Saturday, December 27, 2014

My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories

My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Short Stories
(by all the authors listed below and edited by Stephanie Perkins)

Synopsis via Goodreads:
On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... This beautiful collection features twelve gorgeously romantic stories set during the festive period, by some of the most talented and exciting YA authors writing today. The stories are filled with the magic of first love and the magic of the holidays.

Midnights by Rainbow Rowell - 5/5
The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link- 3/5
Angels in the Snow by Matt de la Pena- 5/5
Polaris is Where You'll Find Me by Jenny Han - 3/5
It's a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins- 5/5 (this is my favorite one)
Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan - 4/5
Krampuslauf by Holly Black - 2/5
What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman - 5/5
Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire- 2.5/5
Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White - 3/5
Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter- 3/5
The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer by Laini Taylor - 5/5

I really enjoyed this. It was the perfect book to read over the holidays. It didn't feel repetitive or like reading the same story over and over again. Each story was completely it's own, each author did their own thing. It was great. Although I didn't love every story, I appreciated each one. My favorites were the ones that filled me with warm, happy feelings (Stephanie Perkins' story for instance) but I also really loved seeing whole worlds unfold within a few pages (Laini Taylor's). This book also did a wonderful job of showcasing diversity in some of the short stories, through the sexuality and ethnicity of the characters, which is something that is usually heavily lacking in Christmas stories.

...And that cover though. The picture doesn't even do it justice. It's beautiful and shiny and the edges of the pages are pink, serious props to whoever designed that cover.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Anna and the French Kiss

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Can I just say how happy I am with this cover change.
One of the best ever. Seriously. It's beautiful.
Synopsis via 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. She is less than thrilled about boarding school in Paris - until she meets √Čtienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, he has it all - including a serious girlfriend. Will Anna get her French kiss?

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book gives me all the feels.

This is the kind of book that just makes me smiley and giddy. Every time I've read this book it's been impossible for me to put it down. Obviously, I know the story pretty well by this point, but that doesn't detract from my enjoyment each and every time.

The characters in this book are great. There are some stereotypes in this book: the mean girl, for one. But overall this story reads like life. The characters are realistic and relatable. I loved the romance. The best romances are built on friendships. And that is the case in this book. Nothing actually happens between the two characters until fairly late in the story. There is attraction, but mostly what we see develop is that the two characters gradually become very close friends who fall in love. And I love that. It's the opposite of all the aggravating YA romance tropes. There is no insta-love, no love triangles (not really). This is a very well done love story.

Although this book does have some things I can see people would find issue with, they didn't bother me. Because, you know what, in real life love doesn't tend to come without some angst and some drama. And the life of a teenager certainly doesn't. That's just how it is. Deal with it.

I honestly just wish I could read Anna and Etienne's story forever. They are one of my favorite couples.

Oh wait, did I even mention that this story takes place in PARIS. Oh yeah. Whoops. I loved the the atmosphere the author brought with the setting. I, never having been to Paris, had no trouble picturing Anna and Etienne walking along the Seine or standing on point zero. This book captured all the magic and romance of the City of Lights, it made me desperate to visit Paris while still feeling like I got to be there.

This is definitely one of my favorite contemporary romances. I love the characters and the story. I've already read it at least three times (maybe more) and each time it still makes me smile. This book makes me happy. Unfortunately, I didn't have the same experience with the other books in this series. In other words, Lola and the Boy Next Door was a bit of a disappoitment to me. I didn't hate it, I just felt "meh" about it. And, for me, a book like this is all about the feels. So I don't think I'll be reading Isla in the Ever After. I'm perfectly content with this book and this book alone. Anna and Etienne are more than enough for me.