Over the last year or so I've really gotten back into reading. Actually, I've read more this past year than I probably have in the last fifteen years. I forgot just how much I enjoy reading. There's nothing better than when you pick up a book and it's so captivating you just can't put it down. Or, when you do have to put that book down and then all you can think about is when you'll get to pick it back up again. 

The last two books I've read were Colleen Hoover's 'It Ends With Us' (2016) and 'It Starts With Us' (2022). And yes, confusingly, in that order ('It Starts With Us' is the sequel to 'It Ends With Us'). 

Since it's 2023, I feel like I'm really late to the Colleen Hoover book train. Before this year, the only book I read by her is 'Ugly Love'. I remember really liking the read, but somehow I was expecting more by this author who is clearly a favourite of so many readers. 

Here's the thing I'm starting to learn about myself when it comes to my thoughts or opinions on books or tv shows - I get extremely influenced by other peoples reviews. Once I hear something is "amazing" or a "must read/watch", my expectations comes to the forefront and, more often than not, it never holds up to those high reviews.

And I honestly think that's what happened with the first book, 'It Ends With Us'.

But, then again, how could it not after reading reviews like "it made me cry for days" or "it touched my soul like no other book". While I enjoyed the book, I certainly didn't experience any of this. Did I think it was a good read? Yes. Did I think it was moving in parts? Absolutely yes. But it just wasn't the amazing emotional roller coaster so many readers had experienced.

The story itself was both captivating and tragic but, from beginning to end, something just felt a little flat for me. For such a powerful storyline, I wanted more from it.

While I had high expectations going into this book, ironically enough I had absolutely no idea what the story was about (I didn't even read the summary at the back). I assumed it was a love story, so you can imagine my surprise when Lilly and Ryle's love story took a turn and I was left no longer rooting for the man I had spent a good part of the book doing so. 

I think my favourite part was the authors note at the end. Usually authors notes are at the beginning, but for this one it was at the end, and for good reason. I had no idea she was writing from a personal experience. While I wouldn’t have wanted the plot to be given away, there’s a part of me that wished I had of known this sooner, because I think it would have changed the entire outlook on the book, and I think ‘It Ends With Us’ would have hit me harder.

Also, while I loved the flashback of journal entries to fill us in with Lilys childhood memories, it felt a little odd to me that she was writing to Ellen DeGeneres. Yes, Ellen!!! I did warm up a little to this part after a while, but I could have done without the Ellen references. 

I'm probably in the minority here, but I enjoyed 'It Starts With Us' just as much, if not more, than 'It Ends With Us'.

I knew going into it that it was the love story of Lilly and Atlas, and it was exactly what I wanted it to be - a light and wholesome breath of fresh air. Maybe I just wanted the happy ending after the first book, or maybe I needed the closure, or maybe there were no expectations skewing my feelings. Either way, it answered all of the questions I had from the first book. 

I loved that I didn't have a break in between books so I was able to jump right into one after the other. I have to wonder though, would I have enjoyed 'It Starts With Us' as much if I had to wait 6 years after the first book?

'It Ends With Us' was the light and easy read that I expected it to be, and it didn't try to be more than what it was. Do I think the storyline was a little too perfect? Maybe, but whatever I had imagined for Lilly's and Atlas' future, I got that and more. And I'm a-okay with something feeling a little too perfect.

Have you read these books? Did you love them? Which one did you enjoy more?

Until next time.