Thursday, October 13, 2011

Lola and the Boy Next Door

Oh Stephanie.... how is it that you write such swoon-worthy boys?  Is the boy in your real life the inspiration behind these crush inducing characters?  If so, congrats to you.  Seriously.

On Thanksgiving Monday I was feeling a little under the weather. Summer paid a final visit to Southern Ontario and the weather was absolutely perfect but I was lacking in energy to get out and enjoy it, so I opened all the windows in the house, grabbed my dogs and settled in bed with Lola for the day.  It was just what I needed.

I really adored this book.  I'm trying to decide if I loved it more or less than Anna, and I can't honestly decide.  It's a total toss up.  I think a re-read of both is in order so I can put the debate to rest once and for all (read: have an excuse to give my husband when he sees me pick these back up). 

Stephanie writes imperfect characters perfectly.  I really think the reason I love her books so much is that they seem totally and completely possible.  Like she's simply re-telling a story from her teen years.  All the characters have flaws, some more than others, and all of them evolve through the story in a very real way.  Love isn't always easy, and it's not always obvious, and Lola really captures that.  The romance is just sweet enough, with a little heartache thrown in, and that is my favorite kind of love story.

Cricket is simply perfection.  I love his dedication and loyalty to his sister, and I especially love that he's been pining for Lola all this time.  Like seriously, I think that was my fantasy from pre-teen up.  Who doesn't want an attractive, intelligent boy making moves for them?  I certainly wouldn't have minded.  Heck, I still wouldn't mind, provided the age was adjusted a little.

I don't think there was a character in this book that I didn't love and the setting, which is somewhere I've always wanted to visit, just drew me right in. I loved Lola most because it really touched on a lot of things that I wanted as a teen, and a lot of things that were important to me.  I ate it up and it left me hungry for more.

5 stars for sure. If you haven't read this yet, go do it now.  If you haven't read Anna and the French Kiss... why are you reading my blog? KIDDING! Kinda  ;)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

I'll start my review by saying that I really, really loved Sisters Red, and I really adore Jackson Pearce. Her vlogs and Twitter feed never fail to entertain me and I think she's someone who would be pretty cool to hang out with IRL.* It kind of baffles me that we're the same age. I feel like, she's got three published books with two more on the way and I, well.... what have I done?

I was more than excited to meet her at DBF and happily came home with my signed copies of Sisters Red and Sweetly. I was finally able to tuck in to the latter recently, and I was more than excited given my past love of Sisters Red.

Sweetly was a modern retelling of Hansel and Gretel, a story that I honestly didn't know a ton about other than what I learned from the short version I had as a child. But I loved Jackson's spin on Little Red Riding Hood, so I was excited to dive into this story.

I have to admit that, with the exception of the beginning of the book, I didn't fully get the connection to Hansel and Gretel. It seemed to be a pretty big deviation from the original story, at least what I know of it. It was less a modern retelling, more a story inspired by a fairytale. That being said, I enjoyed it and it was a fun read with some very interesting characters, and I would recommend it to others for sure. I just didn’t love it the way I thought I would and admittedly, it’s quite possible that my expectations were way too high, and that some personal stuff going on in my life while I was reading this kept me from really enjoying it the way I could have otherwise. I just couldn’t quite give it 4 stars, but it was so, so, so close.

If there’s one thing Jackson can write, it’s an awesome bond between siblings. I loved Ansel and Gretchen’s relationship and how they relied on each other, and knew each other so intensely. Individually, Gretchen was a pretty interesting character too. Lots of scars from the past and yet still pretty badass. Her conflicting feelings about Sophia were my some of my favorite parts to read (next to the steamy little side romance that was a lot of fun too).

Not a real complaint, just an observation: I would really have loved to get a little more insight into what’s happening with Rosie, Scarlett and Silas. I know it would be sort of pointless, and wouldn’t have contributed anything meaningful to the plot, but I’m nostalgic like that.

In the end it was a good read that’s would be perfect for a little rainy afternoon escapism. I’m looking forward to Fathomless which is based on the original Little Mermaid story and is the final in the retelling series. If you like fantasy-type stories set in the “real-world”, I suggest you pick up both this and Sisters Red.

*Is that weird of me to say? I'm totally NOT a stalker. I promise.