, mainly older folk, are just not that interested in this wonderful wizarding world? anyway, after completing the play in two days, i figured it was best to write a review of it.

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne
Published by Arthur A. Levine Books on July 31st 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Death & Dying, Fantasy, Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 320
Source: Amazon // Goodreads // Barnes and Noble

Final Review 4 out of 5

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[caution: slight spoilers below!]

being harry potter has never been easy, especially when he is an overworked, father of three Hogwarts-aged children. his middle child, albus severus, is giving him the most trouble and, since he is harry potter, he doesn’t necessarily know what to do about his tense relationship with his son. albus, on the other hand, does not feel at home at school, he befriends draco malfoy’s son, scorpius, and worries he’s a complete disappointment to the infamous harry potter.

deciding to pursue an illegal magical item and taking matters of death into his own hands, albus and scorpius in tow, sets out to make the past right in the eyes of his father. of course, nothing comes without a price in the wizarding world and a new, unexpected but extremely dangerous foe rises from the ashes completely under the noses of the ministry of magic and all our heroes and heroines.

instead of simply ron, hermione, and harry teaming up to battle at the end, the three sets of families must work together to right the past and the future.

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perhaps my least favorite part of the play, and i think the main reason i didn’t give it a five-star rating, is because of the stage direction. majoring in literature during my four-year stint in college, i made my rounds through literature and i homed in on the most famous playwright of all time (not J.K. Rowling) but Shakespeare. soon, the early modern period of england and europe became my livelihood and my lit courses revolved around those subjects. so to say i have a little experience in reading plays that are meant to be performed is an understatement. however, in Shakespeare’s plays there is hardly an stage direction and that’s okay because at least it is consistent. in this new installment to the series, there is inconsistent stage directions. at first, it seemed fine and started out alright. but then the stage direction began to sound more like omnipotent narrator and less like the director controlling the cast. a play cannot have it both ways. one is able to find the tone simply in the words a character uses, even if we cannot hear him speak them out loud. the context helps provide the tone, and the context can be found in the conversation. no where does the stage direction really provide context expect to clue the audience in on where the characters are and with whom. other than that, the stage directions should be silent. and in this play, they are not. for an example: The room transforms around them, becoming darker and more desperate (page 241). how exactly is a room supposed to become more desperate and even if i were watching this scene performed, how would i see a room become desperate? this is a classic case of what i was told to never do while writing: telling and not showing. the play teeters the line between wanting to be a novel but sticking to what it originally calls itself.

now, that is not to say that i didn’t enjoy every crafted word, every beautiful scene, every bit of dialogue. i loved the play just as much as the next gal holding her own copy. it stayed true to many of the notions that rose out of the first seven books. for example, i could hear harry’s and ginny’s, hermione’s and ron’s voice all while reading; both as i imagined them while reading the books on my own and how their expertly casted actors played them. each, now older, classic character that shows up is exactly their same as their younger counterpart, just now with some gray hair and other signs of aging. harry is still in the middle of things, unaware of what to do; ron is still hilarious but endearing; hermione is still quick-witted, smart, and the only one with her head on straight. now there are a few character changes, too. draco and harry have an unexpected, but totally perfect relationship but this is not the main point of course. the main plot revolves around harry’s son, albus.

HARRY (failing to contain his anger): If you were trying to do as I did, you went the wrong way about it. I didn’t volunteer for adventure, I was forced into it (page 203).

the two boys, albus and scorpius, the sons of harry and draco respectively, are excellent as the main leads.  Rowling’s original voice in the first seven books is channeled here by having the world revolve around a confused, emotional, and scared young boy who has a troubled family, is unsure of who he is and who he’s supposed to become.

SCORPIUS: You’re Albus Potter. She’s Rose Granger-Weasley. And I am Scorpius Malfoy. My parents are Astoria and Draco Malfoy. Our parents–they didn’t get on (page 16).

i think people should read this eighth book because it reminds the reader of why they enjoyed the first seven to begin with. it’s been a little less than ten years since the last book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was released, and not that any of us have forgotten why we love the characters and this world, but The Cursed Child gives the reader an opportunity to look into harry’s and all our favorite characters lives nineteen years later. so if you’re wondering if harry and ginny are still married after the short epilogue Rowling gave us in the The Deathly Hallows [spoiler: yes] or if draco is still a mess [spoiler: maybe]. the harry potter generation, which i am proud to be a part of, is all grown up now as well, with their own lives, children, and other adulthood things so it only makes sense that harry potter would have to deal with those things too. and not to mention how comforting this is–our childhood, though ages ago now, is still with us thanks to The Cursed Child.

i cannot even imagine what it must be like to watch the performance live, which is how this eighth book is supposed to be perceived as: seen, not read. when visually experiencing it, the problems i have with the stage direction will (most likely?) be irrelevant because, well, one is actually watching the actors instead of trying to envision it. so, if anyone wants to score me some tickets, that would be super cool.

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First Book Haul

 

welcome to the new edition to shelbylueders.com! A place for me to put my talent to the test and see if how quickly i can read new books as well as how well i can review it.

here is the first haul for my new site.

during the month of july (and a tiny part of august) i purchased 18.5 books (i’ll get to that half in a second). that is quite a haul! normally i would peruse the shelves of barns and nobles and write some titles down and then see how much they cost on amazon kindle (usually much cheaper!), but recently i decided to just forgo that whole step and if i saw something interesting, i would just buy it. you only live once right?

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so here’s a list of the books:

this haul, as you can see, ranges over many different genres, with the most being in the young adult category. even though i just got my degree in literature, young adult books, though mostly left out of schooling, is one of my favorite genres to read and write. they entertain me to no end, satisfy my romantic relationship needs, and generally don’t require much thought.

here’s the young adult books all together:

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stay tuned for some reviews of a few of these books, and for more blog posts to come.

have you read any of these yet? what is your favorite genre to splurge in?