Friday, February 10, 2012

Book Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Description (from Goodreads):
Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris - until she meets Etienne St. Clair: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.

As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near - misses end with the French kiss Anna - and readers - have long awaited?

My thoughts:

Okay, I had read all the hype about this one since the first reviews started to come up in blogs. It was on my goodreads TBR-list and I was really excited about it on the eve of its publishing. But things happen, new books come up and life gets busy sometimes, so I completely forgot this book. Until I friend of my recommended it to be on Twitter. I went back to goodreads, read the synopsis and saw the amazing 4.34 grading of the book. I right away knew that this would be the moment for me to finally get this book into my hands.

I think it is easiest to start by saying that yes, I loved it! Literally, this made me worship Stephanie Perkins. And this lightened my sparkle for reading again.  I feel that recently I have started to read some books, but I haven't been interested enough, and then something else has come up and I have just abandoned the book. That is one of the reasons this blog has been so quiet recently. But thanks to this novel, I am again united with books and I can't wait to read more. So I guess I should elaborate WHY is loved this novel so much.

First of all, Anna. She is likable, realistic and in a way I was able to identify with her. I left home when I was 16 to do a year of school in USA. The difference to Anna was the fact that I really wanted to go. But like Anna, I was afraid to let myself wander around and to get used to the new environment. I really liked the realistic approach Perkins uses when describing her protagonist; Anna is not perfect, she is not the most beautiful girl in the school, she does not make friends instantly and not all of the guys are in love with her the moment they see her. In a way, right now, I am in a same type of situation Anna is in. She is in a totally new country and new school. She lives at the campus, she has never been drunk and she prefers to spend time on her own rather than at bars etc. I am in a new country, new school and I live at the campus. And unlike most of my peers, I haven't been to pub or a club yet. And I have been here since September. But unlike Anna, I haven't found my Etienne St. Clair yet.

It is not uncommon for me to fall in love with the love interests of the protagonists. That happens all the time; Edward from Twilight, Sam from the Wolves of Mercy Falls, Stefan and Damon from Vampire Diaries... All of those guys are amazing, don't get me wrong, but what Etienne has that they don't have is the fact that he is real. He is not supernatural in any way, he is just himself and that makes him magical.  There is instant chemistry between Anna and Etienne, but I liked the fact that they don't get together on the first page of the book. Perkins could have created a story about their relationship as a couple in Paris. But she does something different and created a story about their FRIENDSHIP in Paris and how is eventually evolves into something special, something beautiful. I must admit that the character of Etienne made me wonder that when a guy like that will enter into my life.

In a way, Paris becomes the third main character of this novel. At the beginning, Paris feels distant and secluded. But as Anna discovers Paris, the reader is also introduced to it. I have never been to Paris, and to be honest, I have never been that interested about going there either. But after watching Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris (honestly, if Woody Allen shot a movie in a middle of a desert, I would probably want to go there after seeing it) and after reading this book, I really wish that someday I will have a chance to visit Paris. 

From Woody Allen it is easy to move to the next point I want to highlight. Anna's love for movies. That was probably the number one trait in her that I instantly identified with. She wants to be a movie critic when she "grows up"; something that I would not mind doing either. I liked the fact that movies were not the main idea of this novel though; at parts I wished there would be more about them, but then I realized that it would probably take away from Anna and Etienne time. And I held that more precious to the flow of the novel. I must admit that the several movie theatres in Paris as well sparked my interest about the city.

So all in all, Anna and the French Kiss was a great read. It truly made me want to dive into the books again (which means I now have a good reason to visit 'The Works' on Princess Street when I go to the city at the end of the week; maybe it is now time to read 'Hunger Games'- they had the whole trilogy for only 5 pounds!!). It made me laugh, it made me cry (that is always a good sign) and it made me realize how amazing reading really is. 

So if you haven't read this one yet (there probably isn't that many of you who haven't), don't be stupid like me and keep it in your TBR pile for years. Go buy it RIGHT NOW, and start reading.

Ps. For the ones who have read this, doesn't Anna's father sound like Nicholas Sparks. I don't mean the whole asshole thing, but the type of books he writes.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Book Review: Forever (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #3) by Maggie Stiefvater

Description (from Goodreads):
The thrilling conclusion to #1 bestselling Shiver trilogy from Maggie Stievater
In Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other. In Linger, they fought to be together. Now, in Forever, the stakes are even higher than before. Wolves are being hunted. Lives are being threatened. And love is harder and harder to hold on to as death comes closing in.
My thoughs:
It has been over a year from the time I read 'Linger'. Probably like two years from when I read 'Shiver'. It is actually a shame that it took me such a long time to read 'Forever'. But finally I did it, and as I expected, I loved it! 
I have to be honest and say that when I got 'Forever' into my hands, I had to think for a long time that what actually happened in 'Shiver' and 'Linger'. Of course I had the basic idea and events imprinted into my mind, but as a reminder I read my own reviews to the previous books to prep myself for reading the final part of the trilogy. 
'Forever' starts with the set-up that is completely reverse to what is what in 'Shiver'. Sam is a human, Grace is a wolf. Around the town Sam is accused of kidnapping Grace, even killing her. Grace's parents and friends have no idea where Grace are or is she even alive anymore. Sam knows, Isabel knows and Cole knows. And they keep waiting, especially Sam, to see Grace alive again.
Isabel's father, Tom Culpeper is doing everything he can to get rid of the wolfs. Now he has big plans about killing the wolfs on an aerial hunt. When the idea goes through, he just has to wait for the helicopter to be free. 
Sam, Cole, Isabel and eventually also Grace in a human form have to come up with ideas to save the wolves from the massacre. Cole has been tinkering with different ways to fasten the transformation, but does he have enough time to make it work before it is too late. Sam hasn't been transforming into a wolf, and he likes it, but is he ready to be a wolf again in order to save his peers. In order to save Grace.
The aerial hunt is like a bomb, ticking its way closer and closer. Can the group come up with an idea before its too late? Can they make sure that no one is hurt? Who is put first, who is to be saved first? With an unlikely help they try to solve the problems before it's too late.
In my opinion, this book was a lot more about action and the love of Grace and Sam. Of course they were parts about their love, but I felt that this was more about solving the problem and getting some type of conclusion to the series. Stiefvater made a right choice to end the series to this; the novel has an ending which satisfies the reader and allows everyone to make their own conclusions. 
All and all, Stiefvater's trilogy has been a huge delight to read. An ideal situation would be to read all the novels in a row. Maybe some day I actually have time for that.
My review of Shiver can be found from here.
My review for Linger can be found from here.