Posted in contemporary, review, romance, young adult

Always And Forever Lara Jean – Jenny Han

“To love a boy, to have him love you back, it feels miraculous.”

always-and-forever-lara-jean-9781481430487_hr

Blurb: “Lara Jean is having the best senior year. And there’s still so much to look forward to: a class trip to New York City, prom with her boyfriend Peter, Beach Week after graduation, and her dad’s wedding to Ms. Rothschild. Then she’ll be off to college with Peter, at a school close enough for her to come home and bake chocolate chip cookies on the weekends. Life couldn’t be more perfect! At least, that’s what Lara Jean thinks…until she gets some unexpected news. Now the girl who dreads change must rethink all her plans—but when your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?”

After completely falling in love with this series from the first book, it’s not surprising that I’ve flown through the trilogy and found myself faced with the finale.

Always and Forever Lara Jean sees our favourite protagonist being thrown in the deep end: with her school life coming to an end and future plans falling apart, not to mention facing being long distance with her rather attractive boyfriend. This is the book where it feels like the reader really gets to see Lara’s character arc as a whole. It’s been wonderful to see her grow and still hold the same moral and family values no matter what she came to head with, and the finale is no different. Lara is very much a perfectionist so when things don’t go how she wanted, it was interesting to see how she found a way to readjust and see the new opportunities available to her that she may have not considered otherwise.

The most interesting character shift for me personally was Margot, who seems incredibly abrasive and unlike herself compared to the pervious book, but as the story progressed it was understand how she felt like she had lost her place among the family after physically seeing her father’s new relationship flourish. As she has been away at college, getting to see how she learned to also accept a new form of change really hit home with the themes the book was trying to convey.

It seemed only right to end this adventure the same way I began: by listening to the audiobook. As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, Laura Knight-Keating has cemented herself as one of my favourite audiobook narrators ever. It’s been a real treat listening to her bring this story and its characters to life and I honestly wouldn’t have binged on this trilogy in any other way.

However, I think that Always and Forever Lara Jean is my least favourite in the series. It just didn’t grab me the same way the others did and I actually had instances where I put off listening because the story just wasn’t moving as fast as I would like. Also Peter became very unlikeable and his actions regarding trying to get Lara to sign a supposedly jokey contract about Lara having to call him every day and put pictures up etc to show she was in a relationship just left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth.

Overall, I would read the whole series again, but To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is definitely the best.

For more of my reading adventures follow me on Goodreads

For my writing adventures follow me on Twitter

For my videos, check out my Youtube

For bookish photographs follow my instagram: @charlottereadsthings

Posted in adaptations

Book To Movie Talk | To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

To_All_the_Boys_I've_Loved_Before_poster

*This post is not spoiler free*

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is a book that I’ve been aware of for years due to passionate fanbase it holds. However, it was never a series that I felt I would enjoy as I had moved on from YA contemporaries and thrown myself into fantasy. When the news came out of a movie adaptation, I covered the announcement and found myself swayed by the fact that Janel Parrish (well known for her role in Pretty Little Liars) was in the cast line-up. I indulged in the entire trilogy via audiobook and never looked back. I was completely hooked.

The newest addition to Netflix’s roster of teen rom com films, the story follows Lara Jean who write loves letters as a way to close the chapter on previous crushes. She never sends them but one day these secret declarations of love find their way into the hands of the boys – including the popular kid, Peter Kavinsky. This charming Lacrosse player sees Lara as an opportunity to engage in a bit of fake dating in an attempt to make his ex jealous and win her back.

To focus briefly on the stylistic aspects (this is the part where I pretend I know what I’m talking about), the film just looks good: I love the colour palette and the shots worked where needed and I don’t know who was in charge of styling Lara Jean’s outfits but I need their number!

Again, in terms of looks, everyone seemed like a perfect fit for the characters they were meant to play and it was nice to view it through this lens as I hadn’t read the books when I did my initial announcement. Lana Condor plays  Lara Jean as the witty sweet character book fans will be familiar with and the arc over the film shows that she is willing to stand up for herself when needed and knows her worth: see the contract scene when she writes “no kissing.” Also a moment of appreciation is needed for the state of Lara Jean’s room. A seemingly small detail but worked! The preparation for the skype call with Margot had me really laughing as it just showcased the ridiculous situation Lara Jean had found herself in.  Oh, and kitty’s digs were just so on point: my favourite was when she put on her helmet before getting in the car with Lara Jean to go to school.

ugjb

Given the nature of the plot progression, a lot rides on making Peter Kavinsky, played by Noah Centineo, stand out. In the books I loved his charm and self-assuredness and that certainly comes through on screen. The chemistry between him and Lana felt like watching a real couple fall in love as they start to learn more about each other and see how similar they actually are when you strip school social standing away.

The family dynamic is one of the real gems of the book, and one I was looking forward to seeing on screen. It certainly has its moments but I wish there had been more scenes of them all together before Margot disappeared to college.

From an adaptation view, there are a lot of changes. Some of the attempts to streamline the story make sense when you’re confined to a feature length film. However, there’s been a big buzz around the fact this film has an Asian female lead (Lana is Vietnamese but book Lara is Korean-American) and in the book Lara’s heritage is a big part of who she is as an individual because she feels that connection to her deceased mother through cooking Korean food and baking. In the book there are scenes where she cosplays only as Asian characters to emphasis her points of the lack of representation and she is quick to beat others to the punch about her ethnicity. But in the film, there’s a mention about a yogurt drink and that’s it. I get that the angle they were going for was to just have this character exist with making it all about her being “other” to the teen female leads that viewers often see in the mainstream but it just felt almost like she’d lost that link to her mother. Especially when author Jenny Han said she included those aspects because she never saw herself in books growing up.

Josh was a character I really loved in the books and unfortunately in this adaptation he left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. I can’t stand boys who feel like they own a girl and the way he stands up to Peter to assert his dominance to look after Lara made me feel uncomfortable. In fact, most of his scenes just involve him turning up and being angry.

Lana-Condor-in-To-All-the-Boys-Ive-Loved-Before-2018

The storytelling just felt a bit messy: the big reveals such as the culprit of the letter (which is made really obvious by a shot of a character while Lara Jean is freaking out about the missing box) and the aftermath of the infamous hot tub scene were really quickly skimmed over and instantly forgotten about in favour of focusing more on the development of Peter and Lara’s relationship. Those big moments that play a part of her narrative were so glossed over that her character just felt a bit flat despite all the great aspects of her in the books. In fact, the only character to really stand out to me was Peter Kavinsky who felt well rounded and it’s easy to see how much he started to care for Lara Jean. He commanded the attention when on screen which was great but often made me forget that Lara Jean was even there.

I’ve left the viewing experience feeling a little dejected. All the reviews and comments and trending hashtags have fans and new fans gushing over the story, so hopefully this will come up good and the sequel will be picked up for production. I just feel like a lot of the drama was lost and the characters were very flat at points. Maybe I’m too attached to the books. Maybe I’m too attached to the audiobook narrator for Lara Jean. But I am going to give it another watch.

Have you watched it?

What did you think?

Posted in contemporary, review, young adult

P.S I Still Love You – Jenny Han

“You gave me my first love story, Peter. Please just don’t let it be over yet.”

fhisfd

Blurb: “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?”

When I first started reading this series, I did expect to end up loving the characters the way I do, and I think a lot of that is do with the fact that I went for the audiobook. After seeing it was the same narrator for the sequel it seemed only right to continue on with this format. Laura Knight Keating is the best narrator I’ve listened to up to this point. There’s just something about the way she delivers Lara Jean’s story that really brings the character and her story to life. I can only describe it as like being given one long warm hug. Her tone and the flow of her words just create this yearning inside of me to know more about what happens to this character.

P.S I Still Love You follows on directly from the events of the previous book and sees Lara Jean continue to deal with some of the fall-out, along with starting to pursue a more real relationship with Peter. It was really nice seeing how their dynamic changed over the course of this book and it just a testament to how talented Jenny Han is at writing characters. This is a book in which Lara Jean really does start to grow up and it was quite beautiful to look at where she ends this book compared to how she started out in To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.

By far one of the best things about this series is the portrayal of family life. The scenes where Lara is having dinner with her siblings or trying to encourage her father to start dating again are so heart-warming and a positive family relationship is something I rarely come across in YA books. It was just lovely to see each member of this family support each other.

There’s a big viral social media scandal that takes place in this book, of course centred around Lara Jean, and while it was horrifically painful to read, it was interesting to see the use of technology in a YA book. Again, given that there’s a lot of talk about the lack of it being present in these kinds of contemporary stories.

However, this book very much falls into the line of “second book syndrome.” It’s still enjoyable but it’s not on the same level as the previous one. The last quarter really dragged for me and, from the synopsis, I knew a love triangle was coming –which I really loathe- and it was that aspect that drastically pulled this book down for me because it just wasn’t needed. P.S I Still Love You had enough going for it without throwing this random other boy into the mix.

Having said that, my overall enjoyment was still there. I continued to love Lara Jean so much and I will definitely be picking up the final book at some point very soon.

For more of my reading adventures follow me on Goodreads

For my writing adventures follow me on Twitter

For my videos, check out my Youtube

For bookish photographs follow my instagram: @charlottereadsthings

Posted in Audiobook Of The Month

Audiobook Of The Month | Always And Forever Lara Jean

I’ve finding it really hard to believe how far we are into the year, but when my audible credit renewed, it brought the promise of a new month and a new book.

After seeing the trailer drop for the film adaptation of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, it seemed only right to step back into the trilogy and finish it off; something which I’ve actually been trying to avoid because I love these characters so much.

always-and-forever-lara-jean-9781481430487_hr

Always and Forever Lara Jean is the third and final book in the series. Readers see the loveable Lara Jean applying to colleges and dealing with the typical problems teens face in their senior year. She’s navigating how her relationship with Peter Kavinsky will work outside of school life and just in general seeing her life start to shift.

My absolute favourite thing about listening to all of the books on audio is that the narrator, Laura Knight Keating, just brings so much life to the character. She gives Lara so much personality that she feels like she could be the girl living next door, I’m rooting so much for her, and I don’t think I could finish off the series without hearing how she narrates Peter’s dialogue. I’m just utterly in love.

At the time of writing this post, I am 34% in but it feels like I’m trying to pace myself a lot more because I want to savour this last bit of time with the characters before I have to say that dreaded final goodbye. For that reason, not much has happened apart from that Lara has been thrown a curveball and I’m just waiting to see how she’s going to deal with it.

Have you read the Lara Jean series?

Who’s your favourite character?

Posted in discussion

Mid Year Freak Out Tag

We’ve officially reached the mid-way point in the year, which is a mixture of exciting and terrifying! So it’s time to reflect on all the bookish adventures I’ve had so far.

Best Sequel Of The Year So Far

book_214

This one is actually a bit of a cop-out as I’ve only read two sequels this year and this one was a reread. As you’re probably aware, it’s the second book in The Maze Runner series and after falling into my hole at the start of the year when the final film adaptation was released, I decided to give the whole series a reread. It’s definitely one of my favourites in the series.

New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But Want To

38117293

Noah Can’t Even was one of my favourite books of last year and when I found out there was going to be a sequel, I did a lot of running around and screaming. The first book is about a boy called Noah discovering and exploring his sexuality and it’s by a British author! It’s hysterical, cringy and just brilliant so I can’t wait to see what adventures Noah goes on in this one.

 

Most Anticipated For Autumn/Winter

igjv

It is a known fact that I adore Becky Albertalli… but also that I am not the biggest fan of Adam Silvera, so it’s no surprise that the book I’m looking forward is What If It’s Us? I don’t know much about it except that it’s about two boys and all the possibilities of their lives together.

 

Biggest Disappointment Of The Year So Far

euwfjdb

As a big lover of both Tom and Giovanna’s individual works, I was both excited and nervous to hear that they were moving into the realms of Young Adult fiction. Sadly, it’s not that great. The narrators for the audiobook don’t really add anything to the characters, it’s badly written, and just… well, boring.

 

Biggest Surprise Of The Year So Far

yfuj

How To Stop Time was a Christmas present from a friend and not the sort of book I would have picked up of my own accord. It’s about a man who’s lived for centuries and is struggling to find his place in the world now that everyone he’s loved has passed away. It’s beautiful, emotional and raises the questions of who we are outside of our connections to other people.

 

New Favourite Author

34865995

All it took was “The Hunger Games meets Jurassic Park” for me to pick up a copy of The Extinction Trials. It’s a world of two continents: one populated by humans, the other by dinosaurs. It’s action packed and utterly brilliant and I’m down for any other books S.M. Wilson may release!

 

Newest Favourite Character

fhisfd

This isn’t really a new character, but I started the series last year and I just utterly adore Lara Jean. She’s so caring and loves her family and it just trying to stay true to herself.

 

Book That Made You Cry

34964998
I heard about this book when Patrisse was on the Mostly Lit podcast talking about her life and the Black Lives Matter movement which she co-founded. I listened to the audiobook as I feel this is the best way to consume non-fiction. There are many exhausting moments of this book as Patrisse talks about her life but one chapter about the treatment of her brother regarding his mental health just had me sobbing. If you pick up one book this year, make it this one.
Book That Made You Happy

71d5WSgg8FL
Oi Goat was one of the World Book Day titles and just made me grin reading it. The frog in the story is teaching all the different things animals have dressed up as for World Book Day such as “otters dressed as Harry Potters.”

Most Beautiful Book So Far

34728667

I mean, just look at it! It’s so simple but just packs a punch!

 

Posted in Audiobook Of The Month, discussion, review, romance, young adult

Audiobook Of The Month | P.S. I Still Love You

When I was younger, audiobooks were a special treat on long car journeys. I was the one snuggled up in the back seat reading my physical copy of the chosen book along with the narrator blaring through the speakers. Somewhere along the line that changed and audiobooks became a distant memory.

I’ve heard a lot about Audible ever since it launched with people seemingly left and right throwing their affiliate links at anyone who will listen and so I decided to use my free month trial. I did a full video discussing the good and bad things which can be found here.

So, as you can tell from the title of this post, I am launching a new segment here on my blog giving audiobooks the attention they truly deserve. This will be a monthly feature but I cannot confirm exactly what point in the month they will appear as I want to allow enough time for me to settle in with my current listen before giving any sort of opinion. (Please note that it’s also likely that I will post a full review of the book on here anyway.)

Anyway, with that little introduction out of the way, let’s talk about my current read:

fhisfd

P.S. I Love You is the sequel to To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (full review can be found here) which follows a girl called Lara Jean who writes letters to boys that she loves and then never sends them. It’s sort of a way of saying goodbye. Unfortunately for her, these letters get sent out and one of them lands in the hands of school heartthrob Peter Kavinsky which leads on to them having a fake relationship so he can win back an ex.

In the sequel, P.S. I Love You, Lara Jean has really fallen for Peter and is looking to hopefully turn their fake relationship into a real one. But exes can be vengeful and when worrying videos of Lara start to make the rounds online, she fears it may be better for her to step down.

If you haven’t read this trilogy yet but you’re looking to start, I highly recommend getting the audiobook version narrated by Laura Knight Keating. Admittedly, I picked up this series after hearing the movie announcement news and didn’t think I would fall in love with it as much as I have. Laura Knight Keating is the best narrator I’ve listened to up to this point. There’s just something about the way she delivers Lara Jean’s story that really brings the character and her story to life. I can only describe it as like being given one long warm hug. Her tone and the flow of her words just create this yearning inside of me to know more about what happens to this character.

I’m not too far into the book -10% at the time of writing this post – but already it holds the same charm as the previous; though I have seen a lot of people say this is the weaker of the three books. It’s interesting seeing the dynamic shift in Lara and Peter’s relationship and I can’t wait to see where this leads next.

For more of my reading adventures follow me on Goodreads

For my writing adventures follow me on Twitter

For my videos, check out my Youtube

For bookish photographs follow my instagram: @charlottereadsthings

Posted in contemporary, review, young adult

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before – Jenny Han

“If love is like possession, maybe my letters are like my exorcisms. My letters set me free… or at least they’re supposed to.”

15749186

Blurb: “Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control”

As I keep finding myself saying, I have long since outgrown Young Adult Contemporary; and yet I still find myself picking it up every now and again so maybe this statement isn’t very true anymore. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is a book that I see every time I go into a bookstore and people are constantly talking about it – especially with the movie announcement. It’s because of that reason that I decided to give the book a go.

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before follows a girl called Lara Jean who writes love letters to every boy she’s ever loved and keeps them in a box. They’re not intended for the person she’s written to. They’re for her eyes only as sort of “goodbyes” when she’s decided to move on from that crush for whatever reason. But one day when her letters are sent out, Lara is forced to face the past.

I listened to the audiobook narrated by Laura Knight Keating which was the best decision I could have made. It was absolutely brilliant. Laura managed to capture the real essence of the protagonist and it really felt like I was just sitting down with a coffee listening to Lara chat about her story.

It was wonderful to see sibling relationships with a strong bond. A lot of the story is focused on Lara’s connection with her older sister Margot and how there is this inherent need to look after each other, even more so with the youngest, Kitty, and seeing them spending so much time together just added a nice layer to the book. Lara is Korean-American and it was nice to see her exploring that side of her while being encouraged by her father to do so. It was all very positive and even when it did fall to negative sides with some of her other interactions, Lara was not afraid to stand up for herself and say “this is wrong.” In fact, the initial plot device of the letters is more of a footnote in the story rather than a driving force. Most of the narrative is taken up by the sibling connections and the fake relationship that develops between Lara and Peter Kavinsky to make his ex-girlfriend jealous. The letters are more of a nod to how even the small interactions you have in life can have a lasting impact on you. Everything about this book was just so seamless and well thought out that I was in complete awe of the storytelling.

The only things that didn’t sit right were that it didn’t make sense why Peter would choose Lara out of every other girl at school to be his fake girlfriend when she wasn’t from the same social circle, and it was more likely to cause suspicion. Another was the fact that Lara had decided to address the letters if she never planned on sending them. But these factors didn’t make that much of an impact on my reading.

If you haven’t read the book yet, and plan on doing so, I highly recommend getting the audiobook.

For more of my reading adventures follow me on Goodreads

For my writing adventures follow me on Twitter

For my videos, check out my Youtube

For bookish photographs follow my instagram: @charlottereadsthings

Posted in adaptations, discussion, young adult

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before | Movie Announcement

Over the past few years, there has been a steady increase of Young Adult books making it onto the big screen. From Everything, Everything to Simon Vs The Homosapiens Agenda, the newest addition to the list is To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, based on the best-selling series by Jenny Han.

Jenny

The story follows a girl called Lara Jean who has just started her junior year of High school. Everything is going fine until her box of letters written to her crushes is delivered to their doorsteps.

I have to admit, I have seen the massive love for this trilogy but I haven’t read it myself. (Though that is soon to change due to this announcement!) As a result of this, I can’t speak for the accuracy of the actors cast so please express your opinions! With that being said, let’s get into the casting:

Lana Condor as Lara Jean Covey

Lana-Condor-Height

Lana Condor made her debut appearance in X-Men: Apocalypse and is now going to be taking on the lead role in this adaptation. As Jenny Han highlights in her announcement, this is massive news. The casting directors could have easily gone down the white-washing route which happens all too often, but instead they decided to go with a Vietnamese-American actress.
Janel Parrish as Margot Covey

Janel

Probably the most recognisable from the cast announcements, Janel Parrish’s popularity stems from her role in the hit TV series Pretty Little Liars. It’s nice to see moving on to other acting roles.

John Corbett as Dr Covey

john

John Corbett is taking on a fatherly role. From a quick look through his roles, it doesn’t seem like he’s made many big-impact appearances.

Noah Centineo as Peter Kavinsky

53e91ec0a3b6d0baf933acac52ad21b4

There’s another recognisable face in the form of Noah Centineo who’s most known for his role in the Disney Channel Original Film How To Build A Better Boy.

The film is also being directed by Susan Johnson and the screenplay is by Sofia Alvarez, so there’s women taking on roles behind the camera as well!

I’ve made a post in the past about strong female characters and the role of women in both books and film. Since then, we’ve had the likes of Wonder Woman, a female Jedi in Star Wars , and a woman taking on the lead role in Doctor Who for the first time in the show’s history. While these are all monumental achievements, it’s important not to forget about women of different ethnicities getting their representation too.

As I said in the section on Lana Condor, they could have easily white-washed this film and come up with some terrible reason for doing so. But they haven’t. They’ve stayed true to a fundamental part of the character which, from seeing the outpouring of love and support, is already making a huge impact.

And I hope that this film is a success. Not just because it’s loved by so many, but also because if it does well, it really could pave the way for more POC women taking on leading roles in films.