Again, but Better

Again, but Better

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 abroa...

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Title:Again, but Better
Author:Christine Riccio
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Again, but Better Reviews

  • Natasha Polis

    What a debut! If you love to laugh out loud and feel a kinship to the main character, Christine does wonders with the funy awkward first love. She just gets it!!

    I had such a wonderful time reading this heartwarming story about second chances. It encompasses the warmth of a 90s Meg Ryan movie with the setting of Sliding Doors with Gwyneth Paltrow. This is the kind of book that will keep you company on your summer vacation or be your best frie

    What a debut! If you love to laugh out loud and feel a kinship to the main character, Christine does wonders with the funy awkward first love. She just gets it!!

    I had such a wonderful time reading this heartwarming story about second chances. It encompasses the warmth of a 90s Meg Ryan movie with the setting of Sliding Doors with Gwyneth Paltrow. This is the kind of book that will keep you company on your summer vacation or be your best friend on a rainy day.

  • Emma Giordano

    I knew I was going to love

    well before I read it. The idea of a girl travelling to London to study abroad at her second chance at college to study what she wants, make new friends, and achieve her goals is all I could have wanted to read about as a teenager. I firmly believe that had I read this book at 17, it would be considered one of my favorite books of all time. For this reason, it gave me a unique sense of nostalgia, despite this being a totally new story to me, which had

    I knew I was going to love

    well before I read it. The idea of a girl travelling to London to study abroad at her second chance at college to study what she wants, make new friends, and achieve her goals is all I could have wanted to read about as a teenager. I firmly believe that had I read this book at 17, it would be considered one of my favorite books of all time. For this reason, it gave me a unique sense of nostalgia, despite this being a totally new story to me, which had a big influence on why I loved this story so much.

    CW: anxiety, cheating

    I really liked Shane as a main character. There resemblance to a certain good friend of mine (who *may* have also authored this book) is uncanny, so it would be hard for me not to like her as a protagonist. Shane begins fairly naive, dramatic, and almost goofy, but as the stores spans a long period of time, the character growth is notable and really surprised me in the end. I do wish we had seen more from the side characters as the story strongly focuses on Shane and the love interest Pilot, but they were pleasant additions to the book. I struggled the most with Pilot. Sometimes he was a downright cutie and other times I was so frustrated with him, I thought he was bordering on irredeemable. In the end, I couldn't resist his charm. I had some strong issues with the course of Shane & Pilot's friendship, but it was not detrimental to my view of the story. I just feel a few situations could have been handled with more honesty and courtesy.

    I felt the writing of the novel was fair for a debut. It was not spectacular but I feel the pacing and certain storytelling elements were used effectively. My main gripe is that the cadence of Shane's narration just wasn't my cup of tea. I don't consider myself to be the biggest stickler for writing style and can frequently gloss over some issues if the story is fulfilling enough elsewhere, and while that stands true for

    , my bias being Christine's friend does come into play here. While I may not have been the biggest fan of the sentence structure at times, I'm fully aware that it's Christine's sense of humor and because I think Christine is hilarious, I was able to appreciate it for that reason. There were multiple moments where I said to myself "Ehh I'm not going to chuckle at this" and a few pages later, I could not stop laughing when it was brought up again. I spent a lot of time giggling and smiling while reading, just because I knew it was EXACTLY how Christine would say it. I definitely believe that the writing of this book is not for everyone - it also includes many pop-culture references at the time which a lot of readers dislike, but it was fine to me and even had some shining moments.

    A certain fantastical element does come into play halfway through the book, which I thought was cute and fun, though I would be interested to know more of the foundations of it. I did prefer the first half of this book because it was more in line with what I personally wanted from the novel, but there was so much I appreciated in the second half. The character development plus the themes and messages were incredibly uplifting and solidified much of why I liked this book. I do wish the ending was more fleshed out, but again, it's not the biggest deal to me as a reader.

    Overall, I had such a great time reading

    . It fulfilled pretty much all of my expectations and even surprised me in some aspects. This is definitely a book that is made for certain people and not others, but it made my England-obsessed, book-nerd heart fill with joy and I'm not the least bit shocked I enjoyed it so much.

  • Lala BooksandLala

    Unfortunately this one just wasn't for me, which is fine.

    The character's voice was distinctly different in the 2 respective timelines. While I originally found Shane far too naive, enthusiastic, and overdramatic for my liking as a twenty year old, the portions at age 26 made that choice more clear, as to establish maturity and character growth.

    Great pacing! The trips to different countries and the balance of time spent at home, at work, at school, and out with friends kept things i

    Unfortunately this one just wasn't for me, which is fine.

    The character's voice was distinctly different in the 2 respective timelines. While I originally found Shane far too naive, enthusiastic, and overdramatic for my liking as a twenty year old, the portions at age 26 made that choice more clear, as to establish maturity and character growth.

    Great pacing! The trips to different countries and the balance of time spent at home, at work, at school, and out with friends kept things interesting and dynamic.

    I was stoked originally to hear there was a small magical element to this, but the execution turned out to not result in quite what I was hoping for. I know this is a romance, but by the time that magical element happened, I was banking on this "second chance" to

    impact Shane's focus in life; from her relationship to more onto herself.

    The incessant 2011 references. I've never read a book so insistent on reminding you what year it is, especially as it had no real importance, besides the fact that there are 2 different years this book takes place in. The constant book, technology, song, and movie references put in place to establish that it IS, still, indeed 2011; was exhaustive. From referencing "T-Swizzle" and "this new program called Spotify" to "I'm reading City of Glass! The fourth book in the series is coming out soon!" and "Death Hallows Part Two hasn't been released yet!" The pop culture references were abundant, and more distracting than adding anything of value.

    Most of the romantic scenes were, for lack of a better word, cringey. Shane came off very strangely obsessive with this boy she'd just met; the internal monologue over him was practically manic. It gave off a very different tone than the romance I was expecting. I have some especially weird feelings about the latter half of this book, and Pilot's character evolution with Shane's attempt to control it...but I don't quite know how to express what I disliked about it fully- I'll have to think more on this.

    There were some seriously weirdly structured sentences and jokes in this book. A lot of them made absolutely no sense to me. Note: This could definitely be a result of my copy being an early edition, and not the final version. But more than likely I just don't get the brand of humour. There were many, many "I chuckled" "I snorted" "I laughed" lines after nothing substantially humorous had just occurred? Example: In the middle of an otherwise normal conversation, a character says the normal phrase "I volunteered." to which Shane's internal monologue states "I chuckle, thinking of The Hunger Games." Quite perplexing.

    I would have liked some more unpacking with certain topics I thought needed more context- such as that shocking dinner altercation, where verbal abuse is normalized, and the subject of cheating, which I feel was too glossed over.

    There was nothing inherently wrong with this that would make me caution anyone not to give it a chance, the book just wasn't my cup of tea. Overall a fine first novel really; I think it's common for author's to especially draw on their own experiences in their first book- it's just unfortunate that we know this author so much more than the average author- because the self insertion was aggressively noticeable. Future books I'm assuming will lack this quality, and I'd be more than happy to give myself another opportunity to enjoy Christine's work.

  • Alex

    So, here we are again. A booktuber writes a book and I receive an ARC of it.

    And, yeah, it was bad.

    Not a total trainwreck like

    , but still...

    I have seen

    of people saying that they will love this book regardless if it's good or not because they love Christine and that's fine, do what you want. But it also means that I will be as brutally honest as I could be to even it out.

    I believe that you should always judge a book based on the

    and not the

    So, here we are again. A booktuber writes a book and I receive an ARC of it.

    And, yeah, it was bad.

    Not a total trainwreck like

    , but still...

    I have seen

    of people saying that they will love this book regardless if it's good or not because they love Christine and that's fine, do what you want. But it also means that I will be as brutally honest as I could be to even it out.

    I believe that you should always judge a book based on the

    and not the

    but since this book is basically

    (and I will admit to not liking her very much) that is basically impossible.

    If you love Christine so much that you will be offended by criticism aimed towards her then kindly fuck off right now. There is a lot of criticism to be found here.

    (Reading comprehension on this website is very bad so I apparently have to clarify that this statement is for people who get offended on Christine's behalf and tell me I'm a mean bitch or that I'm apparently cyber-bullying the author lmfao)

    You are allowed to disagree with me, you are allowed to dislike or even hate me! I literally don't give a shit! But if you're just gonna tell me I'm being mean or some shit like that, you can fuck right off because

    OK? Don't bother leaving butthurt comments because I'll just delete them.

    Please and thank you, etc.

    OK, got that out of the way, let's go.

    The first thing I have to say is that reading this book made me realize how much I know about Christine Riccio. Which is a weird thing to say, let me explain:

    I used to be a subscriber of hers. I watched her videos regularly as a teenager and eventually outgrew her (she is too loud and obnoxious for me, also she's become somewhat of a sellout and thus very untrustworthy, but that's besides the point).

    However, unbeknownst to me, I learned a lot about her during these years. How do I know this and why am I bringing this up?

    You see, it started slowly... Like when we first learn Shane's last name and its vaguely Italian I was like:

    And then she tells the Love Interest Man (whom we will get to) the story about her online username and I was like:

    Yes.

    That is the main characters online username.

    Because... french toast is her favorite breakfast food and watermelon is her favorite fruit.

    So if you didn't know, Christine's online username Polandbananas20 (which she still uses...... for some reason) is based on her favorite brand of spring water (???) and her favorite fruit.

    At this point (it's like four chapters in) I was like OK... she's paying a little homage to her stupid username right?

    Yeah, no.

    The longer I kept reading, the more Christine and Shane started to meld together until I ended up just picturing Christine as the main character.

    1.Both of them are basic white girls with blondeish hair

    2. They have the same type of 'social anxiety', the 'relatable' type (listen, I struggled with social anxiety for years, it was crippling at times, like you physically couldn't do stuff, it's not just 'LOL I'M AWKWARD XD' and while it can be overcome it's not just like flipping a switch or trying to 'make a change')

    3. The way they talk is

    4. They geek out excessively about the same stuff (harry potter, lost, taylor swift, the beatles, vampire academy, cassandra clare, john green etc.)

    5. They're both writers and avid readers

    6. They both have a thing where they name inanimate objects and only refer to the objects by their names (her computers name is Sawyer, Christine names all her computers and her cars as far as I know)

    7. They both studied a year abroad in London

    8. They both take a trip to Rome that they document, Shane via her blog and Christine via her YT channel

    9. They're both very clumsy (though Shane's clumsiness is a bit ridiculous, like she can't sit in a chair without knocking it over first)

    (this list is still growing)

    Listen, okay. Before I read this I didn't even realize I knew these things about Christine, but apparently I do, and I don't like it.

    And I can't ignore that she basically just wrote a book about herself traveling around Europe and falling in love with a girlfriend-having basic white boy whose fucking name is

    .

    I also do not like self-inserting, like, at all. I find it unbearably cringy and it's something I would expect of a middle schooler.

    But hey, that's just me.

    Also, as her first published work, it shows a huge lack of imagination.

    So, disregarding the self-insert stuff, you may wonder; is the story good at least?

    'Tis bland. Also, unoriginal.

    It's basically Anna and the French Kiss in London with stupid and unexplained magical time travel thrown in. And there's a spirit guide type character. So, yeah, there's

    magic in this.

    Juvenile. Filled to the fucking brim with references, like holy fuck. Very herp-derp 'relatable', which is pretty much how Christine talks and acts lmao. Just... not good. It's nothing new, I feel like I've read this book a hundred times because it's so unoriginal and boring. Nothing stands out. And most of the story takes place in like 2011 so there's a lot of 'LOL NEW GAME ANGRY BIRDS WANNA TRY??' and it was sooooooo cringy.

    Was actually going to give this a two star rating (because, like I said, it's not a complete wreck, it's just boring and unoriginal) but the last chapter/epilogue bullshit made me cringe so hard I think I entered another dimension.

    And if you like that, that's fine. You are allowed to like things, just as I am allowed to not like things. Like wish fulfillment fanfiction. It's fine to do as long as you don't

    .

    Even if by some miniscule chance that it's not meant to be a self-insert (which I highly fucking doubt) it still shows so much weakness in her ability as a writer that she can't separate her own voice from her character. Because reading this book is exactly like having Christine tell me a story about something that happened to her, when it really shouldn't.

    Having a literary voice or a particular writing style is a thing, but that's not what I mean.

    For example:

    In Vampire Academy, Rose is the main character. When I read those books I don't feel like Richelle Mead is telling me this story, I feel like Rose does.

    When I read Madeline Miller's books (my favorite author) I don't feel like

    is telling me the stories, it's Patroclus or Circe.

    (I should also point out that I've been following both Richelle and Madeline for years and while I obviously don't know them personally, just like I don't know Christine personally, I know how they present themselves to the public, which is why I chose them to compare)

    My point is, if you're going to write in first person, you need to be able to separate yourself from your character, which Christine cannot do. Because she hasn't created a character here, it's just her.

    So, yeah. I do believe she got this book deal handed to her on a silver fucking platter. I just don't believe that anything this bland that does not include smut could be published on its own.

    I would go on a rant again about money-hungry publishers but I'm tired so you can head on to my

    review for that.

    Just, please. Please stop giving booktubers book deals. It's been proven by now that reading a lot of books and gushing about them online does not mean you can write one yourself. There are so many talented writers who get disregarded in favor of these 'internet sensations'. Imagine all the great stories that never see the light of day because shit like this gets pushed to the front.

    And please don't come at me with the "of course they're money-hungry, it's a business!" argument because that's so fucking stupid. Yeah, it's a business, the whole fucking world is a business.

    That doesn't mean there shouldn't be integrity and a priority for talent in the publishing industry!

    Bitch, bye.

  • Chaima ✨ شيماء

    “Shane has been doing college all wrong”

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