Current Contests/Announcements

The story of the Orange Cake Click here to find out more.


Check out the NKOTB Book Tag Meme Here!

Having trouble leaving a comment? If you have trouble commenting then please click on the refresh button, this usually fixes the issue. I also use comment moderation for new commenters to the blog.

Publisher: Dutton

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Posted by Irish in 5 Stars, Review, Young Adult3 Comments

Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie PerkinsIsla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Series: Anna and the French Kiss,
Also in this series: Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door
Published by Dutton on 14 August 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Love & Romance, Parents, People & Places, Road Trip, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
five-stars
Also by this author: Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, Summer Days and Summer Nights

Place(s) Traveled To: New York City, New York // Paris, France // Barcelona, Spain // Angouleme, France

First Line(s): It’s midnight, it’s sweltering, and I might be high on Vicodun, but that guy – that guy right over there – that’s him.

Like so many others I’ve been counting down the days until the release of Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins. We first met Isla back in 2010 in Perkins’s book, Anna and the French Kiss, and my heart went out to her character in that story. Long before we knew that the final book would be her book I was hoping that it would be as there was just something about this shy, awkward girl that resonated with me. It has been a long wait since Isla was first announced and while I was sad at the times when it was delayed I do think that she was worth the wait. There is just something so special about Isla’s story that is hard to put into words. Its just so poignoit and beautiful and I just want to live within its pages. I devoured this book the day it landed on my doorstep as I couldn’t wait to experience this world or Perkins’s writing again for the first time. But one reading wasn’t enough and before I leant it to a friend I did another slow read savoring the words and then a snapshot read reliving small moments as I recorded some of my favorite quotes.

Isla is a character that I think many can relate to. She’s smart and funny and yet also shy and insecure. She doesn’t have many friends and her relationship with her younger sister is awkward at the best of times. Isla is flawed and makes assumptions about others based on how she would approach things and so tends to judge a little too harshly at times when the people she knows aren’t as black and white as she wants them to be. And then there is Josh, this boy who seems more alone than any character I’ve met previously. All of his friends have graduated and as he built his entire SOAP experience around them the void they leave make being a thousand miles away from home all the more difficult. Like Isla he’s a shy person but he has hidden this aspect of himself as this loud, boistrous, adventourus persona that those around him forget the real person that he was back in Freshman year.

The story of Isla and Josh is heartbreaking and perfect and so very real. There are misunderstands and heartbreak but throughout their whole story is this real, genuine and lasting love story. These are characters that I think will stand the tests of time and be those high school sweethearts that are together forever. I loved the journey of Isla and Josh and my heart did that heart-achey thing that I just makes me feel all the feels. This book made me laugh and cry and when I turned then final page I just sat there and patted the back cover giving a little sigh of happiness at a well told story. One that I think fans of Stephanie Perkins will be happy with.

The thing I like best about Isla and the Happily Ever After is Isla’s growth as a character throughout the entire book. You see one version of her in Anna and the French Kiss and then over the course of the book she goes through new and different versions of herself. Who she is at the end of the story is different from who she is at the begining and yet she is still Isla through and through. Josh too goes through some great charater growth and I love him all the more for it. I also really liked how neither Isla and Josh were dating other people during the course of the book. Those were aspects of Anna and Lola and the Boy Next Door that I wasn’t thrilled with. And most of all I enjoyed the small cameos of the characters from Perkins’s other books in this one. I liked how they were true cameos and how none of them took over Isla and Josh’s story as Etienne sometimes did in Lola. I did think there was one moment that was a little corny and unneccessary but I think that it will bring joy into the hearts of fans of that story.

Isla and the Happily Ever After is a story that can be read on its own or you can read it as a companion to the other Anna and the French Kiss books. I like how singular it is and even if you don’t know who Anna, Etienne, Lola and Cricket are in their cameo scene you do get a sense of their personailties but you don’t feel as those you are missing something in that moment. Of the three books, Isla is my favorite as it just had the most depth and feeling for me and I am so happy that its out in the world but also sad because the story is over. Perkins is such a gifted story teller and you can be sure that I am eagerly awaiting her next book and will be buying it the moment that its available.

.

irishdarkblue

.

.

.

Isla Quote

five-stars
Divider

Monday, February 17, 2014

Review + Contest: Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Blog Tour, Contest, Review, Young Adult4 Comments

Review + Contest: Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

Review + Contest: Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew SmithGrasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
Published by Dutton on 11 February 2014
Genres: Action & Adventure, Friendship, GLBT, Monsters, Sci-Fi, Survival Stories, Young Adult
Pages: 432
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
three-stars

Place(s) Traveled To: Ealing, Iowa // Waterloo, Iowa

First Line(s): I read somewhere that human beings are genetically predisposed to record history. We believe it will prevent us from doing stupid things in the future.

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith is one of those books that has been receiving a lot of buzz. All of it good and full of praise, awe and amazement at how unique and wonderful this book is. And while it was certainly a unique story its did resonate with me as it has with most other people I know. For me, this story started off slowly and the whole thing was too much time spent in a teenage boys head. While Austin Szerba was a believable teenage book who is confused about life, and girls and even his own sexuality. He just wasn’t as entertaining as Will Carter from the Brent Crawford’s Carter series.

I often found myself rolling my eyes as I read Grasshopper Jungle I could see things happening long before they did all while the characters always seemed to be surprised and shocked when they did. There is also much in this story that could have been avoided if Austin and his pal Robbie just told people what they knew. Instead they kept secrets and the world ended and yeah.

One thing I did like about this book is how it was the start of a dystopian world. You get to know the hows and whys the world ended and its not generations later where no one knows and everyone just accepts and then marvels when they find something from before the time when the world went to sh!t. Here is a case of how the world was fine and then it was not and the reader got to see it all unfold. No matter how ridiculous the whole thing was.

I also liked how Austin dealt with his confused feelings for his  girlfriend Shann and his best friend Robbie. Both who made him horny but then everything seemed to have that effect on him because, hello, teenage boy. I liked how Austin just seemed to accept his feelings for both of his friends and wasn’t afraid to explore what that meant. In fact, I often preferred a pairing of Robbie and Austin over Shann and Austin as they just seemed more natural and comfortable with each other. Shann and Austin were just always so awkward.

As a whole Grasshopper Jungle wasn’t for me but I did like Smith’s creativity in telling a story. His writing style was unique and I will  probably check out other books that he’s written. I just hope that I like them more than this one.

irishdarkblue

Sixteen-year-old Austin Szerba interweaves the story of his Polish legacy with the story of how he and his best friend , Robby, brought about the end of humanity and the rise of an army of unstoppable, six-foot tall praying mantises in small-town Iowa.

To make matters worse, Austin’s hormones are totally oblivious; they don’t care that the world is in utter chaos: Austin is in love with his girlfriend, Shann, but remains confused about his sexual orientation. He is stewing in a self-professed constant state of maximum horniness, directed at both Robby and Shann.
Ultimately, it is up to Austin to save the world and propagate the species in this sci-fright journey of survival, sex, and the complex realities of the human condition.

 

 

This is the truth. This is history.
It’s the end of the world. And nobody knows anything about it.
You know what I mean.

February 3rd – The Midnight Garden
February 3rd – The Story Siren
February 4th – Good Choice Reading
February 4th Bookish
February 5th – I Read Banned Books
February 5th – Jenna Does Books
February 6th – Bibliophilia, Please
February 7th – Scott Reads It
February 7th – Live to Read
February 10th Alice Marvels
February 10th The Society
February 11th Lexi Swoons
February 11th A Reader of Fictions
February 12th Roof Beam Reader
February 12th Forever Young Adult
February 13th The Compulsive Reader
February 13th Books and Bling
February 14th Book Chic Club
February 14th The QQQE
February 17th JeanBookNerd
February 17th Ticket to Anywhere
February 18th Sleep Eat Read Books
February 18th Read Now Sleep Later
February 19th Anna Reads
February 19th Word Spelunking
February 20th Books With Bite
February 20th What A Nerd Girl Says
February 21st Wastepaper Prose
February 21st LRB – Guest
February 24th We Are Word Nerds
February 24th Cabin Goddess
February 25th Ex Libris
February 25th Cari’s Book Blog
February 25th A Good Addiction
February 26th YA Reads
February 26th The Young Folks
February 27th Novel Thoughts
February 27th Fangirlish
February 28th Once Upon a Twilight
February 28th Naughty Book Kitties

 

 

 

 

Andrew Smith is the award-winning author of several Young Adult novels, including the critically acclaimed Winger (Starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist, and Shelf Awareness—an Amazon “Best of the Year”) and The Marbury Lens (A YALSA BFYA, and Starred reviews and Best of the Year in both Publishers Weekly and Booklist).

He is a native-born Californian who spent most of his formative years traveling the world. His university studies focused on Political Science, Journalism, and Literature. He has published numerous short stories and articles. Grasshopper Jungle, coming February 11, 2014, is his seventh novel. He lives in Southern California.


Hosted by:
three-stars
Divider

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Review, Young Adult4 Comments

Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie PerkinsLola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
Series: Anna and the French Kiss, Book 2
Also in this series: Anna and the French Kiss, Isla and the Happily Ever After
Published by Dutton on 29 September 2011
Genres: Adolescence, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friends to Lovers, Friendship, GLBT, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 338
Format: ARC
Source: Borrowed
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: Anna and the French Kiss, Isla and the Happily Ever After, Summer Days and Summer Nights

Place(s) Traveled to: San Francisco, California

First Line: I have three simple wishes.

From the moment that I finished Anna and the French Kiss I’ve been looking forward to reading the companion book Lola and the Boy Next Door.  The moment I received the book from a friend I started to read it and got lost in the new world that Stephanie Perkins created. I fell in love with Cricket….the uber sweet boy next door. Lola on the other hand as a bit of a hit or miss character for me. I wanted so much to love her as much as I did Anna but that never happened. I did love her quirkiness and sense of style. I loved her confidence in herself and how she didn’t care what others thought of her outfits. I also loved her dads. I loved how they were a very active part of her life.

I didn’t love how Lola seemed to use the people around her, especially Cricket. And I didn’t like how her story as a bit of  Anna and the French Kiss in reverse. I loved the cameos of Anna and Etienne in the book but I feel that Etienne was in the story a bit too much. I think I would have liked things more if it was Anna who had the bigger role rather than Etienne. Though I still enjoyed Anna and Etienne’s relationship. Even though at times Etienne seemed to be around Anna a bit too much. Though that is more of my need for some personal space rather than any sort of unrealistic aspect of two teens in love.

In the end while I liked this book I didn’t love it as much as I did with Anna there was just something missing in this story for me and I didn’t lose myself in it completely. It might have been that I was setting the bar a bit too high for this sophomore novel by Perkins, Anna is a tough book to compete against…even when the book is written by the same author. I still loved Perkin’s writing style and I really look forward to reading Isla and the Happily Ever After. I really hope to see more cameos of characters from her previous books make an appearance in that one. After reading Lola I have a strong suspicion on HOW that might happen but we’ll have to wait and see if that’s what actually happens.

irishdarkblue

four-stars
Divider

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Posted by Irish in 5 Stars, Review, Young Adult14 Comments

Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie PerkinsAnna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Series: Anna and the French Kiss,
Also in this series: Lola and the Boy Next Door, Isla and the Happily Ever After
Published by Dutton on 02 December 2010
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Friends to Lovers, Friendship, Love & Romance, People & Places, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Young Adult
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
five-stars
Also by this author: Lola and the Boy Next Door, Isla and the Happily Ever After, Summer Days and Summer Nights

Place(s) Traveled to: Paris, France // Atlanta, Georgia

First Line: Here is everything I know about France: Madeline and Amelie and Moulin Rouge.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins is a book that I first heard about on Twitter where it seemed like everyone was buzzing about. This peaked my curiosity and I hated that I would have to wait until it was released to read it. Then the book gods smiled on me and not only did a friend send me her copy to read but I also received a copy for review from the publisher. I went from a serious Anna drought to positively bursting with copies and I knew I wouldn’t be able to wait to read it.For me, the book started off a little slow and I was wondering what all the fuss was about. Then at some point, I can’t even begin to tell you when it happened, I just got so completely and utterly sucked into this story. I loved all the characters – Anna is just brilliant and Étienne is so flawed and confused and so totally swoon worthy. The supporting cast were also all so wonderfully drawn that everyone felt real and dare I mention the setting? Most of the book takes place in Paris, France where Anna is sent to boarding school because her father (a Nicolas Sparks-like author) thinks the experience will be good for her. Anna initially thinks this is a great tragedy because 1) she doesn’t speak French and 2) its her senior year and she’s been exiled from her friends, her almost boyfriend and her best friend. But then she meets Meredith, Josh, Rashmi and Étienne (known as St Clair to his friends.)

Anna adjusts to life in France and delights in learning all the wonders that the city holds. She also becomes drawn to St Clair and he to her. But this isn’t your straight boy meets girl love story because St Clair has a girlfriend. You then get this tragically beautifully story where everyone is trying to do the right thing…or what they think is the right thing…and so there are denials and miss-communications and even some missed opportunities. As a reader you want there to be a happily ever after but at the same time you don’t want any of the characters to become a douche and hurt anyone else just so that they can find happiness.

Stephanie Perkins is such an amazingly gifted writer and she conveys so much information about each character without them saying too much about themselves. Through their actions she shows all their little quirks and mannerisms and its these little details that really turn the characters from 2D words on a page into 3D people that you see just out of the corner of your eye as you read. In the end, Anna and the French Kiss, made my heart ache. Not in a bad way but in that oh so wonderful way it does every time I read Pride and Prejudice. I am so glad that Perkins wrote this book and that I was able to read it. I am so glad that its now out there in the world so that other people can know just how wonderful this story is. This is a book that I had to run out and buy when it was released because just having the ARC wasn’t enough. Its a book that I have bullied people to read and one that has made my Top 12 List.

I am truly amazed that Anna and the French Kiss is Perkins’s debut novel because its just so brilliantly executed. Anna is one of those few books that I could gush about forever. Its earned its place on my permanent bookshelf and I know that it is a book that will be re-read several times. Its a story that I wished would never end because I don’t think that I could ever get tired of these characters. Which is why I’m so excited that even there will be two companion books, titled Lola and the Boy Next Door (Fall 2011) and Isla and the Happily Ever After (2014). I can’t wait! But until those books are in stores you really should go out and buy Anna. I think that everyone should read it and I can’t recommend it enough. So go forth and now the awesome that is Anna and the French Kiss.

irishdarkblue

five-stars
Divider

Monday, June 25, 2007

Review: Burning Bright by Tracy Chevalier

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Burning Bright by Tracy ChevalierBurning Bright by Tracy Chevalier
Published by Dutton on 20 March 2007
Genres: Adolescence, Adult, Fiction, Historical
Pages: 327
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars

Place(s) Traveled to: London, England (1792)

First Line: There was something humiliating about waiting in a cart on a busy London street with all your possessions stacked around you, on show to the curious public.

I just recently finished reading Burning Bright, the latest novel by Tracy Chevalier. This is her mostly recent novel and to be honest the only reason that I read it is because it was chosen for my next book club. I have read other books by Chevalier in the past and have have mixed reactions on them. So, I wasn’t super enthused to read this book…and while it didn’t suck. I wasn’t in love with it either.

This novel primarily takes place in London, England in the year 1792, focusing around 3 teenagers: Jem, Maggie and Jem’s sister Maisie. Jem & Maisie have recently moved from to quiet life in the country to the bustling city of London with their parents and are learning how to adjust. One their first day in the city they meet Maggie, a street wise girl who likes to be the one who knows everything and tend to delight in the mistakes that Jem and his sister make while they are learning to adapt to city life. Thrown into this group in none other than William Blake. Who has got to be one of the most aloof, vaguely written characters that I have ever met in a book.

In some ways Mr Blake is always there for the teenagers idolize him and his beliefs. Yet, even when he is in the presence of the teens he seems to be off somewhere else. He speaks in metaphors and doesn’t seem to be bothered by anything. Even when there is a mob outside his door he just stands there limply and only reacts after Maisie starts to recite one of his poems…..or songs as they are referred to in the book. Even then his reaction isn’t quite what the reader expects. There are times in which I think that Blake’s character is more of an after thought. Someone famous that the author tosses into the mix in an attempt at trying to accomplish……something. What exactly I am not sure. The characters of Jem, Maggie and Maisie are all pretty underdeveloped as well. There seems to be no real purpose to any of them and I found it hard to care what happened to them.

I initially struggled to get through this book. Its not a hard read I just found it to be boring and lacking in plot. I was often more drawn to the various descriptions more then what was going on with the main characters. Where the major events of their lives seem to be swept aside and barely discussed while pages and pages are spent on them watching a circus procession going by. I finally had to give myself a shake and force myself to read the novel any time I had a chance because I just wanted it done.

In Short: This novel flickers more then it burns.

irishdarkblue

three-stars
Divider