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.

 

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!

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!

 

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.