Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Isla

Isla and the Happily Ever After is a second companion to the highly popular Anna and the French Kiss. Isla Martin has two homes, one in Manhattan with her family and one in Paris where she attends boarding school. Before returning to Paris, Isla has a chance encounter with her long time crush, Josh. As Isla and Josh return for their senior, something starts to change between them. Falling in love is the easy thing to do for Josh and Isla, but can that love last forever?

This book was the perfect ending to the Anna and the French Kiss series. We are back in Paris, taking classes at SOAP (School of America in Paris) and once again the city becomes its own beautiful character. Isla is such a real and relatable character. Josh is one of those characters that always keep you wanting more. As the reader, you’re constantly wondering what he’s thinking. There are so many favorite moments in this book, but one of the best is the appearances of all our favorite couples; Anna and St. Clair and Lola and Cricket.

Overall I would recommend this book to anyone who has read Anna and the French Kiss or any fan of YA romance.

Check this book out or put it on hold.

-Stephanie Rudisill

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Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Next Door

Lola and the Boy Next Door is the second companion to the highly popular Anna and the French Kiss.

Lola Nolan is her own designer, only she doesn’t believe in fashion. Lola believes in costume: sparkly wigs, rainbow skirts, and combat boots. According to Lola there is no such thing as outrageous, everything is wild and fun. Lola has a lot of great things in her life, including a cool, older rocker boyfriend that she is crazy about.

Things take a sudden turn in Lola’s life with the return of her childhood next-door neighbors, Cricket and Calliope Bell. Cricket has always been in the shadow of his figure skating sister, Calliope’s. A gifted inventor, Cricket also harbors secret feelings. Now that they have returned, Lola must face the feelings that she has been trying to forget.

I loved this book for many reasons. It’s beautifully written, and Stephanie Perkins gives us a beautiful setting in San Francisco. Lola and Cricket are both wonderful characters, and we get very welcome appearances from Anna and St. Clair. I would recommend this book to any fans of contemporary romance and any fan of Anna and the French Kiss.

Check this book out or put it on hold.

-Stephanie Rudisill

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Magnolia by Kristi Cook

magnolia

Magnolia is just as sweet as the name suggests. The Cafferty and Marsden families are old Southern royalty. Their families’ connection can be traced all the way back to the Civil War. The families have shared vacations, holidays, backyard barbecues, and the overwhelming desire to unite their two clans by marriage. When Jemma and Ryder are born just a few weeks apart, the families think its fate for these two to finally unite the two famous families so they can rule Magnolia Branch, Mississippi together.

The problem is Jemma and Ryder hate each other. Both Jemma and Ryder are more concerned about cheerleading, SEC football, and high school. However when Jemma and Ryder are forced to work through a tragedy together, they realize they may have more in common than they think.

This book echoes Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, told through acts, but with the relationship of the main characters reversed from the original tale.

There are so many things that I loved about this book, but most of all I loved how unique it was. Its Southern setting and language really bring something new and interesting to the book. I would recommend this book for any reader of YA romance who is looking for something short and sweet.

Check this book out or put it on hold.

-Stephanie Rudisill

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We Were Liars by e. lockhart

we were liars
Summertime on Beechwood Island in Massachusetts has always been special for the Sinclair family. Harris Sinclair, the patriarch of the family, owns the small island near Martha’s Vineyard and built a summer house there for each of his three daughters. Cadence “Cady” Eastman, eldest grandchild of Harris and his beloved wife Tipper, has happily lived and loved every summer with her extended family on Beechwood.

Summer 15 proves to be difficult in many ways. It’s the year when everything changes. Cady’s father leaves. Tipper passes away. Cady realizes in her heart that she’s in love with Gat, her cousin Johnny’s best friend, who also spends his summers on Beechwood Island. The summer Gat tells her he loves her. But what about his girlfriend back home? Their first kiss. The summer of her “accident”, an accident she doesn’t really remember. Secrets and lies. The summer when her world comes apart.

Summer 16 is not a good one for Cady either. She is forced to go on a European vacation with her father instead of her usual summer plans. She hasn’t been in touch with any of the “Liars”, cousin Mirren, Cousin Johnny, or her Gat. None of them have written or called since her accident the previous summer. No Beechwood. No Gat. No Liars. Only brutal migraines that leave Cady in extreme pain, sometimes sleeping for days, and taking meds that the doctors prescribe but don’t actually work.

Now, it’s Summer 17, two years after her accident. She has convinced her mom to let her come back to Beechwood. Bits and pieces of Summer 15 flash back to her in between her frequent migraines. All Cady remembers about the accident was going down to the beach alone to swim and the way she was found, freezing and curled up into a ball on the shore. Something else must’ve happened. A fight maybe? She must’ve hit her head on the rocks, right? Hypothermia they said. Respiratory issues they said. But why can’t she remember? Traumatic brain injury and selective amnesia was her diagnosis, but it still made no sense. Why would Cady go alone when the three other Liars were always with her? So many questions Cady couldn’t answer. Or could she?

Lockhart does an amazing job with this story. I couldn’t put it down. Some will see the plot twist and some won’t, but it doesn’t change the intrigue and mystery surrounding Cady’s accident and the craziness in her family. I would definitely recommend this to anyone that enjoys quick reads, romance, and a good mystery.

Check this book out or put it on hold.

-Kelly Handy

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This Dark Endeavour by Kenneth Oppel

TDE

This Dark Endeavour is the first book in Oppel’s The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein series. Taking place when Victor Frankenstein was just a teenager, This Dark Endeavour charts Victor’s quest to find the elixir of life after his twin brother, Konrad, falls seriously ill. Accompanied by Konrad, and their distant cousin, Elizabeth, Viktor begins to study ancient alchemical texts after finding a secret library in his family’s chateau. Yet, once Konrad gets sick, Victor’s interest in alchemy becomes an obsession, often putting his and Elizabeth’s lives in danger as they try to gather the ingredients necessary for the elixir of life. The story is suspenseful and atmospheric, and I often could not put it down.

Fans of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and of the gothic horror genre are sure to enjoy this gripping read. Oppel stays true to the feel of Shelley’s original work, while creating a whole new back story and bringing new life to the characters of Frankenstein in this prequel. He also expertly writes his characters, creating a plausible explanation for the adult Victor Frankenstein’s obsession with overcoming death. This Dark Endeavour is followed up by an excellent sequel, Such Wicked Intent, and I am eagerly awaiting Oppel announcing the third book in the series.

Check this book out or put it on hold.
-Caitlin Connelly

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Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

cruel  beauty

In this twist on the classic fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast,” Nyx has been raised her whole life knowing that it is her destiny to marry the Dark Lord, the evil ruler of her kingdom. On her seventeenth birthday Nyx marries Ignifex with one mission, kill him and free Arcadia, even though she will likely die in the process. Of course, like in “Beauty and the Beast,” things aren’t quite so straightforward once Nyx gets to know her mysterious husband. She is intrigued by and drawn to Ignifex and her commitment to what she has been tasked to do begins to waver.

Hodge has created a unique world in her novel. Nyx’s kingdom is completely cut off from the outside world, thanks to the Dark Lord, and is plagued by demons. The world of Cruel Beauty combines elements of both Greek and Roman mythology. Hodge’s writing is beautiful and I could easily picture the kingdom of Arcadia and Ignifex’s constantly changing mansion as Nyx searches for a way to fulfill her mission. Hodge’s detailed descriptions of setting and of Nyx, a strong yet imperfect heroine, were two of my favorite elements of this book.

For lovers of fairy tale retellings and fantasy, Cruel Beauty will not disappoint. My only quibble is that the ending felt a little rushed, after a lot of build up. But overall, Cruel Beauty is one of my favorite books of 2014, and I will definitely read Hodge’s next novel Crimson Bound.

Check this book out or put it on hold.
-Caitlin Connelly

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Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Just Listen

Just Listen is the story of teen model Annabel Greene, who finds her world tumbling down when she loses her best friends and realizes she doesn’t enjoy modeling anymore. Kristen and Whitney, Annabel’s two older sisters, were also models, but their lives are far from perfect. Kristen, the rebellious one, has quit modeling, and Whitney develops anorexia. Worried that her modeling career is the only thing keeping her mom going, Annabel decides to keep her feelings inside.

At the beginning of a new school year, Annabel feels lost and has nowhere to turn until she meets Owen Armstrong. Owen’s interest in music is far from normal, but Annabel feels like she can tell him the truth, something she isn’t used to doing. His personality is very different from Annabel’s. He is an open and honest person and possibly just the thing Annabel needs to help her through this tough time.

It’s interesting to see where the relationship goes. Sarah Dessen is a wonderful YA author. I also started reading one of her other novels, Dreamland, since I enjoyed this one so much. It’s a wonderful story that will leave you wanting more.

Check this book out or put it on hold.
-Azure K.

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