Happy Isla Release Day!
I know for many of you this has been a LONG time coming and I can only imagine how excited everyone is. I read Anna and then Lola in February of this year, and they were some of the first Young Adult books I read. I immediately fell in love and decided to explore this world of YA literature a little bit more and before I knew it I was on Twitter following ALL the book bloggers! Needless to say, these books hold a very special place in my heart because they helped bring me to all of you, and I will be forever grateful for that.
Since I’m new to book blogging and haven’t posted a formal review of Anna and the French Kiss or Lola and the Boy Next Door yet, I thought it would be fun to write-up a series review of all three books. So, today I’ll be sharing my (not so) mini-reviews for Anna, Lola AND Isla all in one convenient post! How’s that for simplicity!?
Published August 4th 2011
Pages: 372 | Format: Paperback | Source: Purchased
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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?
Oh Anna and Etienne (or St. Clair if you prefer), the couple that started it all. This book is everything you want in a swoony, fun read. First of all, it’s set in Paris, so it doesn’t get much better than that! The entire book is an open love letter to the city from Stephanie Perkins, as she paints it in all of its loveliness and allure. As I read each page I felt like I was back walking paths along the Seine River or sitting at a café in the Latin Quarter. I wish I had read this book BEFORE I went to Paris last August because there were so many places that I recognized from my travels as I was reading. So fun!
Another part of this book that I really enjoyed was all of the secondary characters. They are so vividly written and provide so much more depth to not only the story but to the main characters as a whole. These friends allow us to see different aspects to Anna and Etienne’s personalities and I appreciated the variety and nuance it brought to the books. Perkin’s gave us some fantastic friends for Anna and Etienne, and I was just as invested in their stories as I was the main characters. Obviously now I know there was a reason for that since these people make appearances in the other books. It’s SO fun to see the thread from one story carried on in the next.
Finally, I can’t write this review without mentioning the stars (and namesake) of the book…Anna and Etienne. Their love story is anything but easy and it takes a lot of pain and confusion for them to get to each other. I have to be honest and say that I was initially was not a fan of the fact that Etienne was dating someone else while falling in love with Anna, but it somehow worked in the end. They meet each other during a time in their life when they need someone to be an emotional balance, and they end up serving such an important purpose to one another. Ultimately, you just can’t help but believe they were destined to be together. Their moments are filled with such tenderness and mutual affection that by the end of the story I was sooo anxious to see what would happen. One of my favorite parts of this whole book was the email exchange they have over Christmas break; so fun and sweet!
I absolutely adored this book in all of its Parisian glory, filled with swoony moments and hysterical laughs. If you’re looking for a book that will give you warm fuzzies and a silly grin then Anna and the French Kiss is for you!
“Girl scouts didn’t teach me what to do with emotionally unstable drunk boys.”
Published July 9th 2013
Pages: 338 | Format: Paperback | Source: Purchased
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Lola Nolan is a budding costume designer, and for her, the more outrageous, sparkly, and fun the outfit, the better. And everything is pretty perfect in her life (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the 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.
Oh Lola…Lola, Lola, Lola. I adored this girl and her crazy sense of fashion and creativity, but also her kindness and how genuine she is. Lola is the definition of don’t judge a book by its cover. For all of the wild fashions she designs and her costumed exterior, Lola is a girl who just wants to be loved. She’s been through some tough stuff early in her life, but is lucky enough to have such an amazing relationship with her parents and a true BEST friend, that she ends up being pretty grounded and well-adjusted. That’s not to say this girl isn’t flawed, but she recognizes those flaws and decides to work through them. I totally admired Lola for being vulnerable and brave, all at the same time. Because of this, I felt so connected to her as a character.
Then we have Cricket! My dear, sweet Cricket Bell. Lola’s childhood neighbor, friend and perhaps more? I won’t tell. He comes back into town after some time away and completely turns Lola’s life upside down. In this case, I actually liked the fact that he threw a wrench into Lola’s relationship with her older (and slimier) boyfriend Max. Cricket is the total opposite of Max, sweet, thoughtful and so genuine in his feelings for Lola. Watching them rediscover a long-lost friendship was so touching and wonderful. And the sexual tension…wooo hoooo…was there plenty of it!
I also appreciated that this story, although in the same world as Anna and the French Kiss (and with some pretty fun cameos), had a totally different feel from the first book. It was a story of two people finding their way BACK to each other rather than discovering each other. I really loved the shared history of Lola and Cricket, and also discovering it through both of their eyes. You’ll see that they both have a different interpretation of what happened, but that they both want so desperately to get back to the way things used to be.
In Lola and the Boy Next Door, Stephanie Perkins gives us a new story of two young people still figuring life out but deciding that they’d rather figure it out together than on their own.
“I know you aren’t perfect. But it’s a person’s imperfections that make them perfect for someone else.”
Published August 14th 2014
Pages: 339 | Format: Hardcover | Source: Purchased
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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.
Sigh…what wonderful way to end this series! Isla and the Happily Ever After is like hot apple pie, a cup of hot chocolate or a warm buttery croissant…cozy and satisfying. This novel was such a fun read and filled with so many “awww” moments that I couldn’t help but grin most of the time. Isla and Josh are just so freaking cute together that you almost can’t stand it. But you can…cause it’s Stephanie Perkins…and it’s awesome.
Isla and Josh are not strangers to us, we’ve met them before in Anna and the French Kiss (Josh more so than Isla) so there’s already a little bit of history and back story for these two. It was cool to make the connection and realize that we’re talking about THAT Isla…the one we got a glimpse of in Anna and Etienne’s story. Especially when you go back and re-read Anna after finishing Isla. Which I did do, thanks to the Happily Ever After read along…such a great idea! No question about it…this book is all about falling in love. There’s no drama, no messy relationships and no doubt about the fact that these two are crazy for each other. Of course, there is some drama as you get deeper into the book and you’re left wondering what will happen to this couple, but regardless of how the story ends, it’s such a fun ride to see Isla and Josh’s love story from the beginning.
There is so much epic goodness in the last few scenes of this book that bring such a satisfying conclusion to the entire series! I literally squealed out loud in one scene and almost broke into (happy) tears in another. This book manages to wrap up all three installments into one perfect little package and that made me incredibly happy. The reason I am such a fan of this series is that they make me feel great when I am done reading and Isla and the Happily Ever After was no exception.
“I wish the world would swallow us whole, in this moment. And that’s when it hits me that this – this – is falling in love.”
Yeah…that’s right…FIVE STARS (or should I say hearts) for all three books. I simply adored this series! They were fun, swoony, feel good stories that managed to put a smile on my face. Stephanie Perkins will always have my love and admiration for managing to craft these beautiful love stories set amongst wonderfully vivid backdrops of some of the world’s finest cities. The only complaint I have is that they had to come to an end. I’d give anything to be able to go back and discover these characters all over again.
PS…I’m also quite thrilled because now I will have all three gorgeous books gracing my bookshelf and making this world a better place. I mean look at how lovely this is…