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Anna & The French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins Book Review

This book was finished on April 13, 2013.

I gave this book 4 stars.

After reading Lola & The Boy Next Door, I was a little skeptical about the hype surrounding Stephanie Perkins’ novels. However, I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised in reading Anna & The French Kiss.

Anna is a rising senior from Atlanta, Georgia who’s father sends her off to spend her last year in high school at the American School of Paris. Crazy as it sounds, Anna is UPSET that her father would do something as wonderful as give her an all expensive paid YEAR in Paris! So grudgingly, she enters her final year of high school in a distant land where she doesn’t speak the language. However, once Anna is there, she meets a group of amazing friends and starts off a year full of new beginnings. There’s just one problem….she ends up falling for a boy who is taken.

While Anna’s’ character is somewhat cliche, her storyline isn’t overly unbearable. Perkins adds depth to the storyline by pairing Anna’s trials and tribulations with different viewings of cinema or books that the character studies in school or goes to see in her free time. I really enjoyed this maneuver by Perkins because unlike in Lola’s story, Anna’s dream of becoming a film critic are acted on subtly instead of drastically. This allowed me to not feel overpowered by the extraness of Anna’s character. The interweaving of movie knowledge within Anna’s story also gave me something to draw comparison’s to in Anna and St. Clair’s (i.e., her French crush) encounters.

In addition to this, I enjoyed the fact that Perkins’ novel was set in the romantic atmosphere of Paris, but she didn’t try to beat readers over the head with too much romance too quick. She spoonfeeds her readers Anna and St. Clair’s story in a way that isn’t tedious or too overbearing. ***SPOILER*** Yet, I was a little peeved that one of Anna and St. Clair’s other friends was hurt in the process of the two becoming a couple. I would’ve preferred if Perkins didn’t insert an extra girl for Anna to have to compete with within her own circle of friends to date St. Clair. This just seemed extra brutal in terms of the standard rules of friendship do’s and dont’s.***SPOILER***

This being said, while this book isn’t fully original in plot or theme, I did truly enjoy it. I would definitely reread and recommend this book to others. I’m seriously really looking forward to Isla & The Happy Ever After to come out in September after reading this novel.

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Book & Movie Reviews

Playing Dress Up: A Book Review On Lola & The Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

I gave this book 3 stars.

You know those books who get raved about by everybody in all of Booktopia and you tell yourself, “I’m going to read this book because it must be fan-tastic if everybody else loves it so much?”….Whelp,  Lola & The Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins falls under that category for me.

I chose to read this book before its companion because well, Anna & The French Kiss was checked out at my local library and this was all they had at the time. I went into the book all drummed up and ready to sing its praises afterwards. However,…I was faced with disappointment.

While this book isn’t bad, it’s not technically good either. The characters in this story seemed to me to be ones that were harvested from other YA Fiction and placed smack-dab in the middle of Perkins’ novel. For instance, Lola is a somewhat contrived character who is labeled as the fashionable/artsy daughter of a same-sex male couple. The couple adopted Lola from one of the dad’s drug addicted sister when she was younger and wasn’t ready to raise a child.

Perkins also gives Lola the somewhat obvious aspiration to become a costume designer and formulates Lola’s character to dress up as different “characters” throughout the novel to mark herself as an individual while also showing her creative side. Keeping with this “individual rebel” act, Lola’s boyfriend, Max is delegated the role of the 20-somethin year old rocker who treats everyone else like crap besides Lola (or so it seems in the beginning). From here, we get the return of Cricket, the goofy/smart boy from next door who Lola was previously involved with and the usual sparks start to fly.

 Major Things That Bothered Me About The Book:

1. To me,  Lola and Cricket’s courtship falls flat and the characters also comes off as a tad mismatched. Cricket’s character seems so juvenile while, Lola seems to be this worldly girl who captures everyone’s attention.

2. Lola’s refusal to acknowledge her feelings for Cricket sends her in a relentless circle dance. She goes from not wanting to say how she feels. To hiding her actual feelings from Max and Cricket. Then, when she finally gets to the point where she can’t hide her feelings  anymore, Lola has to confront Max and he breaks her heart and leaves her in ultra-goth mode (which, she vehemently denies being in).

3. By the novel’s end, the only thing left to do is to “tidy up” and write a final romance sequence for Lola and Cricket……but wait!…..Perkins decides to go the extra mile and spice things up by giving Lola a final chance to showcase her clothing designs in the form of Calliope, Cricket’s twin sister who happens to be a figure skater. This chance for Lola to showcase her talent seemed so random in the midst of the story’s ending but, it does give readers the chance to see Lola’s versatility in fashion. Suffice to say, Perkins has Lola rescue the day and then, sends both Cricket and Lola on their blissful way to a ball-like ending with Lola wearing a gown inspired by Marie Antoinette’s fashion and Cricket looking dapper in a regular suit.

Even though I would label this book as a typical YA love story, my biggest gripe with the story was that it didn’t feel authentic. I felt as if I’d read the conversations between Lola and Cricket before and seen the “boy loves girl but, girl’s with another guy” storyline before. Even Lola’s zany outfits just seemed to be pilfered from other books with similar plots. I’m still looking forward to reading Anna & The French Kiss and even Isla & The Happily Ever After but, this book didn’t exactly work me into a frenzy. Yet, If you’re looking for a light, quirky read I’d suggest this book.

Cheers.

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Book & Movie Reviews

My Bollywood Indulgence: Movie Review of Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi

This movie was watched on March 25, 2013.

An interesting thing happened a week ago. I was browsing through Netflix and decided to take a hiatus from my watching standard American movies and instead journeyed to the obscure “Bollywood” corner of Netflix. Clicking through the list of foreign films,  I quickly scanned the titles and synopsis looking for a light movie to watch until I could fall asleep. As luck would have it, I stumbled onto what has now become one of my favorite movies of all time, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi 

Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi is a movie that stars famed Bollywood actor, Shah Rukh Khan. Khan plays a geeky man named, Surinder Sahni who lives a mundane life working for a power company in Mumbai. By a luck of fate, he gets invited to the wedding of one of his old professors. At the wedding the mans meets the daughter who is named Taani. 

Taani who is played by Anushka Sharma is full of life and outgoing opposed to the awkward Surinder who watches her dance from the shadows as the pre-wedding party proceeds. Suddenly, all heck breaks lose ***SPOILER*** and the audience and bride to be finds out that the groom is not coming because he has been killed along with his family in a bus accident. The professor suffers from a heart attack and on his death bed ask Surinder to marry Taani so that he will know that his daughter is ok without him and both party’s agree. From here, the movie gets realllly good.

Surinder and Tanni get married and of course Taani is heartbroken and Surinder is smitten with his new bride but, doesn’t want to force her into loving him being he is such a gentle soul. In a twist of events, Surinder conjures up “Raj,” a hip if not awkward alter-ego who he believes will impress Tanni and help her to heal her broken heart. Instantly, Raj becomes the third party in this loveless marriage and through him the action of the movie is transformed into a comedic rendition of a love affair gone wrong.

The thing I love about this movie is that it didn’t go the way I was accustomed to in other films where somebody takes on an alter-ego and tricks their husband or wife. I initially thought Taani would be upset at Surinder for tricking her. However, she saw this as the ultimate showing of love. This twist had me sitting up going whaaaat?!? really?!? Which is definitely a good thing since most movies sort of stick to a preconceived script.

In addition to this, Khan was phenomenal as both Surinder and Raj. If I compared the two characters I couldn’t even recognize that the two men were played by the same actor until I looked up the movie. However, in retrospect it was weird that the cosmetic elements (i.e., blonde highlights) that the makeup team used to turn Surinder into Raj could be so easily hidden by the character in the actual movie when he went home to his wife as Surinder. This was one point that urked me but, the acting more than made up for it.

Sharma was also amazing. I’ve seen her act in another Bollywood film entitled, Band Baaja Baarat and her role in this film differed with her being more emotional in her acting for Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. As Taani, Sharma embodied a woman who had experience lost thoroughly. Nonetheless, the director’s choice to give her a love of dancing seemed premature in her current state of being in mourning for her ex.

Overall, I give this movie 5 stars. I’d definitely recommend this film to anybody who wants a feel good, goofy film to watch.

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