Again, but Better

Again, but Better

by Christine Riccio

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From one of the most followed booktubers today, comes Again, but Better, a story about second chances, discovering yourself, and being brave enough to try again.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250299277
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 05/07/2019
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 9,519
File size: 2 MB
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Christine Riccio's PolandbananasBOOKS YouTube channel 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- YouTube’s longest running book club. These past four years Christine’s been collaborating with publishing companies and authors; and traveling across the United States to speak on book-related panels to further spread the reading love. Again, but Better is her first novel.
Christine Riccio's PolandbananasBOOKS YouTube channel 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- YouTube’s longest running book club. Since 2014, Christine’s been collaborating with publishing companies and authors, and traveling across the United States to speak on book-related panels to further spread the reading love. This dedication has culminated in her debut novel, Again, but Better.

Read an Excerpt


Take a Chance

I'm leaving the country because I have no friends.

That's what it comes down to. People can continue along most paths, however unpleasant, if they have at least one good friend with them. Not having one has forced me to consider my path-changing options. Now, I'm thousands of miles over the Atlantic in a giant hollowed-out pen with wings, on my way to a study abroad program that's irrelevant to my major.

My parents don't know about the irrelevant part. Every time I think about it, my hands start shaking.

I grip the armrest nearest to the window. No second-guessing. I fold forward, trying not to bang my head on the seat in front to me, and extract the pen and notebook from my book bag on the floor — writing usually helps. I find it cathartic to pour out my soul via pen and paper. These days all my notebooks are Horcruxes, so I've started titling them accordingly; Horcrux notebooks one through eight are piled up in a Rubbermaid under my bed back in New York.

This new notebook makes a satisfying noise as I pull back the cover and flip it around to view my first entry.



1) Kick ass at internship — turn it into a paid summer job.

2) Make friends you like to hang out with and who like to hang out with you.

I'm going to make friends. I am. I'm going to talk to people I don't know like I already know them — that's the secret. I've watched my cousin Leo do it in school for years, and I'm ready. These friendless times call for extreme outgoing measures.

I click the pen and scribble down four more goals.

3) Kiss a boy you like. Stop kiss-blocking self.

4) Have adventures in the city you're in. You've done nothing in New York City during the 2.5 years you've been there, you idiot.

5) Maybe try getting a little bit drunk. Don't black out or anything, but find out what it's like in a controlled, self-aware environment. You're legally allowed to in the UK!

6) Start your great American novel. You've spent an absurd amount of time trying to think of the perfect first sentence. Stop it. Just write.

"What's that?"

I startle, my arm flying up instinctively to cover the page. The woman next to me — a slim forty-something-year-old with a pile of bright red hair on her head — eyes me impatiently.

"What?" I sputter.

"How in the world does one kiss-block themselves?" she asks in an irritated British voice.

My eyes bulge. "I —"

"How old are you?" she presses.

I'm silent for a beat before mumbling, "Twenty."

The left side of this woman's lip curls up in alarm. "Are you saying you're twenty years old and you've never kissed anyone?"

Leave it to me to get heckled by a stranger on a plane. I look away pointedly, unwilling to confirm or deny. This is never worth discussing. People can't handle it. They get condescending, like you've suddenly morphed back into a ten-year-old. General PSA: Kissing people doesn't make you better than non-kissed people. Sit down. And self-kiss- blocking is a real thing. I've experienced it. I've gotten close a few times, with random dancing frat dudes at parties my roommates dragged me to. When the time came, I turned away out of pure terror. I believe my exact thoughts were: Demon, demon! Too close to my face!

"How interesting. Am I to assume you're friendless as well?" Red- haired woman brings me back to the plane.

I shake my head in disbelief, glancing down at my list, and back up at her. "Oh my god."

"Why don't you have friends?" She cocks her head to the side.

I exhale a flustered breath. "I ... I have friends at home, just not at college, because I did it wrong."

Not a lie. They're just not close friends. More like acquaintances I met through Leo back before puberty. Nowadays, Leo and I don't talk anymore, so, by proxy, Leo's friends and I don't talk either.

Did Leo ever even count as a real friend? Do cousins count as friends?

"I didn't know you could do college wrong." The woman rolls her eyes.

I hold back a scoff, thinking back to the list I jotted down in Horcrux Eight last month:


1) Don't make friends outside your dorm room.

2) Don't get involved in extracurriculars you might enjoy.

3) Don't talk to people in your classes.

4) Stay in bingeing every show the internet has to offer.

5) Pick a super-hard major to please your parents.

"Well, you can." I add in calmer tone, "I'm going to London to fix it."

"London's going to give you friends?" She sounds way too amused.

"It's a fresh start!" My voice tightens.

She raises an eyebrow. I bob my chin up and down, more for myself than the lady, before turning back toward the window.

"Well, it's a doable list. I believe in you," she finishes.

Her unexpected encouragement strikes a chord in my chest. I glare out into the darkness with glassy eyes. Fear roils around in my stomach, making me all twitchy and uncomfortable.

When I first saw the Literature and Creative Writing program on the YU London study abroad site, my heart left my body, got in a plane, and scribbled out YES in giant, building-sized letters across the sky. The idea of leaving my current life behind: bio, chemistry, physics, the MCATs, even my family, and starting over with a clean slate — it was everything.

Last week, it was all that got me through vacation. This past Sunday, the fam and I were in Florida, fresh outta church (to quote my father: Just because we're on vacation doesn't mean we skimp on church — we're good Catholics), Dad caught me alone, reading in a little cove away from the hubbub of everyone else. To my horror, he snatched the book out of my hands. "What are you doing? Get in the water! Talk to us! Spend time with your cousins!"

I scurried over to sit on the edge of the pool where the cousins were socializing. My ten cousins are boys ranging from age eleven to nineteen. Joining them by the pool at any given time means subjecting oneself to verbal assault.

Maybe verbal assault is dramatic; more like volunteering as a human joke target.

It wasn't always like this, especially with the oldest, Leo. But it's like this now. They'll start talking about drinking: Shane, do you even go to parties? Why the fuck do you come home every other weekend? Roaring laughter. Antisocial! They start talking about relationships: Shane, do you ever talk to people other than your parents? Why don't you ever have a boyfriend? Sometimes I try to chuckle along with them. I'll treat them to endless eye rolls, cheeks burning, lips sealed in a tight line. But I keep quiet because I'm outnumbered. Super-fun times.

I close my new notebook. I take a second to admire the See You in Another Life word art I doodled across the front of it earlier while I was waiting to board, before shoving it back into my book bag. I pop the buds dangling around my neck back into my ears and set the Beatles to play on my iPod. My parents have been playing them for as long as I can remember, and their songs have become sort of a default calming mechanism. Four hours left. Four hours till new first impressions. New classes. New surroundings. New country. Try to find sleep, Shane.


Make a Change

I didn't find sleep, but I did find the taxi line outside the airport, so here's to that. Now, London hurtles by my window as we barrel down the wrong side of the road en route to my new home, the Karlston.

According to the So You're Going to Study Abroad pamphlet I reread five hundred times: Once off the plane, I was to collect my bag from baggage claim, find a buddy from my flight who's also headed to the Karlston, and share a taxi with them. Unfortunately, I'm allergic to finding a buddy. I've failed this task on countless occasions. At the baggage carousel, I determinedly positioned myself close to a college-age girl in a blue peacoat — and then stood there for five minutes trying to stifle the current of self-doubt cycling through me as I mentally rehearsed what I would say. Some variation of: Hi! Are you headed to the Karlston? Hi! I'm headed to the Karlston. Hi! Me, you, Karlston? Before I worked up the nerve to open my mouth, her suitcase came out onto the conveyor belt. I watched as she tracked it around the carousel with her eyes. And I watched in silence as she pulled it off and wandered away.

So, I'm alone in this taxi with no one to split the fifty-pound fee. I'm going to count that as my outgoing dress rehearsal. Once I get to the Karlston, I'm talking to new people. I'm starting conversations.

Outside the window, we're passing store after store that I've never heard of. Different. Already everything's so different, and I can't help but feel the distance. I'm 3,450 miles away from everyone I know.

Yesterday, my parents watched with solemn expressions as I walked away from them toward airport security. It made me feel like I was going away to war or something.

Out of habit, I reach into my bag and grab my cell to check for messages. It's dead. I let it fall back in. It was doomed to become a useless brick while in England anyway. My LG Voyager isn't new enough to support international calling. According to So You're Going to Study Abroad, I'm to buy a cheap plastic one like the fugitives do on TV.

* * *

The taxi rolls to a stop on a street lined on both sides with pretty, white, sophisticated-looking buildings with columns. Fancy. I drag my bags up four steps and into the one labeled THE KARLSTON.

Inside is a quaint lobby with burgundy carpeting. To the left is a typical curved lobby-style desk, and to the right is a little table with two people sitting behind it: a pale blond woman in her thirties and a balding black man in his fifties. They introduce themselves as the London program heads, Agatha and William. Agatha gives me my apartment keys. I'm in Flat Three, Room C. William directs me to a door on the left, past the desk, so that's what I waddle toward with my luggage.

I pull open said door to find stairs. I'm at the top of a carpeted stairway leading into the basement. Am I going to live in the basement? I heave in a breath.

This is fine. You're doing it. College, take two. Don't blow it.

I have three bags: a book bag, a carry-on, and a giant black suitcase. I secure the book bag high on my shoulder, grasp the carry-on in my front hand, and prepare to drag the giant suitcase behind me.

I take a single step down before something snags behind me. I fly forward.

"Shit!" I sacrifice the carry-on and lunge for the handrail, holding on for dear life as my bag continues on without me. It comes to a thundering stop at the bottom of the twenty or so steps. After a moment, I push against the wooden beam, back into an upright position.

I turn to see my puffy winter jacket snagged on rail at the top of the staircase. Way to almost die before you've even made it to the room. Leo's voice echoes in my head: Can you do anything without causing a scene?

With a huff, I pry myself free and slowly thump the rest of the way down with my remaining luggage. I sidestep the fallen carry-on and assess the area at the foot of the stairs. There's a hallway to my right, to my left, and behind me, parallel to the staircase.

"Are you okay?" a voice calls from above. I spin to find a curvy girl with dark skin and bright hazel-brown eyes standing in a bold green peacoat at the top of the landing.

Why does everyone have fashionable coats? Are peacoats a thing? She's wearing a white beret over her shoulder-length dark hair that flips out at the ends like a girl from the sixties. She looks so put together and sophisticated, and not at all like she just got off a plane.

I feel the sleep deprivation as I struggle for a moment to answer her. "Um, yeah, I'm fine."

Beret Girl starts down the staircase with her giant red piece of luggage.

"I just ... I tripped, and my carry-on fell ..." I mumble. Don't mumble.

"I thought maybe you had fallen. The noises were epic!"

My cheeks get hot. I clear my throat. "Cool ... um, I'm fine, though. No worries!" I pick the carry-on up off the floor and start down the hallway parallel to the staircase.

"Where are you headed?" the girl asks, now dismounting from the last step. I turn around again.

"I'm in Flat Three, Room C. I'm taking a wild guess that it's this way, maybe?"

"Oh my goodness, no way, me too!" She shoots me a giant grin. I feel my own smile perk up.

At the end of the hall, we find ourselves between two light wooden doors: 3B is to our left and 3C is to our right.

I twist my key in the 3C lock. With a bit of pressure, it swings open, thumping lightly against the wall. My eyes dart around, surveying the space. We're on the long wall of a rectangular room with gray carpeting. There are three windowless walls, two of which have bunk beds pushed up against them. There's a bunk bed directly across from where I'm standing and another to the left of the doorway. Four portable, light brown, cupboard-like closets have been smooshed against the walls wherever space allows. The third wall is outfitted with a full-length mirror and a door to the bathroom. The fourth wall is a window. Well, it's not a full-on glass wall. It's about 40 percent wall and 60 percent giant window. The blinds are currently closed and a kitchen-sized table sits in front of it. We drag our things in and let the door click shut behind us.

"I love it," Beret Girl exclaims, forgetting her bags by the door and moving past me toward the lower bunk. "My name's on this one!" She holds up a blue folder she swiped off the bed.

I move my bags against the wall and walk over to look at the folder on the other bottom bunk. Not me. I hop up on the ladder to look at the folder on the top bunk. No name up here. I must be the bed above Beret Girl. Exchange names, Shane.

I turn from my perch on the ladder of the second bunk. "Hey, I'm Shane, by the way!"

The girl looks up from the floor where she's already unloading clothes into one of the two giant drawers under the first bunk. "I'm Babe!"

"Babe like the pig in that movie with the talking farm animals?"

Babe looks up, still smiling. "I love that pig."

I jump off the second bunk and climb to the top of the first. This blue folder has a little name tag that reads: SHANE PRIMAVERI. The bed's already made up with sheets and a plain black comforter. Enticing. Too bad it's only 11:00 a.m.

I hop off the ladder. I guess I should unpack. I grab my book bag from the floor and fish out my laptop, setting it up on the table near the window.

"Babe?" I ask hesitantly. My MacBook emits a whoosh as it powers up.

"Yeah?" She glances up from her suitcase.

"Do you mind if I put some music on in the background while we unpack, the Beatles or something?"

"Oh my goodness, I love the Beatles. Yes, please!" she gushes, slapping her hands against her lap for emphasis.

"Awesome." I turn back to my computer, pulling up iTunes. "A Hard Day's Night" seeps from my computer speakers. I close my eyes for a second. I'm in England! I do a little chassé-spin dance step toward my suitcase.

* * *

I'm working on the last bits of my closet. Roommate #3 has arrived, and she's intimidatingly tall. We're thinking there is no Roommate #4 because that bed's lacking a blue folder. The empty bunk's about to become a storage area for our many pieces of luggage. Babe's finished unpacking. She's lounging with her laptop. The wall near her bed is now decorated with various Mickey Mouse–related snippets and pictures, including a magazine cut out of the phrase THE HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH written in the flouncy Disney font.

Roommate #3, Sahra — pronounced Say-ruh — is still unpacking. She has these big dark eyes and tanned skin. Every time she looks over at Babe and me, her straight, shoulder-length, dark brown locks swish out around her face like she's in a hair commercial. I'm already kind of jealous of her effortlessly cool style. She's currently sporting fashion-y heeled booties with gray skinny jeans and a stylish, oversize cream sweater.

Sahra is prelaw, and hoping to Skype her boyfriend before bed later. There's already a picture of the two of them tacked up on her wall. After initial introductions and a brief conversation, the three of us fell into a comfortable silence as we emptied our belongings into the provided cupboards.

I hang my last sweater in my now-crowded closet and close the door. We're expected to be upstairs for orientation at 12:30, which is in approximately thirty minutes. I change into a cute white shirt and black jeans, walk through a perfume mist, brush my teeth, revitalize my curly, wave-ridden blond hair, and spruce up the makeup I did yesterday morning, East Coast time. I'm too tired to calculate how many hours ago that was. I pull the thick rubber bracelet I got for Christmas from my toiletry bag and tug it onto my wrist. I've worn it everywhere since, and I felt a little naked without it on the plane. It's black with neon-green numbers (4 8 15 16 23 42) etched into it. It's a Lost thing. Lost is the best TV show of all time. Carrying a physical piece of it on my wrist gives me a weird thrill. I want people in the world to ask me about it, so I can spread the Lost love to all the unknowing noobs. I took it off for the flight because it felt taboo to wear it up in the air, since the whole show revolves around a plane crash.


Excerpted from "Again, But Better"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Christine Riccio.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
Author's Note,
Part 1: 2011,
1. Take a Chance,
2. Make a Change,
3. Breathe, Just Breathe,
4. I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here,
5. Open Your Eyes and See,
6. Nothing's Standing in My Way,
7. Never Mind,
8. I Want to Be the Rainstorm, Not the House of Cards,
9. Maybe We Can See the World Together,
10. Rome Ma-Ma,
11. What Comes Next?,
12. Has He Heard?,
13. Here Goes Nothing,
14. Sail?,
15. Fail,
16. A Million Little Shining Stars,
17. Such a Breakable Thread,
18. I Can Learn to Do It,
19. Drifting,
20. Spinning,
21. Ticking Away,
22. I Must Dream of the Things I Am Seeking,
23. Thunderbolt and Lightning,
24. Broken Dreams,
25. One Last Time,
26. Bye Bye Bye,
Part 2: 2017,
27. What Page Are You On?,
28. More Than You Bargained For,
1. Helpless,
2. Somebody Catch My Breath,
3. I Thought Time Was an Hourglass Glued to the Table,
4. I'm the First in Line,
5. Reaching in the Dark,
6. What a Lovely Night,
7. There's a Glow Off the Pavement,
8. Where Do We Go From Here?,
9. Might as Well Embrace It,
10. The Green Light, I Want It,
11. Come Together,
12. The Rush at the Beginning,
13. Close,
14. Don't Stop Me Now,
15. Don't, Don't Know What It Is,
16. I'm a Goner,
17. Shining,
18. Break Your Walls,
19. Heavy as the Setting Sun,
20. Waves Come After Midnight,
21. Ford Every Stream,
22. Going for the Knockout,
23. I Have Confidence in Me,
24. Through Accepting Limits,
25. Twice as Hard, Half as Liked,
26. The Fear of Falling Apart,
27. Marching On,
About the Author,

Customer Reviews

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Again, but Better (The Barnes & Noble Book Club Edition) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
Anonymous 8 months ago
Anonymous 6 months ago
Definitely one of my new favorite books!
Anonymous 7 months ago
LibrarianSGP 5 months ago
What if you had the chance to reinvent yourself by taking a semester in London, pursuing your passion rather than continuing to follow the career path your parents chose for you, forcing yourself to socialize, and even trying to get your first kiss? What if the boy you’re falling for turns out to have a girlfriend at home and things between you become painfully awkward? What if you spent the first twenty years of your life living to please others and it still blew up in your face? If you’re regretting your decisions and are given another chance, would you take the do-over in the hopes of getting it right the second time? These are the questions that timid, insecure Shane Primaveri is faced with in this frustrating, but ultimately redeeming story. The first half of the book drags because Riccio uses running commentary, via first-person narrative and Shane’s blog, journal, emails and postcards, to chronicle her thoughts and recount everything the characters said and did on a daily basis. Shane was so full of self-doubt that it made much of it uncomfortable to read. However, when the story fast-forwarded six years and Riccio added a magical element, the pace picked up and much of the detail in the first half made sense. The well-described supporting characters are varied (including different races, ethnicities, and sexual orientations), and fill critical roles without their own subplots being superfluous. Beware: descriptions of their travels also inspire wanderlust! I received a complimentary ARC of this book from Wednesday Books through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed are completely my own.
Deniareads 6 months ago
Just finished reading this gem around 2 am Monday morning and although I did not know what to expect of it, I truly enjoyed reading this refreshing new story. I don't follow Christine anywhere and I've only watched a couple of her videos, I know she's super popular in the BookTube community and I did get to meet her last year in Yallfest. However, I read this book because I'm directing the YA Barnes and Noble Club and this book is their first pick of the month and I did enjoy it. In this story, we follow sweet, introverted, shy Shane. She gets to go to London for a study abroad program in creative writing. She's a junior in college and apparently, she has been doing college all wrong. She has no friends, no dating experience whatsoever and she's looking for a fresh new start in life that she thinks will happen in London. And to give her credit she does do well, at least for the first part.  If you get over how annoying her self-pitying and self-loathing go, you can actually really enjoy her character. She's so funny, outgoing, and sincere. Multiple times throughout the story I found myself laughing and smiling and I even cried once, so there's that. But this story has an interesting turn of events that you really don't see coming. Like everything was fun and games until we got to the second part of the book, and I was like "wtf?!" but later on I realized why. And I don't want to say too much because I don't want to give anything away but the turns of events are for the better.  She meets this boy whose name is Pilot (seriously, that's his name), and they hit it off immediately, that is until she finds out he has a girlfriend and then things get awkward from then on. But the story is still interesting. Their dynamic is unique and they make a really fun couple, and their jokes are totally adorable. Pilot is funny and charming and their connection is incredible. Again, I genuinely liked their relationship.  Shane is fun and quirky and we as bloggers have a lot in common with her. She blogs, she writes for passion and she's just as lost in this world as we all are. The element of traveling was a nice addition to the story. The characters that we follow in this book not only go to London but they go to many European countries and Riccio does a great job of describing them to us. More than once I felt like I was in one of the sceneries that she painted throughout this book and since one of my goals is to travel the world, I appreciated that she brought a little piece of the world to me. Anyways, I don't know what else to say without giving too much away. There's an element of surprise throughout the middle of this book and what you thought was going to be a story about a girl who lost something important to her ends up being something much more interesting. Shane ends up getting a second shot to relive her past in London and fix her future, but how? I guess you'll have to read and see.  I would recommend this book if you like traveling book like "Love and Gelato," and "Love and Luck" by Jenna Evans Welch. If you like the books by Stephanie Perkins, you know "Anna and the French Kiss," and so on. If you like "I see London, I see France," by Mlynosky (I think that's how you spell her last name). If you like books by Kasie West and Morgan Matson you'll also enjoy this. Anyone 14 years old and older can read this book. And as always guys, thank you for taking the time to read my post, I'll see you on the next one.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Super cute book.
Anonymous 6 months ago
HollyLovesBooks4 6 months ago
I wanted to like this book, I really did. But, wow. I’m not sure it was just one thing as much as a series of several things in the writing style that were just too much. Some things were over the top, names for characters, including naming the protagonist’s computer...all oddly done. Not only were the names randomly unusual, I mean, maybe one or two unusual names will be unique in a group of strangers but the entire group? Nope. And then all the scenes were so exaggerated cringey. I like that Shane is searching for a do-over to remake herself, but this was not believable. Even the writing of every detail of experiencing a new country and the shock to the system of that, both in jet lag and culture shock was dealt with clumsily, detailing way too much. Maybe some more editing would have been all that was needed to clean this up into a much better debut. The idea was great but the execution needs work, maybe just a harsh editor. Keep practicing. #AgainButBetter #NetGalley
Dani_Pitter 7 months ago
Note: Thank you so much to NetGalley for giving me an ARC review copy of Again, But Better. I finished this book two days ago (two nights ago, actually) and I'm still trying to figure out how to say what I want to say without sounding mean or nasty. Like people actually want this book to fail because it's made by a successful booktuber/internet personality, and we know her and love her so much. I for one have been following Christine's youtube career since it's inception in 2010, and haven't stopped since. When she first announced that she was writing her debut novel, I followed pretty much every Writing Video because not only did I believe that she had (has) the talents to transition into publishing novels, but also she has such a passion for books and reading that I don't see from anywhere else. With that being said, I had a hard time enjoying Again, But Better. I know I gave it 3 stars, but my version of 3 stars means it was a decent read. Just strictly decent; not downright garbage, but not that great, either. The more I think about it, the less I think I really did like it. Because I didn't want my 'fave' to let me down. The writing is simplistic, at best. Also, I've noticed how none of the reviews mention how borderline abusive Shane's parents are, especially her father. Not to mention, there is a magical realism thing that happens in Part 2 2017; that's why there's a 6-year difference between then and now. I could go on and on about this book, but I need to let my fingers rest with all of this typing! All in all, this wasn't terrible, but it just wasn't very good. It was just....ok. To tell you the truth, if Christine were to write a second book (or even do this one Again, but better!) I'd read it because I do think she has a talent and a way with words. Her words just need extra cleanup and way less pop-culture references. This review is also posted on my blog:
Anonymous 7 months ago
This book took me on an emotional ride! I really connected to Shane and her journey of self-rediscovery. I am also an introvert and felt like I was reading a book about myself which doesn't happen often! I had a little trouble connecting with the romance between Shane and Pilot but that was really it! It was a fun read!
RockandMinerals4Him 7 months ago
I'd heard lots about this book, mainly hype about how good it was going to be, but sadly, it ended up to be a disappointment. Although the premise and the idea was good, the overall execution was lacking. I enjoyed the parts about Shane's writing and her blog (yay bloggers!). Her character as a sketch was also fun and relatable (as in, her character as described in the book fell a little flat as compared to the one that I was imagining her "stereotype" to be). Overall, I enjoyed reading about the travel-abroad experience and her experiences at her job, travelling on the weekends, and things like that. However, I found that the "character makeover" bits were a little bit unrealistic: you don't really just go from not having friends and being in pre-med college to being in creative writing in England and making friends at the snap of a finger! That's simply not how it works. I felt like the characters fell a bit flat in general: most of the other people, aside from Shane and Pilot, were not really talked about, in term of their characters, outside of what they looked like and what they wore. In addition, the writing was just poor: there were many sentences that were "showing not telling," and I even found a typo! Poor storytelling aside, I also felt that the plot was not great? There was a touch of magic, but the magic wasn't well done (I didn't realize what was happening for 3 chapters after the magic happened!) and overall I just thought that, while the idea was good, the execution of the idea did not work well at all. Overall, I thought this book looked good conceptually--the cover is SO CUTE, the plot was good, even the romance was sweet--the writing just failed it, and the book was just disappointing. Because of how the story is written, it also feels so much longer than it actually is: just under 400 pages. Reading more than 100 pages in one sitting felt like a drag (when I usually can take out 350-400 page books in one sitting), and it just felt very slow all around. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free digital copy of this book in exchange for a free review; I was not required to write a positive review. This review first appeared on:
LiteratureWithLylan 7 months ago
I didn't love this book. I just could not get into the plot. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either. I enjoyed the writing style (though not perfect - it was somewhat bland at times and the names of characters are overused) and the pace of the book, I just could not get over how juvenile and obsessive the romance was in the book. The author seemed to try too hard to make the character relatable and likable and the main character just ended up coming off as a painful try-hard attempt. Plus, there was just WAY TOO MUCH cheating throughout the book for my liking. I felt like the entire thing was just about how people cheat constantly. Like OMG STOP. But it wasn't a horrible first book. I can understand the allure to the subject matter of awkward first loves and second chances because I always love reading books on those topics. I enjoyed the 2011 reference. They were entertaining and made my heart happy. And there was definite character growth that I can appreciate. I just could not love the book. I do love the cover though! Such a cute cover! Thank you NetGalley and Wednesday Books for an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous 8 months ago
One of my favorite books! Totally recommend!!
CynB 8 months ago
Again, but Better, by Christine Riccio, is a light romance intended for the Young Adult and teen market. I am almost as distant as possible from that demographic, while still being alive. I read this book with certain presumptions: First, I was probably not going to get a percentage of the cultural references. Second, the dialogue of college kids is different from those of professionals or older generations. Part of it is generational short-hand and part of it is that constant anxiety of being afraid of your own opinions, feelings, and not being cool. Having disclosed all that, this was an enjoyable read. The main characters, Shane and Pilot, find themselves in a Study Abroad program, disengaged from home attachments, and very much engaged in each other. Shane is so painfully plagued by self-doubt and anxiety that she is unable to communicate her own feelings about other people or her own career goals. Although much cooler, Pilot is similarly burdened by “shoulds and coulds.” Their intense romance never really launches and yet, leaves an indelible mark. Six years later, they have an opportunity for a “do-over.” Based on my own memories of college and the conversation of students and kids still in the YA age group, Shane and Pilot seemed relatively authentic. They were reliably selfish, thoughtless, and conniving without ever meaning to hurt anyone, including themselves. They desperately want independence, love, acceptance, and friendship. The story is a lovely fantasy…I couldn’t help thinking how nice a do-over might be! I recommend this book for the intended YA market as well as those looking for a light novel to read by the pool or on the beach. Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read an electronic ARC in exchange for an honest review.
SL22268 8 months ago
Loved it! Thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. I had never heard of the author before, or even the term "booktuber", so going in, I had no idea what to expect. This was a lovely story and fun to read! Shane is not having a good time at college - she is lacking a "life" so to speak and decides to do something about it. Being pre-med (because that's what her parents want) but actually she is in love with writing, she sets off on a study abroad program. Here she meets several friends, and even begins a relationship with a guy! Unbeknownst to her, her mom and dad visit and things go out of control. Flash forward to the future and she is living the life of a medical student, but still isn't happy. She goes in search for those in her past and there is a bit of a time travel adventure (not expecting this!). What will Shane do? Will she choose to change the fate of her future? Or leave it be? Recommend to anyone who loves to laugh and a good love story.
Cassandre Wilson 8 months ago
My college self relates a lot to Shane. She's socially anxious, she's awkward, she's a bit nerdy, she's not sure who she wants to be, she wouldn't go travelling on her own, the list goes on. We both went to London for school to try and find our way... I like that the relationships formed in this book seem real and relatable. When you're in a situation like this, you gravitate toward your dorm mates. Shane, Sahra, Babe, Pilot and Atticus (which, I will admit, is a really weird group of names) become fast friends, but they all seem to be enthralled in their studies and their internships like real students would be. Sure, they travel together and rely on each other, but these people are actually there for school, which I appreciate. And they're diverse, which I appreciate. There is a little bit of a magical event that I didn't see coming, but that really bought this book to another level. It made it stand out from anything else I've read. Sure, it was cheesy and made the story become impossible, but Riccio saves it from becoming completely ridiculous in the way the plot progresses. I also thought there was going to be some borrowing from Jenny Han's To All The Boys I've Loved Before... and I was pleasantly surprised when the plot went in a different direction. My one bigger issue with the book is Shane's relationship with her parents, and how her parents treat her. In the beginning, when she's describing it, she makes it seem like her parents were just hard on her in wanting her to be a doctor, but as we learn later on, her father is borderline abusive (and her mother doesn't seem to see it either). The way Shane was treated by them—with the climax happening in front of a group of other people, no less, which makes it so much worse—and continued to be treated by them in the future was not okay. And I understand that people are not always treated nicely by their parents, but I didn't like the fact that it wasn't really addressed. Shane merely explained it as them not understanding her, and her friends just wanted to make sure she was okay, but that is emotionally abusive and should have been called out as such. But despite that shortcoming, the main message of the story, though not totally original these days, was heartwarming. Riccio really wanted to drive home the fact that until you love yourself as you are, you'll never be able to love someone else, no matter how hard you try or how many chances you get. You're your number 1. And that's a moral I can get behind. 4.5 STARS
TheNatureofPages 8 months ago
I really, really love all the geekish fangirling involved in the novel. It's so clearly written by someone who knows what it's like to eagerly devour a book or to stay up all night hiding under the covers with a flashlight. I was very excited to find a character who is a fellow fangirl. The hilariousness of Shane, the main character, kept me cracking up throughout the book. It took me a little bit to warm up to the characters of the book, but by chapter 4, I had fallen in love with all of them. The warm friendships and relationships throughout this book made it a wonderful novel to curl up and read for hours. Usually, present tense makes me cringe a bit but Christine handled it masterfully. Reading about Shane's life felt like going through all of her adventures alongside her as if I were able to live vicariously through her. There are 2 reasons I rated this book 4 stars and not 5. First, sometimes the dialogue felt repetitive, almost filler. The writing truly shined when we were seeing how Shane saw the world, but I felt as if the dialogue was holding back. Secondly, while I love the whimsical element of the novel, the fantasy part wasn't really explained. I would have loved to have an explanation as to why one character kept popping up. All in all, Again But Better is a beautifully written novel for YA fans everywhere. It contains such comedy and romance that leaves readers feeling warm and fuzzy. I for one hope to see many more works by Christine Riccio!
AllisonMarie28 8 months ago
Again But Better is a story filled with adventure, romance, quirks and TRAVEL! I started it and legitimately could not stop reading – I was up until 5am. Shane is almost a reluctant hero at the start – she’s socially awkward, anxiety ridden and unsure how to make her way in this new path she has chosen (studying abroad). She has goals for herself but not a lot of idea how she’s going to accomplish those goals…but the less she worries about these goals, the more she accomplishes them. I loved that this book is based in London, a place that’s close to my own heart and vibrant with so many experiences that shape any person, let alone a girl in college trying to find her way. I know some may criticize the main character falling into great friendships so quickly, however it makes sense because sometimes, with those golden friendships, people just click! Plus, this group of supporting characters she meets is so much fun and individual with a willingness to look on the bright side, and LAUGH (so much laughter!), in every situation. I honestly can say I didn’t see the twist coming. I was confused at how many pages were left and it felt like the book was ending and not really in a cathartic place for the characters…and I was truly sad! BUT…then the twist happened…and here’s where the characters, especially Shane, start to evolve and grow. Shane begins to find strength, value herself and her goals (which is SO important in today’s day and age) and the book just kept getting better from there. I loved the characters, the plot was interesting and surprising when it needed to be, and this was such a delightful and heartwarming read. I was grinning from ear to ear for most of it - when I wasn’t laughing or pining because of genuine wanderlust. Pick it up – you really won’t be able to put it down!
MelanieP23 8 months ago
Loved this book! Relatable, fresh, funny, and authentic. The author’s writing style makes this book a joy to read from start to finish. I started reading it on a plane ride – I could not put it down until I finished it. I was hooked. The book beautifully tackles the complexities of new romance, experiencing anxiety, shifting relationships with parents in young adulthood, and finding your own voice. The main character’s experience navigating college and young adulthood is so relatable. I felt nervous with her, sad with her, excited with her, laughed with her, cheered her on, and everything in between. Overall, I loved the dialogue, the characters, the setting, and the plot twists and turns throughout. For me, what makes this book 5-star is the writing. This author’s unique voice shines through the dialogue and storytelling, making the book feel humorous, honest, and original. I received an ARC for an honest review. Cannot recommend this book more!
courtofbingereading 8 months ago
***Thank you to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review*** You know, it’s crazy how much a book can resonate with you. Appearance wise, a book is simply a collection of words typed upon pages of paper. But, books are so much more than that. Books have the ability to mold themselves into just what the reader needs at that moment. For me, this book was Again, but Better. I wasn’t expecting to connect with this book on such a deep level nor did I expect to love it as much as I did. Before I started reading this book, I saw a ton of mixed reviews which, I won’t lie, made me leery. I went into this book expecting to give it 3 stars; I thought I would enjoy it but not connect with it. Boy, was I wrong. Again, but Better is not only a phenomenal debut but an incredibly easy read. This book sneaks up behind you to firmly take hold of your feelings along with your attention until the very last page. At first glance, this book appears to be about first love. Friends, it is so much more than that. This story is about finding yourself, facing your fears, and choosing the uncertain path over the safe one. It’s about being true to yourself along with your hopes and dreams. Again, but Better is about finding your voice. Shane is a 20-year-old college student studying pre-med. However, she isn't studying it for herself; her parents forced it upon her. They believe medical school is the best career path for Shane because it will provide her with a stable job. Not only is Shane not passionate about science or medicine, but studying has also taken over her whole entire life. She has no friends, no fun college experiences. This leads her to study abroad in London for a semester. Shane hopes that this time abroad will allow her to accomplish everything she should have the past two years in college. And maybe just maybe, it will help her conquer her fears. For me, this book hit home. I’m a 21-year-old college student who isn’t 100% certain on my career path. This book made me question myself: what do I want? Who do I want to be? What are my goals? In conclusion, I recommend everyone give this book a try. It surprised me so it might just surprise you too. Again but Better never failed to make me smile, laugh, cry, cringe, and groan in annoyance. I felt every emotion while reading this book which is the true test of any book.
All_Booked_Up 8 months ago
First of all thank you to netgalley for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review! This will not affect my review and all of the thoughts are my own! Again, But Better is a contemporary novel about a pre-med student named Shane who makes the bold decision to study abroad in London as a part of a creative writing program. This book has got it all: witty humor, young love (both unrequited and reciprocated), Taylor Swift references, and a totally relatable main character. Shane is honestly one of the most real characters I have ever had the chance to read about. She is quirky, weird, hilarious, and wrestles with self doubt. I loved watching her character develop and seeing the internal struggles she faced on a daily basis. She has spent her entire life trying to please her parents rather than chasing after her dreams, and I feel like this is such a common theme in today's society. Her study abroad trip is the first time she truly goes against everything shes worked for in order to find herself. Even though it takes getting a second chance at happiness to really stick up for herself, I feel like that made her even more real for me. I loved the subtle nods to Christine's personality in this character: her blog title and love for Taylor Swift- that was so fun to read. Pilot. Phew. This guy took me on a rollercoaster of emotions: I loved him, hated him, wanted to choke him, loved him again, missed him, and then wanted to put him on my keychain. Just know that if you have similar feelings while reading PLEASE DON'T STOP READING. The frustrating parts are so necessary and extremely short lived and it is 100% worth it to push through until the end. The flat 3 crew was so much fun and the group dynamic was perfect. I wish we could've gotten to know them better right from the start but I feel like everything came full circle in the end and the characters really grew on me. I loved how they were all so unique but built amazing friendships over the semester. The whole meaning behind the title was a jaw dropping moment for me and I thought it was GENIUS. This is such a unique and creative story and I have never read anything like it. Christine's writing style had me binge reading and dying to know what would happen next. This book made me stay up until almost 4am reading one night, it's been a long time since that has happened for me. Overall this was one of my favorite contemporaries ever! It had all of the components of a great coming of age novel: self discovery, heart break, friendships lost and gained, wanderlust, and choosing whats best for you even when it's hard. BRAVO to Christine on her debut novel, it was such a fun read! Anyone who is looking for a quick and heartwarming novel then please pick this up ASAP!
BuzzedonBooks 8 months ago
Again, but Better: cute, comical, and a joy to read. I really enjoyed Again, but Better by Christine Riccio. Christine writes a cute contemporary that is not only romance, but also a sweet, finding yourself story. I flew through this book. (Reading it in a matter of two days) I found it impossible to put down, and while I wasn't reading it I was thinking about what was going to happen. This book had me smiling the entire time and laughing aloud, making itself one of my favorite contemporary novels. I really enjoyed the character development in this book. Shane starts out kind of naive and over dramatic at times, but as the story progresses she grows more mature and becomes her own person. As many people are saying, in the beginning of the novel Shane is basically a novelization of the author herself. While this was a bit odd to read at time, since I saw Christine rather than our main character, I did really love Shane as a main character. By the end of the book, Shane really grew and separated herself from Christine, and became her own person. Her character development in general in the second half of the book was executed very well. As for the other characters, I found that I really liked all of them. Overall I really like Pilot as a love interest, though their are a few times that he infuriated me. This book mainly focuses on Shane and Pilot and their relationship, and I love it. I do wish that the side characters played a bigger role in the story. I know they are not the main focus, but I really loved all of them, and I wish that they had gotten more "screen time". I really would have loved to see Shane spend more time with her friends, rather than just spend all her time with Pilot. Overall though, I thought the characters were well developed. I absolutely have to talk about Shane and Pilot's relationship. It was soooo CUTE!!! I found myself smiling every time they interacted. All their banter and antics were hilarious. While I had a few issues with how they got together and the minor cheating that took place, I could not help, but root for them. I loved all of the nerdy things that they liked to do together and all of the little games they would play. I also really liked how the end of the book tied up their relationship. One thing that I found a bit jarring was the fantastical element thrown in the book. I feel like I would have appreciated it a lot more if it was better explained. Even after reading the book, I am not 100% sure how the magical element works. That said, I did like how it played into the story as it brings a whole new meaning to Again, but Better. While I did find it to be a bit jolting in the beginning, I did quickly get used to it, and I did not mind it as much. All and all, I had a very fun time reading Again, but Better. While I did have a few issues with it, I overall really enjoyed this debut. It made me laugh, swoon, and gave me all the feels. This book is highly entertaining and I would definitely recommend to anyone looking for a cute contemporary to read this summer. *I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGallery in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*
Anonymous 8 months ago
All the feels. This is the perfect "I need a break from thrillers with something upbeat, light, and fun" book. The story was uplifting and just left me smiling. Shane was a character I think most people can relate to, especially when thinking back on their college years. On second thought, I really think all of the main characters in this book are incredibly relatable. Made me think back on my time studying abroad and the amazing experiences and people I met. I highly recommend this book! The only criticism I have it that in the beginning Shane is described as being so awkward and not being able to make friends, yet she easily falls into these great friendships in like 5 minutes after arriving in London. That part felt a bit of a stretch, but not enough to take away from the overall beauty of this book. I received an advanced copy in exchange of an honest review.
ahungerford 8 months ago
Star Rating: 3.75 Cards on the table: I had my doubts going in to this, but I quite liked this book. I thought it was super cute and overall a solid debut. So I was as shocked as anyone to find that I was honestly engrossed with this from the second chapter onward. ** I am going to do my best to not spoil anything so this may be a little vague, sorry about that. ** PLOT Shane feels like she's doing college wrong. She is acing the academic side, but failing at all things social. She has no friends, has never been kissed- let alone a boyfriend, and spends every weekend at home. As a last ditch effort to fix her life, she creates an elaborate lie to be able to follow her dreams and maybe find her true passions in life. CHARACTERS Shane: I found Shane and her experiences to be extremely relatable. Yes, she is extremely immature, but she's sweet and dorky and funny and awkward. You can forgive her naivete. I did love how the internship was portrayed. Every internship I've ever taken part of (hell any job), the first day feels so lonely and confusing. You have absolutely no idea what you're doing or what's expected. Most of the time your supervisor is busy and can't drop everything for you so you just feel like you're floundering. Pilot: Pilot is borderline perfect. And I loved him. HE KNOWS THE BEATLES! A super obscure band that no one knows about… Apparently. A side note about the relationship: I suspected early on that this would be criticized for insta-love. I have to admit, the way Shane reacts to Pilot was SUPER relatable. I am a romantic and I may become a tad obsessed with a crush almost immediately (especially when I was younger). Not in a creepy way, but in the "I hope I see him" kind of way which is how Shane reacts. She find a boy she thinks is cute, their personalities click almost immediately, I do not blame her for thinking about Pilot and hoping to hang out with him. For me, that's real. I may be wrong, but there you go. The Roommates: I liked the roommates. I liked the diversity represented. I think we could have gotten more from them, but I suppose it's not their story so how much do we really need from them? It can be complicated because I want more, I just don't know it its necessary to the story. They are far more fleshed out compared to… The Significant Others: There wasn't really much put into these characters. They're just kind of there and the author doesn't do much to make you feel invested in either of them. Parents: I don't know where to put this, but her parents are the worst. I was anxious reading about them. And I'm going to just come out and say it, her father is abusive. The way he acts is gross and I hated every moment he was on the page. WRITING I thought the writing style was okay. This is a debut but I think the author shows a lot of promise. I think the sentence structure can be odd at times and it takes it a bit of time to get used to. The pacing can be off at times too. May be because this is an ARC and not the final copy so there may be formatting issues, but it felt that at times it would jump forward in time without warning and you're left wondering where the rest of the scene went.
Anonymous 8 months ago
Again, but Better by Christine Riccio is a YA Contemporary/Romance which I received as an Advance Reader Copy (ARC) from @NetGalley in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. SYNOPSIS | Shane is a 19 year old American girl studying premed at college, more to please her family than because she is passionate about becoming a doctor. Her true passion is actually writing and she decides to do a study abroad semester in London focusing on creative writing. For Shane, this is the perfect opportunity for a do-over. A chance to reinvent herself, to make new friends and most importantly, to see whether writing is something that she wants to try and do as a career. MY THOUGHTS | I started reading this before I went to bed and the next thing I know I have finished the book and it is 5am in the morning! Simply put, I flipping loved this. I immediately pre-ordered a signed hardback edition from Barnes & Nobles and I looked up her book tour dates to see if she is coming to Pennsylvania (she is!). As I am originally from England (but moved to America five years ago for a work opportunity) I thoroughly enjoyed the nod to the different cultures (e.g. the references to the US packaging pasta in boxes whereas in the UK pasta is packaged in bags). There was a few moments where I was genuinely chuckling out loud and I was so invested in Shane and Pilot's relationship. Would I recommend this to everyone I know... lamppost (that will make sense if you read the book!).