Genre: Travel

Book Review – Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss #1) by Stephanie Perkins

November 8, 2014 Dani Dani's Reviews 2 Comments

Book Review – Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss #1) by Stephanie PerkinsAnna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Series: Anna and the French Kiss #1
Published by Dutton Juvenile on December 2nd 2010
Pages: 372
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Travel
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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four-stars

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 Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all...including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?

“The whole school is as intimidating as it is impressive. It should be reserved for students with personal bodyguards and Shetland ponies, not someone who buys the majority of her wardrobe at Target.”

Meet Anna Oliphant. She’s your average teenager about to start her last year of high school in Atlanta, Georgia. But thanks to her recently wealthy, author and “total dick” father, she will spend her senior year in a boarding school…in Paris. Anna almost instantly falls in lust with Étienne St. Clair. (You don’t even have to read the book to know that only a boy who is stupidly hot is named Étienne St. Clair.) And as the book continues, lust turns to love and sometimes hate – both for Anna and the reader.

“St. Clair flops down beside me, breathing heavily. He’s lying so close that his hair tickles the side of my face. Our arms are almost touching. Almost. I try to exhale, but I no longer know how to breathe. And then I remember I’m not wearing a bra. And now I’m paranoid.”

Anna is immediately likable. She’s got the “fish out of water” thing down like a pro. The only French she knows is “oui” and now she finds herself living in the City of Lights – too afraid to order food in the cafeteria or leave her dormitory. Anna is awkward in her interactions, especially with Étienne. He leaves her dumbfounded and tongue-tied. What sets Anna apart from her other YA leading lady rivals is her inner monologue. She’s downright hilarious. Rarely do books make me laugh out loud. Sure, they will warrant an internal chuckle or a smile, but Anna and the French Kiss had me giggling, chuckling, roaring with laughter.

“’Hello’ and ‘please.’ I’ve learned all the polite words first, in hopes that the French will forgive me for butchering the remainder of their beautiful language.”

This book is full of cliché stock characters. You have the amazing and instantaneous gal pal next door who (of course) saves Anna from her first meltdown, plus gal-pal’s best friend who has a tough exterior but a heart of ooey-gooey gold. There is the hunky Brit that all the American girls love, including Anna and the aforementioned gal pal. Throw in a dash of innocuously evil French teacher, the “bro” BFF of Brit-boy, the “bitch for no reason” nemesis, and the gang is all there. Guess what? I totally love it! Usually I would hate such predictable characterization, but this book gave me everything I wanted: moderately angsty teens with light and fluffy problems, and ultimately, a happy ending.

Did it change my life? Nope. This book is the literary equivalent of a funfetti cupcake with extra sprinkles. And sometimes, the world just needs more sprinkles. I’m very excited to jump right into Lola and the Boy Next Door for more laughs and cutesy teenage love, and can’t wait for the library to deliver Isla and the Happily Ever After. If you’re looking for more boarding school fun, check out Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld. If you’re after another lovable outsider, grab The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot. Lastly, for the best of both worlds plus a little paranormal action, you must read Fallen by Lauren Kate.

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Book Review – Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

September 18, 2014 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2014, YA 4 Comments

Book Review – Wanderlove by Kirsten HubbardWanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on March 13, 2012
Pages: 354
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Travel
Format: eBook
Source: Library
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two-stars

Are you a Global Vagabond?

No, but 18-year-old Bria wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists are hardly the key to self-rediscovery.

So when Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspoken sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path. Bria's a good girl trying to go bad. Rowan's a bad boy trying to stay good. As they travel through Mayan villages and remote Belizean islands, they discover they're both seeking to leave behind the old versions of themselves. The secret to escaping the past, Rowan's found, is to keep moving forward. But Bria realizes she can't run forever. At some point, you have to look back.

“See, wanderlust is like itchy feet.” […] “It’s when you can’t settle down. But Wanderlove is much deeper than that… it’s a compulsion. It’s the difference between lust and love.”

Wanderlove is a coming of age story about Bria, an 18 recent high school graduate who is getting over her first bad breakup. Her and her ex had been planning a trip together but after the breakup, she decides it’d still be a good idea to go off by herself to gain some much-needed independence.

So… Wanderlove. Easily one of those books I’ve been wanting to read forever but because of the hype, I had been putting it off. And so two years later, I finally picked it up. Gawd. Was this ever one giant massive disappointment. Baa Baa Black Sheep, I know.

I was initially interested in this because I have a strong desire to travel the world someday, but don’t we all? Given this fantastic opportunity to travel wherever she chose to before going off to college seemed like a dream come true. The one thing I loved about this novel was the vivid descriptions of her surroundings. They definitely made me want to see the sights first-hand. The one thing I did not love was Bria. Bria’s heart was in the right place, having the desire to gain some independence and feel like she could get out into the world and take proper care of herself without anybody else. I could understand and appreciate that need to prove to yourself that you can do it on your own.

The trip started off right, but it slowly morphed into Bria trying to be somebody completely different, somebody that wasn’t even close to her seemingly true personality. It felt out of character despite how little I knew of her as a character. Then issues started coming out about things that she refused to do, primarily swimming, which we’re told had something to do with her ex-boyfriend. I feared the worst, thinking some sort of violence happened to her in the water. No, it was far less dramatic than that.

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There were other major issues I had and most of them had to do with Bria putting her trust into strangers and going off with them into the mountains of Central America without even informing her parents she was leaving her tour group. Now maybe I’m a little hardened having seen Taken one too many times, but that whole situation was a recipe for disaster. Of course, nothing of the sort happened and Liam didn’t need to come save her but the possibility of disaster ruined the whole ‘adventure’ for me. Add to that, as the book progressed it slowly became less about independence and more about the new guy she found.

Overall, I was massively disappointed. I wanted this to be more ‘coming-of-age’ and less ‘romance’ and I definitely wanted to love it like everyone else seems to. Bria’s desire for independence kept me reading in hopes that she’d truly find it but the end result had me wishing I had quit while I was ahead.

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Early Review – Just One Year (Just One Day #2) by Gayle Forman

August 22, 2013 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2013, YA 4 Comments

I received this book free from First to Read Program in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – Just One Year (Just One Day #2) by Gayle FormanJust One Year by Gayle Forman
Series: Just One Day #2
Published by Dutton Children's on October 10th 2013
Pages: 336
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Travel
Format: eARC
Source: First to Read Program
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Also by this author: Just One Day, Just One Night

three-stars

The heartrending conclusion—from Willem’s POV—to the romantic duet of novels that began with Allyson’s story in Just One Day

After spending an amazing day and night together in Paris, Just One Year is Willem’s story, picking up where Just One Day ended. His story of their year of quiet longing and near misses is a perfect counterpoint to Allyson’s own as Willem undergoes a transformative journey, questioning his path, finding love, and ultimately, redefining himself.

 

Just One Day series
Just One Day (Just One Day, #1)

‘It was like she gave me her whole self, and somehow as a result, I gave her more of myself than I ever realized there was to give. But then she was gone. And only after I’d been filled up by her, by that day, did I understand how empty I really was.’

Finally. We have Willem’s story. Just One Day left readers contemplating what possibly could have gone wrong, why he never came back to Allyson and if they were ever going to be able to find each other again. Just One Year possesses the same melancholy feel as its predecessor with Willem stumbling around in an apparent daze, unable to trust the stability of his feelings for Allyson because after all… they only knew each other for a single day.

‘…it’s Lulu I miss, and I know it must be displaced, my loneliness a heat-seeking missile, her the heat. Only I can’t seem to find a new source of heat.’

This is a tough one for me to figure out how I feel about. Willem was a tough nut to crack and I went through the majority of the book not feeling any sort of compassion towards him, no pity for his plight, when I think that would have been the regular response. He gave up his search for her very early on and considering we already know what Allyson went through physically and emotionally makes me sad for her. Willem was convinced to start looking for her again by friends and as much as he kept saying he was still looking for her that whole time, it wasn’t an active search. It felt like he was simply sitting back and waiting for something to happen, for her to find him.

‘The truth and its opposite are flip sides of the same coin.’

Willem’s story became less about their romance and more about him discovering things about himself and becoming a better person because he met her. This is actually what I had originally hoped for her in Just One Day; for Allyson to recognize the incredibly transformed person she had become (and she did) but that even though it resulted from her meeting Willem that she didn’t need him to continue to be as such. Willem found the independence and strength their meeting imbued and used it in a positive manner and while I’m glad at least one of them did this, I never quite liked Willem enough in order to root for him. I never saw what appealed to Allyson and I never understood quite why they transformed each others lives in the first place.

While I’m glad to have the closure of Willem’s side of the story, I still can’t help but feel the ending would have benefited from… more. I needed to see Willem and Allyson’s transformations being applied since we as readers were only afforded a quick glance before reaching the final page.

Just One Year is a tale of transformation, of finding happiness, of finding love and finding yourself.

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