ARC Review: The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina GeorgeAuthor: Nina George
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Crown
Publication Date: June 23, 2015
400 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

NOTE: I was provided with an e-ARC  of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Crown for letting me read this!

I am so sad about this one. From the synopsis, I thought this book was going to be absolutely perfect for me, but The Little Paris Bookshop is not at all what I was expecting. Perdu owns a literary apothecary, from which he “prescribes” books to people based on what they need from the book. He uses his ability to find the exact book a reader needs, even if it means forcing them not to buy something else. But he’s still haunted by an ex-lover from twenty years ago, and when he finally reads the letter she left him so long ago, he decides to take off and visit the South of France. Doesn’t that sound perfect for a book and travel lover??

The Little Paris Bookshop had an absolutely wonderful start. Perdu’s Literary Apothecary and the neighborhood where he lives in Paris are enchanting and I honestly wish I could visit his book barge – how cool would that be?! I loved the descriptions of his ability to prescribe the perfect book and the eclectic cast of characters that live in his building. Even twenty years later, Perdu is still heartbroken over his lost love, and the emotions he feels are quite beautifully and sadly described.

But then Perdu reads the letter from his lost love, Manon, and everything changes – for him and for the reader. He decides to set sail for the town where Manon was from, along with a bestselling author with writer’s block and eventually a lovesick chef. The story turns into this long, rather boring trip along the Seine with stops at cute little towns along the way. I really enjoyed seeing all these towns, with their underground tango clubs and interesting people. But after a while the story bored me. I was not longer enchanted by Perdu, especially because the whole literary apothecary thing is only really mentioned at the beginning. From about 50% to 75% of the way through, I was flipping pages as quickly as I can because I was bored. I wasn’t expecting this to be a romance in the most literal sense, and I’m not much of a romance girl. But there are a lot of people who are. I can see the merit in this one and I know a lot of people will fall in love with it. I can even see myself liking it a lot more in the future. Possibly. If you’re a romance fan, and would like to travel to France for a little while, check this one out.

At the end of the novel, we get “Jean Perdu’s Emergency Literary Pharmacy: From Adams to Von Arnim”. This was hands down my favorite part of the book. Books prescribed for certain “ailments” such as The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy for “a sense of humor failure” or 1984 because it “reduces gullibility and apathy.” I wanted more!

The bottom line: Not what I was expecting or really in the mood for. It had a beautiful literary beginning but then fell a little flat for me from there. Much of the middle was dull and rather tiresome to read, in all honesty. I am so sad too because I really wanted to like this book about books.

Rating: 4 – Eh. This is bad.

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Book Review: The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

The Geography of You and MeTitle: The Geography of You and Me

Author: Jennifer E. Smith

Genre: YA, Contemporary

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Publication Date: April 2014

Hardback: 337 pages

Stand alone or series: Stand alone

How did I get this book: Borrowed from the library

Check out the summary on Goodreads

What I thought:

I knew what I was getting into when I started this book: a hopefully swoon-worthy romance, cute characters, probably a little too idealistic storyline, and a lot of too good to be true. Did all of this stop me from enjoying this book? Heck no. In fact, I loved all of that. Sometimes you want to read a story where it all just works out, don’t you? This isn’t your typical romance though. Shortly after meeting in an elevator in New York, both Lucy and Owen move away from each other. The two of them spend most of the book on two different continents, communicating through postcards (a bit of a joke between the two). This makes it so that the romance is a little less passionate than you might see in other contemporaries. The two characters hardly spend any time together before they realize that there’s just something about the other that they love. It leads to a kind of instalove, but it didn’t bother me in this case.

I think this is because they have separate lives throughout the novel. They each have separate relationships, different schools, and live on completely different continents. So yes, they like each other pretty quickly, but then they must figure out who they are separately before finding each other again.

So I had some issues with the relationship, but my favorite part of this book was seeing all of the different places they went. After meeting, Owen and his father leave NY. They take a road trip across the country, so we see several places through their eyes, before they settle (sort of) in a few cities. Lucy’s father gets a job in Edinburgh (You guys know I loved this!) and then eventually London, but she also takes several trips to different countries. I am a wanderer myself and I love to travel; being able to spend time in my favorite city in the world (Edinburgh) and experience some new places as well was awesome. But not only do these two travel, they deal with some deep feelings (especially Owen who works towards overcoming the grief about his mother’s death), which made this a book not only focused on romance but on some profound feelings too. However, I did get a little bored in the middle with this separation of the two of them and I just kept wanting them to reunite already.

I definitely preferred Owen to Lucy, however. Lucy lives in the penthouse of her building, and her parents constantly leave her at home to travel to other countries, meaning they leave her alone in a penthouse in New York for weeks at a time. She gets kind of emo about this, has no friends, and blah…cry me a river. Owen’s feelings felt much more profound to me as he worked toward overcoming his grief. Once Lucy started to grow and confront her feelings with her mother, I liked her more.

The bottom line: Recommend for hopeless romantics and lovers of travel.

Rating: 7 – pretty good

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Book review: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

AttachmentsTitle: Attachments

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Genre: Contemporary, romance, comedy

Publisher: Dutton

Publication Date: April 2011

Hardback: 323

Stand alone or series: Standalone

How did I get this book: Borrowed from the library

This is the first book by Rainbow Rowell that I have read. I’ve heard A LOT about her and have wanted to try one of her books for a while. I was not disappointed.

Let’s start with a brief synopsis:

“Hi, I’m the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you . . . ”

Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It’s company policy.) But they can’t quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.

Meanwhile, Lincoln O’Neill can’t believe this is his job now- reading other people’s e-mail. When he applied to be “internet security officer,” he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke.

When Lincoln comes across Beth’s and Jennifer’s messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can’t help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories.

By the time Lincoln realizes he’s falling for Beth, it’s way too late to introduce himself.

What would he say . . . ?

What I thought:

I fell in love with this book the way I think you fall in love in real life (I don’t know for sure as I’ve never been in love), slowly, sweetly and uncontrollably until you realize you’re head over heels and gone forever. I don’t know if this actually makes sense.

Attachments begins in 1999 right before Y2K and during all of the madness leading up to that; you guys remember Y2K? It was so crazy. At The Courier, a small newspaper in Omaha, they are finally getting the internet and email, but the higher ups are worried about their employees not doing their jobs and wasting time online. So they hire Lincoln to monitor read their email. He hates his job and feels kind of like a Peeping Tom, but through it he finds Beth, a movie critic for the newspaper whose emails with her friend Jennifer are constantly being flagged by the internet software for their conversations about life, love, and stupid weddings. While reading their emails, Lincoln begins to fall in love with Beth, her humor, quirkiness, kindness. This romance was sweet, but decidedly creepy for me. I just imagined having someone I’ve never met reading my personal emails with my best friend (you know, if I was Beth) and having them fall in love with me. Okay, it’s sweet because he doesn’t actually know what Beth looks like and he still loves her, but wouldn’t that be a little weird?

The novel is written in a mix of chapters in Lincoln’s POV and chapters written entirely in the increasingly personal emails between Beth and Jennifer, a copyeditor at the newspaper. I seriously loved this modernized take on an epistolary novel (at least that’s what it made me think of). I also appreciated getting to know Beth and Jennifer through Lincoln’s eyes; it was easy to see what Lincoln liked about Beth: her conversations with Jennifer made me laugh out loud several times and they charmed me like they charmed Lincoln. But reading their emails while not actually getting any chapters from their perspective made you feel how Lincoln felt: a little creepy, like you’re peeking through a window at their private lives. I think this was a smart choice on Rowell’s part as you really relate to Lincoln this way.

I thought that Lincoln was funny and charismatic and charming and kind. He was a great character and I was rooting for him the whole time. He’s real and relatable. Sometimes though I just wanted to kick him in the butt: get up, go out, quit your job, do SOMETHING. I wanted him to change his life so that he could finally be happy. I was excited for him when he started doing things for himself like moving out of his mother’s house, making new friends, getting over his past. I thought his growth, while slow, was so real. He was still Lincoln at the end but he’d finally become his own person and was moving forward with his life. I loved that.

This book is open and honest, and I found myself engaged with the story right from the beginning. The dialogue is fantastic, especially between Beth and Jennifer; it’s delightful, funny, witty, and smart. I won’t give anything away, but I will say that I both liked and felt creeped out by the ending. However, the ending happened a little too quickly for me, I think. I was happy with the overall outcome because I was rooting for the romance, but I imagined myself in that situation and it was just weird. Weird in a good way? I don’t know. It happened very fast. Attachments is a really fun book but with serious moments and well-rounded, full characters.

The bottom line:

I was not disappointed with my first Rainbow Rowell book. I was engaged with the story and characters right from the beginning. Lincoln had me on his side the whole time and I was rooting for him when he began to develop. I will say I was a little creeped out some of the time, but I think that’s the way you’re supposed to feel. The ending was a little too quick for me, but this book is cute.

Rating: 8 – Freaking fantastic

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Book Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

If I Stay

Title: If I Stay

Author: Gayle Forman

Genre: Paranormal, young adult, romance

Publisher: Speak

Publication Date:

Paperback: 234

Stand alone or series: First in a series

How did I get this book: Borrowed

 

Let’s start with a brief synopsis (from the back cover):

On a day that started like any other…

Mia had everything: a loving family, a gorgeous, adoring boyfriend, and a bright future full of music and full of choices. Then, in an instant, almost all of that is taken from her. Caught between life and death, between a happy past and an unknowable future, Mia spends one critical day contemplating the only decision she has left—the most important decision she’ll ever make.

Simultaneously tragic and hopeful, this is a romantic, riveting, and ultimately uplifting story about memory, music, living, dying, loving.

What I thought:

Blaaaaaah.

Is that enough? Can I be done?

No? Okay, I’ll try to put into words how I feel.

I did not emotionally connect with this book. At all. There was one scene close to the middle that made me pretty sad, but mostly because I imagined what it would be like if that happened to me. I don’t want to give anything away, but I have a younger brother too, so I could relate. But I didn’t feel anything because the narrative made me feel that way, but rather because I could imagine it for myself.

Everything I read or heard about this book made it seem like I was going to cry and be devastated and that I would remember/be thinking about this book for a long time after I’d done reading it. In fact, the back cover quotes the Sacramento Bee as saying, “Long after its last moment, readers may find themselves dwelling on how the story resonates in their own lives.” Honestly, I doubt I’ll think about this book after I finish this review.

The “romance” in this novel is non-existent, at least to me, until the last 5 pages. The relationship has been having problems since the beginning; Mia actually says that. She says that her relationship with Adam started off rocky and that the last several months of their relationship has been problematic as well because they’ve been moving in different directions in life. Mia says that the middle of the relationship was wonderful; they were in love, blah blah blah. But the reader doesn’t actually see that.

Everything that the reader is supposed to feel in this novel is, I guess, implied, but even Mia doesn’t feel anything. In the state she’s in, she doesn’t feel: not the physical pain of her injuries nor the emotional pain of the tragedy that’s occurred. How in the world are WE supposed to feel anything if she doesn’t?? Seriously. I don’t get it. Also, you can’t tell me I’m supposed to be sad. You have to show me, you have to make me feel it through the narrative. I just didn’t, and, therefore, I didn’t connect.

I will say that If I Stay was an easy read. I read it quite quickly. For some reason I can’t actually explain, I will probably read the sequel. I guess it’s mostly because I’m curious. And because I know it’ll probably be as quick a read as this one was. The writing style was easy and simple, which was nice.

I honestly don’t know if maybe I just read this at the wrong time. Maybe after the other books I read this week, this one just didn’t live up to those or something. I do think this book was overrated, and that my opinion might have suffered from the hype surrounding it. It was not “devastating” as the synopsis said. Sad, sure, but only because of the subject matter and not from the way it made me feel. I was just kind of bored with it, to be honest.

The bottom line:

I couldn’t connect with this book. And if I can’t connect with it, I’m not going to like it.

Rating: 4 – Eh. This is bad.

Reading next: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Have you read this book? What did you think?

Book Review: Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

So this was the first Morgan Matson book I’ve read, and since starting my blog and checking out other book blogs, it’s pretty much impossible to escape Morgan Matson fan girls. Like, they’re everywhere. And…well, I think I’ve become one of them. 🙂

Since You've Been GoneTitle: Since You’ve Been Gone

Author: Morgan Matson

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publication Date: May 2014

Hardback: 449 pages

Stand alone or series: Stand alone

How did I get this book: Borrowed from the library

 

Let’s start with a brief synopsis (from Goodreads):

The Pre-Sloane Emily didn’t go to parties, she barely talked to guys, she didn’t do anything crazy. Enter Sloane, social tornado and the best kind of best friend—the one who yanks you out of your shell. But right before what should have been an epic summer, Sloane just… disappears. No note. No calls. No texts. No Sloane. There’s just a random to-do list. On it, thirteen Sloane-selected-definitely-bizarre-tasks that Emily would never try… unless they could lead back to her best friend. Apple Picking at Night? Ok, easy enough. Dance until Dawn? Sure. Why not? Kiss a Stranger? Wait… what?

Getting through Sloane’s list would mean a lot of firsts. But Emily has this whole unexpected summer ahead of her, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected) to check things off. Who knows what she’ll find?

Go Skinny Dipping? Um…

What I thought:

As you now know, Sloane leaves a list for Emily to complete. I’m a huge fan of lists, so I’m going to do my review in one. J

1. I think I need to start first with the friendship between Sloane and Emily, which is the basis for the novel. Their friendship was strange at first because I’ve never had a friendship that I was this crazily wrapped up in, but the way Matson writes gets you involved in what Emily is going through and you feel for her as she pretty much mourns the loss of her best friend. The time away from Sloane, along with what happens to her during this time, really gives Emily a new perspective on their friendship. Sloane was behind all of their fun and adventures, so Emily didn’t know who she was apart from that or what to do when Sloane wasn’t there. It was great seeing her stepping out of her comfort zone; I could completely relate to this. I used to be pretty shy in high school (I know, it’s hard to believe), and I found myself in college by breaking out of my shell and doing things by myself and meeting new people. I saw myself in Emily quite a bit.

2. Sloane isn’t who Emily thinks she is. As we learn more about Sloane through flashbacks to when she was still around, we, along with Emily, find out that Emily has built her up to be this perfect person, and she just isn’t that. Emily has lost herself in Sloane, following her along and doing what Sloane says to do. We find out that Sloane needed Emily just as much as Emily needed Sloane. Sloane put on a bit of a front, and I appreciated that; she felt more real this way. Honestly, I wasn’t really a fan of Sloane’s until closer to the end when you began to understand her more.

3. FRANK. Asdfjkl; He’s not your average love interest in a book. He’s the class president/”boy scout”; he’s a leader, but he’s not nerdy either. I think he really just wants to be normal. That’s what he gets with Emily. He was so complex and rounded and lovely and I’m in love. I can’t really put into words all the reasons why. But I swooned. Several times.

4. There are quite a few music playlists throughout the book, made by both Emily and Frank. How cool! It gave the book a really awesome, complete experience. And this is another reason I loved Frank so much: he had a playlist with Twenty One Pilots (one of my top two favorite bands), Andrew McMahon, fun., Swedish House Mafia, and more. I liked the idea so much that I made it into an actual playlist on Spotify (if you are so inclined, you can check it out here: Since You’ve Been Gone – Mix #7). Also, there’s a fake band called The Henry Gales, which I love because that’s Dorothy’s uncle’s name in The Wizard of Oz but it is also Ben Linus’ fake name in Lost. I don’t know if this is why Matson chose it, but I’m going to pretend it is.

5. I can tell that Matson has been writing for a while. Her writing is clear and succinct, nothing was unnecessary. Each sentence was perfectly placed and well-rounded. I was kind of surprised by just how well-done this book was; it’s not your typical YA/Contemporary romance, that’s for sure. I thought the voice was definitely genuine, and even though she name drops some playwrights and obscure bands, the voice still felt like that of a teenager. Also, I wanted to know what was going to happen and lost myself in the novel. I was undoubtedly impressed.

6. Oh, the romance. I thought the romance between Frank and Emily was really sincere. It was gradual, not an all-at-once instalove, which I appreciated. They become friends first and foremost (he has a girlfriend when they start hanging out). But it wasn’t just that he had a girlfriend: they needed each other, needed a friend to talk to. So they were friends first, and then came the feelings, yet it wasn’t forced; it felt organic, like it actually came from their friendship and appreciation of the other person. Because of this, the romance felt more realistic to me. Of course, the reader knows where it is heading, but you still hold your breath when problems arise, and you root for them the whole time (at least I did).

7. Emily’s transformation was really gradual and not all at once, too. I liked this. No one changes all at once; no one can just dive into being brave and doing things out of their comfort zone. It felt more honest and real this way. She was scared when she started going through the list, but with a little help from her new friends, she knows she can do it. Also, I won’t give any details, but I think she even backpedalled a little bit towards the end; I liked this because it shows that even after you change some, you’re not perfect and you still make mistakes.

8. The list was such a great idea! Sloane couldn’t be there, but she gave Emily a list of things to do that she knew would break her out of her shell. Through it, Emily made new friends, found herself, and can now go through life on her own path. And it was so fun to see her do these things. A couple of things from the list: Ride a dern horse, ya cowpoke, dance until dawn, share some secrets in the dark. The list was sweet and entertaining, and I enjoyed seeing Emily figure out how she’d do them and felt for her as she struggled to get up the courage to do some of them.

9. Something I didn’t like: I thought the ending was a little rushed. Again, I don’t want to give away too many details, but the book led up to this big event (which was pretty genuine and I understood it) but it felt too fast.

10. I liked the secondary characters – Beckett (Emily’s little brother who is basically a ninja), Dawn (Emily’s new friend from the pizza parlor), Collins (Frank’s best friend). I thought they were all well-developed, rounded, and were each included with a purpose.

11. However, we are left without knowing what happens with two of the secondary characters who played a pretty big role in the book. I wish we could have found out what happened there, but I suppose it’s nice to be able to make up my own mind about that.

12. This quote: “I closed my eyes only to open them once more, and make sure it was all still there – the riot of stars above me, this whole other world existing just out of reach.” –Page 261

13. I borrowed this book from the library, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to be buying it along with Matson’s other two books. I was seriously impressed and I can completely understand the hype in the book blogosphere around Morgan Matson.

The bottom line:

This is a book about self-discovery, friendship, young love, and finding your own path in life. Everyone can relate to Emily in one way or another, and I was sucked in pretty quickly to the story. The romance and transformation of the main character was real and genuine and organic, and I appreciated it very much. Honestly, the more I think about it, the more I like this book.

Rating: 9 – Practically perfect

You can follow Morgan Matson on Twitter or check out her website to find out more about her.

Have you read Since You’ve Been Gone? What did you think? Tell me in the comments!

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