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 – P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

Boys, bullies and b!itches, and how be cool, calm and  fabulous amongst it all (sort of).

PS I Still Love You Book Review by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Contemporary, Romance

No. of pages: 337

From Goodreads:

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

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Now this is how you write a sequel! It was better than the first novel in every area, and has cemented Jenny Han as one of my favourite authors.

There are still parts where I was rolling my eyes at the cheesiness (but it was expected after the precedent of ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’), but what surprised me was how much I laughed. Not only from Laura Jean’s wit, but also from moments of physical comedy… I was tickled pink.

There is all the high school drama we can expect from a contemporary and a plethora of eye-candy.

I felt it was a little smarmy how so many good looking boys fell at Lara Jeans’ feet after she was so unsure of herself (with boys) in the first novel. I would have liked a little more conflict or tension in those relationships – like with Peter. Because of that, the book had an overall feeling of it being just an everyday high school experience story, which knocked it down a mark for me.

The ensemble of characters really shone. Lara Jeans little sister (Kitty) was much more likeable and I felt their relationship more realistic. As with the first novel in this series, the family dynamic is stronger – and ever more present here. I appreciated Han’s description of sister relationships. The strong bond these girls have grown up with and how they support each other. You get a tangible sense that these girls are growing up – Jenny Han doesn’t let any of these characters back slide from the progress they’ve made in ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.’

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P.S. I Still Love You’ is a bit of a light and fluffy contemporary, a gentle afternoon read with a strong sense of self – and of family. With a pleasant, easy-flowing writing style and great pacing, it can be a fast read. Recommended for a lazy afternoon with a mug of hot chocolate.

Overall feeling: You go girl!

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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 – ‘To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before’ by Jenny Han

It’s like all the worst people getting a hold of your diary and reading it.

To All The Boys I've Loved Before Book Review by Casey Carlisle

Genre: Y/A, Contemporary, Romance,

No. of pages: 288

From Goodreads:

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

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I ummed and aahhed about picking up this title a number of times; friends of mine had given To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before commendable reviews, however something about the blurb wasn’t enticing me… but I finally gave into the torture and read the book in one sitting.

I expected a little more Mean Girls bitchiness (and pleasantly gratified there wasn’t) but overall I’d describe this book as ‘cute.’ Our main protagonist, Lara Jean, added a unique perspective with a mixed race background and self-confidence. Although that confidence felt a little too trite at times, like when Laura Jean was dolled up for a date and knew how fantastic she looked, compared to her insecurities about facing the boys from her past after they had received her carefrontation letters. I felt it would have added Lara more depth if we’d had her a little more humble about her looks. It’s not a strong tone throughout this novel, but it was something that stood out to me.

This novel distinctively shows Lara Jean’s growth by the end of the book – if you measure her reactions to bad news with those at the start. It’s subtle, but I felt realistic, if not gracious. I love a good character development story!

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I loved the family dynamics, especially between sisters – I did not have the benefit of female siblings growing up, and am always fascinated at how they are represented in books, and Jenny Han nailed it.

I’m uncertain about my feelings on Lara Jeans little sister, Kitty. There was a mix of childishness and maturity about her I did not quite understand. Her behaviour at the beginning is typical of any child of her age, but near the end, I was questioning if she was beginning to feel a little too grown up. It may have been in reaction to her circumstances, or a slip by the author. Whether intentional or not, I loved the spoiled stubborn brat and felt it added tension to the story.

For a contemporary romance, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before had a surprising amount of other content around school, friends, family and identity which kept my attention. If it had been too mushy, I’d probably have abandoned it. With a clear concise narrative and age appropriate voice it is a great and quick read. It not only fills the romance quota, but is empowering at the same time – polite feel within its style that is refreshing.

Throw a touch of irony and comedy into the mix and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is a great way to while away the afternoon.

Overall reaction: aww!

To All The Boys I've Loved Before Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle

To All The Boys I've Loved Before Book Review Pic 02 by Casey CarlisleCritique 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.