book review

Throwback: Laguna Cove Review

I am trying to get into the groove of writing book reviews, and as I figure it out for my recent reads, I have been looking back at my old writing. (Aided by my current room decluttering.)

So I thought that today’s post would be a perfect time to share some of my old book reviews. So we can laugh together.

AKA The “Independent Reading Summer Worksheet”

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So today’s book reflection will be on Alyson Noel’s Laguna Cove,  which is in part thanks to my ‘summer reads’ phase when I was obsessed with all of the beachy romances and would get stacks of books by the same authors out from my library at a time.

Since then, my writing tastes have evolved towards messier and less contemporary stuff. And now I can’t get enough of fantasy books. (Although I still struggle with any time travel books.)

And boy this is also a reflection of myself, too. Thank god my writing has improved.

Anyway, let me share a brief (and current) summary of this book.

Laguna Cove, published in 2006, takes place in Laguna Beach, California, where a bunch of teenagers spend all of their free time on the beach hanging out and surfing, and just soaking up the sun. Anne is the new girl who moves cross country to live with her dad after her parents split up, and she is forced to deal with all of these changes at once, while learning the dynamic of a new school and new peers. Something really upsetting is that Anne had to give up being the captain of the diving team back home with the new move.

The real drama, though, is between Anne and Ellie over popularity and the cutest guy in school…Chris. Ellie is jealous and worried about Anne taking over her friends and her life that she lashes out at Anne. Anne learns to surf and dates Chris. Things get ugly. Everyone picks sides.

And like my original review says, the ending is left open ended…nothing is really concluded. From a quick search of other reviews, many readers feel the same way. That the ending sort of jipped us.

So with that, I would like to share some of my old review of this book. Here are some of the more notable questions and answers.

First:

Identify the AUTHOR. Provide jacket information (if it’s available.) What genre does the author usually adhere to? Have you read anything else by the author? How big an undertaking was the book? (How many pages? How accessible or dense was the author’s language?)

And my 2010 response:

Alyson Noel is the author who writes fictional books about teenage girls lives. I have not read her other books, but I plan to in the future. The book was 216 pages and became a little confusing at times because the phrases the characters use are from California and I am not familiar with it.

My 2019 thoughts are much different. I am trying to prevent myself from editing all of my old writing, but I am laughing. “I am not familiar” with the California phrases is my absolute favorite part, because really? This is coming from the same person who went on to live in Glasgow. Where people are much harder to understand than California. I think that I must have mentioned this to answer how accessible the book was, but present day Samantha would have a very different interpretation of this question, and a very different answer, too. I also think that it is so funny that the school bolded author, as if us 9th graders could not read and understand the whole question and we just needed a snippet.

Another of my favorite questions and answers is this one:

Is there anything special or noteworthy about the author’s handling of CHARACTERIZATION?

And my short response:

The characterization was good, but nothing special.

Bahaha.

How did I go from this to becoming an English major, I have no idea.

Like, okay, maybe I simply wasn’t understanding the deeper interpretations of the author question, but this is really funny. Like, zero effort.

I didn’t even explain, just a no. Maybe I was rushing to finish this? Maybe I was writing it the period before it was due. Maybe I meant to get back and finish this question? I guess we will never know if this came out of laziness, procrastination, or what.

And for the epic conclusion:

COMPARE or CONTRAST the book with a book that you’re read before, or a movie you’ve seen, or a short story, or a dramatic production. Or was the book a completely original experience?

And my 9th grade answer:

This book for me was a completely original experience. The way the characters interacted and the problems they faced was all new to me. The way the whole town spends their time at the beach and that surfing is the center of their lives is very strange to me.

Okay, so I want to try and defend this answer here. But first, I purposely kept in the spelling and grammar errors in the question and answer. Just so you know, current me recognizes those errors.

Now, in my defense, maybe this was the first book in this genre that I have actually read. And this is also from a time where I wasn’t exposed to the internet much. I don’t even think I had my own computer or anything more than a flip phone. And I didn’t watch any of those surfing movies?

Still, I could have compared it to Twilight, for crying out loud. For being completely opposite books, for dealing with problems from the sunny summer versus the school year in rainy Forks, Washington.

And yet, here we are. I could not think of anything to compare or contrast. And now that is my favorite thing to do. Talk about #transformationtuesday .

It is also important to note that I read a lot of books from this subsection of YA contemporary beach romance books, there must have been something drawing me into them. And yet I still only gave it two stars. I was a really tough critic, and for a book that I selected on my own, and for an independent summer reading assignment, no less.

And this is the part of me that I still identify with.  

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travel, writing

Travel is Good for the Soul

Sadly, all good things must come to a close.

But I feel that my trip was exactly the soul-searching opportunity that I needed. Not to be totally dramatic, but I feel like I have a direction in life again and goals that I am working towards both in my career and personal life.

And I am so looking forward to being reunited with all of the incredible & amazing people who I have met along my own journey.

Thank you to everyone I met for everything that you taught me––from the little things like “the restaurant around the corner has really good dumplings” to the helpful advice that saved me a lot of stress for the entirety of my trip (the GoEuro app) to just simply hearing people’s different world views. I don’t know if I can really put into words the impact that everyone I have met along the way has had on my life, but all I can say is that I will forever love meeting new people from all over the world and becoming more open-minded, culturally aware, and all of the other great things that come from conversing with other travelers.

  • I received cooking lessons from a new Polish friend in my hostel kitchen in Salzburg.
  • Cultural lessons from a Parisian woman whose parents are from Tunisia and Morocco over dinner in Dubrovnik.
  • Dining (and wedding) etiquette from my best friends in Italy.
  • Tours of all different cities and castles, cooking lessons, gardening lessons, and even apartment hunting from my cousin in Germany.
  • The world cup excitement from every European person from bus drivers, to bartenders, to people I passed along the street.

I became more outgoing––able to hold a conversation, ask anyone for directions, or to ask someone to take a picture for me or with me. I learned how to navigate any city’s public transportation (though I still get lost with public busses) and cultural differences or at least where to learn if I couldn’t figure it out on my own.

I also learned a lot about the things that I should and should not have packed. Good news is anything that I forgot at home, I would have been able to buy in almost any city that I visited. Bad news is I way, way, overpacked. And even though it was a small carry-on bag, there were some clothing items that I still didn’t even wear.

The unnecessary items:

  • I had 3 UK adaptors and only 1 European adaptor. And even though I did not know if I was going to make it back to the UK before the end of my trip, I could have sent some of those home with my family. I learned you only need 1 adaptor for each type of outlet. And if you forget one, they are pretty cheap to buy. I spent way more time using my European adaptor and really just carried the other ones around from city to city.
  • Also related to chargers, I brought 2 portable chargers with me. I only really used the more powerful one––which saved me many times during my trip because it was able to recharge my phone 3-4 times. And it was so convenient in my hostels when I didn’t want to leave my phone across the room charging––I only had to leave my portable charger there and then in the morning I could charge my phone while I got started with my day.

The extra items:

  • My clothes. And yes, it is true that you don’t know what types of clothes you will need when you don’t even have a solid plan for where the day will take you, but no matter how long you are traveling for, you won’t need more than a week’s worth of clothes. I didn’t need more than a couple of shorts, a couple of pants, a few shirts, a sweater, sweatshirt, hat, and scarf. Everything that can be worn together and layered. I even made a friend who actually only brought 2 pairs of shorts…and then he lost one of them. I also regretted bringing so much because then I couldn’t justify getting the latest European fashion if it couldn’t fit into my bag.
  • Also (and I fear I may get some heat for this one) I brought way too many toiletries. I had some packages of sunblock, shampoo, and even an extra soap bar that I did not touch at all. I had a shampoo bar that my sister got it for me as an early birthday present––an organic and eco friendly shampoo bar, like the ones that seem to be so popular at Lush, but this one is from her environmental school’s craft fair––which was/is a very long lasting product and I still came home with a big chunk of that left over as well. My very long winded point here is to pack the very bare essentials. Because when you run out (which you will want to happen) you could always purchase more almost anywhere you go. I did chose to forgo the conditioner, though, and that was a good decision that I just had to deal without that luxury for a couple of months.

And now for the big question: Would you do this again? Hell yeah! Now that I have done it once, I know for a fact I can handle this kind of crazy, tiring, invigorating, spontaneous, (insert any more adjectives) travel. And that I love it.

I am not sure where exactly my next journey will take place (South America and Southeast Asia are both at the top of my list) but I am excited and looking forward to all of what is to come.

And now that I am home, I will go back and complete my blog posts for every city that I visited. So stay tuned…

 

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My visit to the Salzburg Castle.

(You never know how good someone is at photography until it is too late––notice the woman’s finger in the corner. LOL!)