Thursday, October 25, 2012

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Lola and the Boy Next Door is a companion novel to Anna and the French Kiss, which I LOVED.  It was 5 stars and then some, so I was excited to see that Anna and √Čtienne were a part of this story as well.  They are not the main focus like they were in the first book, but their presence was a plus for me.

Lola is a seventeen year old high school girl living in San Francisco.  She has a non-traditional family and is very eccentric in her own right.  She wants to become a costume designer, which greatly influences her personal style.  She wears different colored wigs and tries not to wear the same outfit twice. 

She has had a love/hate relationship with Calliope and Cricket Bell, the twins who have lived next door to her growing up.  Specifically...she hates Calliope, but loves Cricket.  This all changed when their family moved away and rented out their house.  A couple of years later, the Bells move back and Lola is conflicted.  She hates Cricket for the way things ended between them two years prior, but she still has feelings for him.  She has a boyfriend, so she tries to push her thoughts of Cricket aside...BUT...Cricket is now, after all of this time, openly expressing an interest in her. 

Cricket is 6 foot 4, thin, wears tight pants, rubber bands on his arm and is always writing messages on his hand.  He has always been interested in inventing things and has been extremely talented at it since a very young age.  His great, great, great grandfather is none other than Alexander Graham Bell, so he comes by it honestly.  He is one of the sweetest, most polite, and caring character I have come across in quite some time.

In contrast...Lola's boyfriend Max can only be described in one way.  He is 22 years old (five years older than Lola), has tattoos, is the lead singer in a band, and has NO personality what so ever.  He treats Lola's friends like crap and to top things off...he gave √Čtienne the brush off.  That was the icing on the cake for me.  Every time I read about him a quote from The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer crept into my head.  I think Mara sums Max up with the following:

 Asscrown," I muttered under my breath as I headed to my next class. I wasn't proud of swearing at a complete stranger, no. but he started it.

Noah matched my pace. "Don't you mean 'assclown'?" He looked amused.

"No," I said, louder this time. "I mean asscrown. The crown on top of the asshat that covers the asshole of the assclown. The very zenith in the hierarchy of asses," I said, as though I was reading from a dictionary of modern profanity.


Yes...That is Max for you.  By the time Lola finally sees through him and comes to terms with her feelings for Cricket, I was SO done with Max. 

Lola and Cricket are perfect together.  She appreciates his inventions and he understands her style.  They both need emotional support throughout the book and they are always there for each other.  How many guys would actually help a friend design and create a dress?  Not many.  

There will be one additional companion novel to Anna and the French Kiss, which will be titled Isla and the Happily Ever After.  It is scheduled to be released May 7, 2013.  I hope that Stephanie will include ALL of our favorite characters....Anna, Etienne, Lola, and Cricket.  She can even include Calliope since I started to like her towards the end of this book.  I will not be at a loss if Max is omitted. 

Overall, I felt this was an excellent companion novel.  It wasn't quite as good as Anna, but it was easily 4 stars. 

Flo and I met Stephanie Perkins at the RT Convention in Chicago last year.  She was super nice and, as you can see, may have lent some of her fashion sense to Lola.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Jamie Loeak Blog Tour


Welcome to the fourth stop on the Jamie Loeak Blog Tour!! 


About the Author: 

Jamie Loeak is an aspiring YA author. She has written and published her first novel and continues to work toward finishing the trilogy, while new ideas for more novels pop into her ever changing mind. Jamie resides in Florida, where she is a middle school teacher. Finding time for writing is difficult within the world of lesson plans, assessments, and students; however, Jamie makes sure to make time for all of the things that she loves in life, including her students, pets, and a loving boyfriend. When Jamie isn't writing or grading papers, she is forcing her sister into photoshoots or playing her guitar. Her current goal is to finish the Body and Soul Trilogy so that she can let her other ideas escape. (Goodreads)


Review:

Kate is a sixteen year old only child, is very independent, and is used to being alone.  Her parent's both work long hours, so she anticipates spending a lot of quiet time on the beach reading to pass the summer. 

When she meets Rico and Adriana things completely change for her.  For the first time in her life, she has real friends.  The friendship initially started because of a need for Rico and Adriana to protect her.  She was attacked by "demons" on her way home from dinner with her parents and she just narrowly escaped.  Then she starts having nightmares, which seem to be showing her glimpses into the future.  Rico, Adriana, and Kate work feverishly to figure out why the demons have targeted Kate and to devise a way of stopping them.

The relationship that develops between Rico and Kate is very sweet.  While there are elements in this book that reminded me of Twilight, I would not say that this is a bad thing.  There aren't any vampires in this series, but there are similar quirks to Rico and Kate's relationship.  I don't want to give away any spoilers, so I will simply leave it at that.   

The last quarter of the book was very fast paced and contained a lot of surprises that I did not see coming.    Jamie did not leave us with a happily ever after type of ending and there are plenty of unanswered questions that need to be resolved in the next book in this series. 

I was captivated by the world that Jamie created and I absolutely LOVED the characters.  I can't wait to see what is in store for them in the sequel.  I am not sure when the next book will be released, but it sounds like there are currently three books planned in the series.  For the most up to date information, here is the link to Jamie's Blog.  Hopefully she will fill us in on her plans for this series soon. (Hint, Hint)

I would like to thank Jamie for sending me an electronic copy of her book and Krystal Clear Books for hosting this blog tour.  Be sure to check out all of the tour stops for more reviews, character and author interviews, and excerpts from the book.

October 20th- www.vampandstuff.com
November 16th- www.rbtlreviews.com

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys is the first book in a planned four book series.  I really enjoyed all of the characters, but there was something missing.  Perhaps it was the third person narration, but I'm not really sure that was the problem because I enjoyed hearing the story from the different characters' perspectives.  I just never felt a true connection to the characters or the story until the last quarter of the book.

The first 270 out of 408 pages were very slow for me.  We learn about Blue, a high school girl, and her relatives who are all psychics.  We learn about "the raven boys" (Gansey, Ronan, Adam, and Noah) personal histories.  They are all from privileged families, with one exception, and they are all attending a prestigious boarding school in Blue's hometown of Henrietta.

Gansey recruited all of his friends to help him explore the "ley line".  He has conducted research around the world and has come to the realization that Henrietta has the most powerful ley line and Glendower, his ultimate quest, may be buried here.  He just needs to find out where.  Their investigation breaks wide open once they meet Blue.  The closer they get to finding the ley line the more dangerous things become.  They make an unusual discovery, which directly impacts their circle of friends.  Once this discovery was made, I really started to enjoy the book.  I just wish we were given this piece of information sooner.  It shed light on many of the events that happened earlier in the book.  I actually went back and reread several sections to better appreciate and understand them.

I am anxious to see what happens in the second book.  Now that we are past all of the history and build up that was required for this story, the next book should pick up where this one left off.  There was a lot of excitement and energy the last quarter of this book, which I hope Stiefvater will be able to build upon.