BOOK REVIEW: After You – by Jojo Moyes

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Title: After You
(Me Before You #2)
Author: Jojo Moyes
Genre: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
First published: September 23rd 2015
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Finished reading: December 29th 2016
Pages: 353
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“Sometimes I look at the lives of the people around me and I wonder if we aren’t all destined to leave a trail of damage.”

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I know, I know, I should have known not to read the sequel after I discovered that Me Before You didn’t really live up to my expectations last year. It’s not the first time I end up disappointed by hyped books, although I’m not saying the first book is a bad read either… After You however seemed to be a totally unnecessary sequel to what should have been a perfectly good and closed ending. I can understand why fans of the first book would be devastated to have its magic broken by such a mediocre and uninspiring follow-up. I picked up After You mostly because I already had a copy of it and it would mean one less series on my still-to-finish list. But to be honest, I kind of would have preferred not reading it at all. Unlike the first book, the plot in After You is rather weak, cliche and felt forced. Sure, it’s a fast read and the prose is easy to read, but I just felt something was missing… The fact that Lily is a completely obnoxious and highly annoying character doesn’t really help either. In short, would I suggest reading this sequel? I don’t think so, because I’ve heard a lot of actual fans feeling really disappointed by this sequel as well. Read at your own risk!

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first book yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

After the most recent events, Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. Her time with Will Traynor has transformed her, and she is struggling to continue her life without him. After she has a very serious accident in her new home in London, she is forced to return home to her family. There she is confronted again with her past and she feels she’s right back where she started… Louisa knows she needs to find a way to start living again, but that’s easier said than done. Will she be able to move on and create a new future for herself?

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I’ve heard a lot of complaints about the After You sequel in the past, and now I’ve read it I can join the crowd. I personally wasn’t blown away by Me Before You, but I can’t deny it was still a solid read and I understand why so many people love it. I have no such feelings for the sequel though. It felt the story was more build around the success of the first book rather than a proper plot, and the whole thing  simply felt unnecessary and forced. I can see why so many fans felt cheated by After You

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WWW Wednesdays #118 – January 4th

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WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

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I have been wanting to read The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda ever since my request was first approved, and words cannot describe how excited I am to be reading this story. I’ve only just started it, but I can’t wait to continue! I’ve also finally picked up Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, which was about time since I have been posponing it for WAY too long.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

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* I first finished Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown, a coming of age story and modern classic that had a truly unique voice. The main character Molly is without doubt one of the most interesting characters of the contemporary genre I’ve encountered last year.
* I then decided to pick up After You by Jojo Moyes on a whim, mostly to have one less series on my still-to-finish list. I confess I wasn’t too impressed by Me Before You unlike most others, and I think this sequel was quite unnecessary and a lot weaker than the first book. The plot felt forced and the daughter was REALLY annoying.
* I then finally finished Point Of No Return by Martha Gellhorn, a novel that was first published in 1948 and then republished last month. It was a very interesting historical fiction read, although it did read a bit slow and I thought there would be more focus on the concentration camps… That final part felt a bit rushed if you ask me.
* My last book of 2016 was Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, an audiobook and a classic I enjoyed a lot better than I thought I would. It’s my first experience with the sisters’ work, but I’m definitely going to try and read more!
* My first read of 2017 was actually a graphic novel and ARC I was looking forward to: Big Mushy Happy Lump by Sarah Andersen. I had a lot of fun reading it and it was really easy to connect to the stories.
* The last book I finished is Witness by Caroline Mitchell, which turned out to be a more than excellent psychological thriller that had me on the edge of my seat the whole time.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

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I’m probably going to read Bird Box by Josh Malerman next, depending on which genre I’m in the mood for. I also have the ARC That Burning Summer by Lydia Syson on my list, as well as The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner. And I finally have a new TBR jar pick: The Five Stages Of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson.

BOOK REVIEW: Me Before You – by Jojo Moyes

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Title: Me Before You
(Me Before You #1)
Author: Jojo Moyes
Genre: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
First published: January 5th 2012
Finished reading: February 15th 2016
Pages: 369
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“Some mistakes… Just have greater consequences than others. But you don’t have to let the result of one mistake be the thing that defines you. You, Clark, have the choice not to let that happen.”

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It seems like everybody is reading or rereading this book right now! I’ve heard so many great things about it and I know everyone including my neighbor’s cat loves this story, but I guess I am one of those unlucky few who wasn’t blown away with Me Before You. Yes, I do have a heart and I thought the ending was heartbreaking. It is an interesting enough story and I like the general idea of the plot, but that doesn’t take away that I had some minor problems with it. I know part of the disappointment itself comes from the fact that I had really high expectations of this novel by Jojo Moyes before I started it, but that doesn’t change the fact that I thought the main character Lou is annoyingly ignorant at some points in the story. I do like Lou and I can actually relate to her partially (especially the not being afraid to be different than the stereotype), but her expecting to change Will’s mind without asking him if he wants to? And organizing all those outings without thinking it through and asking will first if he likes those things in the first place? I’m sorry to say those facts and other more day-to-day things started to get on my nerves. Will’s character is more complicated to judge and I give him the benefit of the doubt, but Patrick is a man I seriously can’t stand. And yes, I would totally order cheesecake in a bar full of health freaks like Lou did and I’m not afraid to admit it. Another thing that seriously bothered me was the pace, or at least it took me ages to actually finish it. It might just be that the read wasn’t for me, but I just couldn’t understand the hype around it… But Me Before You won’t be the first nor last hyped book that doesn’t live up to my expectations anyway. So if you like the genre, don’t let my slightly negative review discourage you!

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Lou Clark is living a comfortable and predictable life living in a small town with her parents and sister. Lou has been in a relationship with Patrick for years, but somehow they never decided to take the next step. She also loves her job working in The Buttered Bun tea shop… But everything changes as the owner decides to close the shop and Lou is left without a job. She is desperately trying to find another job, especially since her parents and sister count on the money she earns to keep things afloat. She has tried all kinds of jobs already when the opportunity comes up to work as a caretaker for Will Traynor. Will has been in a motorcycle accident that took away his movability and desire to live… His mother wants to hire Lou to show him that his life can be worth living, but what Lou doesn’t know at first is that she has a deadline: if she doesn’t convince Will in six months, his parents will have to assist him in ending his life. Will Lou be able to chance Will’s mind?

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I’m not saying Me Before You is a bad read; it’s a great story even though I had some problems with the characters and pace. I’m not sure if it was just me or if the story reads slow for everyone, but it took me a long time to actually finish it. The fact that Lou’s actions were starting to become annoying at points didn’t help either… And lastly, I’m not sure if I’m alone in this, but I felt the story kind of gave the negative impression that it’s easy just to give up on life if something bad happens to you. Still, Me Before You was good enough for me to want to read the sequel some time in the future.

WWW Wednesdays #78 – February 17th

wwwwednesdaysWWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

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I started All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr a few days ago and so far I’m in love with the prose. It’s so beautifully written! It’s been a while since I last read a WWII themed story as well, so I’m really enjoying this novel. I’ve also started Every Day by David Levithan, although it’s still too early to tell if I like it or not.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

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* The first book I finished was Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider, my last TBR jar pick. I literally flew through the pages and I really loved the story and its characters.
* I then read Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, which turned out to be a lot better than both Gone Girl and Dark Places. Sick, twisted, disturbing, but very well done.
* The last book I finished since last week is Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, and it sure took me a long time to do just that. I know everybody seems to love this read, but unfortunately I wasn’t blown away by it. I didn’t hate it either, but I just expected more of it… More about my problems in the full review.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

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I really want to pick up The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton soon; both because I have been looking forward to it for quite some time now and I need it for a challenge as well. I might read Mr. Kiss And Tell by Rob Thomas first though since I’m in the mood for a mystery read and I loved the first book. I also finally want to stick to my promise and start with Outlander by Diana Gabaldon as soon as I finish All The Light We Cannot See… And The Liar’s Chair by Rebecca Whitney is my new TBR jar pick.

WWW Wednesdays #77 – February 10th

wwwwednesdaysWWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

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I’m still not that far into Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, but I plan to change that today. Hopefully I will like it as much as everyone that has recommended this novel to me! I’m also still decided whether to DNF Eve by Iris Johansen or not. I have put it on hold for now, but the combination of a misleading blurb (it was supposed to be the first in a trilogy, but ended up being book number twelve in a series, so a lot of background is missing) and sexual attraction/romance scenes that make me cringe really make me not want to continue reading it.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

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* The first book I finished was Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch, a book I ended up enjoying despite my initial reservations about the love triangle. I loved the worldbuilding, plot and action and will be picking up the sequel soon.
* I then picked up Never Never Part Three by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher to finally find out how the story ends, and I ended up being VERY disappointed with how they decided to conclude the story.
* I was actually going to DNF the last read, Death Of Secrets by Bowen Greenwood and in a way I wish I did, because it really was a bad read. Lousy characters, chaotic plot and I didn’t like the prose either… I just couldn’t concentrate on the story even though the general idea of the story does have potential.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

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As soon as I finish Me Before You, I will pick up All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I was actually planning on picking it up during the weekend but I didn’t have a lot of time to read… I also want to make a start with Outlander by Diana Gabaldon so I can finally begin with this series I have been wanting to read for ages. And I want to give Gillian Flynn another go and read her other novel Sharp Objects as well. My latest TBR jar pick is still Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider.

Teaser Tuesdays #80 – February 9th: Me Before You

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TEASER TUESDAYS is a weekly book meme originally featured at A Daily Rhythm. To participate, just open the book you are currently reading to a random page, and choose two ‘teaser’ sentences from somewhere on that page. (no spoilers!)

I started reading Me Before You by Jojo Moyes before the weekend, but since I haven’t had a lot of time to read I’m still not that far into the story yet. So far it looks really promising though, and definitely better than the other Jojo Moyes novel I tried last year (The One Plus One). Hopefully I will find more time this week so I can actually finish this story…

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My teaser (14%):

“During those first two weeks, I got quite good at keeping my face completely blank, and I would turn away and disappear into the other room and just say as little to him as I possibly could. I started to hate him, and I’m sure he knew it.”

What are you reading right now?

BOOK REVIEW: The One Plus One – by Jojo Moyes

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Title: The One Plus One
Author: Jojo Moyes
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Fiction
First published: February 26th 2014
Finished reading: November 14th 2015
Pages: 528
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“You know, you spend your whole life feeling like you don’t quite fit in anywhere. And then you walk into a room one day, whether it’s at university or an office or some kind of club, and you just go, ‘Ah. There they are.’ And suddenly you feel at home.”

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I think that part of the reason The One Plus One didn’t receive a higher rating is that I’m simply not really into the genre. Why would I read a book that doesn’t really appeal to me in the first place, would you say? Because I like trying to read a wide variety of genres and Jojo Moyes has been recommended to me repeatedly by contemporary romance fans. (Although Me Before You is always mentioned first). When I saw a copy of The One Plus One at a hostel book exchange a few months back, I decided to grab it and it has been collecting dust on my shelves ever since… I’m glad I finally decided to pick it up, because I can definitely see why Jojo Moyes would appeal to fans of the genre. The character development is more than excellent and the prose is really easy to read. I found some parts of the story quite predictable and even cliche, but the general idea of a road trip where total strangers have to travel together with a huge dog in a car is quite entertaining. The story mixes funny moments with more serious topics and even throws in a moral lesson or two… If you like contemporary romance, I think you will most likely enjoy The One Plus One.

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Jess has been struggling to make ends meet ever since her husband went back to live with his mother two years ago. She not only has to take care of her mathematically gifted daughter Tanzie, but also has her stepson Nicky and an enormous dog living with her in her cramped house… Just as she receives the news that her stepson was beaten up yet again by some bullies, she also finds out her daughter has the chance to improve her future by attending an exclusive private school. The problem: Jess can’t really afford to pay for it all even with an almost full scholarship. They will have a chance if Tanzie wins the math Olympiad, but how will they be able to go all the way to Scotland without money? Will the successful Ed really stick to his offer to give them a ride all the way?

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Even though The One Plus One is not really my cup of tea, I could still really appreciate the less-than-perfect characters and their development. Sure, some of the plot twists were quite predictable and I wasn’t really blown away by this story, but I think that contemporary romance fans will probably enjoy this novel a lot better. I will definitely try to read another Jojo Moyes novel in the future even though I’m not really into the genre…