To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han (To All the Boys I've Loved Before #1)
AND June Wrap-up
Laura Jean keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren't love letters that anyone else wrote for her, these are the one's she's written. One for every boy she's ever loved-five in all. When she writes, she can pour out her heart and soul and say all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly Laura Jean's love life goes from imaginary to out of control.
Review: Four and a Quarter out of Five Stars
I usually don't give quarters. I was just so conflicted on this one. Like it's more than four stars but not close to five. And thus, 4.25 stars. Rebellion.
I was looking forward to this because I really loved The Summer I Turned Pretty series by Jenny Han. It was so fluffy and cute. I hoped this would be too.
And it totes magotes was.
World and Plot: This book takes place in regular America, as most contemporary novels do. Our main character is Laura Jean, the middle child of the Song family. Sometimes two names flow together simply and beautifully. Laura Jean makes me think of someone going to swim in the creek and someone else with a rather twangy southern voice yelling out LAURA JEAN! DO NOT JUMP IN THAT CREEK.
But yeah, odd combo. Laura Jean is unique because after she is done loving (which is kind of a loose term) a boy she writes him a letter. It's like a goodbye, you kind of suck letter. Then one day somehow all her letters get sent out and the boys read them. Cue the humiliation and the scrambling to not loose face.
Reoccurring Themes: Family, Heritage, Love, Self-confidence, Images, Slut-shaming
Reaction: First off, this book is girly. Like real girly. As in you probably will not find any enjoyment in it if you do not like girly books. Like I'd get off this blog post right now. Just go. Goodbye. (Except stick around for the June Wrapup at the end!)
I'll be honest. From the get go I did not think I was going to enjoy this book. And that is for a simple reason. Laura Jean's older sister Margot (Also how the heck do you say that? Margo? Mar-got? IS THE T SILENT OR NO?). She is waaaay too controlling and close minded. But then she went to college and all was well.
Laura's special thing to do when she wants to be over a boy is to write them a love letter. It is how she says goodbye and moves on with her life. She keeps them hidden in a hatbox her late mother gave to her.
Laura starts off the book by talking about her family. They are very close and she doesn't really spend time with anyone else (ye gods, that sounds terrible.). She lives with her father, her older sister Margot, and her younger sister Katherine that everyone calls Kitty. Margot's boyfriend Josh who lives next door is also practically part of the family. Him and Laura were close friends before they started dating and continue to be.
Margot breaks up with Josh before going to college in Scotland, which changes things. Laura reveals that she was in love with Josh at one point. They were the best of friends. She thought he felt the same way. Then he started to like her sister and she decided to let them be happy together.
At this point I realized Laura Jean is quite the pushover. And my dislike for Margot was cemented. Like how could you not notice your sister was in love with him?!? Not cool.
Laura Jean is terribly sad when Margot leaves and feels helpless. She gets a call from her oldest friend Chris to meet her at the mall. Chris is kind of a wild child and does as she pleases. Laura drives there but gets lost because she hates driving and always gets lost (Side note: Laura Jean's driving is basically me). She doesn't stop at a four-way stop because she doesn't see anyone and smashes into another car (Except I don't hit cars.)
She doesn't know what to do and frantically calls Josh. While she sits there and waits for him a boy from school named Peter Kavinsky stops to ask if she's okay. Her and Peter used to be friends in middle school but now he's much too cool for her. They used to have a whole crew of kids they hung out with but they all split off. Peter offers to stay with her but she says no and thanks him.
Josh picks Laura up and brings her home. Josh tells her he was worried she wouldn't want to be friends anymore now that he and Margot broke up. She assures him this is not the case. He says he's relieved because he couldn't lose her too.
Toeing the line there between friend and interested there Joshy.
They start to hang out again sometimes with Kitty or her dad and sometimes alone. They talk about their first crushes. Laura says hers was Peter Kavinsky. Josh says his was Laura when he first moved here. Then he tells her he doesn't know what he would've done if she hadn't been there after Margot dumped him and she's keeping him going.
At which point the line was crossed.
Laura realizes she's still in love with him and it crushes her. She thought she was over him. It makes her feel disloyal and wrong. She sits down to write him another letter and tucks it away in her diary. She distances herself from him to try and stop feeling this way.
Next is the first day of school. It's your typical first day until Peter Kavinsky comes up to her during gym and tells her angrily that he does not have STDs or always eat the last piece of pizza. To which Laura stares at him in plain horror. Because she said that in the letter she wrote to him. Which means he got the letter. Which means all her letters have been sent out including the one to Josh.
She makes some lame excuse to Peter, snatches up the letter, and runs away. Laura convinces the gym teacher she's sick and ditches school (gym was her last class. Do not be concerned about her attendance.).
The next day Laura Jean runs into Josh in the hallway at school and tries to scramble to come up with an excuse. She tells him that she wrote the letter a long time ago and has a new boyfriend. Right then Peter Kavinsky starts walking down the hall. Laura tells Josh he's her boyfriend and goes up and kisses him. After the kiss she says thank you and he says your welcome and they both go on as if nothing out of the ordinary happened.
She meets up with Peter and explains to him what happened. He laughs it off and tells her she's a funny girl.
That weekend Laura Jean gets back the first letter she ever wrote. It was to a boy from camp when she was younger. The letter got sent back in the mail and Kenny never got it. She isn't that concerned seeing as it didn't say much.
She sees Josh in her neighborhood and tells him that her and Peter broke up. Josh looks confused and says that isn't what Peter was saying when he saw him today. Laura goes with it and says they're still together.
Laura Jean confronts Peter and he suggests they fake date for a while. That way Josh won't think anything is weird and he can make his exgirlfriend Gen jealous. Laura agrees and they make a contract.
And so beings one of the greatly used love stories of all time. People in a fake relationship fall for each other but neither can spit it out.
Laura Jean and Peter become closer as time goes on. He meets Laura's family and starts driving her and Kitty to school. Laura hangs out with him and his friends. They pass notes and go places and it's a world of cute.
Lucas Krapf approaches Laura Jean one day at school and tells him he got her letter but didn't know what to say. He asks is she knew he was gay. Which she responds oh, totally (liar, liar, liar)! He says he was flattered and they part without awkwardness.
More cute stuff happens. Peter wins over Kitty. Josh tries to tell Laura that Peter is bad news and Peter ""gets jealous. Josh continues to be a jealous jerk. This continues on until a little before Christmas when Laura Jean and Josh get in an argument. Josh kisses her and she's stunned and pushes him away.
They have a big talk and Laura Jean realizes she doesn't love him anymore, if she ever even did. She could have him right now and she doesn't want him. She wants someone else. Peter. She makes him swear not to tell Margot and he does.
She goes to Peter to break up their fake relationship. Peter protests and says they can be done after the school ski trip they signed up for. Laura reluctantly agrees.
Laura then decides to go see the last boy she wrote a letter to. John Ambrose McClaren. She liked him around the same time as Peter but then he moved. She sent the letter to his old house and he probably never got it. John recognizes her right away but she doesn't stop to chat. She just wanted to see how he turned out. She lies when Peter asks if she saw him.
Margot comes home and starts being bratty as usual. She's short with her sisters and is controlling.
Laura Jean goes on the ski trip and Peter finally admits he likes her.
She initially doesn't believe him and they get in a huge argument. He says she'd rather love a fantasy than a real person. She says he's just mad someone didn't want the great Peter Kavinsky. They separate angrily.
Later on she goes to him and admits she likes him too. They kiss and all is right again.
Then the next day Laura hears the rumor that they had sex on the trip. Peter's old girlfriend Gen tells her that now everyone thinks she's a slut and Peter will never love her as much as he loved Gen. Laura cries the whole way home and shuts out Peter.
Then at the family Christmas party Peter shows up because Kitty invited him. He tries to talk to Laura Jean but Josh interrupts to tell him off. He says Peter isn't good enough for her. Peter says he's just jealous and he knows that he tried to kiss her. Then Laura Jean hears a gasp and sees Margot listening.
Margot storms away and Laura Jean cries in the bathroom the rest of the party. Her and Margot get in a huge fight and say some nasty things. Eventually Margot tells Laura that it was like they didn't even need her after they left. Laura tells her that's because she taught her everything. They make up and all is right with the family.
On New Years Laura spends it with Kitty instead of going out. Kitty admits she was the one to send the letter and gives Laura all the notes she found from Peter in the trash. Laura Jean reads them all then starts to write another letter.
It starts with: Dear Peter,
Aaaaaaaaand end of book.
Then I went on Goodreads and discovered there was going to be a second book.
Whoops. I take back all those rude things I thought about you Jenny Han. You rule.
On that note I am quite excited for the next one!
"When someone's been gone a long time, at first you save up all the thing you want to tell them. You try to keep track of everything in your head. But it's like trying to hold on to a fistful of sand: all the little bits slip out of your hands, and then you're just clutching air and grit. That's why you can't save it up like that. Because by the time you finally see each other, you're catching up only on the big things, because it's too much bother to tell about the little things. But the little things are what make up life."
"If love is like a possession, maybe my letters are like my exorcisms."
"Sometimes questions can be more cruel than insults."
"You'd rather make up a fantasy version of somebody in your head than be with a real person."
"If you make Josh's dumb white-chocolate cranberry cookies and not my fruitcake ones, it's over."
"I didn't say homely! I said you like to be at home!"
So I read this book on like...June 1st. *Hangs head in shame and surrounds self with warm blanket* Like Michelle what have you been doing since then?? Why have you not finished this review??? What about all the other books you read in June that you didn't review???? Why have you failed??????
That was my mentality for quite some time this month. I want to review all the books I read. But when it starts to feel like work I just shut down. This is for fun and I can't do it if it stresses me out. So I've decided to insert my June wrap-up into this post as penance for my book blogger sins.
Five out of Five Stars: The last book in The Mortal Instruments series. My most highly anticipated book of 2014. I have been raving and recommending this series with great vigor for a long time. It's an urban fantasy with action and emotion and great characters. So obviously I enjoyed this one. In the last installment the gang struggles with how they are going to defeat the evil Sebastian Morgenstern and his army of Endarkened Warriors. Sacrifices are made and loyalties put to the test. New and old allies join together to try and stop the end of the world.
Also known as ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS EVER.
The One (The Selection Series #3) by Kiera Cass
Three out of Five Stars: The last in the Selection series. I picked up these books last year because the covers were sooooo pretty. Unfortunately the inside was significantly less beautiful. It is an overly simplified tale of a terribly annoying Mary Sue named America who gets everything she wants. These books frustrate me to no end. I literally want to smack America more than I've ever wanted to smack anyone ever. She is the epitome of all the things I hate in a female protagonist. She is selfish and thinks herself to be lacking while everyone tells her how great she is. I am so pleased that this series is finally done. Why give it three stars then, you ask? I hardly find anything worthy of less than three. Those are reserved for the books I hate with fiery passion, not just a bad character.
Rebel Belle (Rebel Belle Series #1) by Rachel Hawkins
Four out of Five Stars: The first in a new series involving magic and Paladins. There is fighting and humor and love. And lots of quirk. I think this was mother case of the high expectations curse. This book had so much hype. I was expecting like the best book ever or something. Sadly it is not the best book ever. That's not to say it isn't a good book! I really liked it. I love books that take place in the south. Heck, I love anything that takes place in the south. Make me want to say y'all and drink sweet tea (except not really because sweet tea is pretty gross). And this was really cute and charming. I've just reached a point in my reading life where I no longer like to have girl protagonists make feeble claims about how they don't like the boy they obviously like and make observations about him and be like YE GODS I DID NOT MEAN THAT. Yes, you do. Shut up sweetheart. The world building was done really interestingly here. I'm not super into it but it has flair. Harper was a funny narrator most of the time. I'll probably pick up the rest of the series. It's a decent read.
Raging Star (Dustalands #3) by Moira Young
Four out of Five Stars: The last of the Dustlands Series. (Yes, I did read a lot of last books this month.) A dystopian series with a very unique writing style. Meaning there is no quotation marks and things are almost always spelt wrong. But give it a chance dude! The first book in this series, Blood Red Road, is amazing. It's a thrilling adventure. The other two in the series are not close to as good, but still really enjoyable. The main character, Saba, is a little tough to handle at times. She has a habit of not telling people things that would make everything a lot simpler. The ending to the series was satisfying and a tad bittersweet.
The F-It List by Julie Halpern
Four out of Five Stars: A standalone about a girl dealing with her best friend being diagnosed with cancer and all the other terrible things in her life. I once again had high expectations. They once again fell a little short. Curse you self. Why must you always do this? It was an excellent book though. It was dark and moving. My absolute favorite thing about the characters were how real they were. They acted, talked, and thought exactly like anybody else. This is a truly rare thing. The cancer and bucket list are less of a focus than I thought it would be. It's more of an emotional journey than anything. Alex, our lead, has a hard time letting people in. Side note: a lot more sex than I anticipated. This book doesn't shy away from anything, that's for sure.
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
Five out of Five Stars: And one of my favorite books ever. Cassia and Lia have been best friends since the third grade. As they grow up they make a pact, to always be skinny. Lia doesn't eat and doesn't eat and doesn't eat. Cassia eats and gets rid of it. Lia gets put in treatment a couple times and Cassia tries to cut her out of her life. But then Cassia's body is found in a motel room alone. Lia must deal with this while keeping her goal of being skinniest.
This book is dark and highly poetic. Not for the casual reader. It's by the same author who wrote Speak if that tickled your fancy.
This book is dark and highly poetic. Not for the casual reader. It's by the same author who wrote Speak if that tickled your fancy.
Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
Four out of Five Stars: This book is a perfect summer read. It's about a girl named Emily who finds a list of things to do her best friend Sloane left her. Sloane has gone missing and won't answer any of Emily's calls or texts. Emily and Sloane have done everything together the past two years and Emily is lost without her. She starts to do the things on the list thinking if she completes them all it'll lead her to Sloane somehow. Along the way she makes some friends, gains some confidence, has some hilarious adventures, and perhaps even falls in love. It's kind of adorable and really funny. One star gets knocked off for some unsatisfactory ending and falling action stuff.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
Four out of Five Stars: I was really looking forward to reading something by Holly Black. She's best friends with Cassandra Clare so I was expecting good things. My big problem is that this was a surprise vampire book for me. I didn't know it'd be about vampires. Nowhere in the description does it say VAMPIRE BOOK. So about a couple pages in when they name dropped our fanged friends I almost quit right then and there. I am so done with vampire books right now. I can just not do it. So that was a major factor making this less enjoyable. Also the love story is crazy and weird. I did not approve. Other than that it had great writing, a decent female protagonist, and an interesting plot.
I promise to try and do better in July.