Again, but Better

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 07 May 2019

Member Reviews

I didn't love this book. I just could not get into the plot. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either. I enjoyed the writing style (though not perfect - it was somewhat bland at times and the names of characters are overused) and the pace of the book, I just could not get over how juvenile and obsessive the romance was in the book. The author seemed to try too hard to make the character relatable and likable and the main character just ended up coming off as a painful try-hard attempt. Plus, there was just WAY TOO MUCH cheating throughout the book for my liking. I felt like the entire thing was just about how people cheat constantly. Like OMG STOP. 

But it wasn't a horrible first book. I can understand the allure to the subject matter of awkward first loves and second chances because I always love reading books on those topics. I enjoyed the 2011 reference. They were entertaining and made my heart happy. And there was definite character growth that I can appreciate. I just could not love the book. I do love the cover though! Such a cute cover! 

Thank you NetGalley and Wednesday Books for an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Let me just say I was really excited to get this as an ARC.  Shortly into the book I was very disappointed.  First of all this book is not YA.  The main character is 20.  I felt like I was reading a book written by a 13 year old.  There was also a live triangle, had I know this I never would have started reading this book.  I regret I say I thoroughly disliked this book.
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This started out as a fun, fluffy read, but it just didn't keep up the pace as the story went on. I found myself annoyed with Shane at 20 and again at 26. And don't even get me started on the object of her affection, Pilot. He was not as cool as she seemed to think he was. I appreciated the ARC, but this was one of the few I've received with so many typos/errors in it. Overall this was a light quick read, but needs some work and less pop culture references.
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Thank you very much for allowing me the opportunity to read this book!  I appreciate the kindness. 
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** spoiler alert ** 2.5 Stars

Unfortunately this story was not for me. I started off reading the physical copy of this book but couldn't get into it so I switched to audio about 5% in.


I enjoyed seeing Shane's character growth from 2011 to 2017; namely, her maturity and self confidence definitely increased.

The ending redeemed this book for me and bumped it up to 2.5 stars instead of 2, but I had so many other issues with it that I don't feel comfortable giving it a 3 star rating on GR. The twist at about the 75% mark where Shane takes a break from Pilot to pursue her dreams surprised me. I assumed the book would take a much different route that I was not looking forward to, but the twist was much more enjoyable. 

I also enjoyed Shane's second chance to reconnect with her cousin, though I wish the author would have expanded more on it. There was potential for some really good discussions about being emotionally available for a friend/family member to lean on during times of struggle. Instead the author glossed over the discussion and just slapped a happy ending on it.


My major gripe with this novel was that I could not connect to the characters at all. Frankly, I found Shane unbearably annoying in 2011 and only slightly more tolerable in 2017. I found 2017 Shane's character unbelievable because I don't feel like that is how a 26 year old medical student grad would act in real life (imo -- a 27 year old law student grad). It felt like the author created forced success in order to higher the stakes but didn't put in enough research to make it believable.

The constant 2011 references were distracting to the story and unnecessary - it felt like the author relied too heavily on the 2011 references to build Shane's personality but Shane ultimately lacked any other character depth besides awkwardness. 

I did not enjoy the relationship between Shane and Pilot at all -- it glamorized cheating, girl hate, and the "you're not like other girls" trope too much for my taste. I also found it unbelievable that Pilot would throw away a 6 year relationship after seeing Shane again for like 3 days. Even without the problematic aspects, Shane and Pilot's inside jokes and interactions were either cringey or made me roll my eyes. I don't think there were any moments between them that made me swoon like I had hoped to redeem the problematic aspects.

Another problematic aspect that really bothered me was that the whole novel is premised on a lie; Shane basically extorted her parents to pay for her study abroad program based on the assurance that she would be attending a pre-med program. The author justifies this seriously unethical behavior by making Shane's parents look evil and controlling, forcing her to be pre-med when she wants to be a writer (despite the fact that her parents are paying $50,000 a year for her education). I just felt like this was an extremely privileged attitude that really turned me off to the story and the author in general.

Finally, there was not nearly enough discussion about the travelling Shane did in this novel. When I first read the premise of this novel I expected the study abroad aspect to play a much bigger role than it did in the novel. At times I even forgot that Shane and friends were even studying abroad because it was so focused on Shane's relationship with Pilot.

Despite my negative experience with the book, I still plan to read Christine's books in the future, if only to see if there is growth in the writing. This one just was not my cup of tea.
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Christine Riccio, one of YouTube's many beloved BookTubers (channel polandbananasBOOKS), has finally published her very first novel, Again, but Better.

Shane has hit the reset button. She's signed herself up for a semester abroad in London to give herself a second shot in college - to make friends, find adventure, and hopefully discover love while she's at it. She quickly finds all of these, but things soon spiral out of control and she's left dealing with the consequences. Sprinkle in a bit of magic, and we've got ourselves a very fine first "YA" (New Adult, really) novel.

I tore through this so quickly. Christine has done a fantastic job for a first book! There are certainly some problems (plot holes, structure, etc.), but even so I was still able to fly through the book and feel very strongly for the main characters. It's very obvious Christine wrote Shane as an extension of herself - so many of the difficulties Shane experienced felt very realistic and genuine. It was a breath of fresh air reading a YA/NA novel that focused on someone older than 18. Finally! I know there are others out there, but they sure are few and far between. And also covering some serious topics I think a number of 18+ year olds encounter in this day and age. Man, the family drama was REAL and gutted me. Ultimately, I loved the pacing, got emotionally attached to the main characters (and some secondary characters!), and THAT FAMILY DRAMA hit way too close to home. Oof.

So what about the problematic problems?

Well, there was quite a bit of heavy-handedness when it came to defining certain characters or setting the scene (there were far too many "it's 2011" references to make it feel like a natural set up). Plot holes and inconsistencies are certainly present that made me question how we got from A to B. There are also a number of questionable decisions Shane and one of the other main characters make that I've noticed that others who've read this are pretty up in arms about, but I personally felt like this made it more realistic. Especially given the age this is focused on, I don't think gray morals are a reason to dislike this book.

But even these vague reasons aside (trying to be as non-spoilery as possible), I still think this was a very strong first novel and the pros definitely outweighed the cons for me. Christine has a great written voice, and I am excited to hear that she has a second book already in the making! I'm already looking forward to seeing what her next book will be like.

There seems to be a pretty clean split between loving this book or hating it (seems to be a trend with the past few books I've reviewed!) - the hate appears to spawn from the plot issues and problematic actions of the main characters, while the love comes from enjoying the character development and unfettered Christine support. I have to say I quite liked Again, but Better and would recommend giving it a shot!

Thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for the ARC! Again, but Better is out now!
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I understand business enough to understand the theory behind giving people with a large following book deals. But, In my opinion, this book is an example of why you shouldn’t. MC is basically the author’s vision of herself, with major “I’m not like normal girls, I’m different” vibes. The writing is juvenile, and the characters read like young teens rather than the twenty somethings they are.
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I've never done this before, but I'm not finishing this book. This isn't a DNF moment either. It's just me putting down this book until the right time comes for me to pick it up. It's not because I hate the writing, the characters, or anything. I'm just not enjoying it like I think I would any other time that I would pick it up.

This story is going to be fantastic for the upper YA readers. It's a great story about a girl who doesn't know what she's doing and going out of her comfort zone to make something of her life. However, I don't need this story right now. I know that it's a good YA novel. I had no doubt that Christine would write a wonderful novel, however, I'm at the point of my own college career where I don't need this story. 

I will definitely be picking this up when I need more encouragement. I'm going into my senior year of college and I'm sure that I'll have more than one break down. I kind of want to save the book for those moments. 

Christine's writing style is very fun, but also hard to get used to. The MC's stream of consciousness narration takes a bit of time to get used to, but it's still very fun. Her story is fun and I can tell that the conflict is going to be interesting. The one issue that I had was her weird stalker-y vibe about the main guy. I wasn't a fan of that. 

I haven't read past page 100, but this is a solid novel. It's just not the right time for me to read it.
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I actually wound up DNFing this, but I was so excited for the chance to read it! I think that it needed better editing and there was way too much exposition.
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Again, But Better is fun and full of personality, with all the relatable college moments that would make an older reader cringe at their own memories, and ground younger readers for the wildness about to meet them - or miss them, as the case may be. It has a case of the debut-writer awkwardness in tone and plot that the book never quite shakes, but fans of Riccio will be happy to see her fingerprints all over the narrative and the main character.
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I could definitely see Christine in this book, and there was some parts of it were really cute. But I wasn't really okay with the "asking for him to cheat" kind of mentality and attitude. Overall, that really killed it for me. I did like the writing style though and will read books by Christine in the future.
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I love this authors YouTube channel; so it makes me a little sad but this book was a disappointment. It reminded me of fan fiction but without the characters you already know and love. 
The biggest issue for me is that the main character is the author; the similarities are endless. From the way the character speaks, to mannerisms, even the characters blog name. It’s frustrating to see that this got picked up by a publisher solely based on her online following. If this book was pitched by someone who did not have that following it would most likely be rejected. Initially I was excited to see she was coming out with a book but I feel like there was not enough care given in it’s execution. 
I DNF’ed this book, I made it a policy a few years ago not to finish books that were unenjoyable. I only made it about a third and honestly wish I would have stopped sooner.
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***#earc thanks to #NetGalley for a fair review***

Man, this is a tough one. While one incredibly great full to the publisher’s for an advanced reader copy, I just could not get into this story. There were some clever moments - French Watermelon 75, 9 journals named horcrux 1-9, there were no bones to create a flowing narrative and no movement to carry me from one chapter to the next. 🤭🤭😥😥
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Thanks to Net Galley and Wednesday Books for an e-ARC of this book in exchange for a review.

We all wonder about the what-ifs in our lives. What would happen if we made different choices, bolder moves, followed our hearts. And this story is about that. And I enjoyed it!

It's a light contemporary read that reminds me of rom-coms. It's like Anna and the French Kiss (but better, IMO) meets 13 Going on 30. Seeing Shane grow as a person was amazing, I loved the Flat 3 friends group's interactions (Babe and Atticus were my favorites), how Christine developed the family dynamics and even some of the romance was swoony. I mean, how can you not swoon over a guy who uses Taylor Swift's Red songs as a grand romantic gesture?!

There were a few things that took some of my enjoyment, however. Like in Perkins' story, the love interest has a girlfriend that the protagonist isn't aware at first, which I know it happens to create angst between the couple. While Christine deals with that way better in here, I still wished that Amy (the girlfriend) was further developed, and not just used as a plot device to keep Shane and Pies apart. Also, it drags a bit in the middle, and I found that the pop culture references and Shane's clumsiness (like falling and tripping all the time) were a bit too much for my taste. BTW, it was fun catching all the references in the book to her IRL (like Shane's blog post).  

Despite some flaws, totally redeemable for a debut, ABB is a good tale of second chances with well-rounded characters that talks, acts and feels like real people, in a way that the reader can identify with the characters. I liked it, and I'm definitely pumped to read whatever Christine comes up with next!
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Again But Better by Christine Riccio|Book Review|
 fictiveescapes   Book Reviews   May 18, 2019  2 Minutes
First, I have to start by thanking NetGalley for the early review copy that I received… so, THANK YOU NetGalley!🥳

This is a book that I have been following the progress of for well over a year thanks to being a follower of Christine’s YouTube channel (PolandBananasBooks) I have noticed that author-tube and openly talking about writing has started to become a bit of a thing, but Christine’s channel ( and by extension this book) is the first time that I have seen it done in so much detail. Christine shared with viewers the entire writing process as well as her writing playlist; her writing videos serve as a great inspiration to me and always leave me feeling very empowered.

I know that YouTube and it’s stars seem to be getting a lot of flak lately, but its always nice to get to see something productive coming from the internet.

🥰Buy the book using this link and you’ll be supporting this blog!🥰

Backstory out of the way onto what really matters: Characters and Plot

SHANE: A young woman on a college exchange trip chasing her passion while wrestling against her parents’ ideals.

PILOT (Pies): The young man that Shane meets in England who is dealing with his own onslaught of issues.

If I had to summarize the theme of this novel up in one word it would be RELATIONSHIPS closely followed by EXPECTATIONS.

At its core, the novel is a classic Do Over story (character A is unhappy so they get the chance to go back and attempt to make things better)

My favorite part was the focus on all of the different countries and international monuments. I think the group’s trip to Rome and Italy was the best because of how detailed the segment was.

One of the coolest things is all of the little inside jokes put in for long-time viewers of Christine’s channel. (Shane names her laptop and is also deeply invested in writing and Cassandra Clare books😉) It was nice to feel like a friend of the author for once, but I know some people could view that as a turn-off.

I could totally see myself re-reading this novel and I hope that Christine writes another book because her writing style is very laid back and real just like her videos. It was also nice to see a YA cover be simple for once it seems like a lot of the time they are way too busy with different fonts and colors.

100% would definitely recommend to anyone who is looking for a fun summer read
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I tried a few times to give this a read, but I couldn't gel with the writing style. I appreciate the opportunity to review this title and wish this author the very best of luck!
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Again, but Better, by Christine Riccio, is a light romance intended for the Young Adult and teen market.  I am almost as distant as possible from that demographic, while still being alive.  I read this book with certain presumptions:  First, I was probably not going to get a percentage of the cultural references. Second, the dialogue of college kids is different from those of professionals or older generations.  Part of it is generational short-hand and part of it is that constant anxiety of being afraid of your own opinions, feelings, and not being cool.  

Having disclosed all that, this was an enjoyable read.  The main characters, Shane and Pilot, find themselves in a Study Abroad program, disengaged from home attachments, and very much engaged in each other. Shane is so painfully plagued by self-doubt and anxiety that she is unable to communicate her own feelings about other people or her own career goals.  Although much cooler, Pilot is similarly burdened by “shoulds and coulds.” Their intense romance never really launches and yet, leaves an indelible mark.  Six years later, they have an opportunity for a “do-over.”

Based on my own memories of college and the conversation of students and kids still in the YA age group, Shane and Pilot seemed relatively authentic. They were reliably selfish, thoughtless, and conniving without ever meaning to hurt anyone, including themselves. They desperately want independence, love, acceptance, and friendship.  The story is a lovely fantasy…I couldn’t help thinking how nice a do-over might be!

I recommend this book for the intended YA market as well as those looking for a light novel to read by the pool or on the beach.  Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read an electronic ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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I tried to read this but the writing style just didn't jive with me - I couldn't get into it. Thanks so much for the opportunity to review!
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While this wasn't for me, I can see a lot of YA/NA fans loving this. 
*Differentiated narrative voice well in the two parts; I was concerned about this as I started to read. At first, Shane's personality and thoughts were grating, but they get a little easier to read as the book continues. Once you get to the second part, it becomes much easier.
*Loved the focus on career/life when it was touched on. 
*Easy to read. While I took a long time to read the e-ARC for various reasons, I can see this being a good book to read in one sitting. Perfect beach/vacation book.
*Enjoyed the sections on travel!
*When discussed, I liked the sections on trying new things and overcoming anxiety/shyness.

*I didn't like the main love interest very much, and I hated his name and nickname.
*I didn't like Shane, the main character, very much. I didn't think she was funny, and for most of the book, I cringed pretty hard at her. There's also a LOT of self-insertion going on, but other reviewers have covered that.
*If it hadn't been for the plot shift in the last ~10-15% of the book, this would have been a 1.5 - 2 star book. Now, it's a 2.5 star rounded up to a three because Goodreads.
*The pop culture and time references were a little heavy-handed.
*I wanted more of a resolution to some of the smaller plots.

Ultimately, while I wouldn't rave about this book, I know there are some who will adore it. I recommend this to those in college, and those who are starting their careers. It's a book that's perfect for any time in your life where you're doing big, new, scary things and need that push to embrace the unknown. 

Thank you to Netgalley for the e-ARC!
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Let me start my saying, I don’t really understand why this book is getting a lot of bad reviews. I really enjoyed it! There was a few issues that I had, and without giving the spoilers away, I will chalk up to it being Riccio’s first book.

The story follows Shane who is on track to become a doctor because that is what her parents want. She wants to be a journalist but her parent’s would never go for it. She lies to them and goes to London to study abroad. There she meets the first real friends she ever had and a boy she falls in love with, Pilot. In 2011 (when the first half of the book takes place) she never told Pilot how she felt about him and that decision has haunted her. Years later, she decides to come clean to him and the two of them land back into the past to relive their time in London and to change the outcomes of their lives. 

I thought everything about this story was so cute. Pilot and Shane were adorable and I loved their friendship. I also loved all the references to my favorite books, movies and music of 2011. 

I do think the story could have been maybe 100 pages shorter, but overall I really enjoyed it. I highly recommend it!
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