[Book Review] Reminiscing Teenage Years Through The Eyes of Jenny Han: A Short Review of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

To All The Boys I've Loved Before

For most people, teenage years are the best few years of their lives. In our teenage years, we were so carefree, so unaware of the turmoils of the world, so busy in our own little world. It almost feels like our teenage years were spent in a separate world, different than the rest. Once it has past, we can only reminisce it fondly.

That’s what I did the first time I read Jenny Han’s novel, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. For me, Jenny Han successfully depicts the teenage world that has long gone from my life. The simple way she creates the characters, the complicated but not-so-complicated story line, everything is just picture perfect of a teenage world. Her novel reminds me of those little boy crushes I’ve ever been through, those little conflicts with friends over boys, and all of the ups and downs of being a teenager.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before tells the story of Lara Jean Song Covey, a sixteen years old teenager who loves writing letters to the boys she’s had a crush on as a kind of closure. She wrote it to express herself one last time before closing that chapter of her life. But the letter was never meant to be seen by the said boys. Until her sister, Kitty, send all of five letters and all hell break loose. Because Lara Jean had a crush on Josh, her best friend plus her older sister Margot’s boyfriend, and now that Josh read her letter and found out about her feelings, she must make a move to avoid injuring her relationship with them. A desperate measure must be made. And that’s when Peter Kavinsky, her friend since childhood, come into the picture. 

I’m not gonna reveal more, since, as predictable as the story is, the novel is highly enjoyable and worth reading in my spare time. Thus make revealing too much of it kind of destroying a little bit of that enjoyment.

For Korean drama fans, the story line is familiar. And, later, I found out that Jenny Han did wrote this with several famous Korean drama in mind. And just like Korean drama, this novel simple, predictable, but very sweet and nostalgic.

This novel is so good that they said it’s going to be made into a movie! Oh, wow, imagine, the characters and stories you’ve recreate in your mind come to life in the silver screen. Awesome!

Beside reading it translating this novel into bahasa Indonesia for one of the local publishers has been fun for me. One of the most enjoyable translating projects I’ve ever done. Therefore, I can’t wait to review the sequel, P.S. I Still Love You, out just earlier this week. What’s next for Lara Jean Song Covey?


A Book is the Writer’s Baby

A book for its author is like their baby. I heard that somewhere, and I shamefully mention the same thing about the books I’m translating. I was never really sure whether that saying is true… until now.

One of my best friends recently published her first novel last month. The first time I knew that’s she’s writing a book, I was so excited. She’s gonna be my first popular best friend… yaay… uhm, just kidding. As you know, I love books, and I’m super exciting to read her book, to find out what she wrote and how she put all her thoughts and imagination into words.

When I finally got the book in my hands, the first thing I see is the dedication page. Yes, you got that right. She wrote my name on the dedication page! Hahaha, so cheap of me to mention that. But it’s the first time someone ever put my name on such precious thing (my brother wrote my name on his dedication page, but its in his thesis, so that doesn’t count, does it?)

The dedication page on my best friend’s book

OK, enough about that. Now, I’m confident to say that I know the writer pretty well (though there are a lot more mysteries about her that I think is hidden somewhere), and through her book, I can see her.

First, her love of cat. Way before I see the published book, she told me that she’s created one character based on her cat, Karyo (who’s currently missing. Hope you find your way back home soon, Karyo!). The character is Mr. Gonzales which is, not hard to guess, a cat. She even insisted on putting the cat on the cover. That is sooo Mesty.

Secondly, her love of South-Korean drama. We both love K-drama. We enjoy a good and funny K-drama and love to talk about it. I feel the energy of the drama in her book. As I said on my review of the book (which I tried so hard to write objectively, as a reader, not as a friend), there’s a touch of tragedy, drama, comedy and romance.

Point no. 3, when I read about the main character, Jeonha, I see a member of BigBang (a very… very popular K-Pop boyband) that she’s a huge fan of. That cold stare, the cool figure, it’s just him. In my mind, Jeonha is that guy, but not with a blonde hair, but hot shocking pink!

Last but not least, there’s little bits and pieces of the things we’ve talked about. I kind of recognize a certain story she once told us (me and Mastika, you can see her name too on that dedication page). There’s also one scene that goes way back to our little silly talks when we’re still working at the same office. A man whose holding a baby so lovingly is dang right sexy. That’s the one we’ve talked about. And about this, she told me that she ‘disguised’ herself as me when she wrote that part. (I guess, between the five of us talking about that at the time, I’m the most expressive one lol)

As I said, a book is the author’s baby. A book, especially the first debut book, is a resemblance of the author, just like a baby is a resemblance of the parents. Being someone who knows the writer, to me the book has her all over it. This just goes to show how much love that writers put in their works that you can actually read through their heart or their lives by reading their books. I used to doubt this, but now, I’m sure of it. But if I didn’t actually know the writer, I may just read pass all those meaningful hints without second thoughts.

I envy people who can beautifully put all of that into words and make it a book. I love writing, but I can’t seem to get myself to write a whole book of stories. My imagination’s often cut short abruptly. I love writing things short and simple, and that’s that 😀 I need a helluva practice before I can call myself a book writer. But, hey, who knows, maybe someday….

Endorphin: Just Like Chocolate!

What’s on your mind when you hear the word endorphin?

Well, if you ask me, I’m thinking about chocolate, the food that’s famous for producing such pleasure hormone.

Chocolate is also what I’m thinking after reading the book Endorphin: A Dose of Happiness. A book written by Pramesti Ratna (you can follow her on twitter @messtz) I’ll catch up on that, but first, here’s a little peek about the book.

Endorphin: A Dose of Happiness by Pramesti Ratna

Byanca is a woman that’s cheerful, courageous and full of spirit. But underneath all that blast of confidence lies a woman that’s black and blue, literally,  because of the one love from her past.

Kim Jeonha is a popular Hallyu Star (that’s what they call ‘internationally known South-Korean star’, in case you wonder) that is  perfect on-stage, but displays a rude and harsh personality when the curtain’s closed only to hide the pain of a long-lost love.

The two were united when Byanca was set to write Jeonha’s biography and followed him around for information. The more time Byanca spent with Jeonha, the more she’s eager to find out the mysteries behind his unusual personality and the secrets he’s dying to keep everybody away from. And the more time Jeonha spent around Byanca, the harder for him to pushed her away from himself and his secrets.

When secrets started to be revealed and feelings started to show, they found themselves in the same path in pursuit of their lost endorphin.

With the setting of Seoul, South-Korea, and the cast of Hallyu Star in one big entertainment management family, for you who loves South-Korean drama, you’ll feel the atmosphere. A touch of tragedy, a touch of drama, a touch of comedy, and a touch of romance. I get to frown, smile and laugh when I read pages after pages of it, the kind that a good South-Korean drama always gives me.

OK, now why do I think of this book as chocolate? Well, because it’s bitter sweet, of course, just like my favorite dark chocolate with caramel filling.

At first bite,  I taste the bitterness of my first encounter with the two main characters. I taste the bitterness of what Byanca has been through and what Jeonha has been trying so hard to conceal. Bitter, indeed, but with a promise of sweet as I move on reading it.

And, true, I taste the sweet at how they story gradually grows, leaving me with that heart-warming and self-satisfied feeling that a good bar of chocolate always gives me.

I succumb to this endorphin and finished the book in less than six hours. Oh well, time flies when you’re having a blast 😀

Truly, Madly love this novel!

On my spare time, I love reading novels. Romance, mysteries and detective novels are the stories I love the most. I love how my imagination run free, witnessing the events of the story, even sometimes be a part of it.

Today I’ve just finished reading a book entitled “Truly, Madly” by Heather Webber. It’s translated into bahasa Indonesia and published by Ufuk Publishing House.


Honestly, at first I’m not too excited knowing that it is published by a publisher unknown to me, although the book is widely sold in huge bookstores. I have never read any book by the publisher, so (please don’t sue me for this) I wasn’t familiar with their choice of story.

However, seeing that the book has a cute cover and intriguing title, I decided to order it online from one of my favorite online bookshop. When a couple of days later the book arrived, due to the job I’m working on (f.y.i., I just finished translating one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s book into bahasa Indonesia…pretty excited :D), I put the book directly in my book shelves and wait for a spare time to read. When two days ago I got the chance to open the book from it’s wrapper I was pretty stunned.

First of all, as I mentioned before, the cover is cute and so eye catching! But what I didn’t expect is how the cover is embossed and foiled nicely with a semi-hard cover. Love it!

Secondly, what I thought was the so-called unknown and small publisher printed it in paperback (I think it’s the right term for one of those light, recycle paper, the one that is often used by publishers overseas, correct me if I’m wrong though). Even the most famous publisher in the country, as far as I know, never uses that kind of paper. Thumbs up!

Bottom line, I cannot be more satisfied with the physical appearance of the book.

Then I started reading it. My oh my, I finished it in a mere two days! Love love love it!

Here’s a little about the book:

Lucy Valentine, the daughter of famous matchmaker Oscar Valentine, was handed his father’s company when he and Lucy’s mother decided to take refuge from a recent scandal. The problem is, unlike her amazing father who can read people’s aura and use the ability to help people find their match, doesn’t have the family’s ability and really sucks at finding people their other halves. She’s super confused with taking over the company, and got even more confused when she met Sean Donahue, the brother of Sam Donahue who ran a private detective agency upstairs from Valentine, Inc. Why is she confused? Because her paranormal ability of being able to see lost things by touching people’s hands took a twist when he shook her hand. And there were something else, a feeling Lucy has never felt before, but scared to admit.

So, Lucy and Sean found themselves in a whirlwind of weird cases together. They got even closer by the day. But Lucy didn’t just scared to admit that she’s starting to like him, but she’s also scared of the Valentine family’s ‘Cupid Curse’, the curse that always ruin love relationships of every single family member, including her own parents.

So, can she faced her own feeling and deny the curse? What kind of adrenaline-pumping adventure that got them entangled in? How will the story ends? The answer is… Read it!!!

About the story, I love how it doesn’t really focus on romance. At first, seeing the title and the “the Lucy Valentine series” on the cover, I thought it’s just another romance novel. But when I read the synopsis at the back cover, I think there’s more than just romance. Heather Webber took risk in writing a mystery and paranormal story spiced with romance, not the other way around. She took the biggest risk in creating the Valentine, Inc., a matchmaking company and a family history that comes with the company, and put it in this mystery novel. I also love how light the mystery is. It doesn’t scared you, it doesn’t make you think too hard following the storyline, all are in the right proportion.

So, if you love novels such as the PMS Murder by Jane Austen, you would love this one… for sure!