2018 Reading Challenge, Book 32 – Lost Boy

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This book almost sent me into a reading slump, it was the book that prompted all the bonus books that you have seen the past few days. Something about this book just felt really slow and I just couldn’t get on board with it. Maybe it was because they were a group of boys who didn’t have to follow any rules, it felt very Lord of the Flies and we all know how I felt about that one.

Eventually I found the dynamic between Peter and Jamie fascinating, especially as the book progressed and the relationship between them got tested and strained. What I liked about the group of boys was that there were clear roles that each one had. Jamie was very clearly the mother of the group and that ended up being to his detriment in the end.

This book really started to pick up during the Sally part to be honest. Which was kind of far into the book all things considered. But once it picked up it really hit the ground running. And so I avoided falling into the reading slump.

I’ve always kind of thought that the idea of Peter Pan was a little weird and kinda sad and this book really capitalised on that. Especially in the last 50 or so pages, the reveal of his part in getting Jamie to the Other Place (which made the opening pages made sense, it was a long game though) and the way that he managed to maintain his eternal youth. It really compounded the twisted nature of Peter and come the end I came to like that. He became this completely complex character that was a contrast between childish and being completely in control. The more the book progressed the more evident that contrast became.

This book inverted the idea of believe and what it means. Usually Tinkerbell needs it to live but in this the boys need to believe in Peter in order to stay boys. I loved that fact. And I also liked the way that the boys realised that as they prepared for their showdown with Peter. I also found the affects that their lack of belief in Peter and the way that it ages them a really interesting element of the book.

I just really loved how delightfully twisted Peter was in the end. It just felt like the kind of thing that someone so young who had all that power would do. It came from a place of truth and I liked that although the reader always kinda knew that Peter was hella shady the extent of it was only truly realised as it was revealed to Jamie. The way that Peter twisted things that were kind of specific to Jamie, using his trade mark against him. Making Jamie watch on a loop as Peter finally decides to let people leave which was the very thing that Jamie kind of desperately craved for others (specifically Charlie). The way that it all led to that final line which was just so definitive and so brilliant.

This book is brutal. It’s violent and at times it’s a lot. There were some aspects that didn’t necessarily seem to make much sense to me (the thing with all the Many-Eyed, I’m still not really sure what the hell they are supposed to be). And yeah, I found it kind of slow for a while but once it got going it really had me hooked and I turned out to quite like this book. Also, for some reason I didn’t see the ending coming, but as it started to happen I realised that it was the only way that this story could end.

3/5 stars

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Bonus Book Review – Always and Forever, Lara Jean

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If you follow me on Twitter then you will have noticed that over the weekend I basically tweeted about almost nothing but To All the Boys I Loved Before because I watched it almost the moment I had got my dinner for the night (after my workout, which I no word of a lie nearly cancelled so I could get home earlier…). I loved it so much and these stories have really managed to worm their way into my heart and just take up residence there.

And it literally all started with a trailer.

Now I have watched the film and also finished the books. Well, the books thing came first and I am still, even now at nearly 2 weeks later, sad that I don’t have a book to go because I’ve finished them all. But my goodness what a trilogy it has been.

I have honestly never, and may never be, so invested in the happiness of two fictional teenagers than I have been with Lara Jean and Peter. I just wanted them to be happy together. That was it. But obviously there was a lot of drama that came with that. Like a lot. It felt somehow like the most drama filled of the 3 books. But it was all like real life drama. It was dealing with the ending of school and where to go for college. It was assessing what you really wanted as opposed to what other people want for you. For a little bit it felt like there was no way to root for both Peter and Lara Jean’s happiness because they were just never going to align with one another and ultimately because it’s Lara Jean’s POV you just want her to be happy.

And she was coming to terms to not getting into the college that she wanted and then falling in love with a college that she was also simultaneously deeming as ‘impractical’ as well as trying to think ‘What Would Margot Do?’ as the reader you kind of know what she should do and when she comes to those conclusions of her own accord the happiness that floods over the reader as well felt intense. I also like the way that the rejection from her dream college was handled, she was allowed to be upset about it as she came to terms with it all.

I liked how the college ‘issue’ was dealt with between them. Also I couldn’t help but be hella endeared by the fact that Peter had just complete and total unending faith in his relationship with Lara Jean and it only really waived once at a time that felt perfectly valid to be honest (actually I think it was twice because Kavinsky remains the MOST jealous sometimes). I liked the way it ultimately initially went even though it broke my heart into a million pieces.

Although seriously their break up hurt. I kind of knew that it would but it still kind of left me floored like it was something that actually happened to me. And as it was happening and we were moving along with Lara Jean’s narrative it didn’t look that way, but then when Peter started defending himself I totally got where he was coming from. I remain hella impressed by the fact that Han always seems to manage to convey how another person is feeling even though it is from Lara Jean’s perspective. I felt Peter’s pain. As well as Lara Jean’s.

I felt like I related more to Lara Jean than I ever have in the previous 2 books. The way that she focused so incessantly on planning the wedding to avoid her real drama. The way that she kind of grappled with what people wanted around her and what she wanted. The fear of actually moving away to somewhere new. She was just so relatable and I loved her so much. Especially come the end when she finally made her decision.

Couple of other things I loved, Margot and her unease about her dad getting remarried because she’s just not been there for them falling in love and Kitty, as always.

This felt like a really good ending to the whole trilogy. It made me feel some kind of way a lot. It was well written and it gave me the happy ending that I so desperately craved. I love this series so much and I will always be a little bit sad that I have finished it now.

4/5 stars

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Bonus Book Review – Theatrical

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Happy Monday people, hope you had a nice weekend. I spent my Sunday mostly in bed and my weekend falling back in love with Lara Jean Covey and Peter Kavinsky because the film dropped and the cuteness overload was too damn much for me (and I’m still a little sad that I don’t have one of those books left). Ultimately it was chill, I saw Incredibles 2, I ate a lot of food. It felt good. I feel ready for this week, especially creatively speaking. But enough about that and let’s get down to business (to defeat the Huns).

I have another book review for you today. This book ended up in my life purely because I have no impulse control and well I was buying a couple of books anyway so what was one more?

This book was cute. If I had to sum it up in a word that would be it. It was also a interesting base insight into the world of the technical team of a theatre. It’s not that I don’t think much about them or anything, because I do almost every time I see a show, it’s that I kind of never really appreciate just how much work they actually have to do in order for the audience to see what they see every night (and twice on Wednesdays and Saturdays). Just damn.

The first thing that I really enjoyed about this book was the writing. I’ve never read a book by Maggie Harcourt before and I found her writing style  meshed well with me. It was easy to read. It was evocative at times, it was funny. It made me feel a little mushy sometimes out of the cuteness. It read really well and kinda fast (which to be honest I appreciated as I tried to claw back to being on track). It made me more interested to seek out other pieces of  her work. The cover has a pull quote of ‘the UK’s answer to Rainbow Rowell’ and well it wasn’t wrong.

Harcourt created some really great characters. I liked Hope (and I also appreciated her sisters’ names and the fact that there was a theme there). She felt like a really relatable character who just wanted to make it on her own of her own accord outside of her mother’s shadow. I mean it was obviously always going to come out that she was lying and that there would be consequences but I liked that this didn’t have one of those sad consequences endings and it basically just ended where it should, with the family being supportive of her and all that she managed to achieve. I will say in terms of her sisters that I kind of wish that there was more of a backstory there for them. Hope just didn’t like them and they didn’t really appear to like her and while the story exists in a vacuum and so it would make sense to not know about all the history it kind of felt a little needed because there didn’t appear to a single reason as to why none of them really got on with one another.

Her sisters aside I really liked the friendships that were built throughout this book, with both Priya and George. They felt grounded and real, especially the Priya one. That felt like a good representation of female friendships, I feel like I don’t see enough of them to be honest.

Not gonna lie, I quite liked the tension between Hope and Tommy. And I liked how it eased the less Tommy tried to act like a dick and Hope just tried to do her best with the hand she had been dealt. I also liked how she dealt with the whole ‘Tommy scandal’ when it came up. I feel like in some ways that she handled way better than I thought she would just because she was so wanting to be in the background. I also liked that Tommy seemed to inexplicably have Hope and Luke’s back in regards to their relationship.

Let’s move onto the love story element of it all shall we?

It was kind of a major part of the book, which I didn’t mind. However there were times when it felt a little too all or nothing which was sometimes a little intense. But that is to be expected when teens start to feel things. The date on the stage with all the effects and stuff was so cute and I liked it so much. I also liked Luke as a character in general and how he shared the same love for theatre as Hope just in a little bit of a different way. I also enjoyed how kinda awkward it all was. It felt real. I liked it.

I just really liked the whole book. It gave me all the warm fuzzy feels and it was something that I looked forward to going back to each morning/evening. I would for sure recommend it if you’re looking for this kind of contemporary book. Harcourt is a great writer and definitely one that I would look to go to in the future.

3/5 stars.

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Bonus Book Review – Frat Girl

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Fun fact, I end up in Waterstones Piccadilly an increasing amount these days (on Saturdays only). As such I end up getting a lot more books on my radar to read than I usually would because the covers end up in my mind and I’ve physically touched them and they don’t leave my head.

This is one of those books that I actually picked up and put back down on 3 separate occasions until on the 4th one I just thought fuck it.

This book took about 50 or so pages for me to get into. I kind of worried that it would be everything that I dislike in a book and that Cassie would be a very one dimensional character in a room full of boys.

Thankfully once Cassie entered the frat house and all the pieces kind of started to come into play this book really picked up and then I devoured it. I enjoyed it.

It fell very much into a rom-com in book form and we all know how much I love them. Especially right now. More on that a bit later though.

Cassie was an interesting character. In that she existed as a contradiction that on the one hand I understood because who really has it all figured out at 18 but then also it just became a bit annoying in the context of what Cassie was trying to be. Which I guess at the bottom of it was a feminist. Yet she had all these scathing, judgy things to say about other girls who rushed for sororities, even though effectively she was kind of doing the same thing. She just didn’t ultimately seem like a girls girl and that seemed to go completely against what she was trying to achieve and be.

I liked her for the most part when I kind of just tried to remind myself that for a while it is possible to still be in that teenage mindset where you think you’re a hardcore feminist but then also instantly move to tear other women down. I did like the confidence that she had in herself.

Okay let’s circle back to the rom-com in a book form thing. I don’t think that was what this book wanted the take away to be, but it was. Because I think it should have been more of a feminist thing. But ultimately that was what it boiled down to. I even kind of ended there with the resolution being that I guess they were gonna give it a shot because he got into a fight for her…the project that she was working on seemed to become secondary once rush (or maybe it was hazing) started I think (it’s been a while since I read now so I can’t quite remember its timeline). And I’m not overly mad about it because it was what I needed in the end, but also maybe it missed the mark a bit. The ending kind of bothered me.

I don’t know, maybe because it felt like it would be quite a big thing and yet it just sort of seemed to happen on a simmer. And also, I gotta be honest, I don’t even really know how Cassie ultimately would have concluded this project of hers because it did feel a little bit like she forgot that she would actually maybe become friends with the people that she spent all that time with. The whole management of her project just felt like an after thought at times because it didn’t really know what it wanted to be. I wanted to know what the actual fallout would be from the release of this project (in its half formed state) would be. And also, did she get to keep the scholarship, the terms of it were weird and all those interviews seemed kind of pointless. That whole thread had a lot of loose ends.

Back to the positives though, I liked the variety of guys that showed up in this. And how it showed that there was no stereotypical frat guy. That scene where Cassie led a sex ed class was hilarious. And I loved Roache’s style of writing. It was so easy to read and it read really well. It was funny. It was heart warming at times. It was cute. It was adorable. It was a little messy (in terms of storyline, not writing). It was a good read.

Yeah it was a little hit and miss overall, but that did not stop me from really liking it even when I found it frustrating at times. I’m glad that I picked it up.

3/5 stars

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Bonus Book Review – PS, I Still Love You

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I honestly just bounced from one book back into this series, out onto a different book and then finished this series of. I got hella obsessed, hella fast and I’m still hella sad that I’m done with it because I just finished a book and I didn’t have another one of these books to fall into. I had to move on. Wild.

This book pretty much picks up from where the first one left off and as such I was very much in my feelings because Lara Jean and Peter were adorable and I love them with every fibre of my being. It’s intense.

And so was the drama that hit very early on in the book and then continued throughout. I liked the way that the fall out of the ‘sex tape’ was handled and how it affected Lara Jean. It all came back on here even though both her and Peter were implicated. I also found the way that then reflected in the relationship between Peter and Lara Jean was really well handled.

I also enjoyed how complicated it all got when Genevieve got thrown into the mix. I think I liked it just because it felt like a very accurate representation of what being teenaged and having to interact with your first love even though you’re not together anymore. The fact that Peter and Genevieve found comfort in each other in some way, while annoying and stressful for my Lara Jean/Peter endgame heart, made sense and I really got the frustration that Lara Jean felt at it. Han did a great job of portraying that.

She also dealt with my least favourite thing, the love triangle, well. Because of the way that the Peter/Genevieve thing was dealt with it made sense that she sort of gravitated towards someone who was maybe a little more similar to her than Peter…and that whole thing did make sense. And for a brief moment at the party in the care home I was rooting for them. And then Peter showed up and I remembered that those feelings weren’t real and I was still invested in those two ending up together.

I loved, loved, loved the development of Lara Jean’s character. It really felt like she came into her own and I liked that she never underestimated what she was worth. She ultimately didn’t let Peter treat like she was being irrational or like shit and took control of it and I loved that. Like I mentioned in my review for the first one, she is a quieter kind of bad ass.

Kitty still remains my low key fave what with her savage responses and take no prisoners attitude, and also her incessant desire to set her dad up with her neighbour. I also loved the addition of Stormy and all her wise words of wisdom and the friendship that she formed with Lara Jean. It felt kind of maternal in a way.

I’ll tell you what else I enjoyed about this which I didn’t really notice until he made a brief appearance. Josh. He just disappeared off the face of Lara Jean’s earth. And I liked that. Because that is what happens in life once someone stops dating someone (and also makes things a little awkward with their sister). I liked that he wasn’t just shoehorned in for the sake of it.

I’ve said it many times, but I am very invested in Peter and Lara Jean and their happiness. Specifically with each other. In a way that I feel would be unrealistic for real life, but in fiction I need it to thrive. And so there was about 100 pages of this book where I was worried that they were just gonna stay apart and I wasn’t gonna get my happy ending at the end of this. When I did, my heart did a little happy dance. I’m obsessed.

This was a great second book to this trilogy and I get why it was also at one point the ending. I didn’t quite enjoy it as much as the first one but that was mainly just because I knew I was in love with these characters and so I didn’t see how that was going to change.

3/5 stars

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Bonus Book Review – More Happy Than Not

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And so here we come to the end of all published Adam Silvera books. He has become one of my fave authors this year and I still remain fucked up over They Both Die in the End. I am also happy that there is one more to come later this year (with Becky Albertalli) because I am not ready to be done with him yet.

The last book I have by him was actually the first book he wrote and I could kind of tell that it was his first. There was something that felt a little bit like he was finding his footing as a writer and there were parts of it that felt a little messy at times for me.

I enjoyed this book for the most part, but also having said that it is my least favourite of the 3 books. The ending felt odd to me. I don’t even know why. Maybe because it wasn’t a happy ending but Aaron had somehow convinced himself that it was and that felt kind of sad because his quest to just be happy had ended like that. I don’t know. I don’t like when books end realistically, it makes me sad.

Anyway, this book threw me through a damn rollercoaster. Mainly the twist in it caught me right off guard. But once it happened it seemed kind of obvious because the signs were there. I just stared at the page for a little bit as the twist that had just occurred truly settled over me. And then a wave of sadness washed over me for Aaron. That only got worse as I moved through the whole part of the book. Because it just kind of served as a reminder that sometimes life is just shitty and sometimes you can’t change those circumstances.

This book is heavy. It has its light moments don’t get me wrong, but it deals with depression, suicide and homophobia so it was never gonna be rainbows and butterflies. It’s brutal at times. There are very few punches held. Especially as it moved backwards into the past and then moved back into the present. In fact the thing that triggered the whole journey to the past was actual punches. It’s a lot.

But it’s good.

The characters felt really well rounded, especially Aaron and Thomas, but they all did. It really helped you get a feel for the community that he was a part of and how it would be a hostile environment that you would want to forget in any way possible. Silvera did a great job of conveying the fear that Aaron felt at being gay in the immediate world that surrounded him. Thomas was a great counterpart to Aaron because on some level he seemed to know on a broad sense what he wanted and he seemed to be relatively okay (or happy, if you will) with himself and although Aaron maybe didn’t believe him as a reader you were never really sure if he was projecting or not. And I guess never really found out.

His relationship with Genevieve felt real on some level. It did kind of read as the kind of relationship you have when you are still trying to desperately cling onto the part of you that the world considers ‘normal’ and when it is thrown into a new context it becomes complicated and messy. I liked that element of the book. I liked how Aaron interacted with both Thomas and Genevieve and how they allowed Aaron to be different versions of himself.

I enjoyed this book. Like I said, the ending felt kind of rushed and a little messy which in the context of the whole story made sense but from a reading perspective was a little unsatisfactory. The story itself is sad and happy, not in equal parts but you can’t have the darkness without a little light. The characters are well rounded and the world that Silvera built felt very much like the one that we live in just with the added ‘bonus’ of being able to manipulate your memory. But as this story shows, that doesn’t necessarily work because the brain is complicated and it wants to remember. And also people are shitty.

It’s real. I mean it’s fiction, but the themes and the emotions felt so very real. And I liked it for that. I am so glad that I discovered Silvera this year because the way he writes is stunning and I love the diversity of his stories and his characters. He’s definitely an author you should read. This isn’t the first book I would recommend of his, but don’t sleep on it either.

3/5 stars

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Bonus Book Review – To All the Boys I Loved Before

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And welcome to a major straying from my own schedule that I honestly did not expect, but I was reading Lost Boy and could feel myself falling into a reading slump, the film of this is due out soon and I wanted to read it before I watched and the perfect storm was created and I somehow spent a few weeks reading nothing but book rom coms (none of which I owned prior to this whim) and we are starting here.

I loved this book so much.

It made me feel all warm and fuzzy.

And also I am a sucker for a fake relationship that becomes something more. Which this book had. And I loved it.

Lara Jean is maybe one of my favourite characters that I have sat with this year. To the point that the moment that I finished this book I knew that I couldn’t not read the rest of the series instantly (I have now done that). There was something so nice and innocent about her. I’ve read a lot of books this year about out and out badass women and it was nice to sit with a character who was still a bad ass just in a gentle way.

I mean it felt pretty bad ass the way that she handled the whole issue, however I will say that the fact that Kitty sent all the letters out was kind of obvious to me. But that didn’t detract from the drama of it all.

Like I mentioned, I am a sucker for a fake relationship that becomes a real one and the Peter and Lara Jean one was a doozy. I loved it so much. I loved how it became apparent very quickly that Peter was so much more than what people perceived. I liked that Peter really threw himself into the whole fake relationship and really cared about Lara Jean.

I also liked the journey that this sent Lara Jean on. It threw her out of her comfort zone and watching her having to navigate that and learning new things about herself in the wake of her letters coming out. It’s not that she was naive or anything before the letters came out, she was just a creature of habit (which I am) and this shook her out of this. Seeing her quietly come out of her shell but still remain herself at the core was maybe my favourite part of the whole book.

I loved her family relationships and how they developed and moved throughout the narrative and how distinctly different the relationship between her 2 sisters were because of what the offer her and just the differences in ages. I weirdly quite like how once Margot left the struggle to maintain that relationship became apparent. It felt like life (there will be more on that later for the other books).

We should all know how I feel about love triangles at this point, but this didn’t feel like your typical love triangle, mainly because Lara Jean never really acted like there was one. It felt like she made a choice and then stood by that choice, but sometimes other people’s choices impact you and that is very much what the Josh/Lara Jean part of this book felt like.

I got super invested in this damn couple. I got low key stressed/super excited when I had to actually go to bed just before Lara Jean made her definitive decision regarding Peter and the hot tub and I had to wait to find out how that went down. I may or may not have been incredibly happy when it went the way that it did. It gave me all the warm fuzzy feelings.

Look this book was the equivalent of a rom com. It was exactly what I needed it to be. It was cute. It was frothy. It included some bad ass characters and I loved Lara Jean. It was funny, it made me hungry sometimes…it made me happy. It was just what I needed.

If you want warm and fuzzy then I would recommend this book to you hands down. Jenny Han provides the goods (seriously, it reads so quick. I got her done in like a day and a bit without even meaning to…)

4/5 stars

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