"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies...The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R Martin

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

REVIEW: Anna and the French Kiss - Stephanie Perkins

  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?

My review of Anna and the French Kiss:
Anna and the French Kiss is an incredibly sweet and touching love story set in what has to be one of the most romantic cities in the world - Paris. It's such a cute contemporary story that sucked me in completely with its captivating storyline about growing up, your first love, experience the world and finding yourself even when you're lost in a strange, unfamiliar new place. The setting was truly spectacular and mesmerising; a place of adventure and possibilities, full of beauty, culture and excitement. Buzzing with life, there's something to surprise and amaze on every corner, on every page. It made me want to seize the day, pack my bag and immediately hop on a plane to Paris and gorge on Parisian delicacies - a croissant or two; gaze at the magnificent spectacle that is Notre Dame and climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower and see Paris silhouetted in the sunset. The detail and the descriptions in this story made it come alive; every smell, every sight and every sound so vivid and real.
At times this book was so heartwarming with lighthearted, touching scenes; then replaced with heartwrenching, sad scenes that dealt with deep problems. Anna deals with some complex issues that really tugged on the heartstrings, making it easy to sympathise strongly with the characters and feel closer to them as a reader.  I empathised with them and shared in their sadness, their victories, their hopes and dreams. It really does toy with your emotions; I laughed, I cried, I sobbed and I smiled - seriously all the feels together in one book wrapped up neatly with a bow. There were some really touching and sweet scenes dotted here and there which really contrasted with some of the other agonisingly sad scenes which were full of tension and suspense. This novel was dripping in realism and emotion and it really was an emotional rollercoaster ride and I'm glad that I finally took a chance on this wonderful book and dived into it.
This story was light and fluffy, so romantic and incredibly sweet laced with realism and enjoyable, relatable characters. The first person narrative allows readers an insight into Anna's thoughts and feelings. I instantly clicked with her as a protagonist as she was so easy to relate to. At times she was a little bit frustrating and naïve and all I wanted to do was give her a push in the right direction. On the other hand, her witty personality and friendly nature made her instantly likeable. Forced to move to Paris to a boarding school, she is thrown straight into the deep end and forced to grow up fast. Anna attempts to maneuver the prickly and dangerous minefield that is growing up and has to dodge a few mines and grenades (boys, bitchy girls, bullying, friends) along the way. She transforms from a quiet and shy introvert, afraid to do anything herself, into a confident and determined young woman, exploring the city and experience new and exciting things with a close knit group of friends.
She is instantly entranced by the absolutely swoonworthy Etienne St Clair from the very first day but one big problem stands in her way of a happily ever after in St Clair's arms - he's already taken. St Clair was instantly likeable - just like all the characters really (perhaps not one or two but you'll find out who when you read it!). He's super witty, funny and intelligent - constantly spewing forth little interesting tid-bits randomly. I loved how he made Anna feel at ease from day one and made her feel more comfortable in a new, unfamiliar place. They become incredibly close and their blossoming friendship just build and builds, until the sexual tension is almost unbearable. Their relationship was extremely sweet and touching but at times feisty and passionate. The chemistry between them just jumped off the page. St Clair was such an enjoyable character - handsome and dreamy and I loved the dynamics between them. The other host of characters just added another layer of realism and enjoyability to this wonderful story. Just as Anna grew close to them, so did I and I loved the glimpse we had of characters that appear in future books.
Anna and the French Kiss just blew me away. For someone who really never read much contemporary, I loved it and devoured it. It was such a wonderful read - its setting was perfect and romantic and its characters witty and realistic. It inspires wanderlust and after reading I'd love to venture to Paris and soak up the atmosphere. I loved Anna, Etienne and co and after reading the other two beautiful books by Stephanie Perkins I love them even more. I'd recommend this story to any lovers of sweet contemporary novels and relatable, realistic characters. It was just so cute!

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Top Ten Book Places to Visit!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Love the theme this week! 

 1. Hogwarts @ Universal Studios, Florida - I really hope this can become a reality next year. I want to be a big kid and sip some butterbeer and just breath all the magic in!

2. Narnia (obviously fictional!) - Seriously, who doesn't dream of hopping into their wardrobe and venturing into Narnia?! It would be wonderful.

3. Dubrovnik, Croatia - Cheating a little here. Game of Thrones, the tv show is filmed in some amazing locations but Kings Landing, filmed in Dubrovnik looks so beautiful and Croatia looks like such a gorgeous place.
4. Hobbiton, New Zealand - Also another place I hope to tick off my list in the next year or two. The Lord of the Rings is my favourite book of all time and I absolutely adore the films so being able to go to Hobbiton, THE SHIRE would be amazing. Seriously I think I'd cry when I finally got there. My number one place to visit on Earth, ever.

 5. Greece - I've been a fan of Ancient Greece and its history for years. I've been to Kefalonia (another bookish place - Captain Corelli's Mandolin!) but I'd love to go to Athens and visit more of the islands including Crete. I just love how it's seeped in history and culture.
6. Egypt - I absolutely adore Egyptian mythology and Ancient Egyptian history. I'd preferably love to travel back in time to the period when Cleopatra was Pharaoh but I'm not picky!
 7. Yosemite National Park - There was just something about this part of the book that I loved. It seemed so wild and beautiful. After seeing photos of it I'm dying to tick it off my list next year (yes, a trip is in the works!)

8. Paris - Beautiful book and beautiful setting. Also not too far from the UK either. Perhaps I should hop on a train like in Just One Day to see the sights?
9. USA - This book was such a tragic and cautionary tale. But I loved it. It just evoked something adventurous in myself and inspired wanderlust. Just to stop what you're doing and going off into the wild seems crazy but so inspiring.

10. San Fransisco - I would LOVE to go here. Probably the city I'd most like to visit in the US. It just seems so quirky and beautiful. Hopefully another to tick off of my list... (big plans in the works if you didn't guess!)

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Showcase Sunday #54

It's Sunday and that means one thing; Showcase Sunday a fun weekly meme hosted by Vicky over @Books, Biscuits and Tea. It's a great way of showing off what we've bought, borrowed and received this week.

I'm back! For over two months I've really slacked with the whole blogging and reviewing thing with going on holiday, starting back to work and stuff. Trying to find the time and getting in the mindset has been a little tough lately and I haven't really been doing great on the reading front either. Anyway here are the books I've collected over the past few months. I'm really trying to cut down on book buying (which is really hard!) and maybe a few of the books here hints at what I'm planning for next year!

Into the Wild - Jon Krauker
The Road Headed West - Leon McCarron 
Remember the Alamo: American History in Bite-sized Chunks - Allison Vale 
The Giver - Lois Lowry
Half a King - Joe Abercrombie 
The Long Ride - Nicholas Sparks

Kindle Books: 
The Distance Between Us - Kasie West
Perfect Ruin - Lauren DeStefano
Where She Went - Gayle Forman
The Rithmatist - Brandon Sanderson
Dark Eden - Christ Beckett
Opposition - Jennifer L Armentrout
Your Round the World Trip Planner - Macca Sherifi 
Doon - Lorie Langdon, Carey Corp
Saving June - Hannah Harrington
With This Heart - R S Grey
Island and the Happily Ever After - Stephanie Perkins
Not a Drop to Drink - Mindy McGinnis


 Stitching Snow - R C Lewis
Salt & Storm - Kendall Kulper
The 100: Day 21 - Kass Morgan
Endgame: The Calling - James Frey
The Iron Trial - Holly Black & Cassandra Clare
The Book of Life - Deborah Harkness

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

August Wrap Up: A Month in Books!

This is so late but just finding it hard to keep blogging at the moment. But hopefully I'll get back into! August was a good reading month for me mainly because I spent a portion of it lounging on the beach with a book in my hand. I ended up reading 9 books in August and 3 graphic novels so 12 in total. 

I finished A Little in Love by Susan Fletcher, a Les Miserables re-telling of Eponine's story. It was beautiful and heart-wrenching - so lovely. Then I read Saga Volume 1 & 2. Crazy; bat-shit crazy and just plain awesome - was so much fun to read. Not for the faint hearted and those easily shocked! Next I read the mammoth The Walking Dead, Compendium 1 which surprisingly only took me two days to get through and I really enjoyed it but phew was it a rollercoaster ride. No one was safe from the flesh eating zombies or the humans left behind - nail biting stuff. Ruin and Rising was a great ending to an amazing series but it wasn't my favourite of the trilogy. I just wanted more but I still thoroughly enjoyed it. I then read two travel books. I've never read non-fiction or travel literature but I loved it. The Road Headed West was a really insightful read. I loved the ins and outs of traveling by bike across North America. I really enjoyed the film Into the Wild so it was great to read the book it was based on. Chris McCandless was such an inspirational individual but so frustrating that I couldn't make my mind up about him. I loved the sense of adventure that permeated throughout the book though. Since You've Been Gone came next and I especially enjoyed how realistic the characters were. Such a fun summer read! I then read Lola and the Boy Next Door & Isla and the Happily Ever After. The ultimate YA romantic contemporary books. So cute and touching! With This Heart was possibly my favourite read of the month. It was hysterical at times and so touching. I loved the banter between the two characters and the whole road trip aspect was so much fun. Saving June was a little bit of a disappointment and not the right tone of book to read whilst on holiday. So many books and I haven't read any since. Book overload.

Books Read in August:

 The Walking Dead: Compendium 1 - Robert Kirkman (4*)
Saga: Volume 2 - Brian K Vaughan (4*)
Saga: Volume 3 - Brian K Vaughan (4*)
A Little in Love - Susan Fletcher (5*)
Into the Wild - Jon Krakauer (4*)
Ruin and Rising - Leigh Bardugo (4*)
The Road Headed West - Leon McCarron (4*)
Lola and the Boy Next Door - Stephanie Perkins (4*)
Isla and the Happy Ever After - Stephanie Perkins (4.5*)
Since You've Been Gone - Morgan Matson (4.5*)
With This Heart - R S Grey (4.5*)
Saving June - Hannah Harrington (3*)

Monday, 4 August 2014

June & July Wrap Up: A Month in Books!

I completely forgot to do one of these last month so I'm doing a wrap up for both June and July. Even with both months books listed I didn't read quite as much as I'd hoped. I'm really hoping to change that this month as I have a full month off before going back to work in September. I'm on track for my Goodreads challenge of 100 books (69 books read!) so I'm not too worried about that but there's just so many books I want to read that I need to get a move on!

So in June I read 4 books. Not too good but I was busy with work. Heir of Fire was amazing; love this series so so much so far. If I Stay was such an emotional read and I really enjoyed it. Looking forward to reading Where She Went now which is waiting on my kindle to be read! I went in to my next read with absolutely no idea what it was about. We Were Liars was such a great read (REVIEW HERE!). Last in June I read Take Back the Skies ready to meet Lucy Saxon in YALC. I enjoyed it but the ending really disappointed me so I'm hoping things change in the next book. 

Then July came and I read 4 books, 2 comics and 1 short story. Not great again! I read The Coldest Girl in Coldtown and I really liked the take on vampires in this story and Holly Black's writing. Next I picked up Landline. This was such a quirky and emotionally charged story. I really enjoyed it and Rainbow Rowell is quickly becoming one of my favourite contemporary authors. Then I picked up 2 comics; Sons of Anarchy #1 and Tomb Raider: Survivor's Guilt. Loved the Sons of Anarchy one as I'm obsessed with the show. The Tomb Raider was a little but of a let down. I absolutely loved the new PS4 game and this took place after the events in that but it just didn't wow me. Then came Vivian Versus the Apocalypse. Really enjoyed this one, was just a different take on the whole apocalyptic storyline. I then read Earth 2788 a short story in the Earth Girl trilogy. Really liked this one and I loved both books in the trilogy so far. Lastly I finished the month with Half a King by Joe Abercrombie. Absolutely loved this one; it was full of backstabbing, revenge and twists and turns. Plus Abercrombie's writing was beautiful. A must read.

Books Read in June:
 If I Stay - Gayle Forman (4*)
We Were Liars (4.5*)
Take Back the Skies (3.5*)
Heir of Fire - Sarah J Maas (5*)

Books Read in July:
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown - Holly Black (4*)
Vivian Versus the Apocalypse - Katie Coyle (4*)
Sons of Anarchy #1 - Christopher Golden (4*)
Half a King - Joe Abercrombie (4.5*)
Tomb Raider: Survivor's Guilt - Gail Simone (3*)
Landline - Rainbow Rowell (4*)
Earth 2788 - Janet Edwards (3*)