Reviews: Romantic Comedies

movie reviews, Uncategorized

It is exciting that we are finally seeing romantic comedies featuring Asian leads! The romantic comedy genre is a genre that I love despite being extremely picky about it.  Rom coms get a bad rep in general for being unrealistic and cliche and rightly so, they contain a lot of generic plot points, not-that-romantic leads, toxic ideals of love, and mostly white people. Do these romantic comedies do anything different? We shall see.

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You can imagine my excitement when I realized that TATBILB was becoming a movie. It is, after all, one of my favorite YA contemporary novels of all time. I’ve reread the trilogy multiple times now and I still adore them. I love Lara Jean as a character, I love LJ and Peter, I love the family dynamics, I love the happy-go-lucky feel to it. While I thought the movie was entertaining, I did think it could have captured the essence of the books a lot better (although maybe I am just bitter it did not turn out as I had wanted it to which is also a problem). My main problem with the movie was the cinematography. You might think this is not a big deal, but it made a huge difference to the overall tone and atmosphere of the story.

For example, in one scene where Lara Jean and Peter were talking in the cafe about why Lara Jean kissed him out of the blue, the camera lays its lenses on one person and then abruptly lays them on the other. While this is great for seeing the character’s emotions, it does not bring any sort of chemistry or intimacy to the scene. A lot of the book depended on the chemistry between LJ and Peter and I’m sure the movie wanted to make us believe that they were falling in love, but the detached and stilted way the camera captures the whole room instead of the two characters and the frequent back and forth between just the faces did not help capture any sort of intimate banter between the two.

It also did not help when we were meant to relate to LJ and her relationship with her sisters. The climax did not feel climatic (This bon iver wannabe?? what kind of insult is that) and the denoument felt lackluster. The script also did not help adding to the stiff and almost formal nature of the characters.

I also had issues with Lara Jean’s character. This sentiment was exacerbated of the way the character should be written when I was watching Princess Diaries the other day. At the beginning of the movie, Mia is constantly dropping things and avoiding conversation with her grandmother. We, as the audience, really see that Mia is clumsy and all around socially awkward (although I hate this trope in general) in a unique way but in the case of Lara Jean, I’m only reminded of who Lara Jean is as a character by the way everyone else talks about her–or by the movie being portraying her as a cliche awkward outcast teen heroine as in the scene where she says her boots are from Etsy to the Gen the bully. Also where was all the baking? So in the end, when Josh is talking to LJ about how she cannot keep hiding her true feelings, it doesn’t feel quite as punchy. I did, however, like that they captured fairly well Lara Jean’s naivety and romantic idealism. It’s part of what makes her such a great teen main character.

The movie also did not make good use of its voiceover narration. It should allow the characters to jump back and forth in time but really, that happened only once. I felt it was used more as a copout to explain characters that they didn’t know how to insert in otherwise. For example, Chris did not have to have that introduction of being her best and only friend. We presumably would already know this in the next scene when she is waiting in the cafeteria all alone with no one to eat with her and texts Chris. Waste of a scene to be honest. Also, all the scenes with Gen were kind of a waste as well considering we don’t really meet her in the book until some time later if I recall correctly. I will say though that Noah Centineo who plays Peter Kavinsky was A+! I really could not have thought of a better actor for the role. He embodied a good balance of playfulness and sportiness but there was a sublime thoughtfulness to him that wasn’t forced. He was very different than other teen movie love interests. He was the hands down the best actor out of the whole bunch, with Lara Condor second and Kitty third. Speaking of which, I did not get nearly enough sisterly dynamics. I thought the ending ended on a cute note and it was overall entertaining at least. I guess I just had high expectations for a book series that was so close to my heart. B-

 

 

Crazy Rich Asians

Romantic comedies are a fickle genre for me. On the one hand, I love romance, but I usually hate romance books and romantic comedies get some passes from me but they mostly end up in the C category. Well Crazy Rich Asians really fleshed out the parts of the romantic comedy that I did not like but still stuck to the genre.

The best reason why this romantic comedy was able to have depth is the secondary characters and Rachel’s viewpoints. I’ll start with the secondary characters. I absolutely adored the depth they were given. The obstacles given to the main character in rom coms are usually very one dimensional. Some storytime is given to Astrid, an old money type who contrasts Rachel. Her storyline was actually very surprising to me and it ended on a rather feminist note about the woman being the breadwinner in the relationship.Their storylines collide in similar ways and I really liked it. I also really liked the way the mother was portrayed. In a ton of korean dramas and Asian movies, I see this representation of the cruel mother in law who subjects our heroine to many humiliating experiences. But as disapproving as this mother in law is, we understand why she disapproves even as we are rooting for Rachel.

As she states, Rachel is not “one of our kind”. This statement would have been cliche had the movie not explored the mother in law’s past, had the movie not been truly seen through Rachel’s eyes. Throughout the movie, we see how overwhelming stepping into Nick’s world is. She literally feels like a fish out of water with constant humiliation. This is a lifestyle that she has not lived. As in most romantic comedies, the heroine is usually written to be relatable and it is great how this movie shows the problems specific to an Asian heroine. Rachel faces a lot of the problems that Asian American and Asian women face when they are faced with a disapproving mother in law, a fact that happened a lot. I love that the story constantly brings it back to Rachel’s perspective and how overwhelming it is for her to meet Nick’s family. It is not just a matter of her being poor and him being rich, it’s about the differences in lifestyles and perspectives in the world. Rachel struggles with not feeling good enough for this family and constantly trying to gain respect from people who think she is beneath them. The movie definitely sought to do more than share a romantic story with cultural clash however. It sought to inform the audience about new vs old money in Asia and the camera really dwells on the beauty of Singapore. One of my favorite scenes was the scene where Rachel, Nick and their friends are eating out through the street food markets that pass by.

The cast and crew really cared about making this movie authentic and as such the jewelry, dresses, and outfits were all hella extravagant and expensive.

This movie is very funny and just an all around feel good movie and in fact a movie I would recommend seeing in theaters. The opulence of the set design can be really appreciated on the big screen. I recently read a review on myanimelist about My Hero Academia. It was a review stating that this anime did not seek to break down any barriers of its genre. It sought to be the best of it. And that is what Crazy Rich Asians is to the romantic comedy (aside from of course, the all Asian cast). It did it well and I have to also applaud its focus on its heroines’ growth and change and did not fall into many toxic tropes used in romantic comedies that make us fall in love with the main characters. No clumsy heroine, no changing for a man, no stalkery tendencies, no wrist grabbing, and no infidelity with a mean ex or a nice-but-safe ex. This is what happens when rom coms pay attention to the details. 

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Book Review: Always and Forever, Lara Jean

book review, Uncategorized

Image result for always and forever lara jean Title: Always and Forever, Lara Jean

Author: Jenny Han

Pages: 336

Series? Yes (Final book in a trilogy)

Synopsis: Goodreads

Rating: 4/5

Mild Spoilers for first two books but spoiler free for the last one.

 


I started reading this book at 5pm on Saturday and kept reading until 1 in the morning with only an hourish break for dinner. In that 8 hour time span, my dear reader, I felt unbearable warmth, happiness and most of all nostalgia. And at the end, even though I knew it was the end, I still felt like there was so much more story left to these characters, that these characters have blossomed into people that I knew.

As with any last book in the series, I felt that preanxiety that comes with having such high expectations of a final novel. The story of this book’s inception is heartwarming in its own way. In an interview, Jenny Han spoke about how she was working on her new project but couldn’t because she kept thinking about what Lara Jean and Peter were up to.

Last winter, I was working on a new book, and I just couldn’t figure out how to unlock it. My mind kept drifting to Lara Jean and Peter, I kept thinking wistful thoughts, like, I wonder what those two are up to now. When I finished P.S. I Still Love You, I truly was done with the series. Always, it had been meant to be just the two. But I suppose time and space had made me nostalgic, because they were all I could think about. One night I called up my best friend and sometimes co-author Siobhan Vivian and asked her, would it be crazy if I wrote just one more book? She said not at all. She told me to try and see. So that same night, I started writing, and I couldn’t stop. I wrote until the sun came up.

-Jenny Han from EW article

There is something so natural about this story that I’ve never been able to find in other YA contemporaries. In this one, Lara Jean and Peter are in their final year of high school. They have graduation coming up and all the other things high school seniors look forward to: the senior trip, prom and of course the anxiety of college admissions. Lara Jean has plans for her future but they all start to unravel and she starts to question what is truly the right path for her.

I swear some scenes in this book took me back to some exact moments of my high school career. Not gonna lie, I kind of teared up a little when Lara Jean is anxiously opening up her email that determines whether she got accepted or rejected to UVA. Moments like these are what I’ve always loved about this series. Most YA contemporaries kind of skip this part or shove it in near the end as a sort of cherry on top of the icing at the end of the book and more often than not, they just get accepted into their dream school nbd. I just completely love the detail that Jenny Han puts into this series from the food (yaas to all the chocolate chip cookie baking in this one) to Lara Jean’s clothes (Lara Jean’s prom dress) and even to Peter’s lacrosse experience. Jenny Han even did research, people, research to make the college admissions part as true to life as possible. She even spoke to the Dean of Admissions and the lacrosse department at UVA.

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University of Virginia campus

It just encapsulates a high school experience that feels so authentic, like this is truly what a YA contemporary should be about. I understand that YA contemporary is not suppose to be 100% realistic, otherwise where the hell is my Peter Kavinsky but just adding these tiny details that you only subconsciously absorb brought me more into the story, this more visceral experience. And I love it. Some scenes just brought me back to my final days of high school, my final class of high school which I probably just spent signing yearbooks, my final day of walking the grass behind my school for AP Government. and having this sense of finality and this feeling of an end but also this anticipation that things are just starting for you.

I also love seeing that reflected in Lara Jean. Throughout this series, she has always been content with where she is but she’s realizing that she can open herself up to new possibilities that she never thought were right for her.

And on top of that, Lara Jean learns more about her relationship with Peter. I feel like this book was the perfect combination of the fluffiness and cuteness of book 1 and the angst and them dealing with real problems from Book 2. I just love how you can see how much they love and care about each other. They have to think about what every high school couple thinks about, if they’re even going to survive being apart and the delicate state of a high school relationship.  Peter’s arc also has a wonderful sense of growth. His dad makes a reappearance in this one and he has to decide whether to let him into his life or not. I really like how Peter’s insecurities are put to the forefront. Peter has always been one of my favorites in this series because he is not necessarily this arrogant boy with a heart of gold or this nerdy guy who will understand all of your Star Wars references or even this sickly sweet nice love interest who can do no wrong. Let’s face it, most of your favorite YA contemporary male heroes will fall into one of these 3 categories. I’m really satisfied with the way Han wrote this relationship that feels as though it’s always evolving and not this you-are-my-soulmate-that-I-found-at-the-age-of-18-and-we-live-happily-ever-after type of relationship. I love them so much.

And of course, without a doubt, these books always come back to family. It’s bittersweet and ever changing. There is so much change happening around Lara Jean that she doesn’t really even notice. How Margot is now slowly living her own life in Scotland, how her Dad is marrying Ms. Rothschild, and how Kitty is growing up. And although Lara Jean is consistently changing and figuring out more things about herself, she will always fall back on her family and their support. Her mother is still an ever present force in her life and she’s always thinking about how her mom would approach a situation even as she is learning to find her own way.

I will always love these books, for their authenticity but also just for their feel-goodness and how they always bring a smile to my face. I know I will be swooning over Lara Jean’s mundane adventures for many more rereads.

Let me know if I should read Jenny Han’s Summer I Turned Pretty series. I’m not sure how it compares to this one so any advice is welcomed! And of course, let’s discuss this book in the comments because I need to vent.

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March 2017 Wrap Up

Uncategorized, wrap up

March was long but in this case that means I got to read more! It was a busy month as well and weirdly enough I read more when I’m busy. I think it’s because reading relaxes but then again if I’m too stressed so it’s a weird balance. I did, however, DNF a couple of books (3). So in total I read 7 books, 2 short stories, and 1 graphic novel.

So the books first:

The Ever Never Handbook by Soman Chainani

 

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3.5/5

The Ever Never Handbook is a companion book to The School for Good and Evil trilogy. This is like the equivalent to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them to the Harry Potter series. It’s just a little bonus to the original books: how to survive going to this magical school, the course catalog, pictures of the cool creatures that reside there, school fashion and all that. I was kind of confused reading this book because there are excerpts of the characters sending letters and transcripts of characters talking to each other and they mention events that have not happened. So, at first, I thought cool, it’s a bit of an epilogue except the events that are happening are kind of depressing. One of the letters included is even “cut off” so you don’t know what happens after so that was rude. And then I look on Goodreads and found out there was gonna be a fourth book…(just as I was beginning to applaud myself for finishing one series in my life). But after reading the handbook, I realize I’m nostalgic for Sophie’s and Agatha’s world and want to go back to it again so at the end of the day, I’m happy there’s a 4th book but we’ll see.

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Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld25852870

I had high hopes for this modern Pride and Prejudice retelling but alas, it was pretty disappointing. However, I do like the wry and tongue in cheek writing as well as the fast-paced nature of the book. It’s the sort of book I could finish in one sitting if I wanted to. It also made me nostalgic for P&P retellings so I immediately went and rewatched the Lizzie Bennet Diaries afterwards and I had a lot of feelings so, in true Carolyn-fashion, I rant about them here.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

25489134I was excited for this one ever since I first heard about it because it’s written like a fairy tale and it revolves around Russian mythology. Vasya’s family worships the house spirits but when her mother dies and a priest tries to convert everyone to a religion of one god, the village starts to erupt in chaos and only Vasya’s magical powers can help. The writing is atmospheric and promises mysteries and magic at every turn. However, because it was written like a fairy tale, the secondary characters, including the stepmother, the priest, and Vasya’s father all came out to be pretty cliche. Also, the pacing was so off. Plotlines were brought up and then dropped until the second half of the book where one plotline was followed till the end. I really liked the fantastical elements such as the blending of Russian mythological creatures. I also found the author’s note to be sort of problematic; you can take creative liberties with a story but alternating Russian words because it’s not aesthetically pleasing is a different story. It could have been better but it wasn’t necessarily bad. I’ll definitely be looking out for Arden’s future works.

Human Acts by Han Kang

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In short, Han Kang has cemented herself as an auto-read author for me. My mini review here.

Koreatown: A Cookbook by Deuki Hong and Matt Rodbard

I just burnt bread this afternoon so you can tell how much of a cook I am but I checked25614711 this out because I love Korean food. Vietnamese food is great but there is something so communal and aesthetically pleasing about Korean food, not to mention the variety in color and type of food. What’s great about this cookbook is that there’s such a variety of recipes but each is prefaced by a little history or tidbit about the food and information about the different ingredients themselves. There’s also interviews with chefs who cook with Korean food, celebrities who love Korean food, and restaurant owners who cook a fusion of Korean and some culture of food. The photos are also really well-made and there’s even full page spreads of Koreatown and the Korean eating experience. I’m not making any of these recipes except for the one that was basically an improved version of how to make your shin ramyun (instant noodles) better but it really made me crave Korean food. Someone get me bibimbap and patbingsu asap.

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Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson

This book has an amazing premise. A space ship is on its way to Aurora, its inhabitants23197269 hopeful in being its first colonizers. At the beginning of the book, the ship is on its 150th year in space and there’s still more years to go before they can even reach Aurora. Our main character, Freya, is the daughter of the ship’s chief engineer, Devi. The story sort of follows Freya as she learns to become a leader but it also follows the the ship’s apparently sentient perspective as it details the accounts of the journey. I’m really impressed with Robinson’s knowledge of biology, microbiology, population biology and physics. He does do a lot of infodumping but being the science major that I am, it was all so interesting especially when he explained the mechanics of the ship and its many biomes, how these inhabitants lived in the biomes. As can be expected, this novel is hard science fiction so do not read this if you’re not interested in any of the things I’ve mentioned above. Because it’s hard science fiction, the characters fall to the wayside but he does ask some interesting questions and gives twists to these questions that surprised me. Were we really meant to go beyond Earth given the limitations of our bodies? What happens, after generations of preparation and hope, when your destination is not everything you expected? And how do you fix the mistakes that the people who originally came on the ship didn’t forsee? Why should the generations after be forced to deal with the consequences when they might not have wanted any part of this crusade in the first place? After all, they were ultimately human, greatly ambitious but also inevitably fallible. It’s quite heavy in its scope and size and I found myself forgiving its flaws just because it was so fascinating.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before & PS I Still Love You by Jenny Han (reread)

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Every once in a while, a very special YA contemporary will come into my life that just does it right. This is one of those series. It’s cute and fluffy to the highest degree but while most YA contemporaries of that nature are at highest 3 stars for me, these two always leave me feeling not just happy but satisfied. I’m planning on doing a reread discussion for these two or a review of the entire trilogy when the third and final book comes out in May! The days cannot go by faster…

Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien

Is it better to have been loved, or to love?

Image result for do not say we have nothingThis is the essential question of Madeleine Thien’s historical novel that alternates between the present where Li-Ling and Ai-Ming piece together the story of their fathers and the past where we find out their grandparent’s and parent’s lives during the Cultural Revolution of Mao Zedong. As the Revolution grows more and more oppressive, we begin to see how her father and his family try to reconcile their personal passions and to an extent their inner selves and the constant danger of being arrested for being a counter-revolutionary. I really liked the undercurrent of music–particularly the violin and piano–throughout the book, a symbol of private desire. And I really liked reading about this struggle to maintain your identity when your very safety depends on your rejection of it. I also learned a lot about the Revolution in China during the 50’s and 60’s and how the aftereffects of that time period extended all the way to the 80’s and 90’s. I think the characters jumped a little too much from one motivation to another with no buildup in between. The pacing was also abrupt and jumps from one perspective to another with little sense of cohesion. But despite that, definitely worth a read.

Blonde Date (Ivy Years #2.5) by Sarina BowenImage result for blonde date sarina bowen

Blonde Date is a NA romance novella that’s a part of Bowen’s NA series but you don’t have to read the previous books to understand this one. It’s about a girl named Katie who is in a sorority and she needs a date to go with her to a party because she has just broken up with her asshole of a boyfriend (for reasons that will be revealed throughout the story). She gets set up with Andy who is a sweet and genuine beta male (can we please have more of these in romance novels?). Diversity in romance is a problem in general but that’s a different story. I really liked that Katie, who would normally be the antagonist in a NA story is instead the protagonist. The dialogue was pretty cliche but it didn’t bother me too much. Blissfully unproblematic, cute, and enjoyable, highly recommended for a lazy afternoon read. I wish there was a full length book on Katie and Andy.

Image result for a series of steaksA Series of Steaks by Vina Jie-min Prasad

Helena Yuanhi makes a living out of 3D printing realistic looking meat. She gets a huge gig printing out steaks for a wedding and she hopes that this gig can give her enough to run away and escape from her past. She enlists the help of Lily whose spontaneous personality serves as the perfect foil to the more quiet and reserved Helen. This short story was so great, It has a slight satirical undertone and it’s quite comedic and just plain enjoyable. I liked the two main characters and their budding friendship and all the mechanics behind the 3D printing. Highly recommended and you can even read it for free here.

 

Through the Woods by Emily CarrollImage result for through the woods

Through the Woods is a collection of horror-ish short stories in graphic novel format. The problem with this was it ended way too soon just when the story was starting to get interested. You know that scene in a horror movie where someone hears a lot of banging or whatever behind a door and they’re just about to open the door. The stories end right when the person is about to open the door which was kind of frustrating. I feel like if she prolonged one or two of these stories, I would have been so much more creeped out and invested. I particularly liked the story about the two brothers who go into the woods and only one of them comes back alive but then the next day, the dead comes back again as if nothing happened.

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DNF

Image result for crosstalk connie willisCrosstalk by Connie Willis

I got about 1/2 of the way through and it had me feeling really claustrophobic which I guess is kind of the point. It’s set in the near future where you can get a surgery that will help you better see your partner’s thoughts. This, in theory, will lead to a happier relationship. It’s a light sci-fi novel with a romcom storyline. I appreciated the numerous references to other social media but at the same time, I felt like they were being referenced by someone who doesn’t really use them. I also thought this could have been about 200 pages shorter since the scenes kept being dragged out with interruptions from one of her annoyingly endearing family members and it just got to be too much. The heroine is a protagonist straight out of Legally Blonde, smart but has ditzy and truly naive moments, and talks like she always has everything under control when she really doesn’t. I wish she had more agency in this book. I just didn’t care ultimately.


News of the World by Paulette JilesImage result for news of the world paulette

There’s nothing technically wrong with this book. It just felt a little too safe for me and I guess I had higher hopes for a book that was longlisted for the National Book Award. It has a great historical setting (right after the American Civil War) but the storyline just felt too saccharine for me especially for a literary fiction novel that’s trying to be more nuanced.

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie MclemoreImage result for when the moon was ours

I know this book is well loved in the book community and I really wanted to like this one because it explores themes of being transgender, being in a relationship with a transgender person and what it means to truly expose yourself. One of the main character is Pakistani which I never see in a YA book. I also really wanted to like this book because I really like magical realism but the writing felt a little too flowery and nothing was being said. And while the writing was pretty beautiful, the storyline felt like it was going nowhere. I understand coming of age doesn’t technically have a plot but I felt like Mclemore was trying to achieve another plot besides the coming of age and it just didn’t work for me.

And that’s my March reading! Let me know what you read in March, what your favorites were or if you’ve read any of these and what your thoughts were. =)

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Fictional Summer Lookbook

Book Recommendations, Misc, Uncategorized

I’m feeling really summery right now probably because I just finished The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson aka Ms. Queen of Summer Contemporary. Sigh dogs, cute guys, quirky diners, and 4 awesome friends. What more could you want in a YA contemporary? What more could you want in a summer? Actually no, it would have been better if one of the dogs was a corgi because corgis are my favorite.

It is my least favorite Matson so far although I still have Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour left to read but still really enjoyable. Anyways, I was inspired to create some summer outfits for some fictional characters. I’m actually a really big fan of fashion so why not combine books and fashion?

So of course, first of all The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson. This outfit was actually inspired by one of the outfits the main character, Andie, wore for one of her dates.

lookbook1

 

I’m actually not a fan of denim but it’s seriously made such a comeback in the past year. But it’s definitely very versatile and I feel like this outfit works so well for whatever Andie is planning to do. Whether it be going to the diner with friends, walking dogs, going on casual dates, or doing a scavenger hunt, or you know going on last-minute bookstore trips (that scene was so cute)

Caelena in Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas is such a badass (even though her assassin skills are in question tbh) that if she existed in our contemporary world, I always imagine her in some kind of leather jacket (and then consequently beating up gangsters in the dark or something). So I gave it to her.

lookbook2

 

The thing about Caelena is that she can rock battle clothing but she feels very comfortable in a dress as well (which is really refreshing in a heroine) so I just added a really flirty top and some pink heel boots that are both feminine and edgy which I think is basically Caelena. Also I think it’s an awesome summer outfit for nighttime adventures. I can just imagine her going out on her motorcycle to watch the stars..

On the other end of the spectrum, I designed an outfit for Lara Jean from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. I feel like Lara Jean has such a distinct style, very cutesy and sophisticated.

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I remember when she was dressing up once, that she liked to dress in vintage clothing? If I’m wrong, this is embarassing, but the collared top really has a vintage feel to it while being modern at the same time. I paired with the skater skirt because it’s fun but relatively conservative. I also adore the messenger bag mostly because of the buckles, it’s really sophisticated. Anyways I can totally see Lara Jean wearing this to bake something with Kitty or going on a casual Starbucks date with Peter.

What’s summer without going to the beach? The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler takes place in a beach town.

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It’s been a while since I’ve read the book but I do remember the main character going to beach parties to..dance..I think. I used a lot of ocean type of jewelry because why not, they’re so cute. I would totally get that starfish ring. But I tried to pick flowy, nonconstricting types of clothing that you’d wear to the beach. The wedges are practical for the beach but I don’t care because I’m wedge-obsessed right now and this was the best outfit it worked with hehe.

One of my favorite scenes in Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson, is the one where Sloane and Emily try to go in a club with fake IDs (even though they didn’t actually end up going in) but I had a fun time imagining what they’d wear.

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Ever since I bought red lipstick, I’ve been dying for a chance to wear it. Surprisingly, works really well for me. But yeah, I was going for sexy..

If Simon had a concert outside on a hot summer day with his band, it’s my headcanon that Isabella would wear something like this.

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I honestly don’t know why chokers are so popular all of a sudden but I’m starting to warm up to them. I’m also all about the dark pink lipstick. I feel like this outfit would also work really well for sightseeing somewhere so maybe Anna from Anna and the French Kiss?

Which outfit is your favorite, if any at all? Favorite summer outfits? Favorite summer reads?

Disclaimer: All pictures of individual clothes are not mine. Creation of photosets was helped by the website polyvore.com.

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Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag!

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It’s past the middle of the year and the thing I’m most proud of is getting a job this summer..lol..which doesn’t sound like a lot to mr. But ANYWAY I’m here to talk about some books, surprisingly. Thank you so much to Anjie @ Love thy Shelf and Erika @ Erika in Bookventureland for tagging me! If you haven’t already, you should totes check out their blogs because they’re just so awesome.

1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2015.

Please tell me you knew this was coming. I’ve been shoving this book down every man, woman, child, robot, and porcupine that has come my way.

Fun Fact: The author picked this cover because it wasn’t clear whether the man was in pleasure or in pain..

2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2015.

A lot of people are probably sick of me mentioning The Winner’s Crime so I’ll go with PS I Still Love You by Jenny Han. Surprise Surprise, the “love triangle” did not annoy me at all in this book and only this book can make studying at Starbucks appealing :3 especially if you’re studying with someone whose name starts with a “P” and ends with a “eter Kavinsky”.

Fun Fact: I actually own the biology book on the cover.

3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to.

Serpentine by Cindy Pon sounds so fucking awesome! It’s YA fantasy revolving around Chinese mythology. Action, adventure, mystery, and romance ensue!! Um..

Fun Fact: This book comes out today so can someone buy it for me and send it my way. Please and thank you.

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year.

I NEED THIS NOW. I ALSO NEED MORE CINDER/KAI NOW.

Fun Fact: Marissa Meyer started the first book Cinder as a Nanowrimo project. I can’t believe how far it’s come.

5. Biggest disappointment.

Tossup between End of Days and The Elegance of the Hedgehog mostly because I was so sure I was going to like them but I ended up not..End of Days was so rushed and nothing developed and some side characters were brought in just for convenience of plot..The Elegance of the Hedgehog was enjoyable in its parts but not in its sum but other could have given more care to the actual story and it was really pretentious.

6. Biggest surprise.

A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin. Biggest surprise in a bad way. I was so sure I would love this book that I was even more disappointed that this book wasn’t even average for me.

Fun Fact: There has been 133 on screen “confirmed” deaths on the Game of Thrones TV show. 116 male. 17 female.

7. Favourite new author. (Debut or new to you)

This year was the first time I read Margaret Atwood. I read The Handmaid’s Tale and Oryx and Crake which were both amazing, awesome, A+ books. I can’t wait to read more of her books especially The Blind Assassin.

8. Newest fictional crush.

Who is the newest addition to Carolyn’s list of fictional boyfriends hall of fame?

a) Jerricho Barrons from DarkFever

b) Peter Kavinsky from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

c)  Khalid from The Wrath and the Dawn

d) JD Jameson from Practice Makes Perfect

e) All of the above wrapped up in one package and sent to my front door.

You know the answer although if I had to pick it would probably be Khalid.

9. Newest favourite character.

Who is Carolyn’s newest favorite character? Is it,

a) Sharzhad from the Wrath and the Dawn

b) Annamae from Under a Painted Sky

c) Jude from A Little Life

d) Werner from All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

The answer is D although all of the other choices come really really close!! I love Werner because he lived in 1930’s Nazi Germany and he trains to be one of Hitler’s Youth but all he really wants to do is study physics and I love how he’s such a dreamer despite such awful circumstances.

10. Book that made you cry.

I give in..I have to use this book..again..You know that one part in Disney’s Alice in Wonderland where she cries enough to make an ocean? That’s me just at the ending of this book…

11. Book that made you happy.

Firefight makes me happy because I think this story is just so exciting and it reminds me a lot of a fast paced action movie and David and Megan are precious cinnamon rolls that are too precious for this world.

Fun Fact: Calamity is coming out next year which makes me squeal with delight.

12. Favourite book to film adaptation you saw this year.

I haven’t watch that many movie adaptations this year but I have to go with Still Alice. It’s gut wrenching with great acting.

13. Favourite review you’ve written this year.

It might seem a little weird but my very first review for this blog (my review for Alex + Ada Vol. 1 & 2). It’s not the best review I’ve ever written but I remember feeling really accomplished after writing it and it kind of reminds me of how far I’ve come when I look at that review and my latest ones and how I’ve improved in writing my book reviews. Plus, I really love that comic series.

14. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received).

I haven’t read this one yet and it’s kind of hard to tell just from looking at it on the computer screen, but the colors are bright but muted at the same time so it gives a sort of old and historic feel to the cover. Of course, I also like the use of some traditional Vietnamese clothing like the straw hat. I’m really excited to read this one because it’s about a man who bikes his way around Vietnam and he talks about all the interesting people he’s met.

15. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

Quote to Self

Quote to Self

Excuse me if this post goes from starting at the shore to going off the deep end, as in deeper than the Pacific Ocean.

I’m having existential crisis problems and I’ve been thinking a lot about this quote because it resonated a lot with me now and when I read the book.

I’m in my last year of college (yay me?)and it’s a little surprising, when I look back on it, how different my high school friends were (and are) from my college friends. And much like the quote says, both groups of friends in different times of my life meant the world to me. My friends in college are more “outgoing” in terms of going out and partying and my friends back in my hometown are a little more reserved. It’s probably a testament to how I’ve changed since going to college. My four close friends and I go to different colleges, one’s in New York, one’s in LA, etc. and two are local and luckily for the most part, we can still go back home and visit each other during odd weekends and holidays. It’s interesting how dynamics have changed with my friends in my hometown once we each go our separate ways. You are relieved you’re still friends but at the same time sad that things have changed so much and you’re not the group of friends you once were.

It’s true you don’t know how long you have your friends near. And sometimes there’s really nothing you can do about it, I’ve realized. Freshman year, I had a group of friends at school that had the same classes as me and I thought we were going to besties forever! lol..no..one person would go their separate ways and another person finds a club that just clicks and spends most of his time there or another friend just finds another group of friends that click with them. And I guess that’s what scares me after graduation sometimes. After graduation, some aspects of friendship that bond us are kind of lost I feel. I’ll miss living at an apartment with my friends where we went for midnight boba or where we were cramming for a final at 2am at the library or even when we all thought we knew what jobs we were going to do after graduation but then changing our minds and feeling lost all over again. (I can assure you I won’t miss the “taking finals” part though, bleh). I’ll miss that reassurance that we’re in this together; I think it’s something only friends can give, that relatability and closeness through shared experience that no one else can know. I feel like once we leave, it’s going to be different.

I look at my close friends and I wonder to myself sometimes, what difference have I made in their lives? That sounds really pretentious, but a small part of me hopes I won’t just be another person in someone’s life. Some people I know have such huge imprints on people’s lives and everything they do can be seen in everything they do. And I really admire that, mostly because I’m more of the person who just goes with the flow and am not too strongly opinionated most of the time. Maybe I just want verification of my pointless life..

You might be thinking, why does this matter, you’re being a tad dramatic aren’t you. I mean you can still contact them after school and you still have your best friends. I guess, in a sentence, it’s because friendship is important to me; change is scary; I don’t have the best relationship with my parents and when I’m down, I go to my friends to support me mentally and, you know what, as trivial as it sounds, their support has meant the world to me.

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Book Discussion: P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

Book Discussion

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(Um..P.S.: I have that exact same biology book on the cover..say what.)

So I just finished this addicting book yesterday. I really didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. I loved it so much I decided to write a discussion on it. This book discussion will be mainly for people who have already read it. This is the second book to To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. So, obviously, there’ll be spoilers. But if you have read it, discuss with me!

So a lot of people liked the first book more than the second and overall I did too, but I actually enjoyed some parts of the second book more than the first. I liked all the Peter/Lara Jean moments in the first book more but in the sister and father relationship I liked more in the second.

I can’t really express how much I loved the sister bond in this book. As someone who has a younger sister and brother but I am not particularly close to my brother, it’s endearing to see such closeness between sisters, how they would tell each other everything from boys to dresses to friendships. And as someone who didn’t grow up with such family closeness, I really liked seeing the dynamics between Lara Jean and her dad. Their plans to go to Korea over the summer. Her dad’s reaction to her and Peter’s video just made me happy. *heart eyes*

I guess I’m just living vicariously through fictional characters. What else is new?

What I really appreciate about Jenny Han’s writing and storytelling is the way she gives such magnitude to everyday normal scenes that aren’t given a lot of weight in other books but serve to give an extra “oomph” to Lara Jean’s relationships. For example, Lara Jean celebrates Valentine’s Day by giving her dad heart shaped pancakes and she asks Kitty what beads she should put on Peter’s valentine. Just the little things that people gloss over in books gives such weight to their relationship. When Lara Jean asks Kitty what she should wear to her movie date with Peter and then immediately asks Margot if she could borrow her sweater just gives such a familiarity both to the story. We can see how close and normal these sisters are.

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Nothing truly dramatic happens in this book but it’s so addicting because Jenny Han just inserts such realism to her everyday scenes that you feel as though these people were your next door neighbors. Well, if your neighbors you are an upper middle class resident lol.

A lot of readers had problems with Lara Jean’s immaturity in these books and I never did. I found it really refreshing from the other rather mature characters of YA. And ya know, not all high schoolers were as mature. People grow at different rates and who’s to say how a 16-year-old should act. However, it’s nice to see her grow up throughout the story.

I initially was scared to read this book because I had heard there was a love triangle and I abhor reading about love triangles. It’s a personal preference. But I really liked how the love triangle was handled in this book because it dealt a lot with Lara Jean’s character development. You have John Ambrose who kind of represents this ideal love that she has had in her mind. It becomes clear because she romanticizes him in his soldier uniform. Peter represents the reality and he’s not just a romantic ideal because she’s in a relationship and they’ve experienced their ups and downs. She’s always been yearned for boys that were not within her reach and now that she and Peter had broken up, she wonders whether she should go back to yearning instead trying for a real relationship.

I really liked how these two books revolved around chance and being lucky. It makes me wonder if Kitty hadn’t actually sent those letters would Lara Jean and Peter Kavinsky every have gotten together. They hang out in different social circles and John seems more “in her league” so to speak so on paper and in real life they seem like the more obvious pairing. And at the end, John says maybe one day it’ll be his chance to be with Lara Jean which really made me think of them as a couple and the potential for him to be with Lara Jean was so strong especially when Lara said Peter got there first. So if John was there first, would he have been with Lara instead of Peter? I still adore Peter and Lara but it makes me wonder..

My favorite quote: “People come in and out of your life. For a time they are your world; they are everything. And then one day they’re not. There’s no telling how long you will have them near.”

Such truth has never been spoken..especially at that age (at least for me) because you go through so much change both inside and outside of you that sometimes people are only right for you at some points in your life and the ones that last are something special.

Discuss this book with me in the comments! =) I still have so many feels..