Binged It: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before Trilogy

The first year I went to BookCon in 2016 I met Jenny Han for the first time and she personally signed a copy of To All the Boys I’ve Before for me, which I bought onsite. And then I went home, put the book on my book case, and never read it. Well now that the film has been adapted into a Netflix movie, I decided maybe it was time I finally gave the book a read. In addition, over the years I’ve also acquired the entire trilogy so I figured why not just binge the whole trilogy. And binge it I did.

According to my handy planner, I went through this entire trilogy from July 27 to 31. In sum, I binged it in a weekend. What can I say, I was pretty hooked on Lara Jean’s story from the start, and I just couldn’t put these books down, not even for sleep. I crashed after I finished the last one, in case you were wondering.

If you’re unfamiliar with the series, it follows Lara Jean, who writes a letter every time she’s done with a crush. She pretty much pours her heart out, saying what she loved about the guy, and then puts it in an envelope and even addresses it, but never sends it. Honestly, this was my one major issue with this whole concept. If Lara Jean never planned on sending the letters, why even write their address? But I get that it was for the plot, since the person who ends up sending them out, most likely wouldn’t have put in the effort to track down all these guys’ addresses.

Moving right along, Lara Jean’s letters do get sent out, which is a shock to her, especially when one of her crushes, now popular guy Peter K, confronts her about it. At the same time, Lara Jean’s most recent crush, Josh Sanderson, also got his letter. Only problem is Josh, until very recently, was dating Lara Jean’s older sister, Margot. Awkward. In order to cover up the fact that she has serious feelings for Josh, Lara Jean kisses Peter in a most dramatic fashion, and they begin a fake relationship to trick Josh and Peter’s ex/Lara Jean’s ex-best friend, Genevieve, into believing they’ve moved on.

I love a good fake relationship story and that’s exactly what book one gave me. Book two gave me a great love triangle where I would’ve been happy if Lara Jean ended up with either guy (though I thoroughly approve of her final choice). And then finally, the last book just gave me all the feels because it was all about graduating from high school and not being sure about how your relationships in high school would transcend to your new life in college. While I graduated high school almost a decade ago (wait what?), those feelings still felt very real to me.

Overall, I obviously loved all these books. They were romantic and heartwarming, and I love the relationships Lara Jean had with her sisters, Margot and Kitty. Plus, as I said, I just couldn’t put them down. I highly recommend reading this book before the movie comes out and then checking out the film, which drops on Netflix on August 17. I plan on baking cookies, just like Lara Jean would, for the occasion. I can’t wait!

Number of Books: 3

Borrow or Buy: Buy!

Overall Rating: 

5 stars

P.S. I made a BuzzFeed quiz for you to find out which Song girl (Lara Jean and her sisters) you are if you’re into that kind of thing.

P.P.S. Here’s the trailer if you haven’t watched it 100 times like I have.

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ARC Book Review: Sadie

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Synopsis:

A gripping novel about the depth of a sister’s love; poised to be the next book you won’t be able to stop talking about.

A missing girl on a journey of revenge and a Serial―like podcast following the clues she’s left behind.

Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

When West McCray―a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America―overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.

Courtney Summers has written the breakout book of her career. Sadie is propulsive and harrowing and will keep you riveted until the last page.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from Wednesday Books. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel was released on September 4, 2018.*

I don’t normally read thrillers. I think the last thriller I read was The Good Girl, maybe, and that was a long time ago. However, I kept seeing Sadie everywhere so when I saw a post on Instagram about requesting an ARC I figured why not? And then when I actually got it I was happily surprised.

Truthfully, I didn’t really know what this book was about going into it but I was hooked from the first page. This book is written in the style of the transcript from a podcast called The Girls and Sadie’s first person POV. In the podcast, we follow host West McCray as he first learns about Sadie’s disappearance and then his search into what led to her disappearance and what could’ve happened to her. In Sadie’s POV we’re following along with her as she’s on the hunt for her sister’s killer.

Like I said, I was hooked from the very beginning. Just like West I became more and more enthralled in Sadie’s story as he started talking to people from Sadie’s life and following her trail from her hometown to where her abandoned car was found and then beyond it. On the flip side, I liked hearing Sadie’s side of things and what Courtney Summers did really well was not show her hand too early. While it was pretty clear who Sadie was hunting, the history between Sadie, the man she was looking for, Keith, and her sister, Mattie, wasn’t immediately clear. Neither was why Sadie was so sure it was Keith who killed Mattie.

I couldn’t put the book down until I found out if Sadie got her revenge and where she ended up. I also loved how complicated all the relationships in this story were, from Sadie and Mattie’s relationship as sisters and Sadie and Mattie’s different relationships to their mother, Claire, as well as the relationship between Claire and her neighbor and Sadie and Mattie’s quasi caretaker, May Beth.

Summers did an excellent job looking at a really dark issue, tying Sadie and Mattie’s stories into the stories of so many other victims. The way details were revealed between the podcast and Sadie’s own POV was so well done, and while I predicted some things I was still perfectly surprised by others. I highly recommend this book if you’re looking for a dark thriller and have a love for true crime podcasts. I’ve never listened to Serial but now I want to. Definitely pick this book up when it comes out. It’s worth a read. Or two. Also, there’s an actual podcast to go along with this book so check that out too.

Highlight for TW: Sexual assault, pedophilia, violence

Borrow or Buy: Buy it!

Stars:

5 stars

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ARC Book Review: What If It’s Us

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Synopsis:

Critically acclaimed and bestselling authors Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera combine their talents in this smart, funny, heartfelt collaboration about two very different boys who can’t decide if the universe is pushing them together—or pulling them apart.

ARTHUR is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

BEN thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them . . . ?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t nail a first date even after three do-overs?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is?

What if it’s us?

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from Books for Trade. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on October 9, 2018.*

I love Becky Albertalli’s books and I love Adam Silvera’s books so when I heard they were writing a book together I knew I had to have it. Thankfully, I was lucky enough to find a kind soul on Twitter who was willing to trade their ARC with me for my ARC of Save the Date, which is also an incredible read. Thus, I finally got What If It’s Us in my hands and I’m so glad I got to read it early because it was just as good as I thought it would be.

The story is told in the alternating POVs of Arthur, a Jewish boy from Georgia who’s spending his summer in New York City as an intern at his mom’s law firm, and Ben, a Puerto Rican New York City native who’s stuck in summer school with his ex, Hudson. Arthur and Ben coincidentally cross paths when Ben attempts to mail a box of Hudson’s stuff at the post office. Unfortunately, their love story isn’t an easy one and begins with Ben leaving the post office before Arthur could get his phone number.

Even though I wouldn’t call this a high stakes novel since it’s a contemporary romance, I will say I was on the edge of my seat trying to figure out how in the world these two guys would ever cross paths again in this huge city. Once they did, I then wondered how they’d ever make their relationship work. Over the course of the novel, there were a lot of questions about fate and whether or not the universe was trying to bring Ben and Arthur together or pull them apart, which I loved.

I also thoroughly enjoyed all the Hamilton and other musical references and I think any musical geek will love this book for that alone. Besides the great references though, this book was also really funny with a great cast of characters. I really loved both Ben and Arthur’s support systems, but Ben’s best friend, Dylan, was hands down my favorite. I also loved that this book took a hard look at Ben and Arthur’s differences. I loved the discussions of race/culture and what it means to be “smart.” I also really liked that the book combated this idea that homophobia doesn’t exist in places like New York City, because it does.

Overall, I will say this book really felt like a perfect combination of Albertalli and Silvera’s talents. While it gave me all the feels, it also made me think, and definitely tugged at my heart strings a few times. In sum, definitely preorder this book if you haven’t already. It’s a must read.

Borrow or Buy: Buy it!

Stars:

5 stars

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ARC Book Review: Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating

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Synopsis:

Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them…right?

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free digital advanced reader’s copy of this book from Gallery Books via NetGalley. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on September 4, 2018.*

On Monday I saw Christina Lauren post about this book on Instagram and asked if there were ARCs. That same day I requested it on Netgally, got the eARC, and then proceeded to stay up until 6 a.m. reading it. Yeah, it was that good. And I have a problem, but that’s neither here nor there.

Anyway, this novel is told in the dual POVs of Josh and Hazel, and I love them both but I might love Hazel just a tiny bit more. She was hilarious. I literally laugh out loud at so many points because of the things she did and said. I also shook my head a few times and said, “Oh Hazel,” but with the same kind of fondness Josh had for her. Hazel’s just the best.

Then we have Josh and my God he definitely tops the book boyfriend list. As Hazel likes to say he’s “the blueprint for Perfect.” First of all, I love that he’s Korean and that his culture was explored in this book. We got to see his Umma (mom) who was constantly cooking food for Josh and his sister, Emily, and then of course also Hazel, who’s also Emily’s best friend. (Side note: All the food descriptions made me hungry and want Korean BBQ) Christina Lauren did a good job exploring Josh’s culture and traditions and I loved getting to see that in this book.

Now, Josh and Hazel together. They were so cute and funny, and I loved that they spent the majority of this book setting each other up on pretty awful double blind dates. The number of times I wanted to jump into the book and yell at them, “Why are you wasting your time? The love of your life is right there!” was a lot. That said, I love a good slow burn and this book totally gave me that and while I always expect a happy ending from Christina Lauren this book still managed to surprise me.

Thus, I must highly recommend this book and I’m truly mad you have to wait until September to read it because ALL I WANT TO DO IS TALK ABOUT IT. Alas, that’s just how this goes. But preorder it so you can get it immediately and we can gush about Josh and Hazel as soon as the book comes out. K, thanks!

Borrow or Buy: BUY!

Stars:

5 stars

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ARC Book Review: One Small Thing

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Synopsis

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author duo of The Royals and When It’s Real comes a sensational new novel about a girl falling for the one boy she should never have met…

Beth’s life hasn’t been the same since her sister died. Her parents try to lock her down, believing they can keep her safe by monitoring her every move. When Beth sneaks out to a party one night and meets the new guy in town, Chase, she’s thrilled to make a secret friend. It seems like a small thing, just for her.

Only Beth doesn’t know how big her secret really is…

Fresh out of juvie and determined to start his life over, Chase has demons to face and much to atone for, including his part in the night Beth’s sister died. Beth, who has more reason than anyone to despise him, is willing to give him a second chance. A forbidden romance is the last thing either of them planned for senior year, but the more time they spend together, the deeper their feelings get.

Now Beth has a choice to make—follow the rules, or risk tearing everything apart…again.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free digital advanced reader’s copy of this book from Harlequin Teen. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel was released on June 26, 2018.*

I loved Erin Watt’s When It’s Real so when I heard they were releasing another contemporary romance novel I knew I had to have it, and it did not let me down. Unlike When It’s RealOne Small Thing is told in only one POV that of Beth, who’s sister, Rachel, died three years ago. After Rachel died, Beth’s parents became overly protective of Beth in suffocating ways. They wouldn’t let her go out with her friends and her mom took her college applications out of the mail, refusing to let her go to school out of state. Additionally, they still acted as if Rachel was still alive. For example, Rachel’s room looked exactly the way it did when she died, Beth’s mom got mad at her for putting her stuff on “Rachel’s bench,” and Beth wasn’t allowed to get a pet because Rachel was allergic.

It was a lot and I was on Team Beth from the very beginning, and was throughout this novel, even when she developed feelings for Chase, the one boy everyone wanted her to stay away from. Every one in Beth’s town hated Chase, including Rachel’s former boyfriend, Jeff, who also recently returned to town. Despite everyone telling her to stay away, Beth just couldn’t and neither could Chase. The friendship they developed gave me all the feels and I was rooting for them throughout the story, wanting Beth to honestly give the finger to everyone who told her it was wrong.

However, as the novel went on the author did a good job of showing all sides of this situation, and I did end up feeling sympathy for Beth’s parents, though they still made a lot of mistakes. What I loved most about this novel, was how it surprised me. There were of course things I expected from the novel, but there was plenty that truly surprised me.

Watt did an excellent job of drawing me into this story and looking at grief, forgiveness, and guilt. The novel also looked at issues of class and abuse. In sum, though this book isn’t large it tackled a lot of topics in a way that never felt heavy handed, but instead pushed the story forward, so much so that I read it one sitting. So definitely pick this book up if you’re looking for a quick read that will tug on your heart strings, and also infuriate you a little because really I just wanted Beth to catch a break throughout the whole novel and punch a few people in the face. Just saying.

Honestly though, do yourself a favor and get this book today, because it’s now on shelves. You won’t regret it. Trust me!

TW: Sexual assault

Borrow or Buy: Seriously? Buy this book! Do it, now!

Favorite Line:

“Rachel’s gone. And I have to let my broken heart heal instead of pretending I’ve been fine.”

Stars:

5 stars

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Book Review: Anger Is a Gift

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Synopsis:

Moss Jeffries is many things―considerate student, devoted son, loyal friend and affectionate boyfriend, enthusiastic nerd.

But sometimes Moss still wishes he could be someone else―someone without panic attacks, someone whose father was still alive, someone who hadn’t become a rallying point for a community because of one horrible night.

And most of all, he wishes he didn’t feel so stuck.

Moss can’t even escape at school―he and his friends are subject to the lack of funds and crumbling infrastructure at West Oakland High, as well as constant intimidation by the resource officer stationed in their halls. That was even before the new regulations―it seems sometimes that the students are treated more like criminals.

Something will have to change―but who will listen to a group of teens?

When tensions hit a fever pitch and tragedy strikes again, Moss must face a difficult choice: give in to fear and hate or realize that anger can actually be a gift.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free digital advanced reader’s copy of this book from Tor Teen. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel was released on May 22, 2018.*

As a person of color, I’m well aware of police brutality and the injustice that occurs to people who look like me. That being said, I grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood. When I went to school the only thing we had to go through was the doors. We had one security guard, who was a POC and was quite chill but besides that, you just showed your school ID and you went inside. That was it.

My point in saying this is I did not grow up in an environment like the one Moss and his friends go through. If anything, I’d say I’m more like his best friend, Esperanza, who goes to a different high school, and doesn’t truly understand all that Moss and his friends have to go through on a daily basis, both at school and with the police in general. And recognizing that privilege in myself was definitely uncomfortable, but that’s the whole point of the book.

Moss is a young black man who’s father was killed by the police six years ago. Since then, Moss has suffered from anxiety and after seeing all the protests that were done for his father and how that didn’t really lead to change, Moss tries to stay away from protests and anywhere else where there will be a heavy police presence. That is until metal detectors are brought into his school. When one of the detectors ends up harming one of his good friends, Moss is rightfully angry and he decides to take action. Together with the help of his mother, Wanda, his friends, and his community, they stage a walkout at school. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end well.

Over the course of the novel, Moss struggles with wanting to do something about all the injustice he’s seen, but also feeling defeated, wondering if there really will ever be change. I think this is something that many POCs experience. I know I have myself. But what Mark Oshiro does so well with this story is he keeps it real about how bad it really is for POCS, particularly in areas like West Oakland where Moss is from, but Oshiro also shows the hope and joy in these communities as well.

While this book made sad, angry, upset, and uncomfortable, it also made me laugh and smile. Moss’ relationship with his mother was heartfelt and something I could definitely relate too, being close to my mom. Similarly, Moss’ meet cute with a boy named Javier and the romance that ensued, also made me feel warm and fuzzy on the inside.

And in between all of that, this book showed be a different experience that made me question my own worldview. Even having what I felt was a good understanding of police brutality, reading this book at times I found myself asking, “Is this legit? Do these things really happen?” When really I should be asking why does this happen and why isn’t anyone doing anything about it? The fact that this book raises those questions and will hopefully spark those conversations, is reason enough for me to say you have to read this book.

Borrow or Buy: Buy!

Stars:

4 stars

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ARC Book Review: My So-Called Bollywood Life

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Synopsis:

Winnie Mehta was never really convinced that Raj was her soul mate, but their love was written in the stars. Literally, a pandit predicted Winnie would find the love of her life before her eighteenth birthday, and Raj meets all the qualifications. Which is why Winnie is shocked when she returns from her summer at film camp to find her boyfriend of three years hooking up with Jenny Dickens. As a self-proclaimed Bollywood expert, Winnie knows this is not how her perfect ending is scripted.

Then there’s Dev, a fellow film geek and one of the few people Winnie can count on. Dev is smart and charming, and he challenges Winnie to look beyond her horoscope and find someone she’d pick for herself. But does falling for Dev mean giving up on her prophecy and her chance to live happily ever after? To find her perfect ending, Winnie will need a little bit of help from fate, family, and of course, a Bollywood movie star.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free digital advanced reader’s copy of this book from Crown Books for Young Readers. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on May 15, 2018.*

I didn’t know about this book until I went to the New York City Teen Author Festival and Nisha Sharma was on a debut authors panel and read an excerpt of this novel. I thought it sounded hilarious, so when I saw it was available to request on NetGalley I immediately jumped on it and I’m so glad I did.

Told in a close third person narration, My So-Called Bollywood Life follows Winnie, a senior in high school who’s returned home from film camp to discover her boyfriend, now ex-boyfriend, Raj, is dating someone else. Although, in Raj’s defense, they were on a break. However, if he’d watched Friends he would know that’s not a reasonable excuse, but I digress.

The point is, Raj and Winnie are over, which is especially confusing for Winnie because all her life she’s believed in a prophecy she got from a pandit who said she’d meet the love her life before her 18th birthday and the guy’s name would begin with a ‘R’ and would give her a silver bracelet.

Now Winnie is fighting against believing that prophecy and wants to make her destiny, beginning with getting into NYU. To do that she needs to run the film festival at her school and be co-president of the film club…with Raj. Of course this doesn’t go well and it doesn’t help that another boy at school, Dev, is now showing renewed interest in Winnie and Raj just can’t seem to let go and still believes he and Winnie are meant to be.

With a love triangle, drama, a lot of Bollywood references, and the best parents you’ll ever meet, My So-Called Bollywood Life was a fun read that I just couldn’t put down. It also made me want to watch a Bollywood movie (I’ve never seen one!). My only issue was with the conflict at the end. It’s hard to explain without spoiling so I’ll just say I thought the conflict made it seem like Winnie should give up on something she worked quite hard for just for a guy, and the fact that her best friend, Bridget, seemed to also agree with this sentiment really irked me. If you want a more detailed explanation I’ll put it down below with spoilers.

However, this issue aside, I think the book kind of made up for it in the end, and overall I really did enjoy this book despite that one little thing, so I still highly recommend it. Definitely grab a copy of the book, which is on sale today!

Borrow or Buy: Buy!

Stars:

4 stars

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More Detailed Explanation Of My Issue With This Book Below (SPOILERS!)

In short, Dev and Winnie get together, they have a great time at the fundraiser dance for the film festival, but then the next day Dev is accused of stealing the money from the ticket sales and the money is found in his locker.

It obviously wasn’t him, but there’s no concrete proof it wasn’t so the faculty advisor for the club, Mr. Reece, pulled Dev’s movie from the film festival. Winnie was determined to clear Dev’s name, but she didn’t quit the film club, and for some reason both Dev and Bridget got angry with Winnie for not quitting. I thought this was absurd and for them to ask Winnie to quit the club, something that would boost her college application, was ridiculous.

Of course Winnie wasn’t going to quit the club and give up on something she’d been working towards for so long for some guy she just started dating. That’s crazy, and it was so unreasonable to me that everyone just agreed that’s what she should do. Maybe this why I’m still single but I think it’s a bit ridiculous to ask someone to give up on their dream for a guy, much less one she hadn’t even been dating that long.

That being said, I felt the novel sort of corrected the problem by having Winnie still pursue her dream, just in a different way. The epilogue also made it abundantly clear that Winnie could have both the guy and her career as a film critic, which I appreciated. Still, that one part just didn’t sit well with me at all.