Monday, July 15, 2013

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


Release date: July 11, 2013
Goodreads
Publisher: Dutton
Series: Anna and the French Kiss #2
Source: Purchased
Rating: ALL THE SWOONS EVER. Fabulous characters, funny narration, and... what am I forgetting? OH THAT'S RIGHT. CRICKET FREAKING BELL.

Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss, #2)Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss, #2)

My review of Anna and the French Kiss

The cover: I'm actually really glad they redesigned these covers. The one on the left is the original, and while they did a better job of capturing the protagonists on the Lola cover than they did on the Anna (THE FORGOT THE STRIPE), I still think it's cheesy. Cricket isn't Cricket-y enough, and Lola is kind of... subdued. That wig is a bit halfhearted. But I love the new covers!

The story: I stupid-love Anna and the French Kiss. Like, there are few books out there that make me as happy as that book does. I haven't swooned and giggled over a book like I did with Anna in a long time, and I was exceptionally worried that Lola would always be second best. But to my delight, I found Lola to be an even better book than Anna, even if it didn't have that enchanting, otherworldly quality that Anna had due to the presence of Gay Paree. No, what Lola had going for it was a reality, a sort of grounded eclectic-ness due to the heroine and the setting, the fabulous-as-always San Francisco. It also had Cricket Bell, who is worth all the stars ever.

I kind of felt like this while reading the whole book:

 

(By the way, you can totally read Lola before Anna, but I have the feeling you'll need to read both before the third, Isla and the Happily Ever After, comes out. Call it a hunch.)

Lola: Lola is a girl who is never afraid to be herself, and I loved that about her. She's raised by two dads, and the story with her birth parents is sort of a mess, but her real parents are loving, supportive, and totally strict. I was pleasantly surprised how much of this book focused on family. Lola's parents are a very real influence in her life, just like in most teenagers'.

But let's get back to Lo. Girlfriend made me laugh, she made me feel, she made me want to be styled by her. Seriously, I WISH I had the confidence to dress like she does. Every day deserves a new costume for Lola, and I imagine her looking all kinds of fabulous. Seriously, if I were a man I'd be a proud drag queen, so Lola's over the top outfits and boundless creativity just really appealed to me. She makes mistakes, most notably in her love life and close friendships, but she's always willing to make up for it. She's a character that really grows. She also has heaps of personality and color, which is always a plus.

The boy next door: Cricket. My god, I could write a full fifteen pages on the glories of Cricket Bell. Or possibly a sonnet or twelve. Maybe a few really crummy-but-heartfelt songs (Never had one lesson!). But back to the most important part: Cricket.

 

He used to live right next door to Lola, but he moved away when his twin sister, Calliope, an elite figure skater, needed a new coach. He's sheltered and awkward, having spent time with no one but his twin sister through most of high school, but he's brilliant. Just brilliant.Yes, I know that Cricket is a weird name, but Cricket Graham Bell is also a weird guy. And he's all the more lovable for it. He's awkward, earnest, shy, sweet, brilliant, and I am completely, one hundred percent in love with him.

 
 

Even when he's making a mess of things, he's such a sincerely sweet but also real guy. He's so completely intimidated by Lola. He has no confidence in himself, but at the same time is totally comfortable with himself. He just seems like a guy. But he's so much more special than that.

I don't want to say I love him more than Etienne, but... it might be possible I love him more than Etienne. I DON'T KNOW. Don't make me choose. I can't resist the awkward, gangly guys with hearts of gold. I really can't. Speaking of Etienne, it was a joy to see him and Anna again in this book. I loved catching up and seeing what they're up to (she says like we're all old pals or something. WHICH WE ARE).

Everybody else: I love that every character had some real layers that came to light over the course of the book. Like, you find out there's more to Cricket's somewhat awful, single-minded figure skater sister, Lola's wreck of a birth mom, and Lola's dedicated rocker boyfriend, Max. I loved how casually and naturally Lola's parents were portrayed, which is exactly how it should be. I loved the colorful and loud backdrop of San Francisco. I wanted slightly more from Lindsey, Lola's best friend, but I get why there really wasn't time. This book is about Lola, and it's about Cricket, and I was honestly so more than fine with that.

Once I started this book, I literally did not stop until I reached the end, until Lola got the moon and stars and I was hugging the book to my chest and flopping around my bed like some kind of spastic sea cucumber going, "Ohmigodohmigod."

The resemblance, it is uncanny. IT'S LIKE LOOKING IN A MIRROR.

 Cricket Bell, I would like you (or rather a doppelganger version of you who isn't hopelessly in love with Lola Nolan but with ME) to materialize directly in front of me and run away with me into the night. Because I would. In a heartbeat. I'LL BE HERE WAITING, CRICKET, YOU KNOW WHERE TO FIND ME.



Because I LOVED this boy book so much, and since I love the new cover design, I'm giving away one paperback copy internationally! As long as you've got a mailing address someplace on Planet Earth (or, more specifically, someplace the Book Depository ships to), you're eligible!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

34 comments:

  1. I love me some Cricket. I love Perkin's boys in general if I'm being honest.

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  2. !!!!! THIS REVIEW, YEESS.

    That cat's facial expression is exactly like mines whenever Cricket Bell appeared. He is such a sweetheart. Please find him in the real world, please. And Lola, she is the girl of my heart. I really wish I was like her when I was a teenager, but alas, I wasn't as brave.

    I love this book. This makes me want to reread it for the billionth time. :D

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  3. Cricket Bell needs to be cloned for every girl. I love tall, awkward boys like him and I have lots of feelings about him and Lola and their cuteness. He makes me all swoony just looking at the original cover.

    Also, I totally agree that the new covers are way better. I liked the originals but these just ~fit the stories better.

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  4. Nnnnngh. You had me right up until "He's sheltered and awkward, having been homeschooled through most of high school." GAH. Shelver Top Ten Pet Peeve! Once, just once, I'd like to see a homeschooler portrayed as a normal, fully rounded, socially healthy individual. I was homeschooled, and I'm sheltered and socially awkward because THAT'S HOW I AM. My brother was homeschooled for just as long as me by the same woman in the same house, and he's anything BUT sheltered or awkward. I could write an essay on the Snopes-worthy myths about homeschoolers, the most prevalent being that poor sheltered homeschoolers don't socialize.

    *bangs head against wall*

    Okay. I'm done, I promise. Aside from this obvious flaw that makes me scowl in Ms. Perkins' general direction, I do want to read this book. And the review was great. You're a master of GIFs, as always.

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    1. Gosh, I knew that was going to bug you. Let me defend the book. THAT'S not why he's sheltered and awkward. he's sheltered and awkward because his only friend is his sister. He's sheltered and awkward because his whole life has revolved around his sister's figure skating schedule. He's awkward because that's his PERSONALITY. Trust me, my cousins were homeschooled all throughout elementary school, and they are completely functional beings. I don't think Stephanie Perkins did ANYTHING to offend homeschoolers, and I'm sorry my review gave that impression! I actually think Cricket is an awesome example of a well-rounded, homeschooled character. He's awkward because that's who he is, too, but he also dresses well, goes to a first rate college, manages to make other friends, and has super close ties to his family. I don't think you need fear :)

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    2. Oh good. That makes me feel better. Although I'm still giving him a bit of a side-eye for having no friends outside of siblings.

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  6. Haha, Shelver, I came down here to say the EXACT SAME THING.

    People's misconceptions about homeschoolers....Gah. Have you seen the Blimey Cow videos on homeschooling? You should. They're on Youtube. They will clear up any misconceptions.

    I read a very interesting article once on how HS actually socialize MORE, because they have to actively seek out friends, whereas our public-schooled counterparts have their peers served up to them every single day.


    Apart from that, though, this book looks really good. I love San Francisco.

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    1. YES! I wrote an entire term paper/speech in college on that very subject!

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    2. Sorry I gave that impression! I actually think the author did a really good job of portraying homeschooled kids. Cricket's sister is an Olympic-calibre figure skater, and their entire life revolves around her training and competition. THAT's probably part of his awkwardness, not the fact that he didn't got to a mainstream high school. Also because he's just awkward. Calliope, his sister, isn't awkward AT ALL.

      And I didn't know that about the article! That's fascinating. Explains a lot about my homeschooled cousins, who are social as anything. :) I hope, if and when you read the book, you don't find anything offensive.

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    3. Eh, I'll probably be annoyed but not offended. After all *cue large martyred sigh* I'm used to it, :).

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  7. YES! To EVERYTHING YOU JUST SAID! Oh man, I love Cricket Bell. He's one of my most favoritest book boys EVERRRR. I liked ANNA a lot, but LOLA was almost perfect for me.

    Umm but I guess I can echo what Shelver and Josephine said. I was homeschooled in high school, but I had a lot of friends since I played sports and took dance classes and met kids at youth group. But I wasn't offended by Cricket's portrayal as a homeschooler, I just thought he was awkward because he had an awkward personality, not because he was homeschooled...

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  8. I love Stephanie Perkins! She is dining amazing! I soo want to read Lola!!!

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    1. HAHA! "She is dining amazing" is one of the best typos I've ever seen!

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  9. I really love the new covers! I checked out Lola from the library but I don't own a copy!

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  10. I loved this book too! Loved Loved Loved Cricket Bell. We might need to duke this out! And I'm glad that if you were a man you would be a fantastic and fabulous drag queen.

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  11. I haven't read Lola yet, but all I hear about Stephanie Perkins books can be summed up by 'SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE'

    Brynna

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  12. Oh my god I DIED laughing when I scrolled down and Bingley awkwardly popped up out of nowhere! (That's also one of my favourite scenes in the movie). Also the sea cucumber. Also this review has only cemented in my mind that I need to read both of these books (I know, how have I gotten this far without reading Anna and the French Kiss?)

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  13. I loved Cricket. I honestly think Perkins should create a character for all of us, because her boys are just perfect.

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  14. I haven't read Lola and the Boy Next Door, but Cricket Bell certainly seems like an interesting character! =)

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  15. Yes, Stephanie certainly knows how to write her characters including Cricket.

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  16. I HAVEN'T READ THIS YET AND IT MAKES ME SAD ON THE INSIDE. I also dearly want to read and then make you choose between Cricket and Etienne. Perkins writes such excellent female AND male characters - it's really impressive.

    Also I love the name Lola Nolan. It just works together so nicely.

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  17. I haven't read Lola, but I've heard so many great things about it! It's been on my TBR list for a while, just haven't gotten around to GETTING it >.<

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  18. I wanted to read Anna before this one but just haven't had time yet!! I really really do -- I mean with the amount I've heard about etienne!! And Cricket sounds amazing! I will get on reading these!

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  19. I love how you compared yourself to a My Little Pony over Cricket AND a sea critter. LOVE. I didn't like this one AS much as ANNA but dammit if LOLA wasn't a pretty good follow up. I am MADLY excited for ISLA if it is ever released. *sad face*

    Also thank you for the giveaway, girl. I adore the original covers, but my bookish OCD is demanding I have a matched set, so fingers crossed.

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  20. Thanks for the wonderful giveaway!
    I have no qualms about loving Cricket more than Etienne. Etienne is great and wonderful in his own way but Cricket is more me. I also loved Lola and her refreshing, confident character. So much fun. I really did miss the Paris aspect but other than that, such an awesome successor! I was so sad to hear ISLA pushed to 2014 but I'm sure it'll contain more brilliant characters for me to fall in love with.

    Reading books like this (with such loveable love interests tend to bring up conflicting feelings for me. I get all excited and giddy but I also end up feeling the (albeit temporary) bitter pang of unrequited love.

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  21. I've only read the first chapter of Lola (because it was at the end of Anna) but I'm desperate to get my hands on a copy! Cricket sounds so adorable and lovable! I can't wait to meet him.
    Yay! I love that Anna & Etienne make an appearance! And that Becky gif is just perfect!
    Great review! And thanks for the giveaway :)

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  22. I haven't read this book but I think I'm starting to like Cricket. Cricket sounds so adorable, cute and hot. Can't wait to read this! :)

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  23. I haven't read this book yet but I've seriously only heard amazing things about it and am DYING to! Also, loving your review. Using GIFs from New Girl (funniest show on TV!), My Little Pony (childhood obsession), AND Pride & Prejudice (the one movie I can watch anytime and never grow tired of)? Genius. Now I'm even more anxious to read this book!!! :D

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  24. I lay claim to Cricket Bell, as I really prefer him over Etienne (even though Etienne is... well, he's Etienne). ANYWAY. I did love this book a lot back when I read it! Your review makes me want to do a re-read, because I'm imagining all the swoons ;)

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  25. I haven't been able to read Lola and The Boy Next Door...or Anna and The French Kiss yet..but I've heard nothing but good things about both and I really want to read them! They just sound so good!!! Thanks for the great giveaway! I really do prefer the new cover to the old one

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  26. Oh, I heart these characters already and I haven't even read the book. Can't wait to read! Eep!

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  27. I loved Anna and the French kiss and haven't read this book yet!! It looks Awesome!! Love your review and thanks for the awesome giveaway. :)

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