Sunday, July 6, 2014

Reading on a Theme: The Boy Next Door

There's something so appealing about a romance between a neighbors. Here are five of our favorite boys next door:

Not Really A Brother:
Reading Kasie West's books is like giving yourself a little reward. Charlie Reynolds' house is full of boys. There's her dad and her three older brothers and there's Braden, the kid from next door, who might as well be her brother. I love that West nails the ribbing and teasing that equals love in a family like this. Charlie is athletic and competitive, but a new job forces her to confront her "girly" side. Will brothers ever let her hear the end of that? Plus, her relationship with Braden is suddenly complicated and loaded with things unsaid. On the Fence had me laughing out loud, holding back tears, and grinning ear to ear. Put this book on your summer reading list; it's out July 1st. Review copy from Edelweiss.

The Chapel Next Door:
When Holly Nolan's grandfather died he left her his floundering Las Vegas wedding chapel and directions to reach out to Dax Cranston, the grandson of his mortal enemy and owner of the chapel next door. The Chapel Wars is a deceiving little book. You think that it's going to all light and cute, and it has those moments, but it also it deep and emotional. Holly's desperation to save the chapel is tied up with her grief over her grandfather's untimely death, her inability to imagine herself doing anything else, and her pain over her parents' recent divorce. Her romance with Dax is fraught with barriers as their chapels are direct competitors. I loved Holly's personality and that Dax is both funny, and hurting, and nuanced. The emotions in this book are so raw and powerful.  The Chapel Wars came out in May, and it's my favorite of Lindsey Leavitt's books.

San Francisco Neighbors:
I fell head over heels for Stephanie Perkins's first book Anna and the French Kiss. For me, Lola and the Boy Next Door suffered from my inevitable and uncontrollable comparison to Anna. Although Lola and Cricket are basically the same ages as Anna and Etienne were in the first book, they felt much younger, and so I was a little uneasy with their choices. That said, Lola and the Boy Next Door is still incredibly cute. The side characters are great. I loved Lola's dads, her best friend Lindsay, and even Calliope is someone I couldn't do without. The quirky touches, such as the costumes, the rubber bands, and the pies (kind of made me want to bake), add spice as well. 

Two Boys Next Door:
That Boy is a "boy next door" book that involves two boy neighbors. Phillip lives across the street from JJ and Danny lives next door. The three are inseparable. One thing that I enjoyed about Jillian Dodd's book is how it covers so much time and history. The book begins when JJ is in 4th grade, and it follows the threesome through college. What really kept me reading is that I honestly had no idea which boy JJ would end up with. There's a lot of chemistry between JJ and Danny, but Phillip is JJ's rock. The writing is not particularly sophisticated, but it does evolve as JJ gets older. That Boy would be a good pick for a University of Nebraska fan.

Forbidden Friendship:
Ever since the Garretts moved in ten years ago, Samantha Reed has known that she was not to associate with them. Secretly, or so she thought, she watched the family from a distance. Imagine her surprise when she finds out that Jace, third in the family of eight kids, has been watching back. Huntley Fitzpatrick creates some truly memorable characters. I especially loved Jace's four year-old brother, George.  There are many situations in My Life Next Door where the characters encounter a "the grass is greener" situation, but Samantha comes to see that everyone is dealing with something.  

On the Fence, The Chapel Wars, Lola and the Boy Next Door, and That Boy reviewed by JoLee.
My Life Next Door reviewed by Paige.

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