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review SPOILER ALERT! 2014-10-22 12:05
Stephanie Perkins Anna and the French Kiss Series - Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the boy next door, Isla and the happily ever after.

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?

 

 

I have to be honest, when I first head about the Anna and the French Kiss series I wasn't interested at all! I'm definitely not usually the sort of person who gets into a soppy chick lit which is what I assumed this series was, I was totally wrong, this series is so much more than that. Yes, a main part of the story is about falling in love, teenage angst and romance but the way in which Stephanie Perkins wrote this book makes it feel like there are other things going on as well. These books are also incredible coming of age books, it deals with issues such as growing up and being terrified about the future, family problems, friendships and everything else a young person is thinking about in their last couple years of high school. 

 

The series starts with Anna and the French Kiss where a young girl, Anna is sent to a boarding school in France for American Students, there she has to learn a new language, a new culture and meet new friends to try and fit it. The second and third books: Lola and the boy next door and Isla and the happily ever after, although you do not HAVE to read them in order, I feel like the books work so much better if read in the order of publication as the characters in the first books appear in the later books so you might get some spoilers if read in the opposite/alternative order.

 

The main thing I loved about these books, especially Anna  and the French Kiss was the Characters. Stephanie Perkins has created the most quirky, lovable characters who are also utterly relatable and I feel like I actually know. I couldn't book this book down due to the fact that I was so connected and invested in the characters lives and I NEEDED to know what happened to them.What I also loved about these books was that the city in which the book was set in, Paris, also felt like a character  to me, the descriptions Perkins uses to describe Paris creates a perfect picture in your mind which is so clear I felt as if I was there. Even weeks after reading this series I still feel nostalgic about Paris even though I haven't actually been there. I also enjoyed the mix of emotions this book gave me, one minute I would be crying with sadness, the next I would be crying with happiness, a few pages later I'd be snorting with laughing, a good book should make you feel and this book definetley did. 

 

The only thing I did not like about these books is that from about half way through I knew everything was going to be alright with the characters due to the sort of books that these were, the happily ever after sort of books. This is the reason I don't usually read romance books due to finding them predictable however what I did like about these books was that I couldn't guess how the issues were going to be resolved so I was still gripping the book with anticipation at finding out how things were going to work. 

 

Overall I LOVED this series, it is my favorite contemporary series of all time and I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys young adult romance, emotional books, anyone who enjoys a bit of quirky humour and anyone who wants to get fully invested into a new set of characters. 

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review 2014-08-21 23:59
If I Stay, by Gayle Forman Review

"I realize now that dying is easy. Living is hard."

-If I stay, (pg 175, US Paperback edition)

 

If I Stay is a story about love and tragedy, that makes your heart hurt, but at the same time brings you to hope.

 

My Initial Thoughts: To be completely honest, I wasn’t sure how much I was going to like this book when I first started. I had no emotional attachment to the characters when the accident happened, and everything seemed so rushed and unemotional at first. However, I have to give miss Forman props for the way she carefully wove in the backstory of the characters and how eventually the reader does start to care for them. Everyone becomes a loveable, real person and the loss and tragedy of what had happened just hits you hard.

 

The Plot: This book isn’t a thriller, the plot isn’t particularly exciting or fast-paced. This book more so causes the reader to feel and to think. It draws you in and doesn’t let you go. It causes you to step back and look at your own life, at the people you love and cherish and makes you contemplate what you would do if you were put in Mia’s position.

 

The Writing: This book isn’t filled with breathtaking poetic prose, but it has a simplistic beauty to it. Forman’s writing style is very easy to follow and to get into.  It’s not filled with a bunch of fluff or long descriptors, but it has just enough of everything to build the characters and scenes and make the reader understand and tugs at the emotional heart strings.

 

Overall Thoughts & Rating: I really like this book for what it was, it’s emotional and thought-provoking and I would recommend it to fans of deeper, thought-provoking contemporary. It’s not all gloom, it does have its lighter, cute moments, but the overall feel is quite heavy. I really loved the way the characters were developed, I loved the part the music played throughout the book. I did think it was a little too short, it ended quite suddenly, but that didn’t take away from the impact of the story. 

I give this book a solid 4 ½ stars out of 5.

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review 2014-05-25 21:39
Sweet Reckoning - Wendy Higgins

Believe the hype because this is one the best series endings I've read thus far! Sweet Reckoning has a good plot, fantastic characters, lots of hunkeroos to swoon over and the best bonds of love and friendship. 

Wendy Higgins is a rockstar writer in my opinion. Young adult done well and written for an ageless reader. Yes, the main characters are teens but their actions and voice doesn't distract from the overall story. Who can say no to a story where there are demons on earth destroying the good in humans? 

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review 2014-05-08 18:30
Belle Epoque - Elizabeth Ross

I loved it!

 

Bell Epoque was a solid read all the way through. The setting and characters were well done. I love reading about books set in Paris. The subject matter was interesting and unsettling to say the least. To be a foil for the rich. To be plain and unattractive in the company of rich pretty women to illuminate their attributes.

 

I will re-read and suggest this book to all who will listen and become interested.

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review 2013-10-09 19:13
Review: This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
This Song Will Save Your Life - Leila Sales

 

Full review also posted here on TotalTeenFiction.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I'd seen This Song Will Save Your Life mentioned on a few blogs over the past few months and it caught my attention because I adore books about music. I was delighted when I was sent a proof copy to review. The book follows Elise who is struggling socially at school. Wandering the street late at night leads her to an underground DJ night where she meets DJ Char and party-goers Vicky and Pippa. Soon she is swept into their world and discovers her new passion; DJ'ing.

The beginning of the book sees Elise in a quite a dark place. She's working hard on changing her image so she'll fit in at school and when all her attempts fail, she ends up feeling suicidal and harming herself. I have huge respect for the author for taking on these subjects and managing to get inside Elise's head and portray her worries so well. The book also deals with issues like cyber bullying and references eating disorders and binge drinking. I think it's important that books don't shy away from these things and although some scenes may be dark, I was really pleased with how they were addressed. This Song Will Save Your Life managed to balance everything really well so that you feel the emotion but there's enough uplifting moments to keep you entertained as well as moved.

I think the real problem Elise has is loneliness, and the book addresses how having friends during your high school days is in now way a given. I could relate to a few of the scenarios she finds herself in. There's one part of the book where she describes all the ways she copes with lunchtime because she can't go to the cafeteria, and it brought back memories of a time when I used to wander round school pretending to look for someone because I didn't actually have anyone to hang around with! I think loneliness can be one of the hardest things to deal with, especially at that age, and so I thought it was a great avenue to explore.

I really liked Elise as a main character. She's incredibly smart (something she's bullied because of) but she also has a real determination. Every hobby she takes up she puts her heart and soul into to try and be the best which was a trait I really liked about her. The book is written in first person and I adored her voice. She comes across as slightly older than her sixteen years but that's in no way a bad thing! I think she's become more mature by having to deal with the extreme immaturity of her peers. In a way I could relate to that as well. I always felt a bit older than those around me during my teens. Basically a lot of this book was relatable!

The story charts Elise's journey as she enters the world of DJ'ing.When I went into this book I probably had quite a close-minded view of the scene, so it was really refreshing to have my eyes opened to this world. The focus really is on the music and everybody getting lost in those songs. My proof copy had a playlist at the back which I'm sure will be available in the finished copy as
well and it made me want to go and seek out all of those songs. (You can listen to the playlist via Spotify at this link!) Start, the club night Elise discovers, is an indie disco so there's a brilliant mix of old and new music. I love how the book takes that connection you have with songs and how you relate them to your life and weaves it into the story.

There was a great ensemble of characters in . I really liked Vicky and Pippa and what they brought to the story. Vicky is really funny and brings out a bit of confidence in Elise. I thought it was good that the darker side of the party lifestyle was reflected in Pippa's struggles as well. I liked the way Elise looks upon her half-sister Alex as a younger version of herself and how she reflects on her own experiences by comparing them to Alex's.

There is an underlying romantic storyline throughout the book but it's not overplayed. I liked that the focus wasn't so much on that particular love story, because the book is really all about Elise learning to like herself which is far more important! And I was really impressed that Elise herself doesn't get swept away by a guy who she doesn't know that well. She's really level headed about the whole thing which was so refreshing for a YA novel. There was one character who appears nearer the end of the book who I wish was introduced a lot sooner but that's all I'll say! The plot was quite gentle paced and I was maybe expecting a few more twists and turns, but if you love character driven novels then I think if provides enough to sink your teeth into.

I think this book really sums up a lot of what growing up is about and what it feels like during those years when you're so worried about what people think of you and how to fit in. It captured the trials and tribulations of school and friendships brilliantly. It's a book I'd definitely recommend and I can't wait to read more by this author.

Find more books like this at TotalTeenFiction!

Source: totalteenfiction.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/review-this-song-will-save-your-life-by.html
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