Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Title: Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss #2)
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Released September 29, 2011
Borrowed from Library
Rating: 4/5


Lola Nolan is a budding costume designer, and for her, the more outrageous, sparkly, and fun the outfit, the better. And everything is pretty perfect in her life (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood. When Cricket, a gifted inventor, steps out from his twin sister's shadow and back into Lola's life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door (Summary from Goodreads).


Another cute contemporary novel by Stephanie Perkins!

Any of you who have read Anna and the French Kiss will certainly enjoy this, as well! Although this book is not necessarily a direct sequel to Anna and the French Kiss, some characters from the first book make appearances in this one (Anna and Etienne).  Although I typically do not read contemporary, I really enjoyed the warm and fuzzy feelings from Perkins' books!

There are some similarities between Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door.  The characters have very unique interests and personalities.  Lola's passion is fashion - not just any fashion, but costumes!  Her mother is a deadbeat, and she is adopted by her uncle and his partner.  Both assume the role of strict parenting.  Lola actually has a boyfriend in the beginning of the book - a rocker band dude that's about 5 years older than her (she's 17, he's 22).  She absolutely adores him to the dismay of her parents, but when her childhood friend and crush Cricket Bell moves back next door, everything changes.

Not only is Cricket's name unique, but also his interests.  Cricket had always had a passion for inventing things.  When he returns next door to Lola, however, we find that Cricket seems skittish whenever Lola brings up his former passion.  He also has this habit of writing little notes on the back of his hand, which Lola always notices.  He is literally the most adorable fictional character gahhhh these books give me unrealistic expectations of men.

Even if this sounds kind of cheesy (and it kind of is), the warm and fuzzy feelings are sooooo worth it!
Thursday, November 3, 2016

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Title: An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes #1)
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Released April 28, 2015
Borrowed from Library
Rating: 5/5


Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself (Summary from Goodreads).

My Review

This book was SO GOOD.  And it's even in first person POV! Which I normally can't stand!

An Ember in the Ashes is a true page-tuner.  Seriously, every chapter ends on a little cliffhanger and makes it really difficult to put down this book.  Last Saturday, I was planning on spending the day doing homework, but instead I knew I just had to finish this book (it would have distracted me from homework, anyway).

Because it was such a page-turner, I gave this 5 stars.  I would say the only things that kinda bothered me was how useless Laia is and getting used to first person POV in the beginning.  However, I would say Laia is realistic for being the way she is, and I obviously stopped caring about it being in first person since it was so good.

While there weren't any plot twists per-se, there was definitely a lot of action and anxiety-inducing moments.  It was especially anxiety-inducing during scenes in which Laia spied for the Resistance and the fighting scenes with Elias (I won't reveal specifics because spoilers).  Another thing that really added to the drama was switching every other chapter between Laia and Elias.  It was smart to only switch between these two characters, because I tend to get annoyed when books go into a side character's POV.  I like not knowing what the side characters are thinking, just like the main characters.

Overall, definitely recommend.

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