I Rewatched/Reread ‘The Hunger Games’ Trilogy in a Week

Welcome!

I want to preface this post by saying I LOVED THE HUNGER GAMES books and movies in middle school. I only read THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy once in sixth grade (nearly a decade ago!!) and never picked it up again. Only recently did I begin re-reading books (see my Sarah Dessen Summer Readathon). I have seen the movies numerous times, but only when they first released in theatres. I may have watched my DVDs once or twice, but I have not watched any of the movies since my junior year in high school (four years ago!). Needless to say, I have not consumed HUNGER GAMES content for more than a few years.

rewatching the films

With quarantine draining my motivation, I decided to watch the movies after I finished my finals’ work for the day. I completely spaced on the fact BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES released within the week. I had not watched the first film since seventh or eighth grade, so I had a general sense of what happened. I forgot a lot of the details, though.

In the first movie, I could tell the budget was lower than the rest of the films because people weren’t sure how well it would do. I forgot how bad Peeta’s hair looked. His hair is so stiff through the entire movie. I also forgot how sassy Peeta was in the movies. As I re-read the books, I laughed at his sass 1000x more. The first scene I cried at with THE HUNGER GAMES movie was Katniss volunteering for Prim. I know, it’s literally less than 30 minutes into the film. This became such a common reoccurence.

I fell in love with Katniss and Peeta all over again. As I watched the first film, I truly appreciated Haymitch and Effie more than I did as a middle schooler. Perhaps that’s a sign that I’m truly an adult. I don’t know. Haymitch’s relationship with Katniss made me cry because he became like a father figure to her through the films. He took care of her but also pushed her in the arena. Effie became just as attached.

By the end of the first film, I was pretty sure I had felt all the emotions and could not cry anymore. I was wrong. Within a few minutes into CATCHING FIRE, I was a mess again.

I knew where the movie ended, so I was prepared for those emotions. For the majority of CATCHING FIRE, I was frustrated with Katniss being blind to her emotions. Actually, I think she just wouldn’t allow herself to truly feel her emotions towards Peeta to protect him from herself. She saw herself as broken, but Peeta helped Katniss see herself as whole again. Katniss helped Peeta, too, in numerous ways.

The scene that got me crying in CATCHING FIRE was when Katniss asks Peeta to stay with her on the Victory Tour. I was not prepared for that scene to bring up so many emotions. I loved everything between them in this film. Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson truly brought these characters to life so well. When they kiss in the arena on the beach, I could see the moment in Lawrence’s eyes that Katniss realized how much she loved Peeta. CATCHING FIRE truly did a wonderful job of developing their romance in the film. And, yes, I bawled at the end even though I knew how it ended.

MOCKINGJAY PART ONE was frustrating for me with how much Katniss relied on Gale. What really made me frustrated was how much the film has Katniss and Gale kissing. They kiss way more in the movies than in the books. Perhaps this it to play up the love triangle, but at this point in the films everyone knows Katniss will end up with Peeta. CATCHING FIRE made that obvious. Gale as a whole made me upset. This is how I feel about Gale:

I started crying when Katniss first sees Peeta. In MOCKINGJAY PART TWO, I bawled at the first sight of Peeta. I basically cried any time Peeta was on screen for the last two movies. For PART TWO, I cried five minutes into the film all the way to the meadow scene. Josh Hutcherson did a phenomenal job acting as hijacked Peeta. Rewatching these films reignited my love for Peeta but also Josh Hutcherson. I even made a TikTok about Josh Hutcherson.

I don’t know how much else I can speak about the films because I basically cried through watching all of them. By rewatching the films, though, I realized how much I missed THE HUNGER GAMES. This led me to listening to the first book on audio while working. Once I reached the halfway mark of the audiobook, I realized BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES released the following Tuesday. At that point, I figured out I could actually reread the entire trilogy before the prequel released if I read a book a day.

rereading the books

While listening to THE HUNGER GAMES audiobook, I was surprised by my enjoyment of the first six chapters. I know this is odd, but I specifically remember my entire friend group (myself included) discussing how slow the first six chapters of the book were in middle school. While I was listening, I appreciated how well Suzanne Collins wove in history with action. She did a great job of keeping the pace of the book moving while explaining the intricate history of Panem.

Peeta and Katniss’ connection in the books is more obvious than the films. Gale truly never stood a chance to book Peeta. He has sass, can bake, and helps Katniss see the best parts of herself. Gale meets Katniss where she’s at, but he was just someone who helped her through a tough part of her life. He was never meant to help her grow as a person. The intimate moments between Peeta and Katniss made me cry. I even knew what a majority of those moments were going to be from watching the films, but I still cried!

I finished the audiobook in less than two shifts at work. I even started the first few chapters of CATCHING FIRE, but I finished reading it physically. I read CATCHING FIRE in an afternoon, and I loved how Peeta is rebellious in his thinking. He is more subtle than Gale, though, which I appreciated. He knows how to work the crowd into seeing it as compassion instead of a direct rebellion against the Capitol.

When Peeta brings up a baby, I was confused at first as to how anyone could think Katniss got pregnant. Then I remembered from the train on their Victory Tour and the time before the Games in the Capitol where they slept in the same bed. Naturally, everyone else thought they were having sex, but they weren’t. Peeta is quite something in CATCHING FIRE.

On another Peeta note, I love how Suzanne Collins develops his character more by showcasing him as more than just a baker. I got more glimpses into Peeta’s life pre-Games in CATCHING FIRE. Everything made me fall in love with him more. Katniss also fell in love with him more. The beach scene in the book confirmed my movie suspicions where Katniss truly knows she is in love with Peeta at this point. She doesn’t outright say it, but she describes it as more of a warm feeling when she forgets about the Games. This is where I get the idea she’s trying to protect Peeta from herself since she won’t acknowledge her love for Peeta. But I also have to remember she’s only 16/17 in these books.

When I finished CATCHING FIRE, I forgot Katniss actually saw Gale and was in District 13. The film ended earlier than the book did for dramatic effect. When I started MOCKINGJAY, I knew I had to finish it that day since BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES came out the next day. While I flew through the book, I still cried numerous times. I took a TikTok break or two to control my emotions. In the book, I got so frustrated with how clingy Gale was to Katniss. The scene where they makeout in District 2 got my blood boiling. He KNEW at this point how in love Katniss was with Peeta. Gale literally says he will never be with Katniss while Peeta is around because she loves Peeta. Gale just needed to let her go, especially when he got jealous of Finnick simply talking to Katniss. Like, Gale just… he just needs to stop.

MOCKINGJAY really brushed over a lot of the deaths, too. I nearly missed Finnick’s death (I KNOW!) since I was reading so quickly. Prim’s death is seen more through Katniss’ grief than in action. Suzanne Collins brilliantly showed Katniss’ grief in the following months. I loved how well everything flowed together and emphasized Haymitch’s importance in Katniss’ life. He understood her on a new level after Prim’s death. I appreciated their relationship developing after the Games.

Peeta returning to District 12 made a bigger impact on me than in the films. Obviously, I cried during the movie. But in the books, Peeta is literally planting bushes in memory of Prim when Katniss catches him outside. I love Katniss’ reaction of finally taking a shower, getting dressed, and eating once Peeta returns. He really brings her to life again. But she also anchors him at the end of MOCKINGJAY. Together they are literally unstoppable.

I would also like to take a moment to appreciate how Suzanne Collins foreshadows the end of MOCKINGJAY in CATCHING FIRE. This queen has Katniss talking about seeing Peeta with his future children playing in the meadow in a world free of the Capitol and its Games. Like… let’s just take a moment. There were multiple other moments of foreshadowing throughout the books. I could never have truly appreciated these books without re-reading them at least once. I can see myself reading these books numerous times in the future. I can only imagine what more I can notice with every reading.

If you made it this far, please comment below your thoughts! I feel like I ran a marathon writing all my reactions and thoughts to the movies and books in one post. I am currently reading BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES, but I will be sure to write a (probably spoiler-filled) review within the next week.

xo,

Charley

Most Likely by Sarah Watson ARC (Spoilers) Review

Welcome!

With my spring break, I took time to visit my sister and spent time just chilling. Like, actually relaxing. And, man, I am glad I had ‘Most Likely’ in my bag to devour in less than 24 hours! I could not set this book down for so many reasons. Let’s jump into it:


Most Likely by Sarah Watson cover and synopsis

title: Most Likely

author: Sarah Watson

category/genre: YA/NA contemporary

book depository* // barnes and noble // amazon

Add Most Likely to Goodreads!

The book opens right before a future presidential inauguration in which one of the ladies is about to become the President. The only ‘hint’ readers get before jumping into present-times is that the future President is somehow connected to Logan Diffenderfer. I literally spent the entire book trying to figure out the mystery based on this one clue. And let me tell you… Logan Diffenderfer is literally connected to every single character in this group. I nearly threw my book across the room multiple times with frustration from how well done Sarah kept the ending unsolvable.

Which brings me to the plot twists... my mind was literally blown from how well done Sarah Watson delivered the dynamic shifts. The plot twists didn’t so much as change the plot as they changed how I viewed certain characters’ decisions and lives. For me, I loved how Ava went on a journey to find her biological mother. On that trip to Stanford, she broke down any perceived stereotypes about people who choose adoption for their children. When Ava went to a “junky hospital”, she didn’t find a Mexican woman with a drug addiction. Instead her biological mother was the doctor who provided care for her community. I loved how Ava not only discovered her biological mother but also her calling to go to Stanford instead of an art school. Ava’s storyline is probably the most interesting for me personally.

CJ’s storyline made me smile with warmth. Her struggles with coming to terms about the SAT (or any standardized test to be honest) hit me hard. Personally, I never struggled with standardized tests score-wise, but, when people began comparing scores and placing the pressure of a specific score, I crumbled with comparison. Seeing CJ struggle with removing her worth from the score is a struggle students feel when they grew up taking standardized tests every year or two in K-12 education. What really made me smile, though, was how CJ navigated her relationship with Wyatt. I loved seeing how their friendship shifted into a romance and the conversations they had about being a person with disabilities. Also, CJ’s personal essay for Stanford literally made me start crying. I could talk about her storyline forever.

Jordan’s story made me feel like I could take over the world. I will say I was surprised to find out she wasn’t the future President. Sarah Watson set up the book to make Jordan the most probable candidate for becoming President. When she worked the entire book to keep the playground, give hard-hitting interviews, and focus on everything the future had to offer to her. Jordan’s romance always felt a little off to me, but I kind of love how Jordan took back control of how the romance was told. While she did launch her birthday night off with some crying, Ava, CJ, and Martha made sure there were laughs there, too.

Martha developed extremely well over the book’s entirety. I love how complex of issues her character alone tackled: sexuality, financial pressures, etc. You name it, and Martha probably conquered it. I love how seamlessly Sarah Watson drew Martha into a well-rounded character and showed how issues are interwoven. The glimpses into Martha’s parents’ lives and looking at a community’s history with income allowed me to truly see how every decision a community makes impacts lives in different ways. Martha’s perspective brought such a fresh twist to the cast of characters who all came from relatively well-off economic backgrounds. Martha drives past this, though, and goes on to conquer her future.

I categorized this book as young adult/new adult since every young person needs to read this powerful and motivating story of young women. As a twenty-something college student, I found such inspiration in reading about women finding their purposes and discovering themselves. In a digital age, people compare themselves to others and focus on what they don’t have. This book made me look at the women around me and just how much they support me in my journey like the Ava, CJ, Jordan, and Martha did in the book.

As to which character actually became the President of the United States, well, I think it would be more fun to try to connect the dots on your own. 😉

‘Most Likely’ by Sarah Watson is ‘The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants’ for Gen Z with a cast of diverse characters perfect for leading the United States of America. Go ahead… pick it up now. Or… order it online.

Do you have a favorite cast of characters? Any sisterhood books you recommend? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

xo,

Charley

queen of nothing (spoilers!) book review

*This post contains affiliate links.*

26032912. sy475

title: Queen of Nothing

author: Holly Black

category/genre: YA fantasy

book depository* // barnes & noble // amazon

add Queen of Nothing to Goodreads

I cannot believe The Folk of the Air trilogy is officially over. I just read The Cruel Prince in January of 2019 (check out my review here), and I instantly fell in love with the world of Faerie. When I was younger, I read a lot of fae YA books, but they seemed to disappear when I got older. Once I picked up The Cruel Prince, I just knew I would devour the rest of the series as they released.

I never got around to writing a review for The Wicked King, but I think I liked it even better than the first book. And then The Queen of Nothing comes along and becomes my favorite of the entire trilogy. Maybe it’s because Holly already built the world and conflicts, so she could focus more on the characters and relationships. Maybe I was just more invested in the series, but The Queen of Nothing felt like it had the most impact out of all the books.

The Cruel Prince drew me in immediately with the world-building.

Initially, I didn’t understand the hype of Jude and Cardan’s relationship. Once I saw them interact more in The Wicked King, I finally began to understand. By The Queen of Nothing, I was squealing with joy anytime Cardan referred to Jude as his wife and made others listen to her. Seeing their relationship flourish from The Cruel Prince into what it is in The Queen of Nothing is like seeing a ten-year relationship happen in the span of (I think) two or three years. In The Wicked King, Cardan and Jude started working together and seeing how powerful they could be together. Cardan began to show just how much Jude actually meant to him when she gets kidnapped. I fell in love with their relationship at this point.

In The Queen of Nothing when Jude comes back disguised as Taryn, CARDAN LITERALLY KNOWS ITS JUDE when not even her (adoptive) parents figured it out right away. If that’s not true love, then I don’t know what is. I legitimately got so excited when Jude and Cardan were in the same room. All the times Cardan goes to save Jude or Jude saves Cardan in The Queen of Nothing was all I needed in my life. But even better was seeing how they supported each other with whatever decisions they made.

I could talk about Cardan and Jude all day, but I also want to talk about how quickly I fell in love with Grima Mog. As soon as we met her in the mortal world, I fell in love with her sass and fight. And then she came back to help Jude and her sisters, and I KNEW she would be the next General. I loved how Holly brought so many women to power in this book and focused on women working together. If I could have an entire novella about Grima Mog when she was younger, I would read it a hundred times at least.

The plot, overall, felt a little quick. The Queen of Nothing was only about 30 pages shorter than the first two books, but I feel like those pages could have added more to the story. Holly could have delved more into Jude and Cardan reconnecting. While I love their story, I didn’t fall in love with them as early as I think was intended, so I need a little more with their relationship. Some of the plot twists could have been explained more or made more unpredictable.

I didn’t understand the significance of the snake on the cover, and I genuinely disliked the cover due to my fear of snakes. When I read that Cardan turned into a snake however, I understood. I still feel like the scenes after Cardan turned into a snake could have been developed more. Overall, I am surprised that Jude didn’t figure out how to break the curse earlier. I didn’t think Cardan would step right out of the snake at the end, because I thought Holly would explain how Jude could draw power from the land by bringing Cardan back from death. Perhaps in a certain way she did this.

Overall, I found the ending to the series to be well-done and perfect for the entire story in the trilogy. I loved the epilogue with Jude and Cardan being in the mortal world. If I could get them at a Christmas season short story, I would be the happiest person in the world. I definitely will be checking out more of Holly’s books in the next year, and I will even probably re-read this series again.

Have you read the Folk of Air trilogy yet? Have a favorite faerie book I need to read? Let me know in the comments!

xo,

Charley

P.S. If you want to see what I’m reading right now, add me on Goodreads!

Add me on Goodreads!

own your everyday by jordan lee dooley// ARC review

I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This post also includes affiliate links* which help in supporting me without any extra cost to you!

Do you ever feel the pressure to prove yourself? Or to “figure it all out” as you’re waiting in seasons that seem like the awkward in-between? Does it ever feel seem that you’re the only one with “unfigured-out dreams”? Jordan equips you to confront the feeling of being stuck and instead live your purpose by owning (not ignoring) your story, your quirks, your struggles, and everything that makes you, you.

In this book, Jordan provides practical tools as she shows you how to: 
tackle limitations like disappointment, perfectionism, comparison, distraction, and more; 
overcome the lie that you can’t live your purpose until or unless you reach a certain goal, milestone, etc.; remove labels and break out of the box of expectations; identify and eliminate excuses, insecurity, and unnecessary stress about an unknown future.

b&n / amazon* / target / book depository* / walmart


This past year, I discovered a love for podcasts. With that love, I stumbled upon Jordan Lee Dooley’s podcast and social media accounts. As soon as I heard she was going to be publishing a book, I knew it was going to reach hearts and change lives. I didn’t know the impact Jordan’s words would have on me.

Own Your Everyday reached inside my heart, mind, and experiences to make me feel seen by Jordan. Some of the experiences were literally play-by-play my own. I knew Jordan was going to give me a new goal or perspective for my life from listening to her podcast and following her on social media, but she changed my life direction.

This may seem a bit extreme that a “self-help” book could actually help, but I guarantee that one story or piece of advice will resonate with you. I highlighted at least one sentence per page. I cried during several chapters which spoke right to my heart. Even if you say you don’t read self-help books, I recommend picking this one up. Own Your Everyday is life-changing, not just self-help.

I waited until the majority of my final projects and tests were complete, and I’m so glad I did. I could not set this book down, and, with the semester winding down, I really didn’t see a reason why I should. I devoured this book. I will definitely be returning several times this summer and this year to Jordan’s words for wisdom, guidance, and comfort. The community that has already begun to form around this movement (yes, I said, movement, not just a book) amazes me. The encouragement and familiarity that Jordan began to foster within the community is astounding.

If you feel alone, join the movement. If you feel insecure, join the movement. If you think you have life put together, join the movement. Own Your Everyday is and was always meant to be more than just this 220-page book. This is a change to perspective and life. I just hope you will pick up the book and give the introduction a try.

Since I have hyped up the book pretty well already, I think I’ll let Jordan do the rest of the talking. I have picked out just a few quotes from the advanced copy that made me stop and highlight.

“We’ve all been awkward Bambis running around, hoping a little lipstick transforms us into Beyonce. We’ve all wobbled around at one point or another, just needing to be wanted… or wanting to be needed.” (Chapter 2)

“Life comes in phases. You don’t have to have it all figured out, land your dream job, or find what you’ll do for the rest of your life in this decade of your life.” (Chapter 13)

“From reading these women’s stories, I’ve learned that the art of living with purpose right where I am begins when I let go of my pride and redefine success.” (Chapter 11)

Let’s be honest, you never thought you would hear the name Bambi and Beyonce in the same sentence. But it works, especially when you add in more context.

I can only hope that if you don’t pick up this book, you explore what Jordan is all about through her various outlets. She is definitely a woman you want in your corner for advice and help.

Have you heard of Jordan Lee Dooley? Do you like to listen to podcasts? How do you “own your everyday”? Let me know in the comments below!

xoxo,

Charley

the return of fae to ya // the cruel prince review

26032825

title: the cruel prince

author: holly black

category/genre: young adult/ fantasy

book depository // bn // amazon // goodreads

I started 2019 off with a bang by reading The Cruel Prince *finally*. For some reason, I did not pick up this book when it came out about a year ago. I used to love reading fae books when I was younger, but fell away when there were fewer being published. After I picked up Holly Black’s middle grade series she co-authored with Cassandra Clare, The Magisterium Series, I knew I had to pick up her YA series as well. Plus, now The Wicked King (Folk of the Air #2) is out.

The atmosphere of The Cruel Prince drew me in first. Well, after all the murder in the prequel. THE PREQUEL, PEOPLE! I was grabbed by my collar and thrown into this dark fae world from the first page, but I didn’t realize how invested I was until about 200 pages in. Because of the traditional fae background, I was not surprised by all the information being thrown in to the atmosphere. Holly Black’s descriptions of the setting were magnificent. I felt the stress, intensity, and darkness. The words flowed like poetry.

I loved the character development in the book as well. So much happens that I don’t want to give away at this point in the review (spoilers will be below!), but seeing how Jude’s desires and motivations change throughout the book from beginning to end is fascinating. Beyond Jude, though, just about every character changes simply from Jude’s perception changing. I think the only constant character would be Vivi, Jude and Taryn’s older sister. She hates fae at the beginning and at the end.

After all the action that happens in the book, I was worried that Holly Black would not be able to wrap up the first book well-enough for me. I understand that it can be hard sometimes with series, but I felt like the ending was conclusive enough. I read a lot of hype on Twitter about a cliff-hanger at the end of The Cruel Prince, but I felt satisfied. The Wicked King is out now, though, so maybe I’m just content with knowing I can read the sequel whenever I want. Enough is left open for the sequel to take place either immediately following up or even years down the road. I have not read the synopsis for the sequel yet, so I’m excited to see how much (if any) of a time jump Holly does.

SPOILER SECTION

I know this book has been out for a while, but I still want to respect others like me who may not have read the book immediately.

The hate-to-love trope was a little jilted, in my opinion. I did know Cardan liked Jude from the beginning of the book. Jude’s feelings toward Cardan suddenly changed, though, after one kiss. Coming from someone who has never been kissed or in a relationship, this seems a little unrealistic. (Yes, I understand this book is a fantasy novel, but interactions between people should still be realistic.) I still don’t know how I quite feel about Cardan, but he could be an interesting counterpart for Jude’s character as she delves deeper into the world of fae.

The only reason I would potentially down-star The Cruel Prince for a rating would be the predictability of Locke and Taryn. I saw this from the beginning, again. As soon as Locke started hanging around Madoc’s mansion and then Jude, I knew. I could tell that Taryn was tense and didn’t like the relationship Jude had with Locke. I also just did not like Locke at all. He definitely fit the cruel aspect for Cardan’s friend group. I was not sure if Locke and Taryn’s relationship was supposed to be a big plot twist or not.

The plot twist I did not see coming, however, would be that Oak was the illegitimate son as well as when the crown was placed on Cardan’s head. I absolutely lost my mind over these pivots in the plot. Oak being the illegimate son blew my mind because Holly Black totally set up the son being Locke in my mind. Maybe I just didn’t get the timeline down correctly in my head. Then when Jude had trained Oak to be a part of the final fight scene, my heart broke from his innocence. I loved every part of Oak coming to the forefront of the story. I hope we get to see more of him in the sequel.

 SPOILERS FINISHED

Now that I’m officially done with the spoilers, I want to encourage you to pick up this book. The atmosphere is perfect for the winter season. Something about the colder weather and snow outside always makes me want to cuddle up with a good fantasy read.

Do you have a favorite fae book? Let me know because I think I want to dive back into this world!

Make sure to show your love and support by liking this post, commenting, and maybe even subscribing to the blog if you want to see more!

xo,

Charley

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before // book re-read + movie review

to all the boys i've loved before book coverWhat if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them… all at once?

Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control. 


I have definitely been one of many people hyping up the release of the TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE movie adaptation. After watching the movie three times in one weekend, I knew I would never stop replaying the rom-com. After I read the book again (in one day), I fell in love with the magic of the movie all over again.

I will briefly talk about my reactions to reading the book again before moving on to my reactions to the film. Although, if you follow me on Twitter you probably already know most of my feelings for this film/book. #notsorry Spoilers from the book (and the movie) will follow here, so if you have not watched/read TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE, please stop here.

 

Originally, I read the book back in July 2014, just over 4 years ago already. I just recently got into re-reading books, so I only remembered the general storyline and bits and pieces of details. After watching the movie twice (back-to-back), I knew I had to read the book in order to be truly critical of the movie. (I don’t mean critical like hate, but as someone who is going to be reviewing the movie.)

As I read the book, I realized how much of the Song sister chemistry had been changed along with Peter and Lara Jean’s chemistry in the movie. In the book, Peter and Lara Jean obviously start off with minimal, if any, romantic attraction to each other. The fake dating trope heavily develops into their romance later in the book. Naturally, books have more time to develop character backgrounds, identities, etc. versus a movie which is allotted a certain amount of time to tell the entire story. The Song sisters had a different rhythm in the movie as well (much more welcoming to each other). Kitty and Lara Jean bickered a lot more in the books which made their development and growth together that much more meaningful in Margot’s absence in the book than the movie.

I enjoyed falling in love with Peter Kavinsky as Lara Jean did, but I liked being reminded about the intense love triangle with Josh Sanderson. Josh plays a much bigger role in the book than simply Margot’s ex-boyfriend or the boy-next-door. I still don’t like Josh in the book (or the movie), but his character suddenly made sense to be in the story and more of a tension point between Peter and Lara Jean.

A final note about the book: John Ambrose McClaren is more than an ending scene. I still remember this… boy… from the sequel, but he appears much more in the first book. If you watched through the end credits of the movie, then you know how perfectly the writers set up for a sequel movie. While the the movie does reference John Ambrose as a letter receiver, Lara Jean has no interaction with him beyond that. In the book, however, Peter gives Lara Jean his number, she goes to see John Ambrose at an UN event, and seriously considers reaching out to him as a potential boyfriend. I freaked when he showed up in the movie. If you haven’t read the books, you may not have known why it was such a big deal for him to show up at the end and what it could lead to.

Pivoting off the book and to the movie, I feel like the movie emphasized Peter and Lara Jean’s relationship more than the other boys. Josh was still used as a tension point in the movie, but Josh’s scenes felt disconnected from everything else happening. When everything blows up at the end, I felt like Margot forgave quicker than in the book and Josh had no consequence. The climactic points in the book did not transfer to the movie as well as I hoped simply because of the lack of character development beyond Lara Jean and Peter.

The chemistry between Lana Condor and Noah Centineo as the main characters, however, was beyond what I imagined. To be honest, I was not a huge fan of Noah Centineo in THE FOSTERS when he replaced Jake T. Austin as Jesus Foster. As soon as he showed up as Peter Kavinsky, though, I knew Noah Centineo finally found his part. The chemistry between the two actors made me want more scenes between them which naturally happened. As soon as I saw the scene between them in the diner when Lara Jean tells about the five letters, I knew I was falling in love with Peter and Lara Jean all over again. The rest of the film was basically me geeking out over all the little things.

While the film didn’t have the road trip to the estate sale, John Ambrose McClaren, and a few other things, the movie did have a lot of unique quirks and additions that I loved. For instance: Lucas became a significant side character, Lara Jean and her dad discussed love in a diner, and Jenny Han made a cameo. Peter and Lara Jean had a lot more heart-to-hearts and fell in love in their own way.

I love both the book and movie separately, but the movie also holds up against the book. As far as adaptations go, TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE takes its place as one of the best I’ve seen. (*cough cough* definitely not a PERCY JACKSON disaster *cough*) I am excited to see a movie sequel *crosses fingers* as well as read the P.S. I STILL LOVE YOU again… soon.


Did you watch TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE on Netflix yet? Have you read the books? Did you enjoy either one? Let me know in the comments!

Miss Charley (2)

Find me on social media!

 

Just Listen Review // #sdessensummer

just listen instagramLast year, Annabel was “the girl who has everything” — at least that’s the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf’s Department Store.

This year, she’s the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong.

Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owen’s help, maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends. 


Sarah Dessen is the queen of tackling multiple tough topics all at once and not having it be overwhelming. JUST LISTEN talks about sexual assault, bullying, and eating disorders all at once. If any of those are triggers for you, please be careful if you do choose to read this book as well as the rest of the review.

I breezed through JUST LISTEN in about a day and a half of reading time. I’m not sure if that had to do with finally being able to relax after working crazy hours or because the book captivated me, but I fell in love. I fell in love with Annabelle (the main character), the music, the cameos, and the way Dessen explored the heavier topics mentioned above.

Dessen marvelously showed how life is more complicated than one simple issue, like a lot of books focus on. In the case of Annabelle’s sexual assault, Dessen brings in a side character to see the different realities of how a similar situation can take its course. I could tell from the start (because I literally had no memory of what happened in this book) that Annabelle’s story had to do with sexual assault but seeing how it affected her relationships with her family, friends, and society hit me. The bullying that ensued after Annabelle’s assault from her former friend opened my eyes to what can really happen after a traumatic event. Without knowing the entire story, her friend started assuming what happened to Annabelle was not assault. And we all know how the saying goes about assuming things…

Along with the topic of sexual assault, Annabelle’s sister Whitney struggles with an eating disorder after years in the modeling industry. I have researched eating disorders from various perspectives for speeches and papers before, so I would say Dessen accurately depicts the after effects of an eating disorder and the continual struggle of having a healthy relationship with eating through Whitney. I did not feel like Whitney’s story became a defining part of the story, however, beyond the point of encouraging Annabelle to tell her story. Whitney became a model for bravery and strength for Annabelle (and me).

Any Sarah Dessen book also has a romance. (Although it would be awesome if she wrote a platonic relationship book.) I found the romance a little underwhelming overall, but individual moments made my heart burst. Does that make sense? For example:

Seeing the relationship move forward made me happy. But seeing the relationship move forward through a BREAKFAST date made my day. I love the idea of breakfast dates because they seem so much more joy-filled and real for some reason. Maybe I’m just too much of a morning person.

I did not feel a lot of connection, however, between Annabelle and Owen. If they had stayed friends throughout the entire book, I would have been fine. Their budding friendship is what made me breeze through a majority of the book to begin with.

My next read of the summer is going to be LOCK AND KEY, which is the second to last book of the summer! This summer blew by. 

Ruby, where is your mother?

Ruby knows that the game is up. For the past few months, she’s been on her own in the yellow house, managing somehow, knowing that her mother will probably never return.

That’s how she comes to live with Cora, the sister she hasn’t seen in ten years, and Cora’s husband Jamie, whose down-to-earth demeanor makes it hard for Ruby to believe he founded the most popular networking Web site around. A luxurious house, fancy private school, a new wardrobe, the promise of college and a future; it’s a dream come true. So why is Ruby such a reluctant Cinderella, wary and defensive? And why is Nate, the genial boy next door with some secrets of his own, unable to accept the help that Ruby is just learning to give?

Best-selling author Sarah Dessen explores the heart of a gutsy, complex girl dealing with unforeseen circumstances and learning to trust again.

(GOODREADS)

ENTER THE SUMMER-LONG GIVEAWAY HERE!


How did you feel about Owen and Annabelle’s romance? What was your favorite cameo in this book? Will you be reading LOCK AND KEY with me? Let me know in the comments!

Miss Charley (2)

Find me on social media!

 

Saint Anything Review // #sdessensummer

saint anything instagramPeyton, Sydney’s charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion’s share of their parents’ attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton’s increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?

Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.


I remember loving SAINT ANYTHING when it first released, and now I remember why. The story captures so many issues in a way that doesn’t overwhelm the reader. From younger sibling status to older brother issues, first loves to new friendships, and everything in between, SAINT ANYTHING left me wondering how the world connects.

I absolutely adore the slow development of Sydney and Mac’s romance throughout the book. I say development instead of burn because they didn’t flirt or act like a lot of slow burn romances do. Instead, Sydney and Mac grew into a friendship that developed into something more naturally. Seeing how their relationship grew made my heart flutter and pound simultaneously. Mac is literally the dream book boyfriend.

My favorite part of SAINT ANYTHING, I’m pretty sure, is all the relationships. The group of friends Sydney makes and all they go through together is amazing. Honestly, Jackson High has the best friend groups possible (see WHAT HAPPENED TO GOODBYE for more proof). The reconnection with her brother Peyton makes me smile when they realize they have more in common than they thought. The only relationship I will never support from SAINT ANYTHING is any of the ones involving Ames. Sarah Dessen does a creepily good job of writing creeper characters. *shivers*

My one issue with SAINT ANYTHING is how hungry I became every time I started reading. Pizza and french fries quickly became all I craved which did not help. The consistency and importance of food in the book, however, became more than a simple place filler for the characters to be doing something. The food became part of the story. How did I know something sad just happened? Layla ate the Trifecta. How did I know Mac was near? Pizza was being delivered. I love it!

I am so glad I finished this book and still loved it. My greatest fear is that I will not like a book after I re-read it. But now I can read JUST LISTEN! If you didn’t catch the synopsis in my review for WHAT HAPPENED TO GOODBYE, I got you again:

Last year, Annabel was “the girl who has everything” — at least that’s the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf’s Department Store.

This year, she’s the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong.

Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owen’s help, maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends.

(GOODREADS)

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!


What did you like about SAINT ANYTHING? Have you entered the summer-long giveaway yet? Are you sad the end of summer is arriving? Let me know in the comments!

Miss Charley (2)

Find me on social media!

What Happened to Goodbye Review // #sdessensummer

what happened to goodbye instagram.jpgWho is the real McLean? Since her parents’ bitter divorce, McLean and her dad, a restaurant consultant, have been on the move-four towns in two years. Estranged from her mother and her mother’s new family, McLean has followed her dad in leaving the unhappy past behind. And each new place gives her a chance to try out a new persona: from cheerleader to drama diva. But now, for the first time, McLean discovers a desire to stay in one place and just be herself, whoever that is. Perhaps Dave, the guy next door, can help her find out.


Sarah Dessen must have gotten a prophecy written out about my life because once again she wrote a book perfectly matching how I have been feeling lately. For those you who don’t know, I am transferring schools and WHAT HAPPENED TO GOODBYE literally encompasses all those feelings and more.

When I started reading WHAT HAPPENED TO GOODBYE I did not expect it to join the top rankings as one of my favorites, but it broke through and made me cry. In a good way. Mostly. Mclean, the main character, struggles with her identity, past, and future concerning her family and transferring schools. Initially, she loves the idea of a fresh start, but then she gains some friends. And perhaps a romance. It is a Sarah Dessen book after all. While I can’t relate to the romance (#foreveralone), I can relate to the mixed feelings with transferring. I have transferred several times in my life, and each time I struggle with the type of person I’m going to be at the school and how I’m going to make friends. Mclean literally changes her name and identity each time, but even the small shift of whether to be quiet or outgoing runs through my mind.

If only we could all find friends as easily as Mclean does, then being an adult wouldn’t be so hard. Her friend group quickly welcomes her in and guides her through the halls of Jackson High (where pretty cool people go in some of Dessen’s other books). I love the group chemistry with Riley, Heather, Ellis, Deb, and Dave, especially as the book develops and their connection grows stronger. I need a friend like Deb (unless I am Deb?) and Riley to keep it interesting while Heather keeps it real. Ellis and Dave would be the bonus friends for fun times. And you know… Dave would be even more… if you know what I mean.

Also, if you read SAINT ANYTHING you can agree that Dave is definitely a favorite around town and Jackson High.

My next read (since I already finished SAINT ANYTHING) is going to be JUST LISTEN. I don’t remember too much about this book, so it will be exciting to rediscover the characters, plot, etc.

Last year, Annabel was “the girl who has everything” — at least that’s the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf’s Department Store.

This year, she’s the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong.

Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owen’s help, maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends. 

(GOODREADS)

ENTER THE SUMMER-LONG GIVEAWAY HERE!


Will you be reading JUST LISTEN with me? What did you think of WHAT HAPPENED TO GOODBYE? Are you ready for August? Let me know in the comments below!

Miss Charley (2)

Find me on social media!

Keeping the Moon Review // #sdessensummer

keeping the moon instagram post.jpg Colie expects the worst when she’s sent to spend the summer with her eccentric aunt Mira while her mother, queen of the television infomercial, tours Europe. Always an outcast — first for being fat and then for being “easy” — Colie has no friends at home and doesn’t expect to find any in Colby, North Carolina. 

But then she lands a job at the Last Chance Cafe and meets fellow waitresses Morgan and Isabel, best friends with a loving yet volatile relationship. Wacky yet wise, Morgan and Isabel help Colie see herself in a new way and realize the potential that has been there all along.


I decided to change things up a bit in the past few weeks mainly because life got crazy (and still will be). In order to stick to the schedule (and feel motivated to keep reading) I will be skipping THE MOON AND MORE for right now and heading straight into reading WHAT HAPPENED TO GOODBYE. If I have extra time during the summer, I will go back to THE MOON AND MORE.

But onto the warmth and struggle that is KEEPING THE MOON.

While this book was short, I definitely took my time reading it. I also happened to go on vacation with most of my extended family. The parts that I remembered from KEEPING THE MOON were mainly from the end, so the journey through the book kept me intrigued and on the tips of my toes.

I am not quite sure how I feel about Dessen’s portrayal of fat representation. Colie’s years of being fat is shown primarily through a negative lens. The only fat character in the book is constantly made fun of and seen as an eclectic character. Dessen does not directly address Mira’s representation until the last few pages of the book where a lot of Colie’s development happens. As someone who has struggled with her weight for her entire life, I struggled to connect to the portrayal of fat characters in this way. Even Morgan’s “cousin” being viewed as a dork came off wrong to me, especially once Dessen revealed who the cousin actually was. Overall, most of the fat characters were looked upon as shameful or like they should be ashamed of who they were. The representation was not healthy.

Looking past the harsh representations, I did enjoy the relationships shown in the book. I liked seeing the contrast between Morgan and Isabel in friendship, Norman and Colie in new beginnings, and Mira and Colie in family. The contrast emphasized how differences can grow two people (or a community) together. Following along on Colie’s journey in discovering true relationships full of love made my heart melt a little. I fell in love with the Colby family pretty quickly simply because of how honest the crew was with one another. The only person who held anything back was Norman, but he eventually opens up. ❤

Honestly, I did not like Colie’s mother. Kiki Sparks felt career-driven instead of focused on Colie which is how I think Dessen wanted readers to feel Kiki was. I did not get the idea that Kiki was doing all the promotions and touring for Colie’s own good. I am all for women being focused on their careers as long as they are truthfully portrayed that way.

KEEPING THE MOON made me cringe but also laugh. My mind is not quite made up about whether or not I enjoyed this book. It falls about even with THAT SUMMER in my rating system. I have no idea if my rating has any correlation with the fact that these two books were her first ones published or not.

My next read (as mentioned before) is going to WHAT HAPPENED TO GOODBYE, which is one of my best friend’s favorites. I can’t wait to read it!

Who is the real McLean?

Since her parents’ bitter divorce, McLean and her dad, a restaurant consultant, have been on the move-four towns in two years. Estranged from her mother and her mother’s new family, McLean has followed her dad in leaving the unhappy past behind. And each new place gives her a chance to try out a new persona: from cheerleader to drama diva. But now, for the first time, McLean discovers a desire to stay in one place and just be herself, whoever that is. Perhaps Dave, the guy next door, can help her find out.

Combining Sarah Dessen’s trademark graceful writing, great characters, and compelling storytelling, What Happened to Goodbye is irresistible reading.

(GOODREADS)

ENTER THE SUMMER-LONG GIVEAWAY HERE!


Did you read THE MOON AND MORE? What did you think of KEEPING THE MOON? Which book have you enjoyed the most so far? Let me know in the comments!

Miss Charley (2)

Find me on social media!