What I Have Been Reading…and Not Finishing

*sighs* There have been quite a few books lately that I have had to mark as DNF. I hate doing it, but I have come to a point in my life where I do not waste my time on books that do not improve my mind or entertain me. My free time is limited, so I have chosen to give most of the books I read 100 pages before I carry on with it or quit it. There were several novels over the past 3 months that I have tried desperately to like, and since being the odd one out is in my nature, I, of course, ended up disliking several of this years most popular books.

Sorry, but I am who I am! Now for the DNFs on my reading list!

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“American Panda” by Gloria Chao had the appearance of the perfect YA contemporary. This book seemed like it was going to be humorous, fluffy and sweet, and a story with a good moral to it. I have been enjoying books that explore other cultures, especially when they intersect with another, very different, culture; the traditional and born-into lifestyles, as well as those that are adopted. As much as I wanted to like “American Panda,” it just did not do it for me. The humor did not come across the page for me, and I was sad that the moments of learning about Mei’s Taiwanese heritage were overshadowed by her distaste for them and her snarky remarks about her family. Maybe this book got better after a 100 pages, but I did not feel the need to continue a book with another snarky female lead who disliked almost everything about her family’s lifestyle. That’s just not my deal.

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If you are looking for a sweet YA contemporary that explores a girl’s coming of age story in the midst of Asian-American traditions (in said case, Korean), then you should read “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” by Jenny Han, if you haven’t already. That trilogy has some of the best real-life sibling/family dynamics that I have ever read, and Laura Jean is just the cutest! “American Panda” aside, I also had some issues with two other books that I was honestly super excited for.

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What is with these contemporary books?!!!!! “Emergency Contact” also seemed as if it could be a fantastic contemporary novel, with a dash of intersecting cultures in it, and some good old real life happening. Unfortunately that was definitely not the book I ended up reading.

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I wanted to like “Emergency Contact” by Mary H.K. Choi SO BAD, but again, there was the snarky, judgmental, and disrespectful female lead who drove me crazy. The guy wasn’t horrible; he had just gotten hit with the crap-stick of life and had experienced some pretty bad luck in a short period of time. He was also pretty unremarkable, because I could barely remember his name after I quit “Emergency Contact.” Oops!

My real problem with “Emergency Contact” was the main girl, Penny. I’m sorry to those of you who liked this book, but I disliked her so much as a character. She had a horribly judgmental, mean girl attitude, but as a reader I was supposed to just side with her because she was from the other side of the “tracks”? Nope, a mean girl is just a mean girl, and that kind of behavior will always be unacceptable to me, no matter where you come from. We all possess the freedom to believe certain things, and we have the power and a choice to treat others with kindness or to disrespect them. Penny was just awful in how she treated those around her, including her mother, but she somehow always found time to play her pity violin. I hate that kind of attitude, so getting through a 150 pages was a struggle for me. Mary H.K. Choi’s writing was engaging and comical at times, I just could not endure her female character.

Last, but definitely not least, “From Twinkle, with Love” by Sandhya Menon was my most recent DNF.

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Let me just say that I think Sandhya Menon is an absolutely adorable and sweet person. That being said, I unfortunately do not like her female characters. I really disliked Dimple in “When Dimple Met Rishi,” for various reasons that I will not get into right now, and Twinkle was, unfortunately, no better, and I quit this audio book after a few chapters. Twinkle’s inner monologue was nails on a chalk board, and her awkward/snarkiness did not come across as charming or endearing. One of the many reasons I was not a fan of “When Dimple Met Rishi” was how little Indian culture was explored in it; I wanted to learn more about Dimple and Rishi’s heritage and see how their families individually chose to express their Indian-American lifestyles. “When Dimple Met Rishi” was a lot of tell not show, and “From Twinkle, with Love” was the same. I’m sorry, but I quit this book and ran in the opposite direction.

Call me a quitter, but I just did not connect with these books or their characters at all. Despite the disappointment of these books, I am really excited about this summer and the books and movies that will be coming out. It seems like a promising season, so I will definitely have some more (and hopefully better) reviews coming your way!

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Les Petits Bonheurs #16…

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So, it is officially summer! It has been summer for about two weeks now, but with a busy schedule it has taken me a bit of time to absorb the fact that I no longer have to study most of my days away. I have a fair amount of free-time now that I am starting to settle down into my new routine, which makes me hopeful that I can finish some of my long-in-coming reviews of books that I read in March, April, and May. *sighs* I am more than a little behind, but I am excited that I will eventually get caught up, even if I am wee bit behind other bloggers.

This summer has definitely inspired me to revise my reviewing process since I’m not the fastest writer/editor, so we’ll see what comes of that, and I’m very excited to start checking things off of my reading list! Before my summer commenced, I had this strange desire to just reread all of the books on my shelf that I love and to give ones that I did not particularly care for a second chance, despite the fact that there are quite a few new books that I should get caught up on. So, my summer reading list is actually a blast to the past/nostalgia list, with quite a few contemporary novels on it, which is not usually my preferred genre. This summer just seems like the right time to drown in fluffy contemporary novels and some of the greatest hits that I own.

All that being said, I am honestly not sure how many new reviews I will be doing this summer. I think that I might rewrite some of my old reviews if my perspective changes toward the books after their next reading, but I am still hoping to write a few new reviews in addition to having a couple of random posts that are befitting of the summer season. I honestly don’t know what’s coming down the blogger road, but I’m kind of excited that it’s unplanned, and I hope you don’t mind the off-roading experience that’s up ahead.

Cover Reveal: Walk the Edge by Katie McGarry

You all know how much I LOVE Katie McGarry and her books, so it’s probably no surprise to you that I would go full fangirl at any kind of news concerning her books. Tonight I entered that crazy fangirl zone because Katie McGarry just released her cover for “Walk the Edge,” the second book in her “Thunder Road” series!!!!! *shrill screaming* I wasn’t expecting for the cover to be released so soon, so I went a little crazy when I saw it pop up on goodreads…

e41ed85c76f4ee837d1e5e2876ef3d3bOkay, you probably don’t want a play-by-play of my excitement over seeing the cover for “Walk the Edge,” so I’ll get to the cover real part of this post. *takes deep breath* Here it is!!!!

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The cover is so amazing that I wanted to cry/dance when I saw it…

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sue heckand now I have lost all ability to can!!! I’m just going to lie here in a puddle of FEELS until March 30th, 2016…

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #2)

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 “P.S. I Still Love You” by Jenny Han

 3 out of 5 stars.

Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky were just pretending to be in love, but as time passed, it became less of a show for those around and more of a secret they shared. They were pretending, yet it was the most real thing that Lara Jean had ever experienced, and what’s worse is that she never got the chance to tell Peter just how real she wanted them to be before everything fell apart.

Lara Jean can’t stand the idea of saying goodbye to Peter forever, so she decides to write one last love letter, but this time it’s a letter of admission rather than resignation. Everything seems to be finally falling into place when Lara Jean and Peter reconcile, but when she starts to get harassed at school, Lara Jean wonders if something real is really worth all of the pain it can cause. To complicate matters even more, Lara Jean discovers that Peter has unresolved feelings toward his ex, and John Ambrose McClaren, her old crush, comes to town. Trying to understand herself and figure out where she stands with Peter, Lara Jean begins to understand just how wonderful and difficult something real can be.

Disappointing is the word that comes to mind when I think about “P.S. I Still Love You.” If any of you have read my “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” review, then you know that I LOVED the first book and was really looking forward to seeing how Lara Jean’s and Peter’s story was going to end. Me and my sister were ecstatic when “P.S. I Love You” came in the mail, but alas, it did not live up to its predecessor!

When I picked up “P.S. I Still Love You,” I had the first book fresh in my mind because I had just reread it in preparation for this book’s release. “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” by Jenny Han had warmed my heart, made me laugh and cry, and it was a lovely story about a young girl figuring out who she was so that she could come into her own. I had expected for those lovely themes to be transferred over into “P.S. I Still Love You” so that readers could see Lara Jean bloom into an even more lovely person and find her happy ending with the one who she loved. Instead, what I got was a shockingly odd shift in tone and theme from the first book.

Why I loved “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” was because of how sweetly endearing it was. It was the perfect fluff story that just captured my heart and made me laugh and cry alongside the characters within it. Despite all of the delightful fluffiness of it, though, “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” also dealt with some pretty big topics that occur during most teens’ high school years. High schools are a jungle and sweet little Lara Jean didn’t come out unscathed in her’s, yet Jenny Han somehow managed to keep the tone of her book fairly light while introducing heavier topics that most teenagers deal with, and I loved that! All of that being said, why “P.S. I Still Love You” was such a disappointment for me was because there was neither the sweetness nor the endearment of the first book in it, plus it had every social issue a high schooler could possibly encounter in a 336 paged book.

Another thing that was really disappointing to me was that I didn’t laugh while reading this book, and there was only one scene that actually made me smile and it didn’t even involve Peter! “P.S. I Still Love You” was such a departure from “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” that it felt it belonged to an entirely different series, and that was really frustrating because I had loved the tone and the approach of the first book so much. I had to trudge through the first half of this book, and by the time I got to the halfway point, I was disillusion enough that I did not care what was going to happen at the end. One the hugest reasons for my lack of warm feelings towards “P.S. I Still Love You” was that Jenny Han really wrecked the character Peter Kavinsky.

I had fallen in love with Peter Kavinsky in “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.” I loved that he and Lara Jean had so much fun together and were friends before their relationship blossomed into something more. I loved laughing when Peter took Lara Jean to the antique sale, and how kindly he treated Kitty. Peter had his faults in “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before,” but he made up for them with his sweet heart. In “P.S. I Still Love You,” however, the Peter I knew and loved disappeared almost entirely. Sweet, kind, cheeky, and dependable Peter vanished, replaced by a boy with anger issues, communication problems, and was unable to put his current girlfriend’s feelings before his ex’s. Peter was so heartbreakingly different in “P.S. I Still Love You” that he wasn’t Peter anymore, and I felt completely detached from him while reading this book. It took Jenny Han until the very last chapter to have him show a little of the old Peter, but by then I was already so angry with this book that I couldn’t enjoy the ending!

Another issue I had with “P.S. I Still Love You” was Lara Jean. There was something that Jenny Han did with Lara Jean as a character that I wasn’t a fan of. There was a ton going on in Lara Jeans life, and I was so sad with how she was being bullied and harassed by other kids, but sometimes her tumultuous inner dialogue (although warranted) was just TOO much on top of all of the other issues that Jenny Han created in this book. I think that I would have been okay with Lara Jean’s less sweet and more drama filled perspective if there hadn’t been so much going on with those around her, her relationship with Peter, her residual feelings for John Ambrose, and at school. Yeah, like I said, there were a LOT of issues.

The only character that I actually liked in this book was John Ambrose McClaren, which I find kind of hilarious because I should have hated him considering the fact that he was a “threat” to Peter’s and Lara Jean’s delicate relationship. Unlike Peter and Lara Jean in “P.S. I Still Love You,” John was charming and sweet, and, dare I say, endearing, and I enjoyed the scenes he was in a lot. His presence brought back a few warm and fuzzy memories of “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” because of his charming and endearing personality; there was a very cute moment between him and Lara Jean that made me smile, and I wish that the rest of “P.S. I Still Love You” had been more like that scene. John and Lara Jean were sweet, and it made me sad that I almost wanted her to end up with John instead of Peter; it was as if John took on the role of Peter in this book as the adorable charmer, and I thought that was sad because I still wanted to love Peter, but I felt so detached from him that I latched onto John. Although I was very disappointed in most of the characters in this story, John Ambrose McClaren kept me going, and I was grateful for at least one lovable character to read about.

Overall, “P.S. I Still Loved You” was a fairly well-written book, but it didn’t touch my heart like “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” had. There were too many social issues and dynamics going on in this story, from feminism and cyber bullying to broken family dynamics and bad boyfriends, that it was overwhelming. All of the things Jenny Han wrote about are issues that teens deal with today, but there were just too many problems and social issues in this book that it got bogged down. “P.S. I Still Love You” didn’t have the charm of the first book, and I missed the moments when I laughed uncontrollably because of a really comical scene and giggled because it was just that cute of a story. But most of all, I hate that the Peter I knew and loved from “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” was absent in this book. Normally a sequel like this one would ruin my love of the first book, but this time I’ve decided to ignore the existence of this book and remain in love with the story and characters of “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.” Jenny Han is a good writer, I just wish that she would have kept a little more of the first book’s tone and endearing qualities, instead of going full speed ahead on the more heavy social issues.

P.S. I still miss you, Peter.

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

A while ago I had heard that Cynthia Hand (one of my favorite authors) was coming out with a new book and that it was going to be a standalone. 

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Some people like standalones, some people don’t. I, however, am cool with both, but I do love the fact that I won’t have to wait another two or three years before the story wraps itself up. Oh, and I am also glad to announce that said novel now has a cover.

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As happy as I am that the cover came out for this book, I am a little perturbed that I have to wait until February before  I can actually get a copy of “The Last Time We Say Goodbye.” Alright, enough talking/writing, here’s the cover…

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“The Last Time We Say Goodbye” by Cynthia Hand

Release Date: February 10, 2015

Publishing House: HarperTeen

Format: Hardcover 400 pages

Goodreads Summary:

There’s death all around us.
We just don’t pay attention.
Until we do.

The last time Lex was happy, it was before. When she had a family that was whole. A boyfriend she loved. Friends who didn’t look at her like she might break down at any moment.

Now she’s just the girl whose brother killed himself. And it feels like that’s all she’ll ever be.

As Lex starts to put her life back together, she tries to block out what happened the night Tyler died. But there’s a secret she hasn’t told anyone-a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything.

Lex’s brother is gone. But Lex is about to discover that a ghost doesn’t have to be real to keep you from moving on.

From New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand, The Last Time We Say Goodbye is a gorgeous and heart-wrenching story of love, loss, and letting go.