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

Book Review

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!

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

Book Review

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

ARTICLE POST: Book Reviews, an Author’s Favorite Gift

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As both a writer and a reader, I have come to realize the importance of book reviews. I want to emphasize reviews–I am not referring to a book’s ratings. While ratings are important, the review is much more precious. Ratings are subjective because there will always be someone who absolutely hates it and wants to spit on it, but then across the world there is someone who adores it and will reread it until the pages are falling out.

No book will ever please every single reader who reads it. And I would bet my life savings on that statement.

Ratings will show how the majority of the readers feel about the book. Is it popular? Is it mainstream? Whether a book receives a 1-star rating or a 5-star rating, you’ll never know if you’ll like it or not until you read it. That’s why as a reader, I don’t look at the star ratings of a book. First, I look at the summary. Am I interested? Yes. Then, I read some of the reviews (1-star & 5-star reviews). I choose the extremes because I like to read what readers really hated about the book and loved about it. I never read reviews consisting of spoilers though–I hate if I know what happens.

Reviews. What do I look for? I’m mainly searching for red flags of a book’s characteristic in the plot that I know I’ll hate. These red flags are purely personal, so while I might hate something, another reader may love it. For example, there are thousands of readers who love the “The Selection” series by Kierra Cass. However, many of the reviews (good and bad) I’ve read for these books state the main character is extremely annoying because she is an indecisive protagonist. If there is one thing I hate, it’s an irritating main character who can’t make up her mind. So, for this reason, I will not be buying this series anytime soon. Not to say, if I did stumble upon it somewhere for free, I might pick it up to read to see for myself. But, as of now, I have books on my TBR pile that are more appealing with characters I’d enjoy reading about.

Authors live on book reviews. I love reading reviews about my books and to talk to readers to see what they expected, what they were surprised from, and what they were disappointed about. I don’t take anything personally, because I understand that I can’t and will never please every single reader. That’s the human condition in life. No matter how hard you try, there will always be someone who doesn’t like it for some reason. How boring would it be if everyone loved every single thing about the book? There has to be some tug and pull to keep it interesting. A little debate never hurt anyone!

However, there are many times where I have seen readers get unfairly treated for leaving negative reviews of a book they read from other readers who loved it, and vice versa. READERS, RESPECT OPINIONS. Everyone is subject to their own opinions about the books they read. Whether they loved it or hated it, doesn’t mean it’s okay to attack them for their opinions. Agree to disagree.

So readers, I really encourage you to leave ratings and especially reviews of the books you read. Even if it’s only a sentence or two, let the author know what you loved about it or what you absolutely hated about it. Authors love to hear what readers feel about the stories that consumed hours, days, weeks, months, and years of their lives whether it’s praise or criticism.

Check out my young adult fantasy book Karnage (The Phoenix Ashes Book 1)! If you love special powers, dragons, and fantastical worlds then you’ll enjoy it!

ARTICLES YOU MAY ENJOY . . .

ARTICLE POST: The Indie Book Stigma – There are two types of authors: self-published and traditionally published.

ARTICLE POST: Writing Convention – Always learning no matter how long you’ve been writing…

ARTICLE POST: Two Types of Writers – Trust your passion and write the story you want to tell…

BOOK REVIEW: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Book Review

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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!