Book Review: My True Love Gave to Me by Stephanie Perkins

If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: TWELVE HOLIDAY STORIES by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins. Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or Kwanzaa, there’s something here for everyone. So curl up by the fireplace and get cozy. You have twelve reasons to stay indoors and fall in love.

3.5 cupcakes

My True Love Gave to Me was, for the most part, as adorable as I had expected. Like most anthologies, though, the stories were quite hit or miss for me: there were some that stood out (namely the ones by Rainbow Rowell, Stephanie Perkins, Laini Taylor, and Kiersten White) while others were less convincing and would have worked better as novellas or full-length stories. Despite that, the stories all intrigued me enough to add some previously unknown authors’ works to my ever-growing to read list, and reaffirmed my love for some of my favourite authors.

My True Love Gave to Me features characters from all sorts of backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, and sexual orientations, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was a nice mix of contemporary and magical stories in this collection. While the stories were all quite different, they all captured several important aspects of the holiday season, most notably hope and love.

Overall, My True Love Gave to Me is a cute, quick read that captures the magical feeling that surrounds the holidays. I can certainly see myself rereading my favourites closer to the holiday season, and can’t wait to display this gorgeous cover on my bookshelf.

I received a copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.

Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and Étienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.

5 cupcakes

I was expecting to love Isla and the Happily Ever After – after all, I adored both Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door – but I wasn’t expecting Isla’s story to resonate with me quite as much as it did.

Most of this stems from the fact that I had an immediate connection with Isla’s character. I’m neither introverted nor frightened like she is, but Isla’s deep-rooted insecurities and her fears that she’s not worthy of love really hit home for me. Isla isn’t quite sure where her future is headed, but she’s still scared to take risks and leave her comfortable routine behind. Like Isla, I’m not entirely certain what adventures the future has in store for me: I started university with the dream of being a veterinarian and, thanks to a lack of practical experience and a slight drop in my GPA, I’ve come to the realization that even the best made plans aren’t set in stone. On many occasions, Stephanie Perkins’ words seemed to have come straight from my own thoughts and experiences, so I found myself easily invested in Isla’s journey of growth and self-assurance.

Isla’s relationship with Josh perfectly captures what it is to be young and in love. It’s a passionate, whirlwind romance that is sensual, intense, and visceral, and I sincerely hope that I am able to experience a romance like this in my lifetime. Their relationship isn’t perfect though; as with real life, Isla and Josh have many obstacles (jealousy, distance, integration of friend circles, etc.) to overcome in order to make it work.

As always, Stephanie Perkins managed to create a perfect love interest. Through Isla’s eyes, Josh truly comes alive – this artsy, charming, honest, passionate, beautiful boy is such a far cry from the disinterested slacker that I remembered from Anna and the French Kiss.

Overall, Isla and the Happily Ever After did more than just provide me with a swoonworthy romance; it tackled my deepest fears, leading to introspection and many, many tears on my part. As a result, Isla holds a very special place in my heart, and I can’t wait to revisit its pages time and time again.

Book Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Can Anna find love in the City of Light?

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. Will a year of romantic near misses end with the French kiss she’s waiting for?

4.5 cupcakes

As the title suggests, Anna and the French Kiss is filled to the brim with adorable romance of the best possible kind: from friends to best friends to something more than that. It’s slow to build and, while that gradual pace may be a bit frustrating at times, it’s true to life and genuinely easy to become invested in.

Our protagonist, Anna, is the perfect balance of optimistic and critically sarcastic, and I loved how entertaining and introspective her thoughts could be. She’s very much an authentic teenage girl: she’s emotional, insecure, critical, and her preoccupation with certain boys causes her to make some silly choices. Despite this, Anna is a very loveable character: she’s passionate about film, and has so many positive, loving relationships with both friends and her family. Anna grows so much over the course of the story, and her journey of self-discovery was just as important as the romantic portion of the plot.

It’s quite easy to understand why everyone (myself included) is absolutely in love with Étienne St. Clair: he’s incredibly caring and sweet, and his swoonworthy words and actions are made even better by the fact that he has an English accent. While he has his flaws and moments of poor decision making, he definitely seemed too good to be true the first time I read this book; by the second time, though, I was struck by an uncanny resemblance to one of my best friends, so I can honestly say that boys like Étienne do actually exist — and they’re certainly no less confusing in real life.

Overall, Anna and the French Kiss is an adorable, fluffy read that certainly lives up to all of the hype surrounding it. Not only is it one of my favourite stories, but it also holds a very special place in my heart since it describes the current portion of my life perfectly (aside from the Paris part, of course). I absolutely cannot wait to read Isla and the Happily Ever After!

Waiting On Wednesday (April 23)

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Breaking the Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases that are eagerly anticipated.

This week, I’m waiting on Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins, which has an expected publication date of August 14, 2014.

From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.

Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and Étienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.

I absolutely adored Anna and the French Kiss and thought Lola and the Boy Next Door was just as adorable, so I’ve been (im)patiently waiting for the release of Isla and the Happily Ever After for quite some time. After all, I need more Étienne St. Clair in my life.

What books are you waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me a list in the comments below. 3

Book Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion…she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit–more sparkly, more fun, more wild–the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket–a gifted inventor–steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

My Rating:  4 cupcakes

Given how much I loved Anna and the French Kiss, I was a little worried about reading Lola and the Boy Next Door. Thankfully, these fears were unfounded. Stephanie Perkins created another story filled with quirky, loveable characters, and adorable, heartwarming romance, but this time it was a touch more real: there’s no Parisian setting and no swoon-worthy British boys (although there is a sweet, awkward one that completely captured my heart).

Lola is such a fabulous character. She dresses in themes, wearing quirky outfits and wigs transform her into a strawberry, Marie Antoinette, or whatever her heart desires that day. Lola undergoes a tremendous amount of growth and learns how to make the right decisions, even if they’re hard. Along the way, she also learns a lot about herself and becomes comfortable with who she is.

The boy next door, Cricket Bell, is one of my new favourite love interests. He’s endearing and sweet, geeky, awkward at times, and such a real teenage boy. He’s so genuinely nice and loves unconditionally, and his relationship with Lola made me loudly “awwwwww” at so many points. There seriously needs to be more nice guys in YA fiction. Or just more Cricket Bells.

The secondary characters (Calliope, Lindsey, Norah) are just as real. There’s no disappearing parent syndrome in this one: Lola’s relationship with her two gay dads is so sweet, and they are very much an important part of her life. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Anna and St. Clair made several appearances. Their relationship was adorable, as always, but I can’t help but feel that they weren’t the same independent characters that I fell in love with — although that may be because it has been a while since I’ve read Anna and the French Kiss and because we’re seeing them through Lola’s eyes as “the happy couple.”

Overall, I really enjoyed Lola and the Boy Next Door. Stephanie Perkins has definitely solidified her place on my auto-buy list, and I cannot wait for the release of Isla and the Happily Ever After.

30 Day Book Challenge: Day 5

I stumbled across this 30 day book challenge by The Chronicles of Radiya and decided to give it a try. Hopefully it will lead to 30 consecutive days of blogging that liven up the blog a bit and give us a chance to get to know each other a little better.

Day 5: A Book That Makes You Happy

You know those books that just make you feel warm and fuzzy after reading them? Well, Anna and the French Kiss and How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True are just two of the many books that make my heart smile. They’re light, fun reads that never fail to put me in a great mood. The romance is sweet, and always leaves me with a huge smile on my face. Etienne St. Clair and Ian Davidson are adorable and both of them firmly occupy places on my list of book boyfriends; sorry real boys, you’re going to have to work on that charm some more… and maybe an English accent.