I have mentioned Daughter of the Forest several times here on my blog because I've heard so many good things about it. Book blogger and Goodreads friends have told me that this novel is one of their favorites and because it's a retelling of the fairy tale The Six Swans, makes it more than interesting for me. This was my Want Books? pick just last week and luckily, Fully Booked had one copy left. Sure it was in their Cebu branch and they had to send it by courier to Manila but what the heck, at least I got a copy. :)
Wow, just wow. I was blown away by this book. I mean I had high expectations because of what everyone said but I was still pleasantly surprised at how lovely it was. A word of caution - this was not an easy book to read. I know that I mostly read YA novels so I just wanted to get this out there. It was hard to read because of everything that Sorcha had to go through. The writing is so vivid and imaginative that your heart will break whenever there's pain and suffering for the main character, which happens several times over. But this book is well worth the trouble. There were times when I had to stop reading because I felt so sad for Sorcha when she deserved to be happy. The only other Marillier that I've read was Wildwood Dancing and though I enjoyed reading that, I wasn't impressed. After reading Daughter of the Forest, I can now join the ranks of Marillier fans out there.
I enjoy reading fairy tale retellings because it's always interesting to see where the author will take the story using the fairy tale as the backbone. This one was no different. Using the gist of The Six Swans fairy tale, Ms. Marillier made the story come alive with a wonderful blend of historical fiction and Celtic mythology. Sorcha is the seventh child of Lord Colum, a seventh son himself and Lord of Sevenwaters. As the only girl, Sorcha is well-protected and beloved by her brothers. I loved how distinct each brother's personality is and how close-knit they are in spite of their differences. They were all tied together by their bond as siblings. Daughter of the Forest is a wonderful story about love - love for your family, love for the land where you came from and true love, which is elusive and comes only once in a person's life. That speech towards the end of the book is a winner. I'd love to post it here but I don't want to spoil it for those who haven't read the book. For those who've read it, does "You are bone of my bone, and breath of my breath." ring a bell?
I just got copies of Son of Shadows and Child of the Prophecy from Fully Booked yesterday. Son of Shadows occurs a generation after Daughter of the Forest and I've been assured by Angie and Holly that it's just as good as the first one in the series. I'm excited to read it!
This is a duology, originally published as two books (Crown Duel and Court Duel) but Firebird combined both books in one edition.
Meliara (Mel for shor...moreThis is a duology, originally published as two books (Crown Duel and Court Duel) but Firebird combined both books in one edition.
Meliara (Mel for short), the impoverished Countess of Tlanth, tells the story from her point of view. I loved the fact that Mel is such an unreliable narrator and how the story unfolded from the way she sees things. The first part of the book involves a war against a tyrant of a king because both Mel and her brother Branaric promised their father that they will do what they can to oust the king from the throne. While the second part of the book involves court intrigue and politics. Mel is a believable character because she blunders and is not afraid to admit when she makes mistakes.
I've been giving this book as a gift a lot lately and to one friend, I included a note that said "I know you haven't read a lot of fantasy and this is a good book to get you started because this is YA fantasy at its finest." This book has everything - incredible world-building, believable characters, intelligent dialogue, subtle romance, court intrigue. I've reread this book a couple of times and it just doesn't get old for me.
Sherwood also posted a couple of outtakes in her website. You can check these out after reading the book because these are scenes of Crown Duel, written from Vidanric's point of view. (less)
I've been craving for some YA romance lately, you know the type of book with just the right amount of kilig factor (how does kilig translate to Englis...moreI've been craving for some YA romance lately, you know the type of book with just the right amount of kilig factor (how does kilig translate to English? Swoon factor?) and I got it with this book. I was really excited when I found it in Fully Booked because I've seen a lot of good reviews about it. I didn't even mind that at P440 for a paperback, it was a little more expensive than what I usually buy. Plus I got it on sale for 20% off.
This is the kind of book that you finish in one sitting, the kind of book that you'll stay up late at night reading because you want to know how it ends. Unputdownable so to speak. It's a classic story of bad girl meets good boy but with much more complicated characters. Meg is the only blue-haired girl in their small town and she can't wait to finish high school and go off to college, even if it's only in Birmingham, 20 minutes away. John is a high school graduate, who went to police academy and stayed in town to be a cop. They both have their own reasons for being who they are and doing the things that they do. It was just so much fun watching them unravel and discover each other's inner workings.
The story is told from Meg's point of view and some of the things that she says are so hilarious. She keeps saying "I am full of fear" whenever she's scared. And I really like this line that she said about her and John: "I guess we both understood that our relationship was built entirely on witty repartee, and neither of us thought we could be witty on four hours of shut-eye." Meg really is a great girl and even though she's done a lot of wild things, you couldn't help but understand why she was doing those when you find out her reasons. And Johnafter! Oooooh hunky Johnafter. I think it's safe to say that I've added another one to my list of literary crushes. It's so not true that nice guys finish last.
Isn't it obvious that I love this book? I recommend it for all YA fans out there!(less)
I have one word to describe this book: intense. Everything about this book, from the characters to how they relate to each other to the emotions, is i...moreI have one word to describe this book: intense. Everything about this book, from the characters to how they relate to each other to the emotions, is intense. I finished reading this a couple of days ago and I still can't stop thinking about it. Book hangover alert! This is such a beautiful book about love, friendship and family. The characters went through so much that you can't help but empathize and feel for them.
Taylor was abandoned in a 7-eleven store by her mom when she was 11. One of her boarding school's house mothers, Hannah, picked her up and watched out for her ever since. When Hannah suddenly disappears without an explanation, Taylor realizes that her past is somewhat tied to Hannah's and she has to uncover mysteries to learn more about herself.
I admit that I was lost and confused by the first few chapters of the book. Taylor narrates but interspersed in her story are pages from Hannah's manuscript about the incredible friendship of five kids who used to live in that area. Hannah's story occured more than twenty years ago so basically you're following two story arcs as you read. I think this is also the first time that I've read a novel set in Australia so some of the terms used and the school structure were a bit confusing for me. Just keep reading and by the time you get to the middle, I'm sure you won't be able to stop. Each revelation will make you want to know more. I love the characters in this book - Taylor, Jonah, Raffy, Chaz and also the kids in the manuscript: Narnie, Webb, Tate, Jude and Fitz. They're all a part of this amazing story. And the sizzling connection between Taylor and Jonah has fed my YA romance hunger.
I highly recommend this to fellow YA fans or even those who aren't into YA. I wonder if Melina Marchetta's other books are just as good? I'd love to read them if they are but I haven't seen them around.(less)
Before I write anything else, I just want to ask what's up with the cover? I'm going to go ahead and assume that that's Rachel...moreOriginally posted here.
Before I write anything else, I just want to ask what's up with the cover? I'm going to go ahead and assume that that's Rachel but what is she holding in her hands, a feather and a glowing ball of some sort? It's not part of the story at all. I'm glad I've heard so many good things about this book because otherwise, I wouldn't have picked it up based on the strength of its cover alone.
I loved the worldbuilding in this book. The setting is a fictional country called Samaria, where angels co-exist with humans and they pray to the god, Jovah for all kinds of intervention - weather, health and general well-being. All angels are born gifted with incredible musical ability and they pray by singing. Every twenty years, an Archangel is chosen to govern the whole country and every year, the Archangel leads the people in singing a mass, the Gloria, in praise of the god. His angelica (or her angelico if the Archangel is female), the god's chosen wife (or husband) must sing by the Archangel's side. If they don't, the god will strike down lightning from the heavens and destroy the world. Isn't that interesting? There's a lot of theology thrown in this book but it's not preachy and it isn't too much that you'll be overloaded with information. I think it's just enough to show the religion in that world and the strength of the characters' beliefs.
I also loved the characters in this book. Both Rachel and Gabriel are solid characters. Rachel is strong-willed and very very stubborn and even though she knows it's a great honor, she's reluctant to become the angelica. Gabriel is arrogant and self-assured but he loves the land and the people and only want what's the best for them. The story is told from alternating third-person points of view of these two so we get to see how things develop from both sides. I love that even though they're meant for each other by the god's mandate, they still have to work for it. It's definitely not love at first sight and they keep rubbing each other the wrong way. Love-hate relationships for the win!♥
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and I look forward to reading the other books in the Samaria series even if they're about different characters.(less)
Kate's adventures continue in this latest installment in the wonderful series created by husband and wife tandem Ilona Andrews....moreOriginally posted here.
Kate's adventures continue in this latest installment in the wonderful series created by husband and wife tandem Ilona Andrews. I already mentioned that Magic Strikes clinched the deal to make this series my favorite in the urban fantasy genre. Because of this, I had high expectations when I started to read Magic Bleeds. No worries though because it went beyond what I expected. It's pretty hard to go into details about the book without giving away spoilers. I can just say that Kate was her usual snarky and kick*ss self. She had to make some pretty though choices in this one. With her background (and we learn so much more about her family history), she comes with a lot of baggage and she can't make decisions based on just what she wants. I love where the authors decided to take the story, it really was time for Kate to make these big decisions. I'm also glad that there's a LOT of Curran in this one. ♥
Instead of giving away the story, I'd rather talk about how wonderful this book was. I had to catch up on lost sleep because of Magic Strikes so I decided to bring Magic Bleeds along on our company outing to the beach. I then proceeded to read during every available moment: under the sun while everyone else was swimming and on a shaded balcony overlooking the beach after lunch while everyone else was taking a nap. I wanted to read as much of the book as fast as I can yet at the same time, I wanted to savor every scene. As with the rest of the Kate Daniels books, there were several scenes in this book that made me smile and chuckle quietly to myself. There were scenes that me sigh and think "Aww how sweet!" and there were scenes that made me fear for Kate and her friends' safety. Magic Bleeds had everything - jampacked action, solid worldbuilding supported by the setting's history, lots of humor and a love-hate relationship between two fantastic individuals. Isn't this enough to convince you to read this series? :)
So all of you book blogger friends who said that this one is just as good as the first one, I definitely agree. This book occur...moreOriginally posted here.
So all of you book blogger friends who said that this one is just as good as the first one, I definitely agree. This book occurs one generation after Daughter of the Forest and focuses on Sorcha and Red's youngest daughter, Liadan. Liadan is very much her mother's daughter but at the same time, she has qualities that make her uniquely herself. Like Sorcha, Liadan is a gifted healer and she loves Sevenwaters with all of her heart. She'd be content to stay in Sevenwaters for the rest of her life, even if it means she won't get married and have a family of her own. Similar to her Uncle Finbar, she has the gift of Sight: there are times when she could she the past and possible events in the future.
Again, this story wasn't easy to read. Liadan goes through a lot and she fights for her happiness and the safety of her loved ones every step of the way. This book is set in the same highly imaginative and wonderful world that Juliet Marillier created. There's more Celtic mythology in this than the first book but so deftly written that it almost seems like historical fiction instead of fantasy. Lush and lyrical, Juliet Marillier's writing will grab you and will not let go even after you finish reading. Stories are an important aspect of the lives in Sevenwaters and I love the little stories told in this novel. Liadan's Uncle Conor said that one story resonates in different ways to every listener and I think the same goes with novels. We can all read the same novel but what we take from that story can be vastly different.
Anyway, I loved Son of the Shadows as expected. Both Liadan and Bran are wonderful characters. In order to be together, they had to fight even harder than Sorcha and Red. Liadan is strong and I love how she fought for what she wanted even if it went against the wishes of the Fair Folk. She made her own path and this may have consequences but I have a feeling she'll be able to bear the burden. I have a favorite line in this book and I just have to post it here because it's not that very spoilery anyway:
I wish - I wish I could dry these tears, I wish I could make this better for you. But I don't know how.
*sigh* If you've read the book, you'd understand why this is such a lovable line. If you haven't read it, I suggest that you give it a try. I think it can be read on its own but Daughter of the Forest is just as good so why not read it as well? :) I'm planning to read Child of the Prophecy next and I hope to see glimpses of Liadan and Bran in that one. Also, I just noticed that all of the Sevenwaters books involve females. Awesome!(less)
For some reason, Saving June by Hannah Harrington was released early in Australia. I've seen raving reviews from those who have...moreOriginally posted here.
For some reason, Saving June by Hannah Harrington was released early in Australia. I've seen raving reviews from those who have been lucky enough to get copies of the book and that persuaded me to read it as soon as I can. The ebook can be purchased from Angus & Robertson and Borders Australia. If you want a physical copy, you can order it from Fishpond. Also, Harlequin Teen said on Twitter that Saving June will be available on NetGalley in August.
Harper Scott knows she can never measure up to her perfect, older sister June, so she's never tried. In fact, she's done her best to be the opposite - lukewarm grades, detention as often as she can manage it, basically be the rebel daughter. She's as surprised as everyone when June commits suicide a week before graduation, leaving behind a mess that no one can figure out. When her divorced parents decide to split June's ashes, Harper takes matters into her own hands and embarks on a road trip to California with her best friend Laney and Jake Tolan, a guy who claims to be June's friend. June always yearned to go to California and Harper thinks it's the perfect place to scatter the ashes.
Ah this book, this beautiful book. It deserves all the hype that it's been getting, I can't even stop thinking about it. Right off the bat, I empathized with Harper, with all her pain and confusion and anger - not knowing how to handle living in a world without her big sister to take care of things. The road trip that she plans with her best friend is the perfect way for her to cope and ease that feeling of being suffocated. She doesn't understand why Jake wants to go with them though. Mysterious, classic rock-loving Jake with the piercing green eyes - one moment a douchebag and a knight in shining armor the next. He has his own reasons for being that way and it didn't diminish his appeal in my eyes. I'd love to meet someone like him in person - someone passionate about music who provides anecdotes each time an unfamiliar song plays, who believes that a proper mix CD should have a story to tell just like a book. Harper, armed with her Polaroid, Laney, with her enthusiasm and friendliness and Jake, with his music are the perfect combination for a memorable road trip.
Saving June has everything that I look for in my contemporary reads: believable characters with realistic problems, amazing friends, romance that takes time to form (as opposed to instant love). Some scenes had me smiling and chuckling at the situations Harper, Laney and Jake get into while other scenes had me tearing up and aching for all of them. I love how these three characters are fully fleshed out with their distinct personalities. This is the kind of book that stays with you even after you finish reading it, the kind that makes you want listen to all of the songs mentioned in it. Saving June is about grief and loss but also about life, hope and love. It has earned a spot in my favorites and will definitely be included in my best of 2011. The premise reminded me of The Sky is Everywhere and Sharing Sam while the slow build up of the romance felt similar to Going Too Far. So if you're a fan of those three books, make sure to read this one. I will be on the lookout for Hannah Harrington's other novels.
And because I love so many lines from the book, I can't help but quote Jake:
It's just nice, I guess. Knowing that someone else can put into words what I feel. That there are people who have been through things worse than I have, and they come out on the other side okay. Not only that, but they made some kind of twisted, fucked-up sense of the completely senseless. They made it mean something. These songs tell me I'm not alone. If you look at it at that way, music... music can see you through anything.
I'm not as passionate about music as Jake is but I agree with what he said, more so if you replace "music" with "books". Yeah, books can see you through anything.(less)
It's official. The Kate Daniels series is now my favorite urban fantasy series. Magic Strikes sealed the deal. I LOVED this boo...moreOriginally posted here.
It's official. The Kate Daniels series is now my favorite urban fantasy series. Magic Strikes sealed the deal. I LOVED this book! Want proof? I was out the whole day yesterday so I didn't get to read. I got home late at night and I only wanted to read a couple of chapters before sleeping. I ended up finishing the whole book, I just couldn't put it down. I'm functioning on two hours of sleep right now and I can't say I regret reading last night (or early this morning if you want to be technical about it). I still can't stop thinking about the book. This is such a great book! There were a lot of scenes that I had to re-read over and over again because they had me laughing out loud. I also love the character development, how Kate changed from being an isolated person to having a few people close to her heart. It's amazing how much Kate is willing to sacrifice for these people. She has her reasons for trying to keep everyone at arm's length but when she starts to care, she's fully committed. She's such an awesome character.
Just like the first two books, the worldbuilding in this one is brilliant. I love how the story can delve into different mythologies with Magic Strikes concentrating on Hindu folklore. There's also a touch of Roman influence embodied in the Midnight Games, where gladiators form teams and fight to the death. It's a bloodthirsty practice and the characters' fighting skills are put to the test.
On one hand, I'm happy that I found out about this series when four books have already been released because I get to read the books one right after the other. On the other hand, I feel like I want to let the story of Magic Strikes settle first before I dive into Magic Bleeds. But since I already have a copy of Magic Bleeds, I'm going to read it as soon as I can. All of the reviews that I've seen are positive so I have high hopes for that one. I hope it's just as good, if not better than, Magic Strikes. Do you guys know when the next book will come out? :)
I know I always try to have spoiler-free reviews so minor spoiler warning here. If you haven't read any of the books, please don't read this paragraph. Kate and Curran! ♥ The scenes between the two of them in this book... AHHHH. They are simply wonderful. I love both of them. I really want things to work out for them and I'm scared that something bad will happen and it'll be a long journey before they can ever be together. You know the feeling when you're invested in certain characters, you feel like you know them as real people? That's how I feel about these two. I will be devastated if either one of them gets hurt.(less)
I always say that in order for me to like a book, I have to be able to relate to it somehow. No worries on that department when...moreOriginally posted here.
I always say that in order for me to like a book, I have to be able to relate to it somehow. No worries on that department when it comes to this one because I could TOTALLY relate to Ellie. Twenty-something Filipina working in a corporate job but really doesn't know what her career path is? That could be me! Ellie's thing is traveling and making plans for hypothetical trips abroad. While I do love to travel, I don't get to do it that often so I guess it would be better to say that my thing is reading and blogging about books. I've never experienced an office romance like Ellie did but the breaking up with a boyfriend-who-was-a-friend-before-you-became-a-couple? Been there, done that. Ellie also has several circles of friends, from her high school barkada to her office mates and I'm like that as well. Each set of friends has a different personality and I like to think that each group brings out a different side of me. Ellie is really believable as a character - she's a representation of me, my friends and every young Pinay out there looking for her own fairy tale.
I keep my reviews spoiler-free so I don't want to mention any names but I want a guy like the male protagonist! Seriously.♥ I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Ellie and her attempts to get her life back in order after the breakup. Fairy Tale Fail is a light and fun contemporary romance that gives a glimpse of middle class life in the Philippines. If only the paperback was as cheap as the e-book edition, I'd buy lots of copies and give them as Christmas gifts to my girlfriends. Unfortunately, the paperback is more expensive at P350. The good news is the e-book is available both in Smashwords and Amazon so for all international readers out there, you could order this anytime you want. If you want a peek at what our lives are usually like (and by us I mean young professionals in the Philippines), then go and read this book! At $0.99, it's cheaper than your average Starbucks coffee. It's really short too, more like a novella than a novel. I'm interested to see how readers outside the Philippines will react to this one. One minor quibble though, I wish Mina included footnotes to define some of the Filipino words used in the book like kuya, barkada and bulalo so that foreigners will be able to understand them. That said, I'd like to thank Mina for coming up with a well-written Filipino chick lit novel. :) I look forward to reading her other book, My Imaginary Ex and I hope she comes up with a thicker novel next time.(less)
I love Julie James. She's my favorite contemporary romance author. Not only have I read and reviewed all of her books in my blo...moreOriginally posted here.
I love Julie James. She's my favorite contemporary romance author. Not only have I read and reviewed all of her books in my blog, I've recommended them to so many friends. Her latest title, About That Night, is part of the FBI/US Attorney series. Some of the characters in the first two books, Something About You and A Lot Like Love have cameos in this installment. I believe her novels are standalones but you'd have a better appreciation of the characters if the books are read in order.
Julie James' novels are so much fun. They're the book equivalent of chick flicks for me and I really enjoy going through them. The two other novels in the FBI/US Attorney series are romantic suspense and I love how About That Night is more romantic comedy than anything else. I found Kyle such an intriguing character when he was first introduced in his twin sister Jordan's book, A Lot Like Love. I thought his cyber crime was amusing and I immediately wanted to find out more about the Twitter Terrorist. I enjoyed getting to know him - back when Rylann first meets him as a grad student and later on as the infamous computer genius who managed to shut down Twitter while he was drunk and angry. Similar to his sister Jordan, Kyle isn't a snob even if he's heir to his father's billion-dollar empire. Their parents brought them up to be hardworking and down-to-earth. I thought it was nice that his financial status wasn't that big of an issue between him and Rylann. I liked that Kyle and Rylann had history together - they only got to hang out that one night but it meant so much to both of them. They're kind of each other's "the one who got away" and that nicely sets the stage when they see each other again. When it comes to Julie James' novels, there's always plenty of witty banter between her two intelligent main characters. There's a lot of sarcastic comments and teasing around before the characters even act on their attraction.
What I love about Julie James' novels is how believable the relationships in her novels are and how it's easy to relate to her characters even if you don't have that much in common with them. I think this is because her novels are so detailed. I know next to nothing about hacking into Twitter or being an Assistant US Attorney (I don't even live in the US) but because Kyle and Rylann are fully fleshed out characters, I found it easy to root for them. Is it just me or are Julie James' novels getting steamier and steamier? Not that I'm complaining. :P It's just that I've noticed that her first two novels have fade to black love scenes and only the FBI/US Attorney novels have more detailed sexytimes. After I finished reading About That Night, I had the same thought I always get after reading a Julie James novel: I want more. I keep wishing there were more books in her back list so I'd have more to read. Sadly, I have to wait until next year for a new book. Looking forward to hearing more details about her next novel. Based on her website, the next one will also be a part of the FBI/US Attorney series but still no news on who the main characters are going to be. (less)
I first found out about Easy by Tammara Webber through Angie's review. When Angie stars bibliovangelizing, I listen. And it loo...moreOriginally posted here.
I first found out about Easy by Tammara Webber through Angie's review. When Angie stars bibliovangelizing, I listen. And it looks like I'm not the only one because several blogger friends started reading this after her review went up. I was further encouraged to read it when my friend Janice mentioned that she couldn't stop reading the book once she started.
I like that we're getting more and more New Adult reads nowadays. As much as I love contemporary YA, it's nice to read a book set in college to mix things up a bit. I wasn't initially impressed by Jacqueline's decision of giving up her dream of going to a music conservatory to go with her high school boyfriend to his college of choice instead. Felt like she should have put a little more thought into making a decision as big as that. But she redeemed herself in my eyes with this little bit:
"My roommate had never understood my compulsion to read when I had free time, especially if there were campus social events to attend."
I get you Jacqueline, I really do. If I was your college roommate, we could have reading parties in our dorm room every weekend. *nerdy girl high-five* Easy reminded me a bit of Flat-Out Love because both novels are set in college and the characters engage in email flirtation. I think it's great how realistic the college setting was. Well, I don't exactly know how college in the US feels like but Easy reminded me of my own experience - attending big classes, cramming for exams, how fun it was to form friendships. I feel like I need to read more books like this - immensely readable with a swoon-worthy romance. The kind that puts a smile in my face while I'm reading it. Lucas seems like a bad boy on the surface because of all his tattoos, motorcycle and tendency to not pay attention in class. But that's just how he seems, he really is a good guy deep inside. He actually reminded me of another Lucas in a different book because of his bad boy image. It was interesting to get to know him through Jacqueline's eyes because he had so many layers - he had his own issues to work through. I also liked that there was time for the attraction to blossom between the two characters because I'm always up for slow burn romance. Honestly, I feel like I don't have the words to describe how much I enjoyed reading this one. A draft has been sitting in my dashboard ever since I finished reading it weeks (or has it been months) ago. If you enjoy your contemporary romance with a generous serving of issues, then you'll probably like Easy just as much as I did.
This book deserves all the hype that it's been getting in the blogosphere. I love how there are so many awesome debut novels th...moreOriginally posted here.
This book deserves all the hype that it's been getting in the blogosphere. I love how there are so many awesome debut novels this year! I hope 2011 has a lineup that's just as good. It was so easy to relate to Anna and how she's bummed that she has to spend her senior year in Paris. Yes, Paris is amazing but who wants to transfer for the last year of high school? It's the last chance that you get to spend with your high school buddies. I love how believable everything was in this novel. How Anna was shy and reserved at the start because she doesn't even know how to speak French. It's so funny how she lived in fear of ordering the wrong kind of food so all she ate during her first week were fruits and bread. I loved seeing Paris through Anna's eyes. Totally jealous of all the good food that she was able to try out - the sandwiches, the pastries, crepes and even the coffee! Ahhh, I'm suddenly craving for macarons from Bizu. Sigh, I would dearly love to go to Paris in the future.
The romance is just as realistic as the rest of the story. Stephanie Perkins did a great job of portraying how complicated relationships are, especially during your teenage years. The tension, the drama, the uncertainty of it all! Imagine having to spend everyday with the guy you're infatuated with, who's gorgeous, smart and funny. There are times when he gives hints that he may like you as more than a friend but you're never sure because he doesn't have any plans of breaking up with his long-time girlfriend. I admire Anna for being able to maintain a friendship with St. Clair in spite of their growing attraction. And not just any friendship at that, they even become the best of friends eventually. Anna and St. Clair's friendship developed because they're really comfortable with each other even if they have moments of awkwardness. Also, St. Clair isn't portrayed as a perfect guy. He's short, he doesn't know how to drive and he's scared of heights (which is actually endearing). Both Anna and St. Clair make mistakes along the way but you still end up rooting for them.
It was so much fun reading Anna and the French Kiss and I highly recommend the experience to anyone who enjoys YA contemporary romance, specifically fans of Simone Elkeles and Jennifer Echols. It's bound to make you smile and yes, swoon at times.♥ I can see people falling in love with this one. Can't wait to read Stephanie Perkins' other books. She has two companion novels to this one and the first will be released fall of 2011. (less)
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Anna and the French Kiss last year and I've been looking forward to its companion novel, Lola and the Boy Next Door, since last year. I pre-ordered my copy from the Book Depository and I've been waiting for it to arrive once I got the notification that it was dispatched. It didn't help that so many reviews kept popping up in the blogosphere, which made me more curious about this book so I dived right in as soon as my copy arrived.
I like how Stephanie Perkins writes contemporary YA - they're light, fun and easy to fall into but are more complicated than what you'd initially expect. While Lola and the Boy Next Door wasn't as swoon-worthy as Anna and the French Kiss, it has its own merits. Can I just bring this up real quick: "lola" in Filipino means grandmother although it's pronounced differently, with a short vowel "o" instead of a long one. Just found that funny. :P Anyway, I think it's awesome that Lola expresses herself through her daily outfits. She's passionate about her costumes and she wants to continue doing that kind of thing for the rest of her life. That kind of enthusiasm and determination is always admirable. I also enjoyed reading about Lola's dads because I think they're really cool parents. And Anna and St. Clair were minor characters in this book too, they didn't just have cameos. However, my favorite character in Lola and the Boy Next Door is Cricket Bell. A cute, nerdy, thoughtful guy who dresses well? My kind of guy! Cricket is someone who I can totally root for. It doesn't hurt that he's into science and inventing things. I used to say that I love science and math but they don't love me back, otherwise, I wouldn't have such a hard time with them. So yay Cricket for being smart in those fields. I love that Stephanie Perkins' male leads have been nice guys so far, I hope that's something that will carry over in her next novel.
All is not well in Lola-land when the Bell twins move back in the house next door. She's not in good terms with Calliope, and Cricket broke her heart right before they left. And she shouldn't even be concerned when it comes to Cricket because she's currently in a relationship with someone else: Max, who plays in a band and is five years older than she is. Okay, I get why Lola fell for Max. He has that bad boy, older guy appeal and he was willing to exert effort for their relationship to work - he put up with her dads' rules like having brunch with them every week. But still, I didn't really feel like the things that he did for Lola were enough. I think that if he really loved her, he would have been willing to do so much more. One of the themes of this book that I really liked is love requires energy and effort but it should be easy if you're with the right person. So was it a bit frustrating that it took a while for Lola to figure out that she wasn't with the right guy? Yes, but everyone makes mistakes and falling for the wrong person is one of the most common out there. Did I want her to break up with Max so Cricket can bring on the swoon for her? Yes, but I think that Lola's relationship with Max and her confusion about her feelings for Cricket made Lola and the Boy Next Door more realistic. Overall, I still had fun reading this book even though I had issues with it. I recommend this to fans of contemporary YA. I will still be looking forward to Stephanie Perkins' next novel, I'm hoping I'll like it just as much as her debut.