**Disclaimer: I was given a free e-book in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley.**
Title Again, but Better
Author Christine Riccio
Description from Amazon
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.
Ok, this is probably going to be the longest review I have ever written. So, brace yourselves, my avid readers. I have had this book in my NetGalley queue for over six months. I read a bad review of it back in May and just tossed it behind the stove (the back-burner was too close). This book was pushed so far back, it fell in the gap between the stove and the wall, effectively not to be found until I decided to get a new oven. But, last night, something magical happened, and I discovered that Scribd, my beloved PDF app, has audiobooks. $9.99 a month for all the e-books and audiobooks my little bookworm heart could want. I was instantly sold. And, I stumbled upon Again, but Better while I was browsing. I also discovered that the narrator for the audiobook was the very same narrator from the Royal Bastards series (an audio series that I literally couldn’t stop gushing over how perfect the narration was). So, I thought it was time to knock this book off my NetGalley list.
Why I Loved It
Have you ever read a book that just resonated so strongly with you? You were reading the words and it was as if someone was narrating your own life story? That was me and this book. The story opens in 2011 with Shane, a college student, in the wrong major, studying all the time, lonelier than lonely, and regretting everything. I’ve been there. In 2011, I was considering dropping out of college. I was in engineering school, I hated everything, I stopped going to class altogether, and really just didn’t care if everything went to shit. How much worse could it really get? (In hindsight, it could have gotten a lot worse.) Christine Riccio narrated a foreword mentioning that this was the book she wished she had when she was in college. I couldn’t agree more. This was the book I wish I had when I was in college. But, I actually got it at a better time, I read it at 27. There are no do-overs in life but if Shane’s story taught me anything, it was that it’s never too late to change.
Shane’s awkwardness and obsession with reading and writing are just more reasons I felt so connected to her. I loved all of the references to YA novels and pop culture and this book felt like it was written for me. In some ways, the story was cheesy and far-fetched, but all the same, it was a story that needed to be told. The relationships, issues, and feelings were so realistic. The romance was cheesy at times, but I loved the story all the same.
If I Could Go Back
If I could change one thing from 2011, I’d tell my past self to be more adventurous (and to write more). I spent too many years shying away from other people and life is too short to be afraid. Unlike Shane, I didn’t need a spirit guide to convince me to change my major. In the Fall of 2012, I had declared a new major and was much happier for it.
This book hit home for me in so many ways. I’ve never felt more connected to a character than when I read Shane’s story. This book taught me some valuable lessons, one of which being, don’t let other reviewers shape your opinion of books. I probably shouldn’t say that, being that I am a book reviewer. But, it’s so true. If you think you’re interested in something, don’t let someone else change your mind.
Bottom line, GO READ THIS BOOK.
Recommendations for Further Reading
- Summer in the Elevator by Kelsey Sutton – if you liked this coming of age story, definitely check out Summer’s story in this novella by Kelsey Sutton.
- The Last Note by Grace McGinty – if you enjoyed the contemporary vibes, dual time line, and just a pinch of fantasy, check out this story by Grace McGinty.