Romance

Book Review: Love and Gelato

Author
Welch, Jenna Evans
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

This is one of those books that gets better in the days after finishing it. Of course, the white-washed love triangle was a little stale, but I love a good romance in an unfamiliar city. The beginning of the story had so much potential, but I was slightly let down by the end. The last few chapters, which should be the best as each character frantically interacts to find their resolutions with others, just felt rushed. Here's where it gets good though. I love how the main character naturally found a true friend in her first days in Italy. I love how they find parallels around the city to her mother's own adventures there. Finally, I love how her mother's story, though rocky, helped Lina find her own path. If any of this sounds intriguing, try this book!
Grade 12

Reviewer's Name
Maggie

Book Review: XOXO

Author
Oh, Axie
Rating
2 stars = Meh
Review

XOXO features a teenage Korean-American girl, Jenny, who plays cello and one night meets a mysterious boy named Jaewoo at her uncle's karaoke place. They end up going to a festival and Jaewoo leaves and never texts Jenny again. Jenny goes on but moves in with her grandma she never met in South Korea and finds Jaewoo is actually a k-pop star who goes to her new school. Throughout the novel Jenny and Jaewoo grow close and learn about the struggles of balancing the expectations that come with talent and love. I enjoyed the concept of k-pop mixing with the famous-common person trope as that is what drew me in initially, but the novel was very predictable and surface level. Throughout the book the characters didn''t have much character development, there's no plot twists, and the only interesting part and pro of the novel is the concept.

Grade 12

Reviewer's Name
Tisha

Book Review: We'll Always Have Summer

Author
Han, Jenny
Rating
1 star = Yuck!
Review

We'll Always Have Summer is the last novel in the Summer I Turned Pretty trilogy.
Like the second novel, We'll Always Have Summer was another book that did not contribute to the series at all and was another story of completely useless drawn-out drama. Somehow, the last novel's conflict was even worse than the last. Turns out, Belly and Jeremiah decide to get engaged, and surprise, surprise, Belly still harbors feelings for Conrad. Except for this time, Belly is about to be married to Jeremiah. With too many practically cheating moments to count, the novel makes you realize that Belly might not be much of a good person, and probably doesn't deserve Conrad or Jeremiah. In my opinion, the person you most feel sympathy for is not the protagonist or love interest, but Jeremiah himself. With his own brother and fiance sneaking around his back, the novel really attempts to romanticize Belly and Conrad's forbidden romance but fails miserably. Overall, We'll Always Have Summer is a pretty unsatisfying book to wrap up the trilogy and makes readers despise Belly and Conrad even more.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name
Michelle

Book Review: It's Not Summer Without You

Author
Han, Jenny
Rating
2 stars = Meh
Review

It's Not Summer Without You is the second installment to The Summer I Turned Pretty trilogy. In my opinion, this novel and plot seemed a little stretched out, in attempts to lengthen the series. The novel was pretty much the same as the first, with Belly constantly stringing along with Jeremiah while also battling feelings with Conrad. Except for this time, Belly is actually in a relationship with Jeremiah, making the whole situation much worse. Throughout the whole novel, I could not help but cringe constantly. The fact that Jeremiah and Conrad were brothers made the whole thing with Belly much worse. Belly is in a relationship with one brother, but secretly in love with the other. Clearly, a recipe for disaster, and Belly completely does not handle these situations in a logical or considerate way, making the whole novel seem like a huge jumbled mess. Overall, I feel like It's Not Summer Without You was a totally unnecessary addition to the series, and that the author could have wrapped up the plot easily at the end of the first novel of The Summer I Turned Pretty.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name
Michelle

Book Review: The Summer I Turned Pretty

Author
Han, Jenny
Rating
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review

The Summer I Turned Pretty is a teen romance series written by Jenny Han, author of the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series. While the novel has a promising plot, containing a cute beachside childhood romance between Isabel "Belly" and her two childhood friends Jeremiah and Conrad Fisher, the plot for me got a little mixed up in the middle of the novel. Belly starts off by informing us readers of her longtime crush on Conrad but claiming that she doesn't have such feelings toward him anymore. However, it becomes painfully obvious that Belly does in fact still harbor feelings toward Conrad and is unhealthily pushing down these feelings by using other guys to make up for him. In my opinion, Belly is not a likable main character and displays many toxic traits throughout the novel. She consistently strings along innocent guys and is totally unaware of her own negative behaviors. However, I understand that the novel is supposed to encapsulate Belly being a typical teenager, discovering romance and etcetera. While I didn't particularly enjoy Belly in the first book, and couldn't really cheer her on as a protagonist, I have to admit that some of her rash behaviors did mirror common traits that many young teen girls, such as myself go through. Overall, while The Summer I Turned Pretty did not have a likable main character, it did have a couple of sweet moments and did illustrate the pains of growing up well.

Reviewer's Name
Michelle

Book Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After

Author
Perkins, Stephanie
Rating
2 stars = Meh
Review

Isla and the Happily Ever After is the third installment in the Anna and the French Kiss series. In my opinion, this book was far better than the Anna and the French Kiss series but still contains a couple of flaws with it. To start off, Isla and Josh's love story was pretty sweet and contained just the right amount of cheesiness. I enjoyed that their romance followed a typical, but also a well-done trope of the sunshiney girl versus the more brooding introverted boy. However, despite some of the cute moments, I couldn't ignore the glaring fact that Isla and Josh's story seemed way too sudden. Right after they meet, they practically dive into their relationship right away, with no suspense or build-up. Isla and Josh rush right into the thick of things, something that made the story seem a little rushed and underdeveloped.
Isla as a character also seemed slightly underdeveloped, because I could not really find myself relating or having any strong feelings towards her at all. Isla was a very "meh" character, her personality traits mirroring mediocrity. Adding on to Isla, her obsession with Josh was also a little worrying. Isla seemed to pin everything about herself to Josh, to the point where she felt like she didn't deserve someone as great as him. At some point in the book, I felt that Isla's only character trait was her romance with Josh and that she relied on him far too much. Overall, while the novel had some weak points, I'd say it achieved the minimum of what a cheesy and sweet teen romance book should be. However, I hesitate to say that this book was a well-thought-out work. If a cheesy romance is what you're looking for, there are thousands of far better romances you should reach for before this one.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name
Michelle

Book Review: Anna and the French Kiss

Author
Perkins, Stephanie
Rating
1 star = Yuck!
Review

Anna and the French Kiss is supposed to be a sweet teen love story, following Anna, a senior in high school who suddenly gets sent to a foreign school in Paris. While I could see what Perkins was going for, the whole "teen cliche love story" was not executed well. For one, Anna is far from a likable protagonist. Although having dreams to be a professional female film critic, when Anna is forced to attend school in France, she claims that she is shocked when she discovers that movie theatres exist in France. It's hard to believe that an avid film watcher is so ignorant of the fact that other countries besides America also have movie theatres. Not to mention that France is one of the major film capitals of the world. Anna continues displaying an almost disbelieving amount of ignorance when she also avoids her school's cafeteria because she doesn't know how to order food in french. Later, she is told that the school's chef does indeed know how to speak English, and that one doesn't have to be fluent in French to speak to him. Anna also is unaware that in France, most people have a basic grasp of the English language, and thinks that nobody knows how to speak English, thus convincing herself that she must learn French. Anna is almost too oblivious of the world outside her to be believable, but over and over again, Anna continues to dumbfound readers by displaying more and more ignorant thoughts and behaviors. Adding on, Anna's love interest is also far from a likable character. Etienne St. Clair (a name that might be too overboardly french to be true), is a boy who conveniently has a British accent, but is also somehow French and American, all at the same time. It's almost like Perkins wanted Etienne to be French and American, but also to have the typical British accent that every teen fiction love interest must have all at once, thus resulting in the confusing cliche mess that Etienne is.
Lastly, Anna and the French Kiss, while containing problematic characters, also contains problematic behaviors, such as the romanticization of cheating and an absurdly ignorant and offensive main character. While I understand the route Perkins may have intended to take, Anna and the French Kiss was far from a cheesy and sweet romance novel.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name
Michelle

Book Review: Wings

Author
Pike, Aprilynne
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

Wings focuses on a teenage girl, Laurel, who starts to experience strange magic-like events all during the first few months of her moving and going to a public school. When I saw the book, the hints of magic, romance, and the beautiful cover accompanied by the imagery in the synopsis really caught my attention. I did enjoy the romance aspects of the novel as it showed a wholesomeness of teenage couples and the friendship that led to it. Additionally, I enjoyed seeing Laurel grow more into the role of a strong protagonist by taking risks and learning to love, both herself and others. When reading Wings I found parts of the story to be interesting and adventurous, but kept to the trope of magic faeries and many main plot points were fairly predictable. Even though parts of the book seem to be predictable, I would still recommend it, as it is an interesting take on magic in our world with Laurel developing more as a protagonist throughout.

Reviewer's Name
Tisha

Book Review: Heartstopper

Author
Oseman, Alice
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

I'm not a huge graphic novel fan because previous ones I've read have been too complicated to get hooked on. This series totally changed my mind! Heartstopper is a wholesome story of two schoolboys who fall in love and deal with all sorts of backlash from it. Even through the pain and sadness that bullying can cause, Charlie and Nick have a lovely way of persevering and having great communication with their diverse support system. It teaches that no matter how alien you might feel, there is always someone ready to listen and accept you. Plus, if you like this series already, try out the Netflix series for a beautiful adaptation of it.
Grade 11

Reviewer's Name
Maggie

Book Review: We Were Liars

Author
Lockhart, E.
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

The average reviews for this book are lower than usual, but it really surprised me. The story felt like a true story and dystopian and fiction all at once, not to mention the plot twist. The setting of an isolated vacation island set the background for a unique storyline between a few families with dark secrets. I enjoyed the main characters' personalities too, though there were some comments they made about homophobia and racism that were kind of weird and sounded like the author didn't do much research about the LGBTQ+ and POC communities. It was very entertaining still, and I would recommend it if you need a suspenseful story to read quickly.
Grade 11

Reviewer's Name
Maggie