Lola Nolan is a budding costume designer, and for her, the more outrageous, sparkly, and fun the outfit, the better. And everything is pretty perfect in her life (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the 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. – Goodreads
I have never hidden my love of Stephanie Perkin’s books and when I was in the middle of a reading slump I knew exactly what would help me: Lola and the Boy Next Door. What was funny about this book was how much I forgot about Lola and of course that makes me laugh. How could I forget these characters?
Lola and the Boy Next Door is a story about, obviously, Lola and another character: San Francisco. Since I just visited San Francisco there were so many parts of this story that stuck out for me this round of reading it: The Japanese Tea Garden, Mission Delores Park, the city itself.
Lola’s life is going well. She lives with her dads, she’s enjoying her boyfriend, Max, her job and her coworker named Anna. What Lola does not expect is her old neighbors, the Bell’s, to come back into her life.
One thing I constantly love about Perkin’s books is the sneaks of other characters, from Anna to St. Clair they all came back and helped to answer those unanswered questions.
Cricket and Calliope are the twins from next door. They are close as twins generally are. What Calliope never liked was how Lola took Cricket from her. She’s protective of him and Calliope is very much the alpha twin and changed Lola’s life. It’s a painful scene and a painful part about Cricket being in Calliope’s shadow for multiple years.
Lola goes from spending most of her life loving Cricket, to loathing him, to seeing him as a friend. The begin to talk again, they begin to go back to that friendship as they had as children, but better. Stronger. But there is still Max, the annoying boyfriend. While Lola spent years trying to move on from Cricket, Cricket has not moved on from Lola. He still likes Lola. Nothing has changed for him. Everything has changed for Lola though. She’s grown up. She’s dating Max. She’s a stronger different Lola, but to Cricket, she’s exactly the same.
It’s also painful when the characters make poor life choices because I want to shake them, but that’s something powerful about YA books that I love. Stephanie Perkin’s books are like coming home for me. Throughout Anna, Lola, and Isla all three characters I related to and adored. A re-read of Lola was just what I needed.
If life were fair, Jam Gallahue would still be at home in New Jersey with her sweet British boyfriend, Reeve Maxfield. She’d be watching old comedy sketches with him. She’d be kissing him in the library stacks.
She certainly wouldn’t be at The Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school in rural Vermont, living with a weird roommate, and signed up for an exclusive, mysterious class called Special Topics in English.
But life isn’t fair, and Reeve Maxfield is dead.
Until a journal-writing assignment leads Jam to Belzhar, where the untainted past is restored, and Jam can feel Reeve’s arms around her once again. But there are hidden truths on Jam’s path to reclaim her loss.
From New York Times bestselling author Meg Wolitzer comes a breathtaking and surprising story about first love, deep sorrow, and the power of acceptance.– Goodreads
I finished this book last week and I’m still confused about it. This very rarely happens. I tend to finish a book and have a very firm opinion on the book. I sent a text message after reading this and went “Belzhar..I still don’t know.” My goodreads friends are polarized about it. Some thought it was the best book of the year and others can’t believe it got published. I continue to be firmly in the middle camp of I…I just don’t know.
The bones of the story are solid. Jam’s life isn’t remotely fair. Her British boyfriend, Reeve is dead and her parents have sent her to The Wooden Barn, the boarding school that is supposed to save her. What happens instead is that Jam is sent to Special Topics with a handful of her classmates and her life is forever changed. Part of their assignment is to write in this journal twice a week for the semester, that’s all. Just write. What happens though when they write is that they are taken to a different world. A happier world almost, one that they call Belzhar. In Belzhar, everything is different. It’s safe in a way and the person is in an alternative universe and they often become happier there. What the group finds out is the more time they spend in Belzhar (everyone has their own) is not everything is how it seems and quickly things can unravel. Including Jam’s life.
Near the end comes a twist bout Belzhar, and Jam’s life, it is understandably one that I can’t truly discuss but I will say that I wasn’t shocked. I saw it coming, and if I’m being honest with you, I rarely see twists coming and this one didn’t shock me at all. I’m not sure if it was Wolitzer’s writing, or the book in general but nothing about it particularly worked for me. It’s not a bad book persay, but it’s one that when I was asked to describe it to a friend I sat there going “Um…well..you see” and my friend stared at me because rarely am I at a loss of words when it comes to a book. Or any book.
From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.
Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and Étienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.– Goodreads
There are a handful of things that make me feel at home, and one of them is Stephanie Perkin’s writing. That is what reading Isla and the Happily Ever After did for me, it was like coming home. I’ve never hidden the fact that Perkins’ has helped me through many rough times. From her books, to her honesty on her blog, to the fact every time I see her I freeze up and forget to tell her what I want, Isla was happiness I wasn’t aware I even needed.
Isla and the Happily Ever After is a companion novel set in the world of Perkins’ previous two novels, Anna and Isla. While one does not need to read the previous two to understand this standalone it does help because what Perkins’ does is beautifully intertwine multiple characters and bits that originally seems to have no true meaning. Everything has meaning, at least it did to me as a reader. I enjoyed being set back in the world of these characters, from New York City to Paris, if anything, I felt like I never let. Although the pacing seemed a bit off to me, in the sense time often seemed to zip by in a chapter, I never once wanted this book to stop. Or, dare I say it. I never wanted to throw it against the wall. We all know I have book feels I often am forced to deal with, even when I’m in denial.
Isla and Josh quickly, and understandably fall in love with each other quickly, but as most teens know happiness and forever don’t always go hand in hand. Things don’t work that easily, even when you’re in the city of lights. It was a weird twist of events where the romantic couple come together quickly and then deal with the fallout. The dramatic, painful, oh so real fallout. The drama that Perkins’ created was heartbreaking and never artificial. While the beginning was hearts in the eyes happiness, I knew it would have to end at some point. There would have to be dramatics, if only because the saying lately is no one wants to read about happy couples (which is a lie. I would.) But that’s what Perkins’ does, she created a realistic portrayal of teenage romance. That romance where if you can’t be together the world is going to end a painful end. While Isla and Josh are happy they are forced to face issues they are trying their hardest to ignore, which means they cause an even bigger blow up. My heart went out to all the characters in this book, even though I stayed up late reading it when I had work the next morning.
While I didn’t want to leave these characters, and a few old friends who appeared, I understood at the end it was time to say good bye to them. It was their happily ever after for the moment, and it would all be okay for them (and for us.)
A love letter to the craft and romance of film and fate in front of—and behind—the camera from the award-winning author of Hold Still.
A wunderkind young set designer, Emi has already started to find her way in the competitive Hollywood film world.
Emi is a film buff and a true romantic, but her real-life relationships are a mess. She has desperately gone back to the same girl too many times to mention. But then a mysterious letter from a silver screen legend leads Emi to Ava. Ava is unlike anyone Emi has ever met. She has a tumultuous, not-so-glamorous past, and lives an unconventional life. She’s enigmatic…. She’s beautiful. And she is about to expand Emi’s understanding of family, acceptance, and true romance.– Goodreads
Heartbreakingly beautiful. That is the easiest way to sum up Everything Leads to You, to me, no words will properly justify this book and how much I needed it in my life. I read Everything Leads to You in about one day and the only reason I took THAT long is because I read and re-read everything slowly because I never wanted it to end.
Everything Leads to You is the story of Emi, a recent high school graduate who is already working in Hollywood. Not only is Emi a film buff with an understanding family, she is a Romantic (with yes, a capital R) who understands that movies paint the illusion of true love but that true love and real-life is a lot messier than the movies. Thankfully Emi’s life is full of good people including her BFF Charlotte who leaves soon for Michigan and college, and her brother Troy who is currently in London and letting Emi use his apartment. A rule came with the apartment though: she must do something with it. And not something ordinary.
What happens is nothing that Emi saw coming. Emi grows a lot that summer between high school and college, what she doesn’t plan on is falling in love.; in deep madding true love. Emi thought she had that and then they broke up and Emi finally moved on. Her and her ex could be friends and work together without wanting to kill each other and all was okay and good. Emi was content. One day however when Emi and Charlotte are at an estate sale, Emi finds a letter that leads her on the path to this deep true romance.
What LaCour is able to do in Everything Leads to You is create a romance story that really isn’t about romance, it was more about family, and friendships and that stuff that happens in the middle, which often happens to be romance and for Emi a mystery. This mystery has Emi’s cross paths with Ava, who happens to be related to the writer of the letter. What I also loved about this story is it is a LGTBQ love story but it’s not it’s a story about two people falling in love. It’s not a coming out story. It’s not a story about anyone trying to accept themselves, minus what every teen goes through when they’re between high school and college. It’s a YA romance novel and it is heartbreakingly beautiful.
Chloe’s older sister, Ruby, is the girl everyone looks to and longs for, who can’t be captured or caged. When a night with Ruby’s friends goes horribly wrong and Chloe discovers the dead body of her classmate London Hayes left floating in the reservoir, Chloe is sent away from town and away from Ruby.
But Ruby will do anything to get her sister back, and when Chloe returns to town two years later, deadly surprises await. As Chloe flirts with the truth that Ruby has hidden deeply away, the fragile line between life and death is redrawn by the complex bonds of sisterhood.
With palpable drama and delicious craft, Nova Ren Suma bursts onto the YA scene with the story that everyone will be talking about.
You guys remember when I read 17 & Gone and I was confused but also in love? Like right off the bat? Yeah. Same story here. Imaginary Girls is tricky, because the summary and parts of the story make you wonder if this story is supernatural or contemporary. Ashley recently posted a review of Golden, a book that is her definition of near-perfect contemporary, and this, Imaginary Girls, is an example of mine. Isn’t it amazing the scope of one tiny subgenre of YA? And once again, the romance is pretty much nonexistent, limited mostly to Ruby’s “boyfriends,” poor souls who are really Ruby’s slaves, and Chloe’s unrequited crush on a boy named Owen. The summary makes it seem like the book is about London and her death, but really, this is the story of sisters. Ruby is the star of their tiny mountain town, and she can do pretty much whatever she wants. The town operates around her like an old movie, and shopkeepers put “her” shade of lipstick behind the counter so only Ruby can wear it. What? I never got what was so great about Ruby other than her looks, but looks can be everything, especially in a small town. Chloe is, as she says herself, an “echo” of Ruby, meaning Chloe looks a little like her but has none of the manipulative charm. Chloe sees herself as a part of Ruby and never really tries to gain any independence from her. Chloe’s time spent away from Ruby lasts a few chapters at most. Ruby is a bad person, manipulative in the worst way, and she seems to recognize that her small-town stardom won’t translate anywhere else. Ruby loves Chloe in her own way, but still, she uses Chloe in her machinations. In addition to this story of sisters, the drowned town of Olive becomes almost like a ghost constantly fluttering just out of reach.
That time apart, though short page-wise, serves to give Chloe a little skepticism about her sister. Chloe starts realizing that things aren’t perfect just because she’s back with Ruby, and Chloe seems better at questioning Ruby’s motives. Meanwhile, one of the “surprises” from the summary shows up, and Chloe, at first afraid, eventually realizes she has to solve this mystery herself. The thing I love about Suma’s novels is not only the way she writes, though that’s what made me want to read this novel after 17 & Gone, but also how she doesn’t always tie up loose ends. Sometimes her endings feel a little unsatisfying because the narrator is still unreliable or can’t be saved at all. In a standalone romance, that would be annoying, but in this ethereal, hazy world of upstate New York, it all works out perfectly. Ruby is just so wretched, such a spoiled girl, living this life of luxury at the expense of others and their feelings. Chloe isn’t immune to this, though she’d like to think she is. She says things like “half the town is in love with Ruby and she never asked them to be,” which, of course she did, Chloe, just not using those exact words. Ruby is like one of those lights that mosquitoes can’t resist. Ruby can be lethal, I think, and everyone knows it, including Chloe. I can’t review the rest of the novel the way I want to without spoiling, so let me say, remember: nothing is as it seems in a Nova Ren Suma novel. Let the words wrap around you and carry you through the story. You’ll enjoy it, trust me.
WARNING: Here be spoilers.
Seventeen-year-old Lauren is having visions of girls who have gone missing. And all these girls have just one thing in common—they are 17 and gone without a trace. As Lauren struggles to shake these waking nightmares, impossible questions demand urgent answers: Why are the girls speaking to Lauren? How can she help them? And… is she next? As Lauren searches for clues, everything begins to unravel, and when a brush with death lands her in the hospital, a shocking truth emerges, changing everything.
With complexity and richness, Nova Ren Suma serves up a beautiful, visual, fresh interpretation of what it means to be lost.
This one sounds like a pretty typical supernatural novel, but it definitely is not. Do not go into this one expecting happy fun times with ghosts and romance. This one is deep and scary and confusing. We don’t get the full story at first, and we don’t get all of our questions answered. Lauren is a bit of an unreliable narrator, so there are things you learn that are contradicted later. Nova Ren Suma doesn’t tie all the threads up into a bow at the end, and it was so much better that way. This novel is heart-wrenching and intense, and I really highly recommend it to everyone. The way things are described was so haunting, so surreal, that I felt like I was dreaming while reading. As I told Ashley, this novel is one long angst parade, with absolutely no payoff. There is no romance to speak of, though Lauren does have a boyfriend. There are no friendships, though Lauren once had girls she hung out with. And the shocking truth from the summary? It really is quite shocking! I didn’t even suspect while reading, but once it’s revealed, the novel starts making more sense. And really, in hindsight, you’ll get it. Things that don’t add up, things we learn that turn out to be wrong. This one will stick with me for awhile, because I don’t think I’ve ever had a reading experience like this one, one in which I am navigating the unknown, floating along as if in a dream, or as if I am truly in Lauren’s head, or maybe I am Lauren herself. I felt emotionally drained every time I put this book down (which wasn’t often), like I’d been experiencing everything Lauren had.
And I cannot review any better than this without spoiling, so if that’s your thing, follow me under the cut!
Warning! Here be spoilers.