{Book Review} The sad case of a HUGELY anticipated book that disappoints.

isla and the happily ever afterBefore I start my review for Isla and the Happily Ever After, I have to say that I still love, love, love Stephanie Perkins! Her first book, Anna and the French Kiss, is one that I could read over and over again, and don’t get me started on her book boys — Etienne and Cricket are some of the BEST book boys!

If you read Isla and loved it, you might want to skip over this review because it’s definitely not in praise of the story — even though I wanted it to be.

I had been looking forward to Isla and the Happily Ever After for a long, long time. I think that’s something that led to my disappointment as I was reading. When I read about Anna and Lola, I laughed, I cried, and I fell in love with them. There was something about Isla that was just so off for me. She didn’t seem to have any ambition, whereas Anna and Lola were full of it, and she just seemed so … down … for the majority of the story.

Then there’s Josh, who is supposed to be a swoonworthy character, but I kind of saw him as an actor, who could put on a show for whoever he was trying to impress. He didn’t have that same charm that Etienne and Cricket had, he didn’t have that same unique personality that they each had.

Was I comparing too much while reading this story? Probably, but I couldn’t help it. Stephanie Perkins’s first two books are ones that I could continuously read and read and read and when I finished this one, I just didn’t feel the same way. I didn’t want to revisit Isla’s world again because honestly? It just depressed me.

Even if I didn’t enjoy the characters, I would’ve loved to say that the story redeemed itself, but it just lacked the focus that the first two books had. The whole book was just about two people — two sexually charged teens — who just want to get together to get it on, basically. I thought it was a story that dragged on, mainly because everything happens right at the start. Isla loves Josh for her entire life and then they get together. There was just no build up that made me want these two people to get together because once I got to know them, I just didn’t like them at all.

There was also a lack of humour in the story. Again with the comparisons, but I found myself laughing out loud so much while reading about Anna or Lola. They were both so quirky and funny that they made me want to just keep reading. But Isla? There was not a lot of humour, at least nothing to make me bust a gut, and she was just kind of a ‘meh’ character the whole time.

And lastly, there’s the scenery. We’re back in Paris! We go to Barcelona! But instead of feeling like I was right there with the characters in the story, it was just a bunch of name dropping of locations. The atmosphere was just lost on me.

I’m sad to say, but this was just such a disappointment for me. I wanted to love it. I wanted to swoon. I wanted to fall in love. And in the end, I feel like it was the pretty colours of the cover that I loved the most and that was it. I know I had read somewhere that when Stephanie Perkins wrote the first two books in this series, she wrote it during the pressure of NaNoWriMo. Maybe the fun of writing those stories in such a short amount of time is what led to their charm? Maybe she mulled over this one for too long of a time? I guess we’ll see what the next book holds.

Have you read this book? Have you ever highly anticipated a story and been disappointed? 

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{My Latest Addiction} Heartland

If you’ve seen my Instagram, you’ll probably notice that I post a LOT of pictures of the Alberta skies, the Alberta fields, and everything I see around my beautiful province of Alberta.

Without a doubt, I love where I live.

Yes, we may get about 9 months out of the year full of winter — very COLD winter — but I absolutely love it.

Really, I could blame CTV for my latest addiction. You see, we don’t get cable, so we only have THREE channels on our TV: CBC, Global, and CTV. Until the day that our antenna (rabbit ears, anyone?) wouldn’t pick up CTV anymore. Normally I wouldn’t think anything of it, but the husband and I watched a LOT of shows on that channel. Instead, we were given the religious channel, which had NOTHING to watch on it.

So, in an attempt to find something good to watch, I had to turn to another station. CBC is a Canadian station and shows a lot of Canadian shows. I watch a few of them, but there are PLENTY of shows that I never really gave a chance. One of these shows is Heartland, a show that’s filmed in High River, Alberta featuring a Canadian cast.

All I really knew about this show was that it had horses and it was a Canadian show. So one day at around 3:00, when there used to be cooking shows aired on TV, I started watching Heartland, all the while griping about the fact that it was on.

Then …

I fell in love with it!

About two weeks of making sure I was at the TV at 3:00, I realized that I had a new addiction and I wanted more of it. I had no idea where I was in the show — it currently has 7 seasons aired — but I knew I had to start at the beginning.

So we still don’t have cable, but now we have … NETFLIX!

About a week and a half ago I’ve spent every spare second catching up on my new favourite TV show, that’s a bit like Gilmore Girls but with horses. If I’m putting together dinner or working on some business stuff, I’ll have it on in the background. Heck, I’m watching it as I write this post and the baby naps. It’s amazing how addicting this show is!

If you don’t know what Heartland is, it’s a show about a family living on a ranch called Heartland, in the fictional town of Hudson, Alberta. It follows the lives and relationships of sisters Amy and Lou Fleming, as well as the cast of characters in their lives. Their grandpa, Jack, is one of my favourite characters in the story, and there’s Ty, who is the on-again off-again romance of Amy. But aside from the people in the show, there are the HORSES!

I’ve always loved horses. In fact, my favourite movie EVER is Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken, about a girl who jumps horses. I think I’ve only ridden a horse less than a handful of times, but I just can’t get enough of them. They’re just so beautiful and majestic and I love how Heartland shows Amy taming these creatures. She’s a bit of a horse whisperer in the show and I love how each horse in the show is so unique, each having their own personalities and issues.

I’ve loved every single episode so far and I’m so happy that it’s coming back for an 8th season! I love how it showcases the beauty of Alberta (even if it doesn’t look as cold as it gets a bit more north in the province — it’s a bit warmer in the southern parts!). Watching the parts in winter make me long for the beauty of having snow on the trees and in the fields, and the parts in the summertime make me long to be out in the summer sunshine among the trees and the beauty of nature.

And I’ve never been so happy to have some horses living next door to me. Hearing them whinny brings a smile to my face, wondering if Amy Fleming could possibly ride them one day.

Did you know:

  • Heartland wasn’t originally supposed to be filmed in High River? It was in talks to be filmed in Montreal at first.
  • Shaun Johnston, the actor who plays Jack Bartlett, co-founded the Shadow Theatre, one of Edmonton’s most successful theatre companies.
  • You can take a self-guided tour of High River to see the locations where Heartland is filmed!
  • Amy Fleming has been riding horses since a young age and had ambitions to be a vet when she was younger.

Heartland comes back for its 8th season on September 28th! I can’t wait!

Have you watched Heartland? What is your favourite TV show? 

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{Giveaway} Inferno Park by J. L. Bryan

inferno park

Carter was only twelve when he witnessed the disaster that killed more than a hundred people at Starland Amusement Park. Five years later, Carter’s hometown is no longer a busy Florida panhandle resort, but a slowly dying town full of empty motels and attractions rusting behind chains and padlocks.

Now something evil stirs in the ruins of the old amusement park…something with an alluring siren song drawing visitors into the dark mysteries of the forbidden world behind the gate. Something with an appetite for restless, yearning souls.

Carter reluctantly returns to the old park in the company of a new girl in town, who is obsessed with urban decay and pop-culture ruins, and discovers the evil at work. To stop it, and protect the children of the town, Carter will have to face his oldest and deepest fears.

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I love a good scary book and this one sounds perfect! I mean, what is more scary than an amusement park? J. L. Bryan writes some amazingly scary books (Jenny Pox is still one of my favourites!) so be sure to check this one out!

Giveaway: 

J. L. Bryan has kindly offered up an ebook copy of Inferno Park for one lucky reader! Open until September 19, 2014. Giveaway rules apply.

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About the Author: 

j l bryanJ.L. Bryan studied English literature at the University of Georgia and at Oxford, with a focus on English Renaissance and Romantic literature. He also studied screenwriting at UCLA. He lives in the metro Atlanta sprawl with his wife Christina, where he spends most of his day serving the toddler and animal community inside his house. He is the author of the Paranormals series and the Songs of Magic series.signature-01