Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

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I was supposed to create and post this entry to end September but I wasn’t able to. So let’s start October instead with the final book to the trilogy series of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. (I haven’t read a new book in a week so forgive me if i’ll write this review from memory like the other two).

Always and Forever, Lara Jean is a surprise book by Jenny Han. To All The Boys was supposed to have ended with book two, but this book is definitely such a welcome surprise.

Always and Forever focuses on Lara Jean’s senior year in high school and all the decisions and fears that come with it. She’s still together with Peter and everything is going well but the looming college application and the future are starting to take their toll. Peter is already accepted at the University of Virginia (UVA) in a lacrosse scholarship but despite their hope, Lara Jean was not able to get in. All their future plans, the couple time that they look forward to, their already planned schedule – gone. Isn’t that awful? I could definitely relate to the feeling because I so know it all too well. They say don’t count the eggs before they hatch but I never learn my lesson. I always look forward to things, always claiming that things will go according to the plan, always planning what the possible things and activities in line after the plan, then I will hear the result from the interview or from the exam I was banking my future on, and, you know it, I didn’t pass. Suddenly, life sucks. Even though there is always that doubt that things will not go well, I can’t help but be disappointed in the end.

Thus, I can feel Lara Jean’s sentiments – fear, doubt, worry in everything. What will happen to her and Peter? Will they be able to make it work? Was she not good enough, even with all the high grades she achieved and activities to show? It’s definitely hard to be a senior. But it’s harder being an adult.

Jenny Han successfully portrays the realities of college admissions and the feelings of a senior high that goes with it. It is hard. It is expensive. It is uncertain. Change is inevitable. Future is unknown.

Thankfully, Lara Jean, got accepted to the University of North Carolina, and after having the opportunity to tour the place, a spark of wanting to study in the UNC bloomed. Weighing her choices, she finally decided to study at UNC. That means, she came to accept the fact that she’ll be having a long-distance relationship with Peter, she’ll be far away from home, she’ll be far away from her comfort zone.

This also teaches us that just because we are in a relationship doesn’t mean that every decision we make must be decided by it. Sure, we must take the relationship into consideration but we are our own person first and foremost. We must make decisions for ourselves and not because it what the others wanted.

Always and Forever speaks about the inevitable changes that life throws at us, Lara Jean has hers when she failed to get into UVA and when his dad decided to re-marry. But the book also teaches us to embrace the changes just like how Lara Jean came to terms with all the happenings in her life. Coz if we don’t, we’re just choosing ourselves to suffer.

Always and Forever concludes To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series. I had a great time knowing and growing with Lara Jean and Peter, I will definitely miss them.

 

P.S. I Still Love you by Jenny Han

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P.S. I Still Love You is the second book in the To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before series by Jenny Han. I loved the first so I was looking forward reading the second. I have read this a while back as well.

I love Peter Kavinsky and his fake relationship with Lara Jean but for some sort of reason, I was looking forward to reading Lara Jean and John Ambrose McClaren ( I really love the guys’ names on this series!).

P.S. I Still Love You continues the story of Peter and Lara Jean and of how they turn their reel to real. Josh, who was one of the major third party in the first book in their fake relationship, is more or less non-existent in the book except for the occasional mentions. The story continued with the fight that previously ended To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, Peter and Lara Jean kissed and make up and now decided to become a real couple. While they were in a ski trip, somebody took a video and spread it online making it seem that the two of them were having sex in a hot tub, instead of just kissing. Earning bad reputation for Lara Jean. (Oh, the sexism of the world. The guy’s a god, the girl is a slut). Of course, Peter is to her rescue which kinda had the rumors die down a bit. Then here comes John Ambrose McClaren reuniting with her from the next town. He tells her that he just received and read the letter because they moved houses. Then they become pen pals sans John knowing that Lara Jean is already taken.

Peter and Lara Jean’s relationship started having trouble at the reunion party Lara Jean hosted in the treehouse in their backyard where her and her childhood friends decided to dig out their buried time capsule. Peter came with Genevieve (Peter’s ex girlfriend and former BFF of Lara Jean) when he perfectly knows it will piss and make Lara Jean jealous. When Lara Jean confronted Peter, all he says is that he can’t help it. Genevieve is having a problem and that he needs to be there for her. The group of childhood friends played Assassins where the last one standing will be granted any one wish and in which Lara Jean became the winner.

During the time that Peter and Lara Jean is not talking much,Lara Jean and John became closer. But alas, nothing still happened because LAra Jean realizes that the one she loves and still loves is Peter Kavinsky (after she learns what Genevieve’s problem and secret is). They got back together the night before the treehouse is to be cut down and everything is good again.

This series is all about young love – silly mistakes you make, the not being honest with each other part, being jealous, and all those other young love recipe. Lara Jean who is learning the ropes of love and relationship and doing things that might not seem to be appropriate. She enjoys the attention that the boys are giving her because it’s not that often that somebody gives her any. When she is exchanging letters with John, i really hated her while she is with Peter, I really hated her character. She never once in the letter mentioned that she is now with Peter giving hope to John who is clearly falling in love with her and hiding things with Peter about the exchange. Then, she has the nerve to be jealous about Peter meeting with Genevieve in such often and kinda suspicious time and ways.

I truly believe that honesty and trust are the pillars of good relationship. If you cannot be honest with each other, then your relationship is doomed to fail. We saw in the book how not being honest almost cost Lara Jean and Peter’s relationship to the point of no return. Young love can be a bit messy. People with blame immaturity with age but still, at a young age, we should know better.

I still enjoyed the book over all even with al the cringing and “Why are you like that?” shouts at some of the characters’ actions. haha. And I guess, others enjoyed it too.

How Hard Can Love Be? by Holly Bourne

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How Hard Can Love Be? This is a question I often ask and I often answer. Love is hard, and always almost something will doom your relationship to fail. (Not that I have first hand experience. This is all based on my friends’, cousins’ everyone else’s stories). It is rare to find that true and lasting love in this day and age. This is why I was able to relate to Amber, the main character of the book.

How Hard Can Love Be is the second book in the The Normal series of Holly Bourne. It focuses on Amber, the tall, ginger, and insecure 17-yr old girl who crossed the ocean and traveled to America to spend the summer with her mom while agreeing to be one of the counselors in her stepfather’s summer camp. She anticipated that it will be a good summer, if not the best, since she will be spending six whole weeks with her mother whom she haven’t seen for two whole years. But life happens, their relationship grew worse. Kyle, one of the camp councilors and the All-American Golden boy, who as Amber described is the epitome of American guys she know of – Prom King, star athlete, scholar, oozes sex appeal is one of the only two good things she was glad about the camp. The other one being Whinnie, one of the girl camp counselors who she was able to be friends with. She tried to resist her attraction to Kyle at first. She’s insecure so she doesn’t believe that a gorgeous boy like Kyle will be interested in her, even if there are all those mixed signals (much like what i will feel if ever somebody tells me they like me). With the advice of Evie and Lottie though, she let go of her insecurity and worries for the future. She followed her heart and lived in the moment. (Isn’t it nice to just live in the moment, never caring about the consequences of your action and what the future brings?) And their whirlwind romance started only to be stopped by her mother. Her mother went hysterical when she discovered that she and Kyle are together. Kyle was fired from the camp and they decided to runaway. Her mother caught up with them in Vegas where they were able to come to peace. And she and Kyle then continued their journey.

How Hard can Love Be revolves around identity, finding yourself, being comfortable in who you are, and, of course, relationships.

I loved this book more than Am I Normal. One is because I have felt the connection to Amber. Two, because I also have never fallen in love yet (Yes, in my twenty-something existence, I still have yet to experience first love). Three, because it makes me feel that I will be able to find love still. Maybe not now, not in my country, but surely I will.

I can relate to Amber but I have mixed feeling on her character description and actions. Yes, she’s describe as insecure with her physical appearance thus is socially inept. But her character’s actions show otherwise. She’s not afraid to be herself. I actually don’t see her insecurities affect her social relationship much because she was able to make friends easily. She was able to take courage and take the first step in talking to the other camp counselors the first night she arrived. The only time that her insecurity really shows is when she is in denial about Kyle’s possible attraction to her (which she also overcome). 

Kyle’s character on the other hand, is sort of like a doll. A person without his own will. It shows that, sometimes, we do the things we do just because they are expected of us and because we don’t know what else are we supposed to do. Identity. This is one of Kyle’s character representations. We struggle to find who we are, what we are supposed to do, while in the time we don’t know who we are yet, we act so stereotypically and do things which might seem nothing at the moment but might have a greater effect in our lives later on. In Kyle’s case, he kissed Megan, the kinda slutty girl camp counselor. He did it because it was like it was expected of him to kiss a sexy babe. However, this one kiss, later on, is one of the major obstacle in Kyle getting together with Amber. Good thing, it was overcome in the end.

Amber’s mother also serves a major role in the story. She is an a recovering alcoholic. But as any other addiction, it is a long, windy journey. This is the greatest reason for her wrecked relationnship with Amber, the summer Amber thought would be the greatest. They reconciled but it already left a mark in Amber’s heart. This is also one of the greatest contributors to Amber’s insecurity to love.

Everything is going good, then suddenly I was met with the ending. I was literally trying to flip still the pages trying to see if there’s any hidden chapter, epilogue, or just something that will satisfy me. I found none. And I was heartbroken. This has also been my problem with Am I Normal. I am like That’s it? Really? Oh well, I just have to deal with it since I can’t do anything else.

How hard can love be? The answer? Love is definitely hard especially if you do not know who you are or if you’re not comfortable in your own skin. There will be a lot of hardships coz life is such a freaking *****. But, as long as you have true friends to count on, a partner to rely on, and you are not afraid to be yourself, love can be manageable.

 

Top 12 Recommended YA Romance Novels

If you’ve asked me a year ago what kind of novels I am reading, I would probably tell you that I’m reading “Graphic Novels” which is most probably not the kind of novels you are looking for (but that’s the only kind i read, at least at that time). I can tolerate reading then as long as it includes pictures, and  a whole lot of them.

Somehow, someway, though, around a year ago, I became hooked to reading novels, like novels novels. Without pictures, just words. Romance novels to be exact. Blame it on the scarcity of my own romance wherein my daily dose of manga is already not enough. I want more. It started with the more “mature”ones, but then got tired of them coz chapters mostly are just devoted into sex without much of the story.

Then I encountered a couple of young adult novels, sure, it still has a little bit of sex but I find them more enjoyable and easier to digest.They have better plot lines too! (Why am i even blabbing about this when i should just focus on my recommended YAs already?)

So enough of the backstory why i got into reading, I am no professional book critic as you can see and I’ve only read 188 books so far (yes, i’m counting) and am no expert in providing reviews but I’ll list the top 12 books that I have absolutely come to love. Maybe due to familiarity, maybe due to the way it was written, maybe because i just love it.

This list is for someone looking for young adult romance novels (mostly categorized as young adult as per Goodreads and other sites but I think it’s more teensy most of the time which is not really a problem for me) who enjoys both (sometimes) sappy and cheesy, and also heavy and slice of life novels.

Here it goes.

12. What’s Left of Me Series by Amanda Maxlyn

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What’s Left of Me is the debut novel of Amanda Maxlyn and tells the story of Aundrea and Parker. It has the POV of both characters so you’ll be able to understand them better. Aundrea is an 18-yr old girl, who, suffering from relapse of cancer, believes that she should not deserve happiness after what she’s putting her family through, until she met Parker – her one-night stand turned boss the next day guy – who taught her what love is and how to embrace and fight for life. It’s a pretty much heavy novel because of the Big C life being described but it didn’t stop the author from making it a hot novel as well.

I enjoyed the novel, probably because it was all new to me (it is one of the first novels I read) and the novelty created an impact to me more than the usual but I enjoyed reading it. There is a sequel novel titled “What’s Left of Us?” which I read months after the first one, simply because I don’t want to read a heavy novel when my reality is heavy enough.

 

11. I Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

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I actually enjoy most of Sophie Kinsella’s novels I’ve read . They are the rom-com type and just the breather I need to briefly escape the reality.

I Got Your Number is Poppy Wyatt’s story and how her life changed dramatically because she got Sam Roxton’s assistant’s phone she picked up in the bin after losing her own in after a chaotic hotel scenario which also caused her her engagement ring. While reading, I forgot how things were back in the early 2000s where the novel is set. I forgot that internet is not yet as wildly popular and everything. Reading the novel is fun and you’ll never stop laughing at the adventures of Poppy, of how she is trying desperately to find her engagement ring only to find out that it was not actually, totally now lost in the first place. If you need a quick read, I highly recommend this.

 

10.  Adorkable by Cookie O’Gorman

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Adorkable is simply adorakable! It is also a debut novel released in 2016 but definitely contains cute elements that readers will enjoy. The story is not at all original per se. You know, fake boyfriend, childhood cursh, i-love-my-bestfriend-but-he-does-not-know type but it was fun to read nonetheless. If you’re looking for a quick, adorable, funny, teensy, ready then this one’s for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. Cinderella Screwed Me Over by Cindi Madsen

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What i liked about the most in Cinderella Screwed Me Over is how it was told and the analogies of the exes to our favorite childhood prince charmings. Darby Quinn lost faith in happily-ever-afters after having one-too-many bad experience with her ex-boyfriends. Determined to take on the single life, she “reviews” what went wrong in her past relationships (via her record book, yes she records and analyzes her relationships) to fight the persistent attempt of Jake, her neighbor and owner of her favorite restaurant, to win her heart.

What can I say, when happily-ever-after is for you, you’ll get it one way or the other, although sometimes you might be burned more than what you think you can take to appreciate what you will have.

 

 8. Confess by Coleen Hoover

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Colleen Hoover is one of the authors I really admire (I might blog about authors I like but that’s another story). I love how she incorporates societal issues into her works but still focus on the the romance itself. I love also that in this saturated world of romance novels, Colleen Hoover still can make her work unique, either with characters or with elements of the story.

Confess is a story about confessions, of Aubrey and Owen, who at the young age they’re in (if i remember correctly, they’re 19 and 21 respectively), has already experienced LIFE and by life i mean they have already struggled in how to survive. Owen is an artists who paints and draws inspiration from other people’s confession. Aubrey, desparately looking for a job, conveniently knocked on Owen’s studio applying for the assistant job. As they got to know each other and feelings grew, everything is being threatened to break if they know the other’s secret.

This is a heavy drama but i really love it, although i love her other works more. 🙂

 

7. Jesse’s Girl by Miranda Kenneally

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Jesse’s Girl is a light and cutesy novel (part of the Hundred Oaks Series) who follows Maya Henry who shadows the popular  teen rockstar idol, Jesse Scott, as part of Hundred Oak High’s shadow day. Misunderstandings about each other and struggling to fight what’s just seen in the surface tugs at my heart. It is a simple story but somehow I have become attached to it.

 

 

 

 

6. Ugly Love by Coleen Hoover 

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Perhaps the only novel by Coleen Hoover so far where both the characters are not in high school or college that i know of. Tate Collins and pilot Miles Archer has undeniable mutual attraction and the sexual tension between them is always at boiling point whenever they’re near each other but Miles’ past makes up their ugly love. How can you get over the trauma of a past love that’s been haunting you for 6 years? The complicated past creates a wall between the two of them not knowing whether they can move forward or just keep on hanging when it’s obvious they love each other.

Such another gripping story by Coleen Hoover that tackles taboo love, family, trust, and hope.

 

5. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

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Anna and the French Kiss holds a special place in my heart. Probably because, it is one of the first novels I’ve encountered that I really enjoyed how it was written, how each characters were presented, and how the story line progressed.

It follows Anna (duh?) and her experience in Paris where she had been shipped to her senior year. When you’re shipped to a far away place, alone in a new continent with new school and everything, you’ll expect the worst, right? That is until someone comes along. Anna met Étienne St. Clair who is the definition of perfect. Smart, witty, a ball of sunshine, beautiful, and has the perfect relationship or so it seems.

I am a sucker for romance (if you haven’t noticed it yet) and I root so much for Anna and Etienne to finally be with each other all through out the novel which did not disappoint. I love that the setting is in Paris, it’s like a breathe of fresh air from the American setting that i gotten use to read so far. It’s a perfect book to pick up when you’re in for some light romance and full on trip to Paris.

 

4. Isla and the Happily Ever After

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After reading Anna and the French kiss, I immediately searched for other books by Perkins and thankfully Lola and the Boy Next Door and Isla and the Happily Ever After were already published by that time (by that time i mean like two-three months ago). I like Lola but not as much as I like Anna and Isla.

Isla and The Happily After follows Isla and her unqrequited love for Josh who was a side character in Anna and the French Kiss. Maybe because I can relate to Isla’s hopeless romantic personality but I do remember the grin on my face and anticipation of what’s next when I read the book.

 

 

3.  Slammed Trilogy by Colleen Hoover

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Slammed is the first book I have read written by Colleen Hoover which is also the first book that she has written. And I don’t have any regrets I started with it. At first I was hesitant when I read the synopsis and a few spoilers here and there (I don’t dig teacher-student relationship that much aside from manga). But, oh boy, glad that I picked up the book and read.

The Slammed series (Slammed, Point of Retreat, This Girl) revolves around Lake and Will who, one day, suddenly became neighbors and quickly fell in love with each other not knowing that Will is a student teacher at Lake’s new school. The main protagonists are full of baggage, so heavy to bear for a teenager. (Hell, i’m already twenty-something and all the time when I was reading the series I could not imagine it happening to me). However, the baggage they are slumped into forms the backbone of the story, coupled with the beautiful slam poetries placed in some of the chapters of the series, I was hooked. This also became my re-introduction to slam poetry and ignited my desire to learn more about it since. Although heavy and sometimes, I could not help but think that Lake is such a child and so immature, this series is one I will definitely treasure even in the future.

 

2. Hopeless Series by Colleen Hoover

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I am not kidding that Colleen Hoover is one of my favorite authors. Hopeless and Losing Hope is about Sky and Holder, about kidnapping, child rape, and so much more.

What I love about Colleen is that she never fails to go ahead and make interesting concepts for her novels, not only tackling or incorporating social issues (coz let’s be honest, the book is not a 101 guide on how to avoid child rape and kidnapping but rather the concept is the building block of the story) but also seamlessly getting it woven to the totality of the book. Hopeless and Losing Hope are not exceptions.

Hopeless and Losing Hope is definitely about two broken young ones who, amidst all the brokenness in them and the shit life gave, were still able to go ahead and find a semblance of peace and closure at the end.

 

1. November 9 by Colleen Hoover

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This book is the book that almost broke my phone (I read it as ebook) because I threw my phone a couple of times while reading it. It was that good for me. You know when you are rooting for the two main characters – Fallon and Ben – then something will came up and prevent them from having their happily ever after. I swore a lot of times reading this book and I could not not pick up my phone after I threw it because as much as I hate what is happening, I want to see what the end will be for the characters I already came to love. Of course, Coleen Hoover delivered yet another unique way of writing the story wherein it revolves around one day, November 9, year after year after year, and the growth of Fallon and Ben on this day.