BOOK REVIEW: P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han (#2)

Author: Jenny Han
Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary Romance
Series: Duology (Complete)

P.S. I Still Love You: ★★★★★/5

Summary: Lara 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.

Finished this duology in less than one day because it was ridiculously addicting. I love the love story. The main thing I love about this, is that some part of this book happened to anyone who’s ever been in love. First and foremost, this duology will ring to a lot of girls who’ve dated. (It sure did for me.) The pacing was realistic and the events were all believable and I couldn’t help but be drawn in. It was the type of romance that makes your heart flutter just how a “first love” romance should make it.

I’m kind of bummed though that Josh didn’t really come out in this book so much. He just kind of fell off the face of the earth. There were a few appearances, but nothing of substance, which was lame because he played such a huge role in the first one. I wanted to read more about him. But then again, maybe that’s what Han was going for with Margot and Josh’s relationship, another example of how a love can end or continue. I just didn’t feel as though it was properly resolved.

I appreciate the fact that Han didn’t make love all physical. There are many references to sex in regards to a relationship, and God only knows the high schoolers these days are way more scandalous than a decade ago. So it’s a nice change of pace having of novel about high school love about more than just physical attraction, because there is so much more, more than most people ever really know. Love is an innocent thing, something that deserves to be cherished and protected but doesn’t always turn out the way you expected it to, and that’s what I feel like Han was trying to convey.

LARA JEAN: I was proud of Lara Jean. She stepped out of her comfort zone and really put herself out there. As the main character, she really came out of her shell as her own and took hold of the story through her growth. In the beginning of the series, she started out as a shy, withdrawn young girl who didn’t want to experience real life into a somewhat adventurous girl willing to dive into the crazy parts of it, or at least swim through it as best she could. Throughout her development, Lara Jean stayed true to her own beliefs and desires. The heart wants what the heart wants, even though I don’t think I would have minded so much if it ended the other way. (I’m sure there’s a lot of debate on this).

PETER K.: Peter K. really started to piss me off. Yes, he’s just a nice guy that was misunderstood, but what he did would piss off any girl and if the roles had been switched, he would have acted the exact same way. It could have been resolved had he just been upfront with Lara Jean. In my opinion, he brought it upon himself. But, the little things he did do were sweet and you couldn’t really stay mad at him for long (kind of…)

JOHN AMBROSE MCLAREN: I love John Ambrose McLaren. He’s one of the boys Lara Jean wrote a letter to, and he’s adorable. I feel like it was so meant to be, like FATE! Just hearing the history between the John and Lara Jean from middle school it as if the stars aligned but didn’t quite match up, which really killed me. John is sweet, a gentleman, and was always second place to Peter when they were younger. He’s the guy that would never hurt the girl he loves, and would treat her like her happiness is the one that makes the world turnaround. Even though there were only reference about his timid personality when he was younger, I’m glad he was introduced as a confident and strong guy. But really, I love this kid, maybe even more than Peter K., and I don’t even really know why.

MARGOT/KITTY: Margot doesn’t make much of an appearance in this installment as much. Lara Jean goes to her for support more than for advice compared to the first novel. Kitty is growing up and you can see her character really maturing through her dialogue and thought process. I can definitely see a continuation of this story through Kitty’s POV coming sometime soon. Especially with the letter that Lara Jean writes to her at the end of the book. She’d make a very interesting main character with her all her sass.

Overall, I loved these two contemporary romance novels by Jenny Han. I was in quite a reading slump before I started it and I wasn’t really thinking it was going to bring me out of it. I may be a believer in contemporary romance novels now, it has definitely opened my eyes to an even larger genre than young adult fantasy (still my favorite though). I would definitely recommend this duology to all readers of all ages. It is a story about first love of a high schooler, but whether you’re in high school or you’ve graduated long since, it’ll bring a sense of sweet nostalgia to your first love, and if you haven’t experienced one yet, it’ll give you a taste of what may be soon to come.

Jenny Han, you have changed my view of young adult contemporary romance novels!

BUY IT ON AMAZON!

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BOOK REVIEW: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han (#1)

Author: Jenny Han
Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary Romance
Series: Duology (Complete)

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before: ★★★★★/5

SUMMARY: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

First off, let me tell you something about me as a reader before you read my review. I typically dislike fiction contemporary romance books. I’m a complete addict when it comes to a good fantasy book though, but I usually don’t read contemporary romance books. It’s hard for me to get into a fiction book because I love everything fantastical. That being said, I absolutely LOVED this book! (I may be subjective, and you’ll see why in a moment).

I’m not only a Korean-American, but I’m also the middle child of three sisters! HAH Hi, my name is Lara Jean. Jk. Lara Jean’s and my personality are actually really different, but I still enjoyed reading her POV. However, writing letters to past loves is SO something I would do. Of course, if someone sent said letters out, I would beat the culprit up, unlike Lara Jean. Moving on to my actual review now!

I love romance stories, so typically I look for a good romance in every book I read. The thing that made this book enjoyable was that I felt the romance was very believable. I watch a lot of Korean dramas and this book is somewhere along those lines. (I’m sure Jenny Han binge watches a lot of K-Dramas on her spare time~) I’m glad the “letter sending” scandal started pretty early on. For some reason, I thought it was going to happen at the end, but now that I think about that assumption now, it doesn’t make sense. Han wove each letter into the story perfectly; every time I felt I needed something more, I got it. I couldn’t stop reading and that’s why I ended up having to force myself to sleep at 4AM, only after I finished this book and moved on to the finish a quarter of the next, P.S. I Still Love You.

I’m going to spend most of my review on character analysis. So here goes it!

LARA JEAN: She’s a somewhat timid girl trying to fill the big shoes (literally, HAH) left by her older sister, Margot, who left for college in Scotland. At first, she’s a train wreck, but as the story progresses she begins to step up and become the older sister to Kitty she wants to be. I was glad that Lara Jean wasn’t annoying. I hate when a female protagonist is hopeless and weak, but Lara Jean owned it well. You see glimpses of her “quirky” personality and it’s something you grow to love. She reacts like any normal teenager would in the situations she’s thrown in, and handles it pretty well. She looks up to Margot as her example and has complete loyalty to her family, which is quite endearing.

KATHERINE aka KITTY: Kitty is the sassy youngest sibling. She watches HBO shows and has some lip to her. Nothing gets past Kitty’s eyes; she’s a bit snoopy but also very observant in her respect. Even if she does something bad, you can’t really dislike her because her character is so cute. I love how friendly she is with the boys and seems older than she actually is. I think Han did a great job of making her the little sister who grows up just a bit quicker because she has two older sisters, but still possesses a youthful heart and mind.

MARGOT: Margot is the reliable eldest sibling. She is on top of everything, the responsible big sister you know you can go to when you’re in trouble. She’s strict and at times judgmental, but it’s all from love and not from spite, which is portrayed through the way she says things and comforts her sisters. I do like how you find something out that makes her “not-so-perfect.” She’s the idol to her younger sisters and it was healthy to see how the sisters react once they find out something they never imagined Margot would be capable of. It shows the true essence of sisterhood, and the bond that can never be broken.

PETER K.: KAVINSKY! He’s the hot, everyone-wants-to-date, athlete, high school boy, and one of Lara Jean’s past crushes, her first to be exact. I think I fell in love with Peter the same time Lara Jean did. His character is one that just grows on you the more you read about him. He comes out as an ass in the beginning, but then you realize that’s his charm. I loved the fact he noticed more than Lara Jean gave him credit for. It’s always nice to know when boys see the small things, it shows they actually care about a person. I’m excited to see what the next book has in store for him. I hope he steps up because I have big hopes for him.

JOSH: The boy next door, literally. He’s one of Lara Jean’s past crushes as well as Margot’s first boyfriend and ex-boyfriend. I loved Josh’s character. He’s got that older brother vibe because he cares for the Song sisters and wants what is best for them. He’s not the macho boy at school, and not your typical crush. He’s the nothing-physically-special nerd at school. But then you see his true qualities that draw you in to ride the Josh Train. His character pokes in here and there, and every time it did, I loved what I discovered about him. I’m rooting for him and hope things look up in the latter part of the series.

The plot was great. There wasn’t quite a plot twist, but I feel that’s a bit more difficult to do in a contemporary romance because it has to be believable. I already had my suspicions of who sent Lara Jean’s love letters, so it wasn’t a surprise. I’m not sure if other readers were surprised by it. (If you were, let me know!) Each character had a unique personality that brought them to life on the pages and the writing was simple, yet engaging. Not sure what the expect from P.S. I Still Love You, but I’m glad I gave this book a shot, because even though it’s out of my comfort zone, I loved it.

If I had been left with just this first book and waiting for the second, I think I might have lost my mind a little. The way the first book ends, you literally HAVE to reach for the second one. So make sure you have both books before starting!!

BUY IT ON AMAZON

BOOK REVIEW: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/Romance
Series: The Grisha Trilogy

Ruin and Rising: ★★★★

Summary: The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne. Now the nation’s fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army. Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives. Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova’s amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling’s secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for

Review: I love when a series ends exactly how you wanted except like nothing you thought. While some plot twists had me dying and rolling around on my bed, I did see the HUGE plot twist coming. If you read my review on “Siege and Storm” (Book 2), I mentioned a twist that I suspected and I WAS RIGHT. Sometimes I hate my wandering mind when I read because it ruins the omfg moments. But, I still enjoyed it all the same. And I will say though, I didn’t know how everything was going to play out. Bardugo did an amazing job tying all the loose ends and really bringing the whole trilogy back to the beginning. The connections tied from “Shadow and Bone” all the way to the last page of “Ruin and Rising.”

For the record, I finished this book in two days. The first night, I really just meant to read it for an hour or two before I went to bed, but who was I kidding, I ended up reading it for FOUR hours! It was that amazing. You never want to stop reading because the plot is always moving forward. No scene is superfluous and every scene shows growth in one or all of the characters.

The depth behind each character was just right for my taste. You got enough background story to relate with the minor characters, just enough to care about them. It was nice to see the very human development of the relationships in the epic adventure that they risked their lives for. In regards to the romance, it’s sort of a love squarish thing. I thought it was done very tastefully though: a marriage of counterparts, a marriage of young love, or a marriage of power. I do like who she ended up with, and I know there were a lot of 1 star reviews out there because she didn’t get with *cough*cough* but I think I would have still been happy if she ended up with either of the three love interests because I loved the book mostly for it’s plot.

ALINA: In the first book, she was weak and unsure. In the second book, she had a stronger resolve, but was afraid of the powers growing inside of her. In this book, she owns up to the life she was born to live and remains true to herself until the very end. She knows what has to be done even if there were times she wavered (You can’t blame the girl, she had more weight to shoulder than most of us do). What I loved most about Alina was that even though she was the second most “powerful” Grisha, the talents and powers of her companions were much more valuable; she leaned on them and they leaned on her, and that’s what friendship and loyalty are all about.

MAL: Oh my Mal. I love how even though he’s otkazat’sya, he did everything in his power to make up for it and ended being more powerful than some of the Grisha. He is the living proof that hardwork and a strong resolve are all you really need to succeed in an environment that you were meant to fail. At the end, I had a mini heart attack, but I’m glad Bardugo wrote it out the way she did, because I thought it was perfect!

NIKOLAI: I still LOVE all his dialogue. I really want Nikolai all for myself. He’s such a genuine and pure person that even when “darkness” was thrust upon him, he remained somewhat himself still. The fact that he’s not “true” royalty, but instead earned the position as King through his experiences and service is even more admirable and meaningful. Bardugo mentioned that she mightttt write a book dedicated to Nikolai and I really hope she does because he was my FAVORITE character in this entire trilogy.

THE DARKLING: I actually really loved the Darkling. Yes, he’s the bad guy trying to destroy the kingdom, but really he was just a lost child trying to fix things through his own skewed means. I really felt for the Darkling at the end of the book and I’m glad Alina grew to understand him and accept how he had turned so wretched for the generations he’d lived. I think if I lived for so long that I saw the people I love die, kingdoms rise and fall, and retarded kings believing they know better, I would have gone a little crazy too.

Overall, I am definitely a Leigh Bardugo fan. I never thought I would be the type of reader who goes to author meetings (not saying there’s anything wrong with those type of readers, I actually admire their dedication), but I think I would actually want to meet Leigh Bardugo if I had a chance. I love her writing style and her storytelling abilities. There’s a natural flow that doesn’t seem forced and makes the world seem so real. I actually wanted to leave this life and live in that book if I could (despite how messed up it was for most of the time). GAH. Seriously, I recommend the Grisha Trilogy for ALL readers–it’s amazing. (It’s so amazing that even though I own the trilogy in paperback, I’ve begun purchasing it in hardback too hahaha)

They are making this trilogy into a movie and I FREAKING CAN’T WAIT. The last movie adapted from a book that I waited in line for a midnight showing was Twilight (hey don’t laugh. but really that movie was so cringe-worthy…biggest disappointed by far for books adapted to movies). Anyways, you can’t bet that I’m going to buy my tickets on presale or somehow get myself into an advanced showing to go and watch “Shadow and Bone” when it comes out. I cannot wait to see who they cast. EEEK.

Safe to say, THE GRISHA TRILOGY WAS THE BEST READ OF 2015 for me. It was literally EVERYTHING I look for in a book. Please go read it!

BUY IT ON AMAZON!

BOOK REVIEW: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

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Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy/Romance
Series: The Grisha Trilogy (Book 2)

Siege and Storm: ★★★★!!!

SUMMARY: Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long. The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

Book 2 did not disappoint! Wow. Siege and Storm was an amazing read. There was so much development in the characters and the story that I found myself immersed in its tangled plot from page one. I finished the book in two days and probably would have finished it in one if I hadn’t forced myself to stop reading it because my copy of Ruin and Rising hadn’t been delivered yet.

Bardugo really has a way with weaving her words so seamlessly that you fall into this pace while reading that just flows. It’s a natural rhythm that allows you to completely concentrate on the story and its characters. Her descriptions are stunning and haunting: the representation of darkness, the struggles and humor of characters, and the rising tension. Throughout the book you find yourself expecting, waiting for this one thing to happen and then BAM when you least expect it, it happens.

I’m sure there are some readers who may find that the middle section of the book was lagging, but I think every scene was essential to building the tension and developing Alina and her struggles as well as the building relationship with the other characters. I really felt her fears and concerns as she’s thrust into a high position that her former self never would have even fathomed. She doesn’t have instant success and it is apparent that she is working toward a goal that seems so far away. So in my opinion, the build up, the preparations, the meetings, all made the situation very real and believable. A+ (Plus, I just wanted to keep reading more and when the pages started dwindling at the end, I got more and more anxious heh)

ALINA: The main character. Her inner turmoil had her questioning almost everything she thought and did. In the first book she was tentative and very unsure of herself, but in book 2 she really came out of her shell and did the best she could even when she knew she wasn’t prepared for it. I loved that her flaws were so apparent; it makes her real, because nobody is perfect.

MAL: Oh Mal, Mal, Mal. I still love him and I totally understand why he acted the way he did. I was heartbroken for him and I have my suspicions about how his role in the story is going to unravel in Book 3, but I’ll keep that to myself because if I’m right, then it’s going to be a major spoiler.

NIKOLAI: I love Nikolai too! I’m a fickle girl. Some part of me wants Alina to end up with Nikolai, but I don’t think it’ll happen. Nikolai is a myriad of personalities and I’m still not sure who he really is, but that’s his appeal. Every dialogue that he was a part of brought a smile to my face. The book ends without really saying what happened to him, but knowing him, I’m sure he’ll make a flashy return into the story.

THE DARKLING: Still the evil darkness, but I feel like he’s this tortured soul that actually really cares about Alina and feels the strong connection to her. Like calls to like. I’m really looking forward for the mystery behind him to unravel in the last book.

So, while I was reading this book, I can’t remember at what part it was, but something in my mind just clicked and I think I figured out a huge plot twist that’s going to happen in Book 3. It makes so much sense in my head and I’m like 110% sure that I’m right about it, but I’m not going to say it, because again, I’ll be ruining it for anyone who wants to/is reading right now (And those who ruin endings of books must be excommunicated). However, I still have no idea how the whole story is going to be wrapped up. There are a lot of loose ends that need to be tied. One thing I have no idea about is who Alina is going to end up with, or maybe she doesn’t end up with anyone…DUN DUN DUNNNNN.

I cannot recommend this series enough. It’s definitely a contender for my FAVORITE series to date. I can’t find a flaw that bothers me and I’m literally obsessed with it. I love how complex the characters are and how they’re so consistently portrayed throughout each book. Did I mention this series is going to be made into a movie??? UGHGHGH I’m literally bouncing off the walls just thinking about it. But really, I finished this book at 4 a.m. last night and couldn’t fall asleep because of how good it was. (I almost contemplated on just staying up to write this review). Addiction at its best!

I want to start Book 3 so bad, but I’m going on a retreat this weekend, so I’m forcing myself to wait until I come back. READ THE GRISHA TRILOGY! (And then discuss with me your suspicions!)

Buy it on Amazon!

BOOK REVIEW: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

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Author: Leigh Bardugo
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy/Romance
Series: Grisha Trilogy (Book 1)

Shadow and Bone: ★★★★!!

SUMMARY: Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee. Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

HOLY SHIZZ! This book is seriously the best book I have read this year. Red Queen was the first book to really get me out of my reading slump, but SHADOW AND BONE seriously dug up my passion for reading fantasy books that I hadn’t noticed I buried for so many years. I LOVED IT. First off, I have nothing bad to say about it. It’s the first book of a trilogy and I have Siege and Storm (Book 2), but I refuse to start it until I have Ruin and Rising (Book 3) because I don’t want to be antsy waiting for it since I’m sure I’ll finish the second book even quicker than I did the first one. Okay enough fangirling, I’ll write my review now (hopefully without spoilers!)

I loved Bardugo’s writing style. Technically, it was simple and I felt like there was the perfect amount of variety in sentence structure. It didn’t feel as much as reading as it did the words flying into my head into a visual tizzy (if that makes any sense–I’m a very visual person). I thought there was just enough foreshadowing and I’m not sure if certain points of the plot were intentional, but the flow of the book was spot on. There’s this one part (by the lake) that when it happened, I had to reread it because it was so sudden and random that I thought it was a poor choice of a plot point, but then once I finished the book, I thought back on it and realized how ingenious it actually was.

World building. Perfect. I didn’t get bogged down with unnecessary descriptions and I never felt like the book was dragging. Everything was believable from the characters to the setting of the world. Page count wise, it’s actually a pretty lengthy read, but while I read it, I never even noticed; if anything, I noticed how fast I was flying through the pages. It was absolutely fantastic.

There are similarities to other young adult fantasy books I’ve read recently (from what I know, this one was written first sooo….) but it was definitely original enough for me to not care. Just to give you an idea, here’s an example:

Red Queen: The main character is a Red (person with no special powers) but in a life threatening situation she discovers she’s special and actually does have powers.

Shadow and Bone: The main character is a seemingly normal girl but desperate to save her childhood crush, she discovers she’s special and has a power that rivals the strongest man in the world.

(Each novel has their own reasons why the powers exist in each individual and both are unique so it didn’t bother me too much. In my opinion, I think Shadow and Bone is more original than Red Queen, though.)

I had so many emotions reading this book. I’m sure my sister found me annoying, because while I was reading in my room I would be yelling, groaning, and squealing more often than someone, who could be considered sane while reading words on a page, should be. But, seriously that’s how engrossed I was while reading this book. It’s been a SUPER long time since I felt this way about while reading anything. And I typically never reread books, for whatever reason, but I honestly would consider reading this one again. Obsessed I am.

ALINA: She has her faults, but I’m glad because no character, especially the main character, should be perfect. She was definitely a likable character and an honest to good girl, who got lost here and there (but who doesn’t?). She discovers who/what she is and what she is capable of. Every choice she makes is understandable because you read enough about her past that helps to really form her into a living being. Making a choice that haunts her in the end makes me look forward to how she’ll overcome it in the next book.

MAL: wahhhh I love him. Can I have him? He’s the childhood friend/crush. He’s absolutely adorable and while his physical presence is absent the majority of the book, it makes his return that much sweeter. Even though he doesn’t have special powers like Alina (or does he?) he’s reliable and not whiny. He is the naive boy next door, who becomes a man by the end of the book. There were hints of a love triangle going on, but at the end you feel like that possibility is squashed, but I’m staying on my toes because I really don’t know what Bardugo has in store for them.

THE DARKLING: Ok, so I’m still on the edge about this character. I really don’t know what to expect because in the beginning he intrigued me, then I started to like him, and then I was like “what the hell…” But I feel like there is so much more to this character and I know he’s a complicated fellow because at ~120 years old, how can you not be complicated?

They’re making Shadow and Bone into a MOVIE. YESSS. Because, seriously I was able to picture every single detail in my head. And as much as I love to create the image in my mind, I love it when I can actually see it come to life. I. can’t. wait. Fantasy movies are the best, I don’t care what anyone thinks. They are.

SHADOW AND BONE gets a standing ovation of 5/5 stars from me. And if this book is on your TBR list, then move it up to the top immediately and start, because it’s fantastic and you will not regret it. Comment what you thought, I need someone to talk about this book with!! HEH.

Buy it on Amazon!

BOOK REVIEW: The Good Sister by Jamie Kain

The Good Sister by Jamie Kain

Author: Jamie Kain
Genre: Young Adult/Fiction
Series: No

The Good Sister: ★★★★/5

Wow. I really loved this book and I can’t really pinpoint why I do. Well, maybe I can and a few of the reasons are subjective and circumstantial, BUT a lot of the reasons are not.

First and foremost, if you are born into a family with three children (especially three girls), read it. I just so happen to be the middle child of three sisters. A lot of people say that the middle child syndrome is a stereotype, but really people…a stereotype only emerges because there are so many damn people who fit it! (I totally fit the middle child stereotype BTW, and I embrace it!) I’ll go more into, Rachel, the middle child later in my brief character analysis section.

One thing I really did enjoy that the author did on a literary level was the way she tied loose ends and resolved all the conflicts (even the small minor ones that you thought she might forget). I’m a stickler for this, because I hate to read a book and at the end of it be like…”Hey, what happened to so-and-so…” or “Why did this happen then?” You get the point. It was really heartfelt and will definitely resonate with readers with siblings with a bit of rivalry and sibling hatred (all siblings have/are experiencing this, and if don’t think so…then you’re in denial).

The book is separated by chapters told in the three different viewpoints of each of the sisters. Sarah is the oldest sister who died, so she’s given the least amount of pages, but just enough for a dead girl. Rachel is the middle sister, and she gets just that, a medium amount of the book. Asha is the youngest sister, and like all youngest children, they get everything (jk…that was a really melodramatic middle child comment to say haha). I really liked this aspect of the book; the different views allowed me to step into each of their lives and really understand the spectrum of their feelings surrounding a single event. The perspectives were well written and decipherable, even if the chapters weren’t titled the name of the sister it was told in.

The book was a tad bit slow for me in the beginning, but it became increasingly interesting as I read on. The first few chapters of Asha and Rachel sometimes too similar for me, but as they developed as characters I noticed their own personal quirks and personalities that made them unique. Actually, every character in this book was believable, which is pretty rare for me to say.

SARAH: Sarah is the oldest sister. She was diagnosed with cancer, survived, then re-diagnosed with it again, but that’s not what killed her (because that would be too obvious, duh). I won’t say how she died because there’s a lot of shrouded mystery around it and I don’t want to spoil it for you. Anyways, she’s genuinely kind and even though she wasn’t given as many pages, I still read enough to like her.

RACHEL: Rachel is the middle sister. Anyways, she’s basically a flirtatious bitch that doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the world or the people in it; she knows it, she owns it, and she revels in it. Though, she does have, albeit a small one, guiding compass at times and isn’t completely coldhearted; she has glimpses of compassion that many people wouldn’t notice. She’s the misunderstood one who acts the way she does not particularly because she wants to, but because it’s a defense mechanism. Anyways, she’s kind of the antagonist that readers will find they like in the end.

ASHA: Asha is the youngest sister. Most of the book is led by her and her struggle to find reasons or meaning from Sarah’s death. She takes it the hardest as life becomes pointless to her. Asha’s character makes me think of vanilla ice cream–she goes with every situation, but makes her presence known in the process. (PS. I love Sin, her best friend).

There wasn’t one physical evil villain, except maybe their mom, Lena (ugh, hate that woman). The villain was death–why it happens, how it happens, what happens after, how fates are connected, and a few enlightened ideas of the afterlife (one of them, I found super intriguing!). Overall the plot was written with a natural and believable flow. It felt as if I was watching life as it happened (through Sarah’s passed eyes) and I think that’s what made the book so special, that it didn’t really feel like a book at all, but a real life, and in the end that’s what an author wants a reader to feel.

4/5 for this wonderful book. One of the few contemporary fiction books that I’ve read, but definitely one that I would recommend you to read! Loved it and I hope anyone who reads it does too!

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BOOK REVIEW: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

The Darkest Part of the Forest

Author: Holly Black
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy/Gay & Lesbian
Series: No

The Darkest Part of the Forest: ★★.5

So, I had to wait a while before I could write my review for The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black, because I wasn’t exactly sure how I felt about it. Overall, I wasn’t excited nor did I hate it. It just fell flat for me. The cover art is dreadfully beautiful and I really wanted to love it–it was the only part of the book that I actually loved.

The writing was simple, which isn’t an issue to me, but I did find it somewhat repetitive. I understand that authors should maintain a consistent writing style throughout a book, but I found that she continually wrote the same types of sentences. And these sentences stood out like a sore thumb every time she did it. For example, when she listed things: “Then she walked fast, elbowing through the merry crowd; past pipers and fiddlers; past stick-thin fairies with powdery wings; past willowy green women with black mouths and tongues, wearing dresses fine as mist; past long-fingered girls with crowns……..” and the list goes on for about FIVE more times. There were at least 3-4 times the author did this and even though her descriptions were very whimsical, I found myself skimming over it.

I found that the premise of the book was overall very promising. It revolved around this sleeping horned-boy/prince–just like Sleeping Beauty. But, I found myself wanting to learn more about the Horned-Boy (Severin). The focus shifted so quickly that I found myself disappointed that his past was just kind of thrown into the mess as a means of just appeasing readers. I was not appeased, not completely at least. The flow of the book started really slow and all of the sudden the conflict hit and BAM the climax. Done. There just wasn’t enough for me to really take it all in and it left me feeling…bleh. I feel like the end scene was supposed to be this super epic moment, but it really didn’t come off that way to me.

NOTE!!! This book includes homosexual themes. And I’m going to be really careful what I say because I know it’s a sensitive topic in which heated debates arise. I want you all to know that I’m Christian and homosexuality is against my faith. With that being said, I don’t go condemning homosexuals for their life choices. I watch Project Runway all the time and I love the gay people on there (they’re usually the most hilarious/creative ones). Anyways, Hazel’s brother Ben is gay and when it was first introduced it shocked me because I wasn’t expecting it. I just didn’t think his homosexuality was believable in all honesty–I mean if you’re going to make a character gay, then please own it. I wouldn’t have known he was gay unless the author had literally written it down (which she did). Basically, parents, be aware it does play a large role in this (I won’t write the spoiler here) book.

HAZEL: A good chunk of the book was the development of her character, but at the end of the book she didn’t even know who she really was. I wanted to see her develop and discover herself, though that didn’t happen.

BEN: The gay brother, who didn’t seem too gay save the fact he went around kissing boys. There was a lot of hidden torture in this character that I felt would’ve been interesting for readers to learn more about, however you only really get just barely under the surface level.

JACK: Jack was probably my favorite character. I wish there was more about him. I think the turmoil he suffered being part of both Faerieland and Fairfold could’ve been exploited even further.

SEVERIN (THE HORNED-BOY): I didn’t really like him. I was expecting to like him, but I didn’t. He was one-dimensional and the only big development was his realization at the end of the book (WHICH WAS WAY RANDOM AND NOT AT ALL SWEET…)

All in all, I can’t say that I would explicitly recommend this book to my friends. I wouldn’t tell you guys to go out and buy it, but if you’re able to borrow it from the library or a fellow bookworm, then I would say that’s the way to go. Thus, The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black is rated a 2.5 in my library. (Sigh…that’s the lowest review I’ve ever given) Reminder my rating is based on my personal preference, you might read this book and find it the most amazing read ever.

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