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Again, But Better

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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.

373 pages, Hardcover

First published May 7, 2019

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About the author

Christine Riccio

3 books101k followers
Christine Riccio has been on a quest to encourage more humans to read since the third grade. No one really listened until she started making videos about books on Youtube in 2010. Now her channel PolandbananasBOOKS has over 390,000 book-loving subscribers. She makes comedic book reviews, vlogs, sketches, and writing videos chronicling the creation of her own novel. She’s also one of the three YouTubers behind BOOKSPLOSION. Originally from New Jersey, Christine graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in Film and TV and now lives in Los Angeles, CA. Other hobbies include hot yoga and oatmeal.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 6,621 reviews
Profile Image for sapphia.
52 reviews847 followers
July 15, 2019
This review was plagiarized!

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 Zenith, but still... Bad.

I have seen A LOT 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 book and not the author but since this book is basically about the author (and I will admit to not liking her very much) that is basically impossible.

These are my opinions. I am allowed to have opinions about stuff and things.
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 I do not care!

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?
Because 'Shane Primaveri' is Christine Riccio.

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:



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? 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 the exact same
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 Pilot Penn.

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?

Not really.
'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 actual magic in this.

And the writing?
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.

It's just Christine writing her own wish fulfillment fanfiction.

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 charge people for it.

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 she 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 Zenith 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.
Profile Image for Emma Giordano.
317 reviews116k followers
May 4, 2019
I knew I was going to love Again But Better 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 Again, but Better, 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 Again, but Better. 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.

I received a copy of this book from Wednesday Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Lala BooksandLala.
500 reviews62k followers
June 12, 2019
Unfortunately this one just wasn't for me, which is fine.

Things I liked
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.

Things I disliked
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 really 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.
Profile Image for Natasha Polis.
70 reviews13.6k followers
May 8, 2019

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.
Profile Image for Alex ✰ Comets and Comments ✰.
173 reviews2,693 followers
April 3, 2019
“Can we start over?”



Writers are often told to write what you know. Even now, when I think of Shane Primaveri; I see Christine Riccio, I hear Christine Riccio, I feel like I fucking know Christine Riccio. So yes, she did write what she knew, because she wrote herself.


*cries in YA*
I was really hesitant to read this book, but I made an effort to read it independent of its booktube writer. I tried focusing on the story and stayed away from any reviews. It really did not let me, I felt uncomfortable, like a fly on Christine's wall.

Firstly, I want to say that I have no problem with Booktubers getting book deals. I think that it's brilliant that readers, reviewers and writers of Wattpad, Booktube, Goodreads and even Fanfiction are getting some seriously needed exposure. A writer can be successful regardless of how they started. We really are in a time where publishers want to take and make "smart deals," so giving a person that has a high following a book deal is more monetarily productive than giving an indie author a shot. Which understandably, can go really swell or fucking-jump-ship awful.

This was the latter for me.

I felt like this book had a check list that needed to be fulfilled but each point was taken to the extreme and failed miserably. The check list, was the "ultimate" guide to creating a "popular" YA novel. *ahem* Hello, my name is Alex and welcome to my TED talk;

Step 1) Unique Writing
From page 1, I shit you not, page one - this book had an odd writing style. It was like it was trying to reach for poetic prose but instead fell into something riddling. For example, we are being told she is in a plane here:

"Now, I’m thousands of miles over the Atlantic in a giant hollowed-out pen with wings"

Then there were times where I think humor was added, but again maybe I'm just a soulless sock that doesn't understand comedy. So all in all, this started pretty rough for me.

Step 2) Remember to like, be like, relatable
Of course, EVERYONE loves knowing that their issues aren't only their own and somewhere somehow, someone else is also fighting the same issues. Enter Shane...

"Not literally. But, you know that feeling like light being circulated through your veins when you see someone cute, and all the sudden you explode all over with the thrill of said cute person noticing and acknowledging your existence as a human with whom they could potentially fall into a relationship with?"

"I smile back at him and then look away so as not to appear to be a weird statue that stares at him."

"We’re walking down the sidewalk in London together. Pilot and I. Me and Pilot. A cute boy who’s being nice to me. Who I held a conversation with. My heart is having a dance party. It’s also wondering, is this like, a date? No, it’s not a date, but it’s like … a something."

The romance was very two dimensional, and maybe because the characters felt under-developed to me. A lot of the time, they came off as cartoonish and unrealistic. I mean come on, if you are going to name the love interest Pilot Penn, he's got to have something going for him? Poor guy got a name from a stationary set.

The romance was all over the shop and insta-love, and as a romance reader, I've read my fair share of messy love stories. Pilot was a character I really didn't enjoy and being 50% of the romance in this story, it was really hard for me to cheer on Shane and him. The underlying cheating throughout the book added angst but it also makes me wonder why a romance is going on between them in the first place?

Step 3) Let's add an unrealistic depiction of a mental disorder
In all seriousness, this was the asset of the book that I really didn't gel with. Shane has social anxiety and at first, I was happy that this was represented in the book. But then, I saw her "social anxiety" and I wanted to literally curl into a ball. Whoever has anxiety or any mental disorder for that fact, knows that it is not just an excuse for awkward and odd social behavior. It is your mind coming up with 10,000 paranoid alterations of reality and it leaves you feeling completely helpless.

I hated the portrayal of anxiety through Shane and if there is one thing I cannot handle is the way people use actual mental diagnoses to sensationalize and romanticize "regular" behavior.

Like when I hear people say shit like "i like having my pens in order, i'm soooo OCD" or "wow, i hate this traffic, I'm actually gonna commit" or "shit, it's monday tomorrow... i'm depressed"

uhmmm NO.

Also the fact that Shane is magically going to cure her anxiety and social nervousness by going to another country and falling in love and making friends and etc etc etc. is false advertising. You cannot measure mental health progress on a linear scale and say this is the start and this is the end. It's such a distorted representation of how truly unforgiving mental health can be.

Step 4) Diversity! YAY!
Any progressive reader knows that diversity in any book is a fucking gift from heaven. I would love to have a shelf solely for diverse reads, our own voices and minority representation. Even better, I would love for those characters to be the main characters *cough cough* but moving on.

But I hate when authors force diversity, like they are doing something just to check it off. That's not the point of what you are trying to achieve. So yes, I will give a point to Christine for trying to add diversity to her storyline but then just because I wish the execution was better, I'm going to take back half that point.

Which brings me to the character dialogue. Everyone shared the same voice. Everything ended with a '!'

Step 5) Writing what you know
Shane is the main character.
Shane is Christine.

I'm not even going to get into this one too much because I'm pretty sure I've said enough already. Everything about Shane Primaveri was Christine Riccio. Their habits, their dialogue, their hobbies... If you want to know Christine on a really personal level, then this might be for you. Unfortunately, it wasn't for me.
Profile Image for ✨    jami   ✨.
660 reviews3,882 followers
Shelved as 'no-thanks'
September 29, 2018

Christine isn't my favourite Booktuber, but she basically single handedly started Booktube and that's pretty fucking awesome. And she's been working on this for years - even though we all KNOW because of her following she could of got it published ages ago. I totally respect the work & dedication that has obviously gone into this.

Plus I think the title is so catchy and fun
Profile Image for Melanie.
1,168 reviews98.2k followers
May 8, 2019

ARC received via #arcsfortrade on Twitter!

“If you could go back and do London all over again, knowing everything you know now, would you do it?”

Friends, I wanted to love this so badly. So damn badly. Christine is not only the actual Queen of BookTube, she was one of the first channels I ever watched. She just seems so kind, and genuine, and I always feel like she radiates positive energy, and she was such a massive part of why I wanted to read Shadowhunters in the first place. But this review isn’t going to be about that, nor is it going to be a drag or me spilling the tea; this review is just going to be about why this debut was only okay for me. Even though I very much hope it works for you come May 2019! Also, please keep in mind that I have a very early ARC copy of this book. Many things could be changed upon publication!

This story centers around a girl named Shane, who has had her life completely predictated by her parents’ wants and aspirations for her. Her parents want her to study medicine and to one day become a doctor, while all Shane wants to do is read and write. Yet, she somehow manages to be able to study abroad to the UK, where she will also be able to intern as a writer for a travel magazine and, most importantly, escape her parents’ expectations.

The book is also told in two parts; the first part being set in 2011 where Shane is 20, and the next part set in 2017 where Shane is 26. But the book starts out in 2011 and we soon follow Shane during her oversea travels, and we soon meet all of her flat mates, most of which who have ridiculous names; Babe, Atticus, Sahra, and Pilot Penn. Yeah, you read that last one right. But Shane is making sure that she is going to make the most of these three months of freedom, while trying to make friendships and connections that will last her entire life.

This books just reads so personal. Like, I would even go as far as to say that I would feel comfortable as classifying this as semiautobiographical. But instead of me being interested in the story, it really took me out of it because it felt so much like Christine and, in turn, felt so damn invasive.

Like, you will not be able to read this book and not picture the main character, Shane, as Christine. From studying abroad, to being open about not making many friends in college, to *gasp* Shane’s blog name being French Watermelon, to the constant Lost references, to the endless Cassandra Clare and Shadowhunter references, to Harry Potter galore, while the character of Shane also just has a personality and the same mannerisms as Christine. This just feels so semiautobiographical. I promise, you won’t be able to not see it. And maybe that will completely make the reading experience for you, and I truly hope it does, but it really pulled me out of the story constantly.

Also, Christine constantly is trying to make you remember that the story is set in 2011 for a majority of the time. Which is fine at first, but it becomes so heavy handed and forced that it really made for an unenjoyable reading experience. Angry Birds, to Jamie Foxx’s ”Blame It”, to every popular book of that time period! It was just too much, and it really did a disservice to the story, in my opinion.

But my biggest problem with this book was the grey-area cheating and even eventual cheating (a kiss). This was truly the reason that I could never love this book or ever feel anything for the characters. Plus, the character that is getting cheated on is always villainized to look like a bad girl, when she has every right to feel threatened.

Also, just because this is something that is personal to me, I really didn’t like how Shane’s parents were never said to be abusive when they most certainly were. Like, the verbal abuse alone her father showed in the text, on top of the constant emotional abuse throughout the entire story, it just made me so upset and I really was disappointed when the parents were never viewed as being shitty parents. Especially at the end when they are being portrayed as good parents, just because their child was able to succeed without them. It feels and reads so very bad. Seriously, if your parents only want to love and support you when you are successful then they aren’t that great of parents.

I really loved how this entire story and book shines a light on the constant theme of social anxiety. I’m not saying that Shane makes the wisest of choices throughout these six years but seeing her live with social anxiety was something that really meant a lot to me and something that I really appreciated.

My favorite thing about this book is how it truly is a love letter about how you have to live your life for yourself. I know that Shane learns this the hard way, but I think that this is a concept that more kids need to not only hear but to let the message absorb into their hearts. I know that I learned it way later in life, and I wish so desperately that I could go back and learn that my life is only ever mine and that I deserve happiness so much sooner. And I really hope that because Christine has such a huge audience, that so many teens and young adults will be back to learn this earlier and truly live and lead the lives that they want for themselves.

And this book is a really fast paced read, that will really leave you turning the pages because you’ll be super curious where everything is going. Even though I really didn’t like the romance in this book, I was really invested with all the different paths and connections that Shane was making constantly. And I truly believe that I could have sat down, with a big cup of tea, and read this book from cover to cover in one sitting.

Another thing I liked, that I don’t want to talk too much about because of spoilers, but there is for sure a magical element of this book that I was not expecting at all. And even though I think things could have been handled better (grey area cheating), I really enjoyed how this fantastical element was implemented into the story, and it was a surprise that made me happy.

There is also a very diverse cast. Even though the main characters, Shane and Pilot are white, I feel like most of Shane’s coworkers at the magazine were people of color, and Babe is black and plus sized, Sahra is said to be tan, and Atticus is Asian, gay, and a Gryffindor (which feels like a personal attack in the best way, because… it’s me)! There is also another queer minor character who comes out because Shane takes a second to talk to them, which is meant to be heartwarming but I was side eyeing a bit.

Overall, let’s be real, people are going to one star and five star this just based on who Christine is upon release, which is never okay, but these are truly my feelings, even though I think Christine is a six star human! Even though I didn’t love a lot of elements of this debut novel, I still really appreciated some of the themes and thought it was a fun and quick read!

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The quote above was taken from an ARC and is subject to change upon publication.

Content and trigger warnings for constant grey area cheating, cheating (a kiss), assault (an unwanted kiss), and the use of ableist language like cr*zy.

Buddy read with Madalyn from Novel Ink! ❤️
Profile Image for jessica.
2,534 reviews32.4k followers
February 15, 2020
oh dear. this story made me cringe so much, i now need to make an appointment with a chiropractor to work out the new tension in my shoulders.

to keep it brief, this book definitely tries way too hard. im not a fan of the writing - it has a low quality fan fiction vibe to it. im not a fan of the characters - shane is one of the most insufferably immature characters ive ever read. im not a fan of the overly used pop culture references - theres practically one on every page. i actually thought the concept was cute but the execution leaves much to be desired.

there are so many other books that have done this kind of story once, but better.

1.5 stars
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,198 reviews40.7k followers
February 5, 2021
OH nooooooooooo!!!! I’m screaming “NOOOOOOO”! And a final one in softer tone “Nooooo”!
I’m not working on my new song named”NOOOO” and I am just saying “Noooo” to everything about this book.

I didn’t even hate it because for hating something you have to be passionate about it but there is nothing could make me passionate about this book and I still cannot understand it took Goodreads nomination because I didn’t find anything remarkable to vote and award this book for its not so fantastic or capturing writing!

Well, the writing style got praises from so many reviewers but unfortunately it didn’t work me. I didn’t find it lyrical, original or unique because that kind of book does not need this way of word puzzles. This is not necessary. Romance fits well with sarcastic comments, genuine approach but well playing with the words like isn’t my kind of favorite writing. I personally prefer direct, some kind of sweet and witty approach with more interesting and likable characters.

Cheating part, girls’ hate war made me “Oh come on, please somebody take this book from me! I cannot stay anymore! This is more painful than root canal procedure or watching Taylor Swift’s over exaggerated mimics on TV!”
And of course our heroine got a boyfriend and after 30 pages later I got that he was talking about his name, not his occupation! Who wants to name her character as” Pilot” anyways?

And when a magical element added into the equation, I started to scream so much that my neighbors thought my husband finally succeeded his master plan to kill me! Well, sorry guys, even if I’m worse cook and best drinker, we have so much romance than this book’s artificial characters!

I respect all the readers’ opinions truly enjoyed this book. I know that movies, books are subjective. They leave different impressions on the people. (One of my best friend stopped talking for my comment about Irishman which I found first 30 minutes so boring! My husband also stopped cooking for me to protest my opinion. I’m hungry but I respect their decisions! I already added laxatives in their food! Payback is bitch! ) I wish I could enjoy this one but this book is DEFINITELY NOT MY CUP OF CHARDONNAY!
Profile Image for Amy.
285 reviews178 followers
July 28, 2019
"You're bolder than before."

*1.5 stars

I so desperately wanted to enjoy this book, you guys. But... it's a yikes from me, dawg.

Again, But Better is Christine Riccio's debut novel. I want to take a hot second to say that Christine (PolandBananasBooks on YouTube) has done incredible things for the online book community. I know that she's incredibly smart and talented. You can see it in brief spurts in Again, But Better... but sadly, she just missed the mark as a whole.

Again, But Better follows Shane Primaveri, a 20 year old girl who has moved to London for a semester abroad in the year of Our Lord 2011. She's a pre-med student, and her whole life has been about pleasing her parents. But, for just this semester, she wants to forget the expectations on her and just do what she wants to do. So, she enrolls in the creative writing program and tries to push past her comfort zones. It goes well... until it doesn't. Fast forward 6 years, and she's given the opportunity to do it all over again... but better this time.

I had a lot of issues with this book. First off, it's straight up poorly written. The pacing is bizarre, there's tons of typos, and Christine apparently only knows two descriptive words for laughing: cackle and snort. The amount of times characters "cackled" in this book was so distracting and annoying. The writing was overall weak. As someone who watched Christine's book writing series on YouTube, where she discusses over and over again how time-consuming and difficult editing this book was, I was shocked at the poor writing quality and very obvious mistakes. The word "horcrux" was spelled "horcurx" at least 3 times. I read some of this on audio so who knows what other errors I missed. But yeah, it was pretty bad.

Secondly, this whole thing is major cringe. Shane is incredibly immature and honestly, a bit crazy. She's obsessed with the love interest six years after they last saw/spoke to each other, despite the fact that she's engaged to someone else. And, honestly? They didn't even have much chemistry to begin with. The book essentially centers on the romance and I found it to be very bland. I felt no connection between them. Shane also considers going on a walk with someone 2 hours after you met them to be a "date". This is her way of thinking throughout the whole ass book. So. You understand my suffering.

More on the cringe-factor, the dialogue is just fucking awful. Everyone talks like this! And says stupid shit all the time! And is always! So! Excited! All of the conversations are very unnatural and stilted. And most of the time, they are useless conversations, too! There were several instances where I would read these idiotic conversations between some characters and it wouldn't even be important to this story. I lost several brain cells. The humor in this book is so corny, and some people argue it's "Christine's humor" so they don't mind it. But, even if it is, it does not read well on the page. And guess what? Not every single person who picks this book up is gonna know Christine as well as some of us do. It's just flat out corny and not well-written humor. Sorry about it. I mean, take this conversation between Shane and her love interest, Pilot, for instance:

"What about lamppost?" I propose. "It's innocent, catchy."
"Yeah, as in, lamppost will be our always ... It's gonna be great. Here, let's test it out. Ask me a question."
He clears his throat and puts on a funny romantic voice. "Shane." He gazes into my eyes like a cartoon prince. "Are you Santa?"
I step up close to his face. "Lamppost."

What in the goddamn fuck is this. What is this interaction? It's shit, that's what it is. And that's essentially what the entire book is like: a clusterfuck of quirky nonsense.

Seriously, this whole book is just Shane being cute and quirky and awkward and flirting with Pilot, who is a more subtle, more manly type of cute and quirky. It's so 2011 that it hurts. Yes, I understand that this book literally takes place in 2011, but come on, dude. This is just bad. Shane even does that thing where she's sharing a room with Pilot and she's so scared about looking in ugly in front of him, she only takes her makeup off after he's asleep and wakes up early to put it on before he gets up. That's so f*cking sad, but also something a 15 year old would do. If Christine wanted to make Shane a super insecure character, she should have really delved into that. But she didn't, and she just made Shane look super shallow and unlikable.

Oh, yeah, and there's subtle cheating going on here and it's gross. Authors: cheating is not the type of forbidden love we're looking for! It's not as sexy as you think it is! I was really shocked by this because Christine, as a reader and big member of this community, should know that YA readers don't like that shit. Ew.

Here's another issue I have with this book that I've seen other people mention: this book is literally about Christine. Shane is Christine. If you've watched even a video or two of Christine's, and then you read this book, you would see it. It's uncomfortable. It's like she wrote her own self-fulfilling fantasy and it's just... it's fuckin' weird. Especially considering how immature Shane is... I have to wonder. I mean, Shane's blog is called FrenchWatermelon19. Christine is PolandBananas. Shane loves The Mortal Instruments and Taylor Swift. Shane loves YouTube. She loves the TV show Lost. We seriously threw all subtlety out the window. Shane is Christine, and I don't know who Pilot is supposed to be in her life, but I'm nervous.

But the obvious blog title and obsession with The Mortal Instruments aren't the only ways this book reads like Christine's perfect fantasy for her life. At the end, the love interest surprises Shane by serenading her with Taylor Swift songs that he sings and plays on his guitar by means of apology. I almost put the book down right there. I know Christine is a Taylor fan and... God. Fucking cringe. I'm sorry. It's just so weird! It's weird. I'm not alone in thinking this is weird, right?

I could go on for a long time discussing all my very specific issues with this book, but it's just bad. That's all you need to know. It's not a very well written or well developed story, which is just bizarre because I know how much time Christine has spent on it. I don't understand what happened. I really wanted to like this, but there's really nothing redeemable about this story. Even Shane's parents are fucking monsters and it was really sad because there was never any on-page resolution of that unhealthy relationship. I guess the only thing I really liked was that Shane realized she was too obsessed with Pilot and needed to learn to be happy and successful without him. That was great. But the rest? Yikes, y'all. Yikes.

So yeah, Again, But Better is one big cringe-fest and I felt very uncomfortable reading something that seems like Christine's fan-fiction about her own life. Very strange. But again, I know Christine is smart and talented, and I saw the potential in this book. I just hope her next book isn't quite so bad. If she gets help with editing, learns how to properly pace her stories, figures out how to improve her dialogue, and creates characters that don't act like literal pre-teens as full grown adults, I'm sure she'll do great? I just don't really know what happened here. I'm uncomfy.
Profile Image for Angelica.
805 reviews1,124 followers
May 21, 2020
Well, I'm officially impressed. not gonna lie, this was pretty good. I read it in two sittings and was unapologetically grinning like an idiot the entire time.

Rating: 3.75/5

Anyway, fangirling aside, let's get to this review! There were things about this that I absolutely loved with all my heart, and things I didn't quite love all that much and things I just plainly didn’t like.

This book is a combination of Fangirl (a book I hated), Anna and the French Kiss (a book I really liked), About Time (a movie that is super cute and funny and y’all should watch), and Christine Riccio's life story. Funny enough, it's that last part that gave me some problems while reading.

If you don't know Christine, she does book-related videos on YouTube. In fact, she's the biggest 'booktuber' there is. Her videos are fun and creative and I love her book reviews. I've been watching her videos for years now, to the point that I've observed some of her quirks and habits and know the references she constantly uses. Any avid watcher of her videos would certainly notice her love of Lost, and Harry Potter, and Dan Brown books. They would know the weird story as to why her channel name is PolandBananas20 (Shane's channel is FrenchWatermelon19). They would feel, at least for the first part of the book, that the main character Shane, is no character at all, instead, she's a fictionalized version of the author.

While reading the book I was constantly taken out of the story by just how 'Christine' Shane was. They share the same mannerisms and passions and habits. It was strange. That said, the more we get into the story, the more that Shane separates from Christine and becomes her own person and I really enjoyed seeing that character come into herself.

The book is told in two parts, the firsts taking place in 2011, the second taking place in 2017. The 2011 part was trying way too hard to prove it was 2011. From referencing all the popular books of 2011, to Angry Birds, to it was a lot! Still, I can't even deny I kinda liked it though.

The 2017 part, which is also technically the 2011 part, was probably my favorite. The character growth between the two time periods was wonderful!

Another issue I had was with the light cheating that was going on in the novel. Shane's love interest, Pilot, is dating someone else when they meet and yet, a romance begins between them anyway. I wasn't really ok with that because Amy, Pilot's girlfriend, really didn't deserve that. Also, the names! The love interest's name is actually Pilot.


“Like the first episode of a TV show.”

The others in the book have names like Babe and Atticus. I couldn't help but roll my eyes a little when they first introduced themselves. But, what's a good contemporary romance without some ridiculous names, I guess.

Since I already talked about the negative, let me end on a good note and tell you the things I loved!

The writing in this book is surprisingly good. Everything had an easy, almost effortless flow to it that I really enjoyed. I genuinely enjoyed myself while reading and even found myself laughing out loud at the banter between Pilot and Shane. They were funny and cute and their banter was absolutely golden!

Shane herself was also a fun character. I really liked her quirkiness and positivity and general goodness! Pilot was also super cute and I know I should probably feel guilty but I totally shipped them! Seriously though, the romance was pretty gosh darn adorable. Their conversations and random references to books and songs had me grinning like an idiot.

Still, what I most liked about the book is that while it reads like a romance, it's more about Shane as an individual than it is about her relationship with Pilot. It's about Shane becoming her own person and living her own life. It's about finding the courage to be yourself and experience life the way you want and I loved that.

Aside from all that, I also enjoyed the descriptions of London and all the random little things like the fact that unlike American past which is boxed, British pasta comes in bags! I also really enjoyed all the way Christine described the setting and the general atmosphere of the book.

In the end, do I recommend this book?

Heck yeah!

My hopes for this book were both really high because I love Christine, and really low because the last time a 'booktuber' wrote a book everyone hated it (Zenith by Sasha Alsberg & Lindsey Cummings). Thankfully, this book was much more on the good side of things. I think that it was a great debut and I look forward to Christine's future works.

Also, as a side note, please try not to go into this book with any bias, either negative or positive, due to who the author is. If you're gonna hate it, hate it because you don't like the story. If you're gonna love it, love it because the story was good. Let your rating reflect your opinion on the book and the book only! Don't give 1 or 5 stars solely because of how you feel about the author!

**I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.**

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Profile Image for rin.
411 reviews488 followers
September 19, 2019
upd: this just in: this mess of a book is a nyt bestseller. which is obviously the only reason why it was published. so basically you can publish your dumb wattpad self-insert which hasn't been even properly edited👌 oh wait no you can't, you don't have 400k subs on youtube
(yeah im bitter because i know so many people who are actually great writers and they get rejected while querying, while this absolutely mess wouldn't have ever seen the light if it wasn't for those youtube subs, fight me)
review still to come, im even more eager to write it
and in case you are interested - i have a twitter thread on it

when i posted one of quotes from this book on twitter, my friend asked me "is it my immortal"

no, my immortal is better

Profile Image for Ashley Nuckles.
190 reviews7,253 followers
May 20, 2019
4.5 stars! This story was the literal perfect blend of cheesy and sweet all in one, and it was a great story to kick off my trip in Europe. For some reason, despite the title, I wasn’t expecting the jump in timeline back and forth?? And then I stayed up until 3am finishing it because I just HAD to know how it would end after that! ;) I saw Christine in every crack and crevice of this story, and loved it.
Profile Image for Abbey.
39 reviews10 followers
May 30, 2019
*groans for 200 years*

I should preface this by saying that I’ve been a fan of Christine for a number of years. She is still a favourite of mine to watch on Booktube and will most likely continue to be a favourite. That being said, I found this book mind-numbing, annoying, and it read like a Wattpad self-insert fanfiction.

~ spoilers ~

Let’s start with the blatant self-insert Christine that is our main character, Shane. Shane is an extremely awkward young adult who is trying to follow her dream of being a writer by lying to her parents about going to pre-med school in the UK and going into a writing program there instead. She loves Harry Potter, Lost, The Hunger Games, Cassandra Clare, John Green, Taylor Swift, The Beatles and so on. She has names for her computer, notebook(s), and other items. Her username of choice is FrenchWatermelon19.

If any of that sounds familiar, that’s because this character is Christine, right down to the username (Christine’s username is, and has always been, PolandBananas20). The only differences between the two is their names (though, both are Italian names), the fact that Christine is from New Jersey and Shane is from New York, and Christine has not gone to university in the UK for writing while lying to her parents that she’s there for pre-med school and fallen in love with a guy named Pilot Penn.

As a reader, I want to learn about a character. I want to see how they are unique, and how I can relate to them. It is so obvious that Shane is Christine, and that took away from my reading experience because I just kept on saying “Really… really???” Girl didn’t even TRY.

I found myself not caring about ANY of the characters throughout the entire text. Pilot (Pies, as he is nicknamed in the book and… just no… stop it, get some help) seemed like an NPC that existed for Shane to obsess over to the extent that she outwardly says something along the lines of “stalker-mode activated”. At one point, Shane inwardly exclaimed “THIS IS ROMANCE!” when she and Pilot were touching shoulders playing Angry Birds. If she were joking, it would be a funny moment, but this chick was serious and went out of her way to maintain shoulder contact with the NPC. Oh, and Pilot has a girlfriend the whole way through until the last little bit, by the way. My face hurts from cringing.

I think Christine tried too hard to make Shane “relatable” and “a nerd of 2011”. At first, the references to Harry Potter, Lost, etc. were fun, and it helped me get to know Shane a bit better (this was before I figured out that Christine wrote this fantasy self-insert fanfiction and I astral projected myself to another plane of existence to scream). But then it just kept going… and going… and going… and soon Christine would write references with no context, like a personal inside joke the character had with herself that the reader was not in on. Of course, knowing Christine would help the reader get these personal inside jokes because I’ve watched Christine chuckle about them in her own videos.

Sidebar, never put the following dialogue into a published piece of work:

“Doot doot doot doot doot doot doot.”
I sing along quietly.

Just say that your character was singing along to a song, reading this made me cringe so hard I could’ve popped a vein in my neck.

Of course, there is some plot to this book. The main conflict is that Shane’s parents find out that she is not in a pre-med program and force her to go back home. We get a 6-year time skip and one day Shane and Pilot both walk into an elevator and are transported back to the UK in 2011. So, Shane takes it upon herself to make Pilot fall in love with her, fully knowing that he is still with his girlfriend at this time, and Pilot - being the NPC he is - goes along with it and tells his girlfriend that he wants a “break”, and eventually dumps her for Shane.

Also, can we talk about how Shane’s dad being verbally abusive is never addressed… ever? He makes her feel like shit, she cries about it, and then we never touch on the subject ever again. Surely there was a reason Christine put that scene in the book for a reason? No? Oh… okay then…

Overall, I was disappointed with this book. Perhaps I hyped it up too much in my head. What I think Christine was going for with this book was something similar to Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl (if it was a self-insert fanfiction), which is a book that many booknerds love and cherish. Christine wanted to provide her viewers something similar, and while she did try to, she ultimately failed at doing so. Fangirl’s Cath is relatable for some of the reasons Christine wanted Shane to be relatable, from being “nerdy”, to being into different fandoms, to being a writer, to being someone who suffers from social anxiety. However, Christine did not succeed. Perhaps this book was trying to be too many things at once, and Christine was under pressure to live up to her own expectations and fantasies.

Honestly, the only reason I didn’t give up and walk into the ocean was because my mama didn’t raise no quitter.

I’m just too gay to put up with this hetero bullshit.
Profile Image for sher.
68 reviews158 followers
Want to read
February 11, 2019
Update: February 11, 2019

pretty sure i'm late to the cover art reveal BUT I MUST SHARE MY FEELS DESPITE NOT KNOWING A THING ABOUT THE INSIDE CONTENTS. i live for overanalyzing art. ps. this is all speculation from a literature nerd.

- see how the division between the white and blue is fluid and not a blunt line in the middle? it appears to be a swaying transition into life as an adult in a new country, suggesting tentative steps to try new things in london. the drastic change in colour could be shane's opening up to new experiences and risks

- shane's walking with a comfortable smile on her face. by the end of the novel, i believe she'll be comfortable with whatever she learns/experiences in london. the transition may be scary and new but by the end of the story, shane may become a bolder version of herself

- the detail on the blue side vs. the lack-of on the white side = more evidence of new experiences and changes in shane's life and of herself. it could also mean she's viewing the newness of everything in london in a more critical and attentive way, taking up everything there is to see in london. to me, the shadows and highlights of the buildings and the sun and the trees indicate multiple layers and a newfound depth to her experiences

these are just three points lmao and i can go in detail about all of them but alas, i must wait for the release date to properly dissect this lovely cover art


Update: August 7, 2018


i'm ready for some college adventures + feels, served with dream-crushing realities. homegirl christine DELIVEEER the coming-of-age college story we all deserve pls & ty 💖


a book by the first booktuber i've ever watched?? aka my FAAAVV booktuber?? yaaasss

October 3, 2019
Yet another New adult book labelled as YA.
Main character is in College and her language and her conflict is of an adult woman. An immature woman, but an adult nonetheless. And at times she uses strong language. Again, but better is not vulgarly explicit as other books marketed as YA that are in reality New adult (*cough A Court of Mist and Fury coughs*) but I'm tired of this trend to sell books. If a book is New adult say it. Don't try to pass it as a Young adult book when this is about college life.

UPDATE 05/20/2019: I've received a lot of attacks on my review so I created a challenge. It's on my comment section in my answer to the one who called me "nutjob". If you disagree with my review I dare you to take on my challenge. If you won't take my challenge, please respect my opinion and post yours ON YOUR OWN REVIEW. I might disagree with it, but I'll respect it.

For those of you who don't know what New adult is, you should pay more attention.

New Adult books are a huge section of the book market. New adult is sometimes marketed as something else, as Adult fiction in some cases but more often than not as YA because bookstores refuse to open their New adult sections. Maybe this refusal to open a New adult section in libraries is at the request of the big publishing houses as they know many successful New Adult titles are from indie writers. They can't compete with Indies' successfully. Not in price at least. And lately, not in quality either as I've noticed more and more editing and cover issues in books from the big publishers. I've read plenty of indie books with better editing than many new releases from traditional publishers.

However, the people who buy booksexclusively in bookstores as opposed to ordering on line, borrowing from libraries, or downloading ebooks is in comparison to the whole of the Goodreads community small. I don't know anybody who buys books in bookstore. My bookclub usually orders on line or downloads ebooks. I rarely visit bookstores, it's a joy when I do, but for me it's like a trip to Disneyland. It's rare that I buy books at the bookstore and many of my favourites books (new adult) are only available on Amazon so there's no reason for me to visit bookstores.

So it'd be a good idea for bookstores to open a section for New adult books. Otherwise we get publishers desperately trying to market their New adult books, some containing VULGAR, EXPLICIT SCENES, As EXPLICIT AS WHAT YOU EXPECT TO FIND IN BOOKS LIKE FIFTY SHADES OF GREY STYLE to young kids.

Plenty of books that people think are Young adult are New adult: Ignite me, Restore me, Empire of storms, Breaking Dawn A Court of Mist and Fury (BTW any booktuber who tells you they don't like erotica is lying through their teeth, as EOS and ACOMAF contain erotic elements and VERY few booktubers minded enough to comment about this) Damsel, The last of the shadow hunter series, The Red scrolls of Magic, Poison Study, Graceling, Uprooted, the last releases of Laini Taylor long etc. New adult is a rentable genre with a lot of respectability, but all the publishers want the YA label at all costs. Even moral costs.

So they label their New adult books as YA.


More on what New adult is HERE (Notice that SJM books are among the most read of the new adult genre)

New adult doesn't translate automatically to vulgar displays or erotic material like in the case of Empire of Storms and A Court of Mist and Fury. Not all New adult books are about sex. Slammed by Colleen Hoover, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, Making Faces, The bird and the sword by Amy Harmon and plenty of fantasy books with protagonists older than 19-YO, aren't sexually explicit, but they're still New adult and should be advertised as such. It's not the same reading Percy Jackson than The Bird and the sword and both are free of sexual content. The age of the main character gives us an idea of what kind of challenges they face and how relatable they might be for the target audience. Shane is a sophomore in College, she faces adult problems like cheating, anxiety among others. Her problems are the typical of the New adult Genre.

Is this book as vulgarly explicit as A Court of Mist? I stopped at 35% and didn't think so, but if I were you I'd be very careful with any book labelled as YA if language and sex are your triggers. I don't enjoy language and although I DO enjoy reading explicit content (just as many booktubers do enjoy explicit content , they just don't want to tell you) YA used to be my favourite genre to pick when I needed something different. At present time if you really want to read something PG-13 AVOID or at least be very careful with new releases.

Because the strong, vulgar language, I wouldn't feel comfortable playing this book at work or while driving someone around because the use of words like Hell and expressions like "what the fudge". Of course several f-bombs. Plus the immaturity of Shane, the main character.

I love listening to audiobooks without regret. While driving my parents around, while eating lunch with company. I love playing audiobooks at work too. That's why I need to know about language, content and intended audience.

But I can't find reliable information about the age of main characters and the adult content in goodreads anymore. The top reviewers mislabel NA as YA all the time and are reluctant to talk about anything that they feelcan discourage sales . Many people create fake accounts to upvote only the positive reviews and attack the negative reviewers.

And I'm here to tell you that many YA books aren't really PG13. Try to research first and don't assume that because you find a book in the YA section of Goodreads or the bookstore the book is for kids. Many people misshelve books on purpose to support the marketing plans of publishers. Shame on them.

This kind of marketing strategy:




Recommending a book with Fifty shade of Grey scenes to young readers is the kind of thing that lately you can expect from the big publishers. And they are doing it with the complicit silence of a few people in the booktube comminity. Be careful.

But see? The author of this book belongs to the booktube community. She is one of the few booktubers who reads and recommends New adult content without trying to hide the real genre of a book. She was one of the few honest booktubers who respected her subscribers and talked honestly to them about the real genre and the erotic content of the A Court of Mist and Fury when the book came out. That's honest and her honesty is the reason I decided to read her book. I think there are some elements in her writing that are really good. I hope that now that she's working for a very corrupted publishing industry that can scoop as low as to sell pornography to 11-13 YO Children this author can mantain her honesty. This one didn't work for me, but I think this one will become a NYT bestseller and I'll read more books of this author if she keeps being honest.

NOTES FOR SAFETY GANG. For what I could see
Profile Image for Gabby.
1,236 reviews26.6k followers
May 12, 2019
DNF @ 200 pages
Bleh, I wanted to love this book but for real this was starting to put me in a slump. I absolutely love Christine, she’s the first booktuber I ever started watching and she’s a huge inspiration to me, and a huge part of the reason I started my own channel. But this book was just not for me.

I was not a fan of this writing style- it read like cheesy YA or fanfic or something. There were times where Shane felt sooo relatable to me (mainly the quotes about her family making fun of her for never having a boyfriend at 20 years old) but then there were times where she was so naive and obnoxious. Also, like many other readers have said Shane literally IS Christine, so much to the point where it really takes you out of the story. Like French Watermelon Nineteen... really? Her channel is Poland Bananas lol. And the obsession with Lost and Harry Potter and it’s impossible to not picture Christine as Shane. And it really slams you over the head with the 2011 pop culture references. This book also has to remind you five million times that it’s her first time traveling overseas and she has to point out every little thing that’s different than America.

I also was not a fan of the romance, it was cheesy YA bull shit that I’m sick of reading. She gets crazy obsessive over this guy she just met and she doesn’t know much about him other than the fact that he’s soooo hot and she wants to kiss him.

Bleh, I wanted to love this but I just can’t.
Profile Image for ♛ may.
806 reviews3,794 followers
June 9, 2019
i'm SUPER bummed right now bc i was EXPECTING such a fantastic book but the story was really disappointing and the dialogue was so immature and the characters felt so juvenile, ughghghghg

basically it felt like i was reading badly written fanfiction and i am Sad

Profile Image for NickReads.
461 reviews1,199 followers
Want to read
May 9, 2019
I am reading this just because Christine wrote it, because she is an amazing person.
Profile Image for monica kim.
202 reviews6,073 followers
May 16, 2019
another book i picked up “before bed” that basically stopped me from going to bed because i couldn’t put it down. 😂

anyways, i genuinely adored again, but better. i was constantly surprised by the turns of the plot and the character choices. i loved getting to know shane and her friends, and i loved getting to watch her grow so much over the course of this story.

side note, but the time period this is set in is literally the exact year and semester that i studied in london, and it was so so fun to read about a character having that whirlwind of an experience - meeting new people, traveling for the first time, jumping from place to place each weekend. it was such a perfect depiction of that!

i also seriously am so thankful for some new adult/late YA fiction that isn’t like hyper-sexual or dark. this felt like an actual realistic portrayal of your 20s - feeling lost, and naive, and insecure and trying to find your path. i want more books like this, please!

lastly, this book felt truly, clearly like christine. from the narrative voice to the main character, you could tell this was a personal story. even in the author’s note at the very beginning, christine makes it really clear that much of this book pulls from her own experiences. some people may not like that, but i thought it made the story all the more effective and engaging. i think sometimes as readers we tend to mock/trivialize women who do this (bc how dare a women tell her own story) but then celebrate men who do literally the same thing as being brave or honest. idk just an observation.

ultimately this book felt fresh, and fun, and just made me so happy - everything i’m looking in a contemporary. so excited to see what comes next for christine!

read via audiobook, and i’d def recommend - i really liked the narrator.
Profile Image for Jasmine from How Useful It Is.
1,294 reviews343 followers
May 12, 2019
DNF few chapters into part 2.

I started reading Again, but Better on 5/6/2019 and finished it on 5/8/2019. This is a book that I shouldn’t pick up based on the cover because the cover is cute. Right away I enjoyed the humor, especially when Shane slapped Pilot on their walk to the grocery store. I like that this book focused on an introverted girl who has a hard time making friends let alone dating. Being an only child, she does what her parents wants including doing the pre-med major in college even though what she loves most is to write. This story is modern in a way that many young readers can relate to. Shane has a blog that she posts about her travels and experiences while doing study abroad. She makes lists and writes on her notebooks. She likes to read, listens to music, and watches TV and makes many references to them in her conversations. I like how she talks herself into being brave so that she can talk to new people. Shane is really unlucky to have her first kiss unmemorable to having a boyfriend proposing to her while looking at the computer screen 6 years later. I’m not aware that the author is a booktuber until I add her info below (on my blog post).

This book is told in the first person point of view following Shane as she sits on an airplane to London on a study abroad to reboot her life. She’s 20 and have never been kissed in addition to being friendless because she keeps herself to herself. She’s determine to change all that in the new city with her new list of things to change. This book is divided into two parts: 2011 and 2017, where she’s 20 years old and later at 26 years old. Part 2 is a retake of part 1 through some kind of time travel.

Again, but Better is a bit misleading for a story about a friendless and boyfriend-less girl because she seems to make friends easily with her new flatmates. For a person who never traveled, I’m surprised that she travels overnight with people she just met. I realize Shane wants to change but it seems she changes as soon as she landed at her dormitory in the new city. Magic seems to happen in London because in USA Shane has no boyfriend in her 20 years of life, but after a week in London, she has 2 guys wanting her even when one of them already has a girlfriend. I dislike that Shane has to go to extreme measures to lie to her parents just to make a change on her social status, since for the past 20 years she was a goody-two-shoes. I don’t believe her parents can be so difficult as to stop her from taking a semester break from school for being that obedient only if she takes the time to ask them nicely. I also dislike that she wants to steal another girl’s boyfriend so badly that when she couldn’t do it in her 20s she went to do it again at 26 years old. Unfortunately I am unable to read on following a few chapters into part 2. This contemporary read has taken a turn to magical realism where the characters are being time traveled back to 6 years ago to redo their past.

Pro: some humor, modern book references, cover, diversity

Con: Changes happened as soon as she arrived in the new country, unreal for an introverted who couldn’t make friends and never left the country.

I rate it 3 stars!

***Disclaimer: Many thanks to Wednesday Books for the opportunity to read and review. Please be assured that my opinions are honest.

Jasmine at www.howusefulitis.wordpress.com for more details
Profile Image for Jenna.
Author 2 books1,257 followers
November 19, 2018
If Christine Riccio were a book, she would definitely be this one.
Main critique: not enough bananas 🍌
Profile Image for Trina (Between Chapters).
858 reviews3,757 followers
June 18, 2019
I happen to love rom coms with the specific magical element that is present in Again, But Better so I really enjoyed this. (Seriously, just check my Netflix list.)

My thoughts were a roller coaster while reading - meaning that there would be things happening that I'd immediately hate, only to turn that opinion around once they were more developed and explained. For instance, I thought the pacing was odd. The first part is very wordy and it takes a long time to get to The Main Plot Thing. But once that Thing happened, I felt that the small details of the beginning had more significance.

The romance is also messy. If you hate stories about having a crush on someone who already has a partner then this isn't for you. I was irritated at that at the start, but then I realized that just about everyone in my college dorm were crushing on new people who had partners back home, including myself. So like, it's a common reality in college.

What really makes Again, But Better a standout is that it's a NEW ADULT non-erotic romance, with a contemporary setting that has a touch of 'other,' and the protagonist is in her 20s and still having her coming of age moment. I WISH there'd been more books like this when I was in my 20s.

So, yeah. Some will find it a little trite and there is room for growth, but I am really glad this book exists.

Audiobook review: I'm a fan of the narrator (Brittany Pressley) and she does a good job.

tw: family falling outs, getting mugged

note: Although I am also a booktuber, have met Christine once, and am generally a fan of her channel, I don't believe she really knows who I am so I have no reason to suck up to her with this review. I have done my best to remain impartial and I hope you feel like you can trust my reviews of fellow booktuber's books. I got this book on my own, through my library.
Profile Image for Lisa (Remarkablylisa).
2,253 reviews1,812 followers
March 9, 2019
What. A. Disaster.

I was provided an ARC from Raincoast Books in exchange for a honest review. 

Let's begin with that I'm a very fair person. I had no prejudice against Christine Riccio as an author and I was legitimately intrigued and excited to read this debut novel from her. I read Zenith by Sasha Alsberg and I didn't even find it as bad as everyone painted it as. I thought it was entertaining and the writing was good. But Again, but Better, a novel by another famous booktuber made me so aggravated. 

I'm going to start off with the fact that I read almost halfway and my last two brain cells couldn't take it anymore. The writing was chunky. It did more telling not showing. And the book could be used as a tour guide to London if you took out all the quirky character names out of the paragraphs. It was literally about attractions the characters went too. Also, there wasn't much of a plot besides a girl moving across the pond to study writing (something her parents would definitely not appreciate as she's supposed to be pre-med) and trying to figure herself out. 

Now, I stopped watching Christine a long time ago but I still subscribed to her cause why not. Anyways, based on the reviews on Goodreads, Shane, our main heroine, is the same as Christine. They apparently have the same interests and personalities. The point I want to make is that if an author can't create characters other than themselves than it says something about their talent and creativity.  

Not to criticize Christine since she and Shane are the same person but Shane was a character I felt pity for. Her family constantly teases her and not in the fun way but mean ridiculing way. She's also depicted as a generic awkward character that everyone is supposed to relate to because she loves the Beatles, is clumsy, and yeah, she's also boy crazy. 

Anyways, the writing is tragic and I got too annoyed to continue the story. I heard there was some time traveling elements to it and I wasn't invested enough to keep going. It would have just made me want to throw the book across the room anyways. 


Profile Image for Mothman.
205 reviews
Want to read
December 6, 2017

Saw some Discourse TM on twitter and wanted to throw in my 2 cents that no one will probably read but I just wanted to throw out this perspective anyway. Putting it under a spoiler cut so you don't have to see it if you don't want to. :P

Profile Image for Tucker  (TuckerTheReader).
908 reviews1,596 followers
June 10, 2020

I tried to find and read the worst books ever in my latest booktube video. Click here to watch it or skip to 2:39 to here my thoughts on this specific book.


Update: 5/26/19:
IT'S ON THE NYT BESTSELLER LIST! Just under The Hate U Give!

Update: 5/5/19:
Well, the book comes out on Tuesday. I feel so happy for Christine. I have been following her journey for almost a year now. I am excited for her. 💗

Update: 1/22/19:
Still waiting... 😂

Soooo, everyone who was at yallfest is talking about the ARCs

Update 10/27/18:

Update: 10/8/18:
Well, the publishers emailed me and gave me a form to fill out! I'm one step closer to an ARC (hopefully)! 😊😊

Update: 9/28/18:

Update: 9/11/18

Update: 9/10/18
I drew a cover! Just for fun! I'm so exciteddd!!! May 21st can not come any sooner!!!!

Again, but Better
UPDATE: 9/4/18
OH MY GOSH!!! THERE MIGHT BE ARCS AT YALLFEST. If only I could afford to go to South Carolina 😢

Also, The Final Draft is in! Yay!!!! I am so pumped to Read thisss!!!!!!!!!!!

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Profile Image for Tan Markovic.
337 reviews137 followers
April 4, 2020
I'm actually pleasantly surprised by this book, I really thought I wouldn't enjoy it but turns out it was the perfect audiobook companion for my daily half hour walks :)

The story is nothing groundbreaking or anything we haven't really heard before but it's some great light hearted reading to distract us from the world we're living in today... :)
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