Benjamin Crawford and Emelia Anderson are polar opposites. At least, that’s what the author would have readers believing. Turns out, they’re not as different as one might think. They have at least one thing in common – mutual dislike for the other. But is that all?
Love it or hate it, the enemies to lovers trope is here to stay. Shortcake brings a breath of fresh air to this moderately overdone trope with laugh out loud funny moments to help counter the heavy dramatics that generally run rampant in romance novels. It’s refreshing to experience a romance novel that isn’t just wild sex every five pages.
Ben and Emmy’s whirlwind romances is kicked into action when Ben’s Grammy Rose passes away – leaving both Ben and Emmy as sole proprietors to her estate. In order to “earn” their inheritance, Ben and Emmy must follow a weirdly specific set of instructions. This, in my opinion, is a really fun way to set up and build upon the romance. The will, and these oddly specific instructions, are what help drive the story… aside from the two main’s mutual hatred of one another.
A serious slow build romance that will keep you on your toes. Toxic masculinity? Yes. Inordinately hot men? Also yes. Potential for spinoff romances? Obviously.
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.
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!
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!
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!
By the time I picked up this book, my anger at Me Before You had almost subsided, but then Jojo Moyes decided to continue to stab me in the heart with Louisa’s story.
I’ll say this, Me Before You was probably my favorite book in this trilogy, but that isn’t to say I disliked the other two. My rage simmered throughout After You and Still Me because Moyes writes such likeable characters. I was shattered after Me Before You and I still kind of can’t let go of my sadness.
Still Me was the closure to Louisa’s story that I needed. And it was definitely a whirlwind.
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Louisa Clark arrives in New York ready to start a new life, confident that she can embrace this new adventure and keep her relationship with Ambulance Sam alive across several thousand miles. She steps into the world of the superrich, working for Leonard Gopnik and his much younger second wife, Agnes. Lou is determined to get the most out of the experience and throws herself into her new job and New York life.
As she begins to mix in New York high society, Lou meets Joshua Ryan, a man who brings with him a whisper of her past. Before long, Lou finds herself torn between Fifth Avenue where she works and the treasure-filled vintage clothing store where she actually feels at home. And when matters come to a head, she has to ask herself: Who is Louisa Clark? And how do you find the courage to follow your heart–wherever that may lead?
Funny, romantic, and poignant, Still Me follows Lou as she discovers who she is and who she was always meant to be–and to live boldly in her brave new world.
Part of the reason this book was so frustrating to me was Ambulance Sam. I really like him for Louisa, but the problem with their relationship is starts off while she’s still grieving and then they only have like three months together before she leaves for her new job in New York. I know they love each other but a lot of the turmoil they faced throughout this novel could have been avoided if they’d just put a stopper on their relationship until she returned to England. I feel like when Lou arrived in New York she really limited herself – or held herself back – because of Ambulance Sam.
I understand why Moyes had their relationship struggle to survive the long distance. It made the story work.. I just didn’t necessarily like all the trouble Lou went through in this one. It’s just like – why can’t this woman catch a freaking break?!
Oh and all that shit with Katie. Unnecessary. Sam and Lou went through it enough on their own – Katie was an unnecessary, underdeveloped character. I can’t even really remember much about her other than she was obsessed with Sam.
The New Employer
The Gopnik’s have their problems. I mean Agnes is the same age as Lou and Leonard is probably in his sixties. Safe to say he’s old enough to be her father. I’m not judging – love is love, but the issue I have with their relationship is that Agnes has built it on secrets and lies. She could have just told him about her issues with her family in Poland and saved everyone a lot of trouble.
It’s not shocking that Agnes loves Lou as a friend. She ends up not defending her to protect herself toward the middle of the story which isn’t surprising. It’s just not very friend-like. It was messed up how quickly Lou was dismissed, yet in true Lou spirit, she didn’t give up.
Margot De Witt
Perhaps the most surprising outcome of this story is the relationship that blooms between Mrs. De Witt and Lou. The old woman was a fashion mogul in her younger years so, of course, when Lou realizes it, they really hit it off. Her pug, Dean Martin, also helps forge a really lovely friendship between the younger and older women.
What I like most about this friendship is the encouragement Margot offers to Lou during what I’ll call the dark days. She encourages her to be herself. To not shape herself to any man. To embrace her own sense of fashion. In particular, I enjoyed the moment Lou refuses to change out of her bumblebee tights for a night out with the Corporates because of Mrs. De Witt.
In the end, Lou and Margot end up being really great friends for each other despite the age gap. Lou helps Mrs. De Witt reach out to her estranged family and Mrs. De Witt enables Lou to figure out her dreams, while also enabling her to remain in New York.
Josh (His Last Name Doesn’t Matter)
However much he looks like Will. He. Is. Not. Will. Traynor.
Dude’s the biggest, most pompous asshole ever. I’ll leave it there.
I liked Lily MUCH more in this one! Not only is she doing SO MUCH better by living with Mrs. Traynor, she’s also playing matchmaker (and well).
I don’t have too much to say about Lily as she plays such a minor role in this book, but as far as character progression and growth goes – Lily nails it!
For me, this was a neat conclusion to Lou’s story. I’m not left wanting more because I’ve created a nice little story for Lou and her fella in my mind. I don’t actually want to read more from Lou even though I adore her. In my head, her story has concluded. I’m happy with the ending of this series (if it is, in fact the end). If there were to be another sequel, I can’t say with confidence I wouldn’t read it, but I’m about 90% sure I’d let it slip past. Like I said, this conclusion was lovely.
Honestly, there was a bit in the middle where I felt like Jojo was adding chaos for the sake of making the book more lengthy. There’s such a thing as drivel in literature and some of the chaos of Lou’s life in the middle was drivel that could’ve been left out. I really believe this book could’ve been at least 75 pages shorter without compromising the ending. This is the reason it didn’t get 4 from me.
Have you read any of Moyes’ other works? I found myself loving her writing style so I’m hoping for some recommendations for other books by her I should read. Drop me a recommendation in the comments… not that my TBR can handle much more haha.
I spent way too long after finishing Me Before You in a rage. In fact, the rage carried over into my enjoyment of this novel for the first half or so. As much as I tried not to let my anger shape the way I felt about this book, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t let it. Because I did.
I spent so much time being angry at Ms. Moyes over the ending of Me Before You, I almost didn’t even give this book a chance. But I needed to know how the story continued, so I tried to let go of the anger. It worked out for me in the end.
I’m still a little mad though.
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
How do you move on after losing the person you loved? How do you build a life worth living?
Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started.
Her body heals, but Lou herself knows that she needs to be kick-started back to life. Which is how she ends up in a church basement with the members of the Moving On support group, who share insights, laughter, frustrations, and terrible cookies. They will also lead her to the strong, capable Sam Fielding—the paramedic, whose business is life and death, and the one man who might be able to understand her. Then a figure from Will’s past appears and hijacks all her plans, propelling her into a very different future. . . .
For Lou Clark, life after Will Traynor means learning to fall in love again, with all the risks that brings. But here Jojo Moyes gives us two families, as real as our own, whose joys and sorrows will touch you deeply, and where both changes and surprises await.
I spent half of this book hating Lily. She’s selfish, she’s a brat, and she’s manipulative. How could her father possibly be a character I enjoy so much? Well, it turns out her character flaws mostly derive from her horrible mother.
When we meet Lily, she’s about 16 years old and struggling to find her way in life. She’s the one who witnesses Lou’s accident. She’s the one who calls the ambulance. She’s annoying, but at the same time, I welcomed her to the story. She gives Lou something to focus on besides her grief.
Toward the end, I really came to like Lily. She was just a lost little girl – who better than Lou to help show her the way?
The whole point of this novel is, in my opinion, how to deal with grief. It’s the focal point. This book, much as I hated it at first, helped me through my grief to. This novel was like aloe to a burn – it helped soothe my rage and calm my grief. I didn’t know when I started it how much I needed this book to help me get over the ending of Me Before You. This book was all about moving on and I think that’s what helped me enjoy it toward the middle and end.
At first, I didn’t like him. I fell into the trap Moyes wove for us – the trap Lou herself fell into. But when I realized we were both wrong, I was pleased with the love interest selection. While Sam is no Will Traynor, he is definitely someone who understand Lou’s grief enough to help her work through it. By the end, I found myself hopeful for the sake of the budding romance between these two.
There is little I love more than a woman who’s spent her whole life living to serve her husband and family discovering feminism. This was probably one of my favorite parts of the novel, aside from the healing of grief. Lou’s mother discovering feminism at the adult school is literally the best. For a book that kept me sad (and crying) throughout, the added spice of a feminist mother gave me some good laughs and kept me from becoming too depressed while reading. Also Lou’s dad being desperate to get Josie out of this movement is quite funny.
Going in, I didn’t think I’d give this one as high a rating as Me Before You. I might have liked this one a smidge better because I felt it handled the whole recovering from grief thing really well. While I didn’t necessarily like how Moyes handled depression in Me Before You, I do really think she did a great job at handling grief. I mean, I’m still grieving the loss of a character, but this book helped me overcome a little bit. I definitely needed to see Lou heal too – even though I didn’t realize it when I picked this one up.
I was worried that this would be the sort of book that sucks – as is the case with a lot of second books’ in a series. I was quite impressed with this one. I’m wondering if anyone feels the same as me. Did you like After You? I noticed its rating is quite a bit lower on Goodreads. Share some thoughts down in the comments.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Are you Team Peter or Team John? Tell me who (and why!) in the comments!
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!
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.
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.
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!
What did you think? Was the book better or the movie?