book review

The Amateurs by Sara Shepard: BOOK REVIEW

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THE DETAILS:

Book: The Amateurs

Authors: Sara Shepard

Pages: 307

Reading Format: Paperback

Read: 11th December, 2016

Rating: 4.25/5 Stars


GOODREADS SUMMARY:

Five years ago, high school senior Helena Kelly disappeared from her backyard in Dexby, Connecticut, never to be heard from again. Her family was left without any answers—without any idea who killed Helena, or why.

So when eighteen-year-old Seneca Frazier sees a desperate post on the Case Not Closed message board, she knows it’s time to change that. Helena’s high-profile disappearance is the one that originally got Seneca addicted to true crime. It’s the reason she’s a member of the site in the first place.

Determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, she agrees to spend spring break in Connecticut working on the case with Maddy Wright, her best friend from Case Not Closed. However, the moment she steps off the train, things start to go wrong. Maddy’s nothing like she expected, and Helena’s sister, Aerin, doesn’t seem to want any help after all. Plus, Seneca has a secret of her own, one that could derail the investigation if she’s not careful.

Alongside Brett, another super-user from the site, they slowly begin to unravel the secrets Helena kept in the weeks before her disappearance. But the killer is watching…and determined to make sure the case stays cold.


REVIEW:

Plot: 4.89/5

Characters: 4/5

Writing: 4.5/5

Well, I think it’s fair to say that Sara Shepard, aka. mystery/thriller/murder mystery goddess, has done it again with her latest novel, The Amateurs.

This novel was my most highly anticipated read of 2016, and I’m so glad it did not disappoint, even though I knew there was no chance it would.

It was crazy, exhilarating, and packed with mystery. It really got me being an investigator alongside our main clan of protagonists.

I love how this book was told from such an array of different characters, we really got to see how everything went down for everyone, and the ways in which they went about things. I found it so interesting to be able to assess each character as they were seen from their own points of view.

However, the characters did fall sort of flat-ish for me at times.
Usually, the characters are one of my favourite parts of (well any novel), but especially Shepard’s books. Even more so, the friendships between her characters draw me in the most, and I feel this book didn’t quite have that same feeling as her other series, say like Pretty Little Liars or The Lying Game.
But, I do think that is simply because it’s the first instalment in a series, and I have absolutely no doubt that both the characters, and their friendships will only grow immensely from this novel forwards.

I also cannot wait to see more of the side characters in future instalments *cough* Thomas *Cough*.

The concept of this novel, and the ‘Case Not Closed’ situation, I found to be so entertaining, and it certainly kept me on my feet throughout the course of it.

I loved the nature of the book. It was just such an enjoyable read, whilst still making me nervous and skeptical of every corner I turned… oh, and every page too…
Shepard always imagines the best settings/scenery, and immerses the characters, as well as the reader, into her fictional world, and makes it feel a little less like fiction.

The ending made me simultaneously go crazy, and think “really, the only person I didn’t suspect was found to be the murderer, seriously”. AAAAND they also happened to be one of my favourite characters in the whole book!!
However, that made me love it even more. I don’t quite know how but Shepard manages to fool me with every.single.new.story she comes out with. Seriously, my jaw always ends up on the floor.

I can’t quite believe that we found out the murderer in the first book! (Unless theres some twist put on it and it isn’t really who it is, but it is, but it isn’t…) Yep, that would only make sense to Shepard’s long-time reader fans.
It worked though! I am barely able to contain myself for the next book, I just need to see what happens to the squad (and to the murderer).

I cannot wait for the next instalment to come out in this crazy new series by my favourite author. I wonder if it’ll be another 16 book series. I don’t think I’d oppose.

Bring on more sleuthing, sneaking, and mystery, because no one does that better than Sara Shepard!

That’s all,

Kate :)

Life after exams: TV Edition

You’ve seen my Life after exams: Book Edition (I hope, if not here’s the link…)
https://passthefeels.wordpress.com/2016/10/23/life-after-exams-book-edition/

But, anyway, here’s a TV edition of alllll (well, most) of the things I want to watch when I’m free.

TV Shows:
(To catch up on)

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    The Flash: I recently marathoned season 2, and have watched episode 1 of season 3, so I’m not far behind! Can’t wait to see Tom Felton, aka. Draco Malfoy, in S3!

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    Arrow: Once again, only a few episodes behind, but still excited to be able to watch guilt free, and really be able to get into the new story line of Season 5!

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    Supernatural: Okayyy, so I’m not technically behind on this one anymore (which is amazing to be able to say, considering I only started watching this mega 11 season- now 12 season show- 2 years ago.) But I’m sure I’ll have at least a few episodes to watch by the time my exams are over. I love supernatural.

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    How to Get Away with Murder: I think I deserve an applause for having the will power to actually not binge watch the episodes that are already out in season 3, I mean, every episode is a cliff hanger! But I’m kind of purposefully/not purposefully holding back on this one, so that I can watch a whole bunch of episodes in a row. (I don’t like to be left hanging, okay…)

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    The Vampire Diaries: Okay, maybe now I’m just being crazy, because season 8 hasn’t even started yet (as I’m writing this, it airs in 15 minutes in the US). But I’m 99% sure I’ll be behind a couple of episodes sooner or later. So happy this is the last season, I love it, but it’s run its course in my opinion. Also, secretly hoping for Elena (Nina) to come back and marry Stefan in the end… yep, still a Stelena shipper.

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    Reign: So, I’m about a season and a half behind… Currently up to season 2, episode 13. I can only watch this show when I’m in the mood, and then when I’m not, it just doesn’t appeal to me very much. But once I start watching it, I can’t stop. Definitely not one of my fav shows, but I’m excited to see the direction it takes throughout the rest of season 2, and into season 3.

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    Once Upon a Time: I am currently only a couple of episodes behind in season 6, and I’m so excited to see where this season is going! You just never really know with this show… I love the emphasis on Regina this season, because I think Lana Parrilla is an amazing actress!

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    Shadowhunters: Well, well, ummm. I have about 2-3 episodes until I finish season 1, but haven’t yet because the motivation is just not there. This show does have its good moments, yes, but it is so cringworthy. The only thing that is going to motivate me now is how much better season 2 looks, so I’m determined to finish this one!

(To start watching)

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Supergirl: This show never reallly appealed to me, but seeing as I’ve become even more into the other DC shows, like Flash and Arrow, I now cannot wait to start this show! And a female protagonist with kick ass super powers? Yes please!

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Fear the Walking Dead: Well, I’m not sure if I’m gonna like this one, but I bought the first episode on special for 99 cents on iTunes, so, I shall check it out! Plus, Alycia Debnam-Carey, yassss!

 

And probably a lot more… Whatever I come across, or gets recommended by you guys! 🙂

 

So there are all the TV shows  I plan on watching (atleast in the immediate future)!
Please let me know in the comments, or on Twitter (@thebookgram), of any others I should add to my list. What have you loved recently?

Until Next Time,

Kate 🙂

Life after exams: Book Edition

Hey lovely people!

Today, whilst I’m sick, and therefore taking a little break from studying (although, not a break from stressing about the fact that I’m not studying… #procrastination right?).

I thought I’d write a post about the books I plan on reading after exams (9th November). Seeing as my whole life has been revolved around school and exams this year (senior year, yep, it’s great), I could not be more excited to get back to reading!

So, without further ranting, here are the top 10 books I plan on reading when I can actually read again (in a not-really-ordered order)…

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    It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover. I’ve been dyinnnng to read this! I mean, a new Colleen Hoover book?! How could I not be excited to read it! Cannot wait to see what crazy plot twist, or other insane things you’d never see coming that her newest release has! 

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    The Last Star by Rick Yancey. I cannot wait to see how this trilogy ends. It’s so mysterious, it shall be interesting! I loved the first instalment, and although the second wasn’t great (in my opinion), I do have high hopes that this will not disappoint! 

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    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (yes, for the first time), I’m both so ready, and so anxious to finish this series. All the feels are gonna hit me, that much, I do know.

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    Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas. I read Throne of Glass so long ago now, and didn’t completely fall in love, but it can only get better from there right? I’m so determine to get in on the hype of this series (and catch up…oops)

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    City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare, as well as City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare. Because it’s about time I finished this series that everyone has probably already read 1000 times over by now. These books take a while for me to get into, but I love them once I do get into them. City of Fallen Angels has been my favourite instalment yet, so I’m excited to see where these 2 go, and how it all wraps up.

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    A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas. Ahhh! I’m so, so excited to read this one. ACOTAR was so intriguing and crazy. Really pumped to see where this one takes the direction of the story (and to actually be caught up on a Sarah J. Maas series. That would be nice)

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    The Rose Society by Marie Lu. I was not the biggest fan of book one by any means, but I feel like now that I’m older, I’ll enjoy this story a lot more, if that even makes sense… haha. I received the third installment in this series for review, so I can’t wait to devour this one, and finish off the trilogy with a bang!

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    The Amateurs by Sara Shepard. My favourite mystery/thriller author has a new book? You know I’m gonna read it, and you know I’m gonna love it! Can’t wait to get my hands on this one!

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    Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne. Which I can’t actually read until I’ve finished Deathly Hallows, but I’m so ready to see what goes on after the events of the final HP book! Also, I’m excited to read the script type of writing!

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    Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven. I’ve started this one multiple times since I got it, but alas, school has interrupted every time. I can’t wait to actually be able to read this book properly, and finish it!

 

So, there you go. Those are the top 10 books I plan on reading after exams, and to close out the year with! There are obviously a lot more, but, these are at the top of my to-read list!

Until next time,

Kate 🙂

Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica: Book Review

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THE DETAILS:

Book: Pretty  Baby

Authors: Mary Kubica

Pages: 370

Read: 4th July 2016

Rating: 3.98/5 Stars


GOODREADS SUMMARY:

She sees the teenage girl on the train platform, standing in the pouring rain, clutching an infant in her arms. She boards a train and is whisked away. But she can’t get the girl out of her head…

Heidi Wood has always been a charitable woman: she works for a nonprofit, takes in stray cats. Still, her husband and daughter are horrified when Heidi returns home one day with a young woman named Willow and her four-month-old baby in tow. Disheveled and apparently homeless, this girl could be a criminal—or worse. But despite her family’s objections, Heidi invites Willow and the baby to take refuge in their home.

Heidi spends the next few days helping Willow get back on her feet, but as clues into Willow’s past begin to surface, Heidi is forced to decide how far she’s willing to go to help a stranger. What starts as an act of kindness quickly spirals into a story far more twisted than anyone could have anticipated.


REVIEW:

Plot: 3.89/5

Characters: 5/5

Writing: 4/5

“Momma used to say, ‘We don’t have much, but at least we have each other.’ And then one day, we didn’t even have that much.”

I have never been more confused about a book, or what to even write in a review.

This novel has me completely dumbstruck on what to think upon finishing it, I mean, I finished it at 2am, it’s now 4pm and I still don’t know what to make of it.

What I do know is that I really enjoyed this book, what I’m not so sure of is the point of it? I don’t know if it was the fact that this book had no real climax, or perhaps in all my crazy theories I managed to guess most of the plot points and so it wasn’t surprising for me.

But was there really a point to it? I mean, was what happened with Heidi meant to be the crazy twist? Because I saw that coming from page 1, oh the confusion. I even searched online and read other reviews to try and see what other people made of the ending.

Anyway, despite all this, I still really enjoyed this book. It held my attention the entire time I was reading it, even if not much actually happened throughout the novel. In terms of plot development, was there even any? I’m not sure, oh no, not going back to the confusion…

Characters:
We really didn’t get closure on any of the characters at all, it simply felt like there was a depressing and abrupt end to every character arc. I kind of like that it didn’t turn out all sunshine and rainbows but I’m left guessing on so many levels.

Zoe: Why, whyyy, why did we not get a deeper look into this girls mind. She is the character that intrigued me perhaps the most, and I felt like there was so much more that could’ve been explored through Zoe, and about her struggles that were so evidently there.

Chris: I really liked this guy, I liked his POV, and just him in general. I loved his character development too, and the way that he kind of found a lot of meaning to his life towards the end.

Heidi: Ummm, yeah, not sure about where to go with this one without spoilers. I always thought she was weird, and definitely predicted her ending, I’ll just say that.

Willow: She and her story interested me, and learning all about her back-story and life was both intriguing and depressing. I don’t particularly like her though, and she kind of falls in the same bucket as Heidi for me. I can appreciate the horrible life she’s had though, oh how that would be just uh no.

Overall Thoughts:
I loved having the different POV chapters throughout the novel, I thought that was a great touch. To be honest, if I was in one of those characters heads for the entire book I would’ve gone crazy.

I saw everything and every character so vividly, and honestly it felt like the book was so short even with the 370 pages, and even though it took me a little while to read.

Although I’m still unsure of the point of this novel, as you may be aware of by now… I really really liked it. It was a great (and slightly strange) psychological thriller that I would recommend if you’re okay with enticing yet *looks up synonyms for confusing* perplexing stories.

I just know this one’s going to stay with me for a very long time, what a ride.

That’s all,

Kate :)

Where have I been? UPDATE

Date: 28th June, 2016

Ummm, hello lovely devoted blog reader who has obviously stuck by me through my extremely varying posts lately. I appreciate you, thank you.

It has now been 3 months since I drafted this post, yes 3 months since I was actually going to post my where have I been schpeal. That’s pretty ironic. But here it is…

First of all, I’d like to apologize for my lack of posts on this platform, even though there’s been around 1-2 posts a month, so I haven’t been completely awol, that’s not good enough to me. Basically, the reason I have been so absent from everything this year is because I’m in my last year of schooling! (cue the party) I’m so excited for that to be done with on November 9th when I finish my last exam (squeals), and then I’ll be annoying all of you with a lot more weird and whacky content. *5o people unfollow right now*

Please stay… hahaha

I miss being able to have the time to sit down and really focus on writing a blog post (the only reason I’m able to do it right now is because I’m on a 2 week break). I also miss having time to be able to take pictures for TheBookGram, which if you’re reading this, I’m guessing is probably where you came from. I haven’t been neglecting that as much as this, but still haven’t been putting out as much as I’d like.

One more thing, I really miss reading. Reading has been a rather foreign concept for me this year. Whenever I’m not super busy with study, I’m usually so tired that I end up watching TV shows, which is in no way a bad thing because that is hugely another passion of mine that has really grown this year. But I wish I read more. I guess it’s no

I guess it’s no ones fault but my own, maybe it’s  schools fault a little though, or a lot.  Reading rarely occurs now without stressful thoughts appearing in my mind that makes me unable to concentrate on what I’m reading. I think that’s why Harry Potter has been such a prominent thing in my life lately, I mean, reading the books for the first time in my last year of schooling is pretty cool.

I just can’t wait to be able to do things guilt free again, and never have to worry about school, or the things that come with it ever again. I’m also kinda excited to try and start creative writing more, and maybe share my stories with you guys.
I apologize for this being a sort of rant-filled update, but hey, if you read this far, I applaud you!

For now, I just want to say thank you so, so much to those of you who have stuck by me through my strange content schedule, etc. I appreciate you all so much, and honestly am so excited to be able to join in more with the community towards the end of the year.

November 9, 4:15 pm, I’m coming for you with everything I have.

Until next time,

Kate XOXO

 

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince: BOOK REVIEW

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THE DETAILS:

Book: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Authors: J.K. Rowling

Pages: 542

Read: 19th June, 2016

Rating: 5/5 Stars


GOODREADS SUMMARY:

As the Dark Lord’s sinister forces amass, a spirit of gloom and fear is sweeping the land. Harry Potter waits nervously in his bedroom at the Dursleys’ for Professor Dumbledore to arrive. One of the last times he saw the Headmaster was in a fierce duel with Voldemort at the Ministry of Magic. Why is the Professor coming to visit him now? What is it that cannot wait until Harry returns to Hogwarts? In his sixth year, Harry will discover the secret behind the Half-Blood Prince, as Professor Dumbledore prepares him to face his destiny …


REVIEW:

Plot: 5/5

Characters: 5/5

Writing: 5/5

“I am not worried, Harry,” said Dumbledore, his voice a little stronger despite the freezing water. “I am with you.”

The Half Blood Prince is yet another incredible installment in the Harry Potter series, but you all knew that already. It may be my favourite so far, in fact yes I believe it is, even though the emotions are so real right now. (I know I said Order was my favourite so far, but this one has overtaken it)

I once again, loved every minute of reading this. It was perfect, and also had me lol’ing throughout the whole thing..eh, mostly. not the end.
The school and classes scenes were also amazing, that’s weirdly one of the things I love most about these books. Hogwarts just being Hogwarts.

If I’m being honest, weirdly again, the Quidditch scenes sometimes become a little tedious to me sometimes, but I even loved those in this book, they were just so funny. Thankyou Liquid Luck. (that was amazing, hahaha) The Apparition lessons were also a great laugh!

J.K. Rowling is brilliant in everything she does; the humour, suspense, mystery… I mean, she even had me guessing and confused even though I’ve seen the movies a billion times.

I loved getting to delve deeper into the motives and life of Voldemort, it was just so interesting to learn about his past, and what makes him such a complex character. As well as seeing the relationships, or lack of, with him and other people.

The love aspect of this book, oh the loveeee, was so cute to read about. I mean, between Ron and Hermione, and Harry and Ginny, how could it not be good? You could really see them growing up throughout this novel, which I also enjoyed.

The relationship between Harry and Dumbledore grew even more in this book (which made the ending that much harder) I’ve always loved reading about the dynamic between those two. Such a bond.

“Dumbledore’s man through and through, aren’t you Potter?”
“Yeah I am,” said Harry. “Glad we straightened that out.”

Malfoy, well he was such an interesting character in this one, right from the moment when he stepped on Harry’s nose *wince*, that was intense. It was so cool to be able to read about the mystery behind this guy, and try to figure him out a bit more. Draco has always fascinated me, which is probably half to do with Tom Felton, let’s be real.

Snape, uhm, I’m still kinda confused where I stand in regards to if I like or don’t like him, at the moment it’s a bit of both. I guess the Deathly Hallows will help me out, but I do really enjoy reading about Snape, even if he makes some…questionable decisions.

Can’t forget to mention Slughorn! He was a great addition to the story, I really enjoyed his character, and all that he brought to the novel.

Once again, the friendship between Ron/Harry/Hermione warmed my little heart, and also tore at it a bit over the course of the novel *cough* thanks Lavender *cough*. But they never fail to make me smile. I feel like even though there was still a bit of it, the angst levels were much lower in this one, haha.

Also, how can you not love Fred and George? I adore those two, they’re like me in twin boy form.

“The thing about growing up with Fred and George,” said Ginny thoughtfully, “is that you sort of start thinking anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.”

All-in-All, this was yet another solid addition to this amazing series, and it’s just incredible how much more I’m getting out of the books than the movies, I really didn’t expect to learn this much. Admittedly, I didn’t even truly know what a Horcrux was until this book…oops.

Can’t believe it’s time for the final journey…

Until next time, Harry.

That’s all,

Kate :)

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before: REVIEW

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THE DETAILS:

Book: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Authors: Jenny Han

Pages: 420

Read: 19th April, 2016

Rating: 5/5 Stars


GOODREADS SUMMARY:

Lara Jean keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. One for every boy she’s ever loved. When she writes, she can pour out her heart and soul and say all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control…


REVIEW:

Plot: 5/5

Characters: 5/5

Writing: 4.5/5

“When someone’s been gone a long time, at first you save up all the things you want to tell them. You try to keep track of everything in your head. But it’s like trying to hold on to a fistful of sand, all the little bits slip out of your hands, and then you’re just clutching air and grit.”

 

I started this book a few weeks ago, and because of school I didn’t really get much of a chance to read it, but once I did I went from page 120 to 420 in a matter of hours. I loved this book!

Well, I have now found my most relatable book character/protagonist of all time. Lara Jean literally is me (minus a few details but you get the picture). I absolutely loved her as a protagonist, and I just kept finding myself thinking wow, she is so real and our thinking patterns are so similar. It was so great to be able to read from her perspective, this is only one of the reasons I’m hoping to re-read this book in the future.

In terms of other characters:
Kitty: was so cute, and although at times I thought she acted a little old for the age she was supposed to be, I got used to that and realised that’s just her. She ended up being one of my favourite parts of the novel.
Margot: she is the only character that annoyed me a little bit throughout the book, even when she wasn’t really in it. Although she also had various aspects of me in her…I basically just said I annoy myself, which is true, but anyway… In the end, everything comes together and it is understandable why I may have had the tiniest of problems with her.
Josh: I couldn’t quite figure out what I thought about this guy, but I did not ship him with Lara Jean. At times he was cute, then he was cold, but he was a great addition to the story.
Peter: Oh peter, kill me now, this guy was beautiful, I loved him so much! He wasn’t quite that annoying ‘bad boy’ trend, even though he was kind of painted to be by everyone else. But whenever we read about him, he was nothing like that, which I loved. I could read about him all day.
The dad: was super cute, and I loved him being an addition to the story, I also loved that cooking scene with the salty food, hilarious!One of the things I loved most about this book was the family dynamic. It was written so beautifully, and was such a huge part of the story, so much so that it was basically half, or more than half, of the focal point of the novel.

One of the things I loved most about this book was the family dynamic. It was written so beautifully, and was such a huge part of the story, so much so that it was basically half, or more than half, of the focal point of the novel.

Being so close to my family, I really appreciated this, and it was refreshing to see how important family is in a YA novel.

Another thing I adored was all the Harry Potter references, that literally added SO much to the story, and made for one of the cutest scenes ever, if you’ve read it, you probably know what I’m talking about. Along with this, the Peter Parker costume, I’ll say no more.

I also loved the multi-racial aspect of the story. I’ve never really read too many novels with cultural features woven into the story, but I really enjoyed it in this case!

It was also just really nice to read a love story that was so progressive throughout the novel, and didn’t hit you right in the face at the beginning of the story.

The ending was fantastic, I feel like the brick wall that was built between Lara Jean and Margot was not only broken down for them, but for me too. All my tension towards Margot was instantly released, so obviously I may have been just a little connected to the book…?
The only thing that I was upset about was that there was no real resolution in terms of Peter/Lara Jean! How could it end like that? Now I have to buy the second book just to find out what happens with my baby, Peter.

I urge everyone to read this book! It was so sweet, and perfect, and just so heart warming. Please do yourself a favour and read it. It’s definitely going straight to my favourites list.

That’s all,

Kate:)