Anna And The French Kiss

 

Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris—until she meets Étienne St. Claire: perfect, Parisian (and English and American, which makes for a swoon-worthy accent), and utterly irresistible. The only problem is that he’s taken, and Anna might be, too, if anything comes of her almost-relationship back home.
As winter melts into spring, will a year of romantic near-misses end with the French kiss Anna—and readers—have long awaited?

Where do I start with this book? It had my heart melting to the ground and I squealed and swooned and invited crazy faces from my brother. Sure I heard great things about this book, but I had to read it to know what they were talking about. This book made me SO HAPPY, like giddy-schoolgirl-in-a-killer-crush happy. I’m majorly crushing on this book. Just like I’m majorly crushing on Stephanie Perkins.
We even had a little marriage-proposal-ring-exchange-merry dance ceremony on twitter. I swear. And I’d plug in those tweets if only I was tech-savy enough to do so.

Anyway.

Anna And The French Kiss. ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS. I want to print the name across the sky, ’cause this is that book which makes you giggle and gurgle in delight. If you’re down and out, pick this up. I swear this works as therapy. If you’re not down and out, never mind, pick this up – an overdose of happiness is always appreciated.

I don’t know how I feel about out and out romances. Especially ones where you can guess what’s gonna happen. And lets be honest, the title here doesn’t make much of a secret of it. You can get the feeling where this book is headed. But don’t let that stop you, DON’T. ‘Cause, oh my, this is a joy of a read. Crushes are the sweetest thing and Perkins’ portrayal of that does-he-like-me-does-he-not feeling is done to perfection.

Anna is a most charming narrator. Her voice is spot on. At times she reminded me of Meg Cabot’s Mia Thermopolis – smart yet so teenager-y. And then there’s St. Clair. Etienne St. Clair, who in spite of his shortcomings is so droolworthy. And the best thing? The friendship between the two, and how important is friendship is before it transpires into anything else.

The entire cast of characters are diverse and multi-faceted and I have to go back to re-read to analyse how she constructed such great chemistry between them all. Despite the length of the novel, this chemistry is what kept me on my edge, making me feet tingle, turning the page in the rush to know what happens next.

Other things I liked in this novel:

~Paris! PARIS! Need I say more?
~ The setting is evoked beautifully. I could feel myself out on the streets there.
~ Oh good lord, the food. I just want to be in France right now.
~ Anna’s obsession with films. It was interesting and original.
~ Pretty much of the global guy in St. Clair. French name, British accent, American citizen.

~ The friendships.
~ The host of lovable and relatable secondary characters.
~ The conversations between Anna and Etienne.

I loved this book to bits. It still has me goofily smiling at the screen as I write this. The author’s skill in making a rather ordinary storyline into such an unputdownable read makes this book yummier than a chocolate eclair.

Stephanie Perkins recently revealed her next book:

For budding costume designer Lola Nolan, the more outrageous the outfit—more sparkly, more fun, more wild—the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins move back into the house next door.

When the family returns and Cricket—a gifted inventor and engineer—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.
(Taken from here)
I know I can’t wait for September already.

Hitting Back With A Holiday Read: TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

As some of who you’ve been around here for a while already know, I’ve been through a really bad time. And I’m still trying to deal with it. Which is why I’ve been M.I.A. for so long. I couldn’t blog. I couldn’t write. Heck, I even quit NaNoWriMo. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m trying to get back to blogging. Blog posts have been sporadic lately, but I’m gonna try fixing that. So, for now, I welcome you back with a very Christmassy recommendation!
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Christmas has always been a sad time for young widow Holly Brown, so when she’s asked to look after a remote house on the Lancashire moors, the opportunity to hide herself away is irresistible – the perfect excuse to forget about the festivities.
Sculptor, Jude Martland, is determined that this year there will be no Christmas after his brother runs off with his fiancée and he is keen to avoid the family home. However, he will have to return by the twelfth night of the festivities, when the hamlet of Little Mumming hold their historic festivities and all of his family are required to attend.
Meanwhile, Holly is finding that if she wants to avoid Christmas, she has come to the wrong place. When Jude unexpectedly returns on Christmas Eve he is far from delighted to discover that Holly seems to be holding the very family party he had hoped to avoid.
Suddenly, the blizzards come out of nowhere and the whole village is snowed in. With no escape, Holly and Jude get much more than they bargained for – it looks like the twelve days of Christmas are going to be very interesting indeed!
 
 
 
Seven months after the release of Chocolate Wishes, Trisha Ashley emerges with the perfect read for this season. Twelve Days of Christmas is a heartwarming tale of letting go of the past and finding love in the least likely place.
 
Since the death of her husband, Holly has been engaging herself in house-sitting activities in winter in order to isolate herself from Christmas celebrations. Christmas is a sad time for her, and the farther away she is from merriment, the better. What she did not bargain for is being welcomed easily into the Martland family, whose family home she is meant to look after. Soon, or rather, out of nowhere, the large empty house, is suddenly populated by a motley group of people and a delightful romantic comedy ensues.
 
Once again, Trisha Ashley wins over the reader with her brand of humour and sparkling one-liners. The large cast of characters is oddly endearing, and even the snotty Coco makes you feel sympathetic towards her. Ashley shows a lot of kindness in her work, which is why even the less likable characters do not end up villainous.
 
Holly is different from Ashley’s other heroines. She’s a house-party chef by profession who doubles as a house-sitter in winters. And you know why reading this book is like having a sumptuous feast? The descriptions of food will kill you in its deliciousness. In fact, there are additional Christmas recipes at the back of the book that you can try out at home. I’m guessing Ms. Ashley herself, is a chef by her own rights, considering the importance (a welcome importance!) food gets in her novels. If Chocolate Wishes had chocolates and confectionery, this has some mouthwatering delicacies.
 
Make-You-Fall-In-Love-With-Them Characters + A Humourously Heartwarming Story You Can’t Get Enough Of + The Christmassy Feel + All That Food = WIN. WIN. WIN.
 
Twelve Days Of Christmas is the kind of book you’d want to curl up with on the sofa. It’s one of those feel-good, cosy reads with a lot of heart. I. It’s one of the best Christmas books I’ve read. It’s perfect for this time of the year. And equally good all year round.
 
 

Psst! See that cover? It’s got sparkly bits all over it! It’s adorable.

Author Elizabeth Gill wrote a lovely little tribute post for Trisha Ashley. Here’s the link if you want to check it out.

Dipped in theobroma: A Chocolate Wishes Review

Title: Chocolate Wishes
Author: Trisha Ashley
Life is sweet for chocolate maker Chloe Lyon! Business is booming at her artisan chocolate-makers ‘Chocolate Wishes’ in the picture-perfect Lancashire village of Sticklepond – not least because all of Chloe’s sweet treats contain an inspirational prediction for each customer. If only her own life was as easy to read in the cards, perhaps Chloe could have foreseen being jilted at the altar! But Chloe has long put thoughts of love behind her – after all, life is busy enough, especially as she tries to sort out her friends’ tangled love lives and the village welcomes its new vicar, Raffy Sinclair. However, the village rumour mill goes into overdrive when it is revealed that Raffy is the distinctly unorthodox ex-front man of rock band ‘Mortal Ruin’ – and also happens to be Chloe’s first love, who left her broken-hearted! Whilst Chloe tries to ignore this blast from her past, will she discover that wishes can come true when you least expect it!?
Trisha Ashley’s latest offering Chocolate Wishes can be summed up as Chocolat meets Jane Austen, with dollops of magic and a dash of some oddly endearing characters. Chloe Lyon is a succesful chocolate maker who seems to have quite a few things going on in her life – a mother who’s done a disappearing act, eccentric housemates in the form of a goth brother, a warlock for a grandfather and a gypsy aunt, and two particular ‘blasts from the past’, that if not upset, definitely sends tremors through her otherwise delightfully crazy existence. So, along with the introduction of a sexy, ex-rockstar of a vicar, we have an almost-satanic cult bobbing it’s head in the village of Sticklepond (which also appeared in Trisha Ashley’s ‘A Winter’s Tale’) and together with mistaken paternal identities we have sprinklings of love portions and guardian angels!
Chocolate Wishes might have suffered from too-many-subplots syndrom if Trisha Ashley had not deftly blended in the magical and the mundane. Dialogue is certainly her strong point, for it is through the interactions of the characters that we get to know not just what they are thinking but also how the latest proceedings are affecting the Sticklepond locality, which is (inspite of being a first person narrative with focus on one particular character) an important aspect of the story. Having said that, characters are definitely where Trisha Ashley nails it, for her cast and supporting cast never fail to delight the reader and hold their interest. Some might say that the plot loosens at certain places but considering how I lurrve character-driven books more, that never was a problem with me.
I enjoyed Chocolate Wishes immensely and even if you are the rare anti-chocolate person, I recommend this to you and You and YOU.
Really, go read this. You might be tempted to take a dip in chocolate and live on chocolate for the rest of your life, but honestly, what’s the harm in that? Who cares about getting fat when you can have all the chocolate you want?
(Warning: Delicious recipes inside)

READER BUZZ: Quick Snips of Random Reads

My net conked so I was off for sometime. Got so much to talk about, so much to write but now that college’s restarted, it’s taking up all the time…argh!! Oh why, oh why cant there be 72 hours a day? Then I’d have time for my book, other books, a romcom/drama/musical, my blog, the guitar, bloody college, assignments, a long, long bath (instead of the usual quick shower), facebook, twitter, youtube, author websites, daydreaming, night watching, looking for my very own vampire/werewolf/fairy king/merboy EVERY SINGLE DAY. Ah, life can be so sadistic *long sigh*….
Okaaaaay, now here are some quick snips of some recent and some not-so-recent reads. JLT (maybe ’cause I just cant stop rambling :-P)
Here goes.

Arguably WHEREVER NINA LIES has to be one of the best debuts of the year. When sixteen year old Ellie sets off in search of her sister, Nina, who disappeared two years ago, with hot guy Sean for company, you know it’s going to be a fun ride.What you don’t know is that the breezy will give way to the pulse-racing. I was so engrossed I read it in one sitting. I’d definitely suggest you pick this up. It’s a great holiday read, especially if you’re on a roadtrip with your friends, Phantom Planet screaming “California” from the stereo…bliss.

My first Jill Mansell and I can’t say I was particularly impressed. At seventeen, Lola was made an offer in exchange for her boyfriend, Doug. Though circumstances forced Lola to take up the offer, she never really got over him. Now years later when she accidentally stumbles upon him again, she knows she has to get him back. Except this time she’s dealing with a different Doug. What do I say about this one? It was fun but very, very predictable. Mansell’s characters are a cheery lot and you’ll fall in love with them…but (there’s always a but) a lot of the storyline seemed forced. The natural flow of things falling into place was not there. Instead, a lot of the characters ended up with each other simply because they had been single and Mansell decided they needed a partner. Forced.
Baby (yes that’s the protagonist’s name) lives sometimes with her absent druggie dad, sometimes in foster homes and sometimes with the local pimp. This is the story of her journey from innocence to the loss of innocence and finally the attainment of higher innocence (I get I’m sorta talking Blake..blame college influence). I loved this book. I love Baby. She goes through the worst possible things in her short life. Yet hope doesn’t falter in her. Because she’s still a child. She’s 12. She refuses the ugliness of her life to haunt her even though it does haunt the reader. It’s obvious that Heather O’Neill borrows a lot from her own life. The interview at the back of the book speaks for itself. A great debut, I’ll be looking forward to more from this writer.
Believe it or not, the writer of STAR-CROSSED is just sixteen and yes, I’m jealous (ah, to have your name on the cover of a paperback/hardback *drool*). This one’s a contemporary take on Romeo and Juliet, set in high school. What is unique about this book, aside from the writer’s young age, is the unusual second-person narrative (first one I’ve read). That is an effective tool for drawing readers into the story at the word ‘go’. It was kinda neat. Apparently, Rachael Wing’s also written a contemporary A Midsummer Night’s Dream called LOVESTRUCK. Set at a rock concert. No kidding.
My first Carole Matthews and such a delightful read too! I enjoyed it so much I didn’t want to put it down (however much of a cliche that sounds). A bit impractical but her quirky sense of humour more than made up for it. Emma, in all her craziness, is one of my favourite characters ever. I want a sequel of this one. Definitely awaiting more from Matthews’ pen.
Like I mentioned in the previous posts, the paranormal obssession’s definitely here to stay. And, I, for one, am all for it. Raven, the sole Goth in “Dullsville” has always dreamt of becoming a vampire. Things heat up in town when a vampire in shining sunglasses, Alexander, moves into the haunted mansion at Benson Hill. A very quick read and an engrossing one at that. The first of the Vampire Kisses series (Ellen Schreiber has 7 books in mind), this one is for pre/younger teens, I’d say. Perfect for a delay at the airport.
I don’t have much to say because what I say will not justify it. NINETEEN MINUTES is a gripping, edge-of-the-seat psychological thriller chronicling a school shooting while delving deep into the mind of the teen killer. Extensively researched, at times traumatic,although it does have its share of light moments (very few though) it’s one of those books that haunt you (in a good way) long after you’ve turned the final page.And, yes, there’s a twist toward the end. My next Picoult read will most probably be MY SISTER’S KEEPER (triggered by the movie, but only partly). Not worth a miss.
Adrian Mole was a legend in the 80s and rightfully so. I LOVE Adrian. He is your usual 15 year old teenage boy, drooling over his love, Pandora, and musing about his parents (and their respective lovers). Well, almost usual, except for the fact that he thinks, rather knows, he’s an intellectual and mails poems to the BBC hoping to get his own personal show on air. THE GROWING PAINS OF ADRIAN MOLE is a brilliant stick-in-the-eye on adult morality. If you don’t read this, you’ll be missing a gem. I don’t know what to say to Sue Townsend but…hats off. A genius of sorts.
I have tons else to talk about but as the owls hoots and the bats start their nocturnal days, I have to return to my writing (not the blog, the book), if I can avoid falling asleep on the keyboard itself (tiresome academia has it’s price…seriously, what’s the point?). So goodnight or goodmorning, depends on which part of the world you’re from, and wicked dreams. For a change. *Chuckle*
Bee –xoxo