Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer Review

Oh boy…

It has been a while since I allowed myself to revert back to my Twilight phase. Yes I had one, who didn’t?

It’s crazy to think about now, being so long ago but it’s always a time I look back on fondly…though it was also very cringey. I mean when you think of a Twilight fangirl you have a certain image in your head and well I was definitely one of them.

And with the release of this new book, I definitely fell back into that world a little bit. Though a little more mature after all this time – at least I like to think so.

I actually haven’t been away from the Twilight world that long in terms of books. It was only a couple of years ago that I finally got around to reading Life and Death – though it was something different and I wasn’t a fan.

This time, we were brought back to the real Twilight world. Our O.G Edward and Bella story. But this time, we got to hear Edward’s point of view, his and everyone else’s because he has that mind reading thing going for him.

I have to say it was pretty great to submerge myself in this world again. I mean, the story is nothing new, I know it a hundred times over but I think it’s the familiarity that makes it great. Plus I enjoyed this new perspective.

I suppose this can’t always be said for books like this (i.e. Grey – that book was awful) because it can be repetitive reading the exact same dialogue and everything just from someone else’s viewpoint and it ain’t great. But I think because it has been so long since a Twilight release that it was okay and made sense. I know that Stephenie was torturing us all by keeping this from us for so long but maybe it was a little bit strategic?

Either way, I was a fan. I mean I was getting a little bit fed up maybe around halfway through because the book is so big and I felt it dragging just a little. Sometimes Edward’s thoughts were just annoying but I powered through and made it to the end.

I think I was probably most interested in knowing the dynamic between Alice and Edward and how they worked together. I think what I really needed was a whole novel on Alice to be honest. Like Edward is fine, I like hearing the thoughts of others around him and stuff but other than that he can be really depressing. Alice has always been one of my favourite characters so I definitely enjoyed that a lot.

I also did think it was interesting the way Edward saw Bella, I mean it definitely helped put things into perspective. I mean we all roll our eyes when it comes to the stories of the seemingly average girl who everyone falls all over themselves to be with – because that doesn’t happen in real life. But somehow with Edward, I could see it. But I suppose I’m just biased from my love of Twilight to begin with…Plus I guess the whole blood temptation thing is also something above other love stories.

Oh and I think the whole pomegranate seed thing was overplayed, like okay I understand the choice of book cover now but it was just something that was mentioned more than I needed it to be.

But other than that, I suppose there’s not much to say. We all know the story, there can’t be that many surprises out there for us. It was still great to revisit this world though, and I was sad to see it come to an end. It’s definitely a nice distraction from what’s actually going on in the world. It was a simpler time when all I had to concern myself with was my Twilight fanfiction and whether Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart were actually dating.

Though I suppose it’s not all sad, apparently Stephenie has two more Twilight books in the works so it’s not the end yet. I wonder how many books it will be before it’s truly the end. I don’t think I could ever complain about more Twilight books but sometimes it’s better to let a world have it’s ending before it gets out of hand…I mean I was never a big fan of Harry Potter but sometimes I just wonder how that world can keep going on forever…I don’t know, it seems a bit excessive.

Anyway, I don’t think there’s been news on what these new books will be about but you know I’ll be picking them up too. I’ll be interested to see where the story goes from here, or will we just expect more of Edward’s point of view? I guess we have to wait and see.

~ Courtney x

Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen Review

I picked this book up at the start of the year in Waterstones, I almost didn’t but I was buying a few books that day anyway and decided to take a chance. I am so glad I did.

I loved this book.

The story is about Ever, an Asian American who’s parents want her to attend medical school when she has a passion for dance. I suppose it is the age old story we all know, where the child’s parents are pushing them to do something that they don’t want to do.

On top of this, Ever’s parents have sent her to a summer in Chien Tan in Teipai, it is a summer school for the Asian American Elite. And is definitely not how Ever thought she would be spending her last summer before college.

I am not familiar with the culture but I found it interesting to learn about through the book. Supposedly parents send their children off to summer schools like this to find suitable partners for them. Hence the title Loveboat as everyone is hooking up and partying and trying to make the best out of the situation they are in.

Ever is thrown in the deep end at Chien Tan with a roommate who is hell bent on taking full advantage of Loveboat, while Ever decides to spend the summer breaking all the rules her parents set for her.

As the novel progresses, Ever realises that instead of trying to do things because she can that she should focus on doing things because she wants to, and she begins to come into her own identity.

I found myself relating a lot to Ever in the story, as I understand a lot of the pressure that Asian families put on their children. I mean my parents have never been pushy or anything about what I should be doing with my life, but it’s an underlying thing. You know how much they have sacrificed of their own lives for you and you feel the need to repay them in some way.

I know these feelings are not specific to Asian culture but it is definitely stronger there, especially if the family has emigrated from Asia to a Western country. They gave up everything and worked hard to give you the opportunities you have, so turning around and declining to do something for them feels like a betrayal. Which is how Ever feels about choosing dance over medical school.

Aside from the conflict of identity and breaking rules, Ever also has her own loveboat experiences as she ends up tangled in a bit of a love square? I can’t say I was super surprised about her love interests but I think I was surprised about the way things ended up.

I think it was a bit crap how things ended up with Xavier, the boy who didn’t get picked in the end, I guess I just hoped that he and Ever would remain friends, because they were friendly for a while before Ever chose Rick. But I guess when you have feelings for someone who doesn’t feel the same way, it’s best to stay away from the other person and protect yourself.

Overall an enjoyable read and I was super excited to find out that someone has bought the film rights to the book. I would love to see it come to life on screen because I think it would be amazing to see Taipei and this world come to life on screen.

I also found out that there will be a sequel to this book so I wonder where it will take us, I think it stands well as a solo book but I will definitely pick up a sequel if it’s released.

If you haven’t read this yet, I highly recommend it as I enjoyed it a lot, and I think it’s a great way to kick off some summer reading.

~ Courtney x

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood Review

I started reading this immediately after the Handmaid’s tale. I think I read the first 20 pages or so and then didn’t touch it for like almost a week and a half haha.

Again like the previous book, I found this one hard to get into. I guess I just sort of throw myself into books without taking time to digest the characters and making sense of what was going on.

But in this book there were three different point of views and naturally it took me a while to figure out which was which. Especially because two of them were named very similar, the difference being an A or a B at the end.

After a while though I picked up what was happening.

I really enjoyed this book. I think way more than the first. In this book we find out more about how the other women lived in Gilead, the Aunts and the little girls who were growing up to become wives.

This world fascinates me a lot which I think is why even though I took a long period away from reading this book I went back to it. I had to know what happened.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when jumping into this one. I was surprised that they didn’t mention Offred from the first novel directly. Though it is assumed that she was the mother of both the girls in the story.

Overall, I found it to be a good read. I can definitely understand why the series gets a lot of attention.

I don’t know if there will be more books to the series, though I see it being quite an easy series to add to over time. But that being said I would also be glad if it was just the two books.

I still have yet to watch the TV show but I think I will be adding it to my list of shows to watch now I’ve read both books. I know it will only be loosely based on the first book since the second one was only released last year but that’s fine. I’m just interested to know where they take it.

And with this book complete I am now halfway to my goal of reading 30 books this year! I think I’m making good progress and am a little bit ahead of where I should be so that’s nice.

I’m glad that even in our current circumstances and even with my excessive amounts of Animal Crossing play that I can still find time to read lol.

Not sure what my next book will be, I think maybe one I picked up from Waterstones at the start of the year.

As usual you can expect some kind of reading update in the future. Whether it is here or on GoodReads.

~ Courtney x

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood Review

I wasn’t sure about this one but I decided to give it a go after someone gave me a brief description of the TV show. I feel very behind with this but it’s better late than never right? Plus I haven’t seen the TV show yet so I might as well take a chance with the book if I don’t really know what to expect.

I have to be honest, I almost gave up on this one. I was finding it hard to get into the story as the timelines kept changing from the past and the present, it was initially hard to keep up with the change. The writing style was also not an easy one to get into, I have been reading a mix recently so I’m not surprised when a writing style isn’t what I am expecting, but normally I can get into it fine, this one just took longer than most.

I would say I got into it after the first 100 pages or so, I know they say you should read a book until at least 50 pages in to see if you like it or not. But to me, if you make it that far you might as well see it to the end. I can’t just leave something unfinished, even if I didn’t like it.

But with this one, I found it easier to read big chunks at a time and then leave it for a few days. I think it’s the kind of thing you have to be in the mood to read. But we made it through in the end.

Overall I did enjoy the story, it’s an interesting take on what society would do to handle a situation. It’s actually made me interested in the TV show just to see what happens with that.

I do wish we knew more about the transition process and also about what happened to Offred after she was captured. When I got to the end and it was explained the story was told through Offred in a bunch of tapes and they weren’t in order, it suddenly made sense that the story was so haphazard in it’s switch between past and present. It is still sad that we don’t know for sure what happened to her.

I know there is a sequel now but I’m not sure if it will even tell us what happened. Though I probably will read it because I am interested to see what will come from that and what we will learn about this world.

And as I said before I will probably watch the TV show too, it’ll be different from the book for sure, considering the TV show has 3 seasons now and you can’t stretch a book that far out. But I want to know what direction they take the story.

While I am surprised it took me so long to get through this book after reading my last two books quite quickly I am not going to let it deter me from my reading journey. I am basically halfway through my goal to read 30 books this year and I would like to try and keep my pace up.

I know it’s not a race, but I don’t want to get lazy with it and not pick up another book for months again because I do quite enjoy my reading time.

So hopefully I’ll be back with another book review soon, if not then I’ve been distracted by Animal Crossing as usual lol.

~ Courtney x

When I Was You by Minka Kent Review

Took a chance on an Amazon Prime First Reads selection. They never have a huge selection but I still check in every month to see if there is anything interesting.

This book caught my eye because I love a good thriller with lots of drama. And this had the potential to go somewhere. And go somewhere it did.

As soon I started to read this book I couldn’t put it down, I wanted to know more and what was going to happen.

I have to say though as it got towards the end it became somewhat predictable…I mean I guess from the beginning I was trying to figure out what was going on. I sensed that Niall was shady and I thought maybe he was the one who attacked Brienne in the beginning, I also suspected that the woman pretending to be her knew about the attack and wanted to take on her life. It didn’t make sense otherwise.

Though it didn’t seem to be too much of a mystery once the second part of the novel began and everything was about Niall. From then things started to get a bit more interesting and fast-paced, though his whole plan and backstory was revealed within the first five minutes lol.

I was surprised to find out that Niall hadn’t told Sam, the woman pretending to be Brienne, the plan. It just doesn’t sit right to me that she lived as Brienne for months and no one recognised her or that she wasn’t caught out in some other way.

I also think it was wild that they revealed all this information about Niall in the first chapter in his point of view but just threw in somewhere in the middle that he killed Sam’s dad like wow, I wasn’t expecting that for him. Sure he has done a lot of terrible things so far but just casually mentioning murder is crazy. But I guess it was to show just how far he was going to go.

Still, like I said things came predictable towards the end with the girls meeting each other and Niall was always either going to get away or get caught. It’s funny how after everything I still get annoyed when things wrap up too perfectly, like sure it’s a novel and fictional but sometimes you just wish for that one extra plot twist.

But definitely a good read, I enjoyed it and like I said I couldn’t put it down, finished it in two days. So I guess Amazon Prime’s First Reads isn’t too bad, I don’t always find something I like there but I might as well take advantage if it means a free book.

Next up on the reading list is probably the Handmaid’s Tale, I know I’m late to the party but what else is new? I picked up the book at the start of the year so I think it’s time to start reading it. I should be back with another review soon to let you know my thoughts.

~ Courtney x

Holes By Louis Sachar Review

I decided to read a little blast from the past! So the first memory I have of reading Holes is actually when I was in primary school. Except I didn’t read it, my teacher actually read it to the class.

I don’t remember much about it other than sitting on the grass outside on a nice day while the teacher read to us. Then after she had finished reading the book we watched the movie.

Ever since then I have enjoyed this story. I’m not sure why this story has stuck with me but it just has. And I still enjoy watching the movie from time to time.

I decided to reread after all this time because my boyfriend ended up buying the book last year and I thought why not – he hasn’t even read it yet but oh well.

I think I’ve said this before but reading a book that has a movie adaptation can be tricky. And by that I mean there isn’t always a huge amount of difference between the book and the movie, and that was the case here.

I’m not saying that as a bad thing but at the same time I think it would have been nice to have some kind of variation, just because it would add something extra to reading the book. But the story is basically the exact same, except for Stanley being overweight lol.

But because the movie and the book are the same and I remember the movie so clearly, it made this a bit of a boring read.

The story is still great though, and if you haven’t seen the movie or read the book I do invite you to do one or the other. But you do not have to do both.

I know in school they always told you not to watch the movie and to read the book instead but sometimes that just isn’t true lol. I enjoyed the movie and reading the book was nice, but there is not much difference so I think you would be just fine with the movie.

Anyway, it was still nice to read something from my childhood, it was kind of wild to me that the book is only like 240 pages because when I was younger I swear it was a lot more than that. But then I guess it’s different when someone is reading to you, and when you’re eight years old 240 pages is a lot.

But there we go, another book read. I haven’t been reading as much because of lock down and the fact Animal Crossing came out. I used to read a lot before because I read when I was travelling to and from work but since that is not part of my routine right now, I have to work harder to fit in some reading.

I’m still hoping to reach my reading goal of 30 books this year. Which I think I will but probably not as fast I as I would have liked.

Anyway, I’m not sure what my next book to read will be, I actually think Holes has a sequel book which I might try to get if my library has the ebook version. Otherwise I think I would be okay leaving this as a stand-alone book.

Either way I will do my best to keep reading and will maybe be back with another review soon! (Or at least a blog post not Animal Crossing related…)

~ Courtney x

Gossip Girl – Psycho Killer by Cecily Von Ziegesar Review

Surprise, you thought I was done with the Gossip Girl reviews, well here is one more. This really will be the last one though I promise haha.

As soon as I found out this was a thing I wanted to read it. Like Gossip Girl but everyone is a serial killer? Sign me up.

This book is basically the first Gossip Girl rewritten as everyone is fighting to stay alive, as it seems everyone on the Upper East Side is dropping like a fly at the hands of our two favourite It Girls.

I really loved everything about this to be honest, I mean I think sometimes they tried too hard to fit in references to killers or blood or something gory whereas before it would reference fashion or glamour. But it was still an interesting take on the story.

I also love that this isn’t even fanfiction, this is just written by the author herself. What a queen.

My favourite thing is probably that Serena randomly took a notion to start killing people because they reminded her of Nate, and Blair, finding out Serena was a murderer decided that she too should murder people. Like it is a trend of some kind, crazy but also amazing.

So the story goes that Serena comes back into town, set on killing Nate because she realises that he is the one who has always gotten in the way of her friendship with Blair. And for them to be the bestest of friends it makes sense to kill the only thing standing between them.

Quickly though she realises that is a dumb idea, and then becomes jealous of Blair and her life once she finds out B is no longer interested in being her friend. So naturally it is time for Blair to die.

Meanwhile on the other side of things, B has decided that Serena must die because she thinks S is the one that ruined their friendship, and she was sick of seeing S be the center of attention with those adverts all over town with her.

So it is war.

Along the way, there are a lot of casualities. Although S may actually be the only one who isn’t killing just because. I mean most people in the Upper East Side were only killed by S because they knew more than they should have, for example Katy and Isobel who saw her sleeping with Nate, or that girl who saw Serena kill her brother (the girl’s not Serena’s). I mean she was only trying to protect herself…

Then there is Blair who is chaotic and will off anyone who even looks at her funny. I mean I can’t imagine seeing her just slicing a girl’s head off because she reminded her of Serena, but why not?

All the while none of them are getting caught, even by security cameras or witnesses as some of the murders happen in broad daylight, but I guess when you are rich and your family hates a scandal, it all gets swiped under the carpet.

Meanwhile there is Nate, who doesn’t kill anyone, but is pretty sure he has seen Blair do it, but he could have just been super high and tripping. So you never really know with him. Honestly he is not a big part of the book anymore when I think about it considering instead of trying to kill him, his two best girls are focused on killing each other lol.

Then there is Little J who is still in love with Serena, even if she is a serial killer, J thinks that’s a cool thing to be. Jenny also enjoys eating raw meat and there is less focus on her enormous chest this time around so yay for that?

Dan is still the same tortured poet, although this time he only writes haikus and also fantasizes about killing himself on a regular basis. What a mood. Also his poems are not as terrible as they were in original book? So that’s good haha.

Then Vanessa is making a film and is loving coming across all these dead bodies because it makes great footage for her. So that’s fun, I love that she isn’t questioning anything and just going with it.

Things come to a head at a brunch where Serena and Blair are fighting to the death basically, which I enjoy because we love a good girl smack down, especially when one of them ends up with a knife in their back. Literally.

I knew that neither B or S were going to really die because it would seem weird if it happened. Like where would we even go from there?

I also do feel that the story kind of lost its way towards the end, I know it was following the storyline of the first book for the most part but at some point you gotta know that when killing off all these people, the story was going to change. So while things ended at the Kiss Me or Die party I would have been okay if it ended differently.

Like I felt the book was destined to take a different direction towards the middle but it worked too hard to fit back into the confines of the original story at the end.

So things ended at the Kiss Me or Die party. Nate confessed he wanted to be with Blair, and only Blair. She seemed to accept this, B and S saw each other from across the room and drew their weapons but only for a second and decided against a killing spree in the middle of a party. So I guess it was a truce.

Dan and Serena find Jenny trapped in the bathroom with Chuck as they did before. Only this time, Chuck does not get away so easily, as Jenny, Dan and Serena take their turns inflicting pain on Chuck until he dies. And then they ride off into the night.

And that is where we leave our Upper East Siders, for good this time. I mean I’ll probably continue to binge the TV show from time to time but as for book reviews and blog posts this is it.

It has been a wild ride but I have enjoyed it a lot, and I’m glad I kept this one until last because it was something fun to end it.

So until next time,

You know you love me,

~ Courtney x

Weightless by Sarah Bannan Review

I bought this book like 5 years ago I’m pretty sure. It has sat on my bookshelf for that long. It sounded like my kind of thing, you know high school drama, I just hadn’t gotten around to reading it and so finally I did.

It definitely was not what I was expecting. This book is all about the life of Carolyn Lessing, a girl who moved to a small town in Alabama but the point of view is not Carolyn’s.

The style is something that I’ve never read before. It was first person plural, and so the point of view of high school girls. Girls who weren’t super popular but wanted to be, people who saw Carolyn live her life and were secretly jealous. Spectators to what was going on around them but never interfered.

I have to say I kind of clocked what happened pretty quick. High school new girl, bullied and eventually commits suicide…

Definitely a new take on it though, with you feeling like you were one of those girls who just watched Carolyn get bullied, stood at the side lines and did nothing. It kind of brings me back to when I was at school, these things happen. We all just watch, we are all trying to be involved in everyone’s lives but when it really comes down to it, that’s all we do. When we see things happening we don’t intervene because we feel like it’s not our place, and then something happens and maybe we think it was our place to speak up.

The book probably would have made a bigger impact on me if I had actually read it 5 years ago, but I feel like after 13 Reasons Why on Netflix and everything this message has pretty much been drilled into me and stayed with me. Our actions have consequences, even if it’s no action at all.

I gotta say the book started to feel a little Lifetime movie to me towards the end, the whole aftermath of Carolyn’s passing, the media coverage, them arresting and trying to press charges against the bullies. Things I’ve definitely seen in a Lifetime movie about bullying before.

Still an interesting read, took a while to get used to the first person plural though. I also thought that maybe it dragged just a little, I think I would have preferred a little bit more time spent on the aftermath.

But now the book is done and I hope to never leave another book on my bookshelf unread for 5 years again lol.

~ Courtney x

I Will Always Love You by Cecily von Ziegesar Review

The final Gossip Girl book. 12 books in 4 months. Wild.

I hate to say this but why was the last book the best one? Like I’m not even kidding, this is like the way I’ve wanted the entire series. So this book is set over the course of four years, every year it focuses on New Year’s Eve and so much happens! I love it.

I feel like the pace of the books has been too slow for me, like the first 10 books span like the whole senior year of high school for everyone and then the prequel spans a good few months over and the timeline is confusing. Then there is this one which is clearly spaced out and the pacing was good and of course, there was lots of drama.

Sad it took them until the last book to get things going but I guess it’s nice to finally be at the end.

Anyway, let’s dive in because we have so much to cover! I think I’ll try to do it by year since that makes the most sense and everyone’s story kind of intertwines. You definitely need to grab a drink and a snack if you’re going to read all of this.

First of all, Blair is home for the holidays, sort of. She has finished up her first semester at Yale and has a new boyfriend, Pete. Cute. She spends Christmas with him and his family, assuming she would spend New Year’s with them on holiday too, until she finds out Pete’s family has a no ring, no bring rule about family holidays. So she packs her bags and heads of to New York to stay with Serena, she doesn’t have a choice when her family had moved out to LA. Plus her and Serena had kept in touch while she was at Yale.

Serena is a movie star, she just filmed the sequel to Breakfast at Fred’s and is living a kind of lonely life. She has movie star friends sure, but they were nothing compared to her old friends in high school. She is thrilled that Blair is in town but is jealous of her living her best life at Yale, so also pretends she is living the good life.

The two of them agree to go to Chuck’s New Year’s party that he throws every year at the Tribeca Star Hotel, but Serena has to stop at Thad’s (her gay costar from the movie) New Year’s party first. Serena did invite Blair but Blair didn’t want to accept a pity invite from movie star Serena van der Woodsen.

Serena ends up spending a little too much time at Thad’s and Blair is pissed. Of course Serena would ditch her and she would have to spend time at this party where most people are in high school. So gross.

Surprisingly though there is one familiar face…Nate. Our favourite stoner, who surprisingly isn’t all that stoned. He is back after sailing around with Chips for a few months, but Chips surprised him by saying he was headed off to chill and enjoy retirement while Nate went back to his old life. He couldn’t avoid it forever.

Nate and Blair end up falling into bed – just like old times! And Nate is like “yes this is where I’m meant to be, with Blair.” Cue eye rolls because this is classic Nate. He even agrees that he should go to Yale with her because he doesn’t know what else to do.

Later that day, Blair gets a call from Tiffany saying there is a package for her, and of course she’s excited because who wouldn’t be about getting a call from Tiffany? So she goes to the store to find Pete there with a ring – like is he proposing? He is definitely not proposing but he thought if he got her a ring he could bring her on holiday. How cute! Sadly Blair turns him down because she has Nate back and they are going to live the perfect life together, so she doesn’t need Pete anymore.

Sadly the perfect life doesn’t last long for her because Serena finds out about them being together and that Nate is going to Yale too. She is not happy about this so she decides to remind Blair about her boyfriend, Blair gets angry with her and they start fighting. Classic love triangle issues. I wish I could be mad about the love triangle but at this point I’m going with it, it’s the last book so why not?

Nate is mad that the girls have been fighting over him this way, he seems to always come between them so he takes off. He decides to go off to this farm school in California where Chuck ended up going, leaving the girls on their own. Blair decides she can’t be friends with Serena anymore because she seemingly ruins everything for Blair. And I guess that is the end of that…

Side note on Chuck: he didn’t get into any of the colleges he applied to so he was sent away to this weird farming school and has suddenly become a completely different person. Nate saw the change in Chuck and thought maybe the school would be good for him too. Seems weird but okay we go with it.

Meanwhile, Dan is home from Washington and realised he missed Vanessa the whole time. The two of them were able to keep up long distance but Dan decided he couldn’t take it anymore. So he decided to transfer to Columbia to be with Vanessa.

Vanessa on the other hand had been getting along well at NYU, and was surprised about Dan wanting to come back to the city. She was excited at first but she wasn’t sure about them living together again because we all know how well that went…

But it’s fine because we don’t get to see how it pans out because Vanessa ends up cheating on Dan with her old TA Hollis from college. And am I even surprised? Dan cheated on her way back in the day so it’s only fair Vanessa gets a shot. Dan is angry and tells her to move out.

And that is it for year one…

I was surprised about Dan and Vanessa not wanting to speak because they have always been friends in some way after something between them happens. But they keep their distance.

In the next year we discover than Dan has been living his life at Columbia but failing at being a poet. He is on a deadline for one of his classes but he hasn’t been inspired at all, so he decides to submit one of his old poems and calls it ‘Serena’.

Serena, ends up at the New Year’s party at Chuck’s and this time, she is the one that ends up seeing Nate and hooking up with him. Not surprised. But after they hook up, Nate brings up Blair and Serena realises he is always going to love her, so she ditches Nate in her apartment.

Later Serena discovers Dan’s poem and she decides to reach out to him. Her previous relationship with Dan originally was so shitty, not like the TV show where they were always on and off. So I was surprised when they reconciled again, but then again I guess Serena was lonely and flattered that someone was thinking of her – not like the rest of the world wasn’t but they didn’t write her a poem…

Blair this New Year’s is going through A LOT. First off, she ended up back together with Pete at Yale and so she is excited to bring him to New York and introduce him to her old friends so naturally she brings him to Chuck’s party. This is when she sees Nate and Serena together and she freaks out and insists they leave.

I guess it’s one thing to live a perfect life and pretend S and N don’t exist when you are at uni but to see them in real life is something else. Pete is confused as to why Blair was freaking out and asks her what’s wrong, she finally decides to tell Pete about hooking up with Nate last New Year’s Eve and he storms off to stay with a cousin to clear his mind.

Blair ends up holed up in her hotel room for most of the new year, only leaving to try and do some shopping and have some retail therapy. Sadly while she is in Barney’s she ends up running into Serena because it seems like Manhattan is the smallest place in the world. She is obviously angry with Serena and leaves to go back to her hotel room.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Blair so off the rails but then again, her best friend is no longer her friend, her ex Nate is someone she can no longer trust and her current boyfriend might have dumped her too. Not cute.

Then one night, Nate is stoned and decides to sneak into Blair’s hotel room and surprise her. I thought this was kind of creepy considering she is staying in a hotel and he didn’t know the room number or have a key. Sadly for Blair this is when Pete comes back and sees them together and breaks up with Blair for good. B is furious and tells Nate to get out too. Definitely not a good start to the year with Blair.

Not to mention Serena saying she is going to go to Yale because she thinks it might be the place to go to find herself. So Blair once again makes it clear to S that their friendship is well and truly dead.

Meanwhile there is Vanessa who ended up shacking up with Hollis and is having a fab time in a fancy Brooklyn apartment. Hollis has this idea that they need to make a movie of her life cause it sounds so wild – which to be fair some crazy things have happened to her over the years… but at the same time is weird to think about because most of it would just be her breaking up and making up with Dan haha.

So Hollis takes her to a meeting with a production company but the company want to make a completely different movie, Vanessa is not pleased and storms out of the meeting but Hollis is all on board for this new idea. Of course he’s a sell out.

He wins Vanessa over again though saying she needed to make her movie her way and he purposely didn’t want them to make a shitty version of it. Yeah, right he just wants to be famous…so he leaves to go film on location in Iceland or somewhere like that and leaves Vanessa alone with a new puppy. I’m surprised she agreed to stay, I thought she would have left, she has walked on Dan for a lot less…

Moving right along to year 3 – this one I really love.

So Serena and Dan have started seeing each other, she is at Yale and he is at Columbia. Serena travels down to see him every weekend and can’t bare to be away from him during the week. I think it’s cute but at the same time still weird because they are not the same Dan and Serena from the TV show so there is nothing about this relationship that really makes sense. Not that it was great on TV either but Dan isn’t as dark and dramatic on TV haha.

They decide to take Jenny on college visits because she is just about to graduate high school – time flies when everyone else has drama. They end up at RISD and Jenny also makes a stop at Brown where we run into our favourite guy, Nate.

He is in town looking at campuses because he has finished at his college in California. So needed a new plan. When he saw Jenny I think it was kind of decided he would go to Brown to be near her while she went to RISD.

Jenny offers Nate a ride back to the city with Dan and Serena but Dan is not thrilled about this considering Nate and Jenny dated for like five minutes years ago and broke her heart. Not to mention that Nate and Serena always had a wild past.

Dan gets overruled on his decision by Serena and they are about set off back to New York when the snow starts. They decide to go to a hotel but Serena thinks it’s a good idea to go to Blair’s house in Newport instead – because breaking into your ex friend’s house on the holidays is always a good idea lol.

To their surprise it turns out Blair was actually at her Newport house for the holidays. She was spending time with her Dad and his partner and their children. She was also spending it with her new boyfriend Chuck Bass.

Oh yeah you heard me. So after Chuck reformed when he went off to California he had comforted Blair at the end of last year and so the two ended up together when Blair was studying abroad. It seems super weird for the books to play this out – sure it was a thing on TV but the TV show played it as an epic love. It is just random in the book but we go along with it.

Blair is furious to find her friends have shown up at her doorstep because she can’t just have anything to herself anymore. She tries to put up a good front for her dad and Chuck but deep down she just wants them to leave so she can enjoy the holiday season.

Over the few days they are snowed in at Blair’s, she begins to soften and they all end up reminiscing about high school over dinner. It’s a simple scene but it is super cute. I love that they were able to bond and enjoy each other’s company instead of getting at each other’s throats.

They then decide to take it outside and go sledding because that’s the adult thing to do. It sounds like lots of fun and is real cute but Blair gets antsy watching Jenny cosying up to Nate so goes to bed.

The only person who was not having a good time reminiscing was Dan, he was never a part of the world S, N and B shared and so he sat there in the corner sulking. Classic Dan. He doesn’t go sledding either, instead he opts to sit in the library where he ends up texting Vanessa.

Dan and Vanessa haven’t spoken in two years now, and I find that weird because they always know how to patch things up. But Vanessa has been so lonely with Hollis leaving that she is glad to hear from her old friend. So they continue texting throughout the night.

While everyone is in bed, it seems like while the boys are sleeping, all the girls are drawn to a certain bedroom…Blair feels like she needs to be with Nate one last time, Serena also feels she needs to be with Nate because seeing him with Jenny was weird and of course Jenny wants to see Nate because she plans to lose her virginity to him. Wow. He’s so popular with the ladies, how does he do it?

Luckily for Jenny, Blair catches Serena on the way to Nate’s and they both won’t admit that they want to see him so both reluctantly go to bed. This paves the way for Jenny to slink in and finally be with the guy of her dreams.

The next day, B and S are yelling at each other again for both trying to land Nate. This causes their boyfriends to be a bit wary and so the gang pack up and leave Blair to enjoy what’s left of her holiday alone.

Hollis comes back to surprise Vanessa but spends most of his time away doing movie things, he discovers the texts on Vanessa’s phone and is pissed. Though he doesn’t really have a right too since he is the one that packed up and went to make a film and ignored Vanessa the whole time he was back. It’s safe to say they end up breaking up…

And this brings us to our final year with the gang. They are all set to be graduating, well Nate and Jenny still have some time to go but even Serena who had only been at Yale for two years is scrambling to graduate. Our girl’s got brains.

So Blair is back in the city having some weird holiday party with her mum because I guess they’ve moved back to New York for a bit. Chuck is not with her because he is flying in the day after and she is feeling very lonely at this sucky holiday party.

She is not alone for long as Serena appears, as always looking fabulous. Dan is not with her because she didn’t know he could be. Blair’s plan is to ignore Serena because she always ruins B’s holiday plans, I mean isn’t it wild the past 3 years she has tried to escape her but every time she has come around and appeared? Talk about annoying.

Next thing you know Nate is also appearing – I guess this makes sense when Blair’s mum invites all their parents along but still…what she was not expecting to see was Jenny Humphrey attached to Nate’s arm.

Turns out those two had gotten together and were living the married life at college. They even had a gross nickname for each other ‘meow’ which Blair and Serena have no choice but to make fun of. They both end up excusing themselves from dinner because they are laughing so much like old times. It’s good to see them when they’re not fighting, and when I look back I know 90% of the fighting could have been avoided if Blair wasn’t overreacting, but I guess then she wouldn’t be our B.

Back at the Humphrey residence, Vanessa has found out she has gotten into a film thing in Indonesia and she is super excited about it. After she broke up with Hollis she had nowhere to really turn to except the Humphreys, and it’s not like they would kick her out. She spent most of her time avoiding Dan and Serena when they were together but Dan was by himself as Serena was out.

So Dan and Vanessa decide to go out and celebrate Vanessa’s good news. Dan had some news of his own, he is going to some writing thing in Iowa and is super excited, he is not sure what Serena’s plans are but his are set…because all that matters is Dan in his head.

The two of them end up hooking up which is not a surprise given that the usually end up together. I think I was surprised it didn’t happen sooner, even with Serena in the picture. But Vanessa felt bad about the incident and didn’t want Serena to find out, especially when she was leaving and S would still be around for Dan.

Serena had plans originally to follow Dan to Iowa, she didn’t really know what else to do with herself and it just seemed like the thing to do, but as she was about to tell Dan of her plans he broke up with her. He felt it was the right thing to do because he really wanted to be with Vanessa. Sure she was leaving but he could wait for her…though that seems a little doubtful.

Meanwhile, Jenny and Nate have plans to see the Nutcracker together and Jenny is super excited about it, however Nate doesn’t seem to thrilled. He used to go to the Nutcracker every year with Blair and he was usually high when he did, I guess he discovered that the show is not nearly as good as it is when you are half out of it.

They end up home early and Nate has fallen asleep so Jenny decides to call up her old friend Elise to go clubbing because she was invited out by Blair’s younger brother. I guess the most shocking transformation out of anyone was that Blair’s little brother Tyler, actually did grow up and become a DJ. You thought it was kind of stupid when you read about it but the boy really did the thing. Good for him.

This is when Jenny realises that her and Nate have been acting like old people, staying in their uni house every night eating takeout and hiding away from the world. She had plenty of time for that but for right now she needed to be young and have fun. So she ends up breaking up with Nate.

I didn’t expect Nate to become so domestic after getting with Jenny, but I suppose it was the nice easy thing to do compared to being with people like Blair and Serena who always had events on that he had to dress up for. Still, I never expected him to be so settled and boring.

That same night, Blair and Serena meet up to have drinks because they are friends again and that’s cute. But they decide they are missing a very important piece of their night and that is Nate. I was worried this was headed down an ugly route because the pattern of those three on New Year’s always goes that way…but surprisingly for everyone things stay strictly platonic.

B and S break into Nate’s house to find him asleep and ditched by Jenny, but the girls race past him to his room to grab drinks and watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s just like old times. Nate wakes up after hearing the noise and finds the two girls in his bed. He’s not one for turning down two beautiful girls in bed so he ends up joining them. Super cute. We love that for them.

The next day Blair is having brunch with Chuck and she has to tell him that she thinks things between them are moving too fast. For Christmas he surprised her with an apartment and his mother had been talking about children. Blair was so not ready for that life and ends up breaking up with Chuck. I definitely thought it would have lasted, I mean technically that is the life B has always wanted but I guess she realised there was more to life than it being perfect like the movies. We love some character growth.

With B and C broken up, Chuck decides to throw his signature New Year’s Eve party once more.

B and S go to the party together and are chilling in the hot tub when S gets a message from Nate. Serena gets excited and leaps out of the hot tub and down to find Nate. After breaking up with Dan she decides what she really needs is to travel and see the world and perhaps Nate is just the partner to do it with.

A second later, Blair receives the same text message from Nate and is furious with Serena for ditching her for him again, so she races after her.

Just as S is about ask Nate to go with her, she realises that he is not the right one she needs to go with. Blair arrives and is about to tear S a new one but S cuts in and asks her to go travelling with her. B is excited thinking about how they never got to travel Europe the summer they originally planned because of the love triangle situation. But S is clear that it is a girl’s trip and N is not invited.

The two girls drive off into the night, leaving Nate by himself. I am glad that this is how they ended it. I didn’t need all this back and forth with Nate again.

That being said I wish they had more of S and B choosing each other over Nate, it seemed no matter what they were always thinking about him but never about their friendship without him.

But yeah…that is the end of the Gossip Girl series. Like I said, this was probably the best book out of all of them.

There was lots of nostalgia and it I enjoyed all the drama that came with every New Year’s celebration. It kept me wondering what could possibly happen next. That and I guess I always get a bit soppy when I finish a book series.

I think I’m just glad that the series ended on a high note because it got a bit rocky towards the end, but this book is exactly what we needed. So yay for that.

Now I’m off to rest and think about what’s next on my reading list. Part of me wants to jump straight in with something like Pretty Little Liars, but at the same time I think I need to step away from the long books series’ for a while, they can be tiring to get through. But, whatever I decide to read you know I’ll be back soon enough to review it.

You know you love me,

~ Courtney x

It Had To Be You by Cecily Von Ziegesar Review

Time for a throwback…all the way back to the beginning of the Gossip Girl series with a prequel.

If you’re wondering why I waited this long to read this, it’s because I’m just reading them in the order they were released/Wikipedia had them. But you could definitely read this as the very first book in the series and it would fit in.

In this book we get the origin stories of how our lovely Upper East Siders came to be. Why Vanessa shaves her head, how Dan became a poet, how Nate became a stoner, how the big Nate, Serena and Blair love triangle came about and even about Jenny developing her massive chest. It’s all wild and it’s all right here.

Sadly the only origin story we don’t get is Gossip Girl herself. As far as I know she doesn’t reveal her identity in the books which I think is probably for the best. The TV show did a terrible reveal and I didn’t like it. I mean seriously. DAN HUMPHREY? As if. Especially in the books he could never be Gossip Girl lol.

Anyway that’s a rant for a whole other day. Let’s dive into this book shall we?

Starting off with Blair, our B. Gotta love her. So this is before she is with Nate and obviously all she is thinking about is being with him. She’s had a crush on him forever and feels like she’s gonna explode if he doesn’t marry her.

To save some time and explaining her scheming I’ll just let you know her and Nate do get together. But all Nate wants is to have sex and he thinks he is gonna get it from Blair because she loves him and he loves her so like it’s a no brainer.

As if. B begins to string Nate along and telling him she’s not ready but they can do it in summer, or after summer, or christmas…and you get where I’m going. Poor guy. Just wants to get laid lol. But I enjoy Blair being sneaky and manipulative. It’s the Blair we all know and love.

On top of that we discover the ruby ring she is so fond of was a gift from Nate. This is also when I realise that the ring hadn’t been mentioned much in the last few books and when it was it seemed out of place. Again, the effects of a ghostwriter. (I know I always sound negative about the ghostwriter but like there are just certain things you notice when suddenly a different person is writing the books).

We also discover she doesn’t handle the news about her father leaving her family for a gay man and so this is where her bulimia comes from. The book handles it in a kind of cast offish way which it has always done. Like oh Blair just went to throw up, she felt like she was gonna vomit hearing news she didn’t like. That kind of thing, definitely wouldn’t fly with that kind of writing now but I guess in 2007 it was chill.

Thankfully somewhere along the line Blair just stops throwing up. I don’t remember when but I feel like it hasn’t been mentioned in the books for ages so I guess she magically recovers. Kind of like how on TV they showed it like one time and forgot about it.

Time to move along to Serena. Our golden girl. Who is also madly in love with Nate. I guess they planted this love triangle early. And that’s fine. It was written a less annoying this time and plus this was the beginning, way before everything else so it’s fine.

Turns our Blair was not the first to kiss Nate. It was S. They kiss in bed while Blair is sleeping right next to them. So romantic lol. But this is when Serena knows for sure she loves him and Nate loves her back.

Serena was planning to tell Blair this but when she saw how Blair’s family was falling apart she thought the least she could do was let her have Nate. Even though it killed S to see her two best friends get together.

It was interesting to see Serena’s martyr act thinking she was the lost selfless person ever. But it got old real fast, like we get that you are heartbroken but time to move onto bigger and better things.

I can understand why she was pissed at Nate for just choosing Blair after they kissed and everything, but can she really fault Blair if she didn’t know S loved Nate too?

Anyway yeah I was kind of over Serena in this one. Just pining after Nate while also being a shitty friend to him and Blair. Not cute.

That being said, we did find out about how Nate “parted S’s red sea”. I mean we already knew because they’ve talked about it in previous books but in case you needed to relive it, it’s right there.

After all that goes down Serena realises she shouldn’t have slept with Nate because he is with Blair. But at the same time she is not going to stick around and watch them be in love anymore so that’s why she decides to go to boarding school. Which is kind of lame but then again it’s selfless Serena, leaving to let her two friends be happy.

Then we have Nate. And while the girls have been passing him back and forth like a game, it’s not like he hasn’t been responsible. In fact when you get right down to it, Nate is just a dick lol.

First he kisses Serena, then Blair kisses him and he decides to be with her, but once she doesn’t wanna have sex with him he decides to call up Serena and they have sex, then Blair comes back into town and he’s like “right my girlfriend”. I mean he’s trash hahaha. Sure Nate in the TV show is kind of trashy too but he is also cute in that he doesn’t mean to hurt people’s feelings and he isn’t a stoner on TV.

But yeah I guess the gist is with Nate is that he’s horny and helpless when it comes to pretty girls. He wasn’t even gonna get with Blair or Serena to begin with his was after some other girl that introduced him to weed. He liked how he felt and then just jumped in head first to become a fulltime stoner.

Safe to say him and the first girl didn’t work out. And he thought Serena wasn’t interested in him anymore when he saw her go kiss Chuck at a party. Even though she only went over there for Blair’s benefit. Not that Nate would know that. Which is how he needed up with Blair.

Nate can be kind of cute when he wants to be because when he gets with Blair he works hard to distract her from her crappy family and buys her pretty things from Tiffany we love that. But at the same time he isn’t getting any for her so the only logical thing would be to call Serena.

To be fair he only wanted to see her at first because he hadn’t seen his friend for forever but then they had sex and well…we all know the rest.

I will still stand by Nate being trash for jumping between the too. I guess the best thing he ever did was leave them both and sail around the world…

Moving on down to Brooklyn and the Upper West Side.

Dan and Jenny. Turns out both the Humphreys have an unhealthy obsession with S. Who can blame them when she is so perfect.

I think I was shocked by Jenny more just because I didn’t know her obsession ran so deep. Literally her stealing Serena’s bra and drawing all those pictures of her and everything. Crazy.

Plus in this book Jenny was twelve haha and obsessed with wanting to grow her boobs. She didn’t know she would end up with the chest she would. But at the time she was desperate to make them grow and so she ordered breast enhancement supplements lol.

It’s also kind of weird how she insisted on showing Dan the progress of her boob growth. Like I guess they are super close because they don’t have a mum but there are just some things you shouldn’t share with your brother. You should also never ask him to measure your boobs but that is a thing that happens too. Wild.

Over time Jenny’s boobs do grow. She stopped taking the supplements after like a week because Vanessa told her that she would grow naturally anyway. It’s just kind of funny she wanted them anyway. Plus she goes from loving her boobs to hating them real quick. So I guess you can never win.

So yeah…that was Jenny. Then we have Vanessa who joined Constance and had a full head of hair. I can’t believe it either. She decides that she needs to do something shocking to stand out from the girls at her school and what better way to do that than to shave your head. Not to mention Blair was with her at the time, cute.

Vanessa and Dan become friends after both getting locked out on the roof at a party and Vanessa instantly takes a liking to Dan. She knew he was different like her so maybe they could be friends, or more than that. It turns out Vanessa really loved Dan at the first sight of him and even tried to kiss him at one point.

It is kind of cute to see Vanessa wanting to be with Dan this way. In the other books she seems kind of edgy but in this one she is niave and just wants Dan to like her back. Well, until she finds out he’s like everyone else, in love with Serena. Then she’s mad. Who wouldn’t be?

I get that she was upset with Dan but at the same time she was definitely trying too hard haha I’m glad they friends though. The book talks about her being really into photography but not film making so I guess that comes after…I guess it’s not a huge leap from photography to film making. But I’m surprised it’s not mentioned.

Anyway moving on to, last but not least, Dan. Turns out he wasn’t always a smoking, depressed poet. But he always drank his coffee by the bucket load. So Dan is over here obsessing about Serena, wondering if she will ever remember him from that one party they were both at. Rufus, his dad is over Dan’s moping and suggests that he try poetry to express his feelings.

This lightbulb moment happens and suddenly Dan thinks, yes, that’s it. He writes some words down and decides he is a poet. His muse is Serena and he will write her all these love poems and she will read them and when she finds out it is him she will fall in love with him and they’ll live happily ever after. As if.

His poems are obviously super terrible, but he decides to give one to Jenny to slip into Serena’s locker anyway. She reads it and thinks it’s dark and kind of cool someone would write poetry for her but she is not fussed on finding out who wrote it. Let’s be real the girl probably gets millions of letters and poems from admirers, Dan will have to step up his game.

Dan also decides after he meets Vanessa to randomly start smoking. I guess he thought it went with his dark poet vibe. And so, this Dan we all know and kind of like was born.

Honestly not surprised that he just fell into poetry and smoking. That kind of sums up his life, maybe he is not so different from Nate. I mean he fell into poetry and it stuck, he went along with being with Vanessa and that was cool, he also just went with the flow when he was doing yoga with that one girl for some time…he even fell into being gay and out again haha. Dan doesn’t make decisions for himself, people make them for him, it’s only right his dad recommend he become a poet and he did. Plus Nate is the same, he just smokes weed and goes with the flow.

But yeah, after Vanessa finds out about Dan obsessing with Serena she is not too thrilled so they don’t talk for a while. It is actually Jenny who has to tell Dan that he should apologise to Vanessa because he could use a friend and social interaction. I guess it’s cute Jenny is looking out for him. So he goes to apologise to Vanessa and it looks like those two patch things up.

And that brings us to the end of the Gossip Girl prequel! This was cute. I feel like I would have appreciated it more if I wasn’t so jaded after the last few books. Anyway, one more book and we can be done with this series! Yes I know there is the spin off and also the It Girl book series about Jenny but I definitely need to read something new after being wrapped up in this world for a few months.

I think I’ll be glad to finish this series, it’s been a fun run but towards the end it just kind of got meh. Let’s hope the last book will allow us to finish on a high note.

You know you love me,

~ Courtney x