(Spoiler) Review: Ashes to Ashes by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

20743262Ashes to Ashes by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Romance
Published by: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 368
Format: e-book
Rating: ★★
Series: Burn For Burn (#1) | Fire With Fire (#2)
Where to Find: Goodreads | Amazon

I was so unbelievably excited to read this book. Fire With Fire was one of my favourite books of the year and I needed to know what happened next. I’d seen a couple of reviews floating around Goodreads about how rushed the ending was and how it wasn’t as great as the other book in the series, but I refused to believe this would be the case. How could it be when Fire With Fire had been SO GOOD? But boy oh boy was I proven wrong. Ashes to Ashes was rushed and the ending was straight up ridiculous. What we have here, ladies and gentleman, is a perfect example of wasted potential.

(Disclaimer: you should still read this series if you haven’t because the first two books are 5 star reads and totally worth it, but just prepare yourself for a disappointing ending.)

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Review: P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

24261890P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Published by: Scholastic Press
Pages: 368
Format: Paperback
Series: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before (#1)
Where to Find: Goodreads | Amazon

Before reading the sequel, I decided to re-read ‘To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before’, which, retrospectively, was a mistake. There’s only so much cutesy, non-consequential writing you can read before it gets sickening.
From the 2 star rating, you can probably tell, we didn’t like this book. I guess, after not enjoying the rest of Jenny Han’s books, it wasn’t a surprise, but part of us wanted this one to be the one to redeem the rest. But…

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Review: Fire with Fire by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

10662420Fire with Fire by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Mystery/Thriller?
Published by: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 450
Format: E-Book
Rating: ★★★★★
Series: Burn for Burn (#1)
Where to Find: Goodreads | Amazon

The ending of Fire with Fire was so unbelievably unexpected that I literally gasped and slapped my hand over my mouth. I was literally on the edge of my seat for the last twenty pages because OH. MY. GOSH. I enjoyed Burn for Burn – mostly because I could read it in a day – but I wasn’t completely blown away by it. This sequel, however, is probably one of THE BEST sequels I have ever read. It’s no secret that I’m not a big Jenny Han fan (sorry!) but these books are above and beyond what I’ve read from her before. I definitely must read Siobhan Vivian’s novels too! Basically, if you haven’t started this series yet: get on it!

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Spring Recommends

Previously, we have given some Christmas Recommends. This is something we’d like to do more of! As part of our seasonal recommends, we bring you the best books to read during the season of new beginnings!

the iron king1. ‘The Iron King’ by Julie Kagawa
Faery tales are absolutely perfect for the spring time! The scenery is perfectly decked out for the spring time, although The Iron King has a technological twist that really makes this faery world stand out. Spring is the best time for faery revelry and discovering new worlds, and Julie Kagawa’s faeries certainly won’t disappoint.

The Unbecoming2. ‘The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer’ by Michelle Hodkin 
Spring is all about NEW. Mara Dyer was neither contemporary, a fairy-tale retelling or a dystopian; the genres I find myself reading from most. So, to read a book that was so far outside my comfort zone, I couldn’t even see it on the horizon, was an excellent decision. I think the best label for this series is ‘supernatural thriller’. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, as you’d expect from spring recommends, but if you don’t mind unnatural powers, mild gore and oodles of sexual tension, I’d totally recommend picking this book up! (You’ll be in for a wild ride!)

To All the Boys3. ‘To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before’ by Jenny Han
However, if sunshine and rainbows books are more your thing, ‘To All The Boys’ is the perfect read (and basically anything else Jenny Han has written too!) Concerned with boy trouble and romantic solutions, Lara Jean and her adorable family are sure to entertain you on a warm-weathered afternoon.

why we broke up4. ‘Why We Broke Up’ by Daniel Handler
This book is all about getting over a broken heart (well, we’ve all read the title.) Min, our protagonist, takes us through the story of her relationship with Ed, from the halcyon days of holding hards and sweet kisses, to the dark days of smashing cups and stomping on flowers. So, yes, it’s kind of depressing. BUT it’s also all about new beginnings and letting go of whatever’s holding you back – the perfect springtime outlook!

160968245. ‘A Court of Thorns and Roses’ by Sarah J Maas
What’s better than one book about fairies? Two books about fairies! If Mara Dyer was stepping out of my comfort zone, this book was very much in the centre of my ‘favourite types of books’ Venn diagram. With most of the plot taking place in the spring, and in the Spring Court of the fairy world, this book pretty much hits the recommendation on the nose.

Review: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

To All The Boys ITo All the Boys‘ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Published By: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 288
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★★.5
Where to Find:
Goodreads | Amazon

I got everything that I was expecting with this book, except the promised plot. We were sold on the idea that boys would be receiving love letters from a girl who doesn’t love them anymore, but there were only five letters. Two boys didn’t bother to confront her about it. One boy was sweet about it, but fleeting in the story, and the other two guys ended up in a fight for Lara Jean’s affections.

What I wasn’t expecting was the classic ‘be-my-fake-boyfriend’ plot that steered the majority of the story. And what normally happens in this scenario? They actually fall in love. Did that happen? Is it really a surprise if I say yes?

Although I’m a fan of the fake bf/gf story line (like a good love triangle, when does it ever happen in real life?) I didn’t really get the purpose of this one. The explanation for it in the book was to ‘save face’. What does that even mean?!

The main character, Lara Jean, doesn’t really stand out for me as a character with much backbone. She’s super dependent on her sisters and kind of babyish. This naivety hinders her from doing things and speaking out when, really, that would make her a lot happier!

That said, I loved the relationship she had with her sisters. It was very equal and realistic and though I don’t know what it’s like to have older or younger sisters, I do have a sister and I know what it’s like to be angry with her! My favourite sister was probably Kitty, the youngest. She was adorable, determined and great at plaiting hair. I’d of much preferred a book from her perspective! J

The relationship between Lara Jean and her boy-next-door Josh went unresolved. He was one of her loves but the problem was, he was dating her older sister Margot. (Pronounced Mar-go or Mar-got?) They broke up. Both LJ and Josh were single. Did they get together once LJ knew Josh liked her too? NOPE! LJ did the fake bf routine with the most popular guy at school, Peter. WHYYY?!

Peter and LJ’s relationship was cute. I liked how they both were unsure and adorable to each other, with Peter really trying to impress LJ and Kitty. Josh faded into the background at this point, which was down right inconsistent, but he popped back up at the end of for the classic sister-betrayal fight.

A lot of clichés in this one. Sorry about that.

I originally thought that this was going to be a stand alone, but just discovered it was going to be a series. That’s good, otherwise I would have complained about the complete lack of satisfying ending. What happened with Josh? What happened with Peter? What happened with Margo? I had questions. A lot of them. Now, I guess, I wait for them to be answered.

Overall I’d give this book about 3.5 stars. I did enjoy it once it got going, but was surprised and the change of plot line from what was promised. Jenny Han has such a lovely way of writing family life and simple day activities, with a lot of emphasis put on food. LJ baked a lot in this book that made me crave cookies.

Generally cute, fluffy read with some substance. Definitely needs a sequel to tie up some very loose ends.

(Spoiler) Review: Pretty Series by Jenny Han

The Summer

The Summer Series by Jenny Han
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Published By: Razorbill
Pages: 276
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★
Where to Find:
Goodreads | Amazon

Bee read this first a few years ago, and she said that she felt too young to really get the series. Now that we’re seventeen, she was interested to see what I would think of it. Answer: not that much.

The series is built around a love triangle between a girl and two brothers. In the UK editions of the series, the first book is blue, second yellow and third pink. I think they’re colour-coded by characters and who Belly, the main character (blue) ends up with.

The Summer I Turned Pretty was probably the best in the series, and that’s talking generously. I loved the flashbacks to her younger years at the summerhouse and at least the reader could understand how deeply rooted her love for Conrad, the older of the brothers, was. But the book was inconsequential for Belly’s love life. She has a summer fling with a boy called Cam, which was cute and summer-y with the purpose of proving she was a grown up fifteen year old and not a baby (which Conrad seemed to think.)
I don’t know how Belly could of loved Conrad. He was a jerk throughout the whole series yet could still claim he always loved Belly when it was convenient for him. Jeremiah, the younger brother, was no better. There was no hint of love between him and Belly, not really a hint of friendship either though they were meant to be best friends.

not summerYou can imagine my surprise when she ends up dating Jeremiah by the end of the second book. Can I even remember what happened in each book? Not really. They melted into one.

There’s always this subplot of Suzannah, the boys’ mother, who has a cancer relapse and sadly doesn’t get to live past book one. Grief was an interesting theme for the series, and keeping things exactly the same, which reminded me of We Were Liars by E. Lockhart.

The third book was just ridiculous. Jeremiah, who seemed the perfect boyfriend in everyway and definitely was better for Belly than douche-y Conrad, did something completely stupid mainly so the brothers’ roles could be switched and Belly would actually be consolidated in preferring Conrad.

The third book revolves around a wedding between Belly and Jeremiah, though, as expected, it doesn’t go to plan. It seemed like the wrong message to be sending to teenagers: the way to fix a broken relationship is to stick it out and get married despite Grand Canyon sized cracks in the couple’s trust.

But really, has anyone experienced a love triangle in real life? They’re written about so much and I’m wondering what the inspiration was. Just imagine two boys being completely devoted to you. What would you do? Play them about for ages before admitting you preferred this one all along is not the right method.Always

In my opinion, Belly deserved neither guy. She was selfish, whiny and inconsiderate. She wanted to believe so much that she’d grown up but I believed Conrad all the way. She didn’t change. She didn’t mature. She just got her happy ending by default.

I’d give the series about 2.5 stars out of 5, because I really didn’t enjoy it, but wanted to get to the end to see the outcome. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have wasted my time. This is described by Sarah Dessen as a ‘beach read’. Does that mean a book you’d read at the beach and then leave there?

If you like love triangles that are badly built upon and convenience within plots, this is for you. If you’re looking for something light, that won’t take more than a day to finish and you want to flush your mind with some kind of romance, this is also for you.

Sorry for the negativity. This doesn’t mean Jenny Han can’t write a good book. I loved Burn for burn, co-written with Siobhan Vivian and am excited to read her newest venture To all the Boys I’ve loved before. Let’s hope for better!

Review: Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

Bur13406425n For Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Published by: Simon & Schuster
Pages:
358
Format: Paperback
Rating:
★★★
Where to Find:
Goodreads | Amazon

I managed to read this book in a day. It was that gripping. It probably helped that the chapters were short due to the changing perspectives, but something about this book meant that I couldn’t put it down. By the end, I still couldn’t work out which perspective I liked the most. Although, it’s probably a tie between Lillia and Kat, considering Mary faded into obscurity in some moments, considering she was the new girl and was not allowed to be seen with her cohorts in public situations.

I desperately wanted to like the book even more than I did, but my moral compass said that it would be wrong to completely agree with the revenge that the girls were enacting. Yes, the characters may have deserved a little bit of karma due to insane personality defects, but my stomach clenched every time they took revenge because you just know that they have to get caught out at some point.

It’s always interesting to read about the American school system and experience, because it sounds completely different from the UK system. There were quite a few clichés in the personalities and cliques, but that’s just what gives these kinds of books their charm. The social hierarchy is always a ‘fun one’ to experience in writing, especially when you get the ‘insiders view’ – which is never as perfect as you think it’s going to be. But I found it odd that we didn’t hear about any of the other friends that Mary must have made at some point, despite the fact that she’s the new girl surely she would have been able to make at least one other friend – I know she’s reserved, but considering her past I’m sure she wouldn’t purposefully want to be alone.

I liked how the character’s backstories were integrated into the novel, particularly in the beginning where in Lillia’s chapter a lot of names are thrown about and you have to work out who’s who and what relationship they have with the others. Then to find out how Kat and Mary fit in with this little gaggle of the socially elite, was simply wonderful. It was as if the stars had aligned and you knew that these characters were destined for *looks to the stars* great things.

The cliffhanger was exactly what was needed to make me want to read the sequel, and having read the plot line, I’m sure it will be just as good, if not better. I’d heard some mixed reviews about this book, and I think that’s mainly because of the controversial topic of ‘revenge’ and then the subsequent questions of ‘What is right and wrong?’ and ‘Can we really take it upon ourselves to enact justice on those that have done terrible things in the past?’ Overall, this book is wonderful for such philosophical questions, but if you’re not into questioning the meaning of existence or defining rights and wrongs, then it’s the perfect beach read too! Burn for Burn is definitely the kind of thing that I feel in the mood to read when the weather gets a bit warmer, and I want to stay clear of the novels with heavier plots and fantasy worlds.

There is no doubt in my mind that I will continue to read this series, because it was enjoyable, as long as I didn’t think about it in too much detail, and restrained myself from wanting to reach inside the book and punch certain characters in the face.