Synopsis

Anna has the worst father ever. He is making her leave her home in Atlanta to spend the year living and learning in SOAP (the School of America in Paris). She has to leave her family, her friends and the boy that she sort of might have a thing with…well it was looking that way before she was forced to go away from everything that she loves.

Determined to dislike everything about France, Anna is initially lonely but when she starts to make friends with her classmates she realises that European life isn’t all that bad…and the guys are pretty good looking too.

But will the people in Anna’s life back in Georgia wait for her?

Review

It is not often that I will be so emphatic about a book but I have to say that Anna and the French Kiss was one of the best YA books that I have read ever. I absolutely bloody loved it.

What I loved about Anna and the French Kiss was the mixture of trivial problems mixed with real life. Anna is dealing with your average teenage issues with the added extras of not speaking the language and missing home. The other themes – cancer, overbearing parents, break ups, bullying – they are all in this novel. Perkins manages to give a well rounded account of the daily worries of teenagers. She gives a voice to them and she does it so well.

I became so invested in Anna’s story. I whooped with joy when she got the boy; I became protective over her when she was betrayed by friends and I feel like I felt everything she went through. To me, that is the sign of good storytelling.

Paris was the perfect setting for this teen romance and allowed this Francophile to indulge in her love of all things French.

Now on to Lola and the Boy Next Door.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins is available now.

 

Last week did not go as planned. I managed to read three books but only two of them were on my TBR pile. This week I read:

Paper Swans by Jessica Thompson 

Between the Lives by Jessica Shirvington 

What Might Have Been by Matt Dunn 

I would have read much more but I am currently taking crazy antibiotics for my skin and spent half the week feeling sick and dizzy – not good. I have finally figured out that if I stay completely still and don’t move my head about I can manage to control the sick feeling. The things I do to read my book.

So for this week I am going to carry over two of those books because quite frankly it needs to be reviewed. My reading list for this week is:

A Song for Issy Bradley by Carys Bray (NetGalley)

Boy About Town by Tony Flectcher (Physical Copy)

I also want to read the following from my personal file:

Labyrinth by Brian Froud and Jim Henson

The Virgins by Pamela Erens

However, this week I have decided to have a Stephanie Perkins fest. Having never read any by her before I have decided to read the following books before the release of Isla and the Happily Ever After:

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

It does seem like an awful lot of book to be read this week. Combine this with two hospital visits and a dental appointment then I may be asking too much of myself. We shall see.

Wish me luck J

L x

Synopsis

When Sarah stops at the Jazz Club ‘G-Spot’ she doesn’t expect to fall in love at first sight. But that is exactly what happened. As soon as saxophonist Evan takes to the stage she is smitten. Luckily for her the feeling is mutual. However, Evan has just been offered the biggest opportunity of his career. He has been given the chance to play sax on The Police’s reunion tour, travelling the world for a year. Can Evan and Sarah’s love transcend distance and time?

Review

What Might Have Been is Matt Dunn’s eighth romantic comedy novel but I have to admit it is the first of his that I have ever read. I always find that I read multi-perspective books a little bit more critically than I do when the book has a solo protagonist. It is so easy for a writer to not have clearly defined voices for his characters; however, Dunn seems to have done that perfectly. Both Sarah and Evan come across individually and even still manage to maintain parts of themselves in the crossover chapters.

I guess that the reason why stories like this are ever so popular is because we all have our own version of ‘what might have been.’ That long lost love who we often think about in drunken hazy ways. The one who we look at through rose tinted spectacles and forget all of their flaws and bad points. With What Might Have Been, Dunn gives you hope and a chance to chase a happy ending and essentially make you wonder ‘what if?’ What if you had chased your love like Evan does with Sarah, would things have ended differently? The story is so very easy to relate to.

The story is told in a good way allowing you the chance to care for both characters plights. Admittedly, I did get a little bored of the will-they-won’t-they dilemma in the middle but then Dunn threw a dramatic third act twist in that picked up the momentum once again. I do also think that the characterisation of Sarah was a little clichéd. She had abandonment issues, thus explaining all her subsequent decisions seemed a little too easy for me and in the middle of the story she became a tad whiny. To be fair though, so did Evan.

Overall, What Might Have Been is a good read. It isn’t going to change your life but it might just change your day.

What Might Have Been by Matt Dunn is available from August 12th, 2014.

matt-dunn-what-might-have-been

Synopsis

Sabine is a girl with a secret. Sure all teenage girls have secrets. Boys they are crushing on; homework or tests that they have not studied for or cheated on but these pale in comparison to Sabine’s secret. If Sabine’s secret is found out then she would be in some serious trouble.

You see, Sabine has two lives. In both worlds she is a normal teenage girl, in both she is 18 and in both she is ready to graduate. One world does seem better than the other and Sabine seems determined to just live the one life. However, her plans for this are knocked on their head when she falls in love.

Review

Between the Lives is a quirky entry into the dystopian YA fiction genre that has garnered much popularity over the past few years. Actually, I would go as far as to say that it is an innovative approach to storytelling. Initially, I was dubious as to how this would work and I was waiting for a crack to appear in the story to make me start to disbelieve and/or lose interest in the characters but

Shirivington manages to create to very real but very separate worlds as well as giving her protagonist Sabine reason enough to be unhappy with her existence. She draws upon the power of societal roles to create an impression of ease, and equally, discomfort – i.e. how being popular in high school and coming from money can be seen as a privilege whereas in her other life Sabine doesn’t have the same style of upbringing.

Overall, Between the Lives is a very interesting read with a good strong and likeable protagonist who you do empathise with. The story does throw you a lot of twists and often at breakneck speed. However, I did guess parts of the ending before they happened which isn’t a bad thing but did make me wonder if it could have been written differently. If I am totally honest, I would have liked Between the Lives to have been the beginning of a series and I genuinely think Shirvington could have accomplished that with a different ending.

Between the Lives by Jessica Shirvington is available now.

BTL-UK

Synopsis

Can two people from different worlds be together? It seems that maybe they can. When Ben’s PR company take on Effy’s cause as part of their charity scheme the two seem like polar opposites; Ben, the high flying executive with the fancy apartment and expensive car and Effy, the driving force behind a new charity to fund the set up of hospitals in the desperately deprived Uganda.

Yet despite their differences, these two fall for each other, they fall hard. As with life, the course of true love never runs smoothly. A secret about Ben’s job threatens not only their relationship but all the hard work that Effy has done.

Can Effy and Ben survive this?

Review

Jessica Thompson has only bloody done it again. I absolutely loved her first two books (This is a Love Story and Three Little Words) and I have waited ever so patiently for the release of Paper Swans. The wait was worth it.

Thompson, somewhat ironically, has a flawless way of writing flawed characters. She does so in a way that you cannot help but empathise with them. Ben is essentially a mess. Broken by events of his past that he hasn’t ever dealt with and yet his so called perfect life would lead anyone to believe that he doesn’t have a care in the world. Effy is a beautiful girl who sees the good in everything…until that thing lets her down. She wants things to be perfect, to right and good and when Ben shows a tiny chink in his armour she feels too let down to carry on. It takes the full story for them to both realise perfection isn’t something that you can achieve.

With Paper Swans, Thompson had me chuckling away to myself, getting angry and telling the characters off and also swooning at the loveliness of certain chapters. What she also manages to do is raise awareness of a serious topic. The theme that runs throughout this novel is one of mental health and the stigma attached to it. What Thompson tries to do, and in my opinion does quite successfully, is show that it isn’t a certain stereotype that can suffer with mental health problems. She shows that the world of mental health covers a wide spectrum and none of us are immune to needing a little help from time to time.

The symbolism of swans was really clever especially when used as an allegory for Ben who seemed to be gliding through life seamlessly whilst working his backside off just to stay afloat. And with the swans, who mate for life, representing the ever lasting love that he wants to have with Effy was seamlessly interwoven into the story and once again shows Thompson’s skill.

Thompson’s stories are beautiful, romantic and full of heart but more than that they have the backbone of contentious issues which distinguish her stories from those of her contemporaries.

Paper Swans by Jessica Thompson is available now.