August 31, 2015
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Review: P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

Review: P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny HanP.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
Published by Simon and Schuster on May 26th 2015
Pages: 352

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?

 

 

 

Lara Jean is more confused than ever about how she feels. What started out as pretending turned into something real and now she might lose the boy she’s grown to love. Complicating matters further is another boy from her past turning up. Can she figure out what her heart wants before it’s too late?

Honestly, I was nervous about this book coming out because I felt like we could have wrapped up To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before quite nicely and had a strong, cute standalone. I wish that was what happened. Instead we got a sequel that felt largely unnecessary, full of drama instead of heart. I had no issues with the writing itself though it definitely caters to a younger audience (this was something I noticed in the first book as well). But where the first book captured the pains of first love and growing into yourself in a cute, realistic, and relatable manner, P.S. I Still Love You misses the mark. Instead we a lot of drama and miscommunication that goes on for the entire plot. It could be that Lara Jean is just too young for me as a protagonist, but I felt she was really childish and immature and I didn’t like the way she was characterized in this book. Peter was equally frustrating with his inability to fully explain situations and communicate, but Lara was downright petty, jealous, and wishy washy, not even trying to work out her relationships. The two bright characters in the story were Kitty Song and John Ambrose McClaren (who definitely got the short end of a really crappy stick).

Unfortunately, I feel like the story itself lacked the magic its first installment had. Instead, there was another love triangle and lots of silly drama that negatively impacted my enjoyment of the novel. I really enjoyed the dynamic between Lara Jean and Peter for the first part of the book though, when they were actively communicating and trying to figure out what they felt for one another. They seemed to really care about each other and wanted to make sure there were no more misunderstandings, but somehow near the middle of the book, that all fell apart and all sorts of ridiculous events came into play to complicate their relationship which had barely begun to form. I feel like this would have been a better book if Han had focused on a complicated love story between two young people afraid of the connection they had, but instead we got a love story made difficult by ex-girlfriends and potential new love interests and contrived plot devices.

The one thing this book does get right is family relationships. The Song sisters are very much on each other’s team and even though they’re all different and have different ways of thinking, they definitely always have each other’s backs. Kitty was particularly delightful and I almost wish we’d get a book from her perspective. Family is an important theme in these novels and I’m glad Han decided to continue to showcase it here. Lara Jean and Peter are an interesting blend as it is and even though I felt their relationship faced unnecessary obstacles, I loved their interactions in the beginning and end of the novel. They come from different backgrounds and approaches of life which makes for interesting enough reading on its own. I also enjoyed John Ambrose McClaren as a character and he added some warmth and humor to an otherwise painfully messy narrative. I’m sad to say that I didn’t really enjoy this novel, despite some of the cute and funny moments. If you liked To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, it could go either way for you so you might want to see for yourself. But if you don’t like love triangles and miscommunication tropes, steer clear as that’s pretty much exactly what you’re getting here.

2 Stars
 
 
July 24, 2015
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Unpopular Opinions Book Tag

Diana tells you all about the things she doesn’t like and some of the things she does. Things get heated.

Questions

1. A Popular Book or series that you didn’t like.
2. A Popular Book or series that every one else seems to hate but you love.
3. A Love Triangle where the main character ended up with the person you did NOT want them to end up with (warn ppl for spoilers) OR an OTP that you don’t like.
4. A popular book Genre that you hardly reach for.
5. A popular or beloved character that you do not like.
6. A popular author that you can’t seem to get into.
7. A popular book trope that you’re tired of seeing. (examples “lost princess”, corrupt ruler, love triangles, etc.)
8. A popular series that you have no interest in reading.
9. The saying goes “The book is always better than the movie”, but what movie or T.V. show adaptation do you prefer more than the book?

Let’s talk about yours? Tell me about a book you hated, but everyone else loved? Got any controversial favorites or unfavorites?

 
 
July 20, 2015
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Review: The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Review: The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee AhdiehThe Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh
Published by Penguin on 5/12/2015
Pages: 416
AmazonBarnes & Noble

Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch... she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend. She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

Shazi vows to take revenge upon the boy Caliph of Khorasan after he murders her best friend; something he has done to a different bride every night for the past month or so. Desperate to enact her revenge, she volunteers to marry him and comes up with a plan that will get her to the next dawn alive. Unfortunately (or fortunately) her plan works a little too well and now she finds herself not only surviving each night, but married to a man who is not quite the monster she imagined him to be. And she’s falling in love with him more every day.

H’OHBOY. I read this book in four hours straight through and I have to say, it was AMAZING. First of all, The Wrath and the Dawn is a retelling of Arabian Nights which I was only vaguely familiar with so I can’t speak to the nuances of the adaptation. I can only say that this book makes me want to read the source material. Let’s talk writing. The descriptions were intense and so beautiful that I could almost feel them. This book comes with a glossary in the back so if you’re not familiar with the culture or terminology, DO NOT LET THAT DETER YOU FROM READING THIS BOOK. I repeat, it was amazing. The writing is detailed and evocative and I often found myself closing my eyes after reading a paragraph to fully embrace the picture it created in my mind. Seriously, the descriptions of the food made me hungry so maybe don’t read this book on an empty stomach. :P

The characters were just as amazing as the prose. Shazi is a fierce heroine and she’s determined to be her own person and make her own judgement calls. Even when she starts to develop an attraction to Khalid, she remains staunchly independent and insists that she fight her own battles and even calls him out when she feels like he’s being possessive or too protective. Also, the girl can fight– not just mentally, but physically. All in all, she’s a very well-rounded, well-developed main character and I loved her immensely. Khalid was also a complicated character layered with guilt and the burden of leadership and a whole lot of responsibility. It’s odd because sometimes the reluctant misunderstood hero can get on my nerves, but his character was so beautifully fractured by the choices he was forced to make in service of his people that it really broke my heart and made me feel for him. I also loved his best friend Jalal who added some much needed comedy, charm, and warmth in areas that were pretty dark. The narrative sometimes switches to minor character POVs like Shazi’s father and her first love, Tariq and both of those characters had individual arcs that contributed to the overall story in surprising and interesting ways. Af first I felt frustrated at the shifts because I didn’t understand why it was necessary, but by the end of the book, you realize how all the different threads have woven together to create this heartbreaking situation and by then, I thought Ahdieh was a storytelling genius.

You wanna talk romance? LET’S DO IT. Shazi and Khalid together are a tour de force, but watching them get to that point was tense and the anticipation was half of the fun. Shazi definitely intends to kill this guy for the first half of the novel and you kind of want her to. But as she gets to know him, so do you and you begin to understand her dilemma, for the Caliph of Khorasan is not who we think he is nor what we would expect a murderer to be. And once the man is revealed, it’s harder and harder to see the monster the world has made him into. And when they come together, it’s freaking awesome. Passionate, wild, and powerful are adjectives that come to mind. Luckily, their story continues in the conclusion entitled The Rose and the Dagger which is due out in 2016. I will definitely be pre-ordering it when it’s announced. This is one of my favorite reads of the entire year and I highly recommend it. I’m also awarding it the Green Tea stamp because it’s an amazing novel rich in culture that is deftly and poetically explored. And I’m giving it five sugars to boot. Guys, read this book. It’s beautiful.

5 Stars
 
 
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