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 | The Winter Sister by Megan Collins

In February, I opted for two selections via Book of the Month. One was a release from December 2017 (I think) and the other was a new release. My mother in law and I decided to buddy read the new release toward the end of the month.

I thought The Winter Sister would end up being one of my favorite books from the month, but it wasn’t. In fact, it might be my least favorite book from the month. We’ll dive into it more in depth further into this review, but for now what you need to know is this book was average at best.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Sixteen years ago, Sylvie’s sister Persephone never came home. Out too late with the boyfriend she was forbidden to see, Persephone was missing for three days before her body was found—and years later, her murder remains unsolved.

In the present day, Sylvie returns home to care for her estranged mother, Annie, as she undergoes treatment for cancer. Prone to unexplained “Dark Days” even before Persephone’s death, Annie’s once-close bond with Sylvie dissolved in the weeks after their loss, making for an uncomfortable reunion all these years later. Worse, Persephone’s former boyfriend, Ben, is now a nurse at the cancer center where Annie is being treated. Sylvie’s always believed Ben was responsible for the murder—but she carries her own guilt about that night, guilt that traps her in the past while the world goes on around her.

As she navigates the complicated relationship with her mother, Sylvie begins to uncover the secrets that fill their house—and what really happened the night Persephone died. As it turns out, the truth really will set you free, once you can bear to look at it.

The Winter Sister is a mesmerizing portrayal of the complex bond between sisters, between mothers and daughters alike, and forces us to ask ourselves—how well do we really know the people we love most?

Not Quite Riley Sager

Look, it’s not really a secret that my favorite book of 2018 was The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager. I read it in July and I’m still obsessing over it months later. I love Sager’s writing and he really knows how to create a thriller that I’m invested in. At one point in this book, I had a flashback to The Last Time I Lied and felt pretty pissed because I thought Megan Collins was going to rip off his work (thank goodness she didn’t).

Here’s the thing: Sylvie (our main character) is an artist. She also behaves pretty similarly to our main character (Emma) in The Last Time I Lied. The parallels stopped there, but boy, was I worked up for a minute!

Annie is the Worst

There are fewer things I despise more in literature than horrible mothers. I’m coining it a trope though because I’ve read more than my fair share of bab mom books. Quite literally, Annie O’Leary might top that list of bad moms though. She is the absolute worst.

Not only does she care unequally for her daughters, she emotionally shuts down when Persephone goes missing. I understand the grief one must feel over the loss of a child, but just because you’ve lost one child doesn’t mean you can emotionally abandon the living child. That’s the most surefire way of fucking a kid up – and Annie does exactly this to Sylvie. I hated her character. She didn’t even have a single redeeming quality.

Sylvie is childish…

The story starts out when Sylvie is 14 and flashes between memories of when she and Persephone were growing up and present day. Present day Sylvie is 30 goddam years old, but acts like she’s about 16. It’s annoying. I felt myself more and more frustrated at her.

Sure she felt as if her actions AS A CHILD came into play when Persephone was murdered, but at some point, I expected her to get over the guilt. She couldn’t let it go and at no point was therapy for Sylvie mentioned. She clearly needed it!

Impulsive and Predictable

A lot of this book seems to be built on impulsiveness. At one point Sylvie point blank accuses Ben of murdering her sister even though the police say it wasn’t him. While this is technically a spoiler, I firmly believe that if you actually read this book, you won’t even suspect Ben.

This leads me into the predictability portion of my review. I had two theories about this book. One was mostly right and I figured it out around the middle of the novel. When I realized I actually was right I almost didn’t finish the book because it didn’t seem worth my time at that point. (But given I was almost at the end I did end up finishing, hence the review).

It was a well written story, but it was just a little too predictable. Throw me some curveballs, Megan!

Concluding Thoughts

Though this is a well written novel, I found myself increasingly frustrated and angry with the characters. I don’t think there was a single character I liked, except maybe Jill, and overall the narrator didn’t behave the way a 30 year old woman is expected to. She was too childish and not quite sleuthy enough for my liking. As for the predictability element, I could’ve used a few twists. Everything I expected to happen, did happen.

I guess I just feel like this book didn’t challenge me enough. I need something to surprise me in the mystery genre and this fell short for me. However, one thing I will say I didn’t think this was a debut novel, but it was!

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟

It could have been better, but it could have been much, much worse. I enjoyed the writing and would recommend to people who want to feel like Sherlock Holmes in their deductions. (I’ve been bingeing Sherlock lately, if you can’t tell!)

Did you read The Winter Sister? What were some of your thoughts?

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?