SUNDAY FUNDAY: WEEK IN REVIEW [13]

The lovely Cristina over at Girl in the Pages started Sunday Funday as a way to recap the bookish (and not-so-bookish) things that have happened that week.

September 8 – 14, 2014

So in case you missed it, I’m hosting my first ever giveaway! Do you want to win a SIGNED copy of Stephanie Perkin’s Anna and the French Kiss and some Anna-themed swag? You know you do. Head over to my giveaway page and enter! It ends a week from tomorrow!

Anna Giveaway Pic

Coming up on the blog this week: I’ll be reviewing six (yes, SIX) Oliver Jeffers’ books; Top Ten Tuesday and Waiting on Wednesday as always; I’ll also probably review The Shadow Prince and possibly another book (depending on how my reading goes).

Do you like Benedict Cumberbatch? Do you like books? Do you like cute things? You should probably watch this video of him reading Little Read Hen.

Books read: I finished reading Lauren Oliver’s first adult book, Rooms, this week, and the review should be up on WatchPlayRead tomorrow. I also read and reviewed Of Monsters and Madness. I read three children’s books this week, One Cool Friend, Along a Long Road, and The Hueys in the New Sweater (which will be reviewed on the blog this week). Additionally, I started Stacey O’Neale’s The Shadow Prince. It was a good week for reading.

TBR: I’m going to be participating in the Mortal Enchantment blog tour next month, and this week I received an ARC of the book! From the library, I checked out The Selection by Kiera Cass, the first two BZRK books by Michael Grant, and Horns by Joe Hill. Surprisingly, I didn’t buy any books or comics this week, but my boss did loan me the entire X-Men Legacy series, so I added a BUNCH of stuff to my TBR this week.

What was on the blog this week (and WatchPlayRead):

Monday – Bookish Talk: DNF-ing Books – Do you do it? This one got a LOT of attention, which I wasn’t expecting, but I was really excited about. I had some interesting discussions in the comments. 🙂

Tuesday – Top Ten Tuesday: Underrated authors and books
My interview with Adi Alsaid, author of Let’s Get Lost 

Wednesday – Waiting on Wednesday: Blue Lily, Lily Blue
My freak out about the new Mockingjay Part 1 Poster

Thursday – Liebster Award: Take 3!
Book Review: This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith 

Saturday – ARC Review: Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday
Recap/review of Teen Wolf’s season 4 finale, “Smoke and Mirrors”
Comic Book Review: Bodies #2

Sunday – Audiobook Review: Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Some non-bookish things to check out or that I’m excited about:

– This cover of The Neighbourhood’s song Sweater Weather. WOW.
– THE MAZE RUNNER MOVIE COMES OUT FRIDAY!!!!
– I bought my ticket to see The 1975 in November with my friend Georgie!
– You might’ve seen this, but this frat did a lip sync video of Taylor Swift’s song Shake It Off (I’m not a fan of Taylor Swift, but I actually enjoyed this)

MY FIRST GIVEAWAY: A signed copy of Anna and the French Kiss

I am so excited to be doing my first ever giveaway on the blog! Recently, I went to the Decatur Book Festival, where I met Stephanie Perkins! She was lovely, and she signed a copy of Anna and the French Kiss for me to give away (Don’t worry. I checked that it was okay!) If you haven’t noticed, I loved all three books in this series: Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, and Isla and the Happily Ever After – and by love, I mean completely fangirled over each book. The opportunity to possibly have someone else fall in love with them through this giveaway makes me so happy.

The giveaway will run until 5 p.m. CST on Monday, September 22, 2014 – three weeks from now. See below for how to enter! Continue reading

Book Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Isla and the Happily Ever AfterTitle: Isla and the Happily Ever After

Author: Stephanie Perkins

Genre: Contemporary, YA, Romance

Publisher: Dutton

Publication Date: August 15, 2014

Hardback: 339 pages

Stand alone or series: Last in a trilogy of companion novels

How did I get this book: Bought

Let’s start with a brief synopsis from Goodreads:

From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.

Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and Étienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.

What I thought:

AHHHH. *flails* *fangirls* *squeals*

Okay. *breathes* Let me try to actually put into words my feelings for the final book in this lovely, sweet, amazing trilogy.

I’m not going to lie, when my friend Georgie recommended Anna and the French Kiss to me, I was doubtful. This is not the usual type of book I read. At all. But I picked up Anna and then Lola and I fell in love. Stephanie Perkins is a wonderfully gifted author who makes you swoon, laugh, cry, and feel ALL THE THINGS.

This book was different from the other two though. It’s not like in Anna and Lola when we ship the two characters the whole entire time until they finally, beautifully fall in love with each other. Instead, Isla and Josh begin a relationship pretty quickly and fall for each other. HARD. And then the book follows them as they go through some stuff. Instead of being about the characters finding each other, this book was about them finding themselves and what that means in a relationship. A lot of their problems are self-inflicted, but this is what allowed them to learn about themselves. Yes, it was a little over-dramatic at times. I mean, just have a conversation with each other, geez!

I have loved Josh since the beginning, you guys. I couldn’t wait for him to come back. He’s wonderful: funny, charming, brooding, creative, all the things I like. Honestly, I just didn’t think there was enough of him in this book. Instead of being like the other two books and having a couple (Anna & St. Clair / Lola & Cricket), it mostly felt like this was Isla’s story, which it is, I know. But I could have used a lot more of Josh. Also, at times, the relationship between Josh and Isla was weird for me. It felt a little too instalove-ish at times, which you guys know I hate. Sometimes I honestly just wanted to ask Josh why he even liked Isla. I mean, I like her; I think she’s my favorite narrator of the three, but it was one of those “You’ve been in love with him forever and guess what? He’s always loved you too but couldn’t do anything about it.” Blah.

But then sometimes I was just like, “AH. Isla is so great.” She thinks and talks just like we do.

“You know that because you asked me out, you’re the one who has to pick the place, right?”
Throat. Dry.
Dry throat.
All of the dryness in my throat.
“Whatever you suggest.” He grins. “I’ll say yes. You’ll definitely get a yes. If that helps.” (Page 75)

On the other hand, if I could just have a mix between Cricket and Josh, that’d be great. K? Thanks!

So then there’s this thing that happens on page 313. I had to close my book for a minute or two to just savor it. I almost cried. Okay, I actually did tear up a little. This book made me so happy, you guys. This was the best way to end this little trilogy.

I had issues with this one sometimes, but overall I loved it. It was just what I wanted: a sweet, adorable ending to this wonderful story. Isla grew up and learned a lot about herself throughout the book, which I really appreciated. I think I liked her so much not only because she talks/thinks like us, but because she was flawed, insecure, and unsure of herself. She was able to realize all of this (with the help of her best friend – you guys know I like a good friendship story) and go fix it. A+ on the maturity and the friendship story, Steph!

I hope that this review is actually helpful because it kind of seems like a jumble of thoughts to me. I liked it. There you go. 🙂

Also, I’m going to a book festival in two weeks and Stephanie Perkins will be there and I CANNOT wait.

The bottom line: Cricket is still my favorite boy out of the trilogy, but Isla is my favorite narrator. She’s just like us. Yes, I had a few issues with this book, but overall, this was a wonderfully sweet ending to this trilogy. Just what the doctor ordered.

Rating: 8 – freaking fantastic

Reading next: The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

Waiting on Wednesday: Isla and the Happily Ever After

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!

This is my first time participating in Waiting on Wednesday, so I thought I’d share a book I’ve already said I cannot wait to read. I’ve already read and reviewed a 5 chapter sneak peek, and OH MY GOODNESS, I CAN’T WAIT.

Isla and the Happily Ever AfterPublisher: Dutton (Penguin Group)

Author: Stephanie Perkins

Release date: August 14, 2014

Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.

Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and Étienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.

Why I can’t wait:

I mean, do I really need to explain this one. I LOVED Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door, and I CANNOT WAIT to have Josh back. I also really like Isla as the narrator so far. Also, Cricket will be back, you guys. He’s one of my absolute favorite book boyfriends, so I’m ready to swoon all over again. Also, Annette from Booknerderie is going to come up so we can go buy the book and read it together. It’s going to be a fangirl party and I’m definitely looking forward to that.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’ve Read So Far in 2014

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Today’s theme was:

Top Ten Books I’ve Read So Far This Year

NOTE: All book titles are linked to my review of the book except the last two, which are linked to their Goodreads page. Also, each book is followed by my rating; you can check out my rating system to see each rating explained.

The Maze Runner    Love Letters to the Dead    Since You've Been Gone

1. The Maze Runner by James Dashner – 9 (practically perfect)
2. Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira – 9
3. Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson – 9

Anna and the French Kiss     Lola and the Boy Next Door     It's Kind of a Funny Story
4. Anna and the French Kiss – 7 (Pretty good) / Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins – 8 (Freaking fantastic)
5. It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini – 10 (Perfection)

Gone    The Raven Boys    Attachments
6. Gone by Michael Grant – 8
7. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater – 9
8. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell – 8

And those read before I started my blog (Linked to Goodreads)

The Bling Ring     Will Grayson, Will Grayson

9. The Bling Ring: How a Gang of Fame-Obsessed Teens Ripped Off Hollywood and Shocked the World by Nancy Jo Sales
10. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

 

What are the best books you’ve read this year? Did you participate in TTT? Link me to it in the comments!

Book Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

This past week (more like the last few days of the week) I read both Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins. I’m going to post reviews to them at the same time, but I want to give you the option to only read the review of Anna and the French Kiss, though my review of Lola and the Boy Next Door doesn’t give much away (it’s probably pretty obvious what happens in the end of the first book). You can find my review of Lola HERE.

Anna and the French KissTitle: Anna and the French Kiss

Author: Stephanie Perkins

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Publisher: Speak

Publication Date: August 2011

Paperback: 372 pages

Stand alone or series: First in a set of three companion novels

How did I get this book: Bought

So recently I’ve been reading a lot of heavy books (dystopian, sci-fi, Love Letters to the Dead), and I really needed something light and refreshing. Anna and the French Kiss was recommended to me by a friend, and I decided to check it out. I’m really glad I did; this book was exactly what I needed.

Synopsis (from the book jacket):

Anna is happy in Atlanta. She has a loyal best friend and a crush on her coworker at the movie theater, who is just starting to return her affection. So she’s less than thrilled when her father decides to send her to a boarding school in Paris for her senior year. But despite not speaking a word of French, Anna meets some cool new people, including the handsome Etienne St. Clair, who quickly becomes her best friend. Unfortunately, he’s taken – and Anna might be, too. Will a year of romantic near misses end with the French kiss she’s been waiting for?

What I thought:

This isn’t the type of book I usually read; as I’m sure you can tell from my reviews so far, I am more likely to read a dystopian novel with a lot of action, powerful characters, and maybe even some superpowers. Therefore, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about this book, but someone whose opinion I trust told me to read this book. So I did. I wasn’t disappointed at all. I was quickly captivated by this book, and I raced through it in two days.

It is the type of book that takes time to make you fall in love with it. Though I was quickly charmed by Perkin’s writing and, of course, Paris, it took time for me to really start to love the characters. I actually liked one of the secondary characters, Josh, before I really liked Anna. Josh is funny, charming, and smart. St. Clair, Anna’s best friend and love interest, was somewhat annoying at first, and I was mad at him several times for the time it took for him to realize what he needs to do. But once Josh got me laughing, it didn’t take long for me to get into the other characters. And I did love seeing Paris through Anna’s eyes because she was nervous and afraid to go out on her own at first, something I could relate to with my own study abroad experience. I think this slow-to-love thing was actually quite genuine: most people don’t fall in love quickly and all at once, but slowly, cautiously, and sometimes with fights. Because of this, my enjoyment of this book was honest and sincere.

Once I started to really like St. Clair (and began rooting for him and Anna), I realized how much I loved their romance. It isn’t your typical “I just met him but I’m totally in love with him” YA romance. They’re best friends first. They get to know each other on a level that most people don’t. They realize that the other isn’t perfect, that they are flawed, but that they are both flawed. St. Clair is a real guy; he has problems and he doesn’t know how to deal with them. He doesn’t know what to do about his feelings for Anna. In fact, he acts like a complete idiot several times. Like a real dude. I feel like their romance was realistic; okay, at times I felt like it was a little ridiculous and the whole “I like you but I can’t be with you” thing went on a little too long for my tastes, but I enjoyed the book anyway.

I enjoyed getting to see Paris once Anna started to get around in the city. I would totally use this book as a tour guide if I ever get to visit the city. It’d be fun to go to the cafes Anna visits or walk on her route from her school to Notre Dame. Yeah, definitely adding this to my bucket list.

The bottom line:

This book was just what I needed. I don’t say this in a mean way, but it was a palate cleanser for me. It was a light, refreshing romance that was completely different from my usual read. I sincerely enjoyed reading it. Thank you, Georgie, for recommending it!

Rating: 7 – Pretty good

I’d love it if you’d read my review of Lola and the Boy Next Door, too! Have you read Anna? What did you think?

Reading next: It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini