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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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:

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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

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