Book Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.

Featuring cameos from fan-favorites Anna, Étienne, Lola, and Cricket, this sweet and sexy story of true love—set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona—is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series.

My review:

“Phones are distracting. The internet is distracting. The way he looked at you? He wasn’t distracted. He was consumed.”

Perkins has done it again! After being in an awful reading slump for the past few weeks, I was actually able to devour this book in one sitting! In my opinion, there is nothing better than a cute and romantic novel to cheer a reader up.

In regard to the plot, I would be lying if I said these books weren’t predictable and (sometimes) cliché but that is honestly the best part. Sometimes stability—or in this case, knowing what you’re getting—is very satisfying in itself. Does that make sense? I knew this book would be fast-paced, cute, and heartwarming before I even read it. I knew I would feel like reading more books as soon as I finished this one. And that’s exactly what happened. Success!

I’m ready to read again. Bring on all the fantasy and romance and sad things. I am so ready.

★★★★ (4 stars) because I can always count on Perkins for a “reading slump cure”.

Book Review: Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Every story needs a hero.
Every story needs a villain.
Every story needs a secret.

Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.

What really happened?
Someone knows.
Someone is lying.

My review:

“Once upon a time I thought I could change stories, make them go the way I wanted, instead of where they actually went.”

When I met April Genevieve Tucholke the other day, I told her that I was wary of her characters and she told me that I could trust Midnight. I said I would take her word for it.

I absolutely devoured this book. I can’t remember the last time I read a book so quickly. This is a testament to Tucholke’s fleeting and whimsical writing. It was so easy and exciting to read, almost like picking up your first fantasy book as a child.

I went into this book very skeptically. I expected to be tricked and lied to and potentially disappointed but that was hardly the case. I mean, yes, readers should still be skeptical, but it was far from being a disappointment.

I had a sense of things about halfway through, but it did not deter me from wanting to finish the book.

On another note, I’ve noticed other reviewers drawing a few comparisons between this book and We Were Liars (you can read my review of that book here). We Were Liars was very disappointing, and I had no clue what the premise of that book was before I started reading it. Heaven knows how annoyed I would have been if I went into that story as skeptically as I did this one. Basically, Wink Poppy Midnight was executed perfectly in the ways that We Were Liars wasn’t.

★★★★ (4 stars) because I’m not quite sure how I feel about the ending.

Book Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

My review:

“I have never understood how people can blithely disregard the damage they do by following their hearts.”

– – –

Me: “Everyone, meet Rachel.”
Everyone: “Hi Rachel,” a cacophony of voices mumble in unison.
Me: “Rachel, would you like to tell everyone a little bit about yourself? No?”
Someone: “She’s a fat liar! But mostly fat,” a voice shrieks.
Me: “Anna, shut the f*ck up. You are a homewrecker, and frankly you are just a b*tch.”
Me: “Since everyone here is f*cked up, I will take it upon myself to do the introductions.”
Me: “This is what you need to know.”

• Rachel is the girl on the train. She is depressed and an alcoholic.
• Megan lives in one of the houses that can be seen from the train.
• Scott is married to Megan, and of course, lives in the same house as her.
• Anna lives a few doors down from Megan and Scott, with her husband and child.
• Tom is Rachel’s ex-husband. His house is home to Anna and their child.

– – –

This book is a great work of fiction. I have not read or seen Gone Girl and I do not plan to, so I will not be talking about how similar or dissimilar they are. To me, this book was a mystery. I did not read any reviews about it. I did not read any blurbs. It was not recommended to me. All I had to go on was the title. So, I think it’s safe to say that there is indeed a girl on a train.

I don’t want to get into too many details, but there are a couple of things I want to mention.

First, I need to say how refreshing it is to read about a depressed/alcoholic character who faces real consequences as a result of their illness(es). Rachel’s struggles are very real. It was not romanticized. It was realistic. It made me pity her, and dislike her, and feel hopeful for her. It was all portrayed very well.

Similarly, the character development in this book is fantastic. I can’t recall reading another book that filled me with so much distaste for its characters. It is amazing. They are so real, so flawed, so human.

On another note, as soon as the second female narrator was introduced, I knew that I could not trust a single person. Every character’s moral compass is damaged. A factory defect. As a self-proclaimed master of psychobabble, I love the questions that were raised about the authenticity and permeability of memories. The truth is falsifiable. Always.

In any case, I just think that everyone should read this book.

★★★★ (4 stars) for making me ridiculously more paranoid observant during my daily commute on the bus.

Book Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Synopsis from Goodreads:

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?

My mini-review:

“For the two of us, home isn’t a place. It’s a person.”

So, I can’t deny that this book was every bit of cuteness and fluff that I expected of it. And I must admit, I ate it all up. Yes, the tropes, stereotypes, and clichés are ever-so-plenty in Young Adult fiction, and this book is no exception, but I loved reading every page of it. I started reading sometime after midnight (thinking I could get a taste from the first couple of chapters before I went to bed) and then the next thing you know, it’s 4:30am and I’m skimming the acknowledgments. That’s what you call a “good read”. Literally.

★★★★ (4 stars) for being just as cute and romantic as I thought it would be. This is the perfect book for getting out of a reading slump. I wasn’t in one, but it felt like a slump was coming on.