Book Review: Always And Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

Book: Always And Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

Published May 2017 by Simon Schuster Books For Young Readers|336 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before #3

Genre: YA Contemporary

Lara Jean is having the best senior year. And there’s still so much to look forward to: a class trip to New York City, prom with her boyfriend Peter, Beach Week after graduation, and her dad’s wedding to Ms. Rothschild. Then she’ll be off to college with Peter, at a school close enough for her to come home and bake chocolate chip cookies on the weekends.

Life couldn’t be more perfect!

At least, that’s what Lara Jean thinks…until she gets some unexpected news.

Now the girl who dreads change must rethink all her plans—but when your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

I really liked Always And Forever, Lara Jean!  Granted, it took months for me to actually read it, but I did finish it! I kept checking it out from the library and renewing it so many times that I hit the max number of renewals, which resulted in me having to return it.  Of course, I’d get distracted by what felt like the 50 million other library books I had, so I kept renewing it without actually reading it.

Lara Jean’s story continues in this book, and I’m glad that we get to see more of this series, because the last book felt so unfinished.

Lara Jean is still the innocent, naive hopeless romantic we see in the previous books.  I was hoping that she’d lose some of that innocence, and she still seemed so young.  I mean, I know she is, age-wise, because she’s off to college at the end of the book.  But I wanted to see her mature just a little bit, and we never really get that from her.

Hopefully, going away to college will be good for her.  I was actually glad that she didn’t get into her dream school (UVA) because it meant she’d be farther away from home.  I know Lara Jean tends to be a homebody, and I can so relate to that.  I know it’s hard for her to get out of her comfort zone, and actually leave her family.  I think one reason why I love Lara Jean so much is because I see a lot of similarities between us.  But I think a change will be good for her, and maybe being away from her family and everything she’s ever known will get her out of her shell a little bit.

She did seem very willing to be at a college for one year, and then transfer closer to home.  And it all seemed to be for Peter.  I don’t know that she’s necessarily giving up on a good opportunity just because of both Peter and her family, but she also didn’t seem to be willing to give it a good effort.  She did seem to change her mind a little bit by the end of the book when she does get into her 2nd choice school, and realize it might be a good fit for her.  She seemed more willing to at least give it a try, even if it meant being away from Peter.

What did frustrate me was how people seemed to think she shouldn’t go off to college with a boyfriend.  I mean, if it doesn’t work out, then it doesn’t work out, but you don’t know until you try it.  I think Lara Jean was holding herself back, and I do think Peter is a part of that, but overall, I think it’s just who Lara Jean is.

I’m going to switch gears a little bit and talk about some of the other characters.

I wasn’t a big fan of Peter in this book, and I thought there were times where he was horrible to Lara Jean.  She does put up with it, and I kind of wish she didn’t.  I also didn’t particularly like Margot.  I’m not sure why, but I kind of forget about Margot a lot of the time.

I’m glad her dad is dating again, and Trina seems pretty cool.  Kitty, as much as I love that girl, is a little bit of a brat, and I’m not sure why I didn’t notice it before.  She definitely needs to be told no a lot more, and I feel like she gets to do whatever she wants.  Partly because she’s the youngest, but also because their mom died when Kitty was really young.  It’s like they give in because they feel bad for her, and that’s not really fair to Kitty.

And lastly, Chris.  Chris and Lara Jean really drift apart in the book.  They really started to go their own, separate way, and while I’m glad that Lara Jean does hang out with other people, part of me wishes that they weren’t people who were either friends with Peter or people who dated Peter’s friends.  I kind of wanted Lara Jean to make her own friends.

Actually, when I said Chris was last, I lied.  I don’t know how I could forget about Stormy!  She’s a fun character, and sadly, we don’t really see her in this book.  I know Lara Jean is a lot busier and all, but Stormy is an awesome character who will not be forgotten.

4 stars.  I really liked it, and I think it’s a fitting conclusion to Lara Jean’s story.  I do wish Lara Jean had changed a little bit, and that she wasn’t so stagnant, but she’s still a very relatable character.

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Book Review: I Believe In A Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

Book: I Believe In A Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

Published May 2017 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux|325 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Desi Lee believes anything is possible if you have a plan. That’s how she became student body president. Varsity soccer star. And it’s how she’ll get into Stanford. But—she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends. So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she’s applied to everything else in her life. She finds guidance in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years—where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It’s a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study. Armed with her “K Drama Steps to True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and staged car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama.

This book was so cute!  I really loved Desi and how she needed steps to finding true love.  It kind of sounds like something I might have come up with in high school.  I loved Desi, and she’s full of awesome and amazingness, and I dare you to not like her, because it’s pretty damn hard not to.

I really liked the relationship she had with her father, and it was nice to such such a great parent-child relationship. I know parents who aren’t around a lot are a big part of YA, so it was nice to see Desi’s dad and how involved he was in her life.

I haven’t watched any K-dramas, so I am completely clueless about it would parallel them…especially since they are her guide to find love.  It kind of makes me want to watch them, just to get a sense of the stories, and how they influenced her guide to getting a guy.  The author does have a bunch of recommendations at the end of the book, so maybe those will be a good place to start…assuming I actually sit down to watch one of them.

Back to the book, though.  As much as I loved Desi, I kind of hated how she thought she was different than Luca’s ex. In her own way, it was a little bit manipulative, plus the whole blowing off her college interview for him kind of bugged me too.  But also in line with your typical rom-com…so…I guess I have mixed feelings about it.  She makes some questionable decisions, but there is something very endearing about her, hence the mixed feelings.

4 stars.  It is a cute book, and even though I wasn’t a big fan of some of Desi’s decisions, I still really liked the story and I especially liked her relationship with her dad.

Book Review: Shiny Broken Pieces And The Boy Most Likely To

shiny-broken-pieces-coverBook #1: Shiny Broken Pieces by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton

Published July 2016 by HarperTeen|384 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: Tiny Pretty Things #2

Genre: YA Contemporary/Mystery

What It’s About: June, Bette, and Gigi have given their all to dance at Manhattan’s most elite ballet school. Now they are competing one final time for a spot at the prestigious American Ballet Company. With the stakes higher than ever, these girls have everything to lose…and no one is playing nice.

June is starting to finally see herself as a prima ballerina. However, getting what she wants might cost her everything—including the only boy she’s ever loved. Legacy dancer Bette is determined to clear her name after she was suspended and accused of hurting her rival, Gigi. Even if she returns, though, will she ever regain the spotlight she craves? And Gigi is not going to let Bette—or the other dancers who bullied her—go unpunished. But as revenge consumes her, Gigi may be the one who pays the price.

After years of grueling auditions, torn ribbons, and broken hearts, it all comes down to this last dance. Who will make the cut? And who will lose her dream forever?

What I Thought: After reading Tiny Pretty Things, and after hearing there was a sequel, I knew I had to read Shiny Broken Pieces. It picks up where Tiny Pretty Things left off, and you learn what happened the night Gigi was injured. It’s been a while since I’ve read TPT, but I remembered enough to get me through SBP, and it really is Black Swan meets Pretty Little Liars. Only this time, there is a new mean girl, and I was really sad to see the change that Gigi made. At least she recognized it wasn’t who she wanted to be, and the events from months earlier really changed her- and not for the better. I get things really changed her, but she became the person that hurt her. I was a little surprised by Cassie, and I didn’t realize how much things changed her until the end of the book. I don’t really remember her from TPT, though, so that might be why I was surprised.

There is a lot of mystery and back-stabbing, and that kept me going, even though I found I didn’t care for Bette’s story or June’s story all that much. June, I think, has the most to decide, and it seems like her future is up in the air. It’s very open-ended, and even though she’s set to go to college, there is also the possibility of going to Salt Lake City and dancing in their ballet company, but you don’t get a decision either way. It does seem like she was leaning towards ballet, but at the same time, it seems like maybe she’s done ballet too? I am curious about Gigi and Bette, and where things ended with them.

To be honest, I’m not sure how I feel about it. I did really like it, and I did like seeing the fallout of Gigi’s injury. I also really liked seeing them go for their dreams, which they all worked really hard for. But it didn’t have the same appeal as the first book, and some of the mystery didn’t hold quite as well this time around. It did hold my attention, though, and I did want to see what was really going on.

My Rating: 4 stars. I really liked it, and I liked the mystery and seeing the fall-out from the previous book.

the-boy-most-likely-to-coverBook #2: The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Published August 2015 by Dial Books|428 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: My Life Next Door #2

Genre: YA Contemporary

What It’s About: Tim Mason was The Boy Most Likely To find the liquor cabinet blindfolded, need a liver transplant, and drive his car into a house

Alice Garrett was The Girl Most Likely To . . . well, not date her little brother’s baggage-burdened best friend, for starters.

For Tim, it wouldn’t be smart to fall for Alice. For Alice, nothing could be scarier than falling for Tim. But Tim has never been known for making the smart choice, and Alice is starting to wonder if the “smart” choice is always the right one. When these two crash into each other, they crash hard.

Told in Tim’s and Alice’s distinctive, disarming, entirely compelling voices, this novel is for readers of The Spectacular Now, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, and Paper Towns.

What I Thought: I read My Life Next Door a few years ago and absolutely loved it, so when I found out there was going to be a book about Tim and Alice, I knew I had to read it. It took me a while to actually read it, but while I liked it, I didn’t like it as much as I loved My Life Next Door. I loved reading about Tim and Alice, and I loved seeing them fall for each other. I felt for Tim, who worked so hard to overcome his addictions, and trying to be responsible for Calvin and doing the right thing for him, even when it turned Calvin wasn’t his. I really related to Alice, who took on a lot of responsibility after her dad’s accident, and how much she has to deal with.

I did like seeing what things were really like for the Garrett’s, and how horrible Samantha’s mom really was. It seemed like she tried to do the right thing, at least for a while, but it didn’t seem to take long for her to try to get out of it, once she realized how much it was going to cost her. As much as I liked Tim and Alice, their story didn’t have the same hold that Jace and Samantha’s did. We barely saw them- which I get, considering we already got their story. But considering Jace is Alice’s brother, and both Jace and Samantha are best friends with Tim, you’d think they’d pop up more than they actually did. It just didn’t have the same magic that My Life Next Door did. I think part of it is that the book randomly switches between Tim and Alice’s narration- you’ll get both of them narrating in the same chapter, and it didn’t work that well for me. It seemed too random and sudden, and it took me out of the story a little.

My Rating: 4 stars. I really liked The Boy Most Likely To, but it didn’t have the same appeal that My Life Next Door did.

Book Review: The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon

the-sun-is-also-a-star-coverBook: The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon

Published November 2016 by Delacorte Press|384 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Blog Graphic-What It's About

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

After reading Everything, Everything, I knew I couldn’t wait for Nicola Yoon’s next book. Unfortunately, this book was not for me. I wanted to love it but I couldn’t.

I did like that chapters alternated between Daniel and Natasha, and we see how both of their stories unfold. We also get chapters narrated by the people around Natasha and Daniel, and we see the history and stories of people on the periphery of their lives. I don’t know how I feel about those chapters. They made me feel even more removed from what was going on, and we see how the choices others made led to this moment in their lives.

If you don’t like insta-love, this is not the book for you. Even worse, this book tries to SCIENTIFICALLY EXPLAIN insta-love. My reaction to this: no. Please, no. Do not try to scientifically explain insta-love. That is the last thing I want to read. I thought they had no chemistry and it was creepy how obsessed Daniel was with Natasha, and how much he believed that they were meant to be together. You only caught a glimpse of her, and you decided that she was The One? Thanks, but no thanks.

I felt so bad for Natasha, who had to go back to a country that didn’t feel like home to her. I get why they had to go back, and the thing with the lawyer? She went to him for help, and he couldn’t even do that because he was too focused on his paralegal. I liked that she had hope, yet didn’t want to say something until she knew for sure what was going to happen. I did feel for Daniel, and the pressure his parents (especially his father) put on him. Something about Daniel’s family in particular seemed very stereotypical to me but at the same time, that was much more interesting to me than the romance between Natasha and Daniel. I really wish the story was more about them and their families then their romance.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

2 stars. I liked it a lot less than Everything, Everything, and the romance (and scientific explanation of it) were not for me. I did like the family dynamics and the thing both Natasha and Daniel were facing.