Saturday, August 6, 2011

Anna and the French Kiss


Title: 
Anna and the French Kiss
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Link to Buy: http://www.amazon.com/Anna-French-Kiss-Stephanie-Perkins
Summary: 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 Etienne St. Clair: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he's taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.
As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near - misses end with the French kiss Anna - and readers - have long awaited?
*summary taken from barnesandnoble.com*

In the beginning of the novel, we are introduced to Anna Oliphant, or, as she's known back home in Atlanta, GA, "Banana Elephant", is at the School of America in Paris. SOAP. (That made me smile when I first read it) Her father, who is basically a clone of Nicholas Sparks, decides to send her to this school in France to expose her to 'culture' and other country's customs. Once at this school, she meets Meredith (a soccer-excuse me, football playing tomboy) Rashmi and Josh (the couple sucking face in the cafeteria), and St. Clair (the main heartthrob of the novel).

When I first started reading the story, I immediately saw Anna as a regular ol' teenager. Plain, but pretty girl with plenty of insecurities and just as much wit. The things that went through her mind were things that PLENTY of teenage girls can relate to. Does my teeth look yellow in this light? Oh my God, they're probably neon in this awful flourescent lighting. Oh God, my breath probably smells. I'm a freak. That type of thinking is instilled in Anna's mind for the better part of 300 pages. Hopefully, that won't get on your nerves too much and you'll keep reading.

Anna's relationship with her friends back home and her friends in Paris change throughout the story. Fights, breakups, makeups, and hookups are inevitable. You can probably guess that she grows apart from the friends back home and closer to the ones in Paris. The parallel in the story between Bridgette, Toph, and Anna AND Meredith, St. Clair, and Anna is one that the reader can pick up on easily and interpret just as quickly. It teaches a nice little life lesson about friends and boyfriends, and for girls, it introduces them to the 'Girl Code'.

When it came to the romance in the story, it wasn't bad. Nice romantic tension, physical and otherwise, rang throughout the story and never once faltered. Thank you, Ms. Perkins. I loved the comical back-and-forth between St.Clair and Anna. Their relationship seemed easy, especially since they're best friends for the most of the book. It wasn't what you see now in most stories, with the whole relationship seeming strained. Although, there were awkward, uncomfortable silences, which happens in normal, everyday life, it just made everything seem much more realistic. Especially with the issue with St. Clair's parents. Most stories would focus on the main character's troubles, but making St. Clair's problems as important as Anna's makes him more real.

Speaking of St. Clair, I appreciated how Anna distinguishes between calling St. Clair by his last name (St. Clair- funny, flirty guy everyone loves) and his first name (Etienne- the one behind the front. the more vulnerable side.). True, she did switch back and forth OFTEN, but she does make up her mind at the end.

And the end. I felt the end was truly special. Truly romatic and truly wonderful.

If you're thinking about this book, do not hesistate. Go to your bookstore, computer, whatever and buy/order this. It's worth it.

X's and O's and Happy Reading,
Jen

Friday, August 5, 2011

Perfect Chemistry


Title:
Perfect Chemistry
Author: Simone Elkeles
Rating: 5 out of 5
Publisher: Walker & Company
Link to Buy: http://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Chemistry-Simone-Elkeles
Summary: Brittany Ellis is perfect. She spends her time making sure that people believe the show she puts on and not see the real her. Alejandro 'Alex' Fuentes is in a gang. He's all about his family and would do anything for them. When forced to be partners in Chemistry, the pair are thrown into each other's worlds and realize that there's always more to a person than they let on. With everything and everyone against them, they somehow manage to fall in love.


*Sighs* I love this book. It's romantic . . . and wonderful . . . and . . *sighs again*

I am kicking myself for not reading this six months ago. The writing is amazing and really pulls you into the story. I appreciate how the chapters are alternating points of view so that the reader is only reading what they need to know at the time and then they're surprised just like the characters are. It adds a nice touch to the reading experience.

The characters Brittany and Alex are so complex that they're not the stereotypical beings most people think they are. I like how Simone Elkeles touched on stereotypes and racial backgrounds without completely shoving it in our faces. It's refreshing.

Every character introduced had a part to play in the story, which is important to me. I hate when I'm reading something and the characters are so random and have no importance or show up toward the end of the book.

The romance in the story was absolutely perfect. Any more and it would have been overkill and any less would not have done the story justice. She did it just right. Think Romeo and Juliet meets West Side Story, but with WAY better endings. That's Perfect Chemistry.

X's and O's,
Jen