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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Tea & Book Chat: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before By Jenny Han (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #1)

I was so excited when I received a copy of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han from my TBTB Secret Santa Michelle!  I found myself so interested in this story that I read it in only two days.  Our main character, Lara Jean, one of the three Song sisters, writes letters to all of the boys she’s loved in the past when she wants to stop loving them.  Not that she’s had actual romantic relationships with any of them.  She places them in a hatbox in her room and she’s basically living a nightmare when someone the hatbox goes missing and several of the boys start confronting her about the letter they received.

To make matters even more complicated, one of the boys who received a letter is the long time boyfriend of Lara Jean’s sister Margot who breaks up with him right before leaving for college in Scotland.  I have no idea what I would’ve done in Lara Jean’s situation but I loved the way she handled it!  I really related to Lara Jean as a character because she’s very family oriented and she enjoys staying home to bake cookies and reorganize her closet. We’re also both terrified of driving and would do almost anything to not have to do it.  I loved the way that Jenny Han focused on the relationship between the Song sisters.  My favorite character is the youngest sister, Kitty, who is more confident and feisty than many older characters I’ve ever read about.

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Another interesting aspect of the book is that the Song sisters are half Korean so I enjoyed learning a bit about their culture.  I always love learning about experiences that are different than mine and I thought the way Jenny Han included those cultural aspects worked really well.  Being Korean didn’t define the characters, it was just a part of who they were.  One of my favorite parts is when Lara Jean dresses up as Cho Chang from Harry Potter for Halloween because she’s tired of people asking what she’s supposed to be and assuming she’s an anime character.

Also, the love story was SO GOOD.  As soon as I finished reading, I texted my friend Carolyn who works at Simon & Schuster and basically begged her to send me a copy of the next book when it’s going out because there is just no way that I can wait until June 2nd to find out how the story ends.  I could absolutely see this being made into a YA rom com.  Another part of what drew me to the book initially is the BEAUTIFUL cover.  I mean seriously, look at it!

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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. (via Goodreads)
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