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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Isla and the Happily... Book Review

Isla and the Happily Ever After

Written by: Stephanie Perkins
# of pages: 340

Average Rating: 4.16/5
My Rating: 5/5

Published in August 2014
Read in June 2015

Summary according to 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. 

My Thoughts

All of the stars. This was probably the best book that I read this year. Stephanie Perkins is phenomenal and knows how to write the best characters. I loved how awkward Isla and Josh were, it made them so relatable. Having a crush on someone you don't think you have a chance with sucks, but was depicted very well in this novel. It is obvious that she can write characters very well, and I even found myself relating to Isla's best friend in moments throughout the story - she made me want to care about everyone. 

I never knew what to expect with this plot, which made it very hard to put down. There was a lot of travelling in this novel, making me want to pack a bag and get on the next plane out of Toronto. Between New York and Paris, Stephanie created an atmosphere that felt real. She would describe scenes beautifully, and was easy to put myself in the story as if I was there with the characters.

My only issue with this novel was the pacing. The timeline is roughly a year, but at time I felt like weeks would pass without a good transition. Events jumped around making it feel a little bit rushed...if that makes sense. It wasn't a big enough problem for me to take away a star, and instead I was thrown back into the drama of Isla and Josh. 

Bringing previous characters back into the story was amazing and helped provide some closure from their stories. I think Anna and the French Kiss will always be my favourite, but Isla is a close second. Throughout this novel I laughed and cried, and it broke my heart but then put it back together. It was truly a rollercoaster reading this story, but I enjoyed every minute of it.

Overall I loved this novel and companion trilogy. I can't wait for Stephanie to write more books, but until them I recommend everyone pick up these books!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Speak Book Review *Spoilers*


Written by: Laurie Halse Anderson
# of pages: 198

Average Rating:
My Rating: 4/5

Published: April 1, 2001
Read in August 2014

Summary according to goodreads

Melinda Sordino busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops. Now her old friends won't talk to her, and people she doesn't even know hate her from a distance. The safest place to be is alone, inside her own head. But even that's not safe. Because there's something she's trying not to think about, something about the night of the party that, if she let it in, would blow her carefully constructed disguise to smithereens. And then she would have to speak the truth. 

My Thoughts

This was the first book I've read by this author, and although I have owned it for about a year, I never felt motivated to pick it up. I had no idea what it was about, but recently a friend of mine talked about it and I was intrigued. Everything about this novel is relatable - Melinda as a character dealing with a trauma, and the situation as a whole. Unfortunately, rape is very common in our society and does not always get reported.

For some, this might be a hard topic to read about, but I found reading this to feel like I was reading a memoir of sorts because it was just that real. The story focuses more on the after-effects of what happened at the party, but there is a flashback to the incident. If you are wary of picking up the book because you don't want to read about a young woman getting raped, there is not much detail surrounding that - more of the emotional effect it took on her.

I have not dealt with a trauma such as the one Melinda did, but coming from different mental issues I can see that the author was very accurate in how she described what Melinda suffered. She had not told anybody what had happened that night, and became very closed off from people, didn't want to go to school, and other detrimental things. I can also only imagine how this new attitude would lead to people distancing themselves from her, leading her to feel even more isolated. Everything about this book came back full circle, and one thing led clearly into another.

The only issue that I had with this book was I felt at the end there was not a lot of closure. The reader never knows if Melinda gets the psychological help she clearly needs, or if justice is served to the young man who abuses her. Other than that I thought it was a very powerful story that could prove valuable to people to read. I feel that growing up I was sheltered from the harsh realities of the real world, and only recently have become aware of the dangers constantly surrounding us. This novel proved that it does not matter how old you are, what you look like, etc, you need to be aware of keeping yourself in safe situations.

Overall, I did enjoy this book and am glad I finally got around to picking it up. I would recommend this to any reader looking for something quick, that also contains a heavier plot (emotionally).