Review: The Ex Hex (#1) by Erin Sterling

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Vivienne Jones handled the biggest break-up of her life the way that any witch would: vodka, bubble baths, and a curse on her ex.
That was nine years ago. Now Rhys Penhallow, descendant of the town’s founders, breaker of hearts and still irritatingly gorgeous, is back. Rhys has returned to the quaint town of Graves Glen to recharge the ley lines and make an appearance at the annual fall festival. But when his every move results in calamity, Vivi realises that hexing her ex might not have been so harmless after all…
As the curse starts to affect the magic of the town, resulting in murderous wind-up toys, an outraged ghost, and a surprisingly talkative cat, Vivi and Rhys must put their personal feelings aside and work together to break the curse and save not just the town, but also Rhys’s life.

I’m usually drawn to contemporaries when they have some kind of twist – like the magical twist in this one! Unfortunately this one came out only just before Halloween, because it would have been even more perfect to read it in October. But reading it as a buddy read with my friends in November was definitely a close second best!

This book genuinely made me laugh out loud from the very first couple of pages. It was so fun to read and had a lot of entertaining aspects. I’ve heard it be described as Hocus Pocus but with sex, and it honestly did remind me of Hocus Pocus in parts!

the best cure for anything

I loved the two main characters and there was brilliant chemistry between them. This book had the perfect amount of spice and the sex scenes were funny as well as passionate. The writing was so easy to read and I could have very easily sped through this one.

I also really liked Rhys as a love interest. I loved that he was Welsh and the small Welsh elements and bits of Welsh language really won my heart! The setting was perfect too and I could really picture the small-town American Halloween events.

was candles and a bath

If you’re looking for a spicy romance with witty writing and an entertaining plot, definitely go and pick this one up!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Last Chance Books by Kelsey Rodkey

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Don’t you just love the smell of old books in the morning?
Madeline Moore does. Books & Moore, the musty bookstore her family has owned for generations, is where she feels most herself. Nothing is going to stop her from coming back after college to take over the store from her beloved aunt.
Nothing, that is—until a chain bookstore called Prologue opens across the street and threatens to shut them down.
Madeline sets out to demolish the competition, but Jasper, the guy who works over at Prologue, seems intent on ruining her life. Not only is he taking her customers, he has the unbelievable audacity to be… extremely cute.
But that doesn’t matter. Jasper is the enemy and he will be destroyed. After all—all’s fair in love and (book) wars. 

I’ve been really looking forward to reading this one and it did slightly surprise me when it ended up appearing in my tbr for the prompt of lowest rated on my Goodreads shelf! Due to the low ratings, I was naturally a little hesitant to dive in, but I actually came out with a lot of love for this book.

I’ve heard this one is similar to You’ve Got Mail (surprise surprise, a movie I have never seen but am actually rectifying while writing this review), and this one follows Madeline and Jasper, who work at rival bookstores. I love the setup of this book and the premise has appealed to me for a while. What’s not to love – a girl wanting to save her family bookstore while also flirting with the cute guy from across the street?

And there really was a lot to love in this one. It was so entertaining and fun. It made me laugh, constantly. I listened to the audiobook and it had me chuckling all the time at witty one-liners. I admire authors who can make me laugh so much, because I don’t find I laugh out loud at books all that much. The only problem I had with the audiobook is that I really disliked the narrator at first, but I did manage to get used to it.

For the most part, I really liked Madeline, the main character. Although her initial views of relationships and commitment annoyed me slightly, I couldn’t help but root for her cause of trying to save the family bookshop. I also saw myself in her with her determination and stubbornness.

Although the family element of this one was quite toxic in places and the characters were hard to like sometimes, I liked how the book discussed these darker subjects. A large part of this book is following Madeline and her difficult relationship with her mother and rest of her family. Reading these aspects gave a completely different dynamic to the book that I found really interesting.

Overall, I can see why this book had low ratings but I really enjoyed it! It wasn’t without a few little problems, but it was super fun to read and had such entertaining elements.

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: On a Night Like This by Lindsey Kelk

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Within days of wishing she could change her life, Fran Cooper is acting assistant to a celebrity, on a yacht in the Mediterranean, and en route to a tiny Italian island and the glittering Crystal Ball, along with the world’s rich and famous.
When she – quite literally – bumps into a handsome American called Evan, a man able to keep his cool in the face of chaos, the magic really begins.
Evan makes her a promise: no last names, no life stories, just one unforgettable night. Yet Evan belongs at the Crystal Ball and Fran is a gatecrasher. They may be soulmates, but their homes are an ocean apart, and their lives a world apart. They’ll never meet again – unless, on a night like this, everything can change forever…

Thank you to Harper for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

It has taken me way too long to finally pick up a Lindsey Kelk book, but I jumped on the chance to read and review her upcoming release, On a Night Like This! In this book we follow Fran, who accepts a mysterious job as a personal assistant to megastar singer Juliette. Fran is thrown into a world of stardom and ends up reconsidering everything about her life back home because of it.

This book was so funny. I was immediately thrown into witty writing and laugh-out-loud one liners. I don’t often laugh out lout at books, but this one really did make me chuckle over and over again. The writing was so easy and felt less predictable than I expected. Once I picked this one up, I didn’t want to put it down. I was so absorbed in Fran’s story and just wanted to find out more about her life and how it would change as the book went on.

Fran made such a lovely main character and I clicked with her almost immediately. I sympathised so much with her and her situation, and it was so amazing to see how she learned about herself and grew as a person. Her friendship with Juliette was so entertaining to read about but also had some really heartfelt moments.

Overall, this book had such a beautiful mixture of self love, friendship and romance. It was both cliched in the best way put unpredictable at the same time. I really enjoyed reading it and I’m so glad I’ve finally picked up a Lindsey Kelk book!

★★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review | Of Curses and Kisses (#1) by Sandhya Menon

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Will the princess save the beast?
For Princess Jaya Rao, nothing is more important than family. When the loathsome Emerson clan steps up their centuries-old feud to target Jaya’s little sister, nothing will keep Jaya from exacting her revenge. Then Jaya finds out she’ll be attending the same elite boarding school as Grey Emerson, and it feels like the opportunity of a lifetime. She knows what she must do: Make Grey fall in love with her and break his heart. But much to Jaya’s annoyance, Grey’s brooding demeanor and lupine blue eyes have drawn her in. There’s simply no way she and her sworn enemy could find their fairy-tale ending…right?
His Lordship Grey Emerson is a misanthrope. Thanks to an ancient curse by a Rao matriarch, Grey knows he’s doomed once he turns eighteen. Sequestered away in the mountains at St. Rosetta’s International Academy, he’s lived an isolated existence—until Jaya Rao bursts into his life, but he can’t shake the feeling that she’s hiding something. Something that might just have to do with the rose-shaped ruby pendant around her neck…
As the stars conspire to keep them apart, Jaya and Grey grapple with questions of love, loyalty, and whether it’s possible to write your own happy ending.

I’m so glad I finally picked this up after having it on my TBR for a long time. Thank you to the Magical readathon for needing a book set in a school, as it made me finally be drawn to this one on my shelves! I read this one in a couple of days and I enjoyed it so much. It was such a fun ride and so entertaining.

This one really had Romeo and Juliet vibes and I couldn’t help but be drawn into the drama. We follow a Princess who wants to get revenge on a Lord and decides to try and break his heart, which initially I was a little worried about as I thought this would make me dislike the main character. However, I actually found them both more and more likable as the book went on and couldn’t help but falling for them.

Love? Does love make you feel ill, like you’re being tossed about on a stormy sea?

The plot was a little predictable at times but did leave me guessing and wanting to constantly read on. Even though some of the chapters felt quite long, I still only took a couple of days to read this as I felt like I was constantly being left on a cliffhanger. The writing was also so easy to digest and so easy to get through – I’ve only read a short story from Sandhya Menon before and I already knew I would love the writing.

I loved the mixture of fantasy and contemporary, and it’s something I’ve found out recently that I really love in books. The contemporary feeling made it so easy to read, but the fantasy idea gave a lot more depth to the story and made the plot slightly more unpredictable. It also kind of felt like a classic fairytale, which I actually really enjoyed.

Does it steal your sleep and make you feel like your insides are on fire?

Although this one was a little cliche and predictable at times, I still really enjoyed reading it and it felt a little like a guilty pleasure! I think I might pick up the others in the series at some point.

★★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: The Falling in Love Montage by Ciara Smyth

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Saoirse doesn’t believe in love at first sight or happy endings. If they were real, her mother would still be able to remember her name and not in a care home with early onset dementia. A condition that Saoirse may one day turn out to have inherited. So she’s not looking for a relationship. She doesn’t see the point in igniting any romantic sparks if she’s bound to burn out.
But after a chance encounter at an end-of-term house party, Saoirse is about to break her own rules. For a girl with one blue freckle, an irresistible sense of mischief, and a passion for rom-coms.
Unbothered by Saoirse’s no-relationships rulebook, Ruby proposes a loophole: They don’t need true love to have one summer of fun, complete with every cliché, rom-com montage-worthy date they can dream up—and a binding agreement to end their romance come fall. It would be the perfect plan, if they weren’t forgetting one thing about the Falling in Love Montage: when it’s over, the characters actually fall in love… for real.

I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while, and it really didn’t let me down. This book had a similar trope to fake-dating but with a twist, and I loved it. It was witty, clever and laugh-out-loud funny, but with deeper, dark moments too. It was fun, but also so much more emotional than I expected.

As someone who is moving slowly and cautiously away from YA fiction, especially contemporary YA fiction, I definitely need something with a twist to keep me interested and on my toes, which is exactly what The Falling in Love Montage did. This book was about that part of the rom-com film where the couple goes on dates and have a cute montage of them, well, falling in love. It’s the bit after the meet-cute and before the devastation, and it is exactly what the main characters of this book had planned for the summer.

“See, the thing about the falling in love montage,” she said, her voice hoarse,

What I expected from this story was a cute, summer romance. And I’m not saying it didn’t provide that, because it did, but it became so much more. I had tears in my eyes from reading about Saoirse’s story, which was a lot darker than I expected. Not only did she have a messy relationship and friendship history, she also had a mum with dementia who was only in her 50s. This really hit me harder than expected, and although I have no experience in the subject, I felt like it was written very well. I connected to Saorise a lot throughout this story, and the situation with her mum brought me close to tears at various points.

Saorise is a bit of an arrogant, stroppy teenager throughout this book, but I kind of loved it. Her witty comebacks were so funny, and her sarky attitude to life was highly entertaining. Even when you wanted to throw the book across the room at her decisions, she was completely self aware at how she was acting, which made it work. Also, she kind of has enough justification for being angry about a lot of the crap she has gone through. Her voice was unique and so was the writing style, which showed her thought processes really well.

“is that when it’s over, the characters have fallen in love.”

It was also lovely to see a YA book set in Ireland and with so many mentions of Irish culture. It is definitely something we don’t see a lot of in YA and really made this book stand out – it was such a joy to read about!

Overall, this was a really lovely story with a fun summer romance and also some emotional discussions. It was incredibly well written and unputdownable, and was a lovely journey to go on even if it was a little predictable in places.

CW: Dementia

★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Persuasion by Jane Austen

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What does persuasion mean – a firm belief, or the action of persuading someone to think something else? Anne Elliot is one of Austen’s quietest heroines, but also one of the strongest and the most open to change. She lives at the time of the Napoleonic wars, a time of accident, adventure, the making of new fortunes and alliances.

Yay for my first Jane Austen book, second classic of the year and first one of my Wordsworth set that I am actually reading this copy of! This is a book Mark recommended to me, and I knew I wanted it to be the first one I read in this set. If a cold Autumn day is the best time to read a Jane Austen book, maybe a snowy winter one can be second. I felt so cosy settling down with this book in the evenings with my fairylights on, it was just perfect.

Like many classics, I did find this a little dense. I’m not much of a classics reader usually (I’m really trying to get into them this year a little more!). I always find it takes me a while to settle into a classic and get used to the writing. I also have to get used to it taking me around double the amount of time it takes me to read YA fantasy and contemporary which I’m reading for most of the time! I definitely think a reread would be beneficial.

I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures.

Something that really surprised me about this book was how humorous I found it. The writing is so poetic and beautiful, but also funny. Austen can be sassy and brutal and I loved it, it made me chuckle to myself in parts. I loved the writing in every sense, other than it being naturally a little difficult to read due to just not being used to the time period. It was lyrical and I wanted to savour it, and I definitely made sure to take my time with it and really appreciate the writing.

Anne made for a very likable main character and her discussions of love, friendship, women in society and family were so interesting and well done. I loved the subtle romance between her and Captain Wentworth, which was pining but not overwhelming to the story. The letter everyone talks about when it comes to this book is so beautiful and such a high point for this book. I love how we spend the whole book with Anne, to see the letter in return. What a beautiful scene.

None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.

Overall, this was a beautifully told tale full of romance, lust and persistence. I felt very involved in the story, I loved the setting and the writing, and I can’t wait to read more from Jane Austen!

★★★★
4 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

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For Penny Lee, high school was a nonevent. She got decent grades, had a few friends, and even a boyfriend by senior year but basically she was invisible. Having just graduated from high school, she’s heading off to college in Austin, Texas, and she’s ready for it.
Sam has had a rougher time over the last few years. He grew up in a trailer park and had to bail when he caught his addict mom taking out credit cards in his name to buy more crap from the Home Shopping Network. He gets a job at a café whose owner is kind enough to let him crash on a mattress in a spare room upstairs. He wants to go to film school and become a great director but at the moment he has $17 in his checking account and his laptop is dying.
When Penny and Sam cross paths it’s not exactly a Hollywood meet cute: they’re both too socially awkward for that. But they exchange numbers and stay in touch—almost entirely by text message, a form that allows them to get to know each other while being witty and snarky and intimate without the uncomfortable weirdness of, you know, actually having to see each other in person. 

I expected to like this book. Hell, a part of me thought I might even love it. But I didn’t expect to find an emotional connection to it so deep that it made me cry.

This book is the story of Penny and Sam, a woman who has just started at college and a man who works in a coffee shop. Their paths cross somewhat unexpectedly, and they find themselves drawn to one another but are, of course, too socially awkward to do anything about it. When Penny saves Sam from having a panic attack on the street, they become each other’s ’emergency contacts’, just, y’know, in case something happens.

You can see where this is going. Penny and Sam become texting buddies, talking about anything and everything all hours of the day and night. They become each other’s support through difficult stages in their lives – dealing with mom trouble, girl trouble, friend trouble and everything in between.

Loving someone was traumatizing. 

I adored the messed up characters of Penny and Sam. This book is told in alternating POV between the two of them, and both of them leap off the page. They are both real, with real problems, friendships and relationships that made me sympathise with them. But the reason I fell in love with Penny and Sam so deeply was because they reminded me of my own relationship. A few months before me and my boyfriend started dating, we started texting. And just as Penny and Sam did, we would message at all hours about anything and everything. We would have deep conversations in the middle of the night. And we fell in love.

As this book went on, it reminded me more and more of me and Mark. And my connection to this book deepened. I saw myself on the page – I saw our sweet interactions and first kisses. I realised how grateful and lucky I am to have found my emergency contact.

On a less subjective note, this book dips between being quite slow (it’s definitely a slow-burn romance!) and really addictive. I did find it slow at first but this is definitely more of a character focused than plot focused book and is bound to be a little on the slow side! I really liked how this didn’t shy away from some of the difficulties young adults face, especially as they moved away from home and the relationship with their parents changed. There are many real life issues discussed through the main characters and side characters – nothing is shied away from. It is dark and depressing in places, but it is reflective of real life and real struggles.

You never knew what would happen to them out there in the world. Everything precious was also vulnerable.

I can totally understand why this book is not for some people. It is slow in parts and the characters can be unlikable. It’s also super dark in places and sometimes that’s not what people look for in fiction. But personally, I absolutely adored it. I admit that is partly because of how I related to it on a personal level, but I think that’s okay sometimes!

CW: rape, pregnancy, drug use, drinking, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, racism

★★★
5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Review: The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

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Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.
But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…

This was such a heartwarming read. I’ve heard some really good things about this book and have been looking forward to it for a long time – I bought it for my mum, who adored it and passed it to me a while ago! I had a feeling I would like it, but I didn’t know I’d be finding a new favourite that I just couldn’t put down.

This story follows Tiffy, who is an Assistant Editor about to move out of her ex-boyfriends flat with not much cash and nowhere to go. She ends up flatsharing (or bedsharing!) with Leon, a palliative care nurse who works nights. They share the flat, and the bed, but work opposite shifts and never expect to meet…

Remind myself that there is no saving of people —people can only save themselves.

This was a story full of strength, growth and friendship. Acceptance, love and forgiveness. It was beautiful, and it made me laugh and cry (sometimes at the same time!). There are so many stories in this, as it follows both Leon and Tiffy in alternate points of view. As well as their story sharing the flat, they have stories and lives of their own. Tiffy is recently out of an abusive relationship and is trying to find herself again. Leon is in a relationship of his own that doesn’t feel quite right somehow, and has a brother who is wrongly imprisoned.

I could not put this down. Once I got to 100ish pages, I was absolutely and utterly sucked into Tiffy and Leon’s story. I wanted to find out what happened to them and everyone else in this story, and I read the last 250 pages in two sittings and on the same day. The short and alternating chapters made it too easy to fly through, and I just loved it. At first, I found Tiffy a little annoying, and I found Leon’s chapters a little hard to read (he skips a lot of words and writes just as I imagine he thinks, with very few words!), but that quickly became easier and quicker to read.

The best you can do is help when they’re ready.

This book was so heartwarming and emotional, with depth and real characters. I really fell in love with it and the characters, and I couldn’t put it down. I would definitely recommend it and I’m looking forward to reading more by this author!

★★★★
4.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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Book vs. Movie: P.S. I Still Love You

Hi lovelies! Today I’m going to be talking about the differences and similarities between the P.S. I Still Love You book and the movie. This isn’t a review as such (although I may do a post like that about the movies soon!), it’s specifically comparing them to each other! I found the way the movie approached some topics really interesting, and as I only read the book in the week before watching the film, I picked up on tiny differences.

Fair warning that this will include a lot of spoilers for the movie – so please only read if you’ve watched it or don’t mind finding out major plot points! With that covered, let’s delve right in!

Differences

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Lara Jean’s first proper date with Peter K. Now, this was all pretty much the same, and it was lovely in both, but I noticed a big change in the movie. They go to a Chinese Lantern Festival. In the book, they go for dinner and walk around the university campus at night that they both want to attend.

John Ambrose McClaren uploaded by lily on We Heart It

This was a bigggg change for me! In the book, John Ambrose McClaren never volunteered at the retirement village. He did reply to Lara Jean’s letter, and most of the other details remain the same, but he never actually volunteered – he’s Stormy’s grandson!

The Credits Scene In "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" Perfectly ...

This is a different GIF to the scene I’m referring to – but there is a party fairly near the start of the movie where Lara Jean is talking to Lucas about how she’s feeling, and then her and Peter K text from across the room, which Lucas teases them for. I didn’t remember this scene at all from the book, and then was shocked to discover the exact scene in the start of the third book, Always and Forever Lara Jean instead!

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The Starball is pretty accurate to how it happened in the book – the major difference being in the book it is a USO/1940s themed party. And although it snows in both, in the book Lara Jean and John Ambrose are snowed into the retirement home and have to stay there together!

Similarities

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I’m really pleased to say the Korean New Years celebrations are pretty much exactly how it happened in the book, and it was lovely. Even the sassy comments from Kitty were kept in!

The Fact That John Corbett Plays Lara Jean's Dad - Everything We ...

Although everything plays out ever so slightly differently, Lara Jean’s dad and Mrs Rothchild from across the street do date in both the book and the movie – and both times with help from Kitty!

holland taylor To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You | Explore ...

Stormy, who is a resident at the care home where Lara Jean volunteers, remains the exact same and I love her for it.

290 Best To All The Boys I've Loved Before images in 2020 | Lara ...

It may seem like a small thing, but Lara Jean makes cherry turnovers in both the book and the movie. I’ve since made them myself and I adored them! In fact, Valentine’s plays out similarly in both the book and the movie too.

The "To All The Boys" Treehouse Scene Between Gen And Lara Jean ...

All of the treehouse scenes remained pretty much the same too, even in the flashback!

Overall, these movies are pretty good adaptations, and are some of the rare ones I really adore and think have done an excellent job. Even though there is some differences, they included the majority of the things I loved about the books, and made them beautiful for screen.

-Beth

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Review: Always and Forever, Lara Jean (#3) by Jenny Han

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And there’s still so much to look forward to: a class trip to New York City, prom with her boyfriend Peter, Beach Week after graduation, and her dad’s wedding to Ms. Rothschild. Then she’ll be off to college with Peter, at a school close enough for her to come home and bake chocolate chip cookies on the weekends.
Life couldn’t be more perfect!
At least, that’s what Lara Jean thinks . . . until she gets some unexpected news.
Now the girl who dreads change must rethink all her plans—but when your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

I’m so glad I finally continued with this series, and I’m so thankful to Netflix for making such good adaptations that made me want to carry on with reading the books. It doesn’t often happen that I prefer movies over books, but it did happen with the first To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before book. I just preferred the feel of it on the big screen.

I had mixed feelings about this whole trilogy, and it was by no means perfect, but I still enjoyed it all the same. My love for the Song-Covey family grew stronger with every book, and it certainly grew with the events in Always and Forever Lara Jean. I also found the few scenes with Chris and the other friends/friends of the family warmed my heart so much, especially a certain roadtrip the girls went on.

Is this how it goes?

I still questioned Peter throughout this whole book, and I never quite fell for his character the way I truly wanted to. I understand they are both young and make mistakes, and no relationship runs smooth one hundred percent of the time, but I do wish Peter acted differently in certain scenarios.

I think one of the major factors of my love for this story comes from my adoration of Lara Jean. I see so much of myself in her. Her love for baking, reading and her family is exactly how I am. She’s a hopeless romantic, just like me, and I can only hope I have even a fraction of her cute style and all-around creativity.

You fall in love, and nothing seems truly scary anymore, and life is one big possibility?

These books are not perfect, but they truly warm my heart on cold winters days, and once I picked them up I couldn’t easily put them down again. They’re cute and fluffy, but they do their thing really well. I know I’ll pick them up again, and I can definitely see the movies becoming frequent re-watches. It’ll be great to see this final chapter on the big screen!

★★★★
3.5 out of 5 stars

-Beth

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