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.

 

To All the Boys I have Loved Before by Jenny Han

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This is a book that I have read some time ago, around a month or so ago. The cover is so cute and there’s this Korean girl in it so of course, being the everything Korean fan, it piqued my interest. I have been seeing it displayed in bookstores for months already before I decided to pick it up and read.

The basic premise of To All the Boys (the title is too long so from this point on, I’ll just shorten it to To All the Boys) is about the 16-yr old main character”s (Lara Jean) kept love letters suddenly mailed to each one of her previous crushes of whom the letters were addressed to. I would definitely be mortified if this happens to me. Who would want their deepest, made-for-self thoughts be out there in the open?

When I read the synopsis of the book, I didn’t know the name of the guy main character. And I am the type of person who wants to know their main character’s from the start so I won’t root for a character, only to find out later on that it’s the second lead and be heartbroken because of it. So, I did not know who I should root for when I started reading this book. I rooted for Peter Kravinsky only because he was the first guy that was introduced and Lara Jean’s first letter recipient. But glad that I did.

To All the boys is a light, fun read that will make you reminisce about your high school crushes and how you dealt with being in love and in a relationship for the first time (not that I have experience in that dept but I love my high school fantasies). More than the romance element, it also shows the dynamics of a single father with three teenage daughters and most especially, the relationship between sisters.

The book reminded me that first love is not usually the last love but sometimes, it works. It reminded me of the silly first days and experience – first crush, first heartbreak, first (in my case, just a fantasy) relationship, first time being far apart from someone you dearly loved, first fight with your bestfriend/sister, first major embarrasment, etc. To All the Boys is definitely enjoyable to read even if sometimes I don’t get why Lara Jean and Peter act the way they do. Sometimes, I just wanna bang their heads together and stick them together like glue so they can see that they are made for each other. But of course, the book shows how relationship and falling in love is never easy. Love never is.

To All the Boys I have Loved Before series with P.S. I Still Love You and Always and Forever Lara Jean (which I’ll post about later on) is definitely recommended for those wanting to be reminded of how loving someone for the first time and experiencing all new things with him feel. It’s a great read.

 

P.S. I just learned that this will become a movie. Hoping that it will justify the book!

The Sun is also a Star by Nicola Yoon

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The Sun is also a Star by Nicola Yoon is, by far, one of the novels that took me a bit of a time to read. (It took me around a cumulative of 5 days in total, I read and finished Tangled in between). Not that it was not interesting or captivating enough. But somehow when I started reading it, I was not into the mood of reading such contrasting pairing (which made me love the book in the end though). It took its time to grow on me but when I was hooked. Boy, oh boy, I was wrecked.

The book is about two opposite and contrasting characters and an unusual pairing. One in which you won’t read much in the young adult scene. This pairing is what made me not to be much interested in the book at first but which also made me love the book to pieces in the end. It tackles and incorporates a lot of societal issues such as undocumented immigrants, racism, dream vs reality, to name a few. It has so much depth and shows how, in one way or the other, we are all connected in the end.

The Sun is also a Star tells the story of Natasha Kingsley and Daniel Jae Ho Bae and how destiny or fate brings them together in one faithful day. Do you believe in love at first sight? In meant-to-be’s and destiny? In coincidences and fate? I do. Yep, I am a certified hopeless romantic and this book solidifies it even more. Natasha and Daniel couldn’t be even more different from each other. Natasha is a science geek, a logical person. Daniel is the poetic, emotions rule kind of guy. Natasha doesn’t believe in true love and destiny. Daniel is all about fate and meant-to-be’s. Natasha is African American. Daniel is Korean American. It might just be Natasha’s last day in the US. Daniel’s just about to start a new chapter in his life.

****SPOILER****

The story goes that one fateful day when Natasha tried to stop her family’s impending deportation that night and Daniel’s on to his Yale interview, theirs stars collided and it seems like all the universe conspire for them to meet. Okay, not really, Daniel had to do a bit of action, but, nonetheless, their world intersect in a record store after Natasha confronted her ex and his girlfriend who she caught shoplifting. Daniel took the courage and invited Natasha to spend the day with him of which her answer is a blatant no. Daniel, though, being the emotional and fate-kind of guy persisted until Natasha and him spends time with each other a little bit just more each passing minute. Natasha’s wall eventually breaks down and she admits that she is now falling in love with Daniel less than 24 hours after meeting him (which might have been aided by Daniel’s questionnaire). And oh you know, when things finally seem to start going into their rightful place, suddenly there’s a BOOM that will bomb your hope of happy ever after. But maybe, in the end, if you’re meant to be, love will find a way.

There’s a lot of lessons to learn from this book as it touches on a lot of concepts.

One, believe in fate and destiny and meant-to-be’s. Nicola Yoon certainly ignited the fire for hopeless romantics. If you’re for each other, love will find a way. Even with all their differences and the time and distance that separated them apart for more than 10 yrs after that ONE AND ONLY day they spent and fell in love with each other, they still found each other in the same plane and who knows what happen afterwards.

Two, love can definitely change everything. It was for his love of acting that Natasha’s father – Samuel Kingsley – decided to move to US and stay as an undocumented immigrant. It was the love of Natasha’s mother for her father that she decided to follow him to US from Jamaica, becoming undocumented, and settling for the poor lifestyle for years. It was love that changed Natasha’s last shot for staying in the US when Atty. Fitzgerald missed the court appointment essential to reverse the immediate deportation of Natasha and her family just to be with his newly admitted love of his life, his Paralegal. And it was love that got Daniel to spend the day with Natasha, even with all the logical reasons he should not to, which changed his life forever.

Three, racism is still here. As much as we would like to admit that times have changed. Still, racism is still undeniably here as evidenced by Daniel’s and Natasha’s families” reaction to them dating. Need not to elaborate more.

Four, everything is connected and combined with butterfly effect can affect the future. We are all connected. What we do, how we interact with other people, strangers, or friends, our decisions, is related to something else, and the smallest of our steps, of our thoughtless actions, can ignite a bigger impact in the future.

Five, the unending debate of passion and dream versus logic and practicality.  This is certainly one of the themes of the novel as well. Samuel Kingsley’s acting dream vs the poor reality of his family, Daniel’s parents’ American dream which is not really a dream as it consists of attending a top college, being a doctor, and having a good life afterwards vs Daniel’s passion of poetry. Natasha’s practical future job – data analyst – vs her unknown passion or dream as she doesn’t believe in those anymore. We all want to have a work that is something we love, something we are passionate about. Success will come, we say. However, as we grow up and reality takes a toll in our lives, it is hard to live life the way we want it to. There’s so much responsibilities that most of the time leaves us to do what is practical, what is logical, even if it’s something we don’t like. The Sun is also a Star, though, is giving hope to the dreamers. If they have just the right attitude and enough determination, the difficulty of choosing your dream over logic will definitely pay out in the end.

The Sun is also a Star is a wonderful book, creatively written. The characters intertwine and even the side stories in between (which at first I think are not necessary) gives even more depth to the main characters that you’ll realize in the end. Aside from being not your usual, the characters are strong and you can see why they are the way are. Although i feel that towards the end, after Natasha and her family moved back to Jamaica, everything was rushed and was just laid out there straight-up, I still love the book over all and would recommend for everyone to read it.

One thing I still don’t get though is why it was titled The Sun is also a Star, maybe i missed that section, I read it in the chapters but maybe I just needed to re-read it again.

I haven’t read Everything, Everything yet, also by Nicola Yoon, but after this, you know i soon will. 🙂

I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maureen Goo

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When I first read the tile, it’s the popular Thai movie “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” that immediately popped into my mid. Oh, I so love that movie! Reading the plot which involves korean dramas and lots of it solidified my intention to read the book. So I did.

I am a certified korean-anything addict (you can also include japan-anything in the list). I am addicted to anything korean or japan. Dramas, music, culture, food, etc. Thus coming across a novel which does not only portray a Korean character but also revolves around the Korean drama scene in a way hooked me up!

The novel is actually not what I expected. It revolves around Desi Lee, a Korean American girl whose life is ruled by RULES, by precision, by steps. Everything can be achieved if it’s taken into perspective as an experiment. Identify the problem. Create steps and rules. Problem solved. That’s why falling in love, which she was the only thing she was never good at, also must have some rules to follow to achieve success, right? This is where K-drama comes in. After a random and unexpected day where she got to sit with her father in their living room binging K-drama and binging some more on her own after, she analyzed everything she has seen so far. Then came up with “THE K-DRAMA STEPS TO TRUE LOVE to win her current object of interest – Luca Drakos.

There were 24 rules in total. Some I agree with, some I don’t. But over all, it was pretty hilarious. K-drama fans can totally relate. There were a lot of K-drama references scattered across the novel. It brings back the feeling when you were watching those kdramas which makes it nostalgic. Desi Lee is a calculating character but will drive you crazy buy how ridiculous some of her plans are just to follow the steps.

In the end, Maureen leaves us the lesson that true love cannot be controlled. It is not achieved through meticulous steps and definitely not through crazy ideas. True love is built by interaction, by communication, by trust.

I Believe in a Thing Called Love is a funny and feel good read. Best for KDrama lovers!

 

Tangled by Emma Chase

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I am going through my phase of being under sensual novel frustration again. Under Her, as much as I don’t want to admit, opened up again my desire to read something sensual. Tangled by Emma Chase .was the latest one I’ve read.

So i’m really a bad girl in a good girl’s clothing. I am a closet girl hiding all her desire to explore the wild side – including sex. This is where the internal conflict starts though. It’s because I’m also trying hard not to, being a Christian and all and wanting to be worthy of God’s grace but I always fall time and time again but that’s a story for another time. Let’s get back to Tangled.

The book is about Drew Evans and Kate Brooks. I just love it so much when I like the names of the characters. It makes reading the novel more palatable for me. Drew Evans and Kate Brooks are just perfect for me. The story is about a douchebag, fuck boy, egoistic Drew Evans whose world turned upside down when he met Kate Brooks, the powerful, hot, . There’s really no much substance and lesson learned as I assume having a lesson learned is not the purpose of the book. It’s an easy read if you’re looking for a quickie.

What strikes me the most in the book was the way the characters are described and characterized. The characterization is awful, so sexist, so…… But maybe this is just the ways characters of novels of this genre works. I have read a few and yeah, mostly are worshiping the guy that does such dickward things and the helpless girl, even though described as strong, will one day cave in to the wiles and charm of the guy, and they will live happily ever after. The worst part is I still keep reading similar novels time to time. I can’t seem to keep my hands off of them if i tried.

Tangled is steamy but I don’t see much difference in the other novels of the same genre. Also, I was kinda annoyed about how it was kept being asked how the reader would get the drift, how the reader would know what to expect, how the reader should get this or that. I swear though that if a guy does to me even a fraction of what Drew did to get Kate back, I would be head over heels it’s not funny.

If you have nothing to do and is looking for a novel to pass time with and get you hot, then Tangled is for you.

The Rules of Persuasion by Amity Hope

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I had a sad end of the week. News came in that I did not get the job that I really was hoping to get so to lift up my spirits I wanted to read a feel good book.

I decided on reading The Rules of Persuasion by Amity of Hope (I discovered this after reading Taming the Rebel). The Rules of Persuasion is a quick, fun, summer read guaranteed to make you swoon and forget reality even for just a couple of hours.

Like Taming the Rebel, reading The Rules of Persuasion doesn’t require too much brain activity. It’s a good book to read for passing time and you want to go back to the high school cutesy romance feels.

The Rules of Persuasion is about Meg Matthews – good girl turned hot, cool, biker girl – and Luke Prescott – popular, rich, golden boy – and how their two different worlds got entangled by blackmail when Luke caught Meg vandalizing school property and how they made an agreement and created rules to persuade everyone that they are now together. What started out as a fake relationship turned real when both bare each other’s secrets and realized they cannot fight the feeling anymore.

The book is quite simple, not much messy relationship conflict, not too much drama. Just a cute, teenage, romance book you’ll enjoy reading. It’s a quick read too so you can finish it in just a couple of hours.

In a way, the book reminds me that we all struggle. We all have different problems. IT does not matter whether you’re rich or just the average, whether you’re popular or not, we all face difficulties in one way or the other. The gravity may vary but it’s how we confront and cope with these obstacles and people that help us along the way that bring us happiness in the end.

 

 

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

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The Rosie Effect, sequel to the clever The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion is still quite intellectually pleasant, although, it did not bring the same ecstatic feeling that I have felt when reading the Rosie Project.

It tells the story of Don and Rosie’s married life in New York and the unexpected news of Rosie’s pregnancy, how secrets build up, their relationship drawing apart, and how their marriage just after a year and few months is now on the brink of ending

The Rosie Effect, compared to the first book, focuses more on Don and his relationship with his surrounding, with his growing circle of friends which is directly affected by his relationship with Rosie. True to the title, the book shows the effect of Rosie in Don’s life – how he interact with his friends, how he cope up with his impending fatherhood, how he cope up with his married life among others.

What I loved about the book was the consistency of the characters and the introduction of new ones. Don is still differently wired. I’ve come to love and appreciate Don and his differently wired personality coz in some ways I am able to relate to him. I have, however, missed the interactions of Rosie and Don. Rosie is still Rosie, Gene is still the “sex addict that he is”(although it was later revealed that it was just a made-up personality). The introduction of George, the rock star, the re-introduction of Dave and his wife, and all the other new characters that served as a reference to Don’s widening social circle. As his circle grows and he sort of has his own set group of friends, his relationship with Rosie (along with the baby) grows apart.

The book also provides insightful learnings. First, the introspection of Don – accepting the judgment of Lydia, his social worker, that he is not suited to be a father, after much contemplation – is one of the saddest truths of life. We mostly accept that we are what others see us, failing to recognize that they don’t really know us. Don, even with all his genius and his problem-solving expertise, was ready to let go of his relationship, of his marriage to Rose, and possible relationship to Bud (Baby Under Develpment) because subconsciously we are wired to readily accept things we pre-conceived we are or will happen. In Don’s case, he knows he is different from others in terms of the emotional aspect. This led him to acknowledging the fact that he definitely is built to spend his life alone. Thus, justifying that the Rosie phase is just a glitch in his otherwise wired life. We think that we are, what we are, what others think we are, because subconsciously, we already accepted the fact that we are what we are.

Two, Don is stupid. Even with his brain and the knowledge that lying is definitely not good in a relationship, he still did it anyways and in much a grander scale (He deceived Lydia by letting Sonia, Dave’s wife, pretend to be Rosie). I’m not a relationship, not by a long mile, as I have zero experience with it. But i do know that in any relationship, honesty and trust is important. Once it is broken, the damage is hard to patch.

Three, change is constant even if we don’t notice it. In The Rosie Effect, the blatant change is the setting of the story. From Melbourne, the story was now set to New York. However, we can also see how Don changes along with it. Yeah, i know that i just said earlier that Don didn’t change and now I’m saying that he changed. Don, for me, did not change because he still has his own distinct and major characteristic – genius and differently wired. But he changed in terms of the social aspect. He became softer in a way that even he fails to recognize. Because he was used to look at things scientifically and due to his own lack of emotion analyzer, he did not immediately recognize that he was already displaying emotions than ever before. Case in point is the lesbian care experiment, when he let the baby crawled on top of him. It was told in a scientific way but then the video that was shown later own showed his happiness that he did not know he felt at that time.

Four, sometimes, all we need is a little push. Don, on the brink of giving up Rosie, was pushed by his friends, given support by Davie, the Head of his department, and Phil, Rosie’s father to keep trying. Their unending support along with the circumstances that happened allowed Don and Rosie to stay together. Which brings me to the last point.

Five, as Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist goes “And when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.” With deciding not to give up, Don wanted to stay with Rosie and bud more than ever. And sometimes, wanting something so badly is all we need.