Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Of Flirting, Italian Boys, and Ancestry

Flirting in Italian 

by Lauren Henderson

Four girls. One magical, and possibly dangerous Italian summer. Family mysteries, ancient castles, long hot nights of dancing under the stars . . . and, of course, plenty of gorgeous Italian boys!

So I'm on a YA travel/adventure-abroad kick. And I'm loving it! It's made me want to take Italian, hop on a plane to Europe, and meet some gorgeous guy who will whisk me off my feet. My kick has also infected my music choices; I think I listened to "An Evening in Roma" a hundred times just while reading Flirting in Italian.

I must say that at first I was a little skeptical about the family-history plot line. I wasn't sure how it would be woven into the story besides being the motivation for Violet's stay in Italy. But Lauren Henderson knew what she was doing and it worked out just as it should, by not being the sole focus and yet not disappearing completely. Once I became attached to the characters, this part of the book became much more important to me and I'm anxious to see how it comes together (I can't figure out an inkling of how it's going to work out).  The rest of the plot focus is exactly what you'd want out of a summer in Italy; fun, excitement, and filled with romance.

Violet has an absolutely gorgeous name in Italian: Violetta. It fits her too. She's pretty, independently minded, and she has a good heart. She isn't afraid to go dance alone on at a party, stand up to mean girls, or slap a boy when he deserves it. And while I was glad Violet had a very smart voice in her head, I'm both frustrated and amused that she didn't always follow its advice.

So, Violet wants to find herself and it's obvious that Tuscany is the perfect place to do so! Thus she enrolls in a summer program at a little villa and begins her adventure. I really liked the dynamics of the four girls in the program. Kelly, Kendra, and Paige (the other girls) were distinct characters that really balanced Violet. (P.S. I thought Paige was a hoot! ) Anyway I enjoyed when the girls bonded and even when they didn't get along because it added some reality.

Okay I'll stop stalling and tell you about the boys. One, they're Italian and gorgeous. Two, when they're around the scenes are just great. Three, they are both romantic and frustrating. And finally, you just have to read the book to find out more. Don't be mad. The scenes with Luca and Violet will make up for my unwillingness to tell you more.

Oh and did I mention there's a second book? No? Well that's cause I didn't know until the end of the book. When I had ten pages left I started to panic, wondering how this was going to resolve itself so quickly and still leave me satisfied... but well you know what always happens to me (the curse of the cliffhanger). I'm happy though because now I get a whole nother book with Luca and Violet (and everyone else too). So don't panic when you approach the end, because we've got another book to look forward to!



*Book provided by publisher on Netgalley

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Of London, Boys, and a Little Rule-Breaking

Meant To Be 

By Lauren Morrill

Meant to be or not meant to be . . . that is the question. 

It's one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for the—gasp—wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she's queen of following rules and being prepared. That's why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her, well, pocket. And that's also why she's chosen Mark Bixford, her childhood crush, as her MTB ("meant to be").

But this spring break, Julia's rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown from a window) when she's partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts . . . from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love.

Completely lovely and whimsical in every way.  I honestly just adore this book. I couldn't get that goofy happy smile off my face after reading it. So of course now I'm going to just gush about it- which of course will make you want to read it and love it just like me!

So a quick word about the plot; it's so fun! If you liked Anna and the French Kiss, you should pick this up, but then again anyone with a heart should read it so you're covered either way. I also think fans of the Lizzie McGuire Movie should acquire a copy of this book as soon as possible. I mean it's about a school trip to London! It's got the buddy system, parties, romantic-ness, cool London stuff, British people, and I mean there's a redhead! What more do you need? Umm nothing. The plot may be a little predictable at times, but I warn you not to get ahead of yourself because there are surprises in this little book. Ms. Morrill got me a couple times with her sneakiness. The characters, though, are what I truly adored.

Oh Julia. How do I adore thee? Let me count some ways. Number 1: You are quirky in a smart, athletic, geeky way. No. 2 pencils (I crack myself up).  Number 3: You are hilarious. I found it quite nice that Julia was so intelligent and even fit (she's amazing at swimming), yet she wasn't popular. Her love life is quite a mess once Hurricane Jason tears her carefully very planned world apart- a Meant To Be boy, mysterious British bachelor, and maybe someone else too. Now Julia is so caught up adhering to the rules and trying to find a way to be with Mark (her MTB), that it takes a hurricane of trouble to get her to go a little outside the box...and to make this book such fun.

That hurricane is Jason. The one boy who's going to get our pal Jules to have fun- even if it means by force. This boy is a blast, although at times he can annoy me to bits and make me question what's really going on. And of course he's nice to look at too- did I mention he's a redhead? I happen to have a weak spot for redheads, so Jason's almost automatically amazing. He's more than just the class clown- he's got layers. So not only is he a funny charming redhead, but he may also be a sensitive and romantic one too. I wish he were real and could marry me....Anyway, I'm not going to spoil anything but I will tell you that when these two are together (which is basically the entire book) you will laugh, smile, be frustrated, and be witness to shenanigans.

So go retrieve this book from your nearest store of books and realize you and this book were meant to be!



*Provided by Publisher NetGalley


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