Black Dove, White Raven: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

“They can make you stay, but they can’t make me go.”

Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth WeinEmilia and Teo have been in the soup together since their mothers first put them in an airplane as children.

After years of performing together as the Black Dove and White Raven, Rhoda finds herself alone when Delia is killed during a freak accident. Shattered by the loss of her best friend–her better half, her soul mate really–Rhoda clings to the dream Delia proposed just before her death: moving to Ethiopia where they could live together exactly as they liked without Delia’s son Teo ever being discriminated against because he is black.

When they finally get to Ethiopia, Em and Teo think maybe they can be at home there watching their mother, dreaming of flight and writing The Adventures of Black Dove and White Raven together. As long as Em and Teo have each other, they know they’ll be fine.

But Teo’s connection to Ethiopia runs deeper than anyone can guess. As war with Italy threatens to break out in the peaceful country, Em and Teo are forced to confront undesirable truths about their own lives and the legacies of their parents.

Em and Teo know they can depend on each other for anything, just like White Raven and Black Dove, but with so much changing neither of them knows if it will be enough to save themselves and the people they love in Black Dove, White Raven (2015) by Elizabeth Wein.

Find it on Bookshop.

Black Dove, White Raven is an engaging and fascinating story about a largely unknown setting and an often forgotten moment in history. Detailed historical references and vibrant descriptions bring the landscape of 1930s Ethiopia and the politics of the Second Italo-Ethiopian War to life set against the larger backdrop of a world on the brink of war.

Like Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire, this novel is an epistolary one comprised of letters, essays and notebook entries written by both Emilia and Teo. Interludes between their story come in the form of Adventures that Em and Teo wrote for their alter egos White Raven and Black Dove.

Within the story of Emilia and Teo dealing with the coming war and all of its trappings, Wein also provides flashbacks to Em and Teo’s childhood both in Pennsylvania and Ethiopia. These contrasts help to highlight the idyllic life that the family finds in Ethiopia. At the same time Wein also plays with the idea that equality doesn’t always mean perfectly equal by examining the different ways Em and Teo are treated in Ethiopia and the varied obstacles they face throughout the narrative.

Black Dove, White Raven delves into the grey areas in life as Emilia and Teo try to find their proper place in Ethiopia and also come to realize that Delia’s dream for them all was a flawed one even as their mother Rhoda continues to cling to it.

Throughout the novel, both Em and Teo also often refer to their stories about Black Dove and White Raven as they try to decide what course of action to take. Wein explores the ways in which both characters, particularly Em, can manipulate different identities to get what they need.

Both Em and Teo have distinct voices in their narrations. While Emilia is often rash and flamboyant, Teo is introspective and thoughtful. Their dynamic together underscores how best friends–and here the best family–help each other to be more and achieve more together than they would accomplish apart.

Black Dove, White Raven is a powerful, beautiful story of friendship, family and learning how to soar.

Possible Pairings: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black, The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken, The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough, All Fall Down by Ally Carter, Blackfin Sky by Kat Ellis, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, The Weight of Feathers by Anne-Marie McLemore, I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest, Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt, The Archived by Victoria Schwab, Nothing But Sky by Amy Trueblood, The Space Between Trees by Katie Williams, Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff, How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

Summer Reading Display with Reader’s Advisory Fortune Tellers

In the midst of summer reading madness at the library, I finally had a chance to make a new display (now that Ingrid’s epic glittery GLBT display is ready to come down). Summer is crazy at my library (and every public library) so I knew I wanted something that would be simple to stock and require minimal upkeep.

For me this summer, that meant a summer reading display because it allows me to pull titles from our summer reading section (a list I helped make so I like all of the titles already!) and also anything else that looks cool on the shelves.

I decided to skip the trivia/giveaway portion I’d been adding to my displays because it’s just too busy to expect staff to run around getting free books while doing all of their other work. But I still wanted to do something fun.

Several months ago I read an article from Molly Wetta (she blogs at Wrapped Up in Books and maybe you recognize her from when she contributed to Poetically Speaking 2015?) called “If Books are Magic, Librarians are Wizards: Readers’ Advisory as Fortune Telling.” The article has a lot of great ideas, but what really spoke to me was the idea of passive reader’s advisory with paper fortune tellers (or maybe you know them as cootie catchers?).

This is a picture of the fortune teller Molly talks about in her article.

I decided to adapt that idea for my Summer Reading Display. I wanted something that could be easily reproduced so I started by finding a printable template. And, believe it or not, there’s a site for that.

DownloadableCootieCatchers has a blank template you can download and edit. They also share a lot of fun user-created fortune tellers. In retrospect I could have edited mine a bit more to make it a little cooler but I decided to keep it basic.

Pick a color . . .
Pick a color . . .
Now pick a number . . .
Now pick a number . . .
Until you get your answer!
Until you get your answer!

I included a blend of titles from my system’s summer reading list (like All Our Yesterdays). And some reader’s choice options (in addition to Graphic Novels I also included fantasy, mystery or adventure).

Here’s the full display:

The image is from my library's summer reading art. I adapted it using PicMonkey.
The image is from my library’s summer reading art. I adapted it using PicMonkey.

And here’s a close up of the sign:

I added all of the text here except for "Summer Reading 2015" which is part of the original graphic.
I added all of the text here except for “Summer Reading 2015” which is part of the original graphic.

I made two versions of my sign. One with the text above and one that just reads “What will you read this summer?” That way, if the fortune tellers become more trouble than they are worth (or just aren’t a hit) I can still keep the display without it being inaccurate. I added the white text suggesting people pick a display book just in case someone is drawn to the display when the fortune tellers are not fully stocked.

Like my Blind Date with a Book Display I really like this idea and I’m hoping I’ll be able to use the fortune teller aspect again in future displays.

What do you think? Would you be into an RA fortune teller? If you work in or use a library, have you seen/tried passive RA ideas before?

Week in Review: July 12

missprintweekreviewThis week on the blog you can check out:

This week I pushed Rebel Mechanics for all I was worth (if you like alternate history, historical fantasy, steampunk, romance, or basically anything that is right in the world you should be reading this book when it releases next week). I also interviewed Shanna about the book which was a lot of fun. I almost never buy finished copies of books I receive for review (I know, I know) but I will definitely be picking this one up.

Speaking of books, this week I started to KonMari my to read books and my owned books. I got real with myself and admitted there are a lot of books I am just never going to read. Looking at my owned books to say “Does this spark joy?” also helped in really deciding what books should be on my shelves. (Spoiler: Little Elliot was an obvious and immediate “keep” decision.)

So far my to read list is down to 193 (it had bloated to 206 after BEA, I usually want it to be under 100) and got rid of about 20 books. I’m working up to dragging them all to the Strand to sell and also am selling some on Amazon.

And, I know I sound like a crazy person with all this KonMari stuff. But all of the areas I’ve already tidied are still really neat. Which never happens. I’m really excited even though it’s still a work in progress.

This week I bought myself a Fan BingBing Barbie that I have been wanting for years. (I also got my mom an Insurgent Tris and Four but Tris didn’t get delivered yet.)

And on Friday I got to see Nicole for a signing at McNally Jackson (I’m writing this on Friday so I’ll either recap it next week or I won’t. I’m sure it will be fantastic). Then on Saturday I saw Nicole again so we could check out The Hunger Games exhibit at Discover Times Square.

This week I was in an “I don’t want to read, but I am behind and have to read” mood so I motored through a lot of titles including Red Rising (meh), The Eleventh Plague (fun like The Fifth Wave without the aliens but not really my bag which I expected), Trial by Fire (I realized this was only on my TBR list because others added it and I had no real interest–oops), and The Paper Magician (I suspect this is not the best writing or the best book but I am enjoying it SO MUCH.)

I also think I’m going to sign up for Dandelionn Wine’s Blogger Pen Pals (I started sending postcards via PostCrossing and writing to friends again and I really like that aspect of corresponding even if it doesn’t lead to me getting mail–there is something very liberating in writing to someone without an expectation of a reply). If you are a blogger and want to sign up too, details are here: https://dandelionnwine.wordpress.com/2015/07/09/blogger-pen-pals/

I’ll also be signing up for OTSPSecretSister again (this program is organized by Alyssa at Books Take You Places, Amy at Tripping Over Books and Brittany at The Book Addict’s Guide). If you want more info you can check out the FAQ. I didn’t blog about it much but if you follow me on Twitter you probably saw me using the hashtag. Basically it’s a 6-month-long secret swap. And it was kind of a blast. I met so many new bloggers through it and made a lot of new friends. I was debating on if I could afford signing up again but I decided since I am working on a perpetual book buying ban (for the rest of my life lol) it would work out. Plus with all of the holidays coming up in this round I’m super excited for theme package possibilities. (Again this is more about my loving to send things. The fact that I get something is almost secondary.)

Anyway, this was a super chatty Week in Review but now you know everything.

If you want to see how my month in reading is shaking out be sure to check out my July Reading Tracker.

How was your week?

Let’s Talk About: Reading Deeply vs. Widely

I’m sure this doesn’t cast a wide enough net to catch every reader, but I have a working theory that there are basically two types of readers.

There are readers who read deeply and there are those who read widely.

Deep Readers are the readers who read everything an author has ever written. While they may not always read a variety of genres they will make the exception for select favorite authors. These readers will stick out a middling book waiting for the series to return to its previous glory and will follow an author’s oeuvre despite bumps in the road.

Wide Readers are readers who look to a variety of authors and genres to find books. Sometimes they will finish a series or read multiple books by an author. But just as often they will read one to see what the buzz is about and move on. While there is still room for favorite series and even authors, these readers are much quicker to walk away when a series/author’s work becomes frustrating or dull.

In tracking my reading habits more closely here on the blog, I know that I am a Wide Reader. It is rare that I will have read every book in a series but if you ask me about the first book the odds are good I’ll have an opinion. Similarly I might not read every book by a bestselling author but chances are high I’ll have read at least one or read some reviews on it.

In trying to work through some of my owned books to read I have been finishing more series as I get to sequels but generally I am okay with walking away from a series in the middle. I also have a very select few authors from whom I will read anything they publish (middle grade is still an exception to this and a weak spot, but who knows. That might change.)

So tell me: Do my reading types seem accurate? Do you read deeply or widely?

Let’s talk about it in the comments!

 

Rebel Mechanics: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Rebel Mechanics by Shanna SwendsonSixteen-year-old Verity Newton is certain that her university-quality education and the numerous novels she has read will be preparation enough to work as a governess among the upper class magisters who rule Britain and its American colonies with magic in 1888.

Soon after arriving in New York City, Verity learns that unrest is growing and a group of colonists calling themselves the Rebel Mechanics hope to use ingenuity and mechanical inventions to unseat the magical might of the magisters.

After securing a job as governess to one of New York’s premier families, Verity finds herself caught directly between the magisters and the mechanics. Although she is sympathetic to the rebel cause, she also realizes there is more to the magisters than anyone might think–particularly when it comes to her new employer Henry.

When Verity is drawn into the fledgling rebellion as a spy, she learns that anything goes when it comes to revolution–and love in Rebel Mechanics (2015) by Shanna Swendson.

Swendson blends historic details and steampunk sensibilities perfectly in this novel to create a fun alternate history New York filled with magic and powerful inventions. Verity’s sense of wonder at everything she sees in the city will capture similar feelings from readers.

Verity starts out as a naive heroine with little life experience and a lot of uncertainty about her place among the magisters or the mechanics. Although she makes a few blunders along the way, Verity learns from her mistakes and her character development is perfectly paced throughout the novel. Despite her naivete she is a pragmatic and thoughtful narrator who refuses to let things like bandits or revolutionaries fluster her.

Although Verity’s love interest for much of the novel is not ideal, the story is still filled with enough swoony moments and excellent characters to forgive Verity’s lack of good taste. Henry, a magister with rebel sympathies and Verity’s unlikely employer, is guaranteed to be fan favorite.

Rebel Mechanics offers a perfect blend of fantasy, action and romance that is sure to leave readers smiling. This book is currently a standalone (with a largely self-contained plot to prove it!) but we can only hope Verity and her friends will eventually return with new stories and adventures.

Rebel Mechanics is a delightful steampunk novel filled with adventure and magic. Highly recommended for readers looking for an effervescent read as well as fans of fantasy/steampunk or historical fiction/alternate history novels.

Possible Pairings: The Shadows by Megan Chance, Scarlet by A. C. Gaugen, The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg, This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner, A Spy in the House by Y. S. Lee, Winterspell by Claire Legrand, Clariel by Garth Nix, Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski, Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood, Enchantée by Gita Trelease, Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

You can also read my exclusive interview with Shanna about the book!

*An advance copy of this book was provided for review consideration by the publisher*

Author Interview: Shanna Swendson on Rebel Mechanics

Shanna Swendson author photoRebel Mechanics has quickly become one of my favorite books. This alternate history novel blends elements of fantasy and steampunk to create an adventurous novel with romance, action and tons of fun. Today Shanna Swendson is here for to talk about her delightful latest novel.

Miss Print (MP): Can you tell us a bit about your path as a writer? How did you get to this point?

Shanna Swendson (SS): I’ve always entertained myself by making up stories in my head. I was about twelve when I realized that if I wrote these stories down, I’d have a book. I think that was when I decided this was what I wanted to do when I grew up. I studied journalism in college with the idea that it would be a way to learn about writing while getting trained in something I could get a job in (since there aren’t really any “entry-level” novelist jobs). I started seriously writing — as in finishing a book instead of starting a lot of ideas — about a year after I finished college and sold my first book not long after that. I had a few romance novels published, then moved into fantasy with the Enchanted, Inc. series. Rebel Mechanics is my first novel for young adults, though a lot of teens have read my earlier books, as well.

MP: What was the inspiration for Rebel Mechanics?

SS: The idea of steampunk has appealed to me for a while because I’ve always been a bit of a fan of Victoriana. I love a good costume drama, and this is costume drama with a twist and a bit of adventure. I just didn’t have a story idea in mind, until one day when I was looking at my bookcase and saw a couple of books next to each other that gave me an “aha!” moment. My copy of Jane Eyre was next to a Madeleine Brent Gothic adventure/romance, and that was when I thought I needed to write a steampunk governess/spy story. Being a governess would be a great cover for spying on the upper class, and if the upper class had magical powers, that would give them an actual reason for being set apart from the rest of society. The rest kind of fell into place from there.

MP: Rebel Mechanics features elements of steampunk as seen with the actual Rebel Mechanics with more traditional fantasy in the form of the magic wielded by Magisters. What drew you to these two aspects of the story? How did you go about constructing the rules that would govern magic in this novel?

SS: Since I started with the idea of the upper class having magic, it seemed like the best way to fight against them would be with advanced technology, so the magic vs. technology tension is inherent in the premise. One thing I’ve wanted to see more of in the steampunk I’ve read is that influence of the technology on society rather than it just being part of the set design. I wanted to write a story about actual steampunks who were using technology to rebel against magic. As for creating the rules of magic, this is the third fantasy “universe” I’ve created, so making up magical systems is second nature. I start with what I need to have happen for the story to work, and then build it from there — and then force myself to stick to those rules even when they become inconvenient. The main thing I wanted in this magical system was for it to be detectable, so another magical person would know if magic was in use nearby. This kind of magic is mostly a power supply — kind of like electricity, only generated and channeled by people.

MP: This book is set in 1888 New York (with a very altered history because of the magisters). Why did you choose this historical era? How did you find historical details and choose which ones to include and/or alter in your story?

SS: Would it sound too shallow to say I chose it because I liked the clothes? Actually, I wanted to use Gilded Age New York as the setting because even in the real history that was an era of a vast gap between social classes. There were outrageously wealthy people living extremely extravagant lives, and there were horribly poor people crammed into tenements that would make even the slums of today look like luxury. There were times during that era when a revolution wouldn’t have been a huge surprise. At the same time, technology was starting to play a bigger role in daily life. It seemed like the perfect era to have a revolution brewing.

I did a ton of reading when I was researching this novel — about 60 books — and I have a binder full of notes I jotted while reading. I read about the social set of the Gilded Age, found a wonderful book full of photos of the Fifth Avenue mansions that no longer exist, and read some memoirs of people who lived in that era. I’d studied the work of tenement reformer Jacob Riis in journalism school and had his books, full of photos of slum life from not long after the time in which the book is set. I also did a lot of reading about the real American Revolution and found events that seemed to parallel situations either in the real world in the later time or in my story, and I found ways to move them around. I think I just mostly looked for details that gave me that “ooh, this could work!” tingle.
MP: Verity’s New York is a magical place (often literally!). Throughout the story she travels to many different areas of Manhattan. Did any actual locations inspire you while writing this story? How did you decide which locations to include in the story?

SS: Between business trips to New York and research trips I’ve done for other books, I’ve walked huge swaths of Manhattan and am pretty familiar with it. Central Park is one of my favorite places in the world, and I have to go there on every trip. The Victorian lampposts in the park seem to fit this era pretty well, and the park as a kind of front yard for the mansions across the street plays a role in the story. Most of the mansions there didn’t last long because that land is too valuable for a single-family home, but there are still a few that are now museums. There’s a stretch of Broadway south of Fourteenth Street that has always struck me as looking like something you’d expect to see in a Dickens novel, and so that’s a general area where I set a lot of the “downtown” scenes. I kept a map of the city and a historical atlas showing what was built when by my side when I was writing.

MP: Verity is a big reader of both classics and more contemporary novels in Rebel Mechanics. Did you always know reading would be a big part of her character? How did you decide which books and genres to include in your story?

SS: Being caught in between things is a big theme in the novel, and Verity’s choice of reading material plays into that. She’s been highly educated by a demanding professor father, so she’s well-versed in the classics, but at the same time, she’s a dreamer who needed an escape from a pretty drab life, so she turns to popular fiction. That makes her an interesting combination of very knowledgeable and very naive, but it also makes her game for jumping in and trying new things because she’d love to be a heroine like she’s read about in books. I suppose it was natural for me to write a reader like that because books are such a huge part of my life, and I’m just as prone to reading a classic as I am to reading the latest fantasy bestseller.

MP: Did you have a favorite character to write in Rebel Mechanics? Is there any character you are particularly excited for readers to meet?

SS: I pretty much love all of them. It’s hard to choose a favorite. I did end up really loving Henry. He was fun to write and turned out a little different than I initially planned, which sends the book into a slightly different direction that I ended up loving. I guess I like a man of mystery who can also be a bit of a geek.

MP: If you had to choose would you rather be a Rebel Mechanic or a Magister?

SS: I’m not sure I could choose! I might end up being like Verity and mediating between the two groups. I have to confess that I’m not very mechanically minded, so I’d be pretty useless as a Mechanic.

MP: Can you tell us anything about your next project? Will we be seeing more of Verity and Henry?

SS: I’m working on the third book of my contemporary fantasy Fairy Tale series, but I’m researching the second book in what I hope will be a Rebel Mechanics trilogy. I haven’t sent the publisher a proposal yet, so I suppose it depends on how well this book does before I’ll know if they want more books (so buy the book and tell all your friends!).

[MP: Seriously. Buy this book. I need more Verity and Henry in my life, people!]

MP: Do you have any advice to offer aspiring authors?

SS: Becoming a published author requires a lot of perseverance. I started writing this book in the summer of 2010, and it’s only now coming to print. In between, there were a lot of revisions and rewrites, then a lot of rejections by publishers, and then after it sold there were even more rewrites. If I’d given up when it became difficult, the book wouldn’t have been published. So, power through even when you feel like giving up.

Thanks again to Shanna for this fantastic interview.

You can see more about Shanna and her books on her website.

You can also read my review of Rebel Mechanics.

Elmer and Butterfly: A Picture Book Review

Elmer and Buttefly by David McKeeEveryone’s favorite patchwork elephant is back in Elmer and Butterfly by David McKee.

When Elmer helps Butterfly get out of a hole blocked by a fallen branch, he doubts that she will be able to return the favor. Then Elmer wanders onto a narrow path and becomes trapped in a cave. With Butterfly’s help, Elmer’s cousin Wilbur and the other elephants mount a rescue.

This story reminiscent of the fable of “The Lion and the Mouse” but also includes McKee’s own brand of writing and humor.

Butterfly reminds readers that even the smallest animals can help a friend in need. McKee’s signature style includes high contrast and sharp detail on every page along with easy to read text. Bold colors and whimsical illustrations make this an excellent read-aloud choice, while longer text selections on each page make this book ideal for older storytime attendees as well.

*A more condensed version of this review appeared in an issue of School Library Journal from which it can be seen in various sites online*

Week in Review: July 5

missprintweekreviewThis week on the blog you can check out:

Thanks to the holiday, this week was a whirlwind. After working three days I had a four day weekend during which I barely sat still (which is why this post is going live on Monday even though I have backdated it to Sunday.)

I continued my efforts to tidy my life according to Marie Kondo’s methodology. I started by trying to stick with her order but that didn’t work out. Over the course of the weekend I discarded and tidied my pants and skirts, loungewear (like pajamas), shoes, socks/tights (how do you know when tights are stretched out? Do I really have to try on every pair I own??), cardigans (still have to tackle heavy-weight sweaters), and purses and totes. With my mom’s help I also went through all of our old pattern and craft books.

Then we moved some furniture around in the living room which included emptying a few cabinets and getting rid of some shelving units. I also got rid of an rearranged a lot of knick-knacks by my desk and all of my pens. I started on my books but that’s becoming complicated.

Still have to tackle stationary, personal papers (got rid of all my old college and grad school papers but are there more???), dresses, hats/scarves/etc and the rest of my books. I also want to go through my entire wardrobe again now that I have a better handle on what brings me joy.

I don’t know that it’s worth buying Marie Kondo’s book but I’m really happy I got it from the library and it’s already getting so much easier to keep things neat–I understand why she boasts that none of her clients ever relapse to being slobs. For the first time, maybe ever, I know exactly what purses I own and where they are. Thanks to the KonMari folding and vertical storage I can fit all of my pants in one drawer where they used to be shoved into three. I’m planning on  reviewing the book but I wanted to wait until I had a handle on the process. Spoiler: If you buy into it, and approach with the knowledge that you can take and leave certain aspects, it totally works!

I don’t even remember anything else about this week. All told I think I got rid of 15 trash bags worth of stuff. Plus the furniture. I still have A LOT to do but I’m so excited!

If you want to see how my month in reading is shaking out be sure to check out my June Reading Tracker.

How was your week?

P. S. I Still Love You: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

*P. S. I Still Love You is the sequel to To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. As such there are major spoilers for To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before in this review.*

“You only know you can do something if you keep on doing it.”

psistillloveLara Jean didn’t know what to expect when all of her love letter’s were mailed. She knew she was upset and panicked. What she didn’t know was that the letter she wrote Peter K in eighth grade would lead to a fake relationship. She never would have guessed that it would lead to something more.

Lara Jean knows she loves Peter now. For real, not as part of their pretend dating. But she still doesn’t want to get her heart broken. She’s still afraid of getting hurt.

When another love letter makes its way back to her, Lara Jean is confronted with feelings from a crush she never quite forgot. Lara Jean might have feelings for two boys. But she can only be with one in P. S. I Still Love You (2015) by Jenny Han.

Find it on Bookshop.

P. S. I Still Love You is the sequel to To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and picks up shortly after the first book’s conclusion.

It’s hard to give this book a “real” review because there are a lot of spoilers–even with the summary because a lot of the driving plot mentioned above doesn’t come until after the first hundred pages.

P. S. I Still Love You was one of my most anticipated 2015 releases. While To All the Boys I Loved Before is a solid novel and functions perfectly as a standalone, I loved Lara Jean enough to want to read more. I also had a sneaking suspicion this book would have more John Ambrose McClaren* which I definitely needed in my life. (Not going to lie, he is my favorite character.)

This book does not disappoint. Although a lot of the plot focuses on Lara Jean’s romantic life, this story has a lot more going on. Lara Jean is still trying to be a good sister and live up to the standard set by Margot. She’s still taking care of Kitty and their father. She has to face cyber-bullying and changing friendships. Thanks to Peter (and her letters getting sent) Lara Jean has also come out of her shell and is trying new things.

It is particularly poignant to watch Lara Jean learn that the bonds that tie people together don’t always last forever and, more importantly, that sometimes that is the best thing for everyone. This story is imbued with a sense of nostalgia for the past as Lara Jean looks back on moments from her childhood but also immense optimism in terms of facing the unknown as she wonders what might come next.

Although Lara Jean doesn’t always make the decisions I would make in her position, she is such a well-written character that it doesn’t matter. Everything Lara Jean does and chooses makes perfect sense for her character in the moment so that the overall ending is deeply satisfying and absolutely perfect given the arc of both books.

P. S. I Still Love You is a must-read for fans of Jenny Han and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Also highly recommended for readers who enjoy slice-of-life novels with fun families, light (happy) romances, and especially for readers looking for a book that encapsulates nostalgia and optimism like no other.

*Follow me to my Exclusive Bonus Content if you want to talk more about John Ambrose McClaren (with some spoilers)!

Possible Pairings: Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira, The Beauty of the Moment by Tanaz Bhatena, A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody, Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum, Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo, Nothing But the Truth (And a Few White Lies) by Justina Chen, Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg, I Wanna Be Where You Are by Kristina Forest, I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo, Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar, Shuffle, Repeat by Jen Klein, The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder, The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart, When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon, Analee in Real Life by Janelle Milanes, Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins, This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

Exclusive Bonus Content: I loved John Ambrose McClaren just from the snippets we got about him in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Sometimes with a secondary character you can tell, by how they are written, that they are loved by the author and have a bigger story of their own. That was definitely the case with John and I was absolutely thrilled to find he played a bigger role in the novel.

While the romance aspect of P. S. I Still Love You didn’t go exactly how I had wanted (Team JAM in case I wasn’t clear) it still totally made sense for Lara Jean. I also feel pretty strongly that she and JAM will find their way back to each other, but I’m okay with having to imagine that part on my own–that’s the nice thing about open-ended conclusions to a favorite book.

So obviously I had strong feelings about these characters. Because of that, I made some buttons for any fans who want to declare their allegiance. You can see them all in my Buttons inspired by To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before & P. S. I Still Love You post. Also you can tell from my blog’s sidebar which teams I have chosen.

July (2015) Reading Tracker

You can also see what I read and received in June.

Books Read:

  1. Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross
  2. Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarten
  3. Red Rising by Pierce Brown
  4. The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch
  5. Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini
  6. The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg
  7. A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce
  8. The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler
  9. A Little in Love by Susan Fletcher
  10. Tonight the Streets are Ours by Leila Sales
  11. Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  12. Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

Books On Deck:

  1. Lion Heart by A. C. Gaughen
  2. Nameless by Lili St. Crow
  3. The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle
  4. The Truth Commission by Susan Juby
  5. Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale
  6. Love Fortunes and Other Disasters by Kimberly Karalius
  7. Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray
  8. Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan
  9. Blood Red Road by Moira Young
  10. Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson
  11. A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin

Books Bought:

  1. A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab (at a signing and it has the red endpapers!)
  2. Rebel Mechanics by Shanna Swendsen (like I keep saying, I need a sequel. I’m doing my part buying a copy and recommending it. Are you doing your part?)

Gifted/Traded Books:

  1. Alias Hook
  2. The Demon King (both from Krystal. Thank you!)
  3. The Inventor’s Secret by Andrea Cremer (thank you Kelly!)

Arcs Received:

  1. Forbidden by Kimberley Griffiths Little
  2. The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brackenbrough

If you want to see how I’m doing with BEA 2015 books check here.

July 1: Two books and only one day into July?! I’ll take it!

July 6: Squeezing in two books that weren’t originally on deck (Red Rising and The Eleventh Plague).

July 9: Went off list again to discover Trial by Fire is not my bag and to read The Paper Magician which is delightful so far (thank you again to Krystal for sending it my way!).

July 13: The Paper Magician was delightful! Just barely started A Curse as Dark and Gold.

July 21. Haven’t been doing too well with keeping on top of books I need to read. Oops. The Summer of Chasing Mermaids is delightful so far.

July 24: I haven’t really been adhering to my “books on deck” queue at all this month. I’ll just have to try harder in August.

July 28: Starting Just Ella which is a book I “need” to read even if it wasn’t on this month’s list. I also have made the decision to not read Lion Heart. It’s a total waste of money because I bought that book and the first in the series (not to mention already having book 2). But I felt completely betrayed by the second book and I just can’t do it.