Series: Anna and the French Kiss

Book Review – Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss #3) by Stephanie Perkins

February 12, 2015 Dani Dani's Reviews 1 Comment

Book Review – Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss #3) by Stephanie PerkinsIsla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Series: Anna and the French Kiss #3
Published by Dutton Juvenile on August 14th 2014
Pages: 352
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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five-stars

Love ignites in the City That Never Sleeps, but can it last?

Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.

Featuring cameos from fan-favorites Anna, Étienne, Lola, and Cricket, this sweet and sexy story of true love—set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona—is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series.

Anna and the French Kiss series

Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss #1) by Stephanie Perkins{Review}
Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss #2) by Stephanie Perkins {Review}

“Anticipation – of something – hovers in the air.”

First Anna, then Lola, now say hello to Isla. We briefly meet Isla in the first book as a fellow kind soul to Anna in a time of need. Since I was late to the series (and had the spoiler of book three’s title), I paid careful attention for mentions of Isla. Thankfully, Stephanie Perkins gave Isla her very own book and it was spectacular. The above quote completely sums up my feelings of this book. It was already pretty evident from my other reviews that I was probably going to be a total fangirl about book 3. And yeah, I totally am. I was so excited and it never faded during the length of the story.

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“Something is happening between us. Is it friendship? It doesn’t feel like friendship, but it’s possible I’m projecting my own desires. And I’m ashamed for even thinking about him like this after what happened last week. Because I’m not thinking. I’m hoping. People aren’t supposed to be able to change, but…I’ve never bought that.” 

Isla and Josh (who also makes an appearance in book one) meet in New York City one night after Isla’s just had her wisdom teeth removed. Little does Josh know that Isla has been crushing, HARD, on him for years at their boarding school in Paris. It is total “meet cute” with Isla hopped up on pain killers, a walk home in a rainstorm, and then nothing for weeks. The pair meet again when school starts back up and they begin a torturous friendship – even though to everyone else it’s clear they are madly in love.

“I want to weep with joy. He like me, but he thought he couldn’t like me. It’s difficult to wrap my mind around this idea. I suspected his attraction, but the full truth of the situation is unbelievable. How is it possible that my crush – my three-year-long crush – has a crush on me? This doesn’t happen in real life.”  

Isla is certainly the most real and honest of the three books in this series. I found myself holding my breath, laughing and crying with Isla. It was borderline reliving awful, angsty teenage years pining for the boy in calculus – hypothetically, of course.

“I stare at my hands. I am hard on myself. But isn’t it better to be honest about these things before someone else can use them against you? Before someone else can break your heart? Isn’t it better to break it yourself? I thought honesty made people strong.” 

It would be very easy to chalk this book up as two little rich kids who fall in and out of love. But like Perkins’ other works, and even more so in this one, it captures so delicately and wonderfully the unsteady waters of a young woman’s heart and mind. Isla finds herself heartbroken and “drowning in a river of [her] own making.” The isolation to which Isla sentences herself is wholly authentic. Again, I found myself with another character in Perkins’ work that I could not only sympathize with, but empathize with. Isla is a best friend, a sister, me. Isla and the Happily Ever After is beautiful, captivating, and the most perfect ending to a fantastic series.

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Book Review – Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss #2) by Stephanie Perkins

November 15, 2014 Dani Dani's Reviews 0 Comments

Book Review – Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss #2) by Stephanie PerkinsLola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
Series: Anna and the French Kiss #2
Published by Dutton Juvenile on September 29th 2011
Pages: 384
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Funny-ha-ha
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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In this companion novel to Anna and the French Kiss, two teens discover that true love may be closer than they think

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.

Anna and the French Kiss series

Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss #1) by Stephanie Perkins {PurchaseReview}

The one. It stops my heart. I thought Max was the one, but… there’s that other one. The first one.”

Dolores Nolan, aka “Lola”, is in quite a pickle. She is madly in love with Max, an older guy in a band. Max never wants to hang around Lola’s friends and only tolerates Sunday brunch with her dads Andy and Nathan. Simply, Max is a bad guy, but Lola is too blinded to realize he has little regard for her feelings. Enter Cricket – the first love who got away – and Lola’s new next-door neighbor. Lola’s feelings come rushing back, causing her to question every interaction when her heart already knows the answer.

In this book, Perkins tackles much more adult and complex issues than in her previous work, especially around the idea of family. Lola’s family dynamic strays from the “normal” nuclear family. Her dads adopt Lola from her teenage/junkie/homeless parents at birth. Lola’s mother happens to be one of her dad’s sisters, and she only appears in need of rescue.

“We take each other in. My mind spins as it tries to connect the Cricket of the present with the Cricket of the past. He’s grown up and grown into his body, but it’s still him. The same boy I fell in love with in the ninth grade. My feelings had been building since our childhood, but that year, the year he turned sixteen, was the year everything changed.” 

Perkins has a gift for making her characters fall in love at the right pace. Lola has to work on her relationships and struggles with decisions about to whom her heart really belongs. Oh, Lola. I know this girl. I have been this girl. While there is no instant gratification in her works, the extra strain tugs on heart strings, makes her characters seem more human, and the payoff is so worth it. I read a lot of girly love stories, but I connected with this book more than I have with any other because of its realism. Or rather realism AND a happy ending.

My least favorite part of Lola and the Boy Next Door is that it was marketed as “Anna and the French Kiss #2” – which is certainly is not. While my beloved Anna and Étienne do make appearances as supporting characters, I was expecting more of their wonderful love story with her at film school, him at Berkeley. This is a completely trivial complaint, but the only one I have for this book. Instead of my usual list of recommendations, I am going to stick to one that I haven’t even read yet. If you liked Anna and Lola, you must read Isla and the Happily Ever After.

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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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