Recommendation Wednesday: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny HanThis week’s Recommendation Wednesday post is also a part of Aarti’s A More Diverse Universe challenge!

So, I really liked To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han.

For one thing, it features a regular teen doing (mostly) regular things. There are two big conflicts in the story. One is that Lara Jean’s sister has left home, so Lara Jean is trying to figure out her place in her family/how to be the big sister. The other one is that the secret letters she has written all of her former crushes have somehow (and it’s pretty easy to figure out how, though I love that Lara Jean seriously doesn’t figure it out on her own) been sent to them.

That’s it.


As I’ve said before, I really love to see teens doing regular teen things in books because family/school life is fraught with drama. All of the extra stuff that most authors pile on their main characters are just not within the realm of most teens’ experiences.


The real highlight of this book for me, though, is that it features fake dating. FAKE DATING. I love fake dating stories. Because I know that eventually one or both of them will fall for the other, and it is glorious figuring out the moment it goes from fake to real. I LOVE IT.

This is a thing I didn’t even really knew I loved until I was excited that it showed up in this story.

So. Fake dating. Yes.

Lara Jean also has a completely unrequited and borderline inappropriate crush on her sister’s boyfriend, which is also delightful. Because I love unrequited love! It is where I live, so it speaks to me.

Plus, you know, throw in all the sister stuff, and I was in my happy place.A More Diverse Universe 2014

Also, I looooooove the cover.

All in all, this was a really solid and fun story.


Recommendation Wednesday: Pointe

This week’s Recommendation Wednesday post is brought to you by Aarti’s A More Diverse Universe challenge. The parameters for the challenge are very simple:

  • Read and review one book
  • Written by a person of color
  • During the last two weeks of September (September 14th – 27th)

So, one book I’m highlighting for the challenge is Pointe by Brandy Colbert.

Pointe by Brandy ColbertI really liked this book, even though it is super dark. (And by super dark I mean it deals with really dark subject matter: child abduction and child rape.) While the book does deal with heavy subject matter, I think what keeps it from being too is that Colbert keeps the focus on main character Theo and her relationships with her friends, her parents, and, of course, ballet. So while the book starts with Theo’s childhood best friend Donovan returning home after being abducted, the story is mainly about how Theo navigates her feelings about it while going about her day to day life.

That means, of course, going to school every day and dealing with everything that goes along with that. And keeping up with ballet practice.

Because Theo interacts so much with so many other characters–all of whom are affected by Donovan’s return in some way, though none as directly or deeply as Theo–the narrative takes much needed breaks from the turmoil Theo feels because she has to do stuff like run the concession booth at school.

God, I’m making this sound boring. It’s not.

What I Liked
– That cover!

– Theo is a fascinating character who is friends with fascinating characters. She is flawed and believably so. Honestly, I just wanted to give her a big old hug when the story was over.

– I really love that Theo is screwed up and comes from a normal family. She has loving parents, she has a relatively good life, but at the same time, her life is a mess. So often in literature, there’s a straight line from trauma to family, and in this one, there is no straight line. Theo’s parents love her and they’re involved, but she’s just…a mess. And that’s something that happens in real life.

– I also love that, ultimately, Theo has to ask for and get help from adults because her problems are so big that she can’t tackle them on her own.

What I Didn’t Like
– The book isn’t perfect. One thing my book club agreed on is that we wish there had been more ballet and more of Theo processing her feelings through ballet. (The cover is misleading in that way. Though Theo is a ballerina, the cover makes it seem as though dance is the crux of the story. It’s not. The story is about a dancer, not about dance.) And one woman thought the book read a little like tragedy porn. So those are things to be aware of.

In conclusion: While more of a focus on the use of dance to process feelings would have been nice, the characters (especially main character Theo), relationships, and overall plotting make this an engrossing and worthwhile read.

Movies Based on Books: Think Like a Man

(source: IMP Awards)
(source: IMP Awards)

I was flipping channels one Saturday and came across Think Like a Man on VH1.

This is an odd little movie that is also a typical (fun) rom-com. Most of the weirdness comes from the fact that the movie is based on the self-help book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man by Steve Harvey, and, in the movie, the women are reading the book and Steve Harvey makes appearances throughout discussing the points in the book. Those appearances are played as interviews on talk shows, but it’s so meta and breaking the fourth wall that it feels like a huge commercial for the book.

Which it is, I guess. The book plays prominently in the story. Not only do the women carry the book around with Harvey promoting it in the background, but the men also read and discuss it. I mean, if the point is to show what happens to women who read the book and the men they’re involved with, then that makes perfect sense. It’s still weird.

The premise of the book is that a man gives women advice on how to get and keep a man instead of women going to other women for advice about how to get and keep a man. So, I feel as though there is a better way that could have been handled in the movie. By, I don’t know, having the women befriend a man who still gives them the advice from the book or something.

What I’m saying is I found those parts of the movie really jarring because they took me out of the movie as a movie and made me think of the movie as a commercial.

(I watched this with my daughter, and she didn’t have this problem at all. She just went with it. So I’m guessing most average viewers wouldn’t care either. Maybe just people who study stories for a living.)

That said, the actual characters are a lot of fun. And there are lots of good-looking people being good looking and also making out. I found myself rooting for almost all of the characters and their relationships, so the romance part was nicely handled. It also helps that there’s a happily married man to balance out all of the wacky single people shenanigans. (And Kevin Hart’s character is bitter and going through a divorce, which adds a bit more of fun.)

Plus also, I love Meagan Goode’s haircut in the movie. And looking at Michael Ealy is always a good time. As is looking at this guy who I don’t remember from anything else, but is super cute and adorable.

All in all, I enjoyed the movie. The characters were all likeable, and I think it helps a lot that they all wanted to be happy. Also, the movie was funny, so it wasn’t a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Recommendation Wednesday: The Colors of Madeleine Trilogy

The Colors of Madeleine

Okay, it’s a bit presumptuous of me to recommend an entire trilogy when only two-thirds of the books are available to read, but I really liked A Corner of White and Cracks in the Kingdom absolutely DELIGHTED me. I was delighted! I mean, I seriously read the last third or so of the book with a smile on my face because it was making me so happy.

That almost never happens.

I loved the second book so much, and I don’t even know if I can articulate why. I think, mostly, it has to do with the fact that the book is fanciful and full of fantastical elements, but there’s this edge of sadness and melancholy to all the events. Characters are in denial or they’re a bit lost or they’re trying so hard to make things right or everything’s falling part. And at the same time there’s this wonderful relationship between Elliot and Madeleine developing that’s kind of flirtatious but not really but also kind of really but mostly just both of them finding someone they can talk to about the insane things that are happening in their lives.

Did I mention that Madeleine lives in England (aka the World) and Elliot lives in the Kingdom of Cello, and they communicate via letters through a parking meter?

I mean, of course they communicate via letters (this is Jaclyn Moriarty after all, queen of the epistolary novel), but they communicate through the parking meter because there’s an illegal crack open between the two worlds.

I know. I can’t believe I like it either.

Except I can.

(I should point out that these are not epistolary novels, though the reader does see some of the letters the two characters send back and forth.)

Some of my favorite moments are the ones with Princess Ko’s family (LOVE HER. She is super clever and smart and brave) as well as Elliot’s interactions with the princess. And everything with Madeleine and her friends, of course. (Of course.)

I cannot wait for the third book. Cannot wait.

Source: Library