Thursday, April 17, 2014

To All the Boys I've Loved Before

by Jenny Han
4/5 stars
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2014
352 pages
YA Contemporary

Source: Received an ARC through Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review.

The title of this book sounds super romantic-like it would be filled with romantic confessions to all the boys she's loved before. Happily though this book is about so much more with insight into the whole crazy growing up process and, to my special delight, a focus on the sister-sister relationship in a healthy family setting.

Lara Jean has written five love letters to the boys who have variously claimed her heart. These letters are extremely personal, never meant to be read by any of the boys. However in a cruel twist the letters are mailed out to the boys, throwing her life into turmoil.

Frighteningly one of those letters goes to Josh, the ex-boyfriend of her beloved older sister Margot who has left for college abroad, putting Lara Jean and younger sister Kitty to take care of each other and their widowed father. Another letter goes to the very popular Peter who agrees to masquerade in a fake relationship with Lara Jean to make his ex jealous.

Though my summary of this book leans heavily on the boys part of the title, I was so pleased that family/sisters ends up taking up so much page time. Plus Lara Jean even has a few friends and interactions with classmates. What I mean is that there is a lot to grab your attention if you're looking for more in your contemporary than just romance (which I almost always am; yes, sometimes you just need to read about two people falling in love but in general I want a lot more plot threads.)

The romantic parts are really sweet though. Lara Jean really has to wrestle with her feelings for Josh and Peter as well as even a few other boys. I was pretty sure what was going to happen but was committed to the ride. My one disappointment with this book was how the ending felt so unresolved. Turns out there is a good reason for that-this is the first in a duology and presumably the second book will wrap up everything and leave me feeling satisfied.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


Yay-I managed to get a review up yesterday! (I need to praise myself for every little thing nowadays...) I still have two more reviews to get up, for books received through Amazon Vine. However while I've been doing a bit more reading these days, I'm not reading YA nor do I feel very motivated to review these adult books. I read a Rhys Bowen and Mercedes Lackey, two authors I have long adored but have trouble reviewing. They were comfort reads and they helped to briefly perk me up. Right now I am reading Kate Atkinson's Life After Life which is weird and I don't anticipate reviewing it nor would I necessarily recommend it to anyone.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm still struggling to get back into reviewing/commenting mode but at least I am reading and I do have things to write about.

Like how I took last Friday off to hang out with my sister on her last day of spring break. We saw Captain America 2 (she is a huge Marvel fan) and just relaxed. More interestingly  I reorganized my nightstand, bathroom, and closet (all sorely in need of some attention) and it helped me spend a bit of time thinking about how I want this quarter to look.

I've read about how it takes about thirty days to instill or break a new habit so in year, you could make or break 12 good or bad habits by focusing on one each month. I have chosen an overall theme for the quarter and smaller goals for each month.

Quarter Goal: JOY-as I've shared, I have not felt great, which has spilled over into blogging but has also seriously impacted my relationships and life in general. I have spent a lot of time just staring at walls lately and it's pretty sad. So I wanted to focus on some basics to change the direction of my life so that hopefully I will be more joyful when the second half of the year comes around.

April: Fitness-I am attempting to run at least 1 mile every day in April (3 miles on weekends) with an eventual goal of running 3 miles in 30 minutes. Right now a 15 minute mile is a bit of a challenge for me...I mostly just want to get in the habit of running this month. Maybe it will take me all year to reach the 30 minutes but I've never been a big runner and I think the running every day is more important than the distance covered.

May: Future-there are two things I'm thinking about in regards to this; one is financial and private while the other is returning to my novel. Yes, I am a cliche blogger who wants to write a novel. However my main goal is to see if I can write a long form piece of fiction and stick with it until it is complete instead of abandoning it when I get bored. It is not for publication nor really for anyone to ever read. I just want to do it for myself (I don't know why the novel gets lumped into future but it made sense to me on Friday.)

June: Philanthropy-I am very aware of how blessed I am and I believe that we are blessed so that we can bless. I volunteer with a children's program throughout the school year and donate financially to charities but I wanted to explore other opportunities in this month and find other ways to be of service.

Does anyone else make up goals for themselves using this month by month structure? Has anyone read Life After Life? I'm about halfway through and I'm following the plot but I think I'm missing a lot of the richness that has earned it such raves.

Monday, April 7, 2014


by Marissa Meyer
5/5 stars
Feiwel and Friends, 2014
550 pages
YA Science-Fiction Fairy Tale

Source: Library

Though Cinder did not impress me the way I had hoped it would, Scarlet completely changed the way I felt about this series, bringing me to the point of rabid fandom. Though I knew I wanted to check out third book Cress, I was also nervous. Meyer seemed to be adding new characters in every go-around and I worried it would feel too packed and some would end up overlooked. Happily that was not the case for me because I thoroughly enjoyed this third installment and am eagerly anticipating Winter's release next year.


As in the previous books, this one weaves in a new fairy tale, this time "Rapunzel" as you might be able to guess from the cover. Our titular character is Cress, who is an ostracized Lunar girl, raised in captivity and considered valuable for her technological skills. Our intrepid crew of Cinder, Scarlet, Wolf, and Thorne have grabbed her attention and despite her mistress's demand to find them, Cress has instead protected them. A chance communication leads to a bungled rescue mission with the five scattered: Cinder and Wolf crash land and reunite with Dr. Erland, Cress and a now blind Thorne crash in the Sahara, and Scarlet is captured by the Lunars. Meanwhile Kai is desperately trying to protect his people as his marriage to the evil Lunar Queen draws near. So basically there's a lot going on.

I really fell for Cress in this book. She's so innocent and naive, a total dreamer and I could fully sympathize with her longing for a hero as she decides Thorne fits the bill. But don't underestimate her! She's got the brains and nerve to play a big role in Cinder's plan to thwart Kai's marriage and I anticipate her being very important in book three. Of course, with the emphasis of Cress we spend a lot less time with the other characters particularly Scarlet who is completely separated from the characters we know. However I continue to be impressed with how Meyer skillfully weaves threads and ties everything together. I look forward to seeing the grand finale in Winter.

On the one hand, this book did seem a little long. Have you seen it in person? It's a veritable doorstop. And I'm not always sure that each scene furthered the main plot. But on the other hand, there are so many character scenes especially between Thorne and Cress that add to the richness of the world. I just want to hang out with them and follow all of their little adventures that contribute to the overarching plot. Did anyway else feel this push and pull while reading?

Overall: You should read this BUT only if you've read the first two books as I'm not sure how much sense it makes otherwise. Then you can join the rest of us in counting down the days until the conclusion arrives!
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