The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick | Book Review

There be MINOR spoilers.

More than a couple of years ago now, I was on holiday in a little seaside town in England when I wandered into a shop that sold novelty items and clothing. On one of the shelves sat The Invention of Hugo Cabret and it was being sold for only £4. I knew a little about it and that most people generally liked it so I bought it. I didn’t, however, read it until today which is something that I deeply regret because this book is fantastic.

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Landline by Rainbow Rowell | Book Review

This post contains spoilers.

I’ve wanted to read Landline ever since it came out. Unfortunately, it’s taken me until now to actually pick it up but fortunately, I quite enjoyed it. The concept has always stood out to me and while I’ve read her three young adult books: Fangirl, Eleanor and Park, and Carry on. I hadn’t read this or her other adult book Attachments. I was intrigued by the plot of this book but also the fact that it was aimed at adults. I really like Rowell’s writing and I was curious to see what I would think when it came to a different target audience.

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To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before [Trilogy] by Jenny Han

NOTE ABOUT SPOILERS: This post will be reviewing all three books in the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before trilogy by Jenny Han so there will be spoilers for all three of them.

So, although this trilogy has been on my radar since the first book came out in 2014, I didn’t get the chance to read them until the movie adaptation came out this year.  Well, I actually listened to the audiobooks and they were pretty great.

The narrator, Laura Knight Keating, did a really fantastic job. I love how she changed her voice ever so lightly for each character. It got to the point where I knew exactly who was talking without the need for Lara Jean to clarify who was speaking. Listening to the trilogy created this whole experience that made reading each book more and more entertaining.

The rest of this post is going to be split into sections that will talk about each book.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.

I really don’t think the plot description of both the book and movie does it justice. It really only tells you about the letters getting out which does kick everything off but I had absolutely no idea that the main story actually revolved around the fake dating trope. If I had known that was the main plot I would have picked up this book the second it came out with absolutely no hesitation.

Knowing that she wrote love letters and they got out just didn’t interest me. From what I’ve seen online, it seems like a lot of people felt the same and it’s such a shame because this trilogy is so good.

Although I have to admit, I wasn’t overly fond of some of the characters when I first started listening to To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Peter didn’t leave much of an impression and I didn’t really take to Lara Jean, however, by the end of the first book my mind was changed. It also helped a lot that I’d seen the movie first.

A comment I heard a lot about Lara Jean in the book was that she sounds much younger than she was meant to be and was a bit irritating after some time. I get that. I really don’t think I would have liked her, or Peter, by the end of the book if it wasn’t for the movie.

Also in terms of age, it’s funny because Kitty is almost the opposite. I think she sounds much older than she’s meant to be in the book, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks that because in the movie they aged her up a little.

All of that being said, I did enjoy the plot. I like the progression from fake dating to real dating between Lara Jean and Peter. It also worked really well that it was filtered out by Lara Jean dealing with her family life as well and the fallout from the rest of the love letters. Her big sister Margo has moved to Scotland for University so it’s just Lara Jean, her dad, and her little sister Kitty.

I liked that we saw Lara Jean and Kitty grow closer, and how the former essentially became the big sister in the household. Their routines ultimately change and it was nice to see that kind of thing throughout the book as well as the growing relationship between her and Peter.

P.S. I Still Love You.

This sequel was when I really started to like the characters. In general, they felt more fleshed out and were much easier to separate. Their voices felt solid, they were much more believable, and I found many things about them that I could either relate to or fall in love with. There was some of that in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before just not to the same level as its sequels.

While the first books is a love story mixed with Lara Jean dealing with changes to her home/family life, this book felt more like a breather. She and Peter are at the start of their relationship and there are some issues, primarily him hanging out with his ex, Gen, all the time and potential feelings toward John Ambrose McClaren resurfacing for Lara Jean.

A lot does happen in this book, but it also feels a little lighter than both the first and third books. When it comes to Peter and Gen, it did become a little frustrating. I thought it was dragged out at times and an unnecessary need for drama. However, it was realistic in places. It made absolute sense that when Gen was going through something horrible she would lean on Peter. They’ve known each other forever and when you think about it, just because he fell in love with Lara Jean doesn’t mean he’s going to stop caring about Gen.

On the flip side, while this is happening John Ambrose McClaren comes back into Lara Jean’s life. I did like that any potential between the two of them flopped quite easily. In the beginning, Lara Jean knows right away that she loves Peter and is meant to be with him. Later in the book, there’s potential for her and John to get together (they even kiss) but that is quickly squashed down and she and Peter are together again.

Throughout this book, we discover a lot about Lara Jean and her friends growing up. Just little bits of information about what they got up to, how close they all were, how they drifted apart, and so on. Although there is a lot of drama, it definitely didn’t feel as dramatic as the other books which was a great feeling to have for a middle book.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean.

My favourite thing about this final book was that everything had an ending and it really felt like everything was meant to close up. Lara Jean and Peter discover they’re meant to be together no matter what, and Lara Jean (and others) are dealing with going off to University and their final year at school.

Admittedly, by this point, I was kind of sick of Lara Jean and Peter fighting and breaking up. On the one hand, I get their insecurities, they’re from different social circles in school and their relationship was fake in the beginning, however, in each book they’ve fallen out and then got back together. I personally think they should have come to the conclusion that they can face anything and should be together forever before now.

This book really should have just clarified that and proved them right. Regardless, I did still love this book. I appreciated seeing Lara Jean deal with preparing for University. I actually liked that she didn’t get into her top school. It was great to have to see her deal with what to do next, how she had to figure out how to be okay with going elsewhere. It really felt like Lara Jean (and others) grew up a lot in this book and the more she figured out her next step in life the more it felt right that the book, and the trilogy as a whole, was ending.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean did a fantastic job of wrapping everything up but still leaves everything open. We, the readers, get to imagine what life is like at University for these characters and where they might go on from here, but the story we were told in books one and two have been closed.

Overall,

I really didn’t expect to like this trilogy as much as I do. Although I think there were some issues with the first book, it definitely got better with the two sequels. Each book got a 4 out of 5 from me and I highly recommend them, especially the audiobooks!

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness | Book Review

So far, this is my lowest rated book of 2018 but I actually quite enjoyed this, it just wasn’t as good as it could have been. In some ways, it gripped me right away and in others… it took a while.

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The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli | Book Review [Spoiler Free]

This is spoiler free HOWEVER there is a spoiler right at the end (which is indicated).

I have to admit, this one slipped under my radar for far too long. Funnily enough, I’ve seen the cover for the Upside of Unrequited everywhere but I never knew, until recently, that it was written by Becky Albertalli or that it was a part of the Simon universe. Not that the latter matters too much although I will say that if you are interested in reading Simon vs the Homosapiens Agenda, I recommend reading that before this one because there will be minor spoilers in the Upside of Unrequited that could ruin your experience of reading Simon.

Continue reading “The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli | Book Review [Spoiler Free]”

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertali | Book Review [Spoiler Free]

NOTE: This is spoiler free but there will be spoilers for Simon VS the Homosapiens Agena.

There’s a lot of pressure when you have high expectations for a book and you’re 90% sure that it’s going to be good. A pressure because a part of you knows you shouldn’t have such high expectations, no matter what the book is, but the other part of you simply can’t help it. That was the case for me with Leah on the Offbeat.

Earlier this year I re-read Simon VS the Homosapiens Agenda which is a favourite of mine and also the prequel to this book. Reading Leah on the Offbeat wasn’t something I planned because I didn’t own a copy at the time of finishing my re-read of Simon, however, while I was on holiday at the end of June I walked into a bookstore and right there on the shelf was one copy of Leah on the Offbeat. One copy? Of course, I had to buy it. It felt like a sign.

It was just that easy to get through as Simon, partly because I knew these characters (to some extent) but also because the structure and pacing of Leah on the Beat is really well done. There’s such an obvious push forward that nothing seems to drag but it never feels like the story is being rushed. Every time we move from one part of the story to another, it feels natural. There was never a point where I questioned why something was happening or how we got to that moment.

Honestly, if you’ve read Simon VS the Homosapiens Agenda and you loved Becky Albertali’s writing, then you’ll love this. It’s set in the same world (a little over a year after the events of Simon) and it does a great job of expanding that world while also keeping this story as its own thing. Now, you don’t necessarily have to read Simon to read this but it will spoil a lot of things for you that might ruin your read through of Simon if you decide to get it to later. (That’s why there’s a spoiler warning at the start of this review!)

I loved all the little moments about the other characters that continued on from the previous book. It was great to see Simon and Bram’s relationships and how that’s developed since we last saw them but it was even better because it didn’t take over and was simply a background thing. It was also nice to see a lot of Bram by himself because we didn’t really get that in Simon (we saw him as Blue in the emails and such but we never got to see Bram quite like we see him in Leah on the Offbeat). There are many other characters that we see and mentions of past events that make this book feel nostalgic but as I said before, none of it takes away from the fact that this story is about Leah and is its own thing.

Leah Burke was a character I immediately fell in love with in Simon. I wanted to know more about her straight away and this book certainly delivered. She’s everything she was in Simon and more! Leah is so unapologetically herself and it’s awe-inspiring. For the most part, Leah knows who she is and she isn’t afraid to be that person. It was so great to read about a character who might not want to tell everyone everything, but she’s content with at least admitting who she is to herself.

Leah on the Offbeat made me smile, laugh, even get a little teary-eyed on occasion, but for the most part, it was just a genuine pleasure to read. I will always be thankful for character’s like Leah and I can’t wait for more writing from Becky Albertalli.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ / 5