BOOK REVIEW – Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss #3) by Stephanie PerkinsIsla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss #3)
by Stephanie Perkins
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Our fingers are in each other’s hair, and his breath is in the hollow of my neck, and I wish the world would swallow us here, whole, in this moment. And that’s when it hits me that this-this-is falling in love.

Phew!!!! What a wonderful, magical week of first love, forbidden crushes, and dreams come true. Seriously. I could like…shit rainbows right now and wouldn’t be the least bit surprised. But, in a less graphic and more polite manner, I must say-Stephanie Perkins knows how to butter you up and make you melt all the way down to your core. No, none of the books compared to AATFK (book 1), but they still all had that beautiful feeling of innocence and young love that pulls you deep into their story, waiting for that moment when they are finally together.

Josh has stopped working.
He’s staring at me. Spellbound.
“What is it?” I’m afraid to move. “What’s wrong?”
“I’ve never seen the sun shine directly through your hair before.”
“Oh.” I glance down at the glowing curtain. “It never looks the same, does it? Inside, it’s auburn. Outside, it’s more of a red.”
“No.” Josh reaches out. He softly touches one of the waves. “Red isn’t the right word. It’s not auburn or orange or copper or bronze. It’s fire. It’s like being mesmerized by the flames of a burning building. I can’t look away.”

Aaaaahhhh, my artistic heart loves that ♥

I enjoyed this last week so much because these books didn’t allow me to feel otherwise. In this story, Josh (remember Josh? From book one? St. Clair’s best friend?) and Isla get their story, and I must admit I was pleasantly surprised to see that I really connected with Josh. No, not just because he was ‘attractive’ or quiet and sweet-it was also because of his artistic talent. I love to draw. It’s such a beautiful way to express yourself-I’ve been drawing since I was a little kid. You name it, I did it-painting, coloring book and crayons, drawing, tracing, whatever. Sure, I excelled at drawing more because, you know, it was always dubbed ‘too messy’ to paint in my house, lol, but I would love to have had more time to paint as a child. So, when we got to delve into Josh’s artistic side in this story, I really connected with it. It fascinated and intrigued me to hear about the brush strokes and intricate lines that Josh would spread onto the page, and that further helped me to understand him in a way I didn’t think I could from book one. He was always so quiet and in the background in book one-but now I know, with absolute certainty, that when I read book one again of this series (which is also, undoubtedly, an absolute certainty) I will have a much clearer image of him and it will really enhance the experience for me.

I can’t imagine Josh falling for someone vanilla.
Not that Josh would ever fall for me.
But I wouldn’t want to ruin any chance.
Even though I don’t have a chance.
But just in case I do.
Even though I don’t.

^^ lol. This quote is so like me it’s not even funny. ^^

In a lot of ways, I could relate to Isla. Her fade into the background quality, her insecurity….but in more ways I couldn’t relate to her. I may have entered high school just like Isla-quiet, reserved, shy…But I became the Anna. Or something like that, you know what I mean. I met some people, grew out of my shell, kept some shyness, but, ultimately, grew into myself and really started to experience life. I know this was part of Isla’s journey, but in some ways she acted like a coward. And in those moments of cowardice I grew to resent her…just a little bit! I did love her, but in those moments, I wanted to slap her. Her earlier endearments of being a cute little shy girl became her biggest downfall-it was no longer cute to me at a certain point. I do understand mistakes, though, and I do get that that was part of her journey…but I still didn’t like how she treated Josh. It wasn’t right and it made me angry.

“Your hand,” he repeats. “Give it to me.”
I extend my shaking right hand. And-in a moment that is a hundred dreams come true-Joshua Wasserstein laces his fingers through mine. A staggering shock of energy shoots straight into my veins. Straight into my heart.
“There,” he says. “I’ve been waiting a long time to do that.”
Not nearly as long as I’ve been waiting.

Now that the ugly is out of the way, I’ll say how much I adored them as a couple. Josh really came out of his shell and I enjoyed seeing him grow into the guy I never knew he could be. He was fun, spontaneous, a tad foolhardy (Okay, a lot foolhardy) and absolutely and undeniably in love with Isla. I loved that he could cry….I adored that. I am such a mean person for saying so, but, some of my favorite parts were when he either was tearing up, crying, or breaking down from the pain of something so deep and hurtful that it made him cry in guttural and truthful sobs…wow I sound SO sick right now…psychoooooo….

Movin’ on. But, in all seriousness, I love those candid moments where nothing is shaded and everything is perfectly clear…nothing is clearer than a man’s tears. Another thing I forgot to mention was the playing out of the scenes-I loved the winter ones. She made me feel those deep winter kisses and that cold, crisp air as they huddled together in intimate and romantic moments-I could practically see the clouds forming from the warmth of their mouths into the crisp, winterized air….I LOVED those parts of the story and perhaps they stuck out to me just as much as any other scene or moment did…call me a sucker, but I adore fall/winter (to an extent).

Josh pushes me against the wall. We kiss with everything we have, tasting each other, aching for each other. His lips are cracked with winter. He’s brushed his teeth recently, and his mouth is sharp and clean. His hands slide across my back and down my hips. Our kissing grows more intense, frenzied from longing. A tremor runs through my body into his, and he bursts apart from me, gasping for breath.

So anyway…I will end it all with what I seem to always circle back to-My favorite part of this book, aside from the masochistic recollections of the story from above, was when all the old characters came into the story. My heart stopped, plummeted into my stomach, and my throat clogged with butterflies. St. Clair and Anna, obviously, stole the show, and then it was adorable seeing Cricket and Lola together as well. I had a fondness for them that I didn’t realize until I saw them actually together in another setting other than the one they were given in the last story. And, to circle it all back into one big swoop-I loved these characters, I loved them all as a whole, and it was absolutely wonderful to see them all together as one, as it should be.

 

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