Book Reviews, Books

Review: After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Summary: College sweethearts, Lauren and Ryan’s marriage comes to the breaking point, as they realize they no longer love each other. Divorce? An open marriage? In hope that they’ll reconnect and fall in love again, Lauren and Ryan decide to taAfter-I-Do-335x520.jpgke a year off. One year apart, no contact, and anything goes. As Lauren spends more time with her family and friends, she comes to realize that everyone has their own ideas of marriage, including herself. Can she continue a life with Ryan with or without lust and love, or have a life where Ryan isn’t even in the picture?

My Rating: 3.75/ 5 Stars

My Thoughts:

After I Do is the second Taylor Jenkins Reid novel that I’ve read. Like One True Loves, it took me less than two days to finish After I Do. One True Loves and After I Do are similar is that they deal with broken marriages. In One True Loves, the main protagonist must decide if she is going to continue her marriage with her husband, Jesse, who she thought was dead after being lost at sea for three years, or marry the man who she met will trying to move on with her life after Jesse. In After I Do, we follow Lauren and Ryan’s year apart, as Lauren tries to figure out how to fix her marriage. Similar to that of One True Loves, we flash back to the beginning of Lauren and Ryan’s relationship right and how they came to their breaking point. I appreciated how we knew the base of their relationship from the start, instead of it being scattered throughout the story.

After I Do is separated into four parts, and in my opinion, the title of the parts had no sense of togetherness. We from “Where does the good go?” to “November Rain” to “Most of the Time” and lastly, “Nothing Compares 2 U”. The first and last title suit what happens in their respective part, but the second and third parts don’t really describe how Lauren is feeling. Yes, Lauren is depressed (as expected), but there is more to her life: she’s helping her sister open a bakery, she’s working with Mila, she goes running with Thumper, she spends time with David, etc. As much as Lauren spends time with her friends and family and has new experiences, examples including preparing to be an aunt and welcoming in another family member as well as taking up hiking, I didn’t really get a sense of the “self-discovery” that the book’s summary promotes. The only discovering (in this case, snooping) she really does is finding the drafts in Ryan’s email account. Additionally, I hated the repetition of Lauren saying that she was fine. Obviously, she wasn’t- her marriage is on the brink, what would you expect in a book focused on fixing a broken marriage?- and I didn’t think telling herself she was fine really helped anything. Mila, Rachel, and Charlie could almost always tell that she wasn’t that fine.

My favorite characters in the novel weren’t Ryan or Lauren; rather it was Lauren’s family. Her grandmother was hilarious, I loved her Mom’s enthusiasm over doing whatever she can to make her children happy, Rachel was a great role model for Lauren (showing that you didn’t need a partner or marriage to be happy in life), and Charlie was pretty funny himself. I loved seeing Lauren spending time with Rachel, especially when it came to her baking. From the moment we see Rachel in her kitchen, I figured that having a bakery would be incorporated somewhere in the novel. I thought that Lauren and Rachel would open it together, helping Lauren create a somewhat “new life” for herself. And how could I forget Thumper?? He was another favorite; I would stayed married for that dog!

Overall, while I enjoyed After I Do’s unique storyline and its loving cast of characters with their own story arcs (I think I enjoyed Rachel and Charlie’s more than Lauren’s, oops), it wasn’t my favorite. I thought we would see Lauren really embrace a life without Ryan, similar to that of One True Loves. In my opinion, it sort’ve made sense that her and Ryan weren’t getting along too well: they were the only people they’ve dated since they were nineteen years old! Yes, there are plenty of high school and college sweethearts that spend their lives together, but I think Lauren and Ryan had some different ideas about living life. I also hated that it took them a year of separation to realize that they didn’t have to every little thing together. You don’t like baseball? Then you don’t have to come to a Dodgers game with me. Don’t like Ethiopian food? Tell me and we don’t have to it together!

I find that Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books are perfectly light beach reads! I’m not sure when I will, but I think my next TJR book will be Forever, Interrupted. Have you read any Taylor Jenkins Reid books or After I Do? Share in the comments!

Book Reviews, Books

Review: One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Summary: Emma Blair has accomplished most of her high school dreams before she’s thirty years old: left small-town Massachusetts for school in California with her high school sweetheart, Jesse, travels the world for her work, and married the love of her life. Emma’s life is everything she’s ever wanted until tragedy strikes on her first-year wedding anniversary: while on assignment, Jesse’s helicopter goes missing over the Pacific, and he’s gone forever. Despite what the seventeen-year old version of herself would have wanted, Emma goes back home to try to put life back together again. When she runs into an old friend, Sam, Emma finds herself falling in love all again. Being engaged to Sam feels great, until the unbelievable happens: Jesse is found alive.

My Rating: 4.25/ 5 Stars

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**Warning: There are spoilers below for Taylor Jenkins Reid’s One True Loves**

My Thoughts:

One True Loves is my first Taylor Jenkins Reid book, and I first heard about the book from Kristin of SuperSpaceChick. Being a fan of adult contemporary books, I was more than interested in One True Loves when I heard its out of the ordinary plot.

My favorite aspect of One True Loves was the way in which Taylor Jenkins Reid separated the story into parts. I liked how we had a section dedicated to Jesse and Emma’s love story, followed by Emma and Sam’s life together up to their engagement, with later parts obviously focused on Emma figuring out life post-Jesse’s return. I think my favorite section was Emma and Jesse’s love story, as I really enjoyed seeing Emma as a teenager and it was interesting to see how opposed she was to her parent’s dream of her running the bookstore with Marie. Another one of my favorite parts of the novel was seeing Emma grow to love reading and the bookstore.

Speaking of Blair Books, I loved Emma’s family and their love for the bookstore. I may or may not have enjoyed spending time with the Blairs a bit more than the focus on Emma’s romance dilemma (way to miss some the “point” of the story, Fangirl). I really liked Emma’s parents and seeing Emma build a stronger relationship with Marie, and I enjoyed how Emma was able to rebuild her life back in Acton. As much as I want to see the world, I’m definitely one to appreciate a homey lifestyle and the little things in life, so it was really cool to see Emma love her new life back home (Sam was also a very nice touch).

While I thought Jesse and Emma’s life together was adorable and dream worthy, I loved her relationship with Sam a bit more because of the comfort he provided for her. I also thought the way they met was so funny, as Emma mistakes Sam for an employee in the music store instead of a fellow customer. Obviously their relationship is just as serious and real as Emma’s relationship with Jesse, however, I loved the more casualness of her and Sam’s life: living near their hometown and working there, agreeing to marry each other while holding a burger and milkshake in their hands (#goals), etc. While the outcome of the book wouldn’t have affected my opinion too much, I was rooting for Emma to stay with Sam. I definitely agreed with Marie’s belief that Emma was a different person when she was with Jesse, and even though she loves him, their relationship just wouldn’t be the same. Plus Sam’s tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches sound too good to pass up.

I’m looking forward to picking up Taylor Jenkins Reid’s other novels soon! Have you read One True Loves? Let me know in the comments!

 

Book Reviews, Books

Review: Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee

Summary: If there’s one man Natasha “Tash” Zelenka loves in this world, it’s Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy, author of her favorite book, Anna Karenina. When Tash and her best friend Jack’s web series, Unhappy Families, which is a modern adaptation of Anna Karenina, gets a shoutout from a famous vlogger, they go viral. With a Golden Tuba nomination, Tash has the opportunity to meet Thom Causer, a fellow vlogger with some flirty vibes, and start something in-real-life, but how can she explain to him that she’s romantic asexual?

My Rating: 4.75/5 Stars

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My Thoughts:

I flew through Tash Hearts Tolstoy in less than two days and I’m still sad that it’s over; for me, this novel more than made the hype. One of the many reasons why that Tash Hearts Tolstoy has been floating around the book blogging world since its release in June 2017 is its diversity regarding sexual orientation. While Tash Hearts Tolstoy includes both heterosexuality and homosexuality, it stands out for having an asexual main character. Before reading the novel, I had never read a book with an asexual character, let alone an ace main character. In my opinion, Kathryn Ormsbee did a fantastic job of explaining what it meant for Tash to be asexual and how Tash continues to struggle explaining to the people in her life what it means to be romantic asexual.

The big cast of characters in Tash Hearts Tolstoy was both a like and dislike for me. I loved almost all of the characters set in the story, but I often had trouble keeping track of all of the people involved in Unhappy Families and how Tash came about meeting them (for example, I didn’t really remember that she had met Jay and Serena at arts school). However, I was super thankful for the Unhappy Families cast and crew list at the beginning of the novel to help keep track. Speaking of Unhappy Families, I absolutely loved how this web series was a main component of the novel. Being a blogger and making videos in school myself, I loved seeing the filming process, and I loved even more how a piece of literature inspired the show!

One of my favorite aspects of Tash Hearts Tolstoy was Tash’s relationships with Jack, Paul, and her family. Jack reminded me a lot of Sam Puckett from iCarly (Teen Nick is one of my favorite TV channels after all), and Paul was my favorite character in the book (I figured by the hundred page mark, especially during the Ping-Pong table scene, that his relationship with Tash was definitely something more). Like Paul and Jack, I wasn’t sold on Thom either and knew Tash’s meeting him wouldn’t go exactly smooth. When it came to the Zelenka family, I was in love! We also got to see diversity in Tash’s family life, with her dad’s family being from the Czech Republic and her mom missing life in New Zealand with her family. There was bit more diversity in the Zelenka fam as well: Tash and her mom are Buddhists (unrelated to their religion, but they’re also both vegetarians!), and while being Buddhist, Tash and her sister, Klaudie, still attend church with their dad. It made me sad when Klaudie decides to leave Unhappy Families in the beginning of the novel, but I didn’t really buy the excuse that Klaudie was expected to go a bit wild the summer before her freshmen year of college (yes, this opinion is coming from the girl who spends as much time as she can near her bookshelves before she goes back to school). However, I was happy that Klaudie and Tash resolve their issues before she goes to school and the family can return to somewhat normalness. I’m glad Klaudie’s absence didn’t come from a jealously over Tash’s relationship Paul and Jack (so happy to have a read with little predictability!). Overall, the Zelenkas had a very close family dynamic that I love seeing in young-adult novels, and I could have seen myself reacting the same way Klaudie and Tash did to their parents’ news.

Tash Hearts Tolstoy is filled with friendship, family life, diversity, and web series shenanigans that will more than satisfy any YA book lover’s heart, especially those who are looking for the book about fandoms and the Internet.

Have you read or are planning to read Tash Hearts Tolstoy? Share your thoughts and feels in the comments!

Book Reviews, Books

Review: Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories by Stephanie Perkins

Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, the companion novel to My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories, is a collection of short stories that take place in my favorite season, summer. The anthology is edited by Stephanie Perkins, author of Anna and the French Kiss and the fall 2017 release There’s Someone Inside Your House. Summer Days and Summer Nights includes twelve short stories from Leigh Bardugo, Francesca Lia Block, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Brandy Colbert, Tim Federle, Lev Grossman, Nina LaCour, Stephanie Perkins, Veronica Roth, Jon Skovron, and Jennifer E. Smith.

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Being a fan of My True Love Gave to Me, I knew that I would love Summer Days and Summer Nights, and I was correct! The cover is just as cute as My True Love Gave to Me, and I love how the lake is still our main setting on the cover along with the addition of the twelve couples from the book. There were only three out of the twelve stories that I wasn’t a huge fan of—Cassandra Clare’s “Brand New Attraction”, Lev Grossman’s “The Map of Perfect Tiny Things”, and Libba Bray’s “Last Stand at the Cinegore”, mainly because I didn’t really enjoy the more fantastical/magical elements set in each story. However, I did enjoy “Brand New Attraction” for its circus setting, along with liking “Last Stand at the Cinegore” for taking place at a horror-themed movie theatre. Below, I’ll be recapping my favorite stories in the anthology.

“Sick Pleasure” by Francesca Lia Block– “Sick Pleasure” stood out to me mainly because all of the charcters in the story either go by nicknames or named after the letter of the alphabet!

“Souvenirs” by Tim Federle– “Souvenirs” features two gay interests who work at an amusement park. The last day of summer is not only the last day of work for the two, but also their pre-designated break-up day.

“Love is the Last Resort” by Jon Skovron– I enjoyed “Love is the Last Resort” for its setting—a resort- and its cast of characters. There’s a pool boy, basketball, a lovesick poet, a rich heiress, a maze, and more!

“Good Luck and Farewell” by Brandy Colbert– I enjoyed “Good Luck and Farewell” for its focus on family, but the romance and pizza also made the story for me.

“Inertia” by Veronica Roth– I enjoyed “Inertia” for its futuristic elements, flashbacks, and heartfelt-ness.

“The End of Love” by Nina LaCour– I started reading Nina LaCour’s work this year, and I’ve really enjoyed her writing,  “The End of Love” being no exception. Like her novels We Are Okay and Everything Leads to You, her short story features lesbian love interests and unlike those two novels, geometry class and a camp site.

“Head, Scales, Tongue, Tail” by Leigh Bardugo– When I first started reading “Head, Scales, Tongue, Tail”, I first thought that this would having fantastical elements. If you know anything about Leigh Bardugo, you won’t be surprised when I told you that I found myself wrong! However, I loved this story about lake monsters and Dairy Queen.

“A Thousand Ways This Could All Go Wrong” by Jennifer E. Smith– Jennifer E. Smith had all of the elements for a summer contemporary story- summer camp, arcade games, and love. I really enjoyed this story for its cuteness and diversity.

“In Ninety Minutes, Turn North”  by Stephanie Perkins– My favorite story in the anthology, “In Ninety Minutes, Turn North” follows the same charcters from Stephanie Perkin’s story in My True Love Gave to Me. I absolutely loved being reunited with Marigold and North and seeing them in a summery landscape (even if Marigold didn’t enjoy it as much).

Have you read Summer Days and Summer Nights? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Book Reviews, Books

Review: I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

Summary: Desi doesn’t fail when it comes to being the top student in her grade, dominating the varsity soccer field, and filling up her resume that’s bound to get her into Stanford University. Flirting, on the other hand, is a completely different matter. Desi is notorious for her “flailures” (flirting+failure), but when the perfect guy comes into town, she finds guidance in the Korean dramas her dad has always been obsessed with. Using her “K Drama Steps to True Love”, Desi is ready to win over Luca, K drama antics in store.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

**Warning: There are spoilers below for Maurene Goo’s I Believe in a Thing Called Love**

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My Thoughts:

The most unique part of I Believe in a Thing Called Love is Maurene Goo’s use of K dramas! Before reading the book, I really didn’t know too much about K dramas, so it was interesting to learn more about them and Korean culture in general. It was funny how K dramas motivated the plot of the novel, and I knew from the get-go that Desi wouldn’t have a picture-perfect success story.

While the plot was a tad predictable, what made I Believe in a Thing Called Love for me was Appa! I loved the idea of how this ex-bad boy and mechanic came home everyday to hang out with his daughter and watch K dramas. It was just so adorable to see how much he cared for Desi, and his dad humor was to die for. I felt just as disappointed as he did when Desi misses her Stanford interview to go to the hospital with Luca.

I’m going to go a bit off topic, but I think one of the reasons why I was so disappointed in Desi was that I didn’t understand why Desi was so enchanted with Luca?? Yes, he seemed good-looking and had the whole angsty-art boy thing going, but despite what he argues toward the end of the novel, I feel like him and Desi wouldn’t have gotten together if it wasn’t for Desi’s K-drama scheming. I wish we got to explore him a bit more (would have loved to see more of his Tumblr-famousness come into play or something) outside of his tagging and his problems with his parents. Even though Desi is obviously upset that she doesn’t get into Stanford, I hated how she tried to downplay it, saying that Boston University had a better program anyway and Fiona saying that part of Desi’s infatuation with Standford comes from her mother’s influence. PLUS HOW COULD YOU GO TO SCHOOL ACROSS THE COUNTRY FROM THE CUTEST DAD EVER??

Overall, while I found some aspects a bit problematic, I enjoyed I Believe in a Thing Called Love for its diversity, family life, and integration of K dramas.

Have you read I Believe in a Thing Called Love? Share your thoughts & feels in the comments!

Book Reviews, Books

Review: Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index by Julie Israel

Summary: It’s been sixty-five days since Camilla died, and Juniper Lemon is still reeling from her older sister’s death. What makes the hole Camilla left in Juniper’s life even bigger is discovering the secret breakup letter addressed to YOU Camilla wrote the day she died. Juniper is determined to figure out YOU’s identity and deliver the letter, even if it means discovering some of her fellow classmates’ own secrets. Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index is Julie Israel’s debut novel.

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

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**Warning: There are spoilers for Julie Israel’s Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index below**

My Thoughts:

Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index has been on my TBR radar since its release in June, and I was extra motivated to read it when it was chosen as the BookTtube-A-Thon (a reading marathon taking place this week hosted) 2017 book. If you’re a fan of Gayle Forman’s If I Stay, I recommend picking Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index. Both books take place in Oregon, feature main characters dealing with loss and grief, and incorporate musical elements.

While there are plenty of happy moments, Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index certainly has its sad moments, as Juniper and her family struggle dealing with Camilla’s death. Each chapter in the book is numbered after how many days it’s been since Camilla died, and I feel like that helped show how Juniper is affected by her sister’s death daily. It was really hard to see Juniper’s mom so disconnected from her other daughter, so it was heart-warming to see her embrace Juniper in 3 Hall toward the end of the novel. Having two sisters myself, I can definitely picture having a fight filled with all the dramatics like Camilla and Juniper did, and I couldn’t imagine dealing with the same guilt as Juniper did. It was really interesting to see that be index card 65.

My one “disappointment” with Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index was not finding out who YOU was. Throughout the book, I found myself trying to figure out who YOU could be. I figured that it wouldn’t be Brand, especially with the growing feelings between him and Juniper, and I thought it would be too convenient for Nate to be YOU. While I figured that Nate was somehow involved in Camilla’s death, I did not expect him to be Aaron’s brother. Getting back to YOU, I am convinced that Mr. Bodily is YOU. It explains why Camilla kept their relationship so secret; there’s no way that she would be allowed to have a relationship with a teacher, and she wouldn’t even risk having any evidence of them together, like photographs. Even though you could argue that Mr. Bodily cared for Camilla as a student, he also made sure that Juniper knew that he could be a person to talk to when it came to Camilla. This is totally going off on a limb, but it’s even mentioned that Mr. Bodily is pretty young when we first meet him, so maybe he was finishing up a master’s degree or taking some classes at Fairfield while he was dating Camilla.

Overall, I enjoyed Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index way more than I thought I would. In the beginning of the book, Juniper is really depressed (which is obviously completely understandable), but I couldn’t imagine her getting out her depression. While we do spend a lot of time focused on YOU, I really enjoyed seeing Juniper building relationships with Brand, Kody, and the other characters. Plus I really was intrigued by who YOU was– hence my disappointment even though we’re supposed to be happy that Juniper knows and it really doesn’t matter who YOU is  since it was Camilla’s secret.

Have you read Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index? Share your thoughts and feels in the comments!

 

Book Reviews, Books

Mini Reviews: Lost History, Musicals, and Do-si-dos

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

When I saw that my favorite historical fiction author, Ruta Sepetys, had rated Sarah’s Key 5 stars on Goodreads, I knew that I had to pick it up. Similar to some of Ruta’s work, Sarah Key’s focuses on little-known history, in this case, the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup, the mass arrest of French Jews by the French Police in 1942. When journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write about the 60th anniversary of the Vel’ d’Hiv’, she uncovers the hidden history of a girl named Sarah, whose story may resonate with Julia’s own family. While I wasn’t a massive fan of the writing style, I enjoyed reading about this historical event and seeing Sarah’s story unfold.

Dear Evan Hansen by Steven Levenson

IMG_4468.JPGMy Rating: 5/5 Stars

I bought Dear Evan Hansen from the Drama Book Shop in NYC back in May and it was haunting my TBR pile ever since. I’ve really enjoyed Dear Evan Hansen’s original cast recording and with it being the hottest show on Broadway this season, I needed to experience this show in some way. Dear Evan Hansen is both heart-warming and heart-breaking, and if you’re sad about not being able to score tickets to this show, go pick up the book instead!

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The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

After loving Emery Lord’s The Names They Gave Us, I knew I had to pick up another one of her books. I was even more driven to read The Start of Me and You when it recently became a Zoella & Friends 2017 Book Club pick. I devoured The Start of Me and You while floating around my pool, which I highly recommend doing with any contemporary read. This book follows high schooler Paige Hancock, as she rebuilds her life after the death of her boyfriend, Aaron. Even though it has its sad moments, The Start of Me and You is filled with family, friendship, books, and a boy by the name of Max Watson with a love for Girl Scout cookies that few can rival. While I wasn’t totally sold on the premise of the novel, I really enjoyed seeing Paige bond with her friends and Max, plus the nerdiness in this book was perfect (I want coffee dates to the bookstore with Max please).

Have you read any of these books? Let me know in the comments!

Book Reviews, Books

Review: Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

Summary: The final installment in the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before trilogy, Always and Forever, Lara Jean finds Lara Jean having the best senior year ever. She’s more than excited for the senior class to NYC, going to prom with Peter, getting ready to attend UVA in the fall (she’s bound to get in), and baking the perfect chocolate chip cookie. Life couldn’t seem any better, until Lara Jean is forced to rethink her future when plans go awry.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

**Warning: Being that Always and Forever, Lara Jean is the final book, there will be both spoilers for the series and this installment. The To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before novels are among my all-time favorite series and contemporary reads, so go check them out if you haven’t already!***

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My Thoughts:      

It was no surprise that I fell in love with Always and Forever, Lara Jean from the moment I started reading the first chapter. The book came out during the first week of May 2017, and I only put it off until the end of June because I didn’t want this series to be over (still feel that way). From her love of baking to her hesitance toward change, I see so much of myself in Lara Jean and I’m so happy that Jenny Han has given me a character that I can relate to on such a personal level.

From the moment that we learn that Lara Jean is still waiting to hear back from UVA, I had a feeling that she wasn’t going to get in and I sensed that she wasn’t going to stay at William and Mary either. I had a hunch about UNC only because Jenny Han graduated from the school herself (author blurbs at the end of books are one of my favorite parts of reading). I was upset about the distance Peter places between him and Lara Jean when he finds out about UNC, but other than that, Peter Kavinsky is the high school boyfriend of my own dreams! I want a guy to run around New York City and get the best chocolate chip cookies for me! Speaking of chocolate chip cookies (there are a ton in this book), one of my favorite aspects of the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series is all the baking. Lara Jean’s sinabrownies even inspired me to make cinnamon rolls after I finished reading!

My favorite theme of this series overall is family. Jenny Han has said while her series is about a love story, its focus is set upon the Song sisters. I love Margot for her intelligence and support, additionally relating to her as the oldest sister myself. I love Kitty for her sassiness and comebacks, not to mention the fact that she Peter wrapped around her finger. I really enjoying Ms. Rothchild/ Trina’s bigger presence in this installment and seeing her relationship grow with Lara Jean’s dad and the girls. I found it so funny when she talks about Peter’s good looks (“Besides, her boyfriend is hot.”). I felt so heartbroken for Lara Jean when she realizes how many big things her mom is missing in her daughters’ lives. Tears definitely came to my eyes when all she wants is a hug from her mom on her graduation day.

I could not get over the Hamilton references in this book (surprise, surprise). I totally see Lara Jean as a Hamilton fan, and one of my favorite quotes from the book of course uses Hamilton terminology:

 “In truth, if Kitty’s anyone, she’s a Jefferson. Wily, stylish, quick with a comeback. Margot’s an Angelica, no question. She’s been sailing her own ship since she was a little girl. She’s always known who she was and what she wanted. I suppose I’m an Eliza, though I’d much rather be an Angelica. In truth, I’m probably And Peggy. But I don’t want to be the And Peggy of my own story. I want to be the Hamilton” (102).

Like To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You,  Always and Forever, Lara Jean made my heart extremely happy. Even though Jenny Han has said that this will be the final book in the series, I would love to join Lara Jean in college (frankly, I’ll read anything involving the Song sisters). This is probably a bunch of wishful thinking, but I love a novella all about the girls’ trip to Korea and if I’m really hoping, I would love a spinoff series in a few years centered on Kitty! Because I loved this book so much, I’m plan on rereading To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You soon (I might have to throw Always and Forever, Lara Jean in there too).

Have you read or are planning to read Always and Forever, Lara Jean? Share your thoughts & feels in the comments!

Book Reviews, Books

A Fangirl Fury Q&A of Alex and Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz

Being the Hamilton fan that I am, I knew it was time to pick up Melissa de la Cruz’s young-adult novel Alex and Eliza. Alex and Eliza tells the love story of how Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler met. The Revolution isn’t stopping the Schuyler family, one of the wealthiest families in the young nation, from hosting a ball in honor of their daughters. Peggy and Angelica are ready to dance and flirt the night away, but Eliza can’t help thinking how silly it is to be spending time at a ball when there are soldiers who need her. But when General Washington’s right-hand man, Colonel Alexander Hamilton, arrives with some bad news, Eliza’s mind turns to other matters, including some that include her heart. In honor of Fourth of July week coming to a close here in the US, here’s a spoiler-free Q & A all about Alex and Eliza.

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Mini Q & A:

Q: If I enjoy Hamilton: An American Musical, how much will I like Alex and Eliza?

A: You will LOVE Alex and Eliza. If I had one “disappointment” about Hamilton, it’s that I wish we had more time with Eliza. Obviously, I understand that all of the major components of Alexander Hamilton’s life couldn’t be thoroughly expressed in the show (but if Lin Manuel-Miranda did that, I’d be all for it). Even though the novel isn’t 100% historically accurate (newsflash: Hamilton isn’t either), Alex and Eliza gives us a longer interpretation of how Alexander and Eliza met and everything leading up to their marriage. In addition, I feel that we get to see more of Eliza’s personality (and of course Angelica and Peggy are along for the ride too). I also admit to ignoring Melissa de la Cruz’s physical descriptions of Alex and Eliza and envisioning Lin as Alex and Phillipa as Eliza.

Q:How much is this like Hamilton: An American Musical?

A:While there’s no signing or dancing, we get to interact with a lot of the characters from the first act of Hamilton. Beside Alex and the Schuyler sisters, our favorite commander in chief and some of Alex’s friends (one may be French) make appearances in the novel.

Q: Alex and Eliza is a historical fiction read. What were some interesting aspects of the novel being set during the Revolutionary War?

A: Alex and Eliza takes place from 1778 to 1780. I found it really interesting reading about the characters’ wardrobes choices, from powered wigs to larger than life ball gowns. Marriage often comes up in the novel as well, as the Schuyler sisters are forced to consider the size of their partners’ fortune. It was a reminder of how marriage was used back then to increase a family’s wealth and power.

Q: Alex or Eliza?

A: Eliza! I enjoyed reading Alex’s parts, but I would have been satisfied (you know there had to be a pun somewhere) if the book solely centered on Eliza. I loved how she was different from her sisters and how she made it a priority to be involved in the war as much as possible. It was also funny to see her not be so impressed with Alex at first sight.

Q: Is there interaction with other characters outside Alex and Eliza?

A: Yes! My favorite side characters in the novel included Angelica, Peggy, and Aunt Gertrude. I loved getting more character development from Angelica and Peggy. Unlike Hamilton, Melissa de la Cruz doesn’t adopt the idea that Alex and Angelica at some point had feelings for each other. Instead, we see Angelica disapproving Eliza’s interest in the poor orphan. It’s Peggy, who has a close friendship with Alex, that cheers the couple on. My favorite side character had to be the Schuylers’ Aunt Gertrude, who was just so unconventional and was such a great role model for Eliza. I loved her humor!

Have you read Alex and Eliza? Share your thoughts and feels in the comments!

Book Reviews, Books

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia Review

Many of my book reviews go right into the summary of the novel. In this case, however, I won’t be because I want to express my love for Francesca Zappia’s Eliza and Her Monsters even before you get into the rest of my fangirl feels. It probably doesn’t come as too much as a surprise, but I am a huge fan of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl. For many readers and reviewers, including myself, Fangirl incorporates so much about fandom and having such a love for fictional stories and characters, not to mention social anxiety, family, relationships, and more. While I’ve read other, mostly great books about the Internet and fandom, reading Eliza and Her Monsters gave me the closest reading experience I had to Fangirl. Not only could I see myself in Eliza, but I could see myself in her story, even though I do not run a multi-million follower online series (maybe one day!). As you may tell as you read my review, I loved Eliza and Her Monsters and I highly recommend that you pick up this book as soon as possible.

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Summary: Eliza Mirk thinks she’s the quiet girl who prefers baggy sweatshirts and jeans to anything. But with a pen in her hand and a computer in front of her, she transforms into LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the popular online comic series, Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine having any relationship better than her online friendships, until she meets the new kid in school. Wallace is Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, who thinks Eliza is just another big fan of the webcomic. As Wallace pulls Eliza out of her shell, she must decide if she’s prepared to have a life both offline and online.

My Rating: Beyond 5/5 Stars

**WARNING: There are spoilers for Eliza and Her Monsters below**

My Thoughts:

The concepts in Eliza and Her Monsters blew my mind. This might my English major and analyzing brain coming in, but I couldn’t help looking for symbolism in the novel right after I finished reading. Probably one of my funniest interests of the book is the names of Eliza and her brothers. I loved how Church and Sully were named after historical figures, and that leads to me think that Eliza may have been named after a certain Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton (Hamilton just reads non-stop in me). When it comes to symbolism, I saw a lot of similarities between Amity, the main protagonist of Monstrous Sea, and Eliza. For instance, I think that the Watcher in Amity could hold a similar significance to LadyConstellation being part of Eliza’s identity. From what I understand, the Watcher gives Amity great power, while being the webcomic creator that she is makes Eliza feel important and powerful, the mother of a fandom (one of my favorite sayings in the book).

The manner of how Eliza’s identity as LadyConstellation being uncovered completely threw me. Originally, I thought that the bully who stole her sketch would put two and two together and realize that Eliza created Monstrous Sea. When the Mirks go on their camping trip and Eliza is cut off to the online world, I thought Eliza would return home and find out that everyone knew that she created the webcomic. That being said, I was completely thrown off (and wrong again) when her parents publish it in her senior year description in the town’s magazine. Eliza’s parents were frustrating enough, and I hated how they did this to Eliza. While I never doubted their care for Eliza, Sully and Church were completely right when they point out that they never truly tried to figure out what Monstrous Sea was, let alone the size of the fandom. It was really interesting for Francesca Zappia to place this misunderstanding of the online world in Eliza’s parents, as they just didn’t understand why Eliza spent so much time online and how she had friendships there (appreciation for Max and Emmy is much deserved, and I’m still hoping for a Mr. Greatbody to show up in the mail).

Toward the end of the novel, I was also a bit frustrated with Wallace; by no means did I dislike him though. When I pictured Wallace in my head, I imagined Finn Hudson, from Glee, with longer hair (I was definitely influenced by the whole football player thing). Once Eliza’s identity is discovered, she’s obviously in such a horrible state, and while I understand Wallace’s frustration, I think him pushing Eliza to finish the story for his own publishing sake was uncalled for. At that point, I myself was unsure if Eliza would find it in her to finish the webcomic, and she completely didn’t need that added stress from Wallace.

In the end, I was overjoyed that Eliza was taking care of her herself and was working on her relationships with her family, Wallace, and Max and Emmy, not to mention that she finished Monstrous Sea. I am beyond excited to read Francesca Zappia’s other work, like Children of Hypnos and Made You Up, and I am PRAYING FOR A MONSTROUS SEA GRAPHIC NOVEL OR WEBCOMIC!! After I finished reading the book, I went back and looked and read Eliza’s Monstrous Sea excerpts, which made me even more interested in the comic. I’m hoping to go on to Tumblr and see so much fanart and quotes, not to mention some more art of Davy. Guys, there’s a DOG in this book and he makes an appearance in Monstrous Sea, THAT SHOULD BE ENOUGH FOR ANYONE TO PICK UP THIS BOOK!

Have you read or are planning to read Eliza and Her Monsters (please say yes)? Share your thoughts and feels in the comments below!