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BOOK REVIEW – Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss #1) by Stephanie Perkins

I’m so glad I took the time to re-read my absolute favorite of 2014. I forgot how deeply I loved Anna and St. Clair and the butterflies were insane. It’s funny how our favorites can still affect us as if we’re reading them for the first time.

BOOK REVIEW – Anna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss #1) by Stephanie PerkinsAnna and the French Kiss (Anna and the French Kiss #1)
by Stephanie Perkins
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

 ‘I love you as certain dark things are loved, secretly, between the shadow and the soul.’

Wow. Well that, my absolutely beautiful friends, was YA at it’s finest. Gorgeous storytelling, undeniably addictive characters, and falling in love in the city of light? What could possibly be wrong with this story? Let me tell you what was wrong with this book: Nothing. Not one thing. I, for the first time in a LONG time, have nothing negative to say about a book. I loved it. I devoured it. I longed for it when I put it down, and I picked it back up to re-read my favorite parts (turns out? There were a lot of favorite parts) even after I’d finished. Is that a little crazy? Maybe. Does it make me a little obsessed? Kind of. But, in all fairness, I’ve never claimed I was sane, especially when I find a book that touches me as deeply as Anna and the French Kiss did.

The grapes are smaller than I’m used to, and the skin is slightly textured. Is that dirt? I dip my napkin in water and dab at the tiny purple globes. It helps, but they’re still sort of rough. Hmm. St. Clair and Meredith stop talking. I glance up to find them staring at me in matching bemusement. “What?” “Nothing,” he says. “Continue your grape bath.” “They were dirty.”

Ya know, I often repeat myself in different reviews, and it doesn’t escape my attention that I do. But, if it’s not broken, why fix it?? There are so many things in this book that should have turned me off-for instance, traveling to Paris. Hey, I hate traveling books. I do. But, from page one on, she was already there. Thank God. The main character wasn’t fully American. Now, this one’s a gray area. I really don’t like characters with accents for whatever reason, and I think it stems from my lack of conjuring up a dude who matches the accent in my head. I’m so so so bad at that. But, St. Clair was amazing, and I never once faltered because he was an adorable British speaking French American. And that’s what I loved so much about this book-I loved it because of those qualities. How the hell does that happen???

Alone. I don’t understand why he couldn’t send me to Australia or Ireland or anywhere else where English is the native language. The only French word I know is oui, which means “yes,” and only recently did I learn it’s spelled o-u-i and not w-e-e.

Now, Anna? She’s like my soul sister. Okay, okay. Not my soul sister, you know, because she makes fun of St. Clair and his love for the bookies, and it’s not nice to make fun of people who read books. But she’s damn close. She loves the movies (um, not enough people do, thank you)-she goes like…every night to see a film! I would SO do that if I could or had the time. Even all her mannerisms remind me of how I’d be in a foreign city where I know absolutely no one and am confused by the language. It was adorable to see her stuttering about and trying to figure out how to order food. The funniest thing is how her friends St. Clair heckles her about it. It’s so adorable. She literally barely ate because she didn’t want to butcher the menu item she was ordering, and that is totally something I’d do-I get so flustered and embarrassed and stop trying to do what I’m doing if I feel I’m making a spectacle. Oh, and she loves St. Clair. Hey! Me too!

“Merci,” I say. “De rien. You’re welcome. And I ‘ope you don’t skeep meals to avoid me anymore!” He places his hand on his chest, as if brokenhearted. I smile and shake my head no. I can do this. I can do this. I can- “NOW THAT WASN’T SO TERRIBLE, WAS IT, ANNA?” St. Clair hollers from the other side of the cafeteria. I spin around and give him the finger down low, hoping Monsieur Boutin can’t see. St. Clair responds by grinning and giving me the British version, the V-sign with his first two fingers. Monsieur Boutin tuts behind me with good nature. I pay for the meal and take the seat next to St. Clair. “Thanks. I forgot how to flip off the English. I’ll use the correct hand gesture next time.” “My pleasure. Always happy to educate.”

Er. Mah. Gherd. St. Clair. What do I say about him?? He was my absolute favorite character. He was funny, sweet, loyal, charismatic, kind, swoony, and head over heels for Anna. It was adorable when he would flirt with her in classes or when they were all hanging out. It was butterfly inducing when he got jealous as a guy showed Anna any special attention or when she reminisced about the guy back home she had a crush on. He defends her when anyone even looks at her funny, but never ceases to tease her himself-Subtle little signs showed how they felt about one another, even more him than her. They quickly become best friends who know more about each other than anyone else possibly could, making them the closest of the group. But we all know how that goes when love takes a back seat to ‘best friendship’….*squeals in delight*

What am I going to do? I’m in love with my new best friend.

Oh….but the only problem is, he has a girlfriend. What would you do if you met the love of your life and he was with someone else? How would that make you feel? How would you handle it? I really thought, despite the fact that I do not condone cheating, that this scenario was written beautifully. Or perhaps it was more…strategic. However you interpreted it, it doesn’t change how amazing it made me feel. It wasn’t skeevy, it wasn’t icky, and it was done so tastefully. Hell, I really don’t even need to defend anything because nothing happened. Though…there was this sexy, sexy club scene that made me fifty kinds of excited….Enough happened that, had I been his girlfriend, I’d have seen red-let’s say it that way.

Focus. “Do you like it?” I whisper. He pauses. “The film?” I’m thankful the shadows hide my blush. “I like it very much,” he says. I risk a glance, and St. Clair stares back. Deeply. He has not looked at me like this before. I turn away first, then feel him turn a few beats later. I know he is smiling, and my heart races.

I saw that some people got annoyed at how she talked about her guy back home quite a bit and it put them off, but I don’t understand why. I mean, duh she’s in love with St. Clair, we know this, but, as I said before-he’s taken. No amount of flirting will change that. I think my point is, isn’t it good that, while she secretly pines for St. Clair, she tries to keep her head steady by thinking of good ‘ol Sideburns? I dunno. I thought this just added another intricate layer to an already adorable story.

“No one special?” Matt smiles and glances at me through the rearview mirror. I’m not sure why, but I forgot he has brown eyes. Why do they make some people look amazing and others completely average? It’s the same with brown hair. Statistically speaking, St. Clair and Matt are quite similar. Eyes: Brown. Hair: Brown. Race: Caucasian. There’s a significant difference in height, but still. It’s like comparing a gourmet truffle to a Mr. Goodbar. I think about the gourmet truffle. And his girlfriend. “Not exactly.”

I’m sitting here writing this review and I can hardly think of anything to say. Even now I’m giddy, breathless, excited and all kinds of wound up. I wish I could just curl up in a ball and re-read this immediately and seclude myself in the backroom at my house…but my obsession needs to fizzle and even out, because this fangirldom is a bit much more than even I, myself, can take.

I fantasize about their breakup. How he could hurt her, and she could hurt him, and all of the ways I could hurt her back. I want to grab her Parisian-styled hair and yank it so hard it rips from her skull. I want to sink my claws into her eyeballs and scrape. It turns out I am not a nice person.

(Lmao, I love this quote. Turns out? I’m not that nice either. You go, Anna :P) Well, I wish I could list all my favorite parts, but I won’t. It would ruin all the little surprises and I want people to love this book because of the little gems it randomly and sufficiently produces. But, I have to say one: (view spoiler) Ugh. And his pinky nail and thumb nail chewing. Sigh. So cute.

Is it possible for home to be a person and not a place? Bridgette used to be home to me. Maybe St. Clair is my new home.

I put this book off for years. Flippin’ YEARS. All because of that blurb, combined with the foreign element, combined with that god-awful cover (I know, sue me). Don’t make the same mistake. This book is light as air, fresh, funny, sweet, and so so worth it. Don’t waste another minute skipping over it-I almost missed out on one of my new favorites that I know I’ll read over and over and over again, no matter my age, what’s going on in my life, and what my current reading preferences are-it’s that kind of book for me.

BOOK REVIEW – Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss #3) by Stephanie Perkins

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
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

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.

 

BOOK REVIEW – Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss #2) by Stephanie Perkins

BOOK REVIEW – Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss #2) by Stephanie PerkinsLola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss #2)
by Stephanie Perkins
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

While I adored Cricket and everything to do with Cricket, his presence wasn’t enough to salvage my love for the story. Not bad at all, but not utterly overwhelming either. This book and, admittedly, this relationship, was eclipsed in the shadow of Anna and St. Clair. The feels, the butterflies, the emotions, that perfect amount of angst….that was preserved alongside Anna and the French Kiss on my absolute favorites shelf. That’s not an easy slot to fill, and maybe I rushed in too quickly thinking all the same emotions would surface, which is wholly my fault. So, I think it’s safe to say that while I did enjoy the story, I didn’t love it. I don’t want to write a mixed review, because I just don’t feel it. I liked it enough I don’t want to tarnish it with petty words and comparisons, but I didn’t like it enough to take two hours to compile my thoughts and overabundance of quotes for a review.

My heart belongs to Anna and St. Clair, and I don’t think that will change anytime soon….or ever, for that matter.

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