Book Review | Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

I don’t doubt for a second you’ve heard of this book. Nor do I doubt you’ve watched the Netflix series. I’m here today to talk a little about both (mostly the book!). 

For August, I decided to randomly generate my TBR. This is the book I was least looking forward to because there’s so much negativity surrounding the content. 

There is a lot that I want to say in regards to this book, so let’s get down to it. 

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

You can’t stop the future. 
You can’t rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why. 

Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.

Mental Health

Hannah’s mental health is never really properly addressed and I have mixed feelings about this aspect of the novel. She never seeks help. Sorry, I can’t consider her going to the English teacher/guidance counselor as seeking help… Her parents never really question what’s going on with her. The mental health aspect of this book did not live up to what I hoped for. 

Let me be clear about this. I am NOT saying Hannah NEEDED a diagnosis to justify her actions. The tapes were simply a glimpse into her thoughts that lead up to her actions. Honestly, the reviews stating Hannah had no reason to take her own life make me really angry because YOU, angry reviewers, can’t decide what makes the actions of another person worthy. 

So I’m torn because I wish she would have brought her ideations to the attention of someone other than the English teacher/guidance counselor. That man did not have the proper training to intervene with a suicidal teenager. He did not have the proper credentials and that’s the part of this book that makes me so mad.

I understand Hannah was seeking help where she thought she could get help, but it also makes me question her relationship with her parents. My mother was always really perceptive of the mental health of her children, so I wonder what could possibly be more important (sorry, the mall going up wasn’t reason enough for me) than Hannah in her mother’s world. 

Basically, I wanted there to be a message in this book that it’s okay to seek treatment and I was disappointed that it was lacking. 

The Tapes

I’m going to come right out and say I enjoyed reading this format of story telling. I like the idea of hearing the story through the point of view of the person telling their story, while simultaneously reading another character’s POV. It was interesting and engaging. 

The content is another story…  

The Main Idea

Look, it’s really hard to do justice for a book that deals with such heavy topics. Am I doing okay so far? I think I am, but I’m also treading really carefully to not anger readers. This is hard. 

I saw the main idea of this story not as Hannah’s taking of her own life. Instead, I saw the main idea as treating others with respect or at least being mindful of how we interact with other people. I didn’t like that this was almost a placing blame game, but it certainly has made me more mindful of the ways in which I speak to other people. 

I don’t think the author’s main idea for this book centered around placing blame. In fact, I really believe his whole point was to make other people see that the way they treat people can affect them. You don’t get to decide you didn’t hurt someone. That’s what I think Jay Asher was trying to drive home. And I, for one, think he did a hell of a job doing it. I don’t think he could accomplish this without the seriousness that is suicide. 

Overall

I’m not going to sit here and spout praises for this book. I liked the writing, but the content was disturbing. It’s not as deeply disturbing as the show (good God), but still, it’s there. I would not recommend this to everyone, in particular I wouldn’t recommend this to someone struggling with suicide ideation. Nor would I recommend it to someone who is struggling with depression without help. It’s hard to read, but at the same time, the writing is so goddam captivating I couldn’t stop reading. 

One more thing.

I hated the ending. Like, what the fuck. 

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

I thought I was going to have to gift this to the library, but I’m definitely keeping it. 

Let’s Chat!

I don’t always like to read books that are as heavy as this. I have a few in my collection though (trying to be a well-rounded home librarian). What are some books you liked that feature heavy content like this? I’m looking at The Way I Used to Be as my next hard to handle book, but I’m open to other options. Share your thoughts in the comments!

Mini Book Reviews | After Series by Anna Todd

Traditionally, I would break my book reviews for a series down into individual reviews because I have thoughts about each book that are long enough in length to warrant individual reviews. In the case of the After series by Anna Todd, my thoughts were TOO MUCH to deep dive into reviews for each (so much so, I wanted to make a video about the series also). [Stay tuned for that shitshow]

In general, this series was probably not for me – but I read it anyway. I guess, if I had to categorize these books, they’d be under my “Love to Hate” category. The thing is, I devoured these books in a hate filled rage, but somehow still managed to enjoy myself while reading them. They’re infuriating, funny, and deeply disturbing all wrapped up in a pretty little “Romance” package.

Below, you can find my brief thoughts on each book in the series. Video will follow.

After (Book 1)

The first book in the After series captivated me. I don’t mean this in a good way. It’s full of manipulation, abuse, and serial rudeness. I kept reading it because, for some reason I can’t quite put my finger on, I was enraptured by the characters. Don’t get me wrong here, I didn’t like anyone in the book, but I was having so much fun laughing at them that I couldn’t stop reading.

I think part of what made this reading experience so fun is the prudishness of the main character. I read this book over the course of a weekend. It’s a pretty hefty book, too.

After We Collided (Book 2)

When I purchased After, I bought it individually. I didn’t think I’d hate enjoy the book so much, but when I ended up NEEDING more, I headed to Amazon and bought the rest of the series (read: NOT Before). In hindsight, I should’ve just bought this one and borrowed the other two books because this when I finished After We Collided, I was done.

I found this one slightly more annoying and slightly less enjoyable, but it was NOTHING compared to the last two books.

After We Fell (Book 3)

While After We Collided could have easily been IT for me (IT being THE END) I decided to further punish myself by reading the third book in the series. At this point, I was so sick of Hardin and Tessa’s back and forth bull shit, I almost gave up. 800 odd pages later I made it through and felt like I gained nothing from the experience other than Tessa’s dad is a fucking dirtbag. Oh, and Hardin has “anxiety” – I try not to judge, but his “anxiety” is covered through rudeness and breaking up with Tessa over the stupidest things.

I was done, but I persisted. It took me over a month to read this book (I actually blame THIS book for why I started reading three books at a time again).

After Ever Happy (Book 4)

After We Fell was a literal nightmare. As I read the first three books, I was annotating through tabs. By the time I reached this book, I flat out gave up. I just wanted to finish because I was sick of the same storyline over and over again. It still took me forever to get through this book (even though it’s the shortest one) and I can’t even explain the joy I felt when I finished.

The thing is, this could have been a good one BUT we literally sped through the rest of Hessa’s life together and I was mad as hell.

Literally, the author built up this entire backstory to speed us through the last book of the series. I hated this one for this fact.

Overall thoughts on the series

Honestly, I’m not mad that I wasted my time, I’m mad that I wasted my money. Alas, now I have to go watch the damn movie….

Let’s chat!

Did you read this series? Have you seen the movie? Let’s discuss some bullshit down in the comments.

Book Review | The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

Books can often sit on my TBR for years before I reach for them. I decided to pick up The Spectacular Now when I saw the movie adaptation on Netflix. I wanted to go into my reading experience blind, so I did not watch the movie until after I finished the book (I still haven’t, actually).

I have some thoughts.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

SUTTER KEELY. HE’S the guy you want at your party. He’ll get everyone dancing. He’ ll get everyone in your parents’ pool. Okay, so he’s not exactly a shining academic star. He has no plans for college and will probably end up folding men’s shirts for a living. But there are plenty of ladies in town, and with the help of Dean Martin and Seagram’s V.O., life’s pretty fabuloso, actually.

Until the morning he wakes up on a random front lawn, and he meets Aimee. Aimee’s clueless. Aimee is a social disaster. Aimee needs help, and it’s up to the Sutterman to show Aimee a splendiferous time and then let her go forth and prosper. But Aimee’s not like other girls, and before long he’s in way over his head. For the first time in his life, he has the power to make a difference in someone else’s life—or ruin it forever.

Miles Teller’s Voice

This is the weirdest part of the review – I promise. The whole time I was reading this book, I could hear Miles Teller’s voice. I know I kept picturing Miles as Sutter because I know he plays Sutter in the film adaptation. It’s weird because at time of writing this part of the review (and at time of reading the book and writing this review) I haven’t seen the movie….

What was the point?

Honestly, this is my biggest qualm with the book. I enjoyed the writing, but when I finished, I was a little confused about what the point the author was driving home was. It seemed… pointless. This is fine, but I take issue with it because this book was a National Book Award finalist. I’d like to understand why. I mean, I get it…

Normally, as a book draws nearer to the end, I feel sad – I couldn’t have been happier to finish this book. I legitimately DID NOT get the point the author was trying to drive home. All I could really see, surface level, was the teenage boy from high school who doesn’t care about anything but drinking and smoking weed. The book honestly made me super sad.

Body image

You might be thinking, “Brittany, why are you bringing up body image on a male narrated book?” Well, reader, I’m bringing it up because I HATED that Sutter kept pointing out that his (ex) girlfriend was fat. Like, he literally references the size of Cassidy almost every time he mentions her and it got on my last nerve.

I didn’t expect this to be such a trigger for me, to be frank. But I just can’t get on board with a male author and male narrator pointing out a woman’s weight every time she’s mentioned. I wanted more about Cassidy (hell, Aimee for that matter) than body or image types. I wanted more about their character – not their physical appearances. Personalities matter too, y’all!

Concluding thoughts

Remember #probablynotforme? This probably fits the bill for that. I think I hated this book. Not quite bane of my existence level hatred, but I did not enjoy this and can’t see myself reaching for another Tim Tharp novel anytime soon. I did enjoy the writing style, but found the characters SO damn annoying; I couldn’t look past this!

Rating: 🌟🌟

Let’s chat!

Did you read The Spectacular Now? Maybe you’ve seen the film… In any case, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave me a comment below!

Book Review | Pet Sematary by Stephen King

Never have I ever reviewed a Stephen King book on my blog. The thing is, it’s really intimidating to take on a masterful writer with mediocre writing. Does that makes sense to you? It sure makes sense to me.

For as long as I’ve been a reader, I’ve never considered reviewing the master’s books because I’m afraid I won’t do his work justice. But this year, I set out with a goal to review every single book I read and I happened to pick up a King book in March.

Pet Sematary was on my TBR as soon as I realized there’d be a new film adaptation. I haven’t seen the original, but now that I’ve read the book – I can’t wait to watch both adaptations!

Let’s jump into my first ever King review, shall we?

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

The road in front of Dr. Louis Creed’s rural Maine home frequently claims the lives of neighborhood pets. Louis has recently moved from Chicago to Ludlow with his wife Rachel, their children and pet cat. Near their house, local children have created a cemetery for the dogs and cats killed by the steady stream of transports on the busy highway. Deeper in the woods lies another graveyard, an ancient Indian burial ground whose sinister properties Louis discovers when the family cat is killed.

Paint a Picture

One of the things I admire most about King’s writing is simulatneously the reason I often struggle with his writing – it’s so, so wordy. He likes to really get into the descriptions of things – which works for when he’s describing the horror his characters encounter, but can be too much when it’s tedious and not so horror filled.

I can only take so much. Also a wise man once said to me “Brevity is the soul of wit” and so you can imagine why I feel this way.

That said, the wordiness of King’s writing is the reason it sometimes takes me a solid month to read his works. This one took me a week, so it really says something about how captivating the story was. There were days when I read more than 100 pages because I wanted more. I think I just really enjoyed the main character because I could relate to him.

Family Dynamic

I came to understand that the plot of this novel is loosely based on King’s own life as a University of Maine writer. What I want to say in this vein of topics is I truly loved the dynamic between Louis and Rachel. They have a strong relationship that’s only really tested toward the end of the book.

Also, I still just can’t get over the fact that King basically made a fart joke in this book. It’s been over a week since I read the line and I still joke with my husband about it. Basically, the relationship between Louis and Rachel reminds me (mildly) of my own relationship.

The kids are funny, they treat each other with kindness, and without the horror aspect of it, I can picture King and his family in Maine because of this book.

Overall Thoughts

Listen, this isn’t even close to my favorite King book, but it is the fastest I’ve ever made it through one of his novels. It was so well written and the plot was so interesting I burned through this at an incredible rate. Church weirded me out a little, but Gage was terrifying. This isn’t horror in the sense that it was so unbelievably scary – it was horror in the sense that if this actually happened to me, I can’t imagine making it out alive if the events of this novel happened to me!

Like I said, I can’t wait to watch the film versions now that I’ve finally read the book.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Let’s talk!

What’s your favorite King book? I am a new reader of his work, so let me know your favorites so I can add them to my list!

Book Review | Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Last year, I mistakenly ordered Still Me as one of my Book of the Month selections. I say “mistakenly” because at that time I didn’t know it was the third book in a series. When I finally realized my mistake, I headed over to Amazon and picked up a copy of Me Before You and After You so that I’d be ready to read Still Me when the time came.

I decided to grab Me Before You around mid-month because I’d been reading a lot of light hearted and fun books throughout the month of February and I, surprisingly, wanted a break from YA at this point in the month.

I have many thoughts on the book so let’s get started.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Louisa Clark is an ordinary young woman living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has never been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex-Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair-bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

A love story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?

Mental Health

The first thing I’d like to discuss is the mental health situation surround Will. Obviously he isn’t happy with his life. And how could he be? I mean, he went from being on top of the world – travelling and living his life to the fullest – to being bound to his chair and house. I understand how that could be depressing.

What I didn’t like is how the depression was handled in this book. I thought, without giving any spoilers, it could have been handled a bit better. I didn’t necessarily dislike the use of mental health in this book, but I didn’t like that Jojo Moyes basically made it seem like living life in a chair wasn’t worth living.

One more time, I understand that this is how someone who lead an active life before a life changing accident would likely feel, but I would have thought the Traynor’s could afford to send Will to speak with a therapist after his attempted suicide. This would have helped alter my view, if slightly, on the mental health in this story.

Supporting Characters

Look, Louisa is obviously my favorite. She’s sarcastic and sassy and a character who leapt off the page at me. I really like her and could see myself being friends with a person like her. She also has kindness in her from being raised by a really wholesome family.

For the most part, I liked the supporting characters. Even Will’s mom wasn’t that bad. Do you know who I hated? Patrick. Seriously, fuck that guy.

As Lou’s boyfriend of nearly 7 years, you’d think they’d be engaged or at least living together. No chance. Patrick is married to working out – which is fine. Do you, Patrick. Just don’t get pissy pants when your girl starts to drift away from you. Also don’t be a prick to a man in a wheelchair just because you’re jealous that he’s obviously way better than you.

Basically, Lou could do better than Patrick. Rant over.

On to Lou’s family. I loved her father. He reminded me so much of my own dad it was nuts! The way he teases Lou is exactly the way my dad teases my sister and me. I loved him. And Lou’s mom was the kind of mom I strive to be – loving, nurturing, and kind. Treena was kind of bitchy and gave off the vibe of older sister (even though she’s younger). I think this is because she’s got a child of her own, but I still liked her. She kept it real with Lou which is what she needed.

That Ending

I’m gonna be up front with you here. I was furious at the end of this novel. Literally, I was so pissed I couldn’t even feel anything but rage. I can’t go much into details here because my mother in law reads this blog and I don’t want to give spoilers since I know she wants to read this book… If you have read Me Before You you know why I’m mad.

Honestly, when it’s all said and done I quite enjoyed this book. It was a heart wrenching love story that I didn’t know was missing from my life. Even though I was mad about how it ended, I recommend it to romance lovers. It’s not a hardcore, smutty romance story, but the love is there and it’s so strong.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Have you watched the film adaptation of Me Before You? Is it worth watching or is it really different from the book? Tell me how you felt while reading this book in the comments.

Book Review | Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Dumplin’ hasn’t been on my radar for long. It’s not really that talked about in the Booktune community – and I haven’t really seen it around bookstagram that much either. Maybe I’m not following the right people – those hidden Dumplin’ fans.

Even when the movie dropped on Netflix, I didn’t really see a lot of talk about it. To All the Boys was majorly hyped, but this one… not so much.

When I saw Jennifer Aniston was cast as the mom in the adaptation of Dumplin’, I knew I’d be watching it. But not before having read the book.

So with my Christmas gift card from Barnes and Noble, I bought my copy of Dumplin’.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine—Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.

Body Positivity

Look, I get that a lot of people don’t think this book was that body positive for a book about body positivity, but I don’t agree with those people. I think Willowdean is really positive in her own skin if we consider the fact that she is a sixteen year old girl. I’ve been slim my whole life, but I haven’t always felt comfortable in my own skin. This is what I think the main point Julie Murphy is trying to drive home. I mean even the MOST confident person in the world probably has struggled with body image issues. I don’t think this is not body positive.

Think about this for a second, Will’s issues don’t rise until her feelings for Bo surface. Who hasn’t been kissing someone and felt less than comfortable in their own skin. Look, maybe I’m oversharing, but I remember my first real kiss with a boy. I never felt so uncomfortable in my life even though I was enjoying myself.

The point I’m trying to make is that Julie Murphy wrote Will really well. She’s confident, but not always overly so. Everyone has issues with their bodies at some point in time.

Love Triangle

This book didn’t need a love triangle. Not at all. That being said, I thought Mitch was really just the sweetest. Obviously I was Team Bo because Will didn’t really even like Mitch.

Honestly, I thought this could’ve been handled better. Mitch was clearly meant to be a friend for Will and I wish that’s what would’ve happened. I didn’t like seeing him get his heart broken. I also didn’t like that his freaking best friend was the biggest asshole at the school. Whatever, the point stands. It didn’t need a love triangle. It made me feel really uncomfortable.

The Misfits

If there’s one thing I love in YA books, it’s a band of misfits coming together to overthrow the ideologies of the people around them. That’s what I loved most about this book.

First of all, Hannah is everything I expect to not fit into a small Texan town. Lesbian: check. Non-white: check. Some random defining feature that everyone makes fun of: check. Big attitude: double check. I liked Hannah simply because of her bluntness. She doesn’t need to fit in, but wants at least one friend. I was happy she found that in Will.

Millie is the happiest person in the book. She doesn’t let anyone hold her down (even her parents). What I liked about Millie is that she remains so positive throughout the book. She’s a close second in the group of misfits.

Amanda is seriously hilarious. Every single time she calls Bo “Peachbutt” I laughed out loud. It was seriously the best. As Millie’s best friend, she’s perfect.

The Friendship (& Rift)

Ellen and Will’s friendship being forged on Dolly Parton was a highlight of this book for me. I love Dolly, but not quite like these girls. Sure, I’ve been known to belt “Jolene” off key, but I don’t know every word to every Dolly song. I don’t worship her. But I loved this aspect of the book. It made me so happy.

The rift in the friendship could easily have been avoided if these two young ladies HAD COMMUNICATED. We don’t ask for much, but like, please explain to each other why you’re mad so we can move on and not waste time on mean girls!

Concluding Thoughts

I finished Dumplin’ on a Thursday and then spent Saturday morning watching the film. It was cute and not quite on par with the book, but good in its own right. I definitely recommend picking up the book before hitting up the movie because of the details lacking in the film.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Yeah that’s right. This one was a solid 5 for me. It made me feel so happy while reading it and I had a hard time putting it down. The characters were so well developed and the storyline captured me. My main issue was with the ending…

Have you ever participated in a beauty pageant before? I haven’t, but I’ve watched a male pageant live before (it was the best!).

One more question: Should I pick up Puddin’? I haven’t read the synopsis so I don’t know if it will give me more of what happens after the pageant or not.

Book review | The Kissing Booth by Beth Reekles

As a 28 year old lady, I understand when books aren’t written for me. That doesn’t stop me from reading them anyway. The Kissing Booth was definitely not for me in that it is probably more geared toward middle and high school girls, but I’d watched the movie (several times) and thought it was best if I also read the book.

Honestly, I wanted to read the book because I couldn’t decide if I liked the movie. Like I said, I’ve watched the thing several times and I still can’t decide if I like the movie! It was definitely time to give the book a shot.

I have some v opinionated thoughts.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Meet Rochelle Evans: pretty, popular–and never been kissed. Meet Noah Flynn: badass, volatile–and a total player. And also Elle’s best friend’s older brother…

When Elle decides to run a kissing booth for the school’s Spring Carnival, she locks lips with Noah and her life is turned upside down. Her head says to keep away, but her heart wants to draw closer–this romance seems far from fairy tale and headed for heartbreak.

But will Elle get her happily ever after?

Thoughts on the Movie

I’d like to start by voicing my main issue with the movie. Elle, quite literally, brought Lee’s wrath on herself. She was whiny and annoying throughout the entire film. I get it; she’s a teenager and we’ve all be through our whiny teen phase, but this was over the top and a little extreme.

Also, if Lee was really Elle’s bestie, he wouldn’t have been mad that she fell in love with his brother. Disappointed? Maybe. But the level of pissed-offedness in the film was.. Overdone.

Lastly, my issue with Noah in the movie is that he hardly freaking attended school. He is a stereotypical bad boy who gave no indication whatsoever that he even cared about his grades. How in the heck did he get into Harvard?!

Thoughts on the Book

The movie definitely took some liberties in deviating from the book. It’s fine. Here’s my problem… LEE.

While Elle annoyed me in the movie, Lee absolutely pissed me off in the book. He literally gave Elle every chance in the book to fall for his brother by pushing her toward him every single time the opportunity presented itself! Like, “oh my girlfriend wants to go do this after the carnival, can you get a ride with Noah?” Or how about, “Is that going to take you long to clean up? I have to go be with my girlfriend now… maybe Noah can take you home?” How in the frick is Lee gonna be pissed at Elle when he finds out about her and Noah if he LITERALLY ENCOURAGED IT?

Aside from my major and obvious rage at Lee, can we talk about Elle? She literally could’ve just told Lee she liked his brother and saved herself so much drama. I get that it would be a boring book, but the sneaking around crap is just an overdone cliche.

Look, I get that Beth Reekles wrote this book when she was like 15 or something. I really do. And I didn’t hate it (I think). Honestly, I’m still on the fence. It was a quick and enjoyable, though rage inducing, read so I’d definitely recommend it to teens (like it’s meant for) and not really to my fellow 28 year old ladies.

Rating: 🌟🌟💫

Look, I can’t give it a three. I was too pissed off the whole time.

Have you read The Kissing Booth? Did you feel as ragey as me? Have you watched the Netflix adaptatation? What are some of your thorughts?

Book Review | Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

The concluding book in the To All the Boys trilogy is exactly what I needed to end my relationship with Lara Jean and Peter. While I felt so-so about PS I Still Love You, I absolutely didn’t have mixed feelings about Always and Forever, Lara Jean. I was a wonderful ending to a story!

College Stress

A large portion of this book is about the stress Lara Jean feels while waiting to see if she got in to any of the five schools she applied to. Peter is going to UVA on a lacrosse scholarship, and obviously Lara Jean wants to go to the same school. I didn’t get the feeling she wanted to go for Peter though. Most of the time her anxiety of getting into UVA seemed to center around wanting to stay close to home. I understand her want to stay close to her family, but I ended up being happy with the outcome of the college’s decision.

Peter and Lara Jean

The cutest couple really went through major ups and downs in this novel! There were cute moments (finding out who Peter’s first kiss was) and really upsetting moments (Lara Jean getting drunk), but ultimately, I was so happy with the way their relationship turned out. I couldn’t help but root for them the entirety of this trilogy. Jenny Han says she has no intention to write another Lara Jean book and that makes me happy. It allows me to imagine Peter and Lara Jean stayed together through their 4 years of college, married, and had babies. I honestly don’t need another story about them because I like my imagined ending for them. They may have met in high school, but I have hope that these characters ended up together in Fictionland… happily ever after.

Jumbled Storyline

I really wanted to use jumbled as a header. It’s not so much jumbled as it is that this book starts almost at the end of senior year. When we last left Peter and Lara Jean, they were still juniors… it’s like we missed a whole summer of their romance. What did they do? What happened in the year they were really dating? I don’t really need to know, but I’m curious.

Also, we skip the entire month of July – did Lara Jean get Peter socks on her adventures with her sisters and grandma? Did they email or write letters to each other while Lara Jean was abroad? Nothing is ever really mentioned about her graduation trip at all! One second they’re at Beach Week, the next it’s August and they’re saying goodbye to go to college!

Again, I don’t need answers, but I am still wondering about this several days later.

The storyline jumbling didn’t really detract from the story at all, but it would be nice if I had a few details. Just to satiate my curiosity.

Concluding Thoughts

This was a fun novel to read. I mostly read it in my mother in law’s basement and struggled to contain my emotions. Jenny Han’s writing is really funny so it was tough not to laugh out loud (normally I would’ve just laughed, but I didn’t want to disturb MIL’s reading life…)

I finished this in one reading day (on Super Bowl Sunday to be exact) and over the trilogy was a really fun set of books to kick off February. In all, I’m happy to finally have this trilogy under my Read Belt.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟💫

Did you read To All the Boys before or after the movie was released? How did the movie help shape your opinion? Share your thoughts below!

Book Review | PS I Still Love You by Jenny Han

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before really set the bar for YA romance novels, in my opinion. Jenny Han’s writing is easy to digest and, at times, laugh out loud funny. When I finished To All the Boys, I was thirsty for more of Han’s writing.

For me, unfortunately, PS I Still Love You fell a little short.

Believe me, it’s not that I didn’t enjoy the second novel in this trilogy because I definitely did! I’m honestly think To All the Boys set my expectations really high for a second novel and I was just a little disappointed.

Here are some thoughts

Margot and Lara Jean

The oldest Song girls really remind me of myself and my best friend. Especially in the scene where Lara Jean and Margot are talking about boys. We may both be married and mothers, but we still talk about our husbands they way Lara Jean and Margot discuss boys.

Lara Jean and Peter

Obviously there’s tension between these two. Lara Jean can’t get over Gen and it causes a lot of strain on her relationship with Peter. They have tiffs, but when they make up it is adorable. I also really liked Peter’s mom telling Lara Jean off for hurting his heart. She’s me in 10 years.

Peter

Ok.. we all know that Peter Kavinsky sets the bar for high school boys. I mean, come on, he sneaks into Lara Jean’s room just to spoon with her. And when he takes Kitty out for her birthday. The way he treats Kitty is exactly how I hope my boys treat their potential girlfriends’ potential little sister. Also, I think he treat Lara Jean incredibly well for a high school boy. Obviously they hurt each other, but he is always so up front about fixing things. I admire him as a character. I really admire the dynamic between Kitty and Peter throughout the book. It makes me so happy how much he looks out for Kitty – even when he and Lara Jean aren’t together.  

The Infamous Video

Something I was on the lookout for in To All the Boys was the infamous video. I realize now that they took the video scene from this book and added it to the movie of To All the Boys. I was worried that Hollywood just made up the video for dramatic flair.

Stormy is related to…

Do you need a sassy old lady in your reading life? Look no further because this (and To All the Boys showcases the sassiest of sassy old ladies. Stormy is who I strive to be when I’m old and living in a retirement home. Not that I want to marry several times, but I Hope I still have the gams when I’m her age. And she’s a certain young man’s grandmother!! What!!

John Ambrose Mclaren

I wanted to go into this book Team Peter, but after finishing it, I can see why so many people love John Ambrose Mclaren. He really is so sweet! I didn’t see him as a romantic interest for Lara Jean though. I definitely preferred him as a friend.

Assassins

Who doesn’t love when a childhood game makes a return to teenage-dom? This was honestly my favorite part of the book. I enjoyed the look back at the group as children playing this game and I really loved the strategies that went into playing the game as teens. It was wonderful and really fun.

Concluding thoughts

I thought the ending was super sweet. It definitely picked up more for me at the end. I guess it turned around toward the end too, but the middle was kinda hard for me to get through because I felt frustrated while reading. Overall, it wasn’t a bad second part to a story.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Are you Team Peter or Team John? Tell me who (and why!) in the comments!

Book Review | To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

My January TBR was chock full of peril and strife. Such is the case when you read a ton of Cassandra Clare in one month. I lived in constant fear for my favorite characters and even though Will died as an old man, I still sobbed my heart out over him.

Because January was a pretty heavy month, in terms of wars and what have you, I wanted to start February out with a lighthearted and fun read. (Not that my January reads weren’t fun… they were just… devastating).

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is one of my sister’s favorite books. When I learned Netflix was adapting it for film, I knew I’d have to read the book. But I waited… and waited… and didn’t order my damn set until after the movie was released. And you better believe I couldn’t wait to watch the movie.

So I did. I loved it.

When I finally picked up the book, I was ready! Ready to love the characters as much as I loved the film characters.

This is sort of a book v. movie comparison review. I hope you enjoy and would love to hear some of your thoughts on both!

Josh Sanderson

I hated Movie Josh. He was nice, but he made Lara Jean really uncomfortable in the movie. While Book Josh was much nicer, he still made Lara Jean quite uncomfortable. That said, I still like Book Josh more than Movie Josh.

Book Josh is sweet to everyone in the Covey family. He isn’t just nice to Margot. This doesn’t really differ in the movie, but it was definitely more prominent in the book. We get to see a side of him that isn’t present in the movie. We get more depth about his relationship with the Covey sisters and because of that I was able to like him a lot more in the book.

Peter Kavinsky

I didn’t like Book Peter at first. He was arrogant and kind of mean. As time progressed he became the Peter Kavinsky Noah Centineo portrayed in the film. I thought it was cute the way he was jealous of Josh because it let us see that they way he feels about Lara Jean wasn’t fake for very long.

You can kind of see this in the movie, but again, the details set out in the book really let the reader know and love Peter so much. Even without a film version, I can see Book Peter really setting the boyfriend bar pretty high. Noah’s portrayal was kinda the icing on the cake!

Lara Jean Song Covey

I like Lara Jean a lot! She’s introverted and a reader and a hopeless romantic. However, it was foolish of her to keep the letters in her hatbox considering she knows her little sister better than anyone. Of course it was going to be Kitty who mailed her letters!

In terms of the letters, I thought they were sweet. Lara Jean’s letter to Lucas was probably my favorite and it makes me happy that a friendship formed from that particular letter.

I like Lara Jean’s Asian Halloween costume conviction. I loved her as Cho Chang and it was definitely not a coincidence that Josh was Harry. Also, speaking of Harry Potter – I screamed when I read that Lara Jean’s favorite is Prisoner of Azkaban because SAME.

Concluding Thoughts

John Ambrose Mclaren was mentioned a lot in the book. It seems like he and Peter are (or were) good friends at one point in time. Peter’s reaction to Lara Jean being kissed by Josh was everything I expected it to be. The showdown between Margot and Lara Jean was a sister battle royale and Kitty’s confession was really well executed.

Jenny Han’s writing is addicting. When I finished To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before I was ready immediately for PS I Still Love You.

And this book was exactly what I needed to start my February. It set the bar quite high and now that I’ve read the books, I’m also ready for the next film.

Overall, I enjoyed both the movie and the book, and I didn’t change my mind about the movie once I’d finally finished the book so that’s a plus!

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟💫

What did you think? Was the book better or the movie?