Lola has a good life; great parents, great friends, a quirky sense of style and a hot boyfriend who is in a rock band. Things couldn’t be better. However, when her old neighbours move back into the house next door the very foundations of Lola’s happiness start to crumble around her. Especially when she lays her eyes on Cricket Bell – two years older and two years more beautiful but the ache of heartbreak has only got two years more painful for Lola. How will Lola cope with the boy next door?
Stephanie Perkins has only gone and done it again. She has made me fall in love for another of her leading men. Before we get into all of that let me just say that I enjoyed Lola and the Boy Next Door just as much as I liked Anna and the French Kiss and it is no wonder that Stephanie Perkins is at the forefront, leading the way, nay trailblazing the way for YA Romantic Fiction. I genuinely believe in her stories and feel wholeheartedly for her characters that it would be an easy assumption to make that Perkins still remembers the absolute agony of being a teenager in love. This is a quality that we all should try to remember as we grow older but sadly sometimes forget or trivialise.
Lola and the Boy Next Door broke my heart in a different way to Anna and the French Kiss because for Lola, her love for Cricket had been once that had grown, seemingly unrequited, for years. You couldn’t help but ache for her and you could feel just how much Cricket loved her too. Frustratingly they just couldn’t seem to get it together. It is this torturous narrative that makes the story so great. You desperately want to see them admit their feelings, to hug it out, to kiss and to be in love but it takes a whole story to get there.
It is safe to say that Stephanie Perkins has her finger on the beating pulse of every girls’ romantic dreams. Her characters are believable and are easy to fall in love with – especially the male protagonists. She has a magic to her writing that, for me, is unrivalled.
I cannot wait to read Isla and the Happily Ever After.
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins is available now.
After having yet another argument with her stepmother over babysitting duties, Sarah appeals to the goblin king to take away her younger brother Toby. When this actually happens Sarah starts a quest to retrieve her younger sibling and she only has thirteen hours to make her way to the centre of the labyrinth to confront Jareth, the Goblin King.
Ok, so if – like me – you are a child of the 80s then Labyrinth will have been a firm favourite of yours. It most definitely was one of my favourites (to the point where I have the soundtrack on CD and vinyl and the DVD and film posters and the T-Shirt and a weird crush on David Bowie) so when I saw that a book was going to be released of the story I will admit my inner geek went into overdrive. This occasionally happens, especially when I find random memorabilia from movies that I love.
I bought a copy of the book in a moment of proud madness – well technically I Pre-Ordered it from Amazon. I had just had a root canal after 30 years of avoiding the dentist and felt that I had been a brave little toaster and deserved a treat. And boy was this book a treat.
It was strange reading a story that I have loved for such a long time. The characters’ were exactly how they were in the movies but what is good about the book is that you get a vision of the unedited movie. Deleted scenes take place in the book that obviously didn’t make it to the actual movie. What I did find is that some of the descriptive narrative read like extra detailing in a script.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because if you have seen the movie you can see just how accurate that the movie makers got it.
Overall, this is a sumptuous book for the lovers of the film. Now, having finished the book I am off to watch the movie. Dance, Magic Dance….
Jim Henson’s Labyrinth by ACH Smith and Brian Froud is available now.
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?
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
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?
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.