Always and Forever by Jenny Han

As a series I give this a 3.5. Only because for me the second book feels like the conflict is forced for the sake of writing a second book. The first and the last are superb though. 

With it being Valentines weekend and the release of the final film of this series being released on Netflix this felt like an appropriate celebration of this series coming to an end!

This series of young adult fiction first caught the limelight after the Netflix adaptation of the first book ‘To all the boys I’ve loved before’. They instantly commissioned the second two books to create the series on screen and what’s not to love. The Film’s are beautiful, so much colour and style to them. 

This series was such a guilty pleasure for me I devoured them in a week a couple of years ago. They’re the perfect amount of teenage angst and reality in growing up and that first experience of ‘love’. The series follows Lara Jean, everytime she has a crush so intense she can’t deal with she writes it all down to process her emotions and locks it away in a box. Her little sister, in an attempt to help Lara Jean get a boyfriend, posts them them out to all the boys Lara Jean has every ‘loved’. It forces her to confront her feelings and put herself out there in a way she hasn’t before. These books covers lots of teenage topics like loss, navigating through a divorce, breakups, sex, friendship, University and much more. 

I applaud the author for keeping these books as grounded as can be. I find sometimes YA series’ can often focus on the happily ever after and Jenny doesn’t, she includes difficult teenage experiences like dealing with an ex, making sense of your feelings and even deciding to have sex. The first film even includes her father giving her a bag of condoms before a ski trip which I loved the subtly without forcing a safe sex talk. It’s awkward, at times it’s difficult but the series is real and focuses on growing up and people moving on. It’s fabulous. 

Postcard Stories by Jan Carson

Rachy Reads rating – 5*

Jan Carson is one of my favourite Northern Irish writers, I love her unique ability to tell so much story with so few words is remarkable. This series of short stories written once a week on postcards to her friends, set in Belfast are absolutely so beautiful I had to order the second book straight away. 

This book of short stories brings you on a journey around Belfast with Jan’s perspective on the charity shops, the runners on the newtownards road and the joy of overhearing the old ladies on the bus in East Belfast. I loved reading who they were addressed to with some of Northern Ireland’s greatest writers mentioned, probably unintentionally easter eggs but I loved it. Illustrated by Benjamin Phillips this book is such a joy visually too, couldn’t recommend a nicer collection of short stories. I’m off to devour the second book!

4.2 Goodreads

Postscript by Cecelia Ahern

Rachy Reads Rating – 3.5 *

Postscript has been described as ‘guaranteed to make readers weep’ by the Irish independent and ‘warm and hopeful’ by Woman & Home. What more could we expect from the sequel to ‘P.S. I love you’ as we explore Holly’s life 7 years on from the death of her husband. 

Postscript follows Holly’s life with a time jump from the original book, not just exploring how far she’s come but her family and friends around her too. This book was a tough read to the start of 2021, I applaud Cecelia Ahern’s raw and real approach to loss in this book. It could have been easy to bring Holly into a happier life and moved on but that wouldn’t have been real to her character and their loss. Holly is approached by a new initiative the ‘P.S. I love you club’ a group of terminally ill people who want to write letters to their loved ones before they pass like Gerry did for her. Will the club bring Holly back in time and undo all the growth she’s done to move on? The book doesn’t focus on the first book but uses the premise as an opportunity for new stories that come together beautifully. I particularly enjoyed the b story line following Holly and her friends maternal choices, in having kids, becoming step parents and adopting. It’s a story of loss and love, everything Cecelia Ahern does so beautifully. 

Get a box of tissues and a puppy to cuddle to prepare for a good cry as you read this beautifully sad and hopeful novel. A sequel I didn’t think I wanted but definitely needed, will be interesting to see if they decide to make a second film – here’s hoping the cast a better Irish accent in this one!

4.12 on Goodreads