P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han Review

P.S. I Still Love You (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #2)

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #2)

Published Simon and Schuster 2015

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Format: Hardback

b38bc-coollogo_com-221351400Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.

She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so amazing.

029c6-coollogo_com-9181998I didn’t like this book and for that, I’m very disappointed. In fact, as I am writing this review, I’m still trying to convince myself to like it. That shows how much I believe in Jenny Han as an author, but sadly this book did not work for me.

This took a very different turn from what I was expecting and the tone of TATBILB. The main problem in this book is the consequences of Lara Jean dating Peter, for real this time. And it quickly starts out with a video of them making out in a hot tub being released all over school and the bullying that comes with it. This was where my first problem originated – it started getting really preachy. I have no problem with feminist themes in novels, or undertones, or characters or whatever. What I do have a problem with is two pages that seem more to be a feminist manifesto, when they don’t make any sense with the character or the situation. This is something I have seen more often, and while yes, readers do want more feminist themes, shoving it to us doesn’t work very well. Plus, I don’t remember this ever really being resolved beyond that – like it just kind of ended? And then the rest of the book had a different plot.

Anyway, I totally forgot why I liked Peter in the first book. Because I never felt anything for him or their relationship. They were fighting for pretty much all of the book. So when John came into the scene, I was so excited. I really liked John – way more than I ever did Peter. I felt like he was sweet and they built a relationship on common interests, instead of the fake relationship with Peter. I probably shouldn’t have liked him more than Peter though, so I felt conflicted about that. It wasn’t that I was conflicted because Lara Jean was conflicted though. I was conflicted because I could see the book trying to go one direction and I wanted it to go the other way.

While the family themes are more present this time around, Josh is nearly non-existent. For being such a big presence in the first book, I wanted to see what happened to him. Also, I felt like the Peter/Gen thing wasn’t believable. Lara Jean got so upset for things that I could never understand and she was constantly jealous. She jumps to so many conclusions, even from the first page.

I think the main reason that I’m disappointed by this book is because it made me NOT ship two characters. That’s pretty strange for me. At the end of this, I couldn’t understand why Peter liked Lara Jean or vice versa. It made me feel more ‘meh’ about this duology, the characters, and the romance as a whole. I still love Jenny Han, but I think this was a misstep.

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Happy Friendship Day – Celebrating YA Friendships

Today is Friendship Day! Such a cute day and I wanted to celebrate some of my favorite YA friendships. Last week, I posted a discussion about the importance of friendships in YA and what I was looking for. Today, I wanted to talk about some that remind me of my own friendships and characters that I know will be best friends for life.

Someone Like You Halley and Scarlet – These two girls both go through some intense struggles (including teen pregnancy) but stay close throughout.

17 First Kisses Claire and Megan – Even though this might look like another YA romance, the friendship is more important than anything else.

Paper Towns Q, Radar, and Ben – This whole group of friends is perfect with their inside jokes and close relationships with each other.

Peaches (Peaches, #1) Leeda, Murphy, and Birdie – They are all very different, but their common love for a peach farm brings them all together! How sweet!

Open Road Summer Reagan and Lilah – Even with the pressures of Lilah’s fame, Reagan and Lilah are the saving grace of this book. And each other.

What are some of your favorite character friendships? Happy Friendship Day!

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The Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz Review

The Isle of the Lost (The Descendants #1)

The Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz (The Descendants #1)

Published Disney Hyperion 2015

Genre: Children’s Fantasy

Format: Hardback

b38bc-coollogo_com-221351400Twenty years ago, all the evil villains were banished from the kingdom of Auradon and made to live in virtual imprisonment on the Isle of the Lost. The island is surrounded by a magical force field that keeps the villains and their descendants safely locked up and away from the mainland. Life on the island is dark and dreary. It is a dirty, decrepit place that’s been left to rot and forgotten by the world.

But hidden in the mysterious Forbidden Fortress is a dragon’s eye: the key to true darkness and the villains’ only hope of escape. Only the cleverest, evilest, nastiest little villain can find it…who will it be?

Maleficent, Mistress of the Dark: As the self-proclaimed ruler of the isle, Maleficent has no tolerance for anything less than pure evil. She has little time for her subjects, who have still not mastered life without magic. Her only concern is getting off the Isle of the Lost.

Mal: At sixteen, Maleficent’s daughter is the most talented student at Dragon Hall, best known for her evil schemes. And when she hears about the dragon’s eye, Mal thinks this could be her chance to prove herself as the cruelest of them all.

Evie: Having been castle-schooled for years, Evil Queen’s daughter, Evie, doesn’t know the ins and outs of Dragon Hall. But she’s a quick study, especially after she falls for one too many of Mal’s little tricks.

Jay: As the son of Jafar, Jay is a boy of many talents: stealing and lying to name a few. Jay and Mal have been frenemies forever and he’s not about to miss out on the hunt for the dragon’s eye.

Carlos: Cruella de Vil’s son may not be bravest, but he’s certainly clever. Carlos’s inventions may be the missing piece in locating the dragon’s eye and ending the banishment for good.

Mal soon learns from her mother that the dragon’s eye is cursed and whoever retrieves it will be knocked into a deep sleep for a thousand years. But Mal has a plan to capture it. She’ll just need a little help from her “friends.” In their quest for the dragon’s eye, these kids begin to realize that just because you come from an evil family tree, being good ain’t so bad.

029c6-coollogo_com-9181998I thought that this book was really cute – a great take on the world of Disney villains and an interesting twist on the fairytales that we all know. This book is the companion novel to an upcoming Disney Channel movie and I decided to pick this up after seeing that it was about Disney villains. I think that there is something intriguing about the Disney brand of villains and I was curious about this version of it.

The Isle of the Lost is occupied by the villains (some resurrected from the dead – which I couldn’t understand. Wouldn’t you want them out of your life?) and their children. I’m interested to know who the father/mother of some of these kids were…Anyway, the kids grow up in a run-down place. They only get scraps from Auradon (where the heroes live) and they live between piles of junk. Not a good living condition. I felt like the world building kind of got away from the book in some parts. There were lots of cameos of different villains and their children, somewhat unnecessary characters, and this felt like they were dropped in just for fun and to add some more of the details in the Disney world.

The four main characters are all different and get their own perspectives. I think that I like Carlos the best, mostly because he felt the most complex. I liked the relationship he had with his self-centered mother and his interest in technology. I also liked Jay, but maybe that’s because I like Jafar. The two girls, Mal and Evie, were okay but I wanted more from both of them. Mal is the main character, so I expected a bit more character development. And Evie seemed too nice for her world.

The plot seemed really crucial to understanding the world, so I’m not sure how they are going to fit all that world building into the movie. That having been said, I felt like it was really intriguing. I liked seeing all the magic systems and the layout of the island. I don’t want to spoil too much, but their overall journey is both physical and psychological. I like the idea of anti-villains because all these kids have grey areas between what is expected of them, as villains’ kids, and their own nature to be good.

Overall, this was a really cute book. I liked seeing this fun, unique world and what happened to some of the Disney characters. I’ll probably be tuning into the movie too, mostly just to see how it works for audiences who haven’t read the book.

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Waiting on Wednesday: Velvet Undercover

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Breaking the Spine, each week featuring an unrealeased book. This week, I’ve decided to showcase:

Velvet Undercover

Velvet Undercover by Teri Brown

To be published Balzer and Bray October 20 2015

Samantha Donaldson’s family has always done its duty for the British Crown. In the midst of World War I, seventeen-year-old Sam follows in their footsteps, serving her country from the homefront as a Girl Guide and messenger for the intelligence organization MI5. After her father disappears on a diplomatic mission, she continues their studies of languages, high-level mathematics, and complex puzzles and codes, hoping to make him proud.

When Sam is asked to join the famed women’s spy group La Dame Blanche she’s torn—this could be the adventure she’s dreamed of, but how can she abandon her mother, who has already lost a husband to the war? But when her handlers reveal shocking news, Sam realizes there’s no way she can refuse the exciting and dangerous opportunity.

Her acceptance leads her straight into the heart of enemy territory on a mission to extract the most valuable British spy embedded in Germany, known to the members of LDB only as Velvet. Deep undercover within the court of Kaiser Wilhelm II, Samantha must navigate the labyrinthine palace and its many glamorous—and secretive—residents to complete her assignment. To make matters worse she finds herself forming a forbidden attraction to the enemy-a dangerously handsome German guard. In a place where personal politics are treacherously entangled in wartime policy, can Samantha discover the truth and find Velvet before it’s too late…for them both?

From author Teri Brown comes the thrilling story of one girl’s journey into a deadly world of spycraft and betrayal—with unforgettable consequences.

What are you waiting for this week?

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Top Ten Tuesday: Book Nerd Characters

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Broke and Bookish. Each week, bloggers get together to share their top ten lists based on a certain topic. This week is to celebrate bookish characters!

Fangirl     The Book Thief     Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)

Ready Player One     The Fault in Our Stars     The Help     Fahrenheit 451

The Chosen     Breakfast Served Anytime      Hamlet

  1. Cath from Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – Cath loves the book Carry On and even writes fanfiction.
  2. Leisel from The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – I think this is obvious.
  3. Hermione from Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling – Probably the classic nerdy character. I could totally see Hermione picking up some literature in her free time.
  4. Wade from Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – Although he probably doesn’t read books, he loves those video games.
  5. Hazel and Gus from The Fault In Our Stars by John Green – They bond over their mutual interest in a book and even go to visit the author!
  6. Skeeter from The Help by Kathryn Stockett – Skeeter loves words and wants to become a journalist.
  7. Montag from Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – He tries very hard to save the books.
  8. Danny from The Chosen by Chaim Potok – I don’t remember too much about this, but both of the Jewish boys featured were very into their studies and very smart.
  9. Gloria from Breakfast Served Anytime by Sarah Combs – This book is about a nerd camp.
  10. Hamlet from Hamlet by William Shakespeare – Hamlet loves university and plays.

Who are some of your favorite bookish characters?

99 Days by Katie Cotugno Review

99 Days

99 Days by Katie Cotugno

Published Balzer and Bray 2015

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Format: Hardback from the library

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Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything—how I destroyed my relationship with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college, and be done.

Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”

Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me.

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I picked this book up on a total whim, with a little idea about what it was about. I had seen a few mixed reviews, but I liked the cover enough to try it for myself.

AND WHOA THAT WAS GOOD.

I’m still kind of hung up about it – I keep thinking about it in random moments, wanting to revisit these characters and this story when choosing what to pick up next. It also caused me to be in a pretty bad book hangover for a while, but it was SO WORTH IT.

Molly is the main character and I really liked her. The story starts when her mother, a romance author, writes about the mistake she made. Molly cheated on her boyfriend with her boyfriend’s brother. This causes a huge scandal within the family and in their small town, causing Molly to move across country for boarding school the next year. She comes back for the summer and is forced to look back at all her previous decisions.

I loved the conflict that was established. Just as Molly felt conflicted about everything that was happening and had happened, as well as very uncomfortable and awkward in most of her situations – so did I. I was able to step right into her mind and her story. That emotional connection was a character was something I haven’t experienced in a very long time, so I highly appreciated how that happened.

This book has a very heavy love triangle – which I happen to enjoy in books, when well done. If you don’t like this, don’t read this book. It’s sitting yourself up to not like this. If you are okay with it, this was one of the best ones I have ever seen. Gabe and Patrick were so different, even though they were brothers, and they both had so much drama. Nothing about the relationships in this book were easy and it proved to be a brilliant character study.

This book is messy. There is no easy answer, no clean cut ending, no right answers. I loved that. It made me totally feel for the story and the characters. I put myself right into the world, with all the close female friendships, a great love triangle, and all of the parental problems. I felt like this is not the book for everyone, but I’m happy I found it and gave it a chance. Overall, I really loved this book.

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#Fridayreads – July 24

Friday Reads is a way for readers to share what they are currently reading and what is coming up next on their TBR piles over the weekend! I always try to do this but somehow, end up forgetting. Anyway – I remembered this week. My plans for this weekend are to start the TBR Takedown readathon and watch as all my favorite YouTubers go to Vidcon.

Right now, I am currently reading…

The Devil Wears Prada (The Devil Wears Prada, #1)

The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger

I am enjoying this book so far! It’s a pretty fun, light read.

After this, I will be starting the TBR Takedown. I’m not sure which book I will be starting with, but you can see my TBR for that here.

Happy reading this weekend!