Review: Again, But Better

Today I’m going to be reviewing Again, But Better by Christine Riccio.

Here’s the synopsis:

Shane has been doing college all wrong. Pre-med, stellar grades, and happy parents…sounds ideal—but Shane’s made zero friends, goes home every weekend, and romance…what’s that?

Her life has been dorm, dining hall, class, repeat. Time’s a ticking, and she needs a change—there’s nothing like moving to a new country to really mix things up. Shane signs up for a semester abroad in London. She’s going to right all her college mistakes: make friends, pursue boys, and find adventure!

Easier said than done. She is soon faced with the complicated realities of living outside her bubble, and when self-doubt sneaks in, her new life starts to fall apart.

Shane comes to find that, with the right amount of courage and determination one can conquer anything. Throw in some fate and a touch of magic—the possibilities are endless.

Prethoughts to reading this:

I am SO excited. I feel like I’m going to end up inserting myself into this book and loving it a bit too much, I did the same thing with Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I studied abroad in London and I miss it so much and I already feel like I relate to Shane and her college “inexperience”.

I just read Christine’s note at the beginning and my heart swelled. If this story is what she says it is it’s going to be so great. Reading about someone who hasn’t “done it all” by 20 is going to be revolutionary for EVERYONE who has ever felt less than for not doing what it seems like everyone else is doing.

I got an autographed copy and I honestly still feel so hesitant about annotating books that are hardcovers or that are signed. It gives me so much anxiety even though it’s my own book that I spent my money on and I don’t loan books to people anymore so honestly, why should I care?

I’m also really nervous because I can’t help but wonder if this is going to be a really bad youtuber book but maybe this will change my mind from those thoughts. It’s just really frustrating to see things get so hyped up and then getting disappointed…

Okay… Today is March 8, 2019 and I am beginning Again, But Better… Let’s do this!

Immediate thoughts after finishing this the same day I began reading it:

I honestly don’t know how I feel about this. I want to both love it and hate it at the same time. The story was just what I needed to read right now but at the same time there were so many things that made me either uncomfortable or just feel not happy with the general story.

Non-spoiler review:

After some long thoughts about this I’m rating the book 3/5 stars. Leaning somewhat towards a 3.5/5 stars but I’m rounding down because I just don’t know how I feel. There were some parts of this book that bothered me but I’ll touch on those in the spoilery section.

I loved how this read like a movie, it felt so real to me, I can definitely see Christine’s film background in this. Another thing I really liked was the banter between characters. I found myself chuckling quite a bit at the things they said to each other.

Now, would I have bought this book and read it had I not been following Christine? Yes, 100%. The book itself had a plot that interested me greatly. It was a story that sounded like I could relate to it and in the end it was. It showed a lot about learning about yourself and learning how to be your own person. It showed hard lessons to learn and how important second chances can be. Would I recommend this book? Yes. I think if you’re looking for a quick contemporary read then definitely check this out. This wasn’t the story of my dreams but even going into it with very low expectations that I would like it I was pleasantly surprise.

And lastly, I got one of the first copies that was printed so the end of her note says 2018 instead of Christine and I will be giggling about that for years to come.

If you’re interested in picking up your own copy, you can find the book at this links!

Amazon Affiliate Link // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

Next I’ll be moving into a more in depth review with spoilers included…

SPOILERS AHEAD: STOP READING NOW IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE BOOK AND DON’T WANT TO BE SPOILED

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The Books That Shaped Me

At this point in my life, I have read too many books to count. Going to the library as a kid was one of my favorite outings and every year my uncle used to give me $50 to Barnes and Noble for Christmas. Though nowadays I struggle greatly to find my motivation to read I still love devouring books and when I find a good one it makes me so grateful.

I was going through my goodreads account looking at all the books I had there so that I could look some stuff up for another blog post and I couldn’t help but get slightly emotional over all of the books that I had listed on there that I read way back in elementary and middle school. Books played such a pivotal role in my childhood that I decided to round up a bunch of the books that really shaped me as a person and as a reader and share them with you. I feel like this post could get really long so I might end up sharing this in parts!

I’m basically just going to compile this list with just the names of the books/authors with some commentary when I see fit because I feel like if I were to add my commentary to every single one of these this post would be two miles long and no one would read it! However, if you are interested in more of my commentary on certain books or series just comment on this post and I can make singular posts about certain books/series if you want to know more!

Anyways, here are the books that shaped me!

The Harry Potter series

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Books written by Margaret Peterson Haddix

RunningOutofTime

Specifically Running Out of Time which to this day I maintain as being one of my all time favorite books. Which reminds me, I need to buy a new copy of this still as my last one was stolen from me… This story is just crazy and I highly recommend this book to anyone!

The Main Street series by Ann M. Martin

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Though in general Ann M. Martin’s books all were a really big childhood, her Main Street series was probably my favorite (and I’m honestly still trying to read them!) Her Babysitter’s Club series will always be a classic as well.

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

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When I first read this series the books were still being released and I remember waiting for the last book and I was so excited when it finally showed up at my library and I could read it! It was the weirdest set of books I had ever read and I was genuinely extremely confused by the entire experience of reading this but I loved it!

American Girl books

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I think that these books had a really big influence into my love of history, as did a few others on this list. American Girl books and the dolls were huge in my life. The magazine was my first ever subscription and I have every single one of those saved in a box still! Kit was my favorite and to this day I still watch the movies if I can get my hands on them!

Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder

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Project Mulberry by Linda Sue Park

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I have to brag for a second when I mention this book. We actually read this book for a school thing (I can’t remember what it was called but everyone in my grade got this book for free and after we read it we had a big game of jeopardy) and I have to credit myself for winning grade-wide jeopardy for my class. All because I knew the name of the study of bugs! It’s entomology btw if any of you wanted to know. I will also say that I think that this book was one of the first times that I really stopped to think about how creatures that aren’t humans are treated and it made me really sad!

The Beacon Street Girls Series

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Somewhere out there, there is a website that is somehow related to this series that has my first ever attempts at blogging on it. I’m not even going to lie, as I’m writing this post I’m thinking about going to the library to check out books from this series. I loved these books so much growing up! I actually kind of regret getting rid of my collection of them!

Soul Surfer by Bethany Hamilton

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Bethany Hamilton, to this day, is one of my biggest heroes! Her faith, strength, and heart are so inspiring and I’m so glad that I discovered her when I did. In sixth grade I actually did an entire presentation as her after reading this book. She’s an amazing woman and I love following what she does!

Halfway to the Sky by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

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This (along with the next book on the list) have been huge in influencing my wanting to explore more. Halfway to the Sky actually inspired my want to hike the Appalachian Trail someday!

Skye’s the Limit by Megan Shull

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The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi

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I read this book in sixth grade as well and actually read it for a small reading group. The reason this made it onto the list has more to do with my experience of reading it though instead of the story itself (though I do love the story and totally want to reread this!). I’ll try to tell the story quickly…

So back in first grade I got really excited about a book that I was reading for a reading group and ended up reading the whole thing in one night. The next day I said this to my teacher and it was like I had done something illegal! She yelled at me in front of my entire reading group telling me that I was horrible for not being able to follow directions and that I shouldn’t have read ahead and should never do it again. So I tried to never read ahead again (and I still think that this might be why I hated reading books for school more often than not).

Then in sixth grade, I ended up reading this entire book in one night because it was so entertaining I had to finish it! I revealed this to my reading group during our discussion and one of the girls actually told the teacher when she came around to talk to us… I was genuinely terrified when my group mate told her but my teacher almost immediately asked me what I thought of the ending and couldn’t help but discuss how much I had liked the book. The way she reacted compared to my first grade teacher actually shocked me and made me realize just how important it is to have good teachers who have fun/encourage their students to do stuff.

Every Soul A Star by Wendy Mass

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The Sisters Club by Megan McDonald

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Love, Ruby Lavender by Deborah Wiles

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This book kickstarted this weird obsession with anthropology that has always stuck in the back of my head. It’s the reason that I loved the show Bones so much and honestly has now inspired me in my newest collegiate pursuit. Weird how random things will end up influencing your entire life!

Once Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris

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And finally…

The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages

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I borrowed this from a friend in elementary school and have been hooked on learning about World War II ever since! This book, of all of these, probably jumpstarted my love of history more than anything and I credit this to my insanely crazy interest in the World Wars (especially the experience of those on the homefront) ever since.

So now that I’ve talked your ear off… I want to know, what books shaped you as a kid? What was your favorite book growing up? I’d love to read them!

 

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