Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Isla (pronounced Eye-La like Island) attends the School of America in Paris and has had a hopeless crush on Josh since their freshmen year.  The two meet up one summer while home in NYC, and it is the start of a whirlwind romance that consumes them both during their senior year of school.

This is the final companion book in the set that includes Anna & the French Kiss and Lola & the Boy Next Door.  Characters from both books make cameos in this book as well.  Josh is a secondary character in Anna & the French Kiss, but here he gets a (sort of) starring role.  I loved Anna and Lola; unfortunately I did not love Isla.  In some ways she might be the character I relate to the most, but her complete and total obsession with Josh made the story seem kind of flat.  At times this book almost felt like it was Fatal Attraction instead of the You've Got Mail vibe I've gotten from Perkin's other books.  I missed the humor, I missed the secondary characters and the setting all playing a more important part of the story.  Instead I was trapped in Isla's head where the only thing I could see or feel was her desperate obsession with Josh.

Eventually Isla did grow on me, once she and Josh physically had to be separated and she had to function on her own, and I did think her best friend (Kurt) was a sweet character, but all in all this wasn't my favorite of Perkin's novels.  I hope she continues to write, and I look forward to seeing what else she will come up with, but I will miss the characters I've grown to love so much.  Maybe one day down the road she will revisit them.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Welcome to the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Now, if you are a follower of this blog you probably know already that I love all things spooky and horror-like.  So, this book had me sold based on the cover alone.  I mean who doesn't love a creepy carousel picture with horror writing over it?  That cover...I just love it.

The book opens up with the story of Ivy, a girl whose name and life has been changed to protect her from the serial killer who killed her parents and will most likely one day come back for her.  Ivy is one of the main characters of the story, but she is not the only focus.  Instead, this is an ensemble book about teens who enter a Justin Blake's (a famous horror movie maker) contest to share their worst nightmare, and win a chance to meet Blake and see his newest movie.  Each teen enters for a different reason...and once the winners are brought together things start to go horribly wrong.

This book is the current YA lit form of an 80's teen slasher flick.  The characters are relatively inter-changeable (it took me about 2/3 of the book before I could really figure out who was narrating each chapter), and there isn't much gore, but there is lots of teen hormones and fun scares.  The nightmares that each teen encounters are interesting, and the Nightmare Elf (the star of Justin Blake's horror movies) reminds me of a mix of characters from Puppet Master, Leprechaun, and Dolls.  The chills are there, and I really had fun with the book...until the end.  I was a bit disappointed with how the book closed, and I am confused because it seems like there is going to be a sequel since there was no real resolution.  That said I think that the fun of the rest of the book more than makes up for the mediocre ending.

I reviewed a digital ARC copy of this book from Netgalley.  I received no compensation for my review.