Summer Reading Recommendations: The YA Edition

Instead of doing one mega summer reading recommendations post, I wanted to spread the summer reading love around and do recommendations in stages. While last week I shared summer reading recs based on what I read in 2019, today I’ll be talking about all the YA books that are perfect summertime reads. 

When I think of YA summer reads, my mind instantly goes to Huntley Fitzpatrick’s My Life Next Door. My Life Next Door was THE hot book of 2014/2015, especially on BookTube. In honor of this post, I actually reread My Life Next Door during my beach and pool days this week! It wasn’t as amazing as I remembered it to be – it definitely moved down from a 5 star to a 4 star read because it really didn’t provide solutions to the book’s conflicts – it still is a really great atmospheric summer read, as it takes place in a Connecticut beach town. I never read the companion novel, The Boy Most Likely To, so I actually might give it a read this summer! 

Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon – Althought it doesn’t come out until July 28th, you better adjust your summer reading plans now to include Rachel Lynn Solomon’s upcoming novel, Today Tonight Tomorrow. Taking place on the last day of senior year, enemies Rowan and Neil must pair together to win their senior class game. This book’s swoony romance and adventure provides for a fun way to fulfill some wanderlust this summer. 

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett – I am a firm believer that all of Jenn Bennett’s YA contemporaries make for perfect summer reads, but Starry Eyes especially does so! The book follows best friends turned enemies Zorie and Lennon’s group camping trip gone wrong. 

Unclaimed Baggage by Jen Doll – One book that I always wish got more love is Jen Doll’s Unclaimed Baggage – how can its adorable cover NOT grab your attention! I actually read Unclaimed Baggage on vacation two summers ago. It is such a unique summer contemporary, following three teens and unlikely friends working at a lost luggage store for the summer.Read More »

P.S. I LOVE IT: P.S. I Still Love You Movie Review

If there was one thing this bookish fangirl absolutely had to do on February 12,  it was watch the sequel adaptation of her favorite YA contemporary series: P.S. I Still Love You! Just like the first film, P.S. I Still Love You was such a cozy and comforting movie that I know I’ll be returning to again and again!

9781534469266_p0_v3_s550x406P.S. I Still Love You is really Lara Jean and Peter’s story (and also a little bit of John Ambrose’s). The To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before plot did revolve around the couple, but there were a lot of moments about the Song-Covey sisters, so it was a bit of a transition going into this installment. Either way, I loved settling into Lara Jean and Peter’s relationship. I seriously need to learn how to make Valentine’s Day cards like Lara Jean’s! I was so happy that she makes cherry tarts for him just like in the book. While I have much, MUCH love for John Ambrose, it still made me sad when Lara Jean and Peter K. go through some challenges. I do think Peter could have been a lot more honest about things involving Gen, but I think Lara Jean also could have been a tad more open about things with John Ambrose.

Outside of Peter K. and Lara Jean, there was of course so much that I loved about this movie.  Kitty’s moments were still spot on, although I wish we did get some more Margot outside of the one FaceTime phone call. However, Lara Jean’s true mentor in this installment is none other than Stormy! There were definitely some changes to the Belleview storyline, the retirement community Lara Jean volunteers in, but I’m so, so glad Stormy was still part of it- although I’m still a little sad that we didn’t get to see Lara Jean in her victory rolls and John Ambrose in uniform. Back to the Song-Covey family, I’m also really happy they kept the Mr.Covey and Ms.Rothchild storyline (and that’s where I didn’t mind not having Margot’s mixed feelings about the situation, whoops). I actually think my favorite character in P.S. I Still Love You was Chris! Her personality and spunk was just so well done (along with her amazing eye shadow)  and I liked her own romance storyline.Read More »

P.S. I Still Love You Viewing Party Tips

9781534469266_p0_v3_s550x406One of the most, if not the most, anticipated book-to-film adaptions of 2020 will be gracing our Netflix screens on February 12th: P.S. I Still Love You! Based on the second book in Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series, P.S. I Still Love You picks up where we left off with Lara Jean and Peter K. at the end of the first film and introduces a much beloved boy in Lara Jean’s life: John Ambrose McClaren! 

Everyone knows that I have a lot of love for the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before books and films. This series is just so cozy and there’s so much in them (desserts included) that can help make for the best viewing experience. Whether you’ll be having a solo viewing (which I’ll definitely be doing at some point so that this book nerd can do her usual book to film comparison), gathering your best girl friends for a Galentine’s Day celebration, or ringing in Valentine’s Day with your valentine, the following tips will make for the best P.S. I Still Love You watching experience. 

Viewing Party Prep 

Choose a Theme: Galentine’s, Valentine’s, and Party in the USA 

My favorite holiday inspired by Parks and Recreation, P.S. I Still Love You comes out the day before Galentine’s Day. Whether you’re watching with your best gal pals on the 12th, 13th, or later on, embrace your inner Lara Jean and Chris. 

Because of the release date’s proximity to Galentine’s Day and Valentine’s Day, decor and food options can be really simple this time of year. However, I think the most unique way and most true to the book way to go with a USA themed party inspired by Lara Jean’s USO party at Belleview. 

Bake your heart out 

One of my favorite elements of the TATBILB world is Lara Jean’s love for baking. Baking and desserts are a huge part of the books, and I was so happy to see Lara Jean’s cupcake and cooking baking skills brought to the TATBILB film. I have recipes on the blog inspired by both To All the Boy I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You.

Snickerdoodles are the go-to treat in P.S. I Still Love You, but Lara Jean’s cake making skills are definitely put the test as well. I really want to try to make her Reese’s Pieces cake for the peanut butter lovers in my life one day. If you’re watching with friends and family, have everyone bring desserts and even make a competition out of it! For the true TATBILB and baking fans in your life, step it up a notch by only allowing desserts that are also featured in the books. 

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Pre-Viewing & Viewing Activities 

Rewatch TATBILB before jumping into P.S. I Still Love You 

I’ve definitely rewatched TATBILB on more on than one occasion, but I think it would be really fun to binge both films back to back.

Wear your best Lara Jean inspired outfit 

It’s no secret that Lara Jean is one of the best dressed fictional characters ever. Peter Pan collar shirts, scrunchies and Margot’s favorite Fair Isle sweater all make for great options. This is also another competition idea for group viewings. 

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P.S. I Still Love You Inspired Recipes

P.S., I still love Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series very much.

After falling head-over-heels in love with Netflix’s adaptation of the first book in my all-time favorite contemporary series, I really cannot wait for Susan Johnson and co.’s take on the sequel, P.S. I Still Love You.

Since I reread P.S. I Still Love You last summer- I’m finally planning on rereading Always and Forever, Lara Jena this year- I decided to just skim through P.S. I Still Love You. While doing my reread skim, I once again fell in love with so many of the desserts Lara Jean bakes! The following three recipes are based on desserts Lara Jean makes in P.S. I Still Love You and will make for the perfect treats while watching the new movie.

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Peanut Butter Crinkle Cookies

These peanut butter crinkle cookies are inspired by the Reese’s Pieces cake John Ambrose McClaren would love for Lara Jean to bake. I’d definitetly love to make this cake for all the peanut butter lovers in my life- I am unfortunately not a peanut butter fan in the slightest bit- but I admit that I tend to leans towards cookies over cake. These peanut butter crinkle cookies are a hit in my family. Whenever my sister finds herself in a baking mood, these are her go-to treat for friends and family.

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Snickerdoodles

If you remember my To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before inspired recipes, you’ll know that I am once again bringing this recipe to the blog. Snickerdoodles have an even bigger presence in P.S. I Still Love You. They’re still Lara Jean’s go-to forgiveness cookie for Kitty, she makes a batch for Peter K., and she pops them in the oven when Ms.Rothchild comes over for dinner. I considered sharing my truly made from scratch recipes, but honestly nothing tops the cake mix version in my opinion.

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REREADING FAVORITES & SERIES: 2019 Reread Goals

Us book bloggers (okay, ME) always talk about books that we need to reread.

I am definitely someone who’s been working on her rereading over the past two years -yes, my TBR still scares me, but we’re working on our relationship. I intend to reread the following books  at some point this year, either for revisiting a favorite read or necessary for continuing a series.

FAVORITES REREADS

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Stay Sweet by Siobhan Vivian

Stay Sweet was the type of book I went in expecting to love and I thankfully did. Siobhan Vivian has become one of my favorite contemporary authors. I’m really hoping her next book comes out this year, but nevertheless, I want to revisit Stay Sweet to re-experience those ice cream and summertime feels.

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The Anna and the French Kiss trilogy by Stephanie Perkins: Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, & Isla and the Happily Ever After

The Anna and the French Kiss trilogy is such a YA staple. I often reference these three book in Top Five Wednesday or recommendations posts, so I think it’s time to re-learn why I love this series so much.

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Attending the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before Advance Screening

On Tuesday night, I attended my first advance screening for my most anticipated movie EVER of the year: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before! I was beyond excited for the opportunity to attend an advance screening for one of my favorite books of all-time. This experience was also pretty special since To All the Boys I’ve Loved is a Netflix original, so now I can say that I’ve watched the film both on the big screen and small screen.

I went to the screening with my completely non-bookish, but movie-loving sister. Who else could have brought to a rom-com about sisterhood?? We got to the move theater in uptown New York City a little over an hour before the event’s official start time at 7 PM. I’ve heard that this is common with advance screenings, especially through gofobo, but we could not believe how long the line was when we got there! It had to be at least 50 people deep, so I’m thankful that we decided to go right to the theater instead of getting dinner beforehand.

My sister and I didn’t get into the theater until 7 PM. I really don’t know how many people were able to get in after us because by the time we made it in, the theater seemed pretty filled up. gofobo said that the theater was overbooked beforehand and seats were not guaranteed, so unfortunately I don’t know what happened to all the people behind us in line. Luckily, the actual movie tickets we got once inside already had assigned seats (we had perfect spots in the middle!) and we received free popcorn and drinks. Everyone also received their own Netflix-inspired swag bag, which included the movie tie-in edition of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (so glad I didn’t buy it!), a notebook, a pencil, and bookmark.

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While my full review will be coming on Monday (this fangirl needs to watch the movie 2 or 40 more times), I will say now that To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before completely met my expectations and more. While a few minor details were changed, I was so happy with how much the film felt like the book! It had all the warm feels, the Covey-Song sisters bond, and PLENTY of laugh-out-loud moments from Kitty.

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After the film ended, there was a Q&A featuring Jenny Han, Lana Condor (who plays Lara Jean), and Susan Johnson, the director of the film. The Q&A was on the shorter side, but it was so cool getting to hear from these awesome ladies. A few things that they revealed were: Jenny wrote love letters and kept them in a hatbox too, Lana couldn’t believe how long her hair was in the movie until watching the film, and Susan hopes for more romantic comedies. By the end, the audience was cheering for 2 more sequels -hopefully the Netflix executive in the room heard!

The Q&A was then followed by a signing with Jenny. I got the movie tie-in edition and my own copy of P.S. I Still Love You signed- now all of my Jenny Han books are signed!! I’m also so proud that said non-bookish sister also attended her very first book signing and got her copy signed! Even though she made me spoil the endings of the books for her on the way home.

Overall, I am so grateful for my experience at the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before advance screening. This movie is easily my favorite of the year, so make sure to watch it on Netflix now!

Have you watched To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before yet? What did you think?? Share in the comments!!

Burn for Burn Series Review

Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian are two of my favorite YA contemporary authors, so it was about time that I read their co-authored series, Burn for Burn. The Burn for Burn series includes, Burn for Burn, Fire with Fire, and Ashes to Ashes.

Burn for Burn Summary:

Jar Island is the type of place where people don’t have to lock their doors at night and parents can sleep easily, their daughters safe and sound in bed. But even bad things can happen to good girls, and sometimes the only way to make something right is to do something wrong. After this summer, Lillia can’t trust boys, and she’ll be damned if the same thing that happened to her happens to her little sister. Kat, Jar Island’s resident bad girl, is through with all of the cruel jokes and snide remarks thrown her way. And it’s all thanks to her ex-best friend. After four years of being away because of a boy, Mary is back to Jar Island a different person. But like Kat and Lillia, Mary wants one thing: sweet revenge.

Cover Lust: Covers with people on them are hit or miss for me, but I love how all 3 books feature the same models. I’m a little bummed that the third hardcover book took on a different style when it came to the lettering. But I am obsessed with the naked look of all 3 books.

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My Ratings:

Burn for Burn: 5/5 Stars

Fire with Fire: 5/5 Stars

Ashes to Ashes: 4/5 Stars

 My Thoughts:

I didn’t give Burn for Burn and Fire with Fire 5 stars each because they were the best books that I’ve ever read. These books are just so enjoyable to read, having read each in less than two days floating around my pool. They were such a throwback to some of my first YA books, i.e. cheesily delicious books. The perfect way to describe a series, am I right?

I’m all for reading books that place near the beach or water during the summer. Burn for Burn takes place on Jar Island, starting with the last week of summer through the end of Lilia and Kat’s senior year. While it’s not a summer contemporary, since it takes over the course of one school year, there are many beach feels. We also get the occasional trip off-island to Kat’s favorite music shop and Lillia’s apartment in Boston. While it’s never explicitly said, I’m assuming that Jar Island is has a similar location to Martha’s Vineyard, off the coast of Massachusetts. Fantasy books have made me too lenient on maps.

And speaking of cheesily delicious books, one of the many reasons I enjoyed this series is because it reminded a little bit like The Clique! Most of the privilege comes from Lillia and her core group of friends, but any description of her lifestyle, let alone closet, reminded me so much of Massie Block.

But I don’t want to overstretch The Clique comparison too much because our three main characters and perspectives, Lillia, Kat, and Mary, are not bratty. Lillia is the privileged, all-American girl, Kat the bad girl, and Mary the quiet one with a hidden past. While I liked Kat more and more with each installment, Lillia was my favorite because I liked to explore her relationship and friendship dynamics. All three books definitely play around with some high school tropes, like partying and dating, but it does take some more serious topics, like sexual assault and bullying.

I went into Burn for Burn knowing there were going to be supernatural elements , but I was honestly expecting all three girls to have some sort of powers from the get-go. In reality, the supernatural element comes into the end of Burn for Burn and Fire with Fire and takes up a large part of Ashes to Ashes. Which causes you have to have some ah-ha or ohhhhhhhhh moments when thinking about the first two books. While I didn’t mind the supernatural so much, I didn’t really like its direction in Ashes to Ashes because it controlled a lot of the plot and made me scared for everyone.

Overall, the Burn for Burn trilogy is the perfect binge-worthy read, especially if you want to kick back with a high school drama type read.

Have you read Burn for Burn? What are some of your favorite binge-worthy reads? Share in the comments!

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before Inspired Baking

As you may know, Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is one of my all-time favorite books and series. AND IT’S BEEN TURNED INTO A NETFLIX FILM THAT COMES OUT ON AUGUST 17! In preparation for the movie, I of course had to at least reread To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. And P.S. I Still Love You. And my Always and Forever, Lara Jean reread is still yet to come, but IT WILL.

While rereading, I found so many new favorites quotes, many expectedly coming from Kitty, but I was really into all of Lara Jean and company’s baking. Since one of the Song sisters’ most beloved Christmas traditions is their Christmas Cookie Bonanza, it only seems fair to make it all about cookies! I’ll be sharing with you three cookie recipes inspired by To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

One of Lara Jean’s goals in the trilogy’s final book, Always and Forever, Lara Jean, is to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. The recipe below is my family’s go-to recipe for chocolate chip cookie bars, which is the perfect on-the-go snack or companion for some late night reading. Plus it’s easier to lose track of how many bars you eat vs. cookies! This recipe can also be used to make regular chocolate chip cookies.

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Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles are Lara Jean’s key for getting Kitty on her good side. While I do make 100% homemade Snickerdoodles from time to time, I find that my family likes Snickerdoodles made from yellow cake mix best!

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White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

I will forever be a Peter K. girl, but Josh’s favorite cookies sound too good to pass up! This recipe is taken directly from the US paperback edition of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.

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How excited are you for To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before to hit Netflix? What are your favorite cookies? Share in the comments!

My Favorite Summer Contemporary Books

summercs.jpgContemporary books set during the summer time are among my favorite types of books. There’s just something about them that makes me want to run to the beach or spend days by the pool (which I end up doing 99.9% of the time)! Listed below are some of my favorite contemporaries set during my favorite season.

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson– Frankly, any of Morgan Matson’s novels are great summer contemporaries, but I do love Second Chance Summer the most (even though it caused me to cry A LOT). After they receive devastating news, Taylor and her family decide to spend one last summer together at their lake house in the Poconos Mountains.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares– The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants will always have a special place in my heart because it was one of the very first YA book series that I read. All of the books in the series take place during the summer, with the pants traveling between Carmen, Tibby, Lena, and Bridget throughout their various locations. If you’re also looking for some summery films, I definitely recommend checking out this series’ film adaptions as well.

My Life Next Door by Huntley FitzpatrickMy Life Next Door isn’t just about a summer romance, as it really incorporates family (which I often adore in most if not all young-adult books that I read). Samantha Reed wonders what it’s like to be a member of the Garrett family, her loud and messy neighbors, until she starts dating their son, Jase. Jase and the Garretts embrace Samantha into their family, and Samantha finds herself not only in love with Jase, but the whole family.

The Summer I Turned Pretty trilogy by Jenny Han– I marathoned Jenny Han’s The Summer I Turned Pretty series last summer and I’m still so happy that I did. While there’s some different vibes from her To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series, Jenny Han again proves that she’s one of the queens of young-adult contemporary, writing about Belly, Jeremiah, and Conrad’s summers at their beach house. This series has had some really pretty cover changes, but I recommend getting the 3-book bindup from Target (bargain+super summery cover).

The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord– One of my recent favorite summer contemporaries, The Names They Gave Us follows Lucy’s summer working at a summer for troubled kids and teens. Lucy is struggling herself, between her mom’s cancer coming back, her recent break-up with her longtime boyfriend, and trying to connect with her faith as her mom’s health gets worse. The Names They Gave Us is a great summer contemporary for its setting and its emotion-filled plot. I have a full review here.

What are some of your favorite summer contemporaries? Share in the comments!

The Book Cake Tag

If there are two things that I love in this world, it’s books and cake. I was inspired by the release of Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han to do the book cake tag this week! Lara Jean is the ultimate baker, and in my opinion, she should have her own Youtube channel dedicated to baking . I’d be the first subscriber for sure! The Book Cake Tag was created by Booktuber suddenlylorna, I love her creativity with this tag!

Flour – A book with a slow start but really picked up later

Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson. I actually DNF’ed this book when I first read it because of its slow start. ’m so happy that I gave it a second chance because it’s a great summer contemporary.

Butter – A book with a rich plot

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. I’ll Give You the Sun is just so beautifully written, following the perspectives of twins Noah and Jude. I love how the plot interwove between Noah and Jude,  I was completely memorized by this book.

Eggs- A book that you thought was going to bad, but was actually quite enjoyable

The Last Boy and Girl in the World by Siobhan Vivian. I was a bit skeptical of reading The Last Boy and Girl in the World because of the mixed reviews I saw on Goodreads. I ended really enjoying this story, and it made me consider what I would do if my town went underwater!

Sugar- A sugary, sweet book

In honor of my inspiration for the tag, P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han. I loved this book so a bit more than To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before because it put an even bigger emphasis on the Song sisters and Lara’s life. Lara also bakes some cakes that I wish came along with the book.

Icing – A book that has everything you enjoy

Cinder by Marissa Meyer. Cinder has it all– action, humor (hello, Iko!), romance, politics, fairytale retelling, and more. I definitely recommended picking up the entire The Lunar Chronicles series if you haven’t already, as these elements are incorporated throughout the entire series.

Sprinkles- A book series that will pick you up when you’re feeling down

The Anna and the French Kiss series by Stephanie Perkins. Contemporaries are my go-to reads when I’m feeling sad, and between these books’ gorgeous covers and cute romances, Stephanie Perkin’s series is sure to please.

Cherry on Top- Your favorite book this year

Vicious by V.E. Schwab. I cannot stop thinking about this book about two college roommates turned arch nemesis (I have a full review posted where I have all the fangirl feels), and V.E. Schwab recently announced that a sequel is coming out in 2018! Prepare the rereading!!!

What would your perfect book cake be made of? Share in the comments below!