Isla Is Coming: Anna and the French Kiss Readalong Kick-Off

July 31, 2014 ● BY ● TAGS: Blog Event, Read-Along8 comments

islaiscoming2

It’s almost time, guys. In two weeks, Isla and the Happily Ever After will finally be released and we will all be able to read the hell out of our long-since pre-ordered copies. This also means that today marks the start of the Isla Is Coming readalong, hosted by Meg, Jamie, Andi, Lindsey and yours truly. Today is the day we start our reread, or first read, of Anna and the French Kiss, and man, am I excited for another chance to read this book. I’ve been wanting to reread for such a long time, and especially since my second visit to Paris in the summer of 2013.

what is happening?

The readalong is very chill. We don’t have a specific page goal per day because we just want this to be fun (and also, who is going to be able to stop reading anyway?), but our goal is to finish in a week. Don’t forget to tweet along using the hashtag #IslaIsComing, because at the end of the event, there will be some amazing giveaways you don’t want to miss. Are you excited?! I know I am. If you are unfamiliar with the book we’re reading this week but signed up for the fun of it (and I’m trying to say this with the least amount of judgment possible), here’s the deal:

Isla Is Coming: Anna and the French Kiss Readalong Kick-OffTitle: Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Genre/Age Group: Contemporary Romance, Young Adult
Add it: Goodreads

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 Étienne St. Clair, who quickly becomes her best friend. Unfortunately, he's taken — and Anna might be, too.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?

a look around paris

To celebrate this book, and one of my favorite cities in the world, I wanted to share some pictures of places mentioned, to get a bit of an idea of the surroundings. I say “some” but actually most are pictures of the bookstore, because books. I know I posted them before, but just roll with it. (All pictures were taken by me. Please don’t use without crediting.)

The Notre-Dame is probably the most memorable place in this book.

But my favorite place was Shakespeare and Company, the best bookstore in the world.

Look at these awesome shelves.

And more beautiful books.

Booooooooooks.

Les Jardins du Luxembourg are where the good things happen. (I know this doesn’t show you much of the surroundings, but it may be my favorite picture. Look at that cutie!)

Walks along the Seine, laughing in the rain, our last summer. (Sorry.)

And of course, I had to share some Eiffel Tower.

tour schedule

For the next three weeks, the readalong will not be the only part of the celebration. We are also hosting a blog tour, where the following bloggers will join in on the Isla Is Coming celebration with all kinds of fun blog posts. I know I definitely can’t wait to read whatever they have to say. Make sure to check them out:

Anna and the French Kiss
7/31 – Paper Riot (Anna Readalong Kick-Off)
8/01 – Novel Sounds
8/04 – The Book Addict’s Guide
8/05 – Alexa Loves Books
8/06 – A Bookish Sinister Kid

Lola and the Boy Next Door
8/07 – Cuddlebuggery (Lola Readalong Kick-Off) + GReads!
8/08 – Novel Thoughts
8/09 – Book Revels
8/12 – Rather Be Reading
8/13 – Finding Bliss in Books

Isla and the Happily Ever After
8/14 – The Perpetual Page-Turner (Isla Readalong Kick-Off)
8/15 – AndiABCs
8/18 – Writer of Wrongs
8/19 – Anna Reads
8/20 - Good Books and Good Wine

join in!

If you want to join, you can still sign up below. You can write a post if you want, or you can just tweet along. I am very excited for this, and I hope you are too. If you decide to write a post or share the banner/button, please don’t forget to credit the very talented Meg. If you are joining, leave the answer to the following question below or let us know on Twitter.

Question time: Is this your first time reading Anna and the French Kiss? If yes, what do you expect from this book? If no, what is your favorite part of the book? (No spoilers in the comments please.)

On My Shelves: July 2014

July 30, 2014 ● BY ● TAGS: Book Haul, Monthly Recap, On My Shelves4 comments

oms

I used to do monthly recap posts of which book hauls were just a part, but I realized I don’t actually like doing monthly recap posts anymore. From now on, my monthly recap posts will consist of all the books I’ve received that month, the best book I’ve read that month, and a list of the posts Ellice and I published that month. Better right? For me, it works.

Read more »

Review: The Falconer

July 28, 2014 ● BY ● TAGS: Review, 3 comments

Review: The FalconerTitle: The Falconer (The Falconer #1)
Author: Elizabeth May
Publisher: Gollancz
Release Date: September 12, 2013
Genre/Age Group: Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Young Adult
Source: Borrowed
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: 2.5 Stars

Edinburgh, Scotland, 1844

Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, was destined for a life carefully planned around Edinburgh’s social events – right up until a faery killed her mother.

Now it’s the 1844 winter season and Aileana slaughters faeries in secret, in between the endless round of parties, tea and balls. Armed with modified percussion pistols and explosives, she sheds her aristocratic facade every night to go hunting. She’s determined to track down the faery who murdered her mother, and to destroy any who prey on humans in the city’s many dark alleyways.

But the balance between high society and her private war is a delicate one, and as the fae infiltrate the ballroom and Aileana’s father returns home, she has decisions to make. How much is she willing to lose – and just how far will Aileana go for revenge

my thoughts

I am utterly conflicted about The Falconer. On the one hand, I think Elizabeth May wrote a great debut novel, I am impressed with part of the world building, and I could easily have loved it. On the other, I also had some issues with the world building, I just really wasn’t invested in the story at all, and I didn’t love it. I think it took me over two months to read the first hundred pages of this book and even when I finally read the rest of the story, I had to force myself through it at times. Not because it’s a bad book. Not because I didn’t see its qualities. Not because there weren’t parts I enjoyed. I don’t know why it felt like that, to be honest, but I do know that it shaped my opinion of the book. Because forcing yourself through a book is never a good sign. No matter how good the book.

When we look at the world-building, I thoroughly love the historical part of it. Steampunk high society Scotland? Yes please. I love that the book was set in Scotland, because I don’t think I’ve ever read a book set there before (Harry Potter doesn’t count), and I was even more impressed with the flawless way May incorporated steampunk in this historical setting. It felt really natural, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I also love anything high society, because scandals! rich people drama! etiquette! pretty dresses! etc. The paranormal aspect, however, was too underdeveloped for my taste. When we meet Aileana, she is hunting Fae, but she doesn’t know much of their world. She has a Fae teacher, Kiaran McCay, but he doesn’t really tell her anything and we don’t know why he fights his own kind. Throughout the story, we don’t learn much more besides the fact that Aileana knows all Fae and hunts them . So far, I was just confused about it all.

The story is pretty fast paced, which didn’t work for me in combination with the lack of world-building. Even though we don’t know a lot about the Fae world, we quickly learn a whole bunch of evil Fae is about to escape from a prison and Aileana needs to save the world. I do think that it also might have been my lack of investment that caused me to be confused, so it probably won’t be the case for all readers. But it is how I felt. I didn’t have time to get used to the mythology, because it was barely explained, but then the ending was completely focused on this part and I was just very confused. The ending, as well, was something I have mixed feelings about because on the one hand, it might have been an interesting twist in perspective (were the characters as trust-worthy as they seemed?) but on the other hand, I think a cliffhanger was a bit out of placed because it only added to my lack of comprehension.

On a more positive note, I really loved Aileana as a character. She was strong-willed and pretty badass, but also just a broken girl still suffering from her mother’s death. I really liked being in her head and I loved the way she stood up for herself. Besides Aileana, Kiaran was a really interesting character and I know many people who are obsessed with him. However, I have just read Sarah J. Maas’s Heir of Fire and he reminded me too much of Rowan. Of course, The Falconer was written before Heir of Fire, but if I were to compare the two (which, to be honest, I am doing), I prefer Rowan. I’m not sure how to feel about the relationship between Aileana and Kiaran, or the relationship between Aileana and Gavin for that matter, because both were developed so quickly. The only relationships I really liked were Aileana and her friend Catherine (yay for true and loyal friends!), and Aileana and Derrick-the-pixie.

So all in all, I am just very confused. It took me a while to get into the story because of the lack of background information, and I didn’t like the ending because of that same lack of background information. Honestly, the faery world just really didn’t work for me because there was so little of it, but I hope that will be explained more in the sequel. I like the kick-ass main character and the historical setting a lot, I think the family dynamics between Aileana and her father were really interesting, and I love the steampunk aspect. But I think the parts I didn’t like were more plentiful than the ones I did like. Or maybe “didn’t like” isn’t the right expression. Maybe I just read this at the wrong time, or maybe it’s just that I kept comparing it to the Throne of Glass series. I do think The Falconer is a good book and I would recommend it if you like the things I mentioned, but it didn’t really work for me, personally.

memorable quotes

“I am the wild creature he saw fight, kill and survive only last night. Dresses conceal my brokenness. They cloak the savage creature that lives inside me and thrives on anger. I am a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

Gavin studies me intently. “Did you choose it?”
Leaning in close, I press my cheek against his, a touch that goes against every social rule I’ve ever been taught. It’s the excitement of the hunt that courses through me, a savage hum. I’m beyond propriety, beyond etiquette.
“I revel in it.”

“Society, it appears, is more accepting of a rumored murderess than a ruined woman, whether she’s reported to be engaged or not.”

“If my honor needs defending,” I say, “I can do it myself.”

Review: Boomerang

July 24, 2014 ● BY ● TAGS: Review, 4 comments

Review: BoomerangTitle: Boomerang (Boomerang #1)
Author: Noelle August
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: July 8, 2014
Genre/Age Group: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Source: Won
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: 4 Stars

Welcome to Boomerang.com, the dating site for the millennial gen with its no-fuss, no-commitments matchups, and where work is steamier than any random hook-up

Mia Galliano is an aspiring filmmaker. Ethan Vance has just played his last game as a collegiate soccer star. They’re sharp, hungry for success, and they share a secret.

Last night, Ethan and Mia met at a bar, and, well . . . one thing led to another, which led to them waking up the next morning—together. Things turned awkward in a hurry when they found themselves sharing a post hookup taxi . . . to the same place: Boomerang headquarters.

What began as a powerful connection between them is treated to a cold shower courtesy of two major complications. First, Boomerang has a strict policy against co-worker dating. And second, they’re now competitors for only one job at the end of summer.

As their internships come to an end, will they manage to keep their eyes on the future and their hands off each other, or will the pull of attraction put them right back where they started?(less)

my thoughts

Who says New Adult books are only about tortured twenty-somethings who use sex as a way to escape their issues? Noelle August (who is actually writer’s duo Lorin Oberweger and Veronica Rossi) shows that there is much more to this genre than a lot of people (myself included) think there is. Admittedly, I have been wary of NA books in the past. The formula seemed to be exactly what I wrote in the first sentence of this review, and for me, that only works so many times before I get stuck in eye-roll mode. Like most NA books, Boomerang contains some mature themes than you would normally find in Young Adult stories. But unlike other NA books I have read, Boomerang is not just about sex. Or rather, sex is not described as something that would solve problems, but rather something that is just something people do and want to do. It’s a part of the characters’ lives but it’s not their entire lives. It’s natural.

Boomerang is about Mia Galliano, twenty-one year old aspiring film maker, and Ethan Vance, also twenty-one years old, but with a passion for soccer instead of films, who wake up after a one night stand they remember nothing about to find out they both start interning at one of the biggest media companies that very day. While they don’t remember much (or anything at all) of the previous night, they quickly realize they like each other a whole lot (and are very attracted to one another as well), but problem! They can’t be together without getting fired, and to add to the pressue, they are competing to get a job at the company in a few months. Uh oh. What I like most about Mia and Ethan is that their attraction felt completely natural to me. Often, romance in books feels forced to me – can’t have a book without some swoon, right? – but not in this book. Ethan and Mia are attracted to each other, but they also really care for each other.

Ethan and Mia were both realistically complex characters. Both have been hurt in the past, which is also something that usually comes with a NA novel, but it was written very well and didn’t define them completely. I am not often a fan of dual narrative in books, because so often, I can’t distinguish the two characters, but that was not the case here at all. Mia and Ethan were very different characters, both were equally well-written and loveable, with completely different lives. We learn a lot about their background, and it is obvious that there is more than just attraction. While the romance is the main factor in the book I love that we also learned about friends, family, and, of course, work. We learned about Mia and Ethan separately as well as together, and that is what ultimately made me love this book so much. I especially liked the moments with Mia’s family and I just love that family was important to them as they were trying to find their way.

Along with the (sexual) attraction comes my favorite aspect of this book: the humor. The entire book is written with a lightness, a great sense of humor that made me laugh out loud at multiple points. Especially the banter between the two main characters is amazing, because they are both sharp, witty and very smart. I also just love that sex is something that isn’t taken as seriously as it usually is. While I love it when characters take their time with having sex (my favorite example being My Life Next Door), I adore that Ethan and Mia are just enjoying themselves. Their constant flirting and banter were amazing and the entire book just made me so happy. Granted, I was a bit disappointed with the ending, simply because I was expecting something more (from the sex scene, from the work thing), but it was still just a great book. I loved Boomerang, and you should all read it if you’re looking for a happy, flirty, sexy but smart book.

memorable quotes

“So, that’s the image we’re unveiling for our investors? Sex organs whipping through the air?”

“I want to be able to ook at a person and say, ‘I want you.’ Or ‘I really like you so much.’ It’s like none of us – not me, not any of my friends, no one I know, will ever just put themselves out there and say, ‘I want to be with you.’ We’re all scared of giving up the power of being the person who cares less.”

“Mia,” [Nana] said to me the other day. “It all goes so fast, but you never feel different inside.” She’d put her hand on my heart and said, “We’re the same age. In here.”

“The minute you put my panties in the toaster oven, I knew you were the one.”

Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

July 21, 2014 ● BY ● TAGS: Review4 comments

Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved BeforeTitle: To All the Boys I've Loved Before (To All the Boys #1)
Author: Jenny Han
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Genre/Age Group: Contemporary, Young Adult
Source: Purchased
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: 4 Stars

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them... all at once?

Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren't love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she's written. One for every boy she's ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only.

Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean's love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

my thoughts

I wish I could write my review of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before with smiley faces, hearts and exclamation points. It’s one of the cutest YA contemps I’ve read so far this year, and I couldn’t stop smiling when I finished it. I had an issue with the likability of a couple of the characters, but Han’s character development is amazing, and she is obviously a master storyteller, because she completely changed my mind about them by the end of the book!

Lara Jean, the main character and narrator of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, was very immature in the beginning. She is the middle daughter, self-absorbed and spoiled, thriving on attention from her father, her older sister Margot, and little sister Kitty. Plus, at 16, going on 17, she didn’t like to drive and wanted someone to chauffer her everywhere she went. Since I was so annoyed by Lara Jean, I couldn’t relate to her at first, and to be honest, I wasn’t very invested in her story. For a split second, I even considered setting the book aside because I couldn’t stand reading from such an immature point-of-view. However, I’m glad I hung in there because I learned a very important lesson: never doubt Jenny Han’s writing and character development!

The character growth in this book is amazing.  We learn that the girls’ mom died when they were very young, so the oldest sister, Margot, had to take care of Lara Jean and Kitty for a lot of years. In fact, I perceived that Margot was a lot like a mother to the girls, especially since their father was often at work. When Margot moves (very far) away to college, Lara Jean finds herself thrown into Margot’s former role: caring for her little sister Kitty and helping their father out around the house. It’s an extremely difficult job for Lara Jean at first, since she’s so accustomed to being pampered, but she quickly settles into a routine and actually matures a lot when she no longer has Margot to do everything for her. It was so heartwarming to see Lara Jean grow into such a responsible adult who not only takes care of Kitty but also loves her unconditionally. She’s actually very good for her little sister because she teaches her some responsibility (although Margot chastised Lara Jean for being too hard on Kitty when she came home from college for the first time).

So, it sounds as if the family aspect is the main story in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, right? Well, wrong. No contemporary would be complete without a little romance (at least in my opinion… y’all know how much I like those kissy scenes!).  Jenny Han did not disappoint me, because she gave us a delightful story about two people falling in love. But muwahahahaha, I’m not telling you which two characters fall in love because there are a couple of guys who end up vying for Lara Jean’s attention. ;)

There is a bit of tension between Margot and Lara Jean because of the fact that Margot dated Josh, Lara Jean’s longtime crush. Margot broke up with him right before she left for college, but because Lara Jean is afraid to confess her feelings to him, she writes a letter instead. She puts it in a box under her bed, along with other letters written to other “crushes” that she’s had over the years. She never planned to actually mail the letters, but, oops, somehow they end up in the mail. When Josh reads his, things get awkward, so LJ enlists Peter (her first kiss) to be her “boyfriend.” Lara Jean and Peter are both hoping to make someone else jealous, so this fake relationship benefits both of them, and they start spending a lot of time together to make the relationship seem authentic. I absolutely love the “fake relationship” storyline, because usually with this storyline the two characters end up realizing that they want to be with each other (I won’t tell you if this happens here!). I was so delighted when I realized that it was going to be a large part of this book’s plot, and I loved watching Lara Jean realize what, or who, she really wants.

The only thing about this book that I ended up disliking? That there is going to be a sequel! I WANTED TO KNOW WHAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN RIGHT THEN. Aaaah! Jenny Han, that is a very evil thing to do to your readers. Haha, just kidding, I actually loved it because the ending left me with my mouth hanging open! I can’t wait to find out what happens to these characters and how they evolve in the next book. I’m sure that P.S. I Still Love You will be equally great!

memorable quotes

“Firsts are best because they are beginnings.”

“To belong to someone—I didn’t know it, but now that I think about it, it seems like that’s all I’ve ever wanted. To really be somebody’s, and to have them be mine.” 

“When someone’s been gone a long time, at first you save up all the things you want to tell them. You try to keep track of everything in your head. But it’s like trying to hold on to a fistful of sand: all the little bits slip out of your hands, and then you’re just clutching air and grit. That’s why you can’t save it all up like that. Because by the time you finally see each other, you’re catching up only on the big things, because it’s too much bother to tell about the little things. But the little things are what make up life.”