Book Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

I just noticed yesterday that I now have 100 followers! That’s just amazing to me! Thank you all so much for joining me in my daily book geekery!

lolaToday’s review is one I’ve been waiting to do for a while now: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins. I really like this book, but I also really like the author. I got to meet Stephanie Perkins back in March when she was on a book tour with Maureen Johnson. She is such a sweetie and everyone there had such a great time! So this book review is coming to you from a book signed with purple Sharpie, because that’s just how I roll.

The book tells the story of Lola, a teenage girl growing up in San Fransisco with her two dads, a dog, and a seemingly perfect life. Lola has the perfect boyfriend – an older boy who plays in a rock band. She loves making clothes out of anything she can get her hands on (and I really love how she says that they’re not outfits, they’re costumes!). But everything changes when a certain boy moves in next door.

The family who moves in has lived there before. They move around a lot because their daughter, Calliope, is a world champion figure skater who is preparing for the Olympics. Calliope’s twin brother, Cricket, has always lived in his sister’s shadow. He has also always had a thing for Lola, a feeling that Lola secretly reciprocates. But having feelings for Cricket, the gorgeous-yet-geeky boy next door, isn’t part of Lola’s plan. She isn’t supposed to like him, is she? It doesn’t matter that he’s better for her, or that her parents like him, or anything else. Lola’s life is just fine the way it is. Or is it?

Just like Anna and the French Kiss, Perkins weaves a cute, romantic story with the right amount of quirkiness and fun. Oh, and Anna and St. Clair make a few guest appearances in this book too, which made me very happy. Both of these books make great summer reads, so go out and get them! Both of them!

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We’ll always have Paris . . .

I loved this book so much. I had been reading a lot of stuff that was of the epic, dystopian, saving-the-world ilk. Nothing wrong with any of it. Usually my favorite type of stuff to read. But I needed a break, something a bit more lighthearted to break the gloom. Along came Stephanie Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss. I blame Amazon – there was a one day sale where the Kindle edition was only $1.99. Of course, I had to jump on that!

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Anna is a teenage American girl sent away to a boarding school in Paris. Her father (a Nicholas-Sparksian type novelist) has made it big with movie adaptations of his books and thinks his daughter needs to go abroad in order to be more cultured. Anna hates the idea, of course. She will miss her friends, her job at the movie theater, and especially Toph, her cute co-worker. Once in Paris, Anna is immediately homesick, until she meets a few new friends – Meredith, who lives in her dorm, Josh and Rashimi. And Etienne St. Clair. Who happens to be an adorable boy, with an English accent, who has lived in San Francisco, London, and Paris. He also happens to have a girlfriend, who graduated last year, but goes to a university in the city.

Naturally, Anna has a mad crush on St. Clair. She is torn between accepting her new life in Paris and missing her life back home. It soon becomes fairly obvious that St. Clair likes Anna too, and he becomes her guide to learning all that Paris has to offer. It’s a sweet friendship that becomes something more, all set in the most romantic city in the world.

This book is so sweet, clever and enchanting, it makes me want to go to high school in Paris right away. Except that I’m in my 30’s. Oops.

So I met some people . . .

This past Saturday, I was lucky enough to go to a book signing and meet two awesome authors – Maureen Johnson and Stephanie Perkins! It was so much fun! I’ve never really gone to a book signing before, since I always seem to be behind in the times and find out about things just a day or so too late. This time, thanks to my writing buddy Jeff, I was able to make it.

The book signing was held at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC, which is a really neat independent bookstore. I didn’t know this, but they have lots of events like this. Needless to say, I am now signed up to get their newsletter and I have started following them on Twitter! Raleigh isn’t too far away from where I live – only about an hour and a half drive – but since I didn’t feel like going alone, I talked my mom into coming with me. She agreed, despite not really knowing anything about these two authors, except that I really liked them. After listening to them, she now understands why I am so enamored with them both.

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Stephanie Perkins and Maureen Johnson

The event started off with a small panel discussion and a Q & A session. It was fun seeing so many younger people excited about reading. There were even a few very small fans (one in particular, who was still in a stroller) that Maureen and Stephanie had fun “talking” to. Actually, at one time, the little kid started laughing in a maniacal sort of way, and Maureen said that was just how she sounded while working on The Madness Underneath.

My favorite part of the panel was when they talked about writing and getting published, which are two very separate things. As a writer who wants to be published one day, it is always refreshing to hear how it sounds like from the other side – the side I hope to one day be on. It is easy to think, while plodding through your own manuscript, that published authors have it easy. Obviously, they’ve been successful, so they must be brimming with confidence and know exactly what they’re doing, right? Nope. Maureen confessed to the crowd that while writing, she often feels like sealing herself in a box and shipping herself off to Spain in order to get away from her manuscript. Stephanie has similar fantasies, except instead of Spain, she would find a small isolated cottage in England, throw her laptop off a cliff, and settle down with cups of tea while her husband plays the piano. Names would be changed, of course, so that no one would ever find her or her writing.

Maureen sees you with that camera!

Maureen sees you with that camera!

After that was the signing, which was set up over in the children’s department. Everything moved pretty fast, but we never felt like we were being rushed. Maureen got very excited when a fan brought metallic gold Sharpie pens, and quickly appropriated one. They were both lovely, stopping to take pictures and sign as many books as you could carry in. I bought two books there, Maureen’s The Madness Underneath and Stephanie’s Lola and the Boy Next Door, and got both of them signed. And got a photo, of course.

Maureen, Me, and Stephanie. Squee!

Maureen, Me, and Stephanie. Squee!

Ladies, it was so nice to meet you! Hope you come back soon!

Stacking the Shelves

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Being sick has really crimped my blogging style. Now that everyone in my house is on the mend, I need to get back down to business!

Today I will give you a “Stacking the Shelves” post, hosted by “Tynga’s Reviews.” I might have mentioned before that I had received the first six books of the Chicagoland Vampires series by Chloe Neill as a present from my podcast co-host, Jess. Well now, thanks to her, we have received the ARC for the seventh book in the series, due out February 4th, House Rules. Now this may not be on my shelves yet, since this is an actual, physical copy and Jess still has it, but it will be shipped to me soon so I can read it and we can review it for the podcast. This is exciting!

Another book added to my shelves this past week is Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. This book looked so cute and romantic, but I never got around to reading it. Then I found out via Twitter yesterday that Stephanie Perkins was putting the ebook on sale, one day only, for $2.99. Sold! Sadly, the sale was only for Sunday. I got lucky when I saw the post about it. You can be sure that I will review it here once I finish the Chloe Neill books. Those have to take priority for the podcast.

Anyone else get some good deals over the weekend?