It's possible that this book benefited from lowered expectations-- it did not quite work for a couple of my friends, so I put off reading it for a lonIt's possible that this book benefited from lowered expectations-- it did not quite work for a couple of my friends, so I put off reading it for a long time, and then-- when I finally got to it-- I was very pleased to find that it worked QUITE well for me. Although it's not as strong as ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS, LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR is fully as appealing and easy to devour in a single gulp. As a reader who takes a lot of delight in charming settings, costume design, and verbal art direction, this book really drove home how accomplished Stephanie Perkins is at all three. Her San Francisco sounds wonderful, Lola and Cricket's homes are places I would like to visit, and Lola's outfits are a joy to imagine. Some things were not quite as well developed as I would have liked-- I'd have liked to see Lola and Cricket together more and for longer. I would have liked to understand the dispute between Calliope and Lola better. I would have liked to understand a little more why Lola was with Max, really. And Lola's tantalizingly glimpsed best friendship with Lindsay-- I could have read a lot more about that. In fact, if Stephanie would like to write a sequel where Lola and Lindsay just watch Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries together, I would be on board. But the fact that I want this much more is an argument in favor of the book, not against it. I was invested in the characters on the strength of what was offered. ...more
A gripping sequel. Not quite as strong as the first book, but MUCH stronger that the average middle book in a trilogy. It took Kestrel a little longerA gripping sequel. Not quite as strong as the first book, but MUCH stronger that the average middle book in a trilogy. It took Kestrel a little longer to figure out certain mysteries than it took me, but there was not such a glaring discrepancy that I was distracted or fatigued by it. I will await, EAGERLY!!!, the concluding book in this series, and continue recommending the first one to all and sundry.
Edited to add: I hate this cover and I would like to BURN IT WITH FIRE. It both does a VERY bad job of selling the book's actual contents AND the model is so creepy and airbrushed that she's fully entered the uncanny valley. Which is to say: If you look at this book and say "Ugh, a DRESS book, no thank you" do yourself a favor and actually peer inside before you rule it out. ...more
I loved this book; I read pretty much the whole thing in a day, in one giant satisfying gulp. It was so exactly what I needed right now. When I heardI loved this book; I read pretty much the whole thing in a day, in one giant satisfying gulp. It was so exactly what I needed right now. When I heard that there was going to be a sequel, I felt giddy and, honestly, almost overwhelmed by happiness. Because guys? I really care about Lara Jean and Margot and Kitty. I love the Song girls. I just want to spend more time with them.
On twitter I likened this book to a band I love, Lily & Madeleine, two sisters who write these really simple, tender songs. And, the way I put it, is both TO ALL THE BOYS I'VE LOVED BEFORE and Lily & Madeleine deal with a lot of different things. But they're both woven whole cloth out of sisters really dearly loving each other.
As someone who lost a parent, I particularly related to how the Song girls relationships changed when their mother died. I lost my father when I was 16 and my brother was 20 and I always say that my family is like a four legged table trying to stand on just three legs. The weight never redistributes quite right, but it holds up better than you would expect, as long as you're careful. Margot, Lara Jean, and Kitty are much younger when their mom dies and her absence shapes their world in profound but not always sad ways. They love and take care of each other. They also live in each other's pockets a bit. Watching this dynamic as it shifts and cracks and changes throughout the book is wonderful and satisfying and really moving.
And that's in addition to the romance, which is both lovely and surprising in equal measures.
ALL OF WHICH is further in addition to Miss Lara Jean herself, who held my heart in the palm of her hand from page one, when she describes the letters she writes to say goodbye to the boys she's loved. It felt so perfect-- almost something I would do, but one iota more distinct, the special turn that makes it something a completely imagined other person would do.
Dear Jenny: Please write the next one quick. ...more
I've now lost my long review twice. Suffice to say: I love Milan's books (as my binge probably indicates) and this is my favorite of her full-lengths.I've now lost my long review twice. Suffice to say: I love Milan's books (as my binge probably indicates) and this is my favorite of her full-lengths. Strong characters, unique drives, and a genuine interest in the historical world beyond the love story distinguish her books, this one in particular. ...more
Any romance that mention Ignaz Semmelweis could not fail to be of interest but, of the three Courtney Milan stories I've just read in quick successionAny romance that mention Ignaz Semmelweis could not fail to be of interest but, of the three Courtney Milan stories I've just read in quick succession, this is my least favorite. A lot more things felt shoe-horned in here than elsewhere-- most notably Christmas and a pre-engagement sex-scene for the happy couple-- and the framing device for the two spending time together was contrived in a way that I minded, a bit. Not unsatisfying, just not comparable in quality to the other Milan books and novellas I've read. ...more
Many of the strengths of this series are present in this book-- the characters and their interactions remain fun, Maureen Johnson's writing is still hMany of the strengths of this series are present in this book-- the characters and their interactions remain fun, Maureen Johnson's writing is still hilarious, quotable, and surprisingly suspenseful, I still like the premise and the manner in which ghosts behave. But the plot for this book suffers from so many of the classic middle-book problems. It hinges on Rory being infinitely, inexplicably stupider than the reader, and it is far too slight and wheel-spinny to be a whole book unto itself. Still well-worth reading, as I love the series and quite like Aurora, but I do miss the plausibility of the first book, the way it stuck to largely recognizable teenage behavior. ...more
A terrifically smart and sweet YA romance with a delicious amount of emotional depth. One of the few books I could confidently recommend as a worthy rA terrifically smart and sweet YA romance with a delicious amount of emotional depth. One of the few books I could confidently recommend as a worthy readalike for ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS. It broaches some unusually challenging subjects for a swoony romance but manages them in a really graceful, interesting way. I devoured it sometime this summer and would recommend it to anyone with a taste for good banter and an interest in being wrapped up in a good story for a few hours. ...more
A sweet, slight book that actually did better on developing secondary relationships than it did on writing the main couple. I was invested in the heroA sweet, slight book that actually did better on developing secondary relationships than it did on writing the main couple. I was invested in the heroine's diner, her parents' faltering marriage, her own romantic mishaps, her brother's unexpected roimance-- all of it. I liked the town, I loved her dog. Maggie was maybe two shades too saintly for me to love to my bones-- helping out so many people all the time just didn't feel real to me-- but I liked her and I liked her love interest, Malone, although their relationship was surprisingly underdeveloped, given the genre. It's more about the two of them deciding to make a real effort at dating than it is about the two of them finding True Love, Forever and Ever-- something I appreciate for its realism, but something that maybe indicates that the balance of the book is less than perfect. I could have handled a little less story about Father Tim in favor of a few more scenes of the main couple actually talking to one another.
On the whole though, it was breezy, funny, fast-reading, and quite enjoyable. I'll definitely look into more Kristan Higgins books. ...more
There is just something about Helene's voice that makes her feel like my funniest friend. She just knows her way around a good story. While 84 CharingThere is just something about Helene's voice that makes her feel like my funniest friend. She just knows her way around a good story. While 84 Charing Cross Road will always be first in my Hanff-heart, Underfoot in Show Business is a very close second and should not, NOT BY ANY MEANS, be out-of-print. Hanff's stories about she and her friend Maxine* struggling to make it as a playwright and actress (respectively) in 1940s Manhattan are just hilarious. They make me profoundly nostalgic for that time period without ever overtly romanticizing it. Just the way that certain people have of making everything sound fun without every being dishonest about it, Helene's got that, in spades. She also has genuinely hilarious stories-- like my favorite, of Oklahoma! and its out-of-town opening, in the chapter "No jokes. No legs. No chance."
If you love 84 Charring Cross Road, but haven't read any of Hanff's other books, start here. And if you haven't read either, MY GOD READER, what are you waiting for?? SNAP TO!
*Who always makes me think of the line from When Harry Met Sally-- "People were always crossing rooms to talk to Maxine." ...more
This book made me laugh out loud, it made me flip pages frantically to find out WHAT WOULD HAPPEN NEXT, it made me sigh soulfully over perfect romantiThis book made me laugh out loud, it made me flip pages frantically to find out WHAT WOULD HAPPEN NEXT, it made me sigh soulfully over perfect romantic scenes, it made me cry, it was-- in short-- a Mary Quinn book. The mystery here is a little less tightly-plotted than the others have been, as the two disparate threads Mary is investigating never coalesce into a larger, joined problem and the payoff in each-- since neither has been the specific focus-- is therefore lessened. But Mary's emotional journey is depicted with beautiful detail, so this is a minor quibble. I am so relieved that there will be a fourth book because, even if this one provides a satisfying conclusion to the series, saying goodbye to these characters for good would break my heart. I am just so attached to Mary and James. ...more
This is, without a doubt, the strongest bookn in Joanna Bourne's very strong Spymaster series. Justine and Adrian are both fascinating individuals, thThis is, without a doubt, the strongest bookn in Joanna Bourne's very strong Spymaster series. Justine and Adrian are both fascinating individuals, their love for one another is great fun to read about. The espionage plot really holds up, largely thanks to the manner in which Joanna Bourne jumbles the narrative, interspersing the mystery set in the books' present with flashbacks to Justine and Adrian's past missions. This book is even better if you've read the others, particularly The Forbidden Rose, but is definitely enjoyable even if you haven't. I highly recommend the series. ...more
I love comedies of remarriage. I love inventive, well-plotted romance novels. This is both. If you are looking for something to make waiting for SerieI love comedies of remarriage. I love inventive, well-plotted romance novels. This is both. If you are looking for something to make waiting for Series Two of Downton Abbey to begin again, you could do a lot worse than dipping into this. There are occasional moments of glaring historical inaccuracy, like when the word friggin' is uttered by one of the main characters, but otherwise, guys, seriously. This was kind of awesome. ...more
The only thing about this book I don't like is HOW LONG I WILL HAVE TO WAIT FOR THE NEXT ONE. It's kind of astonishing that Maureen can take a soapilyThe only thing about this book I don't like is HOW LONG I WILL HAVE TO WAIT FOR THE NEXT ONE. It's kind of astonishing that Maureen can take a soapily paranormal plot that would usually make my eyes ROLL DIRECTLY OUT OF MY HEAD and, by keeping her characters as grounded and hilarious as she usually does, turn in something that's simultaneously hilarious and utterly gripping. I think this one is going to sell like hotcakes. I like it so much that I officially forgive it for not being about my one true YA boyfriend, Spencer Martin. ...more