A Double Unboxing!

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Good morning everyone!

I recently received two subscription boxes and wanted to share their unboxings with you!

Unplugged Adult Book Box


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Again, but Better by Christine Riccio – A Review

Again but Better Christine Riccio

Again, but Better by Christine Riccio
Contemporary | New Adult | Romance
Published by Wednesday Books
Released May 7th, 2019
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_2_and_a_half_stars

“So—why didn’t something happen?”

Because of me. Because I let fear make decisions for me. Because I’ve chosen to let the world push me around instead of pushing my way through the world.”

You may recognize Christine Riccio’s name, especially if you’re in the book community. Christine is one of the most popular booktubers on YouTube, where her channel, PolandBananasBooks has over 400,000 subscribers. Again, but Better is Riccio’s debut novel.

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Christine Riccio

While I don’t usually read a great deal of young adult or new adult contemporary fiction, I was intrigued by the concept of this book. The story follows a university student named Shane Primaveri who is traveling to London for a semester of study-abroad classes. Her goal is to essentially have a college do-over; at her American school, she’s quiet and doesn’t have a lot of friends, so in London, she decides to be outgoing and social.

Once in London, she makes friends with her roommates Babe and Sahra, and her male neighbors, Pilot and Atticus. A romantic relationship starts to spark between herself and Pilot, and the story moves on from there.

The main reason I was intrigued by this novel was its unexpected time travel element. I can’t say too much about this part of the book because there would be major spoilers involved, but essentially, Shane has the chance to live a hypothetical question that many of us think about: If you could go back in time with all of the knowledge that you have now, would you do it? I love thinking about that question (and if you’re curious about my answer, I would absolutely go back in time for a do-over), and I haven’t found many books that discuss that question.

Another aspect of the novel that drew me in is that I wanted to live vicariously through a character that did something that I really wanted to do in college. Before I dropped out of my political science program (because it was making me angry and cynical), I really wanted to study abroad in the U.K. Aside from my obsession with British history (which started in high school out of the blue), like Shane, I also wanted a social do-over. I’ve always been the quiet, meek girl, and have always had an irrational desire to move to a new place to become a different person. It’s never worked, of course. As Neil Gaiman wrote in The Graveyard Book, “Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.”

That’s all that I feel comfortable saying about the plot of the novel, so let’s move on to my review.

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While I was entertained by this novel in a guilty-pleasure sort of way, objectively, it wasn’t good. For the first several chapters, I seriously considered DNF-ing it, but I talked myself out of it and read on. It was a fun, light story, but one that I probably wouldn’t read again.

The book itself and its characters were incredibly cringy and overwhelmingly silly. First, we have the characters’ names – Pilot Penn, Babe Lozenge, etc. Second, nearly everything that Shane does made me cringe, from the way she talks to her crush, Pilot, the never-ending Lost, Dan Brown, and Taylor Swift references, to just Shane’s behavior in general. Her character is awkward as hell and, again, super cringy. Shane has a tendency to act much more immature than a college student should have. One out of the many, many examples: On their first day in the dorms, Shane and Pilot walk to a grocery store and the whole time Shane is trying to decide if it’s a date and if he’s going to kiss her. Seriously? She literally just met him and knows nothing about him. It was an annoying part of the book.

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The relationship between Shane and Pilot was mediocre. For one thing, Shane becomes obsessed with a guy she barely knows. It’s very insta-lovey, which is a trope that drives me insane. For the majority of the book, she obsesses over everything he does, in a manner that is borderline stalkerish. Also, Pilot has a girlfriend back in America. Once Shane discovers this information, it doesn’t stop her from swooning over him and pretending that he’ll still choose her. I can never get behind cheating in a relationship, even in a fictional story, so that alone was one of the reasons I gave this novel a lower rating. Shane is way too okay with continuing to flirt with Pilot without ever talking to him about his girlfriend; at least until his girlfriend comes to visit and she is forced to confront the issue. It’s one of Shane’s characteristics that make her an untrustworthy character, along with the fact that she lies to her parents about why she’s in London.

While I knew about the magical aspects of the novel ahead of time, it still caught me a little bit off-guard. The time travel was done pretty well, but it was incredibly predictable. I doubt many people would be able to read this book and not predict its outcome.

One of the positive things about this novel was that it was a pretty decent portrayal of social anxiety. Shane obsesses over how she appears to her new friends and has to force herself to become more social. That’s something that a lot of us can relate to.

The last thing I want to say in this review (which is turning out to be quite a bit longer than I was expecting) is that it’s very clear that Shane is Christine. I feel like she didn’t even try to disguise the similarities. First, Shane is a blogger that writes under the name FrenchWatermelons19. Second, the description of Shane’s character could also describe Christine. Third, there are tons of references to books that Christine talks about frequently on her channel, such as Twilight, Harry Potter, and the Shadowhunter books.

In the end, while I did enjoy reading this book, it wasn’t good. There were so many issues with the writing and characters that I found myself unable to overlook. If you’re a fan of Christine Riccio and want to read this novel, go ahead. However, if you’re looking for great literature, this is most definitely not it.


Have you read Again, but Better? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!


Looking for some more contemporary fiction?

With the Fire on High | The Unhoneymooners | A Very Large Expanse of Sea | The Hate U Give | The Simple Wild




Don’t forget to follow me on social media:

Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Amazon Wishlist

If you would like to support Read Yourself Happy, you can donate through Ko-Fi!

Do I Have That Book? Challenge

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I first came across this book tag after watching Hannah and Hailey’s Booktube channels. The Challenge was originally created by Tabby at the YouTube channel Keeping Tabs.

As you know, I don’t have a YouTube channel (yet), so we’ll do this the blogger way.

Let’s get right into it.


1. Do you have a book with deckled edges?

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Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman

I actually really detest deckled edges, as I think it cheapens the look of the overall book. Despite that, I have so many books with these edges. Stop it, please!


2. Do you have a book with 3 or more people on the cover?

Star Trek: The Next Generation Imzadi

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Imzadi by Peter David

I knew I’d have to go with one of my Star Trek novels for this, as I very rarely buy books with people on the cover.


3. Do you have a book based on another fictional story?

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This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee

I could only find two retellings, although I have a feeling I have more than that. My other choice could have been Ibi Zoboi’s PrideLee’s This Monstrous Thing is a Frankenstein retelling.


4. Do you have a book with a title 10 letters long?

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Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

This one took me way longer to find that I’d like to admit. I haven’t read this story yet, but I’ve heard great things about it.


5. Do you have a book with a title that starts and ends with the same letter?

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The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

You know I have to throw my favorite book in here somewhere, right?


6. Do you have a Mass Market Paperback book?

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One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

I never understood the amount of hate surrounding mass market paperbacks. They’re cheap, which makes them more accessible to a lot of people. You don’t always need to have the most expensive, nicest version of every book.


7. Do you have a book written by an author using a pen name?

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Anthem by Ayn Rand

I had to do a wee bit of research for this one. Ayn Rand’s real name is Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum.


8. Do you have a book with a character’s name in the title?

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Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

I still haven’t read this behemoth of a book, and I don’t even really know what it’s about. I picked it up on a thrift store trip a couple years ago.


9. Do you have a book with 2 maps in it?

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Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

Brandon Sanderson’s novels are always full of maps, so this was an easy one.


10. Do you have a book that was turned into a TV show?

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Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Technically, this series hasn’t been made into a television show yet, but it’s going to be. I can’t wait for the Netflix series! 


11. Do you have a book written by someone who is originally famous for something else? (celebrity/athlete/politician/tv personality…)

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The Assault on Reason by Al Gore

It’s been ages since I read this book. I read it for one of my university classes back when I was still studying political science. I don’t have any books written by actors or musicians, so a vice president is the best I could do.


12. Do you have a book with a clock on the cover?

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The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

This was one of the first books I chose for my Book of the Month Club box. I still haven’t read it, but I’m hoping to get to it soon!


13. Do you have a poetry book?

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Harvest Poems by Carl Sandburg

I have very few poetry collections. This is an ancient collection I’ve had through multiple moves and for who knows how many years. You’d think I’d have read it by now. I haven’t.


14. Do you have a book with an award stamp on it?

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The award stamps aren’t attached to this cover very well (you can see in the picture that they’re peeling), but The Hate U Give deserves all the awards it’s received.

Read my review of The Hate U Give here. 


15. Do you have a book written by an author with the same initials as you?

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Nope. This is the only question I couldn’t answer. I even looked up a list of authors whose last names start with W and still couldn’t find any P.W’s whose books I own. Oh well.


16. Do you have a book of short stories?

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Stone Mattress: Nine Wicked Tales by Margaret Atwood

I love Margaret Atwood’s writing style, and this book of short stories are phenomenal.


17. Do you have a book that is between 500-510 pages long?

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Gandhi: An Autobiography by Mahatma Gandhi

Finding a book that was between 500 and 510 pages took me so long. I’d almost given up before I grabbed this one, which comes in around 502 pages, not including the glossary/index.


18. Do you have a book that was turned into a movie?

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Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

I can’t say I enjoyed the movie adaptation of Cold Mountain, but it is one of my favorite stories set in my beloved Appalachian Mountains.


19. Do you have a graphic novel?

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Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

This graphic novel memoir of the author’s childhood in Iran during the Islamic Revolution is incredible.


20. Do you have a book written by 2 or more authors?

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The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

I was surprised that I don’t own more books with more than one author. Aside from a few of my Star Trek novels, this is the only one I could find.




Don’t forget to follow me on social media:

Twitter
Facebook
Goodreads
Instagram

If you would like to support Read Yourself Happy, you can donate through Ko-Fi!

My Five Favorite Booktube Videos of the Week

I don’t watch much television unless it’s Star Trek or Doctor Who, but I binge-watch booktube. If you’re not familiar with booktube, it’s essentially hundreds of YouTube channels about books. Here are five of my favorite videos that I watched this week:

Funny One Star Reviews: An Ember in the Ashes – Elliot Brooks

Halloween Reading Recommendations – A Clockwork Reader

Top 10 Best Fantasy Books – Iasmina Edina

Books I Want to Read in November – Hailey in Bookland

Top 6 Best Thrillers & Suspense Books – Naya Reads and Smiles

Who are your favorite Booktubers? Leave your answers in the comments below!