Wrap up – Burn for Burn Trilogy by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

What starts out as a teenage ‘First Wives Club,’ takes a surprising paranormal twist.

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In kicking things off in, the debut of this series introduces a lot of characters, and the multiple perspectives of Lillia, Kat, and Mary. So it took me a good portion of the novel to get into – I almost felt like taking notes so I could figure out who was who, and what was happening. However, the plot is interesting and with a hinted paranormal twist, I was totally engrossed. And just as things got interesting, it ended… So if you hate cliff hangers, make sure you buy this trilogy whole. I’d say ‘Burn for Burn’ was primarily world building (and way to many flashbacks) and setting up elements of the plot around intriguing characters.

The separation of ‘voice’ between the narratives of the three female leads were difficult to delineate, if it weren’t for the names of the girls in the chapter headings, I would not know who was taking charge of the first person narrative. The writing style also felt a little juvenile, but that is just my opinion and it hits the target dead in the eyes for its intended demographic.

Moving into the middle book is where this series hits its stride. The paranormal elements play a heavier part in the storyline, and there are so many twists, it feels like Han and Vivian are having fun with all the characters. With all the establishing done in the debut, pacing is upped and I was really enjoying this quick read. But again – another cliff hanger – so you’ve been warned.

The final chapter of this trilogy wrapped things up nicely, though very abruptly. And one thing that I noticed throughout this entire series, despite the tone of the writing style apparently directed at the younger end of the YA market, there was a ton of alcohol consumption. I felt like booking myself into rehab. The whole thing screamed ‘look at me I’m an adult’ despite the vain and vapid character portrayals.

On the whole this series was a mostly average read, but I loved the contemporary/paranormal juxtaposition in the plot. It felt unique, and with its Teen Vogue-esque cover art ticks all the boxes to be a teen favourite. Who doesn’t like a group of girls exacting revenge on bullies and ex boyfriends? It’s the tagline that drew me in.

I’d recommend this for lovers of YA or fans of Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian. The tone and pacing may turn older readers off.

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For individual reviews click on the links below:

Burn for Burn’https://strokingfire.wordpress.com/2017/08/24/book-review-burn-for-burn-by-jenny-han-and-siobhan-vivian/

‘Fire with Fire’ – https://strokingfire.wordpress.com/2017/09/06/book-review-fire-with-fire-2-burn-for-burn-by-jenny-han-and-siobhan-vivian

Ashes to Asheshttps://strokingfire.wordpress.com/2017/10/31/book-review-ashes-to-ashes-3-burn-for-burn-by-jenny-han-and-siobhan-vivian/

critique-casey-by-casey-carlisle© Casey Carlisle 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Wrap up – To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before Trilogy by Jenny Han

Fun realistic contemporaries about family and facing the loss of security of childhood.

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It took me a while to pick up ‘To All The Boy’s I’ve Loved Before’ – there was something about the blurb that failed to hook me, but thanks to continuous rave reviews from friends, I eventually picked it up and gave it a go. I was blown away by the family dynamics and the relationship between the sisters at the forefront. I must admit though, I found myself rolling my eyes many times. But the stand out character was Kitty, Lara Jean’s annoying little sister. Their dynamic felt very real and created expert tension for the story.

You get a strong sense of how these girls grow up throughout the trilogy, still in that cute, light and fluffy narrative tone of Han’s writing. It really captures the worries we experience when facing the world after school, losing family (either to death, divorce or moving away,) school grades and, of course, boyfriends. I was transported back to the nostalgia and angst-ridden years of my own high school experience. Though I wasn’t as goody-two-shoes as Lara Jean.

Even though the finale ‘Always and Forever, Lara Jean’ deals with some great issues, it fell a bit flat for the conclusion of this trilogy… but in saying that, ringing true to the realism that embodies this collection, Lara Jean’s story has not ended. It is only just beginning as she take her first steps into adulthood and academia. Maybe we’ll get more of Lara Jean’s story in many years from now?

To All The Boys I've Loved Before Trilogy Wrap-up Pic 03 by Casey CarlisleDefinitely one I’d recommend if you’re into romantic contemporaries with a strong familial presence and a fairly passive main character. Though there is some light wit that keeps the tone delightful. This series certainly gets better the further you get into the series, with the last book switching up the tone a bit as Lara Jean faces an uncertain future and has some hard decisions to make.

And with the film adaptation due for release in 2018 (at this stage,) starring Lana Condor; I’m excited to see how this series will fare – and if all three novels with get a treatment… of course depending of the performance of the debut at the box office. In a world where the majority of film successes are white-washed (with a male lead,) it is going to be an interesting social experiment seeing how this movie is launched and received by audiences.

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For individual reviews click on the links below:

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before’https://strokingfire.wordpress.com/2015/05/27/book-review-to-all-the-boys-ive-loved-before-by-jenny-han/

P.S. I Still Love You’ – https://strokingfire.wordpress.com/2015/09/21/book-review-p-s-i-still-love-you-by-jenny-han/

Always and Forever, Lara Jeanhttps://strokingfire.wordpress.com/2017/11/21/book-review-always-and-forever-lara-jean-3-to-all-the-boys-ive-loved-before-by-jenny-han/

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© Casey Carlisle 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Always and Forever, Lara Jean’ (#3 To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before) by Jenny Han

The challenges we face when high school comes to an end.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, Romance

No. of pages: 336

From Goodreads:

Lara Jean is having the best senior year. And there’s still so much to look forward to: a class trip to New York City, prom with her boyfriend Peter, Beach Week after graduation, and her dad’s wedding to Ms. Rothschild. Then she’ll be off to college with Peter, at a school close enough for her to come home and bake chocolate chip cookies on the weekends.

Life couldn’t be more perfect!

At least, that’s what Lara Jean thinks…until she gets some unexpected news.

Now the girl who dreads change must rethink all her plans—but when your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

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This was such a cute book! It did however, feel like a slight departure from the previous two novels. Mainly because ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’ and ‘P.S. I Still Love You’ dealt with finding love, and the tone of ‘Always and Forever, Lara Jean’ was much more melancholy. Not only because it is the end of the trilogy, but also because Lara Jean is at the point in her life where she is leaving for college, her father is re-marrying, and so she is saying goodbye to her childhood, her home, her family. Given Lara Jeans, quiet nature and love of all things antique, change is hard for her – and thus we get a tale of how she deals with so much adjustment and growth out of a place where she felt safe and loved.

It also gives a lot of hope about the future that these changes initiate.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle.jpgLara Jean herself was still a cute naïve square with a homemakers flare. She kind of embodies everything I’m not. I related to the challenges she was facing with family, college, and her boyfriend Peter. But all the other girlie stuff left the book feeling a bit dry. I realised Lara Jean’s character hasn’t changed so much. I enjoyed how we didn’t get as much frou-frou (subjectively) as we did in the previous two books; and here dealing with upcoming nuptials, her nervous baking, and hand-making presents as farewell gifts to her friends… it got a little boring for me and dragged down the pace.

I found Lara’s love interest Peter, lovingly adorable, but also annoying with his quiet internalised tantrums. I had to keep reminding myself that he is still a teenager. For some reason I didn’t connect as strongly with him in ‘Always and Forever, Lara Jean’ as I did in the previous books.

Kitty, Lara Jeans younger sister was more mature here, but still had a few moments of her annoying and abrasive stubbornness – but it wouldn’t be Kitty if we didn’t have that. And I did not feel like throttling her at any given moment, so you really get a sense of how she is growing up. Plus the sister relationships and bonding of the Song girls was amazing to read. I’ve not had such a strong connection to family and identify from any other book that I’ve read so far. Han is a master at creating believable sister bonds and relaying a family unit.

I shed a few tears in several parts, Han’s writing still manages to touch me where it matters, so even with the issues I had with the story, I can still resolutely say that I adore ‘Always and Forever, Lara Jean.’

It was a massive guessing game as to how this would all end. And I was still unsure even right up to the end, so I can’t say it was all that predictable. With Lara Jean constantly changing her mind and weighing up her options, I was never really sure in which direction she would go. And it’s clear she had no idea either – and that made for wonderful tension right up to the very end.

Though not as strong as the first two novels, its tone is completely different, but I’d still recommend it. Plus fans of Han and Lara Jean will not be able to resist knowing what is in store for the middle Song girl in the future…

Overall feeling: Naaawh

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Ashes to Ashes’ (#3 Burn for Burn) by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

First Wives Club meets Mean Girls meets The Craft.

Ashes to Ashes (#3 Burn for Burn) Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, Paranormal

No. of pages: 387

From Goodreads:

New Year’s Eve ended with a bang and Mary, Kat and Lillia may not be prepared for what is to come.

After Rennie’s death, Kat and Lillia try to put the pieces together of what happened to her. They both blame themselves. If Lillia hadn’t left with Reeve… If Kat had only stayed with Rennie… Things could have been different. Now they will never be the same.

Only Mary knows the truth about that night. About what she is. She also knows the truth about Lillia and Reeve falling in love, about Reeve being happy when all he deserves is misery, just like the misery he caused her. Now their childish attempts at revenge are a thing of the past and Mary is out for blood. Will she leave anything in her wake or will all that remain be ashes?

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Sibohan and Han combine to give such a breezy writing style – it’s so easy to fly through the pages. The snarky banter is amusing and the jokes tickled me pink. I enjoyed this book, despite having a vehement dislike for the majority of the cast. The setting was such a beautiful backdrop. The pacing of the story is fantastic, if a little slow at the start. And the concept – that was the biggest drawcard in finishing this trilogy.

As for our three protagonists…

Ashes to Ashes (#3 Burn for Burn) Pic 03 by Casey CarlisleLillia maintained her more annoying personality traits. She was clingy and somewhat self-absorbed, not to mention times of indecisiveness and being completely clueless. I don’t even think she grew all that much as a person from the events – yes there was a note of wisdom there, but nothing ground breaking or poignant.

I actually got a little scared/nervous at some point due to Mary’s vengeance and paranormal-ness, which was a delightful surprise, it’s not something I expected in this genre! However, Mary was disappointing. It was ramping up to an epic climax and then I don’t know what happened. I get that she was able to get some resolution, but the way it was delivered felt flaccid.

Kat was probably the one who changed the most. She got to try on a number of personalities before the ending. I like to think she chose herself and never looked back.

Don’t get me started on the boys – they felt as vapid as Lillia.

I did not enjoy the amount of alcohol consumption – I felt like checking into re-hab just from reading the book. Additionally, there was no resolution to the rape storyline… and I understand many of these types of cases are never reported, but it was practically brushed under the carpet. Lillia had a few episodes of despair and was over it.

I got the feeling from the tone of the novel as though it was targeted to the younger end of the YA market with its protagonists acting like ‘look at me I’m a grown up’ when they really have no clue and are just stumbling about in the darkness of their lives. I guess in that respect it nails what it was to be a teen – though I was hoping for a more intelligent interpretation. This whole trilogy has been a bit of a ride, the debut felt like a contemporary, and then follow-up blurred the lines between contemporary and paranormal, and the finale – witchy central. There is a lot to love with the concept of this trilogy, but I wish the characters were a little more likeable, relatable. That the topics were handled with a little bit more social responsibility. Even though an entertaining read, it is not my favourite from either of these authors.

I feel like there was a part of the last chapter missing, or an epilogue got cut in the editing process because it culminated on such an abrupt tone. I’m a little thrown after finishing the book, it wasn’t completely satisfying. Lukewarm.

The cover art is very Miss Teen Magazine spread, with a bleached treatment to signify a paranormal, ghosty element I’m guessing. Attractive and representative of the connection of the three main protagonists, it definitely stands out from many others in this genre. It certainly had me flipping through the pages.

Fans of both authors will most likely love this trilogy, and I’d recommend it for readers who love YA and don’t mind the tone of the characters dominating the story. I appreciated it’s uniqueness.

Overall reaction: well… that just happened

Ashes to Ashes (#3 Burn for Burn) Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Fire With Fire’ (#2 Burn for Burn) by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

Payback is a bitch… make that three bitches.

Fire With Fire Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, Paranormal

No. of pages: 517

From Goodreads:

Lillia, Kat, and Mary had the perfect plan. Work together in secret to take down the people who wronged them. But things didn’t exactly go the way they’d hoped at the Homecoming Dance.

Not even close.

For now, it looks like they got away with it. All they have to do is move on and pick up the pieces, forget there ever was a pact. But it’s not easy, not when Reeve is still a total jerk and Rennie’s meaner than she ever was before.

And then there’s sweet little Mary…she knows there’s something seriously wrong with her. If she can’t control her anger, she’s sure that someone will get hurt even worse than Reeve was. Mary understands now that it’s not just that Reeve bullied her—it’s that he made her love him.

Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, burn for a burn. A broken heart for a broken heart. The girls are up to the task. They’ll make Reeve fall in love with Lillia and then they will crush him. It’s the only way he’ll learn.

It seems once a fire is lit, the only thing you can do is let it burn…

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After enjoying the first book in this trilogy ‘Burn for Burn’ despite its immature narrative tone, I was eager to see where all the elements that were introduced in the debut were going… and well, ‘Fire With Fire’ took an unexpected turn – and I loved it! I felt this book was much better than the first. Having established all the characters in the first book, there was no confusion over who was who. We also got many of the plot elements developed further or answered in ‘Fire With Fire.’

There are a few turn-abouts with the characters which are executed deliciously‎. It follows suit of the first novel with the main trio of characters unveiling a different point of view to reveal an alternate opinion on their group of friends (and frenimies). I was a little frustrated with how the facts (and the reasons Lillia, Kat, and Mary began their little pact) were forgotten, or became blurry, the more convoluted their situation became.

We don’t get the numerous flashbacks like in the first novel either, which was a welcome change.

The paranormal element gets heavily explored here too – and I loved it. It was hands down my favourite part of the book. I can confidently say ‘Fire with Fire’ does not suffer middle-book-syndrome. It felt more complete to me than the debut.

Fire With Fire Book Review Pic 03 by Casey CarlisleI’m getting really frustrated with Lillia, she got date raped in the past from drinking and hanging out with randy teenage boys – and then keeps repeating that behaviour. No-one deserves to be drugged and sexually assaulted, but it seems like she hasn’t learnt her lesson and intentionally putting herself in a position for it to happen again. Dumb.

Lillia is my uptight drama queen. And although she can annoy the crap out of me at times, her antics and personality really pad out the narrative.

Excited about the exploration of Mary’s character, but am still on the fence about her storyline – I wanted more face time with her – it was a little brief and left me feeling like I’d only scratched the surface.

Kat’s character still felt like she did in the first novel, even though she’s meant to be edgy, maybe a bit gothic, I found her a little vanilla.

The pacing was also much better – but in saying that, there were also a few spots that really dragged. The writing style felt like it had improved from the debut – it didn’t feel as flat. Though, we don’t get as much of the comedic elements as we did in ‘Burn for Burn.’ Neither did we see much of Nadia (Lillias little sister) and that familial dynamic Han writes so well.

It was nice to read towards the end how the main cast were acting a little more responsibly and having realistic reactions to things that had both happened, and we’re currently happening.

The cliff-hanger (and ending of the novel) threw me, and I did not see it coming in a million years! It has me gagging for the final book in the series ‘Ashes to Ashes‎.’ Packaged with beautiful cover art, a diverse cast, a contemporary story line with a paranormal edge, this series has spacious typesetting and large font aiding to its overall aesthetic and ease of completion.

Another quick read, despite its 517 pages. I spread it out over 2 sittings and 2 days, but could have easily completed it in one. I was dubious about this series at the start, but am coming to love it now. Let’s hope ‘Ashes for Ashes’ can bring it on home!

Overall reaction: had me clapping!

Fire With Fire Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Burn for Burn’ by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

Like a murder club for teen girl revenge.

Burn for Burn Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, Paranormal

No. of pages: 377

From Goodreads:

BIG GIRLS DON’T CRY…THEY GET EVEN

Postcard-perfect Jar Island is home to charming tourist shops, pristine beaches, amazing oceanfront homes — and three girls secretly plotting revenge.

KAT is sick and tired of being bullied by her former best friend.

LILLIA has always looked out for her little sister, so when she discovers that one of her guy friends has been secretly hooking up with her, she’s going to put a stop to it.

MARY is perpetually haunted by a traumatic event from years past, and the boy who’s responsible has yet to get what’s coming to him.

None of the girls can act on their revenge fantasies alone without being suspected. But together…anything is possible.

With an unlikely alliance in place, there will be no more “I wish I’d said…” or “If I could go back and do things differently…” These girls will show Jar Island that revenge is a dish best enjoyed together.

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Burn for Burn’ turned out to be a very quick read. Though, it took me one third of the book to really get into the story. There are a lot of characters and it was difficult to keep them straight in my head. I almost started scribbling notes. Almost. I got a strong juvenile tone from the narrative and found myself missing the sophistication from other Jenny Han novels.

There is a somewhat distinct voice between the alternations in points of view (between our three protagonists, Kat, Lillia and Mary) – but it did add to my confusion and it wasn’t until halfway through the book that I fell into the rhythm of the narrative. I’m not a big fan of multiple perspectives, and though the individual flashbacks and perspectives helped the plot along, it was a little disorientating – especially with such short chapters.

Burn for Burn Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleLillia had strong echoes of Laura Jean – the Asian heritage, the rich, prissy façade, and the bratty little sister. It was a little difficult not to compare these two characters.

Mary and Kat were not too discernible from each other, if it weren’t for their names as chapter titles, or constant reference to a slutty past, or life as a fat girl, I wouldn’t know who was talking… there is the hint of a paranormal element which I found intriguing – though the final scene felt cliché – like a nod to Stephen King’s ‘Carrie.’

There was a lot of teen drinking in this – way too much for me to be comfortable with. No way I, or any of my classmates, consumed this amount of alcohol in high school. Also, I’m picking up a date rape story line that was briefly mentioned and then forgotten about entirely. That had my jaw dropping open. Then angry. Then frustration at the stupidity of the young girls. And why was this event left by the wayside – it’s not like it’s not important or anything.

I will say the actual plot and story arcs of the tree main characters were very interesting. I was totally captivated with the little twists and turns – though the book ended abruptly as soon as things got interesting, and I was wondering where the pay-off was. I didn’t get any resolution, so if you’re going to read this make sure you have the sequel on hand.

It was a fun read, I laughed out loud in several parts, and there is an element of physical comedy that I found delightful. But the bitchy girl element feels very “primary school.” This series is like a mash up of ‘First Wives Club’ and ‘Mean Girls.’ Though I found the writing style a tad droll and immature, ‘Burn for Burn’ was still entertaining. It ended on a high (literally) and a cliff hanger, and I definitely want to check out the second book in the series ‘Fire with Fire.’

Now that I’m familiar with all the characters and many elements have been introduced into the storyline, ‘Fire with Fire’ has been set up for some juicy happenings – let’s hope these girls deliver. Pretty cool, I’d give it a thumbs up and happily recommend this to lovers of YA, skewing towards the younger end of the spectrum.

Overall reaction: felt like I was slowly waking up and then it ended when the day was about to start… like this sloth!

Burn for Burn Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

Burn for Burn Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

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© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – ‘Shug’ by Jenny Han

Realistic fiction at its best with Han’s easy-breezy style.

Shug Book Review Pic 01 by Casey Carlisle.jpgGenre: Y/A, Contemporary

No. of pages: 248

From Goodreads:

SHUG is clever and brave and true (on the inside, anyway). And she’s about to become your new best friend.

Annemarie Wilcox, or Shug as her family calls her, is beginning to think there’s nothing worse than being twelve. She’s too tall, too freckled, and way too flat-chested. Shug is sure that there’s not one good or amazing thing about her. And now she has to start junior high, where the friends she counts most dear aren’t acting so dear anymore — especially Mark, the boy she’s known her whole life through. Life is growing up all around her, and all Shug wants is for things to be like they used to be. How is a person supposed to prepare for what happens tomorrow when there’s just no figuring out today? 

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Shug’ is cute and thoroughly enjoyable. It is everything that I’ve come to expect from Jenny Han. A young protagonist dealing with the pressures of coming of age. Moments of flightiness, misunderstanding and heartbreak. It’s all here.

Shug Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle.jpgShug, an affectionate nickname for out protagonist, Annemarie, is teetering on the edge of childhood, about to take the first steps of maturity and claiming womanhood. Her perceptions of gender roles, of responsibility, are that mix of naive and clear black and white… but as in life, nothing really works that way. So Shug has to find a way to learn to deal with it all.

Her best male friend Mark, and BFF Elaine are facing issues of their own. As they start to grapple with independence and carve out the person they want to grow into, it inevitably leads to distance. Distance from Shug. Somehow they have to navigate this predicament and determine what it means for each of their relationships.

Jack, (one of Marks best friends) also faces the same conundrum, but as Shug grows to learn more about him, soon discovers he is nothing like she first assumed.

Shug’s parents are grappling with difficulties in their own relationship as well – and this throws her compass for safety spinning.

All of this leads to an engaging read about life, relationships and saying goodbye to a part of your childhood.

The narrative is deliciously innocent, while the tone of the novel more melancholy. So, combined with Han’s smooth writing style and a slow but gradual build with pacing, ‘Shug’ braces at that edge of adulthood expertly. The story did feel a little flat – but I liked the simplistic plot and easy to read style (though it is targeted to a young audience). A pleasant read for an afternoon.

Overall feeling: sweet and pleasant, like a deep breath of fresh mountain air…

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Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han

Summer has come to an end.

We'll Always Have Summer Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Comtemporary

No. of pages: 219

From Goodreads:

It’s been two years since Conrad told Belly to go with Jeremiah. She and Jeremiah have been inseparable ever since, even attending the same college– only, their relationship hasn’t exactly been the happily ever after Belly had hoped it would be. And when Jeremiah makes the worst mistake a boy can make, Belly is forced to question what she thought was true love. Does she really have a future with Jeremiah? Has she ever gotten over Conrad? It’s time for Belly to decide, once and for all, who has her heart forever. 

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The final instalment to the Summer trilogy – something I enjoyed and appreciated the way it all culminated, but not a series I was particularly in love with.

We really see Belly grow up. Literally and figuratively in this trilogy, and I am happy to discover the woman she turned into after the stubborn and naive girl in ‘The Summer I Turned Pretty.’ Her trait of burying her head in the sand, going boy crazy and disposition to storming about and a stubborn streak had be wanting to put the book down several times. Though the vivid landscape of the Summer House, the well written cast and realistic portrayal of life is what kept my interest. So while I may have had issues with the protagonist (and her love interest(s)), the overall story is beautiful. It’s about growing up, loss, and love.

Life is messy – and so is Belly’s story.

We'll Always Have Summer Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Another quick summer read, and even though it is angsty and deals with death, it is still light enough to enjoy on a banana lounge in the afternoon sun. Jenny Han’s writing style in supreme in its ability to lavish the surroundings but deliver characters and their dialogue in a matter-of-fact way. The story line is predictable in that, it concluded with only ending it could have really – I liked it.

Overall feeling: happy/sad… just like the end of summer vacation.

We'll Always Have Summer Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

We'll Always Have Summer Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

© Casey Carlisle 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book Review – It’s Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han

A strong sense of adolescent drama through a picturesque summer…

 It's Not Summer Without You Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, Romance

No. of pages: 288

From Goodreads:

It used to be that Belly counted the days until summer, until she was back at Cousins Beach with Conrad and Jeremiah. But not this year. Not after Susannah got sick again and Conrad stopped caring. Everything that was right and good has fallen apart, leaving Belly wishing summer would never come.
But when Jeremiah calls saying Conrad has disappeared, Belly knows what she must do to make things right again. And it can only happen back at the beach house, the three of them together, the way things used to be. If this summer really and truly is the last summer, it should end the way it started–at Cousins Beach. 

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I did not enjoy this as much as the first, however it was a great sequel.

Mixed with melancholia, for me personally and for the Summer franchise. Having lost my own mother recently, and experienced my own battle with cancer, the tone of this book resonated strongly with me. The need to hold onto, even if you have to battle hard and risk losing everything else, certain reminders of the love that you have lost. It’s all consuming.

Belly’s love life was annoying – and I’m still not entirely convinced I like it. Not only has her age lent a certain immaturity to the story, but the fact she was a little flippant left me thinking of her as shallow and without strength of character. She was very reactionary and did not give anyone around her cause to accept she was in charge of her own destiny. Maybe it’s my age showing, but behaviour life that, especially in female protagonists rubs me the wrong way.

It does, however, lend to great drama and angst – which we get plenty of.

And just as much as Belly frustrated me, so did Conrad. He really fails to communicate, or get involved in his family despite what he is feeling. It is such a typical masculine trait. This is not a criticism on the novel, but rather, on Conrad himself. His stoicism amped up the drama in this beautiful Summer House setting.

I’ve never read a book with such annoying characters that I enjoyed so much – it is quite a feat – Thanks a bunch Miss Han.

It's Not Summer Without You Book Review Pic 02 by Casey Carlisle

Jenny Han was able to create such a wonderful ambiance with ‘It’s Not Summer Without You.’ As she did in the debut, ‘The Summer I Turned Pretty,’ you can smell the coconut oil and salty afternoon breezes through the narrative without lengthy exposition. Again another quick and easy read that projects all the feels and offers up a few surprises.

I found myself craving for some depth and maturity from this story, but great escapism bringing me back to my teen years…

Overall feeling: ugly but interesting = cute.

It's Not Summer Without You Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

It's Not Summer Without You Book Review Pic 04 by Casey Carlisle

Critique Casey by Casey Carlisle

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