Again, but Better

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 07 May 2019

Member Reviews

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Again, But Better Hits

Shelves May 07th, 2019!

Pre- order through any retailer.

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.

Congratulations to Christine Riccio for this huge accomplishement, I have been a fan for many years! I am incredibly happy for her.

Review: 3/5 Stars

Overall, as I started the novel I was really excited and curious about where it was going. The first line had its promises. The book had humor, and you could connect a lot similarities between Christine and the MC. The pacing was a bit off for me in some sections. It definitely picked up right in the midpoint.

The characters had me a bit fustrated. Shane Primaveri is the main character. She has passion for writing and went to great lengths in order to pursue it.

In my opinion, I found Shane to be childish for her age, she would have a serious conversation but I just couldn’t take her seriously because of the things she would say. I would have expected to see her narration mature during the second half, but I didn’t feel any change there. I will say, when she decided to put her career as a priority I was happy with that.

Pilot, (kudos to Christine for these interesting names) was the “love interest” in this novel. The whole dilemma with the girlfriend mad me feel really bad for Amy, she had a reason to feel threatened and she was treated like crap (Pilot literally threw six years down the drain real quick.) A petition for Amy to have her own book.

Please and thank you.

Shane was also able to make friends quite quickly during her trip, especially when she hasn’t been social for the past two years. It would have been really interesting to see more scenes with the entire study abroad crew, in order to feel the connection and friendship. I felt some scenes were a bit unnecessary in the first half, there were even scenes in her journal entry’s that could have been explored in order to establish a deeper connection between Shane and her new friends. I’m going to cut it here, thank you so much for reading. This will be posted on my website, Lunararyreadsbooks.wordpress.com.

Thanks for reading.

– Destiny
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First off, a big thank you to Netgalley and St. Martins Press for sending me this ARC  in exchange for a review. 

Going into the book I didn’t realize that the author is a well known booktuber so that didn’t influence my interest in wanting to read this one. The synopsis and the cover drew me in at first glance. 

I can see how a younger audience would enjoy this one but I couldn’t get into it. I felt like the characters were more teen based vs college students. The writing style was a bit choppy and I love descriptive books but this one at times was a bit too descriptive and unnecessary. It didn’t keep my attention and I found myself bored with it within 75 pages. 

I think if you’re a teen in high school going to college, you’d probably love this and relate to it more.
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I really liked this book! I didn't know the author was a famous Booktuber until after I finished the book, so that didn't have any influence over my opinions regarding the book. I think the premise of the book was really interesting- and I love the magical realism twist! The characters were cute, funny, and relatable. I really got the itch to go travel abroad.

Aside from all the lighter stuff, I really liked the bigger meanings in the book, like living boldly, going after what you want, standing your ground, following your own passions, and taking chances. The characters learn these lessons firsthand through very unique means. 

Overall, I think this book was charming, funny, and and an emotional rollercoaster.
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2.75 stars. I was really excited to get to read this early, but this book just didn’t impress me. Some parts of it were really cute but the majority of the book felt clunky. The writing wasn’t very impressive as it was very choppy and felt childish sometimes.

I liked the traveling aspect of the book and how it was about a college student. But I feel like a lot of it was shallow. Not to mention that although I hardly know anything about the author, I could tell that a lot of the book seemed to be loosely based off of her life. Speaking of which, the book starts in 2011. But all the references to things in that era (Angry Birds, various music, etc.) was sort of out of place. It felt forced.

I also liked some of the Harry Potter references (maybe a bit too many references, honestly, haha). But there were a lot of references to TV shows, books, music, but a lot of it also felt forced. Maybe it’s just Riccio’s writing, but a lot of the book didn’t feel like it flowed naturally. The epilogue was corny and cringey (can’t really say too much about this since it’s the epilogue).


Although I was provided with an uncorrected copy, this book will need quite a bit of editing to correct the choppiness.

Aside from the (pretty heavy) language and other ideas I don’t agree with, this book was slightly below average for me. I’m glad I got an early digital edition because it saved me some money.

I received a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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It's been a little while since I've finished reading this book. I wanted to get all my thoughts in a row before I wrote the review. Okay, so here we go.

Firstly I was excited to get a galley for this book. It's one of the first times that I've been approved for such a hyped book and I couldn't wait to tear into it. However to say that I was disappointed is an understatement. Is it possible I hyped myself up because I've watched a lot of the author's writing vlogs? Yes it's possible, but I still had some major issues with the story.

The writing style seemed like it was trying too hard. There were a lot of descriptive words that were unnecessary and should have been scratched or replaced. Even though I've never been to many of the places mentioned in the book, I've seen enough pictures to get the gest, I didn't need the over the top description of nearly everything to give me visual of the locations. I also felt like there was too much telling me how the characters were feeling and not enough showing me through their actions. Don't tell me she thinks a guy is cute, show me by how she can't look him in the eye, or blushes whenever he comes near.

While I liked the characters, I didn't get a sense of anyone's personalities. Shane spent so much time with Pilot in the first half, I couldn't even tell you anything about the other people in the flat. The second half of the book was better, but they just didn't feel completely fleshed out to me. They could have been changed out for other people and I wouldn't have known a difference. The romance didn't feel real to me. The first day you meet and you're already thinking about a relationship with him because he walks with you to the store? I get that the character has never had a boyfriend, but it doesn't seem real. There wasn't any real interactions between them that would warrant her to make him out to be the love of her life. Personally I thought the ending would have been better if Shane had ended up alone but successful.

I wanted to love this book so much because it's right up my alley, but fell late for me in a lot of ways. Hopefully the author has learned more about the process and will grow with the next book. I can't wait to read that one.
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I really tried to like this one, but with a TBR list taller than me, I DNF'd after 75 pages. It was a cute read, for someone much younger than me. I was in college in 2011, and this college student narrator felt even more juvenile than I was at that age. I also felt like the 2011 references were forced, and because it really doesn't feel like that long ago in my mind, it was just odd. This book is definitely geared towards a younger audience -- a high schooler about to embark on their own college journey. Just wasn't for me.
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Would not recommend picking this one up.  There are plenty of other well written New Adult books to pick up.

The writing is very cringeworthy, the plot is boring, and the characters are forgettable.

Let’s break things down a bit more. First up, the cringeworthy writing.  The dialogue is worse than a cheesy, D-list rom-com.  The author over describes everything (which is the only reason this book is long enough to be a novel, but I’ll get to the lack of plot in a minute). Half the situations and conversations in this book are unrealistic.  The author tries WAY too hard to includedevery popculture reference possible. Was this an attempt to pander to a millennial audience? I’m not sure but it was a mess and distracting. 

Th plot? So unoriginal.  The author spent more time describing mundane things and gushing over tourist attractions than building character arcs and plot points.  The premise of the book is that the MC will get over her fear of making friends and have some internal growth. But we don’t see the character actually grow from experiences.  Also, I’m a little confused if the character has social anxiety (an actual chronical mental health condition) or if she is simply shy. If the author was trying to portray social anxiety.... yeah, this isn’t it.   

Speaking of the characters, they two female MCs are pretty interchangeable.  The author fails to develope individual character traits, mannerisms, personalities, interests, heck their physical descriptions are even the same!

Just skip this one.
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This was a rare DNF for me! The writing wasn’t up to the mark and the characters not well developed. I just couldn’t get myself to power through this one.
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I received this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I have watched Christine's Booktube videos for years and I was intrigued to hear she was writing a book. I went into reading Again, but Better with an open mind. I was excited to see a story about a college aged student since that does lack in YA/YA contemporary. The idea of getting a second chance to change a major moment in your life is a great concept and had potential. Sadly, it just fell really short in ABB and made it really hard for me to get through. It was really underwhelming and not well written. I found myself constantly wanting to DNF this book, but I powered through hoping it got better. It didn't. 

The story is supposed to follow a 20 year old girl studying abroad in London, but read like a Wattpad fanfic through the eyes of a immature teenage girl. There was a major self-insert to the story feel with Shane's personality in comparing it to Christine. I just could not differentiate the personality of Shane to Christine. This kept me thinking about Wattpad fanfics where the author's write (insert (Y/N)(Your Name) here) every time the main character's name came up. Now putting a tiny bit of yourself into your characters isn't bad, but this just was so blunt and not appealing. It's supposed to read as a first person story, but I didn't feel like I was reading it through Shane. It felt like reading it through Christine because of no character/author difference being established. 

On the topic of the writing it is terrible. It doesn't read as someone who is a responsible 20 year old young adult overseas on study abroad. It reads as a young child who is immature and whines. I could not find anything mature in the writing style about Shane. The writing made it really difficult to get through this book. 

The characters were not interesting and I didn't connect to any of them. They were really flat and had no growth. The only part of Shane's personality that I could find slightly relatable to was her love for pop culture. I got a lot of second-hand embarrassment reading about her. Her quirky and socially awkward personality plus her clumsiness felt pushed to the extreme so often. There seemed to be a lot of falling and knocking things over. She also felt really immature for majority of the novel. 

Pilot was horrible. I absolutely hated him. He is your basic boy character and there was anything slightly intriguing about him. His personality was dry as can be and I could never see what Shane saw in him. The insta-love, but not insta-love with Shane was not cute. You could clearly tell from the start he liked Shane more than just a friend. Learning he basically had a GF back in the US and was being flirty with Shane was not cute. It would've been cheating if he went further with Shane which he probably would have to be honest. Especially that one scene in Part 1 where they almost kissed. Sir, you have a girlfriend. Break up with your girlfriend if you found someone new, don't cheat. 

Shane's parents are absolutely horrible people and the actions of her father were disgusting to read. They were really toxic and abusive people, especially her father, and you can see if affected Shane tremendously. When her dad blew up on her and called her a vulgar word in public in front of her friends I had to stop reading. It made me feel so uncomfortable to read. They had no confidence in their own daughter and tried to plan her life for her. Yeah no thanks. I was happy to see Shane stand up to them in Part 2 and fight back for control of her life. 

As I stated, the only relatable trait to Shane is her love for pop culture, but this got annoying. All the references mentioned the Beatles, Harry Potter, The Mortal Instruments, Vampire Academy, Taylor Swift, etc. got really annoying. Now I love HP, TMI, and VA, but the references got played out real fast. Again the self-insert is at play and it felt forced into the story. Also some of the references would be really specific which again made me feel as it was forced into the story because it's Christine's favorites. The professor we meet is named Professor Blackstairs. Clearly this was in reference to the Carstairs in The Shadowhunter books. There were two points where Shane mentions she is reading Shadow Kiss (from the VA series) and later on Prisoner of Azkaban (from the HP series). 

The representation of social anxiety was not good. It felt more as hahahaha I'm so awkward and introverted not of someone having anxiety. It word was used to describe everything and anything slightly nerve-wracking. It wasn't good. Social anxiety is when you literally cannot do a thing or even move, not getting a nervous tingle down your body cause a boy stares at you. It is tragically misrepresented in the book. Honestly, if you don't know how to properly write about the subject then don't. 

The plot is terrible. I got turned off when these characters all just meet and three days later they are flying off to Rome together. Like I know it's fiction, but who in their right minds is flying off to a foreign country with people they just met?? Also who has that type of money to be traveling every single weekend??? It's not realistic. Part 1 was agonizing to get through. It felt like there was nothing going on, but stuff did?? I thought the book title was just reflecting Shane re-doing college, but then we got to Part 2. The whole weird spiritual guide time travel magic plot just popping up was weird and bizarre. Realizing Part 2 would be us re-reading Part 1 from a different Shane/Pilot perspective I really didn't know if I could finish. Part 2 went the exact way I knew it would and that's why I was mostly skimming some parts of it. When we got to re-reading their trips to Rome and Paris I only didn't skim when there was details. 

If you're reading it because of the fact it's a Booktuber's book go ahead you do you. But just focusing on the story itself and not who it's by, I don't recommend this book.
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Let me start by saying that I wanted to love this book so much that I may have set unreal expectations. I love the title, the cover, and the premise. But, this was harder to get through than I expected. 

I can't really explain why I didn't rush through this book, but I was just very ambivalent about the book; I knew I wanted and needed to finish the book, but I never felt pulled to get back to the story.  However, here are some thoughts.

- The writing was a bit clunky and millennial for me. 
- I felt that character development was lacking for all the characters besides the protagonists. I felt like Pilot's development came way too late in the story; I wasn't really understanding why Shane was so taken with Pilot. For the first half of the book, I was wondering if it was because he was her first love or something. 
- The spiritual guide was a bit disjointed for me; it felt like she was thrown in because someone said that she needed one. 
- The ending seemed too pat.
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Again, but Better is an amazing title for this novel. I had no idea what it would mean going into it but I loved the turn out. This is a great coming of age story. Shane is a cool, clumsy, and funny fangirl. I enjoyed all the characters and their quirky names. However I hated Shane’s dad. He didn’t seem very mature and understanding. Definitely did not enjoy his character arc. I liked all the Taylor Swift and Harry Potter references.
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ARC from NetGalley, all opinions are honest and mine!

First off, my Christine credentials! I have watched her videos on and off since 2012 probably. She was certainly in the first wave of booktube people I found out about and it at least in part responsible for shaping what I was reading at the time. I genuinely think that she seems like a great person and I will continue my low-key viewer status. Just wanted to put this up here to head off any ‘you don’t dislike this book you just hate Christine!’ type thoughts. 

I was so so disappointed in this book. I went into it sure I would at least like it a decent amount. I low-key thought that the other reviews I was seeing were just people who wanted to hate it because they don’t like Christine, or because they think she probably got an easy book deal. I thought worst case scenario its 3.5/4 stars because it is not excellent but I still have fun with it. 

I felt like I was perfectly primed to LOVE this book. I studied abroad in London when I was in college. I had flatmates that I thought were excellent people! We traveled around the city together and had the most amazing time. After classes, myself and 9 other students city hopped until we were too poor to keep hopping. In London, there was a cute boy! And most importantly I feel deeply in love with London. I was SOLD by this pitch.

I think that if I was sat down and given a spoiler-filled three minute summary of this story I would probably still love the story. Unfortunately, the execution left so much to be desired. 

If I had not wanted to finish this book so I could review it I would have DNFed at Chapter 3. Then I wanted to again at 15%, then I thought that I could justify a review with just 25%, same thought at 50%. But I really don’t like to DNF stuff. So I read the whole book. I did skim from about Part 2 Chapter 3 until about Chapter 21, then I read normally until the end.

I was not bothered by similarities between Shane and Christine. Mostly because I am sure tons of writers, especially newer writers, do this and we mostly never notice because we don’t have access to a ton of information about them. 

The Writing

The writing in this book was just so clunky. I continuously was pulled out of the story because something was phrased oddly, or it just felt slightly outlandish. 

I didn’t find sleep, but I did find the taxi line outside the airport, so here’s to that.

I secure the bookbag high on my shoulder, grasp the carry-on in my front hand, and prepare to drag the suitcase behind me.

“Uh, actually I think that was pretty witty,” he responds, using the male version of a valley-girl voice,

I was BAFFLED by the constant use of fashion as a verb. Do real people say this? That question popped into my mind over and over with almost all of the dialogue. It is so stilted and does not feel like a real human conversation.

I could tell what she was trying to do often, it was just the gap between intention and result was massive. I was not charmed by the characters, I was not interested in the plot, I was not sucked into the setting, and all of these problems are because this book is not written well. I completely believe that if Christine did not have the following she did this book would not have been published. I feel a little harsh saying that, because I have positive feelings towards Christine, but that is truly how I feel about the writing. 

Often times, the reader would enter the scene after a decent amount of action had taken place, so the scene would start with Shane recapping us. It would have been much more enjoyable if we had experienced the scene set up with Shane to some extent. There was a constant problem of telling not showing. It was also why the journaling bits didn’t work very well for me. They were fine for character voice stuff, but they made the pacing drag and totally removed the interest I had in what was going on. 

Also, I know this is an ARC, but MAN! This editor has a lot to do.
I just kept becoming more and more frustrated with how unprofessional the writing seemed. 

The opening sentence of this book is fine. It is not great. It is not terrible. But this book calls out the importance of opening sentences three times and it makes me think that I am meant to be mega impressed by “I’m leaving the country because I have no friends.” And the more I think I should be floored by it the more I resent it. 

The pop culture references do not seem to help the book. They pull me out of the story and sometimes also make me cringe a little bit. Even with references to things I like. EVEN TO HARRY POTTER. 

This book just feels very inexpert. Which is fine. I just do not believe this could have been published if they did not know it was going to sell regardless of quality. It reads like okay fan fiction. Nothing is fleshed out, the writing is so not tight, I just do not know how to process this book in the form I have encountered it. 

If Christine writes a book in 5-10 years I will totally check back in. She has the potential to write something good, more about that later, but she really needs more time to grow as a writer.

The Setting

This book could almost take place anywhere. She gives what amounts to shopping lists of landmarks and museums in a smattering of cities and occasionally points out small differences from the US, but I never felt a sense of place. 

I have been to every location described with more than a sentence (I never went to Berlin, but that is just mentioned in passing). I am spent a significant amount of time in London, a little over a week in Paris, and a few days in Edinburgh and Rome. And if I had not already been to these places I would still not have any sort of feel for them. My brain kept wanting to jump in and add prose to develop the setting because it was almost nonexistent. There were two sentences of describing a street in London HALF WAY THROUGH THE BOOK that were getting close to what I wanted. I keep seeing people in reviews being like “total Anna and the French Kiss vibes” and no. Paris breathes in that book, London does not feel like it even has a pule in Again, but Better. 
As someone who has been to all of these places, it is so unrealistic the amount of stuff they are able to do in a day and that the price of some of this stuff doesn’t come up. I’m pretty sure a Paris Pass is almost 200$ so that seems like something that someone else wouldn’t get for you. And something that you would at least note the price. 

It drove me absolutely bonkers that this book was just sort of listing places to go and things in them. I really got no sense of what these places are like at all. AND I HAVE BEEN TO THESE PLACES. There is no atmosphere at all in this book. Why would you want to read a book based on travel where you do not get a chance to fall in love with the places.

Something else that bothered me: the lack of language being an issue for anyone? Only Shane was mentioned to speak Italian, no one is said to speak French. Why do language barriers not come up? That is such a wonderful place to insert funny moments or some plot conflict, it also adds to the setting so much. 

I was expecting someone who reads a blend of fantasy and contemporary to really understand how important world building is to all genres. 

The Plot

I often felt like I was just being told a series of events in a list and not like I was being told a cohesive story. This feeling was more intense in the first half of the novel and did get a tad better in the last few chapters.

The only part of the plot I was genuinely interested in was how horrible her family was. That did genuinely make me sad, her parents were straight up monsters, especially her father. 

Again, the idea for this book isn’t bad. The idea is sort of cute and fun. The pitch for this book totally sold me. I just don’t think that Riccio is really skilled enough to execute this book well. 

I was not compelled by the romantic aspect of this plot. And this book was mostly the romantic segment.

Nothing about the romance felt natural, the conflict mostly felt haphazard and contrived. I was not sold by this at all.

The love confession bit was sort of cute. Also a little pathetic. But he has a SIX YEAR relationship with a girl going on. So it felt massively shitty of Pilot, the terribly named love-interest, to kiss Shane in Part Two, it would have been far more palatable in Part One. I kinda get being able to easily change your mind about a girl you have known for 3 months. But six years is a long time. I just feel like we know not much about Pilot’s thoughts and if we did they would probably make no sense. 

I am of two minds about chapter 23. Do I think the gay cousin is a fleshed out character? No. Do I hate the ‘gay kid teaches homophobic parents how to be accepting’ trope? Yes. (It didn’t go down that path but you can see the first steps in the direction.) But despite that I liked her having a real conversation with someone in her family. Most of her family are still semi-abusive garbage people. Her dad is straight up verbally abusive. And her mom has absolutely no agency. And she is still mean. 

Chapter 22 of Part 2 (I think) I mostly stopped skimming. This was really when the plot stopped focusing on Pilot so much and turns out I like the book better without Pilot. This four-chapter stretch is what will probably bump my rating up to 2 stars for me. I wish I had really gotten to know and like Shane earlier in the book, it would have been delightful to have somewhat enjoyed the first 40 chapters. 

The epilogue was horrible. Shane went from having a ton of problems left to solve to having magically fixed everything and being massively successful. The reader needs to see some of that emotional labor if I am supposed to give credit for wrapping those plot lines up like this. It felt very cheap and poorly thought out. 

The Characters

Shane was a fine main character. I did not really care much about her at all until Chapter 21 of Part 2. I saw a ton of Christine in her, which isn’t bad, but I just didn’t really have strong positive or negative feelings about Shane throughout most of the book. I did hate that she kept being described as yelling things at times when it was so not appropriate to be yelling, but other characters did that as well. It was also through Shane that most of the jarring pop culture references were mentioned, and I clearly did not enjoy most of that.

Her friends are fine. They don’t really have personalities and seem like tools just to push the romantic and family drama plots forward. Babe and Sahra are just kind of there. I especially felt Sahra was just there to ruin the family dinner situation by being uncharacteristically stupid. 

I have seen a lot of shade about the names of everyone in this book. I was personally not at all bothered by any of the names except Pilot. Like the first episode of a tv show. I assume it was because he was their first kid. And his sister’s names were so bland I cannot remember them. I hate this name. Also, I did not enjoy this character at all. Such a boring YA cool boy amalgamation character. He was not charming and I was never really interested in him. This felt especially damning because I am a massive sucker for romance. Basically, every love-interest that is endgame works for me. You can’t just keep telling me he is smirking and that make me like him. He is too flaky and uninteresting.
They legit almost kiss before the reader has the time to know if they are into it? That was a character and a pacing problem! I also would not have gotten that they almost kissed if I was not told by Shane.

I hate how often our main characters tell us they are being clever. That does not make me think they are clever. That makes me think they are tweens. 

So. Not. Charmed.

The parents have textbook abusive language. Pretty much the only thing I am found interesting about this book is the terrible family subplot. And it was resolved so poorly. These people have a terribly dysfunctional family all around. And the straight up yelling at your kid in public like that was terrible. 

When she was adding drama to Babe’s life by having her love interest be trash I was rolling my eyes so hard. His characterization felt so forced and one note. Why would this girl b friends with this terrible boy who is shown to have no redeeming qualities? And I keep rolling my eyes at “I like short girls” WHO TALKS LIKE THIS. As a short girl, I can tell you no one ever comes up and says “ohhh I like short girls” when they are being creepy/thinking they are complimenting me. 

The way characters talk to each other is so juvenile. Christine’s voice would probably work better with a younger YA and not for college (and post-college) aged people. 

I think Chapter 21 (in part 2) would have been powerful if I cared at all about these characters. This book is a reminder that I need to get my grad school applications finished. But I am still not emotionally involved. And I am SO easy to make cry. 

Nitpicking

- I HATE “Pies” as a nickname. It is so cringeworthy. 

- YOU NORMALLY WOULD NOT HAVE YOUR PASSPORT CHECKED IF YOU ARE TRAVELING WITHIN THE EU. I now see this was mentioned so there would be some plot. But anyone who knows anything about travel in Europe would know that this is not a concern. Like you need ID to get on a plane but you do not need a passport to travel within the EU. And then this doesn’t even really become much of a plot point. Why have something that is inaccurate for this little payoff? We don’t even get to see her get it back.

- There is NO WAY you could go to Versailles (opens at 9) take the train back (takes about an hour), go to the Louvre, go to the Eiffel Tower, CLIMB TO ALMOST THE TOP, go down and it only be 5:45. This book is so poorly researched. 

- The TFioS rip-off moment is not any less a rip-off moment because it was mentioned. 

Another positive: I liked the acknowledgments a lot. They were so sweet and it made me feel very guilty that I didn’t like the book. 

I much prefer to like things.

This review will be posted on my blog on April 9th and will be reblogged on Tumblr the week of publication.
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Christine Riccio's debut novel was hilarious and charming. The romance was incredibly swoon-worthy and the love interest was beyond adorable. I was constantly shocked by the surprising twists and turns the book made and even when I was apprehensive of the direction the story seemed to be taking, I was always reassured and pleased the more I read on. Again, But Better was a page turner and while Christine's writing is not the best and a little too juvinile for a twenty-year-old main character, her plot and characters were incredibly entertaining and relatable. The novel did, however, feature the word 'stuff' way too many times than necessary and I had doubts that Shane was as good a writer as the story led on (especially after reading her seemingly mediocre journal entries). This aside, I loved traveling Europe alongside Shane and her friends. I had no doubt that her travels read as anything other than authentic. In fact, I was not surprised at all in the acknowledgements to find that the author had studied abroad herself.
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I really, really liked this book, which is surprising because I generally don't like books that have elements of fantasy in them, but I liked Shane and Pilot (his name is wacky, though) and I liked their story and I liked the fact that even when it started over, it wasn't all smooth sailing.

Also, I liked Atticus and Babe and the trips to Rome and Paris.  I think their first future seemed very realistic and their second seemed less likely, but I plan to buy this book for my nieces when it's released.

I read this book in a day on the beach.  It's just well-written and the characters are good and I liked it despite my usual dislike of fantasy, horror and scifi.
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Alicia's review Mar 16, 2019  ·  edit
liked it

I received a review copy from Netgally. All opinions are my own.


This was such a cute and fun story. Yes, it's romance but it's also about daring you to find yourself. 

Our main character Shane is wanting a do over for many reasons but mostly because she is unhappy with how her life has turned out thus far. 

The best way to find yourself is to step outside your comfort zones and sometimes that means stepping outside of your time zones. I really liked that this takes place in Europe. 

Shane has social anxiety and I related so much to her. If you are at all familiar with Christine and her booktube channel than you have a sense of the MC. 

The speculative of magic was unique and made for an interesting take. 

I felt like some of the side characters were fleshed out while others didn't. There's a lot of banter (which I normally love) but it was super repetitive and didn't flush out a personality. Also, the romance portion and the romantic lead just didn't do anything for me. It bothered me that there was a bit of cheating and dishonesty at the very least from the guy. 

If you love rom-coms of the early 2000s than this is for you.
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Unfortunately, this book was not at all what I expected and not in a good way. The premise had initially interested me because I felt like it would deal with issues of anxiety and mental health. However I felt like the main character, Shane was supposed to more like a quirky, awkward yet adorable character , rather than have actual anxiety. But even with that set aside, there was just so much going wrong in this book. 
After starting this book, I instantly saw this book as being similar to Anna and the French Kiss, which I also thoroughly disliked. Besides the foreign aspect with Americans studying abroad, the main aspect that was similar and awful was the emotionally cheating that occurs. I won’t go into detail as to avoid spoilers, but I was not a fan of that. Even without that, Pilot, the love interest, and Shane were such a boring couple. I could not have cared less about them being together. There was no desire to see them succeed and be happy together. 
The characters in the book were very one-dimensional and flat. The just threw in the side characters for the sake of having them there but they didn’t add anything to the plot. Not even Babe, who is supposed to be Shane’s closest girl friend in the group. The writing was very cheesy, awkward and stilted, and the references! Jesus, the references were insanely annoying. I usually like it when I read a reference here and there about things I like, but this was too much. I mean I actually liked stuff the author references to, like Harry Potter, The Mortal Instruments, The avengers, Taylor Swift, and so forth. However, it really got on my nerves while reading this book. Shane could literally be having the simplest conversation and then the next you know she’s going off on a tangent some pop culture reference. Also how do these college student have enough money to be going on trips every weekend?? That was more unrealistic than the magic time traveling. 
This book just wasn’t for me unfortunately. I found out after receiving the ARC that the author who wrote this book is a booktuber. It’s commendable that she was able to get a book published, but unfortunately she might want to rethink things when writing her next book.
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4.5* 
I was lucky enough to get an arc of this amazing book from netgalley. I want to first start off by saying that this book was so good. I’ve always been into these types of study abroad books and this did not disappoint and just made me want to travel even more. I really liked how you got to know the characters really well especially during the second half of the book and I connected with them because they were so realistic. My favorite part of the book would probably have to be all of the pop culture references throughout it. Another thing that was great was how it turned into a story about finding yourself because I’m in high school now and it’s so scary trying to find out who you are when you want to fit it. The only reason I didn’t give this a full five stars was I was slightly disappointed by the ending because I was expecting something a lot different than what happened and it felt a little rushed. But overall I enjoyed this book and recommend it and I’ll for sure be getting a final copy when it comes out.
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I was not aware of Christine Riccio or her youtube channel prior to reading this book, and while I am aware she has a channel now, I have not viewed it.

I thought this book was charming. I loved the fairy tale aspect of Shane spending a semester abroad in England to completely change her life. She is her own fairy godmother, even though she clearly has a fairy godmother in the book.

Somewhat shy, although not at all a realistic portrait of shyness or social anxiety, Shane has lied to her parents to join a writing course in England while her parents think it's a pre-med course and internship. Immediately upon landing she meets and begins to bond with her flatmates and finds an adorable love interest.

When things go south, Shane grows up, but six years later has the opportunity to magically revisit her time in Europe. 

The book was adorable, and I loved the cute romance, the travel details, and the sheer joy of the main character's interest in so many things, but I felt that she was so immature for a 20 year old. She reads like a young high school student, not like a college junior or sophomore. 

That aside, the book is really cute and wish fulfillment for so many people who want to travel, follow their dreams, and write. 

I will definitely look for future books by Ms. Riccio.

Thanks to NetGalley.com, the author and publisher for my advanced reader copy.
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This is a 3.5 ⭐️ book. I’m torn a bit on my rating of this book. Part One kept the characters at arm’s length and it bothered me. Thankfully I didn’t give up reading it bc the characters did become a bit more accessible and more well-rounded in Part Two. The characters did at times feel a bit forced and cheesy though. Their quirks felt unnatural in some ways. The editing definitely left quite a bit to be desired. I’m not holding the editing against the book since this was an ARC though and I hope the final product will hit stands more refined and ironed out. I know the author is a BookTuber and I love the opportunity such platforms have offered people. It’s like there is an entirely new option now available for a person to find their career path. However, not everyone who loves books and has a successful bookish social media career is destined to be an author. This book is proof of maybe jumping the gun a bit on that fact. There is potential to this book and this story and I’m sure it will get major reads, but I’m not sure this particular book has been slotted in the right genre. With some tweaks, I feel it would have been slightly marketed better as even a middle grades book. I think the writing style is just a bit too underdeveloped for this to be a YA and definitely too immature to be considered a contemporary fiction novel. I hate saying that bc there is palpable potential energy harnessed within these pages. I feel perhaps the author was let down by her team and pressed the button too early to be published rather than waiting and publishing something truly exceptional. Perhaps being internet famous isn’t the best way to become an author bc this book will likely not be appraised based solely on its merits as a book without considering who wrote it and how it came into being. Also, too many exclamation points were used throughout the book, which was proof (amongst other things) of the underdeveloped style, skill and technique of the author. Avid reading does not an author make and unfortunately, social media status on all things bookish proves not to always an author make either. I’m sure her following will keep this book on best seller charts and all over social media and my opinions will not be in the majority, which is great for her—not so great for the future of books, perhaps.
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While many people have known the author of this book from her BookTube channel on YouTube I have never heard of her so this book was my first introduction to Riccio. 

This book takes place in both 2009 and 2017 in the life of Shane as she goes on a semester abroad to England, deceiving her parents, and changing up her life for the first time. There she meets a group of friends, goes on adventures, and gets a dream internship.

Then everything goes wrong and she is faced with one of the toughest decisions of her life. And then life goes on. But then maybe just maybe she gets a second chance. What will she do and can she fix what happens?

There were things I liked and things I disliked about this book. I liked the premise and I liked that some things I couldn't predict and that went differently than what I was expecting. I also liked the book more and more as it progressed and it seemed to really speed up about halfway through.

I didn't like the way some of the book was written. The first part of the book takes place in 2011 and there are so many references to the year to prove that that was the year that were really unneeded. There were many other times that things were talked about instead of just happening which made the story go a bit slower than it should have.

Overall I did enjoy this story, but it is not the best contemporary story that I have read. It is a fun read and I enjoyed it.
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