Book review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

If you have a Netflix account, and by now I think most of us do, I think you already saw the movie ad, but you will (or will not) be surprised to hear that it’s based on a book written by Jenny Han, first in a series of three. Since I actually liked the first book I decided that it will have an entire post written for it, so let’s get started.

Lara Jean is a sixteen-year-old girl, with Korean origins that lives in Virginia. She has a unique way of coping with love, every time she falls for a boy she writes him a letter expressing all of her feelings, surely she never sends them and keeps them in a box in her closet. There are 5 letters in total, one is for her now sister’s boyfriend Josh, one for an old friend who happens to be the pretty boy from the school Peter, and 3 others that are addressed to a now gay guy, and 2 childhood colleagues.

Before leaving for college in Scotland, her sister Margot dumps Josh, since she says that doesn’t want to be the girl crying for her long-distance relationship, and soon Lara Jean is once again facing her feelings for Josh as he is still present around her and her younger sister Kitty even after’s Margot’s departure.

One day at school Peter Kavinsky approaches Lara Jean and tells her he is honored by her letter but doesn’t feel the same way. At first, she is confused by the remark, but soon after realizes that he is holding the letter that she wrote to him a while back. Furthermore, she finds out that all 5 letters were sent, including the one addressed to now, her sister ex-boyfriend. From the desired to cover up the story that she is still in love with Josh, Lara Jane decides to kiss Peter and also start a fake relationship with him, since he also wants to make his ex-girlfriend jealous.

You can imagine that this will lead to all sorts of trouble and complications, one of them being the fact that Josh confessed that he first liked Lara and not Margot and even ends with them sharing a kiss. Also, the saying fake it, ’till you make it will turn out to be true for Lara and Peter.

There are indeed a couple of areas where things could have been better, like the fact that there is no real girl friendship pictured, just shallow relations between them and a lot of jealousy ( I am excluding the sisterhood bound), also the fact that Lara Jane is somehow going after her sister’s boyfriend (that is a bit odd, but let’s face it not really so out of the ordinary).

I will try not to spoil the ending of the book since I encourage you to read, it’s the perfect beach lecture that you can have. It’s not a great book, it will not stick with you, there is no lesson learned or any takeaway, a simple young adult book that can make you be glued to it for a few hours. Maybe my review more positive than it should be since I read it after the awful After series (review can be found here) but somehow it was a guilty pleasure. Now I am planning to pour a glass of wine, open Netflix and play the movie. Curious about how you found the book? Did you read it/liked it/planning on reading it?

 

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Book Review: The After Series, by Anna Todd

Sex, obsession, teenage drama, and a toxic relationship. I think I summarised the four books in a sentence, but let’s dig deeper, in the end, I spent the time to read them all, so bear with me through this review that will contain spoilers.

The storyline goes like this: Tessa is moving from her perfectly staged life to college, she is leaving behind her protective and obsessed for perfection mum and her boyfriend who is still in high school. Boyfriend with whom she only has a sort of platonic relationship. Her roommate is the opposite of Tessa, party girl, who is dressing trashy and is covered in tattoos. It is through the roommate, Steph, that she meets lonely, cruel, misunderstood, English boy Hardin (aka the mix of Edward Cullen and Christian Grey).

From here we have a game of love-hate between the two, he is emotionally unavailable and she is trying to fix him, while he treats her like garbage. From downgrading conversations and public humiliation, somehow the author is making the relationship sound like a normal thing just because Hardin is the first men to touch her, give her an orgasm and has sex with her. Like a true villain, he exposes her to her boyfriend, makes her fight with her mom that cuts her off, makes Tessa move in with him only to separate her from all her friends and hides the truth about his work, friends, and reason why he got with her in the first place.

As an excuse for his beaviour, we learn that Hardin has been through a lot in his childhood, witnessed the rape of his mother, had an abusive and alcoholic father that left them both and moved to the states, where Hardin gets sent by his mother to try to get close to his now sober father who is the rector of the college where he and Tessa are going.  Yeah yeah, a truly sad story that is the perfect excuse for a bully. NOT!

Long story short: Hardin makes a bet with his friends that e can get to sleep with Tessa and proves that to the group by showing them the blood stained sheets. Don’t know why but this to me sounds like an Amanda Quick horrible story novel, that take place in the 60′ and not in our days. Clearly, Tessa finds this the hard way when Molly, the bad girl, exposes the story in front of everyone, but somehow finds a way to forgive Hardin and still be together at the end of the first book.

As for the next books, apart from very detailed sex scenes that can make even the kinky ones blush, they fight and reconcile (aka have sex), every 20 pages. Move from one city to another, Tessa gets her dad back only to find him dead and Hardin finds out that his father is not the one who he thinks but the family friend (duh!). Steph the roommate turns out she is a psycho bitch that tries to get someone to rape Tessa and tape her, but she is saved in the last moment by the friend that is trying to compete with Hardin for Tessa’s love (?), at the end of the book he also turns out to be a psycho. As a plus to all of this, we learn that the game of sleeping and taping girls was Hardin’s thing(WTF???). The events might not be in this specific order but all happen along with some other toxic relationship behaviors.

So what is about these books that makes them so popular? It looks like Anna Todd wrote them in a combination between Twilight, 50 Shades of Gray and a fanfiction request (her words not mine), so everyone fell in love with the teenage love story. Until here nothing out of the ordinary, but as an adult (almost 30) reading those books, a lot of question marks poped. If the first 2 books were somehow interesting since one couldn’t tell how far is Hardin going to push Tessa, the last 2 were just boring and felt like I was trying to look at Young and the Restless 1500 episode ( for those who don’t know the show, it was popular in the 90′ and it was a never-ending soap opera, don’t know if it’s still playing today, but it was horrible). And to make matters even worst there is a 5th book with before the relationship action, I have the book I just couldn’t find the strength to put myself through that yet.

As I continued reading through the books, I keep on asking myself what kind of message is this series sending? As a teenager in the 00′, it was the fantasy of each girl to make the bad boy good, to break through the wall the misunderstood guy build and to find out that he has a soft side ( did I mentioned that Hardin can quote from Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice? Clearly all the *real* men read those books and memorize them). Why did we have those fantasies? Because that is what romantic movies told us. As teen movies nowadays make a lot of money, we are seeing the pattern even more often, so that leave 2 horrible directions for today’s teens: be bullied because he is worth it, he will turn around, and the second be a bully since girls love that and will do anything to be with a bad boy. Nop, nop, nop!

As you have probably guessed there is also a movie after the books (SHOCKER) that stars two pretty young faces. Luckily the plot is altered and the movie story is less graphic and less shocking. To be honest, their relation is way less toxic than the one from Twilight, it’s just a regular teenage romantic movie, so I am guessing they played that one right. Although the chemistry between the two actors is nowhere to be seen, or maybe I wasn’t able to see it.

The After series is just another try at getting a piece of the cake that would be a blockbuster aimed at teenagers created from the horrible combination between vampires tales and the story of the girl that gets beaten by a cute guy that happens to be very rich so that makes it ok. There are a lot of books with more or less the same plot these days, but I have to say that the 1.2 billion readers notice that is advertised on the book cover is a bit scary, but maybe I shouldn’t be the one to talk since I am in that number as well.

How about you? Have you read it or are you planning on doing so? If you did read it, what are your thoughts on the subject?

 

 

List of My Favorite Books

All us book worms have a list of favorite books that went straight to our hearts. From classics to romance, I think a good book is one that speaks to your soul, no matter the ranking it has. So here is my list!

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1. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

My No1 for sure! Loved Margaret’s book and Scarlet is one of the most iconic female character in history, beautiful, sometimes cruel, but very determined. Not to mention it was the inspiration for the movie with the same name and Vivien Leigh was just a perfect match.

2. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Even if it is somehow a tragic story, I cannot help but loving this book. For me it is a must read classic that conquered my heart.

3. Emma by Jane Austen

I am a big fan of Jane Austen’s books, it was really hard to pick a favorite so I went with the first book I read from her and it was love at first read. After I finished Emma I brought all of her books and started to read them one by one.

4. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Also my favorite movie, it was a book I read when I was 11. It all started when my sister took me to the cinema to see the first part of the movie, Fellowship of the Ring, after that I just went crazy about it, getting the books and reading them in a few days.

5. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

I have to say that in this case, I first saw the movie because it started Vivien Leigh but soon after the book made me turn my attention towards Leo Tolstoy and I was not disappointed.

6. Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

A book that I found in parents house, it’s less famous than the rest of the classics and is also a sad story. Yet it stuck to me and made me want to put in my list of favorites.

7. Stupid and Contagious by Caprice Crane

A very simple and easy to read chick lit book that made me laugh with tears as I read it. Maybe it’s because I found myself in the main character or just because I read it when I was in high school and in love, cannot tell you exactly, but if you are looking for a simple, easy to read the book, I 100% recommend it.

8. The Winner Stands Alone by Paulo Coelho

No list of favorite books without Coelho. At first, I didn’t quite get him and his style but as I grew older, I understood what he is writing about. As for the favorite book from him, I choose The Winner Stands Alone because it felt the most real.

9. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

I don’t think there is a way to explain this, apart from telling the fact that I grew up in the 90′, therefore Harry Potter was part of my childhood. Also, those were the first books I got to read in English.

10. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I have to admit that all my friends were crazy about the first movie and they tried to convince me to go see it, but I thought it’s a bit too harsh for me after I saw the trailers. I stumbled upon the books at the book fair and I purchased them with my last money. It was one of the best decisions ever since I immediately fell in love with Katniss Everdeen. After I finished the books I also saw the movies.

11. The Chamber by John Grisham

Before reading this book I was in favor of the death penalty since I am a believer that the punishment should fit the crime. I have to say that the book gave me shivers down my spine and made me change my mind completely. For those who don’t know, Grishman is also an ex-attorney so the details from his book are based on real facts and that adds to the magic.

12. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To see the evil of the world through the innocent eyes of a child, it is one of the classic American novels that should be on everyone’s to read list.

13. Happy People Read and Drink Coffee by Agnes Martin-Lugand‎

A story about starting over, about what it feels to lose the ones you love and about having to deal with the pain. I have to say that I added this book to the list because I devoured it in a few hours and this isn’t happening that often, I was unable to leave it until I turned the last page.

14. The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking

The Danish people are the happiest from the world, even if they have a few hours of light during the winter, it’s cold most of the time and yet they are having the highest living standards. Maybe it’s not the best-written book, but it contains valuable lessons about how we can be happy and present.

15. Murder in the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Again, it was hard to pick only one book from Agatha, but I went for the book that has the action happening along the route of the famous Orient Express, that initially passed through Bucharest, the capital of my home country, Romania. This was the second reason, the first was the fact that I never imagined who the killer was.

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Hope you feel inspired by my list and maybe you add a couple of these books to yours.

Book Review: The Winner Stands Alone by Paulo Coelho

Another amazing story was written by one of the biggest contemporary writers, and one of my personal favorites, Paulo Coelho. If you’ve never heard of him then you are probably living under a rock somewhere, but if you did, praise yourself this book is one of the best he’s ever written.

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The action is placed in Cannes during the film festival and it surrounds two former spouses who are now divorced, she is the one who left him for one of the world’s most talented designers. Igor, the ex-husband, is not accepting the fact that Ewa stopped loving him and will do anything in his power to convince her to come back. His plan is to destroy a couple of worlds, aka commit crimes,  in order to get her attention, especially since he knows she and her lover are going to be present at the festival.

The story is taking place over one day and is narrated in turns by everyone who will interact with the couple, along with Igor and Ewa. The peace of the small French town is now threatened by a war in the name of love, in the most important time of the year, the film festival, that is gathering the most important people of the industry.

Apart from the main conflict, that of obsessive love, Coelho also offers a glance in the life of the most adulated people, the celebrities. Talks about the dark side of fame, the shallow life of those who are the actors in the play directed by the puppet masters that sit in the shadow, but also about the lives of those who aspire to get in the spotlight, even if, just for a moment.

I would say that The Winner Stands Alone is my favorite book from the author’s bibliography and, at least in my point of view, tops The Alchemist. Don’t know if this is because it describes the most notorious worlds, that of celebrities. The book made me question everything that is related to glamour and gave me an inside of a world that is always painted so pretty for the outsiders, even if for the ones that are part of it comes at a high price.

The end of the book is not a happy one and definitely not what I’d expected. No, I will not spoil the surprise by telling you how it ends, but I will challenge you to read it, especially if you, like myself, are attracted to the glamorous life of the celebrities. Happy reading everyone!

Book Review: 365 Days of Happiness: Because happiness is a piece of cake! by Jacqueline Pirtle

As you’ve probably seen in my last posts, 2019 is the year in which I want to make peace with myself and learn as much as I can about happiness, and what better way to learn about it than reading a book aimed to teach us how to embrace it?

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If you were a fan of The Secret, I have great news, you might have found another book to add to your reading list since 365 Days of Happiness starts from the idea of positive thinking and takes you through ways you can make it a routine in your life. We all know that we should put out positive energy in the Universe in order to receive it back, but how will we accommodate this?

Jacqueline’s book is a divided into 365 small chapters that act as the days that we have in a year, each day you learn how to accept happiness into your life, how to accept yourself for who you are, be present, to recognize when happiness is at your door.

One of the points that I absolutely loved was to accept sorrow and sadness when they come and visit, to live through these feelings but also to walk away from them when it no longer feels good. I read a lot of books that wanted to teach me to be happy by walking away and denying any negative feelings, unfortunately, life’s not working like that, we cannot run away from them, bad things will happen and we will have to go through them, but as the book says we should accept them, but also move away from them and not settle in unhappiness.

Another takeaway point was the idea of treating your happiness as a part of yourself, one that you have to nourish, to understand and to respect. To constantly try to create a healthy relationship with it and to be thankful for what you have. Even if the these might sound like something obvious I am pretty sure most of you, like myself, forget to be kind with oneself and to take care of your own happiness. Instead of being thankful for what we have, we focus on what we would like to achieve and on the pitfalls of our life. Instead of focusing on the empty half of the glass, we should try to focus on the fact that we have the glass, to begin with, to understand why it’s not full, but to be happy and grateful that half of glass filled.

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To be honest I would have loved to follow the author’s advice and keep the book by my bed and each morning to read one of her chapters, but unfortunately, I was way too curious so I went through all 365 days in a week and a half. That doesn’t mean that I will not turn to this book once I feel I need to be reminded. Personally, I loved the idea of small chapters that are perfect for reading in the morning while enjoying the first cup of coffee, starting the day with the correct mindset that should be kept until the next day.

I feel like 365 Days of Happiness is the type of book that you should have on your mobile phone or on an ebook that you always keep by your side, for whenever you feel down or that you just want to give up, pull it out and read a few chapters, it will make you feel lighter and positive in a few minutes.

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Being happy might not be something that will happen overnight, it’s something that needs to be understood, recognized and praised, and Jacqueline’s book can really help with getting a few steps closer to the overall goal, to be happy.

Book Review: The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking

Who better to preach about happiness than the happiest people in the world, the Danish! The author, Meik Wiking is studying happiness and is here to show us how we can be hygge, just as they are in Denmark.

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Hygee is a Danish word that doesn’t have an exact translation in English, placed between comfort, hominess, relaxation and of course, happiness, it describes how to be present, enjoy the moment and embrace the northern lifestyle.

Divided into fourteen chapters, the book will describe what this word is all about, how the Danish people achieve this state of hygee and how you can try to get it at home, wherever that is. Learning from the best how we can find what everyone is looking for, the hygeeness!

2019 is the year in which I would like to know more about happiness and how each and everyone can achieve it. I would say that this book made me realize a couple of things, some of them perhaps might sound obvious to you.

The place that you live in needs to be a real home, a place where you feel safe and where you enjoy spending time.

Being present and thankful for what you’ve got, even if might not great, it’s more than enough.

Comfort should always come first, you cannot be happy unless your body is too.

Money is not going to bring you happiness, might offer your ego what it needs but not your sole.

Having people to share the important moments is priceless.

Whenever you feel blue, you can always grab something sweet and light up a candle, this will also cheer up your spirit.

The weather should not affect your mood if it’s rainy outside enjoy the sound of rain if it’s snowy make a snow-man, if it sunny go for a walk, every moment can be a happy one if you find a way to make it.

The happiest people in the world, live in a place where is cold, windy and dark half of the year and they make the most of it. What’s your excuse?

Happiness is also found in routine and monotony, not only in the big moments, those are pretty rare and don’t last very long, so enjoy the first ones better.

Riding a bike can make you happier. I know this might not sound very promising but Copenhagen is the most bike-friendly city in the world, and as you’ve probably heard also one with the happiest people on Earth, coincidence? I don’t think so!

I definitely want to visit Denmark and especially Copenhagen!

The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well is exactly what you need during the winter months when it’s cold outside and you feel like you need the summer to be happy again. Feel the hygee at home, alone or with your friends or family, during winter or summer, when you are at your favorite coffee shop or when you are in the park, during Christmas or while cooking. As a plus, in the book, you will also have a few receipts for traditional Danish dishes for you to try. Trust me when I tell you, reading this book will make you have a hygee moment! Happy reading everyone!

Book Review: One Day in December by Josie Silver

Since it’s that time of the year, what better book to read than a cheesy Christmas love story? Accompanied by a cup of mulled wine, a cozy blanket and the smell of the Christmas tree I give you the best recipe for a night at home in December.

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The story describes 9 years from the life of Laurie and Jack, two people that briefly saw each other for a few seconds in December 2008, when she was on the bus and he was reading in the station. They both stared at each other, but she didn’t get off the bus and he never got on it, leaving them both with regret.

For a whole year Laurie, helped by Sarah, her best friend and roommate, tried to find the mysterious boy, with no success. Until one day when Sarah introduces her new boyfriend, Jack, with whom she is madly in love. Laurie recognizes Jack but realizes that she cannot say anything to destroy their happiness and so her struggle with the feelings she has for him begins.

The book will follow them in the next years while both Jack and Laurie go on with their lives, switch jobs, go through family drama or accidents, Laurie marries a different man. They even share a kiss on a snowy day but decide never to mention it, since that will hurt Sarah. I will not spoil the ending of the book, but as you have probably guessed it’s a happy one.

The book and the story is not a piece of art but is easy to read and at least for me, kept me glued to the sofa wanting to get to the end. I am not sure how is it for the rest of you, but for me reading a simple and romantic book during Christmas time is exactly what I need. Romance is definitely not dead while we still have these stories.