book review :: anna and the french kiss by stephanie perkins

27 February 2014

Title: Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Publisher: Usborne Publishing
Publication Date: January 1st 2014
Pages: 416
Book: For Review*
Format: Paperback, Finished Copy
Find The Book: Amazon || Goodreads || The Book Depository
Summary: Anna has everything figured out - she was about to start senior year with her best friend, she had a great weekend job, and her huge work crush looked as if it might finally be going somewhere... Until her dad decides to send her 4383 miles away to Paris. On her own.
But despite not speaking a word of French, Anna finds herself making new friends, including Etienne, the smart, beautiful boy from the floor above. But he’s taken – and Anna might be too. Will a year of romantic near-missed end with the French kiss she’s been waiting for? "Magical…really captures the feeling of being in love.” – CASSANDRA CLARE
“Very sly. Very funny. Very romantic. You should date this book.” - MAUREEN JOHNSON
Anna and the French Kiss. Oh, my, dear, darling, I LOVE YOU. It was the kind of book that made me 'squee', pull weird faces at myself in the mirror, hyperventilate and 'jump up and down' (if that's possible when you're sitting in bed - i sort of jerked around awkwardly like i was having an electric shock) and internally keyboard bash and yell (in caps lock) in my mind. I could go on and on about how light and fluffy and happy this book made me feel but i'm not going to - you have to experience it yourself, because if you've not read it yet - WHY NOT.
Dear Stephanie Perkins,
For the love of books and candy and sugar-giraffes, I adore your books. The writing, the vivid imagery and realistic, fangirl inducing dialogue. The characters. Because seriously, don't get me started on St. Clair. (Yes I know I shouldn't start sentences with 'because' but I'm on a book-high - please let me off.) Yes, a book high. You're books are honestly like drugs. You read one and then you're addicted. You crave more. You need more. I NEED MORE.  
This book should have been a cliché. It sounds cliché, and to a point it looks cliché. However it was anything but. The characters were so human and genuine. Anna with her unique, awkward voice, St Clair, Etienne, with his witty charms and easy assurance, Rashmi, Mer, and Josh with his constant sketching and hand-cramps - they all felt like friends to me by the end of the book and that's why I liked it so much. It was a world I liked to be 'in', with people I would genuinely like to meet one day if they ever decide to jump out from within the pages of friends and film dates.
So, Paris was fun, where are you taking me next?
The Girl Who Is Currently Dancing On A Table Top.
P.S No, I have no idea what a sugar-giraffe is, but it's something awesome, that I'm sure of.
All in all, Anna and the French Kiss was a wonderful book that is guaranteed to make you smile and laugh and melt inside. With an honorary American/British 'hero', an introverted (to a degree), awkward protagonist who hates the fact that she has been shipped off to boarding school in Paris (crazy I know), you will see the main character come to terms with friendship, family ties and love. (yes - welcome to the story of Etienne St. Clair..) If you haven't read this book yet, when you do pick it up you'll wish you never waited. As Taherah Mafi said: "god i love this book. i want to eat it with a spoon." My rating: 1/2
▲ → 
"So what do I wish for? Something I'm not sure I want? Someone I'm not sure I need? Or someone I know I can't have?" -Anna & the French Kiss
"Is it possible for home to be a person and not a place?" -Anna & the French Kiss
"I wish friends held hands more often, like the children I see on the streets sometimes. I'm not sure why we have to grow up and get embarrassed about it." -Anna & the French Kiss
“The more you know who you are, and what you want, the less you let things upset you.” -Anna & the French Kiss 
“Most people in Atlanta don't have an accent. It's pretty urban. A lot of people speak gangsta, though," I add jokingly. 
"Fo' shiz," he replies in his polite English accent. 
I spurt orangey-red soup across the table. -Anna & the French Kiss
“How many times can our emotions be tied to someone else's - be pulled and stretched and twisted - before they snap? Before they can never be mended again?”-Anna & the French Kiss 
*thank you so so much to Guardian Books for being awesome and sending me this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

doorstep delights #7

23 February 2014

Ehem, so, another large haul. What can I say? Books are attracted to me. Hehe, but in all seriousness, I don't really know how this happens, the books just pile up and while I'm not complaining, my TBR pile is taller than me (which is not that high but - y'know). I've been reading a book every two days which, while not unusual for me, is unusual for this time of year which is *sigh* *says the dreaded word* exam season...Now without further ado - my haul (Jan to first week of Feb) →
DASH & LILY'S BOOK OF DARES by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan (gifted)
STRAY by Monica Hesse (ARC)
A BREATH OF FROST by Alyxandra Harvey
BLINDSIDED by Natalie Whipple
THE MADNESS by Alison Rattle
BURN by Monica Hesse
HALF BAD by Sally green (ARC)
COUNTING BY 7'S by Holly Goldberg Sloan (ARC)
THE MADMAN'S DAUGHTER by Megan Shepherd (gifted)
ON TWO FEET AND WINGS by Abbas Kazerooni
BIRD by Crystal Chan (ARC)
THE SNOW CHILD by Eowyn Ivey (bought)
CURTSIES AND CONSPIRACIES by Gail Carriger (bought)
STARTERS by Lissa Price
GRETEL AND THE DARK by Eliza Granville (ARC)
SKYLARK by Meagan Spooner (gifted)
CRESS by Marissa Meyer
NEVER ENDING by Martyn Bedford (ARC)
UNHINGED by A.G Howard (ARC)
THE ONE SAFE PLACE by Tania Unsworth
FEVER by Lauren DeStefano (gifted)
EVE & ADAM by Michael Grant & Katherine Applegate
TAPE by Steven Camden
ENDERS by Lissa Price
LIPS TOUCH : THREE TIMES by Laini Taylor (won)
DOLL BONES by Holly Black
THE APPRENTICE by Imogen Rossi (ARC)
CLOSE YOUR PRETTY EYES by Sally Nicholls (won-signed)
LEOPOLD BLUE by Rosie Rowell
FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell
FAR FROM YOU by Tess Sharpe
*Thank you so much to Debbie, (YOU ARE AWESOME), Hot Key Books, Bloomsbury, Penguin, Piccadilly Press, Guardian Children's Books, Amber (THANKS LIL' UNICORN) Random House, Spinebreakers, Abrams, Orion, Electric Monkey, Walker Books, Daphne (Thank you!) Girls Heart Books & Macmillan.

book review :: dead ends by erin jade lange

19 February 2014

Title: Dead Ends
Author: Erin Jade Lange
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: September 3rd 2013
Format: ARC
Book: For Review*
Pages: 336
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Coming-of-Age
Summary: Dane Washington is one suspension away from expulsion. In a high school full of “haves,” being a “have not” makes Dane feel like life is hurtling toward one big dead end. Billy D. spends his high school days in Special Ed and he’s not exactly a “have” himself. The biggest thing Billy’s missing? His dad. Billy is sure the riddles his father left in an atlas are really clues to finding him again and through a bizarre turn of events, he talks Dane into joining him on the search. A bully and a boy with Down syndrome makes for an unlikely friendship, but together, they work through the clues, leading to unmarked towns and secrets of the past. But they’re all dead ends. Until the final clue . . . and a secret Billy shouldn’t have been keeping. As a journalist, Erin Jade Lange is inspired by hot button issues like bullying, but it is her honest characters and breakneck plotting that make Dead Ends a must-read. -from goodreads
Dead Ends was a witty, entertaining and heart-warming tale that I enjoyed even more than the author’s debut novel; Butter. While Butter was received w critical acclaim, and although I found it enjoyable and thought-provoking, Dead Ends made me understand why Erin Jade Lange has been likened to John Green and R.J Palacio. The tone of the book was light and humorous, the author still managed to maintain the tension and seriousness of the book.
There were too main characters in the book: Billy D, “special ed” although according to him he’s not. And Dane, the resident ‘Bully’ of the school and area, who doesn’t even realize that’s what he is until someone points it out to him. All he thinks is that he has to satisfy the ‘itch’ he gets in his palms and to do that he has to punch someone, so why not pick a person who has just annoyed him? Yes, it might have been something minor, but still. The itch calls. I loved both the two characters, Dane probably the most as he made the most growth and development throughout the course of the story. Sixteen, one of the only teenagers his age without a car, living at home with a single mum and a hoard of winning lottery tickets stuck into frames on the kitchen wall he ploughed through life with one thought – get a car, then maybe his life would be better. And until then, all he could do was ‘try’ and stay out of trouble so he wouldn’t get kicked out of school while obeying his ‘itch’ at the same time, and navigate the path of life, one step at a time. He had no aim or purpose (other than to own a car) and this made him, in a way, depressed. He didn’t have many friends at all because everyone was scared of him, and he had the constant ache in his mind that his life could be so much better if his mum just cashed in the lottery tickets she had won with instead of displaying them in frames in the house; which she refused to do.
So until he met Billy D He wandered aimlessly around doing, pretty much nothing. And then enter Billy D. His first meeting with him lasted about a second, but gradually turned into a something longer-lasting and stronger than he had ever had before. Billy D was such a genuine character you couldn’t help but like him, with his atlas that he lugged around everywhere, his persistency, his proneness to blackmailing without really knowing that was what he was doing, and his ability to soften Dane, to end with the last word, to make Dane think, really think about who he was and why he did things.
The ending was bitter sweet; it left a tangy taste in my mouth, sadness and happiness mixed together along with one other feeling, disappointment. Not with the story itself, but with the language. Anyone who knows me will know that I am not a fan of swearing. No matter who the author is trying to portray, I do not believe that making them swear is the answer to their problem of how to bring across their violence//rough personality//character. When I come across a book where the author managers to depict a ‘troubled/angsty/violent character perfectly without using a single swear word, that author gains my respect. Because yes, the first thing you think when you imagine someone who is likely to go to juvie, who beats up people and thinks nothing of it, is that they swear. It’s a stereotypical trait that’s associated with them. But there are so many other ways to bring their personality across that I feel there is never any need to use swear words.
Overall, Dead Ends was an enjoyable read that I will probably pick up again when I’m in need of a fun book that’s not too heavy (but isn’t all airy-fairy nonsense either!) although, I did think the language used in the book was unnecessary. However, I have read so many other books with an even more extreme amount of swearing that this was tame in comparison! My rating: 
p.s sorry for the rant.
*this book was provided free of charge by Guardian Children's Books in exchange for an honest review.

blackdog tour :: author guest post

16 February 2014

Today i have the wonderful Rachel Neumeier here to talk about how she came to write her debut novel - Blackdog.
Summary: Natividad is Pure, one of the rare girls born able to wield magic. Pure magic can protect humans against the supernatural evils they only half-acknowledge – the blood kin or the black dogs. In rare cases – like for Natividad’s father and older brother – Pure magic can help black dogs find the strength to control their dark powers.
But before Natividad’s mother can finish teaching her magic their enemies find them. Their entire village in the remote hills of Mexico is slaughtered by black dogs. Their parents die protecting them. Natividad and her brothers must flee across a strange country to the only possible shelter: the infamous black dogs of Dimilioc, who have sworn to protect the Pure.
In the snowy forests of Vermont they are discovered by Ezekiel Korte, despite his youth the strongest black dog at Dimilioc and the appointed pack executioner. Intrigued by Natividad he takes them to Dimilioc instead of killing them.
Now they must pass the tests of the Dimilioc Master. Alejandro must prove he can learn loyalty and control even without his sister’s Pure magic. Natividad’s twin Miguel must prove that an ordinary human can be more than a burden to be protected. And even at Dimilioc a Pure girl like Natividad cannot remain unclaimed to cause fighting and distraction. If she is to stay she must choose a black dog mate.
But, first, they must all survive the looming battle. - from Goodreads
Thanks for inviting me over here to It Was Lovely Reading You, Hawwa!  It’s a pleasure to be here.
You asked about my personal experience with becoming a writer, and you know, that’s a slightly weird story.  Though I don’t suppose there’s anything like a “typical” experience, if you come right down to it.  But I kind of get the idea, listening to other authors, that lots of them have been writing stories for fun since they were pretty young.  I’m not sure I put much of anything down on paper until I was in graduate school, when I was supposed to be writing a thesis on the effects of enhanced UV-B radiation on plant growth and fitness.
That was all very well – my plants thrived on enhanced UV-B, by the way, and showed a significant improvement in fitness characteristics – but the fact is, this is just about the time I finally admitted to myself that I just do not like doing research.  Reading about someone else’s research, sometimes, maybe.  Designing an experiment, sure.  But the actual collection and analysis of data was deadly dull.
Besides, it’s traditional for graduate students to avoid working on their theses by doing absolutely anything else.  In my case, in order to improve my typing speed, I started to write a fantasy novel.
I look back on that fantasy novel now – it actually expanded into a trilogy – and wince at its structural issues and problems with pacing.  But, actually, in some respects it was not terrible.  It had several good characters, some great description, some nice bits of dialogue, a coherent plot that held together through the whole thing, and an ending.  Most important of all, I learned a great deal from writing it, and from revising it, and most of all from simply finishing it.  But I never sent it out to any publishers or agents.
Only after I decided that no, I truly did not want to spend my life doing research and did not want to go on to get a PhD – only then did I decide to take a real stab at writing a short, self-contained, salable novel.  Since I didn’t see any reason to strive for anything less than the best, I didn’t make any effort to revise the earlier trilogy.  Instead, I sat down and read every book Patricia McKillip has ever written.  Then I sat down and wrote THE CITY IN THE LAKE.  It took two months to write – I worked on it all the time, though – about two months to find an agent, and if I remember correctly, about two months for her to place the manuscript with Michelle Frey at Random House. After a start like that, how could I not be a writer?  Of course I had to take writing seriously!
I’ve learned a lot since.  I like description, that part is easy for me.  But there are still plenty of things I struggle with – sometimes it seems that I struggle with every other aspect of writing.  Pacing, establishing character arcs, you name it.  But these days, I’ve gained the confidence that I can not only start a project, I can also finish it.  I suspect that’s the most important part of actually being a writer.

Rachel Neumeier started writing fiction to relax when she was a graduate student and needed a hobby unrelated to her research. Prior to selling her first fantasy novel, she had published only a few articles in venues such as The American Journal of Botany. However, finding that her interests did not lie in research, Rachel left academia and began to let her hobbies take over her life instead.
She now raises and shows dogs, gardens, cooks, and occasionally finds time to read. She works part-time for a tutoring program, though she tutors far more students in Math and Chemistry than in English Composition. - from Goodreads

Thank you so much for being here Rachel, your book looks wonderful, even to my not-so-inclined-towards-fantasy-books eyes!
twitter  website  goodreads 

book review :: fangirl by rainbow rowell

12 February 2014

Title: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publication Date: January 30th 2014
Pages: 480
Format: Paperback, Finished Copy
Book: For Review*
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Coming-of-Age, Family, Friendships
Summary: From the author of the New York Times bestseller Eleanor & Park.
A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.
Cath is a Simon Snow fan.
Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .
But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.
Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.
Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?
Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?
And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?
finally. finally i own Fangirl. it was such a fun read that literally had me fangirling and making random faces throughout (thank goodness i read at night). it's a book i would definitely re-read again, and again, and again, even though i preferred Eleanor & Park (i think that will stay my ultimate favourite of Rainbow Rowell's books forever). oh, where to start with this book though? the cover is gorgeous, i have a UK paperback
which has extra content *fist pump* - cartoon's of the main characters on the back of the front cover, a small cartoon strip of a *certain* scene on the back of the back cover and an interview with Rainbow Rowell.
i sticky noted this book to death.
me throughout the book
every couple of pages i would read something that would make me laugh, or smile, or dance a happy dance and then i would whip out my sticky notes for later. because this book will not fail to make you happy. so all those places i sticky-noted? i'm just going to re-read them if i'm sad and they will turn my frown upside down. ;)
Fangirl was basically the story of my life. seriously. i'm slightly scared that Rainbow Rowell has been stalking me. I'm an introvert, like Cath. I love fiction, like Cath. I'm a fangirl, like Cath, in conlusion. I am like Cath. (apart from a tiny bit of Reagan in me..) Rainbow Rowell has managed to dig deep into the lives of fangirls everywhere and portray exactly what it is like to be part of a huge fandom, from beginning to end, and depicts perfectly how it feels when that fandom ends.
The characters made the book into a rainbow (*cough*) of different attitudes and emotions and feelings, and for me they made the story. They were each so strong in their own way that they rubbed off on me, i've started talking like Reagan (oops) and Cath has made me want to write fanfiction! (yay or nay?).
Surprisingly, i didn't even mind the occasional swearing that cropped up here and there, because i was so ensconced in the characters and plot it just passed me by. And I came to know Reagan especially by her attitude and swear-words, it was who she was!
me reading the cather and levi scenes.
I can't really sum this book up in one word because it's impossible to pinpoint the exact awesomeness of it, but i did read a review of Fangirl a while back that pretty much described my feelings towards Rainbow Rowell's writing: "It’s like Rainbow Rowell writes in peanut butter and stolen moments and lazy eyelash wishes." - quote from "That's All" Ash . I only disliked one thing in this book, and i only realized i disliked it when my friend Amber (The Mile Long Bookshelf) mentioned it. The ending. It kind of, petered out into nothing..there was no great big climax, or...anything really. The ending just was. And maybe i thought this because i've been reading a lot of Veronica Roth/John Green books where PEOPLE DIE AT THE END. (oops. spoiler alert. but seriously, if you haven't read their books yet WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING?), i don't know. but it disappointed me a little.
At the end of Fangirl i was a mushy-fied mess. The book made me smaunce (smile+laugh+dance). It was a joyous, sweet and funny coming-of-age story that no-one should miss. Why? Because it's so relatable. You just can't help but love it with all your heart, you'll get so caught up in it you won't notice anything of your surroundings and by the end of it, the characters will have become your best friends. My rating: 
“In new situations, all the trickiest rules are the ones nobody bothers to explain to you. (And the ones you can't Google.)”
“Real life was something happening in her peripheral vision.”
“Just … isn’t giving up allowed sometimes? Isn’t it okay to say, ‘This really hurts, so I’m going to stop trying’?”
“It sets a dangerous precedent.”
“For avoiding pain?”
“For avoiding life.”
“You’ve read the books?”
“I’ve seen the movies.”
Cath rolled her eyes so hard, it hurt. (Actually.) (Maybe because she was still on the edge of tears. On the edge, period.) “So you haven’t read the books.”
“I’m not really a book person.”
“That might be the most idiotic thing you’ve ever said to me”
“But you're so helpless sometimes. It's like watching a kitten with its head trapped in a Kleenex box.”
“You give away nice like it doesn't cost you anything.”
“Sometimes writing is running downhill, your fingers jerking behind you on the keyboard the way your legs do when they can’t quite keep up with gravity.”
“I feel sorry for you, and I’m going to be your friend.”
“I don’t want to be your friend,” ........ “I like that we’re not friends.”
“Me, too" .... "I’m sorry you ruined it by being so pathetic.”
“It’s just … everything. There are too many people. And I don’t fit in. I don’t know how to be. Nothing that I’m good at is the sort of thing that matters there. Being smart doesn’t matter—and being good with words. And when those things do matter, it’s only because people want something from me. Not because they want me.”
“...I feel like I need to make a pinhole in a piece of paper just to look at you.”
“Smiling is confusing, she thought. This is why I don’t do it.”
“I'd rather pour myself into a world I love and understand than try to make something up out of nothing.”
“That was the beauty in stacking up words--they got cheaper, the more you had of them.”
“I don't like hello. It makes me sound like I have dementia, like I've never heard a phone ring before and I don't know what's supposed to happen next. Hello?
“To really be a nerd, she'd decided, you had to prefer fictional worlds to the real one.”
“If we stop to apologize and forgive each other every time we step on each other’s toes, we’ll never have time to be friends.”
“...I tried to be mean to him."
"I thought you were just mean," Reagan said. "I liked that about you.”
“You shouldn't reward me for endangering your life, you know. Think of the precedent you're setting.”
“That's not the point," he said. "What kind of creep would I be if I let my girl carry something heavy while I walked along, swinging my arms?"
Your girl? "The kind that respects my wishes," she said. "And my strength, and my... arms."
"...I have a lot of respect for your arms. I like how they're attached to the rest of you.”
“I know what it’s like to be distracted. To seek out distractions. To exhaust yourself doing every other little thing rather than face a blank page”
“Words are very powerful and they take on more power the more that they’re spoken.… the more that they’re said and read and written, in specific, consistent combinations” 
“Books don't have intermissions either."
"What do they have?"
(okay - maybe more than a few - you see now about me wanting to sticky-note everything?!)
*thank you so so so so so so much to Macmillan for sending me this free of charge. This in no way affected my opinion.

10 books i can’t believe i've never read || a guest post by amber

08 February 2014

today i have my awesome bloggy buddy amber from the mile long bookshelf here to do a top ten on books she can't believe she's never read. so, without further ado:
Literally everyone I know who has read The Book Thief has enjoyed it.  It seems quite daunting but it’s meant to be a stunning book so why on earth haven’t I read it yet?!
(o.o << that's all i have to say.)
Again, everyone I know who has read this has loved it. Who is Will? Who is Tessa? I need to know! Cassandra Clare is one of my favourite authors and I made it my New Year’s Resolution to read the series in 2014!
(ASDFGHJKL get your money out and speeennndd)
…although I may have read this by the time this post is published, as I’m expecting the book for review from Macmillan. Anyone who follows me on Twitter will know that I am a total fangirl, so why wouldn’t I want to read a book practically named after me? *fangirls*
*raises hand shamefully* I have only ever read half a book by Patrick Ness. Half. I know; I’m terrible! Patrick Ness is meant to be an incredible writer and I must say, More Than This looks so good. What a cool cover, too!
I read Pivot Point last year and it was amazing! Split Second is the sequel and it’s been on my wish list for a really long time. I miss the characters so much as Pivot Point was truly captivating and I think this book will be, too.
After reading the first book Time Between Us a few months ago, I spoke to the author a couple of times too and she’s lovely. I doubt Time After Time will be any different! I just know I’ll love it.
Ever since this book was published I have been desperate to read it. It seems like all book bloggers have read it…except me. The cover is gorgeous and it sounds exactly like the kind of book I would enjoy! Writing this post is making me realise I may have to go on a book shopping spree soon…
I have only ever read three books by John Green – The Fault in Our Stars, Paper Towns and Will Grayson, Will Grayson. He is the King of Books and I’ve heard great things about Looking for Alaska!
(this is the only one i've not read of his yet!)
How awesome does this sound?! I’m a blogger. I’m a girl. IT’S MEANT TO BE. *grabby hands* Seriously though, I need this in my life. It’s chick-lit which I’m not usually a fan of, but it’s about a woman called Kim who has a book blog, and suddenly her arch nemesis from high school becomes a bestselling chick-lit author. And the book pops into Kim’s inbox for review. OOOOOOH. I can imagine this happening to me one day… (the ‘blogger reviewing an enemy’s book’ part, not the ‘bestselling author’ part…)
(I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF THIS UNTIL NOW. *adds to infinite tbr*)
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins was my favourite book that I read in 2013, so I really need to get my hands on a copy of the sequel, Lola and the Boy Next Door! Unfortunately it’s not from Anna’s point of view this time, but apparently she appears once or twice!
(i am so jealous that you got anna and the french kiss! I WANT TO READ IT!)