Sunday, April 29, 2012

Blogspiration (16): Story of My Life


Blogspiration is a weekly meme hosted by GrowingUp YA & Saz101. The meme was created to help spark inspiration among bloggers, readers & writers alike. An inspirational quote/picture/video is posted weekly, on the day of the author's choosing, so that it may inspire creativity, conversation & just a little SOMETHING.

via pinterest.com/cansu/doctor-who/
You've no idea how very, very true this is. With two exceptions:

1. The blue area is nowhere near large enough.
2. They missed 'Receive my Hogwarts acceptance letter.'



More on Blogspiration and Linky sign-up below the jump!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Insurgent (Divergent #2), Veronica Roth

Title: Insurgent
Author: Veronica Roth (author website)
Release Date: May 1st 2012 by HarperCollins Australia
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Dystopian
My Rating:1 star2 star3 star4 starhalf star

Easily the most hotly anticipated sequel—perhaps release, period—of 2012, Insurgent is, and will be, many different things to many readers. As action packed as its thrilling predecessor, Insurgent doesn’t settle for simply living up to Divergent. It ups the ante, ups the tension, increases the peril, the dangers and the odds. Ladies and gentlemen, don’t get settled. Be Dauntless: you’re in for one hell of a ride.

From Goodreads:
War looms in sixteen-year-old Tris’s dark dystopian world as disputes between the factions grow. Tris must now fight against all odds to discover the truth that can save her and the people she loves. Sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge – and the choices she makes will have devastating and unexpected consequences.

The Story:

Picking up immediately where Divergent left off, we join Tris, Four, Caleb, Marcus and Peter as they flee the Erudite attack on Abnegation, and the horrors that followed. As they head to the safety of the Amity compound, their world is now at war. With faction fighting faction, no-one is safe, and no-one can be trusted. More than just lives are at stake, and loyalties, truths, and even love will be tested as Tris fights... who? Erudite? The system? Not even she seems entirely sure who the enemy is. Something is very, very wrong with her world, and as shocking secrets reveal themselves, Tris and Four’s relationship is put to the test, along with those with everyone they care for. This is Insurgent. And you are about to learn the truth.

Tris:

In Divergent, Tris Prior established herself as one of the most remarkable heroines in young adult literature. Brave, intelligent, and selfless, she has earned her place amongst the likes of Rose Hathaway and Katniss Everdeen, but like Rose and Katniss, she is imperfect, and not always likable.

Drowning in guilt and sorrow, bravery blurs with recklessness as Tris struggles with the aftermath of Divergent, of her actions and her losses. It’s difficult watching her struggle with the oppressive weight of responsibility thrust on her shoulders, but it’s a weight she largely takes upon herself. The crushing burden of the fate of her entire civilization, hanging on by a tenuous thread. There's a sense, at times, of hopelessness; of real, and ever present, danger in Insurgent. In Divergent, at least until a certain point, the danger felt personal to Tris. Here it’s larger, broader, there’s far more at stake, and it’s bigger than just one person’s future.

Whatshisname?

Four, or should we say ‘Tobias’, previously bastion of wisdom, voice of reason, cracks a little in Insurgent. As a certain shocking secret about Four’s past comes to light, this, coupled with Tris’ recklessness, serves to drive a wedge between the couple, and the calm, 'don't mess with me' facade he previously wore slips. We see a fragile, brittle side of him. In Divergent, it was easy to forget Four was human, despite his vulnerabilities. There's an air of authority to him, the feeling that he can handle any situation. But Four is fallible, and we're reminded in Insurgent that not only is Four barely an adult; he's a broken, hurting one at that.

Secrets & Pain & The Science of Sexy:

It is the weight of the secrets and pain Tris and Tobias keep from each other from which Insurgent draws a great deal of its tension, and may also frustrate some readers.  But the chemistry between Four and Tris is as present as ever, and when the two are together—and not fighting—it crackles with electricity and smoulders with heat. It’s easy to forget, in the longing for romance, that real relationships have real struggles, and at a time in a new relationship when Tris and Four should be getting to know and trust each other fully, they’re instead trying to, well, save the world. It's an immense burden on the couple, and fractures form.

Honesty—The Best Policy?

Where in Divergent we grew to know Abnegation, then Dauntless factions, Insurgent introduces Candor for the first time, and then the factionless. Thematically, our introduction to Candor comes at the right time. Insurgent is an uncovering of secrets, the discovery of lies. It has a pervasive feeling of discomfit, the kind felt when facing uncomfortable truths, and Insurgent abounds with uncomfortable, devastating truths.
"The Candor sing the praises of the truth, but they never tell you how much it costs."
While Divergent examined human nature, and the sequel indeed continues to do so, Insurgent looks at truth and trust. Once again we're drawn into a world defined by absolutes, but coloured by shades of grey, and the truth is a very grey thing indeed. Some secrets are hidden for a reason. Some for greed; others power, if it is not, in fact, the same thing. But what Insurgent shows is that they never come free. That for the revelation of essential truths, for knowledge—and perhaps the Erudite have yet to learn this—there is a cost. The question is what its seekers will pay. And people pay very, very dearly in Insurgent.

The Verdict:

In this astounding sequel, Roth shows once again why she caused such waves with Divergent. Nothing is sacred and nothing is sure. The world she has crafted is shifting, evolving along with the minds of its divergent populace, reaching an indelible fulcrum. If Divergent was a game changer for its genre, and market, presenting a level of world building and characterization readers long for and for which writers strive, Insurgent is a game changer unto itself. This is a book from which there is no coming back.

Insurgent is leading up to one hell of an explosive conclusion. Thrilling action, impossible stakes, deepening intrigue and, of course, smouldering romance, Insurgent is as gripping and utterly addictive as its epic predecessor—a story to appeal to the divergence in all of us.

Books in This Series:

  1. Divergent (May 2011)
  2. Insurgent (May 1st 2012)
  3. Currently Untitled (expected May 2013)
An enormous thank you to Harper Collins Australia for providing a review copy of Insurgent!

With Insurgent come and gone, I feel somewhat bereft. Another whole year of waiting, people!  What book are you most looking forward to in 2012 post-Insurgent? Mine's Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor. Hands down.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

STORM BLOG TOUR: The People of Storm Fantasy Casting with Brigid Kemmerer!



Hello folks, and welcome to the third stop on the blog tour for Brigid Kemmerer's AMAZING debut, Storm. Before I get too excited, can we take a moment to wish Brigid a very happy release day! Today, in the US, Storm is born into the world! Go share some love with the amazing BK!

It's no secret I LOVED this book (you can read my review here), and one of the things I loved most were the incredible characters. Whether it's the hilarious banter between the four Merrick brothers, the intense chemistry between protagonist, Becca, and, well, a couple of boys, or just the authenticity of feeling from them, I'm in love. Even with the girls. True story.

It's for this reason that I'm particularly excited to be bringing you Brigid's very own fantasy cast for Storm--the people SHE pictures as her amazing characters. So what do you think? I LOVE the choice of Nina as becca. She's exactly who I had in mind, an I even think she looks a lot like the gorgeous girl from the gorgeous AU cover. Plus, Taylor Kitsch? HELLO. You could tell me you picture Taylor as Santa, and I'd be sold. SO, without further ado: The fantasy cast of STORM!


Becca Chandler:
Age 16
Long dark hair, grey eyes.
Brigid Says: "I always pictured Becca like Elena from The Vampire Diaries. Pretty, but average, tough, but sweet."

Chris Merrick:
Age 16.
Dark hair, blue eues, a little more of a loner tha his brothers.
Brigid Says: "I always picture Chris kind of like Jeremy from The Vampire Diaries."

Hunter Garrity:
Age 16
Light hair with a streak of white in front, green eyes.
Brigid Says: "I always pictured Hunter a lot like Chord Overstreet, the kid who plays Sam on Glee (though not quite as blond)."

Gabriel & Nick Merrick (twins):
Age 17
Dark hair, blue eyes
Brigid Says: "They’re the hardest for me, because I’ve never really seen anyone who comes close to the image in my head. This guy, Grey Damon from season 5 of Friday Night Lights, comes close."

Michael Merrick:Age 23
Dark hair, longer, brown eyes
Brigid Says: "I always pictured Michael like Taylor Kitsch, the guy who plays Tim Riggins on Friday Night Lights."

Sarah adds: Michael is seriously prickly in Storm, and hard to like at first... but BOY does he have his reasons. If you're curious--and guys, you SHOULD BE--you can download Elemental, a prequel to Storm, which tells Michael's story, for FREE from Amazon, but only for a limited time! Hurry up! GO! GO! GO!


Quinn:
Age 16
Long blonde hair, blue eyes, very pretty.
Becca's best friend.

Sarah Adds: And I might have just heard a little rumour that Quinn's going to play a much bigger part in the next book, Spark...

That's it, guys! So what did you think? Who do you picture as the smoking hot Merrick twins? As Becca? As Chris and Hunter? I'm not a huge Chord Overstreet fan (whenever I see him I think "Trouty Mouth!"), but I love having a face to put to Hunter, and toning down that hair? I can totally see it.

Whatever you think, don't forget tomorrow's tour stop at one of my absolute favorite blogs, Eleusinian Mysteries, for an interactive Q&A with Brigid, where YOU ask the questions. Brigid is one of the funniest, cleverest interviewees I've ever had the pleasure of 'meeting', and I know you're going to love this. But if you still want more, check out day 1 and day 2 of the Storm tour: a fabulous interview with Becca, Chris and Hunter at Read Me Love Me Bookmark Me, and a truly hilarious 'This or That' interview with the boys of Storm, over at Shiirleyy’s Bookshelf. Where else are you going to get a chance to pin down Chris Merrick and check out his boxers?

Want More Brigid? Here Be Links!

Website/Blog | Twitter | Facebook
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Booktopia

Schedule:

Monday 23rd April:  Chris/Becca/Hunter Interview - Read Me Love Me Bookmark Me
Tuesday 24th April: This or That with the Boys of Storm - Shiirleyy’s Bookshelf
Wednesday 25th April: Fantasy Casting - saz101
Thursday 26th April: Brigid Q&A: YOU ask the questions! - Eleusinian Mysteries
Friday 27th April: Keeping up with the Merrick Twins + Review Roundup - Badass Bookie
Saturday 28th April: Storm Excerpt - Forget-Me-Not
Sunday 29th April: Video chat - Book Probe
Monday 30 April:  Chris Interview - Reading Wishes
Tuesday 1st May: Guest Post by Brigid Kemmerer: Five Secrets of the Elemental Series - Amaterasu Reads

The Giveaway!

   

Don't forget we have fourteen MASSIVE prize packs to giveaway, and entry is easy: simply stop by each tour stop, and fill out the giveaway entry form! Leave a comment, tweet or promote, for extra entries.

International Prize Pack 1:
Elemental + Storm + Spark preorder 

International Prize Pack 2: 
 Elemental + Storm + Spark ARC

International Prize 3:
Copy of Storm + Spark Pre-order

Australian Prize Pack: 
Storm ARC + Spark preorder

Australia/New Zealand Prize Packs (10 winners):
1 copy of STORM + 1 STORM book jacket  + 1 SPARK book jacket
Thanks to Allen & Unwin and Brigid!!


Sunday, April 22, 2012

SEVERE WEATHER WARNING: Storm Blog Tour + GIVEAWAYS!



A Storm is coming! Over the next week, forecasts are predicting a massive Storm front progressing steadily across the Southern blogosphere. Authorities warn of effects being felt across the globe, with multiple storm point touch downs, interviews, exclusive extras and massive prize packs. Ladies and gentlemen, it's time to batten down the hatches for one epic storm event.

Whether you're one of these lucky people who've already read Storm by goddess-turned-author Brigid Kemmerer, or you're impatiently waiting, you have to know that this is one of the most exciting young adult paranormals 2012 has to offer. Over the next nine days, nine bloggers are very excited to be bringing you the Storm Blog Tour! Tune in to your feeds and favorite blogs for never before seen character interviews, a video chat, an interactive Q&A with Brigid, and an exclusive excerpt from Storm itself! If that's not exciting enough, there are fourteen massive prize packs up for grabs, both AU/NZ and internationally! Check out tour dates below, and be sure to tune in to each stop to enter the giveaway!

Schedule:


Monday 23rd April:  Chris/Becca/Hunter Interview - Read Me Love Me Bookmark Me
Tuesday 24th April: This or That with the Boys of Storm - Shiirleyy’s Bookshelf
Wednesday 25th April: Fantasy Casting - saz101
Thursday 26th April: Brigid Q&A: YOU ask the questions! - Eleusinian Mysteries
Friday 27th April: Keeping up with the Merrick Twins + Review Roundup - Badass Bookie
Saturday 28th April: Storm Excerpt - Forget-Me-Not
Sunday 29th April: Video chat - Book Probe
Monday 30 April:  Chris Interview - Reading Wishes
Tuesday 1st May: Guest Post by Brigid Kemmerer: Five Secrets of the Elemental Series - Amaterasu Reads

Giveaway Packs:

We have fourteen MASSIVE prize packs to giveaway, and entry is easy: simply stop by each tour stop, and fill out the giveaway entry form! Leave a comment, tweet or promote, for extra entries.

  

International Prize Pack 1:
Elemental + Storm + Spark preorder 

International Prize Pack 2: 
 Elemental + Storm + Spark ARC

International Prize 3:
Copy of Storm + Spark Pre-order



Australian Prize Pack: 
Storm ARC + Spark preorder

Australia/New Zealand Prize Packs (10 winners):
1 copy of STORM + 1 STORM book jacket  + 1 SPARK book jacket
Thanks to Allen & Unwin and Brigid!!

Friday, April 20, 2012

330 Follower Giveaway!


I've hit 330 followers, you guys! It's enormously exciting for me. This giveaway is to say thank you. Thanks for your help, support, encouragment, and endless awesome (not to mention all the giggles) I'd like to give 2 of you amazing people the chance to win a book I've read and loved this year, in the hopes you'll love it as much as I did. That's ANY of the books shown above, or your choice of a Book Depository book up to $15. Entry is simple, and there's only one requirement: Be a follower! :)

Entry below the jump!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Storm (Elemental #1), Brigid Kemmerer

Title: Storm
Author: Brigid Kemmerer (author website)
Release Date: 3rd May 2012 by Allen & Unwin
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal
My Rating:1 star2 star3 star4 starhalf star

Four brothers, each a powerful elemental, a community at war, and one girl caught in the middle, Brigid Kemmerer brings her A-game in her electrifying debut. Storm should come with a cautionary notice. Something like: “Severe Weather Warning: This book will blow you away.”

From Goodreads:
Earth, Fire, Air, Water – they have more power than you dream.

Ever since her ex-boyfriend spread those lies about her, Becca Chandler is suddenly getting all the guys—all the ones she doesn't want. Then she saves Chris Merrick from a beating in the school parking lot. Chris is different. Way different: he can control water—just like his brothers can control fire, wind, and earth. They’re powerful. Dangerous. Marked for death.

And now that she knows the truth, so is Becca.

Secrets are hard to keep when your life’s at stake. When Hunter, the mysterious new kid around school, turns up with a talent for being in the wrong place at the right time, Becca thinks she can trust him. But then Hunter goes head-to-head with Chris, and Becca wonders who’s hiding the most dangerous truth of all.

The storm is coming...

The Story:

When Becca Chandler saves a boy from a brutal beating in her school’s parking lot, chasing off his attackers, she has no idea what her good Samaritan act is getting her caught up in. The boy is Chris Merrick, who, along with his brothers, is an Elemental, ‘gifted’ with the ability to control water. And that might just be the least of the surprises coming her way. It’s not only Chris’ attackers, or Chris himself, who are interested in Becca. ‘New Kid’ at school, Hunter, has his eyes on Becca, and he’s not so bad to eye back... but who should she trust? Like it or not, Becca finds herself caught up in war not just for the Merricks’ survival, but her own.

Becca and Chris, Chris and Becca…

Storm wastes no time jumping straight into the action. We join Becca as she finds Chris being beaten in the school parking lot, and it escalates from there. Told between Becca and Chris’ point of view, we’re give a unique viewpoint into their world: the ‘outsider’ view of Becca, as she tries to discover what she’s been dragged into, and that of Chris, who knows what’s happening around him, but still doesn’t necessarily hold all the cards or information. Both Chris and Becca are eminently likeable, fascinating and engrossing, and both have unique, singular voices.

Becca’s not an ‘action chick’ exactly, but she’s never afraid to take action. She’s brave, curious and compassionate. After saving Chris, who is in her grade, but she hardly knows, her world is irrevocably shaken, and only gets more complicated from there. But Becca’s life is hardly simple to begin with. It becomes clear Becca has secrets of her own, and there’s a meaningful subplot to Storm in the shape of some truly vicious bullying. And this is why it’s so difficult to discuss this book. It’s not a linear love story, a paranormal, or an action-packed thriller. It’s all of these things, and it’s much more. It’s layered and nuanced in a way that renders it not just compulsively readable, but truly memorable.

It’s not only Becca who is the victim of malicious harassment; the ‘bullying’ Chris Merrick endures could cost him his life. The quietest and most reserved of his brothers, Chris is much like element he controls: calm and still on the surface—sometimes—but hiding a tumult of dangers, currents and fathomless depths below. Watching Becca and Chris step around each other is a delight. There’s an almost palpable tension between them. The two are drawn to each other, but neither understands the other, neither knows what it means. Both hide secrets and hurts, and are struggling to fight inner demons as well as the external kind. But Storm isn’t entirely Chris and Becca’s story, there is another boy very much involved, in the way of Hunter, ‘New Kid’ at school. He’s fascinating, mysterious, and he has a story as heartbreaking, intriguing and important as Chris or Becca’s. He plays a large and important role in Storm, and it feels as though his part may only just be becoming clear.

The Brothers:

Where Storm truly shines is in the authenticity of its characters, in particular the four brothers at its core. There’s been a lot of buzz about how ‘swoon worthy’, hot, and amazing these boys are, and it does bear repeating. But this isn’t what gives the book its compulsively readable quality, or what makes it so utterly gripping. Every one of the four Merrick boys feels real. It’s the brotherly bond they share, the care, the tension, the anger and the banter between them that is so entertaining, and at times heartbreaking, to read. Chris and his brothers are fascinating to say the least. Enormously powerful, the boys are a natural disaster waiting to happen—literally. But they keep their powers constantly tamped down. They live in fear of a power greater than theirs, creating a fascinating dichotomy between their power, and powerlessness to defend themselves without bringing a fate worse than harassment down on their heads.

The Verdict:

There’s a surprising complexity to Storm. It’s a story with many dimensions, and one that truly deserves to be singled out amongst an abundance of young adult Paranormals. It’s not one aspect of the story that shines, but a cohesive mix of all its parts, combined to make something layered, something truly unique and special. Storm isn’t about a group of brothers with unbelievable supernatural powers. It’s not about boy meets girl. It’s not about one of the first love triangles I’ve ever read and genuinely enjoyed, nor is it bullying, discrimination, grief or friendship. It’s more. It’s the way in which Kemmerer blends them all together, into a mix of colours more vivid and alluring then any one part could be on its own.

Storm is a remarkable debut. Brigid Kemmerer’s gift for characterisation and pitch-perfect voice combine with gripping story and perfect pacing to make Storm a riveting an utterly addictive read. Action packed from start to finish, Brigid’s nailed a perfect balance between excitement, romance and supernatural to create something magic. A story that is so many things, but most importantly, fun.

Books in This Series:

  1. Storm
  2. Spark (Later 2012)
  3. Spirit (2013)
An enormous thank you to Allen & Unwin for providing a review copy of Storm!

So guys, if you could control an element, which would choose? Earth, Fire, Air, Water? Or would you really just like to be the Avatar :D

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Blogspiration (14): What Did You Expect...


Blogspiration is a weekly meme hosted by GrowingUp YA & Saz101. The meme was created to help spark inspiration among bloggers, readers & writers alike. An inspirational quote/picture/video is posted weekly, on the day of the author's choosing, so that it may inspire creativity, conversation & just a little SOMETHING.

From unoriginally-entertaining.tumblr.com

If not more Harry Potter? Sometimes giggles are inspiring in an of themselves, but I love that one book gave birth to one series that has inspired imagination in millions of people, the world over. What's more inspiring than that?

More on Blogspiration and Linky sign-up below the jump!

In My Mailbox (16)


In My Mailbox: What is it?
In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.It's an opportunity to share the books we've bought or received in the last week!



I had a FANTASTIC week. An enormous thanks to Harper Collins Australia, Allen & Unwin, and Harlequin TEEN Australia. I haven't had a mailbox (even last week's terrifyingly enormous one) I've been this excited about in a while... it goes to say it's quality, not quantity, right? Then again... it's not like this is low on quantity.

Given they're all kind of thick books this week, I'm not quite sure you can see it, but The Immortal Rules is THICK. 451 pages. I am SO excited to read it. And Storm! Oh my goodness, Storm. I've been hanging out to read Storm since reading Brodie's review a couple of months ago. Brodie has a knack for writing reviews that get me ridiculously excited for books, and she was on the money once again. Storm was AMAZING. Next up, Insurgent! Oh my goodness, you guys. I am so excited for this one. You? Yes?

From top to bottom:

  1. Insurgent, Veronica Roth *
  2. Storm, Brigid Kemmerer **
  3. Glow, Amy Kathleen Ryan
  4. Temptation, Karen Ann Hopkins ***
  5. Allegiance, Cayla Kluver ***
  6. The Immortal Rules, Julie Kagawa ***
  7. Storm, Brigid Kemmerer
  8. Unravelling, Elizabeth Norris *
* Thank you, thank you, thank you Harper Collins Australia!
** Thank you Allen & Unwin, and Lisa from Badass Bookie and Braiden from Book Probe Reviews!
*** Thanks to the perennially amazing Harlequin TEEN Australia!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

In My Mailbox (13): My Mailbox Gets Big With a Little Help From My Friends


In My Mailbox: What is it?
In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.It's an opportunity to share the books we've bought or received in the last week!



Everything in the left pile was gifted, won, or sent for review (except for Before I Fall and the FIRST copy of Delirium). The right pile, I bought... but I DID get birthday money. I only spent real monies on three of them!
Ummmm... err... so... it's not as bad as it looks. Promise. Umm... kind of? This is three weeks of mailboxes... that's not so bad, right? So what if if all but one of them arrived in the space of two weeks? I owe massive thanks to lots of AMAZING friends for so many amazing books this week. Love you guys!

From top to bottom:

  1. Faery Tales & Nightmares, Melissa Marr *
  2. Forgotten, Cat Patrick *
  3. Perfect Chemistry, Simone Elkeles **
  4. Of Poseidon, Anna Banks ***
  5. Iron Daughter, Julie Kagawa ****
  6. The Iron King, Julie Kagawa ****
  7. Before I Fall, Lauren Oliver
  8. Delirium, Lauren Oliver
  9. The Fault In Our Stars, John Green (my SECOND copy)
  10. The Right & The Real, JoĆ«lle Anthony  *****
  11. Black City, Elizabeth Richards  *****
  12. The Waiting Sky, Lara Zielin  *****
  13. Cold Fury, T.M. Goeglein  *****
  14. Fallen In Love, Lauren Kate  ******
  15. Smoulder, Brenna Yovanoff  *******
  16. Delirium, Lauren Oliver
  17. Back From The Undead, D.D. Barant
  18. Timeless, Gail Carriger
  19. Looking For Alaska, John Green
  20. The Morganville Vampires Volume 4, Rachel Caine
  21. Feast of Fools, Rachel Caine
  22. Rules of Attraction, Simone Elkeles
  23. A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness
  24. Fire, Kristin Cashore
  25. Graceling, Kristin Cashore
  26. Uncommon Criminals, Ally Carter
  27. The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern (I've been dying to read this ever since Erin's review)

Credit Where Credit's Due:

* Thank you SO much to Brodie, Lisa, and Hardie Grant Egmont
** RACHEL! YOU ARE A GODDESS. I loved Brittany and Alex so much I bought the sequel. Thank you so so much for the book. It was so sweet and kind of you xx
*** Thanks to  Hardie Grant Egmont  for the review copy of Of Poseidon!
**** There's a reason why BFF and I are BFF's. And you know what? it has nothing to do with her buying me amazing books for my birthday. That's just gravy :D
***** Thank you thank you thank you  Brodie and Penguin US for the AMAZING books! I only expected Black City, so, uh... wow.
****** Becca, thank you so so much. This was completely unexpected, and so SO kind of you *huggles*
******* CELINE! You are one of the sweetest, kindest, lovliest people I know. Full stop Ever. Thank you! xx

Lola and the Boy Next Door, Stephanie Perkins

Lola and the Boy Next Door, Stephanie Perkins
Title: Lola and the Boy Next Door
Author: Stephanie Perkins (author website)
Release Date: Sept. 29th 2011 by Dutton Books
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary
My Rating:1 star2 star3 star4 star

I went into Lola and the Boy Next Door expecting to read Anna and the French Kiss. In other words, I expected perfect. But, like its vibrant titular protagonist, Lola and the Boy Next Door isn’t perfect. It’s about a flawed girl, difficult choices, and a beautiful, sweet, overwhelmingly kind boy next door. Like someone very wise once said, “it's a person's imperfections that make them perfect for someone else.” And I think it might just apply to books named Lola, as well as girls.

From Goodreads:
Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion... she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit -- more sparkly, more fun, more wild -- the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded 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.

I finished Lola and the Boy Next Door in a happy, dazed blur, so rather than presenting you with a marathon-length gush, I thought I’d try something different. So here you are:

8 Reasons (among many) to read Lola and the Boy Next Door:

  1. Lola is F A B U L O U S
    Aspiring costume designer, Lola, is quirky, independent, funny and utterly unique. She never dresses the same way twice. She’s a different version of herself every day—on the outside. She’s vegetarian. She speaks and prays to the moon like it’s her oldest friend. But perhaps the coolest thing about Lola is that she’s not perfect. In fact, she’s quite often a mess. She makes mistakes, and she hurts the people around her. She lies—often—but she’s not malicious. She’s sweet, bubbly, caring, and she’s completely herself.
  2. The Characters: All of them
    Stephanie Perkins writes completely distinctive characters. Lola is nothing like Anna—she has a unique voice. She never sounds like Anna, or anyone but herself. Cricket is nothing like Etienne. Whether it’s Lola’s dads, her birth mother, Cricket’s twin sister and resident mean-girl (perhaps), Calliope, every character is completely new, completely wonderful, and perfectly imagined. 100% not recycled.
  3. Lola has a real BFF.
    Lindsay Lim is a wannabee Nancy Drew, permanently dressed in red Chuck Taylors. She gets her own happy ending, too. Perfect, or what? She might not have a huge role to play, and they don't always do the right thing by one another, but you can see real friendship. I loved this.
  4. Lola’s Dads
    Lola’s dads are lovely. They have a beautiful, caring, real relationship, and Stephanie Perkins presents us with a gay couple who aren’t camp, aren’t caricatures, but are good, kind, real people. They’re good parents, and Lola’s little family unit is sweet and wonderful and welcoming. They deal with normal family dramas, love each other like any other family, because they are. Perkins is making a statement with Andy and Nathan, yes. But it’s never preachy, never overt, and it’s an essential, beautiful part of the story.
  5. Lola’s costumes are, quite simply, seriously cool. Enough said.
  6. Banana Elephant and Etienne St. Clair
    Make no mistake, this is Lola’s story, but Anna and Etienne return to the page, and play no small part in Lola and the Boy Next Door. It’s lovely to see one of my favourite couples reappear, even more in love than before. Fans of Anna, prepare to be charmed by a certain boy masterpiece and our delightfully neurotic girl all over again.
  7. Cricket Graham Bell
    Guys, I loved Cricket Bell just as much as I loved Anna and the French Kiss’ Etienne St.Clair. But Cricket Bell is not Etienne. Cricket is awkward, geeky, and—this ‘word’ has never been more appropriate—completely adorkable. There are no moral quandaries for Cricket. It’s painfully obvious he’s desperately in love with Lola, but he respects she has a boyfriend. Cricket’s had a difficult childhood, and been constantly moved around the country, but he’s not bitter, he’s not broken. He’s sunshine. He’s simple. He’s good. He’s sweet and funny, and kind. He’s as quirky in his own ways as Lola is in hers. Cricket is amazing.
  8. The tension and the romance
    Lola and Cricket are perfect for each other, just like mac and cheese, fries and ketchup, or hot chocolate and marshmallows (note to self: no more writing when hungry). From the first moment Cricket Bell shows his sweet, goofy face, it’s painfully obvious that Lola’s deep deep deep in Denial. Yes—with a capital ‘D’. The tension between them crackles with electricity. It’s delightful and heartbreaking to watch the two struggle with their genuine friendship, and the strain their draw to one another causes. And when the two share a moment… there’s fire. Innocent glances and a brush of hands holds so much heat and intensity and longing it’s a palpable, living thing.

The Verdict:

Lola Nolan is not Anna Oliphant, and Lola and the Boy Next Door is certainly not Anna and the French Kiss. They’re both different, and both have their own unique brand of charm and magic. In some ways, I wanted more from Lola. I wanted more Cricket, I wanted more Lola and Cricket, I wanted to see more of Lola’s world, to see more of Lola's friends and family and relationships. But that’s what makes Lola so wonderful: I want more. I’m so completely charmed by Stephanie Perkins—again—that I don’t want to stop living in her world.

Stephanie Perkins once again brings the charm, magic and je ne sais quoi that made her debut so utterly memorable and loveable. Sparkling, vibrant characters, and sugar sweet, heart-melting romance as colourful and vivid as the blindingly bright Lola herself combine to make Lola what it is: simply wonderful.

Books in This Series:

  1. Anna and the French Kiss (2010)
  2. Lola and the Boy Next Door (2011)
  3. Isla and the Happily Ever After (expected 2012 2013)

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