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Book Review: Always and Forever, Lara Jean (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #3)

always and forever lara jean

Rating: 4 stars

Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding.

But change is looming on the horizon. And while Lara Jean is having fun and keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, she can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. She watched her sister Margot go through these growing pains. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family—and possibly the boy she loves—behind.

When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

I really enjoyed reading this concluding book in this series just as much as I enjoyed P.S. I Still Love You, but for different reasons. While I didn’t want this book to end, I felt like this book was the perfect way to end the series because of it being Lara Jean’s last year of high school before she goes off to college.

It continues to tell the story of Lara Jean’s relationship with Peter, but also focuses a whole lot more on the pressure of getting into college and what comes with that. When Lara Jean doesn’t get into the college of her dreams, she faces a dilemma she didn’t expect. I enjoyed seeing that conflict with her because I felt like it was a realistic problem that I’m sure other teens applying to colleges experience. Part of senior year of high school is beginning the journey of adulthood and I felt like with Always and Forever, Lara Jean, Jenny Han tackled the subject very well when it came to Lara Jean’s beginning journey into adulthood.

I also appreciated seeing how talking about college impacted Lara Jean’s relationship with Peter. Especially because they both wanted to go to college together since they were planning on continuing their relationship after high school. While Lara Jean didn’t handle her plans changing very well at first, when she discovered another college that was very similar to the school she originally wanted to attend, I thought it was wonderful that she made the decision to go to that school. For once in these books, she actually made a big decision for herself instead of taking the easy road to get what she wanted. Seeing Lara Jean struggle with her decision on where she was going to college when her original plans failed reminded me of what the pressure of choosing college was like for me. While I can’t say my experience was anything at all like Lara Jean’s (because it definitely wasn’t), I felt like I could relate to her character when it came to college because that’s a big decision for a person to make for themselves.

What I also liked when reading Always and Forever, Lara Jean was that you as a reader slowly saw Lara Jean make big decisions. While she’s still pretty far from acting like an adult, I felt like she was finally maturing a little bit in this book. For once, she was finally making decisions for herself, not because her family and friends wanted her to make those choices.

My biggest criticism for this book would have to be the lack of conflict in it. While I sometimes didn’t mind because it made this book a fun, light read like the others, I felt like there should’ve been something more. I mean, yes there was conflict when it came to Lara Jean going to college and how her final decision impacted her relationship with Peter, but that was really it when you actually think about it. There wasn’t really a whole lot else going on that really caused conflict in the story and that did bother me a little bit because it was like certain characters who were featured in the previous two books never existed.

But overall, I still enjoyed reading Always and Forever, Lara Jean. As a whole, I enjoyed reading all of these books in this series because they were a light and easy read for me to get through. I also enjoyed seeing Lara Jean’s family dynamics and how close she is to her two sisters as well as her relationship with her friend Chris and boyfriend Peter. I enjoyed reading them as well because they reminded me of what it was like when I fell in love for the very first time and reminded me of what choosing a college was like for me. My biggest criticism for this series as a whole is the lack of character development, especially in the main character Lara Jean. She still has a whole lot of growing up to do, but I still find myself liking her anyway.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed reading this series and recommend it to anyone looking for something light and easy to read. But I recommend caution to anyone who reads these books that’s just gotten out of a relationship and is still dealing with that heartbreak.

 

Book Review: P.S. I Still Love You (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #2)

p.s. i still love you book cover

Rating: 4 stars

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?

In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times best seller To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so amazing.

I definitely enjoyed reading P.S. I Still Love You better than To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Like its predecessor, I found this book easy to read through. But I found myself even more invested in what’s going on because I found the story and plot itself more invigorating.

What I believe helps is that you continue to see Lara Jean coming more and more out of her shell as her relationship with Peter grows. It’s like their relationship really brings her to life and I enjoyed every minute of it. I think what helps for me as a reader is that I can relate to Lara Jean’s feelings because I’ve had those feelings myself. The first time you fall in love is one of the most wonderful feelings and this book reminded me of everything that comes along with it, including the most difficult moments of a relationship. While I’m no longer with the first guy I fell in love with, this book still allowed me to relate to it because of those feelings. It allowed me to reminisce without feeling sadness and regret over a relationship I’ve since moved on from and reminded me that you can find love again even after the heartbreak.

Like with To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, this book continues to portray good, realistic relationships. I continue to love seeing the bond Lara Jean has with her family, her relationship with her best friend Chris, and her relationship with her boyfriend Peter. I also love seeing the new relationship she begins to form with John, one of the recipients of her love letters even though it doesn’t turn out the way you as the reader expect. You finally get to see how the letters getting out really affects her relationships and I enjoyed it.

If I have any criticisms for P.S. I Still Love You it’s that you don’t really get to see her relationship with John go anywhere. You can tell as a reader that feelings are going on between the two of them, but you don’t really see it turn into anything. While I understand why that’s the case, I actually wouldn’t have minded too much to see more interactions between the two of them. While I love Lara Jean’s relationship with Peter a lot, I wouldn’t have minded seeing her give John a chance and seeing where that went. Because I honestly really like John’s character a lot. So, I think my biggest criticism is actually that I think both Peter and John are good guys for Lara Jean and am struggling with which guy I think is truly right for her.

So, I overall loved reading this book a lot more than To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before because you see her relationships with everyone she’s close to growing and you can truly see Lara Jean falling in love. But I also love that the story realistically portrays first love, which is something I can truly relate to because of my own experiences. I just didn’t like that both of the guys she ends up liking are both likeable because it makes me as a reader have a difficult time choosing which of the two guys she should end up with. I can’t wait to finish reading Always and Forever Lara Jean, even though I know I’ll be sad that I’ll be done reading this trilogy.

I definitely recommend reading P.S. I Still Love You because it’s such a good read. But if you’re just getting out of a relationship, then this book might not be for you.

 

Book Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #1)

to all the boys i've loved before book cover

Rating: 3 stars

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.

I found this book to be an enjoyable read for me because it was easy to get through. What made the story so simple to me is that it mostly centered around one character’s daily life and the challenges she was experiencing. It was the story of an ordinary girl, her relationship with her family and how she navigated high school when she discovered that the letters she’d secretly written about the boys she once loved were sent to them without her knowledge. I found this premise interesting, which allowed me to continue turning the page to find out what happened next with Lara Jean.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was also a good read for me because I loved seeing the relationship Lara Jean had with her two sisters Margot and Kitty, her friend Chris, and one of the guys she once cared for Peter. While the story overall doesn’t have too much character development, I feel like you as the reader truly see how Lara Jean interacts with the people she’s close to. You see this in her treatment of her two sisters who she’s been close to over the years due to their mother’s sudden death. I really appreciate this close-knit sibling relationship in this young adult book because you don’t often see these types of relationships with family in this genre. I also enjoyed her relationship with both Chris and Peter because I feel like you get to see Lara Jean’s character come out a little whenever she’s around these two in the story. And that was nice to me because there’s very little of her character that you truly see.

That’s one of my biggest criticisms of this book, not feeling like we as readers get to know Lara Jean. Even though this book is from her perspective, I still feel like I don’t truly understand her character and why she reacts the way she does in the story. In a lot of ways, it made it hard for me to like her character, even though I can relate to her a little bit. She just seemed way too standoffish, to the point where she couldn’t handle normal everyday things. But at the same time, I found myself sympathetic to her most of the time because I felt truly sorry for her.

However, my biggest complaint of this book is that I don’t really feel like it followed the central plot: Lara Jean’s letters that were sent to the guys she loved. The story doesn’t really focus on the letters all too much other than her reaction to finding out they were sent out and her freaking out about one particular person getting a letter. Other than that, the story continues on, as if the letters were never sent out in the first place. Then again, I honestly believe the feelings she had for these guys wasn’t actual love, but feelings a girl gets when she has a big crush on someone. Maybe that’s what made it difficult for me to believe the way the guys reacted to the letters and how Lara Jean handled the whole situation. I guess I’m just surprised these letters didn’t play more of a role in the overall story arc, which made me like the book a little less. What also didn’t help was that it was fairly obvious from the beginning who sent them out in the first place.

But despite my two main criticisms with this book, I still enjoyed reading To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. It was such an easy read and I wanted to see how Lara Jean’s relationships continued to evolve that I couldn’t help but turn the page to see what happened next. I hope that P.S. I Still Love You gives me a better chance to learn more about Lara Jean’s character and is just as easy of a read.

What I Hope 2019 Brings For Me

2019 Happy New Year

“Take a leap of faith and begin this wonderous new year by believing. Believe in yourself. And believe that there is a loving source—a sower of dreams—just waiting to be asked to help you make your dreams come true.” -Sarah Ban Breathnach

Hello everyone! I hope you all are doing alright and that the start of 2019 has treated you well. Personally, I’m excited about this year right now because I recently just bought myself a new laptop that was giving me issues, which I’ve since resolved. So this’ll be the very first blog post I’ve written on here since I bought it, which makes me really happy.

For me, 2018 started off with loss then became a better year closer to the end with new opportunities I never expected to be within reach. The summer was the most difficult part of 2018 because my partner lost someone very close to him who I was just starting to really get to know. So as the year went on, we dealt with that loss together, which resulted in further strengthening our now two-year relationship. While I know losing someone you care about is never easy, I believe we’ll both get through this together and come out stronger as a couple.

2018 did have some good moments for me too though. There was definitely a lot of change as my grandmother in Pennsylvania sold her home and moved to a retirement community in Florida. But I also experienced change myself with a new job opportunity I never expected. While I’m still getting acquainted at my new job with how everything works, I truly believe this opportunity will benefit me in the long run with more job experience and lead me closer to my dreams.

While I haven’t been reading and writing (on my blog and outside of my blog) as much as I’d have liked in 2018, I had an opportunity with my writing I didn’t expect which still has me awestruck. One of my poems is published in an anthology, which you can order off of Amazon and on Kindle. In 2018, I officially became an author and I can’t be any more pleased by it because it’s something I definitely didn’t expect to happen for me. Having my writing published to where other people can read something I’ve written is a huge dream of mine. So by having my poem published, I feel like I’ve accomplished one of my dreams, though I hope it’s only the beginning of what’s to come with my writing.

So while I didn’t accomplish everything I’d hoped to accomplish in 2018, I definitely feel proud of what I achieved last year and am thankful for the opportunities I’ve been given.

For 2019, I hope this new year will be more fulfilling than the last. That I’ll be able to continue moving forward towards completing my goals. I hope to continue reading more enjoyable books that I can talk about here on my blog and continue expressing myself with the power of the written word. I don’t necessarily have any set goals for my blog here on WordPress other than to continue writing blog posts that others will enjoy and gaining followers in the process. My main hope with my blog is to continue getting to know other bloggers and to continue being active in the blogging community.

I truly hope 2019 will be a good year and hope you all are having a good 2019 so far. So what do you want from 2019? Please leave a comment expressing what you want from this new year.

 

Why “We Will Not Be Silenced: The Lived Experience of Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault Told Powerfully Through Poetry, Prose, Essay, and Art” Is Important to Me

We Will Not Be Silenced Book Cover

So, I know this will come as a surprise to many of you. If you follow me on social media at all, you might already know what I’m about to say. I recently submitted a poem I’d written for the opportunity to possibly be included in an anthology that talks about sexual harassment and sexual assault. At the time, I was feeling extremely passionate about those subject matters and an idea for a poem came to me. So I wrote down the words that were flowing through my thoughts and on a whim, submitted my poem to Indie Blu(e) Publishing.

Before this poem, I’ve never ever submitted any writing of mine for publication so I didn’t know what was going to happen. So when I received an email back saying that my poem was going to be accepted to be included in the anthology, I was completely surprised. I didn’t expect this poem I’d written on a whim to be accepted, but I was also happy too for a many number of reasons.

There are many reasons why the subject matter of sexual harassment and sexual assault are important to me. The best way I can describe it is this: I’ve had quite a few experiences of my own where I found myself feeling uncomfortable around someone of the opposite sex. Whenever I was in elementary school, I was bullied a lot by boys my age. When these boys bullied me, a lot of what they did was physical, such as pulling my hair.

Then when I was in middle school (6th grade to be exact) I dealt with having two different boys harassing me. One of the boys told me he wanted to kiss me and that he knew I liked him even though I never once expressed any interest in him.  The other boy would pucker his lips and make kissing noises at me during class. It was to the point where I found myself covering my face with my jacket or putting my head on the table so I could ignore him because he never stopped doing it even after I confronted him about it.

I’ve also had some pretty personal experiences with emotional and verbal abuse throughout my middle school and high school years. Whenever I was in 8th grade, my mother married a man we all thought would be a wonderful addition to our family. Instead, he was emotionally and verbally abusive towards the three of us along with being an alcoholic. The marriage was so bad that the summer before my senior year of high school, my mother decided she had enough and we spent several days packing our things so that we could leave. During that time, my older sister and I stayed the night at various friend’s homes so that we weren’t anywhere near our ex step-father and had friends help us pack until we collected all of our belongings. Those years were some of the roughest years of my life, but despite those terrible times, I’m extremely thankful for them. Because I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I hadn’t had those experiences in my life.

So for me personally, I believe the “We Will Not Be Silenced” anthology is really important. I believe it’s a really great way for those who have their own personal stories about being sexually harassed and assaulted to come forward creatively. Or anyone that has any other types of stories to open up and share their experiences. And I’m extremely thankful and honored that my poem is within it’s pages.

We Will Not Be Silenced My Poem
The poem I submitted into the “We Will Not Be Silenced” anthology. It’s called “If ‘Boys Will Be Boys,’ Then Girls Are Allowed to be Angry.” There’s more of it on the next page, but I figured I wouldn’t share my whole poem on here.
We Will Not Be Silenced Back Cover
You can even see my name on the back cover, near the bottom.
We Will Not Be Silenced Me Photo 1
Me with “We Will Not Be Silenced” in my hands and our one cat on my lap.

If you’re interested in getting yourself a copy of the anthology, you can order a paperback copy on Amazon here and get it for your Kindle here. You can also send an email to indiebluecollective@gmail.com if you’d like to be placed on the wish list for a copy of the anthology. I would also like to add that seventy percent of the royalties raised above the publishing and promotion costs will be donated to organizations that provide services to sexual harassment and sexual assault survivors, which is another reason why I’m so happy to be a part of this.

I still can’t believe that a poem I’ve written has been published. But I can’t be any happier about it because I’m expressing myself and letting my voice be heard. Please if you can, get yourself a copy of “We Will Not Be Silenced” because there are a lot of powerful voices expressing their truths. From what I’ve read of it so far myself, these stories are pretty amazing. Just know too that if you have your own personal story, don’t hesitate to reach out and talk to me. You aren’t alone and I believe you.

OnlineBookClub.org Book Review: Isabella’s Painting (Karina Cardinal Mystery #1)

Isabella's Painting Book Cover

Rating: 4 stars

https://forums.onlinebookclub.org/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=87551

I was going to in my next book review for OnlineBookClub.org put some of my first couple paragraphs from my review on the site on my blog post and then link to the review. However, in order for me to do so, I’d need to get in contact with someone from the site to make sure that was okay.

But when I actually did that, my message never went through to the person I was trying to send it to. I don’t know why because I put a lot of effort into writing that message. I found out because whenever I didn’t hear back from them I went into my Inbox and discovered that the PM never went through. Once I found out that happened, I was going to attempt to send another message. But right now, I quite frankly just wanted to put up my review on the site for you all to go check out sooner rather than later. And I just didn’t feel like spending another ten minutes working on another private message for it not to go through once again.

As a result, I have provided another link to a review I’ve written on OnlineBookClub.org. I’ll try sending a private message again later whenever I have the energy for it so that with these reviews in the future you can catch a glimpse of a little of what I’ve written. But until I’m able to get permission from the site, this is what I’m going to continue having to do.

Until then, please read my review and share it if you really like it. That would mean so much to me.

Also, I have some really exciting news I’m planning on sharing with you all on my next blog post. It’s personal/life stuff so I’m going to write a new blog post about it once the excitement of it wears off for me.

Until then, I hope you all have a good day today and enjoy my review!

Book Review: Dark Places

Dark Places Book Cover

Rating: 2 stars

Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice” of Kinnakee, Kansas. She survived—and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, the Kill Club—a secret secret society obsessed with notorious crimes—locates Libby and pumps her for details. They hope to discover proof that may free Ben. Libby hopes to turn a profit off her tragic history: She’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club—for a fee. As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started—on the run from a killer.

I know a lot of people won’t be too pleased about my thoughts and feelings with this book. But I didn’t enjoy reading this book as much as other people did so I’m sticking by that.

However, before I get into all of my criticisms with Dark Places, let me start by saying that there are some aspects of this book I did enjoy. For one, I think the storyline was fascinating to read. A story about a woman whose whole family was murdered in their home and the surviving family member points to her brother being the murderer is a story that interested me. Especially as she begins feeling doubtful about her original statement to the police and investigates to find the truth. I usually enjoy stories like this where the protagonist goes undercover to find out what really happened. But there are several factors with this story that lead to me not enjoying it, which I’ll talk about shortly.

I also enjoyed the writing in this story. In particular, the different points of view in the story where the author shifts from present day Libby to Ben’s perspective before the murders happened. I found that it helps supply the reader with more information about what actually happened as well as introduces the reader to key characters who play a crucial role in the events leading up to the murders. You learn what life was like for Libby before these events happen and how this moment changed her life completely.

However, I still didn’t enjoy reading Dark Places despite the interesting storyline and alternative points of view. While I admit I did enjoy the storyline, I did also find it lacking in depth as well. What I didn’t enjoy about it was the mystery surrounding the murders and how the truth was revealed. I was hoping that the story would provide a twist that as a reader would make everything I read in the story click together and everything I didn’t like about this book would make sense. Instead, once the truth was revealed, I was left feeling disappointed in the story I was reading.

What didn’t help was that I found myself disliking all of the characters in the story. Especially the character whose supposed to be the protagonist in this book Libby. But she’s actually an unreliable narrator who admits that she lies, and as a reader you witness her stealing from people as she’s investigating the death of her family members. I also found her unlikeable because she came across as being a very selfish person throughout the story. When she met the various members of the Kill Club, all she cared about was knowing if a lot of the members were really interested in what happened to her and her family instead of asking whether they actually had any good theories on who killed her family. There’s also the fact that she’s upset when people pay attention to other cases instead of hers and she doesn’t want to do any sort of work to help herself get money until she’s asked by the Kill Club to uncover the truth of her family’s murder. But she only does it in the first place because they offer to pay her for talking to certain people.

I was hoping Dark Places would redeem her character by making her be the murderer because that would’ve at least made this book more enjoyable for me to read. Instead, we have other characters who play a role in her family’s death and the reasoning behind it all is completely senseless. I was also hoping to have at least one character in the story that I actually liked, but wasn’t too surprised when that didn’t happen either. While I found Libby being an unreliable narrator an interesting choice for the story, I felt like it didn’t really go anywhere to make this book a worthwhile read. I also felt the same way about the mystery surrounding her family member’s deaths because nothing worthwhile happened in this story that resulted in them dying.

As a result, I wasn’t particularly fond of Dark Places. There was just too much disappointment with everything for me with regards to this book for me to even give this book a higher rating. In fact, I would’ve given this book a one star rating if I hadn’t finished reading it. Nonetheless, I finished this book and am disappointed by what I read because I was expecting more from the story than was given.

 

 

OnlineBookClub.org Book Review: Escape (30th Century Trilogy #1)

Rating: 3 stars

https://forums.onlinebookclub.org/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=85188

Like with my last OnlineBookClub review, I’d really appreciate it if you shared this one too.

Thank you very much, and happy reading!

OnlineBookClub.org Book Review: The Altitude Journals

Rating: 4 stars

https://forums.onlinebookclub.org/viewtopic.php?f=24&t=83983

Hello everyone! I hope today has been a really good day for you.

So, I have some exciting news to share with you all. I’ve been looking into sites that pay writers for book reviews because I need the extra money and think it would be good experience for me. That’s when I stumbled upon OnlineBookClub.org and decided to at least give it a try and see how it goes. So far, it’s been a good experience for me because they have daily giveaways where you have the chance to win a book or Amazon gift cards. I’ve already won two books from it so far and I think it’s a nice site that allows you to see a variety of different books to read. But, I haven’t been on the site for too long yet so I’m just waiting to see how the reviews I write go first before making any real decisions on whether I’ll stick with it or not.

I turned in my first review for the site yesterday. When I woke up this morning, I checked the status of it and it’s officially been published on the site. The link I have posted at the very beginning of this entry is where you can go to check out my review.

If you’re reading this and your an OnlineBookClub.org member, I’d appreciate it if you left a comment or shared the post so that others can read it. The same goes if your not a member, but are interested in checking the site out. Any feedback for me is deeply appreciated because I want to continue learning and growing as a writer.

I’d also like to say doing reviews on OnlineBookClub.org does not mean I won’t be posting any of my reviews that aren’t on the site here. I’ll still continue to write on this blog whenever I can because I love being on this space. There’s no way I’m leaving WordPress anytime soon. I’ll just be posting those review links here as well with “OnlineBookClub.org Book Review” as the title so you’ll know which of my reviews are on their site.

Thank you all for your understanding and happy writing!

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