Turn of the Season: Goodbye, Summer! – Favorite Summer Memories

Turn of the Season is a week long blogging event being hosted by Alexa of Alexa Loves Books and I.  Alexa is a sweet Summer child and I’m an Autumn fox baby so we wanted to put together an event celebrating the end of Alexa’s season and the beginning of mine.  Throughout the week we’ll be highlighting some of our summer favorites as well as our autumn anticipations!

Favorite Summer Memories

BEA / BookCon – These happened at the tail end of May into June but I got to spend the entire event with Alexa which was such a pleasure! We got all the books we had been looking forward to, attended some really fun parties with amazing authors, and hung out at BookCon with Rachel, Andi and Lili!

Meeting Jenny Han, Sarah Dessen & Jennifer E. Smith – I’ve ALWAYS wanted to meet Jenny Han.  She’s my favorite contemporary author and I was THRILLED when Books of Wonder announced the event.  Lili was even sweet enough to pick up a book and number for me so I didn’t get stuck there ALL since this was a VERY popular event!

Attending Joe & Kris’s Biergarten Show – My brother in law and sister in law are super talented musician and one Sunday afternoon they had a gig at the Biergarten in Astoria. Andrew and I attended along with his parents and his sisters Brittany and Molly and we had such a great time!

Alaska – Alaska is certainly a place that I never planned on venturing to but when my brother in law moved there with his fiance, that plan changed! It was really fun to spend so much time with Andrew’s family and to see the beautiful landscapes that are so very different from those in NYC.

Brunch with Andrew, Kristina & Joe – Kristina and Joe made a quick trip to NYC and Andrew and I were able to meet up with them at Dos Caminos which was so much fun! We hadn’t ever met Joe but he was so nice and it was fun to hear about their wedding planning!

My Birthday Weekend in Mystic, CT – This was SUCH an amazing trip! Andrew, my brother Bob, his girlfriend Amanda and I ventured to Mystic, CT the weekend of my birthday and it was the perfect mini getaway.  We packed so much into so few days- we visited Gilette Castle, the Mystic Aquarium where we fell in love with the most friendly beluga whale, Mystic Pizza and my personal favorite, Book Barn where we saw a cute little Hobbit Hole!

Ice Cream dates with friends – I’m really glad that I’ve began seeing Alexa and Rachel on a regular basis<3 It’s so nice to have bookish friends so closeby and even better to be able to eat ice cream together and talk about books! And our last ice cream date was with Lili who I adore!

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: Always and Forever, Lara Jean (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #3) by Jenny Han

Personal Thoughts:  This is hands down my favorite Jenny Han book ever written (I can say that now that I’ve read all of her YA books!).  I am just over the moon about this conclusion to Lara Jean’s story.  The fact that this book even exists at all is something I’m so thankful for since the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series was planned as a duology.  I know I was definitely not ready to let go of Lara Jean and Peter K (and Kitty and Margot and Stormy) so I’m so grateful for these precious extra 326 pages with them.  This book had everything I wanted and more.  There were definitely a ton of moments when I couldn’t hold back tears.  It really made me feel all the things.

Plot Summary:  Lara Jean and Peter K are finishing up their senior year of high school and they’re more in love than ever.  They have a plan for college but when they don’t both get into the college of their choice, things start getting tested.  In addition, Lara Jean’s Dad is getting ready to remarry (his girlfriend from the second book, P.S. I Still Love You) but not all of the Song sisters are on board.  There’s a ton of change happening in Lara Jean’s life and Always and Forever, Lara Jean explores that critical time in a person’s life when they determine what they want to hold on to and what’s best to let go of.

Critique:  As I stated above, I loved this book dearly.  Always and Forever Lara Jean had by far the best character development of any book in the series and it strengthened my emotional connection to everyone.  I didn’t think it would be possible to fall even harder for Peter K and yet I totally and completely did.  The way Peter interacts with Lara Jean’s family, the effort he puts into watching films Lara Jean enjoys and trying to learn how to braid her hair, and the way he is so unaffected by his peers who expect him to act like the typical jock are all reasons why he’s so very close to perfect.  The college factor put a major strain on their relationship and I’ve never wanted something to work out so badly.  This book was just packed with things I love.  There was Lara Jean’s quest to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe, her vision for her Dad’s wedding that she worked so hard on, the way Lara Jean always teases Peter and how gullible he is to it, and of course, her interactions and the love she had for the sassiest of Songs, her younger sister Kitty.  Kitty is eleven years old in this book and she is just bursting with personality.  She’s self confident, intelligent and no nonsense about her opinions no matter who she’s telling them to.  I also really love Kitty and Peter’s dynamic.  I feel like I could go on and on about how much I love this book but I would hate to ruin anything for anyone.

Do I Recommend?:  This is pretty obvious yes.  If you enjoyed the first two books in the series (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You), I guarantee you will LOVE this conclusion<3

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han (Summer #3)

Personal Thoughts:  To say I’d been putting off reading We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han would be an understatement.  Being my last currently published unread work of Jenny’s, I found myself unable to pick it up because I was so not ready to say goodbye to Cousins, Belly, Jere and Conrad nor to the prospect of having another book of hers to read should the mood strike.  Since Always and Forever Lara Jean is releasing in just over a month, I finally decided to go for it.  I can also say that my subconscious fully backs up the above reasoning because the night that I finished We’ll Always Have Summer, I had a dream that I was vacationing at Zoella’s house, eating an ice cream cone and perusing her bookshelves when I found a never before seen Jenny Han YA book (the cover had a boy and a girl laying in the grass- the girl was wearing a red polka dot dress and heart sunglasses) and I was in all my glory.  Imagine the disappointment when I awoke to find that I had no ice cream, nor the new Jenny book that my mind invented to fill a deep need.

Plot Summary:  I think this goes without saying but as this is the third and final book in the series, there will be spoilers ahead.  We’ll Always Have Summer picks up two years after It’s Not Summer Without You ends.  Belly and Jere have been dating and attending college together and Conrad’s been off at med school in California.  After Belly and Jeremiah’s relationship hits a really rough patch, things between them start accelerating and then Belly must decide once and for all which brother her heart belongs to.

Critique:  This book definitely won’t be for everyone.  Heck, if Jenny Han hadn’t written it, chances are it that it wouldn’t have been for me either.  It’s hard to get behind a series that leans on the angsty side of teen romance and who’s plot revolves around a love triangle.  As if that weren’t enough, it’s a sibling love triangle to boot.  But nonetheless, Jenny Han has once again gotten me invested in the characters she crafts.  No matter how immature Belly may act, how self destructive Conrad can be or how possessive Jere is, I had to read their story through to the very end.  There were a ton of moments where I wanted to slap each one of them, especially in this final installment, but still, I needed to know the outcome of their story.  I don’t want to get into the plot of this final book because there’s an event that sets the whole thing in motion and I don’t feel right spoiling either the trigger or the actions taken afterward for you.  I can tell you that this is the most satisfying conclusion I could’ve hoped for.  My ship has sailed!

Do I Recommend?:  I thoroughly enjoy Jenny Han’s characters and storytelling so if you’re in the same boat I would recommend you give this series a try.  As I mentioned above, the Summer series revolves around a sibling love triangle for all three books so this book is definitely not for everyone.

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: It’s Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han (Summer #2)

**Warning! If you haven’t read The Summer I Turned Pretty which is the first book in the Summer trilogy by Jenny Han, there will be spoilers ahead.  You can read my review of the first book instead if you haven’t started the series yet!**

It’s Not Summer Without You is the second book in the Summer trilogy by Jenny Han.  This book picks up almost 10 months after the events of the first book and we spend the majority of it living the current consequences resulting from past events which are often relayed via flashbacks.  Your thrown into a world where many things have changed since The Summer I Turned Pretty ended and because I waited between books (it’s been almost a year since I read the first – also during BookTube-A-Thon!) I initially thought I had forgotten a major thing that happened.  I really enjoyed this book, much more than the first despite how sad it is.

It's Not Summer Without You

Belly is still immature and a bit annoying but after what happened, I felt more for her.  The sibling love triangle is in full force in this book which is one of the only aspects that I really didn’t like from the first book, but I feel like it was developed more thoroughly and that it worked better in It’s Not Summer Without You.  At the end of the first book Conrad and Belly appear to be living happily ever after but everything basically falls apart in this installment.  We see the cruel ways Conrad has been treating Belly, his hot and cold behavior, and their awful prom experience.  There’s one major factor that I do not want to spoil, but it’s a huge reason for his behavior.  While it’s understandable that he would be affected by this event, he definitely uses this as a scapegoat in my opinion.  Belly’s brother Steven was mostly absent from this book and her bossy best friend Taylor continually got on my nerves.

Final Thoughts:  While I enjoyed It’s Not Summer Without You much more than the first book in the Summer series, it was not without its faults.  This is a heartbreaking book to read but I felt that Han truly created and built upon some beautiful relationships in this installment.  As I stated before, the main character, Belly, is still immature and annoying but I definitely forged more of a connection to her.  I’m looking forward to reading book three (much sooner than it took me to get to this one!) and seeing how the story concludes although I am extremely worried that my ship will be sinking.

Rating 4

Can summer be truly summer without Cousins Beach?

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. ( via Goodreads)

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Kristin

‘Tis the Season: Not-So-Secret Santa Mini Challenge

I was so excited when I saw Alexa Loves Books’s Christmas mini challenge! It’s called the Not-So-Secret Santa Mini Challenge and if you win, you get $25 worth of books from either Amazon or Book Depository!  The challenge is to pick a book character (or several book characters) and tell what you would give them for Christmas!

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Alexa already came up with some great ideas in her post so I’m going to try my best to pick different characters but there is one repeat I couldn’t resist (cough Lara Jean cough).  Here are the top 5 characters I would love to buy Christmas presents for!  Which book characters would you love to shop for if you could?

Lara Jean (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han)

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Lara Jean loves baking just as much as I do so shopping for her would be so much fun.  I think she would adore this pastel pink KitchenAid mixer because it would make her life easier and it completely matches her aesthetic.  Plus, a KitchenAid mixer is the ultimate baker’s dream tool.  I think Peter K. would appreciate this gift too because it would mean more sweets for him!

Cath (Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell)

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Cath is a writer through and through and if there’s one thing a writer always needs (besides a pen), it’s a place to write down their ideas.  I think Cath would really like these flowery Rifle Paper Co. notebooks.  She could keep them with her when she’s traveling back home to visit her dad or when she’s sitting in class so if a Simon and Baz idea comes to her she can jot it down without having to fear it being lost.

Anna (Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins)

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Anna is obsessed with film and writing movie reviews.  It would be easy to get her a notebook as well, or something banana to add to her collection, but I think she would really enjoy this film projector necklace by Betsey Johnson.  It seems like something she wouldn’t think to buy for herself but it would allow her to incorporate her favorite hobby into her everyday wardrobe.

Echo (The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey)

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Echo is a girl after my own heart because she shares an affinity for good food.  We already know she loves macarons and I think it would brighten her holiday to get a giant custom box full of her favorite flavors.  Echo is really busy trying to figure out how to stop the war between the Avicen and the Drakhar so she doesn’t have the most time to be stopping to think about food and she can eat these macarons on the go.

Hermione (Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling)

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Hermione is everyone’s favorite bookworm and what’s better to gift a bookworm than a set of collectible books?  I think Hermione would appreciate this gorgeous collectible set of the Penguin Drop Caps editions and they would look lovely arranged in a central area on her bookshelf to brighten up the area where her neutral colored magic books are displayed.

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Kristin

BookTube: T5W: Top 5 Authors I Discovered This Year

This weeks Top 5 Wednesday topic is the Top 5 Authors I Discovered This Year.  So they’re not necessarily new authors, but they’re new to me! I had so much fun going through my list and seeing which authors I just started reading this year.  What are your favorite new to you authors?

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han (The Summer I Turned Pretty #1)

After loving Jenny Han’s duology which consists of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You (both of which I’ve reviewed and you can read here and here) I’ve been eager to read anything else that she’s written because I just adore her writing style.  The Summer I Turned Pretty is the first book in a trilogy that was published prior to To All the Boys.  I added the first book to my TBR pile for BookTube-A-Thon and it ended up being the last book I read to complete the readathon.  If you’re looking to buy your own copies, I HIGHLY suggest the UK editions on Book Depository because the US covers are just plain awful.  I read that Jenny Han’s inspiration for writing this book is that one magical summer when you start noticing guys and they start noticing you back and it feels like everything is changing.

Usually I don’t start a review off with a gripe, but I really disliked the main character’s nickname.  Her given name is Isabel and everyone calls her Belly (ugh).  Getting past that, I did really enjoy the story.  Belly spends every summer in a beach community named Cousins along with her mom, brother Stephen, her mom’s best friend Susanna and her sons Conrad and Jeremiah.  Belly has always had a major crush on the older brother Conrad but she’s always been seen as the little sister and no one had ever really taken her seriously until that one pivotal summer.  Belly’s brother has to leave their summer house after only a week and Belly is able to grow a lot without him hindering her spirit.  I do think Belly is immature but I think a lot of people can relate to her desire to fit in and be seen as an equal.

The Summer I Turned Pretty

What I loved most about this book is that each chapter jumped between the current summer and one from the past.  I loved experiencing Belly’s past memories in the present tense and it really enhanced her story and showed all of the growth her character has undergone.  The primary plot is typical of contemporary as it revolves around Belly’s interactions with three guys but it’s the secondary plot involving Susanna and Belly’s mother that really pulled at my heartstrings.  To be honest, when I had heard this book described as having a sibling love triangle, I was REALLY worried but I ended up enjoying it because Han crafted a believable summer romance story.

Final Thoughts:  The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han is the first light and fun contemporary novel in a The Summer I Turned Pretty trilogy.  It’s perfect for beach reading or for getting yourself into the mindset of summer.  The main character’s desire to fit in is something that most readers will be able to relate to and both the primary and secondary plotlines will keep the pages turning.  While I did not enjoy this book as much as Jenny Han’s duology, I will be continuing on with the series.

Rating 4

Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer–they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

BookTube: The Top 5 Series I Want to Start in 2015

One of the biggest benefits of getting into a series after it’s already been published in its entirety is binge reading!  I love not having to wait for the next book to be published when I’m really invested in a series.  I decided to make a video of my top 5 series that I have made it a goal to read (probably binge read) in 2015!  What series are you hoping to start (and possibly finish) this year?

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 Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: P.S. I Still Love You By Jenny Han (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #2)

*This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This is no way swayed my opinions.*

**Warning! If you haven’t read To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before which is the first book in the duology by Jenny Han, there will be spoilers ahead.  You can read my review of the first book instead if you haven’t started the series yet!**

I can barely even begin to describe how excited I am to have gotten my hands on a bound manuscript of P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han which is the second book and the conclusion to her To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before duology.  Ever since I finished the first book I’ve been CRAVING more of the Song sisters and I couldn’t be happier to say that the conclusion did not disappoint.  P.S. I Still Love You continues Lara Jean’s story after all of the letters she has written to the boys she has loved during her life get sent out and she is forced to deal with the fallout.  There will be spoilers ahead so if you haven’t read To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before you should stop reading this review, go read the book because it’s AMAZING and then come back here :-)

While reading the first book I determined that Kitty is hands down my favorite Song sister and while I haven’t changed my opinion, I grew so much more attached to Lara Jean in the second book that it came really close.  I have to reiterate how enjoyable it is to read about such an inseparable trio of sisters.  Margo is the oldest Song sis but ever since she left for college in Scotland, Lara Jean, the middle child, takes on more of a parental role in caring for their little sister Kitty and also for their father.  All of the Song’s make family a priority and they’re all willing to go out of their way for one another.  (Side note: Lara Jean is always baking the most delicious sounding desserts and I would give anything to be able to eat a meal at their house).  The characters Jenny Han created are so real that I actually feel like I know them.   Han turns this series that is seemingly a YA romance into something that deals heavily with the relationships between family members in a way that is so perfect that it’s like cake for your mind.

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At the beginning of the second book, things between Lara Jean and Peter are just heating up before they’re faced with a series of obstacles to overcome.  Both Lara Jean and Peter make mistakes and another flame from LJ’s past gets thrown into the mix.  The romance between she and Peter is sweet, innocent and frustrating at times but in the most endearing way possible.  Lara Jean spends a big portion of the book examining her past and present relationships (romantic, family-wise, and friend-wise) and I love that she gets the majority of her advice from an older woman who lives at the senior care facility that Lara Jean volunteers at.

Final Thoughts: P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han is the perfect contemporary novel.  The characters are so well developed and it is an absolute pleasure to spend time in Lara Jean’s head and also to be afforded the luxury of being a part of the Song sisters in some small way.  The book flawlessly captures the bond between sisters, the innocence and excitement of first loves and all of the speculation that goes along with growing up.  I would be lying if I said I didn’t hug this book several times while pausing between chapters.

Rating 6

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?
In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so amazing. (via Goodreads)
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Kristin

I Won a Contest!!

A couple of weeks ago I heard about Jenny Han’s bow challenge to celebrate the upcoming release of P.S. I Still Love You and I knew I had to be a part of it!  I LOVED the first book in her duology To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (which I received for Christmas from my amazing Bookish Secret Santa Michelle!).  I immediately had a vision in my mind of what I wanted my photo to look like and it helped that a couple of months prior I had ordered the PERFECT bow for such a situation.  When I got home from work I styled my bun, placed my bow, and grabbed my beloved copy of the book.  Luckily Andrew was such a good sport about taking multiple photos until I was pleased with the result (let’s just say there were roughly 60 photos that I didn’t use… yeah).  But clearly, it was worth it!  I can’t wait to receive my bow from Jenny Han and sport it around NYC this summer.   I also CANNOT wait to start reading the second half of this story… and everything else Jenny Han has ever written.  I usually never win stuff like this so I am too excited not to share it here!

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And a week later when I logged onto instagram and @simonteen had announced me as a winner!

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