Tag Archives: boarding school

Book Reviews
February 2, 2011 posted by Christina

Anna and the French Kiss – Stephenie Perkins

“Anna was 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. So she’s less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris – until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful Étienne has it all…including a serious girlfriend.

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long awaited French kiss?”

For ages all I ever heard was about this book was mostly OMG SO GOOD, LOVED IT!!! or BEST BOOK EVER. And always in caps lock. After the 100th tweet of that nature, I thought, alright time to bump it up on my TBR pile, this one’s next.

When Anna’s fake tanned, bleached teeth, Nicholas Sparks-esque father ships her off to the School of America in Paris, a French boarding school, she is less than impressed. With no more than oui and crepe in her French vocabulary it’s safe to say she was in over her head.

Fortunately, right after her arrival she meets Meredith and is taken under her wing along with her group of friends – Josh, Rashmi and…Étienne St. Clair. We learn from the blurb all of Étienne’s merits – smart, charming, beautiful, as well as his downfall – Ellie, his girlfriend. Though there’s a spark from the first moment Anna and Étienne meet, he, and any feelings other than friendship, are strictly off limits…or are they?

I guess looking at the story objectively there isn’t anything new being conveyed here -it’s a boy meets girl kind of story, but what Stephanie Perkins does so amazingly well is the story’s execution.  The writing is COMPLETELY absorbing and realistic, but cute, with characters that are endearing and display real emotion that you can’t help but invest your whole heart into their story.

Living vicariously has always been a favorite hobby of mine. After being introduced to a character like Étienne St. Clair, it didn’t take me long before I firmly planted myself in Anna Oliphant’s place. He has an English accent and can speak perfect French; he’s intelligent, witty, loves history and has stacks of books in his room. I die. Oh, and he’s gorgeous.

Sometimes I found it a bit irritating being constantly reminded how beautiful Anna thinks he is but it’s a flaw that’s easily forgiven. Especially since, when you’re that infatuated with someone it is sometimes all you can think about.

Étienne isn’t all perfection though, he has faults and issues that he deals with – some are more serious, like his issues with his dad, others are kind of cute, like his fear of heights.

Anna is a very endearing character; her looks aren’t classically beautiful but reminded me of Georgia May Jagger. She’s smart, funny and a total movie buff with a few neurotic tendencies. She’s strong but has her moments of weakness; she’s brave but sometimes gets scared – scared of confronting the truth, scared of being alone, even scared of feeling things that she knows to be wrong. Though these qualities might be flaws, they are what make her real.

I really loved that Anna and Étienne’s relationship was based on friendship, running slowly and naturally and took time to develop over the course of the year, as opposed to some books that take place in a time span of two weeks and both characters had to work hard for the desired outcome.

The chemistry between these two was electric and yet so sweet. There were moments that were so perfect it made me squirm with excitement making the book a total guilty pleasure, because only in a work of fiction can you create such perfection. This is the stuff daydreams are made of – I’m looking at you chapter twenty.

Sure some parts felt like a fantasy, but they’ve been masterfully brought to life with a dose of realism that let you believe in the story that’s being played out.

When I spotted a quote by Pablo Neruda (uttered by the charming Étienne), this book stole my heart for good. Quotes by Neruda? I die. I totally Rachel-Zoe-seeing-something-amazing die.

No doubt, Anna and the French Kiss will be the kind of book that friendships are formed over.
“Do you like Glee?”
“No….do you like Italian food?”
“Do you like Anna and the French Kiss?”

Usually, hype makes me nervous; it can set a book up to be a major disappointment. So while I tried not to have high hopes, any fears I had were for naught. I’m sure next time you look up awesome in the dictionary, the cover of this book will be there.  In the end all I can say is – J’adore ce livre!

Pages: 372
Publication Date: December 2010
Publisher: Penguin
Challenge: n/a
Rating: : ★★★★★

Teaser Quote: “I mean really. Who sends their kid to boarding school? It’s so Hogwarts. Only mine doesn’t have cute boy wizards or magic candy or flying lessons.”

Did you love Anna and the French Kiss as much as I did? Come share your favorite part in the discussion thread! Click here.

Book Reviews
September 22, 2010 posted by Christina

Infinite Days (Vampire Queen, Book 1) – Rebecca Maizel

“For more than 500 years Lenah has been a vampire – a life of seduction, blood and destruction. But she is sickened by her dark powers and longs to be a human again. To feel the sun on her skin; the grass under her feet; the warm breath of a human kiss. But that requires a great sacrifice, for the soul of a vampire is not easily shed…”

When sixteen year old Lenah Beaudonte walked out into her father’s orchard in the 15th century, the last person she thought she’d encounter was Rhode Lewin. In a matter of seconds Rhode’s teeth have sunken deep into her neck and she too becomes a vampire.

Five hundred years on Lenah has risen to become one of the most ruthless and lethal vampires of her kind – and queen to her coven. However life as a vampire has driven her to madness and not even feeding on the innocent stops the feeling of pain and sorrow that comes with a vampire’s existence.

After begging Rhode to find a way to bring her human existence back she hibernates for a hundred years and wakes up to find he is successful – she is human. Her life is restored at the price of Rhode losing his own. Lenah must now blend into the crowd at Wickham – the exclusive boarding school Rhode enrolled her in and keep her new life a secret from her coven who will stop at nothing to bring their queen back.

The concept of Infinite Days is definitely unique in the flood of vampire stories already written.  I loved the insight we got into a vampire’s daily torment – being cut off from your soul, not being able to feel anything other than anger and despair – even a love bond isn’t enough to stop the pain of your existence. It makes you appreciate your own senses and humanity. At any given moment you can smell, touch, taste, hear your heartbeat, cry freely and love without restraint.

I loved flashbacks into Lenah’s life as a vampire and head of her coven and the flashes we got of her coven trying to find her in the present time. I also loved the idea of a badass vampire queen trying to adjust to the 21st century, but Lenah manages to do it with ease (maybe a bit too easily).

Most books lately have featured love triangles, but in Infinite Days, we’ve got a love pentagon, with not just one, but 4 guys vying for Lenah’s affection. Though her vampire loves, Rhode and Vicken (who I loved), made sense and were believable, her human loves, Justin and Tony, were not.

Tony is Lenah’s first friend at Wickham after her transformation, and he takes her under his wing and guides her around. A cute friendship is formed between them though Tony clearly feels more for Lenah than just friendship. Poor Tony seems to become just an afterthought in Lenah’s life once Justin becomes settled. As Justin starts actively pursuing Lenah, Tony is practically forced to come along to whatever Lenah’s invited to (“But only if Tony goes”) then is mostly ignored on said outings.

What killed this book for me was Lenah and Justin’s relationship, and since it featured so prominently it tainted the whole experience. Why? Because their love is based on nothing. All it took was a look on a sunny day – him being the gorgeous jock and her being the new, pale girl with an accent, and BAM, true luv for like, ever! Justin’s pursuit of Lenah (oh, while he still had a girlfriend) was almost at a stalker level, with him appearing around every corner, ready with a deep, searching gaze and an inexplicable want, no, need to make Lenah happy after seeing her sad in the rain. Geez.

Considering her previous relationships were with Rhode, her maker and Vicken, a member of her coven, who are smart, strong willed and passionate, Justin has the personality of a biscuit in comparison.

If you can look past Lenah and Justin’s relationship you will probably love this book, since I couldn’t, part one of this book was disappointing. Part two, the flashbacks and the ending were much better and made up for a lot of part one’s flaws. It’s got a great concept, well written and leads us into an exciting sequel.

Pages: 395
Publication Date: August 2010
Rating: : ★★½☆☆

Teaser Quote: “The instant the sun rises, it also begins to set. The moment we are born, we begin to die. All of life is a cycle, Tony.”

Infinite Days was our Bookclub pick of the month, head on over to the forum to join in the discussions