Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

Always and Forever, Lara Jean

Author: Jenny Han
Series: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, #3
Reviewer: Marlou

Summary

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?

Find this book on Goodreads.

Review

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I saw everything in this book coming. Did I mind that? Nah. Did Han write it well enough that I still kept reading? I finished it didn’t I 😉 
Since the book was so predictable I did enjoy it less and there was a lot of drama going on and I couldn’t keep up. The book was a cute read though, but it’s not like I’m ever going to reread it. 
Favorite quote:

“Never say no when you really want to say yes.”

That’s some good life advice right there provided by none other than the infamous flirt, Stormy. So, I liked this book, I didn’t love it but that’s fine. I wasn’t even expecting to like the Contemporary gener enough to read three books in one go. Solid three stars for the last book in the trilogy.

“Kitty’s always saying how origin stories are important.
At college, when people ask us how we met, how will we answer them? The short story is, we grew up together. But that’s more Josh’s and my story. High school sweet-hearts? That’s Peter and Gen’s story. So what’s ours, then?
I suppose I’ll say it all started with a love letter.”

Books in this series

To All the Boys That I Loved Before (#1), P.S. I Still Love You (#2), Always and Forever, Lara Jean (#3)

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

P.S. I Still Love You

Author: Jenny Han
Series: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, #2
Reviewer: Marlou

Summary

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?

Find this book on Goodreads.

Review

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

The review of this book is gonna be a little shorter… I was bored through most of the book, half forgot what they were talking about and got frustrated that they were fighting over nothing. And yet, I still liked the book. Funny how that goes. 
Favorite quote:

“So I take Peter’s hand; I put it on my heart. I tell him, “You have to take good care of this, because it’s yours.”

*insert squealing fangirl* This is so terribly cute, it gives me major heart eyes.
This book was not as good as the first one, but still enjoyable in the end. Solid three stars.

Books in this series

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (#1), P.S. I Still Love you (#2), Always and Forever, Lara Jean (#3)

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Author: Jenny Han
Series: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, #1
Reviewer: Marlou

Summary

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

Find this book on Goodreads.

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

“If love is like a possession, maybe my letter are like my exorcisms.”

This book was so terribly cute! I picked it up because I loved the movie and two of my friends kept telling me how great the books are. This book is actually the first ever contemporary book I’ve read. I can’t say that I liked it any less without magic, violence and/or dragons. It was just different than what I’m used to. Sometimes you just gotta go a little outside the (hat)box right?
So I loved this quote:

My letters are for when I don’t want to be in love anymore. They’re for good-bye. Because after I write in my letter, I’m not longer consumed by my all-consuming love…My letters set me free. Or at least they’re supposed to.

Why? Because it reminded me of advice I was given a couple years back; ‘Write your emotions down so you can deal with them better.’ It never worked for me, because I’d rather be writing about magic than about my feelings (or I would write down stabby stab stab and that wasn’t the way to go either), but for Lara Jean it worked. Of course things got a little complicated when her inner thoughts were out in the world, but hey, she managed to put her thoughts into words and I’m having difficulty with that even as I write this review. 
All in all a lovely book and I give it a solid four stars.

Books in this series

P.S. I Still Love You (Book 2), Always and Forever, Lara Jean (Book 3)

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl

Author: Raindow Rowell
Reviewer: Inopinion

Content Warnings

Mental Health, Bi-polar, Alcoholism, relationships, social anxiety

Summary

Cather Avery and her twin sister Wren have arrived at The University of Nebraska Lincoln (UNL). Their perspectives couldn’t be more different. Wren is charging into the co-ed culture with a roommate in a different dorm and her sights set on parties! Cath is struggling. Not only is this the first time that her sister isn’t her roommate, but that her sister doesn’t seem to want to be her sister anymore. Gripped by social anxiety, she hides in her room focused on the one thing that still makes sense: fanfiction.

Despite her deepest desires to hermit her way through, her roommate Reagan and Reagan’s boyfriend – or at least one of her boyfriends- Levi prod her into a routine. One thing leads to another and Cath finds herself with a writing partner, Nick, who helps to pull her into original storytelling, and Levi walking her home. It’s all settling into a confused, but reliable situation.

Things go downhill and they go fast. Not only is her sister partying too much, but her father is falling apart. A manic phase swamps his careful balancing act as he tries to self-manage his bipolar condition. Luckily for Cath, she has friends she can rely on… and some she just might kiss.

Find this book on Goodreads.

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

One, if you’ve ever read fanfiction, you know the joy of extending your time in a world. Two, if you’ve ever written fanfiction, you will undoubtedly relate to Cath. She is you. You are her. She has fans that number in the thousands (some of us are lucky to have a handful, but they’re still precious), and she’s dedicated to pleasing them. Just this aspect of the story is so endearing and legitimately honest that I can now stop explaining why I love and write fanfiction and just hand over a copy of this book!

Outside of the fandom culture, this book is one huge mirror being placed in front of every reader and challenging them not to find someone in this story to relate to. Are you anxious? Do you avoid new people? Do you or your family ride the waves of mania or depression that come with a bi-polar condition? Have you been abandoned? Betrayed? Cheated on? Have you been led-on and let-down? Have your ethics been challenged? Have you been angry at something that you have no justification to be angry about? This book has something for you without actually venturing into obvious trigger territory (but you know yourselves best).

And let’s not forget the romance aspect of this book (which is as much a plot as the fanfiction) and all of it’s swoony ups and downs. Cath is such a romance-novice you’ll certainly see yourself in her whether it was you at 10, 15, or 35. I can’t heap enough praise on the respect on display as the romance blossoms.

Now, one criticism I’ve read and discussed with fellow readers (this was a bookclub pick, after all) was that the ending was too open. I may not agree with this, but it’s a point for readers to know going in. The conclusion may not satisfy readers that want everything wrapped up and assurances on what happens next. It certainly leaves several things on the table. There’s no doubt that while not abrupt, you’re left with a lot of ‘what-ifs’ at the end of this story. In my perspective, and I have no idea if this was the intention, but what this book gives is a launching pad for fanfiction. What better gift in a book about fandoms?

Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi

Tell Me How You Really Feel

Author: Aminah Mae Safi
Reviewer: Renee

Summary

Sana Khan is a cheerleader and a straight A student. She’s the classic (somewhat obnoxious) overachiever determined to win.

 Rachel Recht is a wannabe director who’s obsessed with movies and ready to make her own masterpiece. As she’s casting her senior film project, she knows she’s found the perfect lead – Sana.

 There’s only one problem. Rachel hates Sana. Rachel was the first girl Sana ever asked out, but Rachel thought it was a cruel prank and has detested Sana ever since.

 Told in alternative viewpoints and inspired by classic romantic comedies, this engaging and edgy YA novel follows two strong willed young women falling for each other despite themselves.

View this book on Goodreads.

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

It took me a few chapters to really get into this book but I ended up enjoying it. Rachel is on a scholarship and aiming to go to college in NYC for film. I related to her personality, but I also got really annoyed with her (probably says more about me than her!) She’s very focused on her goal and expects others to see things her way.

 Sana is the definition of the perfect student, cheerleader, daughter, everything. She struggles with keeping her mask in place all the time in order to make everybody else happy. Her grandparents are disappointed in her mother and place their expectations on her instead. She’s always known what she’s wanted to do after high school, but now she’s questioning if it’s what she really wants.

 When Sana and Rachel first met, Sana asked Rachel out on a date. Rachel thought it was all a joke since she was the new kid on scholarship and there was no way somebody as perfect as Sana would be into her. Fast forward to senior year and Rachel is carrying all the filming equipment back to the office when it looks like she’s going to fall and Sana tries to help. Except the very expensive camera breaks and the film professor declares they have to work together to finish the movie. Things don’t go so well at first, but as they start spending more time together, they start seeing past their initial impressions of each other.

 Rachel starts seeing through Sana’s mask while Sana has increasing difficulty dealing with her family’s expectations. They start trusting each other, slowly at first. I enjoyed watching them go from hating each other based on their initial impressions to thinking they may not have judged the other well to realizing they have feelings for each other. Things get complicated when Rachel has to change her film against Sana’s recommendations and things escalate for both of them at that point.

 There was one character who showed up when needed but wasn’t really around for most of the book. It was kind of weird to me that he would just be there when one of them needed him. I was definitely hooked by the end and needed to know what happened with Rachel and Sana: their post-graduation plans and with each other. I recommend this book to anybody who likes contemporary, enemies to lovers, and not quite slow burn but more like slow realization and acceptance.

Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan

Hot Dog Girl

Author: Jennifer Dugan
Reviewer: Renee

Summary

Elouise (Lou) Parker is determined to have the absolute best, most impossibly epic summer of her life. There are just a few things standing in her way:

  • She’s landed a job at Magic Castle Playland . . . as a giant dancing hot dog.
  • Her crush, the dreamy Diving Pirate Nick, already has a girlfriend, who is literally the Princess of the park. But Lou’s never liked anyone, guy or otherwise, this much before, and now she wants a chance at her own happily ever after.
  • Her best friend, Seeley, the carousel operator, who’s always been up for anything, suddenly isn’t when it comes to Lou’s quest to set her up with the perfect girl or Lou’s scheme to get close to Nick.
  • And it turns out that this will be their last summer at Magic Castle Playland–ever–unless she can find a way to stop it from closing.

View this book on Goodreads.

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book was so fun! I loved the ending and a few scenes near the end were just so perfect. Lou has a hard time accepting that the Magic Castle Playland, an amusement park that has always been there, is closing after this summer. It was there when she and her father needed to get away after her mother left. It’s been her summer job. It’s the one fun place in their town. She wouldn’t even mind wearing the hot dog costume again if it meant the park stayed open. She tries to come up with a plan to save the park, while everybody tries to convince her it’s time to say goodbye.

On top of the park closing, she has a major crush on Nick, a Diving Pirate, who also works at the park. He’s currently in a relationship with the girl who plays the princess so things are a little complicated, but she’s not willing to let that stop her. She’s also trying to set up her best friend, Seeley, so she can get over her breakup with her last girlfriend. It’s a lot for one person to keep track of so it’s no surprise that things don’t always go according to plan.

While explaining her latest plan to get Nick to notice her, he almost overhears everything. Luckily Seeley has her back, for a while. Seeley doesn’t think this latest plan is a good idea and tells Lou that it will backfire. Lou is determined to have the perfect summer and that includes being in a relationship with the boy she’s been crushing on, getting Seeley over her breakup, and saving the park. She’ll do whatever it takes…until it all goes wrong and she can end up losing everything.

I didn’t always buy into Lou’s schemes, but I really enjoyed the journey with the characters. They are all figuring out what they want since they’re almost out of school. There was one character that I felt deserved a little more attention based on her role early on, but overall I loved this book. I read the ending a few times because it was so perfect.

Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins

Her Royal Highness

Author: Rachel Hawkins
Series: Royals #2
Reviewer: Renee

Summary

Millie Quint is devastated when she discovers that her sort-of-best friend/sort-of-girlfriend has been kissing someone else. And because Millie cannot stand the thought of confronting her ex every day, she decides to apply for scholarships to boarding schools . . . the farther from Houston the better.

Millie can’t believe her luck when she’s accepted into one of the world’s most exclusive schools, located in the rolling highlands of Scotland. Everything about Scotland is different: the country is misty and green; the school is gorgeous, and the students think Americans are cute.

The only problem: Mille’s roommate Flora is a total princess.

She’s also an actual princess. Of Scotland.

At first, the girls can barely stand each other–Flora is both high-class and high-key–but before Millie knows it, she has another sort-of-best-friend/sort-of-girlfriend. Even though Princess Flora could be a new chapter in her love life, Millie knows the chances of happily ever afters are slim . . . after all, real life isn’t a fairytale . . . or is it?

View this book on Goodreads.

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is easily one of the best contemporary stories I’ve ever read! It has a perfect ending that stays with you. I loved reading about Millie and Flora’s relationship – from hating each other to maybe, kind of having feelings for each other. Millie is in a boarding school in Scotland because she loves Scotland and she needs some space from things at home. After insulting her roommate within seconds of being together, she finds out her roommate is Flora, the princess of Scotland. Oops.

Flora tries to get kicked out since she doesn’t want to be there and Millie ends up in trouble with her even though she is just trying to focus on school. The two argue a lot and try to stay away from each other but they have to work together for the Challenge, a yearly competition at the school. This year, instead of working in groups, everybody is partnered with their roommate. During the Challenge, Flora loses their packs and the two end up stranded. Millie was really looking forward to this event and is angry with Flora for getting her in trouble, again. However, while they are alone and without resources, they end up actually talking to each other and it looks like they could start to tolerate each other a little bit.

Millie quickly develops a crush on Flora but knows it could never happen. Flora is a princess, rich, and not exactly the nicest person. Millie is only there because she earned a scholarship. Flora is used to getting her way all the time and doesn’t have the same appreciation of the simple things that Millie does.

I love Flora’s personality. She seems hard and distant, but she has to be because people are always watching and waiting for her to screw up. One of my favorite parts of the book is when Flora keeps saying she doesn’t hate Millie and Millie responds that all Flora has done is judge her. Flora clarifies she’s just stating facts and that doesn’t mean she hates Millie. Millie decides to let it go.

It’s a fun, enjoyable read. I can’t think of anything I didn’t like or wish was different. I loved the different personalities of the characters.

The Foxhole Court by Nora Sakavic

The Foxhole Court

Author: Nora Sakavic
Series: All for the Game #1
Reviewer: Marlou

Content Warnings

Drug use, violence, lots of alcohol use, abuse

Summary

Neil Josten is the newest addition to the Palmetto State University Exy team. He’s short, he’s fast, he’s got a ton of potential—and he’s the runaway son of the murderous crime lord known as The Butcher.

Signing a contract with the PSU Foxes is the last thing a guy like Neil should do. The team is high profile and he doesn’t need sports crews broadcasting pictures of his face around the nation. His lies will hold up only so long under this kind of scrutiny and the truth will get him killed.

But Neil’s not the only one with secrets on the team. One of Neil’s new teammates is a friend from his old life, and Neil can’t walk away from him a second time. Neil has survived the last eight years by running. Maybe he’s finally found someone and something worth fighting for.

View this book on Goodreads.

Review

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Boy oh boy, this book was so interesting. I don’t usually read contemporary and I never thought I’d pick up a book about sports but hey, here I am. I have finished all three books in this trilogy and I loved it. I asked for recommendations on my bookstagram account and promised myself that the first person that replied with a decent book, I would read that. I’m so glad I did something spontaneous like that because I got to read this book.

This book follows a group of people that have some issues. They’re on an Exy team (Exy is a combination of Ice Hockey and Lacrosse) and they’ve all been given a second chance by playing for the Foxes. I love books about second chances!

The Foxhole Court is a very easy read. I went through the book fairly quickly, which is nice since it was only meant as a book to pass the time. Once I got to the end though, it left me wanting more and then I ended up reading all three books. The same thing happened when I read To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, I guess I like contemporary now, huh? You never know until you try.

This book isn’t cute in the way some novels might be and yet I would still describe Neil (the main character) as cute, and not because of his looks because he looks quite plain. I don’t know what it is with this book, I can’t quite formulate a sane sounding opinion (what even are words?). I’ll just stop writing now before I start repeating myself 🙂 This book gets three stars because it isn’t my usual genre, it was a bit slow at times, but it’s still a lovely book.

Books in this series

The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston

The Princess and The Fangirl

Author: Ashely Poston
Series: Once Upon a Con #2
Reviewer: Renee

Summary

The Prince and the Pauper gets a modern makeover in this adorable, witty, and heartwarming young adult novel set in the Geekerella universe by national bestselling author Ashley Poston.

Imogen Lovelace is an ordinary fangirl on an impossible mission: save her favorite character, Princess Amara, from being killed off from her favorite franchise, Starfield. The problem is, Jessica Stone—the actress who plays Princess Amara—wants nothing more than to leave the intense scrutiny of the fandom behind. If this year’s ExcelsiCon isn’t her last, she’ll consider her career derailed.

When a case of mistaken identity throws look-a-likes Imogen and Jess together, they quickly become enemies. But when the script for the Starfield sequel leaks, and all signs point to Jess, she and Imogen must trade places to find the person responsible. That’s easier said than done when the girls step into each other’s shoes and discover new romantic possibilities, as well as the other side of intense fandom. As these “princesses” race to find the script-leaker, they must rescue themselves from their own expectations, and redefine what it means to live happily ever after.

View this book on Goodreads.

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I’m kind of new to contemporaries but I couldn’t miss out on a book titled Princess and the Fangirl that takes place at a fantasy convention! I have not read the first book in the series, Geekerella. I love Imogen’s and Jessica’s arcs. They start out enemies with different views of the character Jessica plays, Amara. They start seeing things differently when they are forced to work together.

Imogen is trying to save the character Jessica plays in the sequel being planned. She believes Amara was fridged and should come back. She can’t understand why Jessica is so willing to let them keep Amara dead. Soon Imogen is mistaken for Jessica and rushed to a panel in her place. In the panel, Imogen states her support for saving Amara, which angers Jessica and surprises many since Jessica has been outspoken about letting Amara stay dead so she can move on.

Jessica didn’t expect the movie and her character to become such a big success, but she wants out of the franchise so she can move on and get “real” roles. She doesn’t understand why people are trying so hard to bring her character back. Soon the script for the next movie starts leaking online and Jessica is worried about being blamed for leaks to the sequel. She needs to investigate but can’t miss her scheduled events at the convention. Reluctantly, she strikes a deal with Imogen to let her pose as Jessica as long as she stops trying to save Amara. Imogen agrees, but still has plans to save her favorite character.

The two have to dodge fans and Imogen’s family (who have a booth at the convention) all while trying to track down who’s leaking the script. Jessica’s assistant is tasked with keeping an eye on Imogen and making sure she keeps up appearances. The two can’t stand each other but find out they don’t like being separated. While Imogen is masquerading as Jessica, Jessica has to pretend to be Imogen while looking for clues to who’s releasing the script. She meets Imogen’s online friend, Harper. Harper convinces Jessica to go out and have fun, something she hasn’t done in a long time. She stops worrying about her image and what everybody is going to think for a little while, until the next part of the script is released.

I loved reading about Imogen and Jessica’s point of views and how they finally come to listen to each other. In the beginning, they both keep pushing for what they want without listening to why the other is against it. As they continue spending time literally in each other’s position, they start allowing themselves to see the other’s perspective. I really enjoyed this book and hope there are additional books with these characters.

Books in this series

Starworld by Audrey Coulthurst, Paula Garner

Starworld

Author: Audrey Coulthurst, Paula Garner
Reviewer: Renee

Summary

Sam Jones and Zoe Miller have one thing in common: they both want an escape from reality. Loner Sam flies under the radar at school and walks on eggshells at home to manage her mom’s obsessive-compulsive disorder, wondering how she can ever leave to pursue her dream of studying aerospace engineering. Popular, people-pleasing Zoe puts up walls so no one can see her true self: the girl who was abandoned as an infant, whose adoptive mother has cancer, and whose disabled brother is being sent away to live in a facility. When an unexpected encounter results in the girls’ exchanging phone numbers, they forge a connection through text messages that expands into a private universe they call Starworld. In Starworld, they find hilarious adventures, kindness and understanding, and the magic of being seen for who they really are. But when Sam’s feelings for Zoe turn into something more, will the universe they’ve built survive the inevitable explosion?

View this book on Goodreads.

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

So. Many. Emotions. I laughed and got teary eyed (which is a big deal for me; this book may have leveled up my Emotions). This book is about friendship, finding out who you are, seeing yourself as others see you, realizing others don’t have the perfect lives we think they do, looking deeper than the surface, and so much more.

I love Zoe and Sam’s self image journeys. They both feel something is wrong with them and they have different techniques for coping and navigating their lives. When they meet, they learn about each other and build each other up. They have some bumps along the way and have to find their way back and figure out what works for each of them and their situation.

I read Starworld in 2 days, which is rare for me. I just couldn’t stay away. Every time I put the book down, I couldn’t stop thinking of their next adventure in Starworld so I just stopped putting the book down. I may need to read it again to help sort out these emotion things. 🙂

I thought I’d relate more to Zoe since she puts up “walls” (which my mom is always telling me I do), but part of Sam’s story hit really close to home. A lot of this book was relatable to me and I wasn’t expecting that. I also wasn’t expecting a lot of the heavy topics, but it’s clear the authors did their research and they represent these topics well. They even include resources after the story (for OCD, pregnancy loss, disabilities and ableism, adoption and adoptees).