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4.5 out of 5 stars
Isla and the Happily Ever After
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48 of 48 people found the following review helpful
Format: Kindle Edition
I really enjoyed reading Isla and the Happily Ever After. Stephanie Perkins does a great job writing contemporary young adult romance with characters I can't help but love. For those who have like me been saying Isla's name wrong it is pronounced "eye-la". Isla and Josh's relationship was slightly rocky and had its ups and downs. Isla is insecure and unsure of the direction her life should go. Josh is the opposite and has everything figured out. They work through some of their differences together but some of their differences have to be worked through on their own.

In the end I was happy with the direction their story went.

I loved Isla's best friend Kurt and the relationship the two of them had.

As is usually the case with most young adult books I read I wish there had been a little less language and that the sex scenes had been omitted. Despite that content I still thoroughly enjoyed reading this story.

You can read Isla as a stand alone but the characters from the first two books are mentioned several times and make an appearance at the end of the book which is sure to please fans of this series. I would suggest reading the other 2 books prior to reading this one. For those who loved the first two books you are likely to love this one as well.

Rating: 5 Stars - I loved it.

Content: Not a clean read and I won't be passing it on to my teenager yet - some language including several uses of the F word, 2 short sex scenes.

Source: ARC from publisher
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on August 14, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
In 2010 a very good friend of mine said one thing to me that essentially changed my life. She said, ‘read Anna and the French Kiss’. Having only dabbled in reading in the past and slightly getting more into it I agreed and nothing has been the same. I have read that one book 8 times, its companion Lola and the Boy Next Door twice and most recently Isla and the Happily Ever After.

Isla was a book that I have been anticipating for years, half scared it would let down, half scared it would be amazing and leave me wanting more. Well I can tell you I was right to be scared…I WANT MORE! Holy swoon worthy fantastic batman. From start to finish it was everything I have come to expect, love and crave from the hands of Stephanie Perkins.

Isla and the Happily Ever After is the story of Isla Martin, a shy girl you catch a glimpse of in Anna and the French Kiss, and Josh Wasserstein, Etienne St. Clair’s best friend, also in Anna and the French Kiss. Isla has had a crush on Josh for 3 solid years, always on the outside looking in at he and his friends. But things are different in their senior year. Josh’s friends have all graduated and he is alone and accessible like never before. In a twist of fate Josh and Isla cross paths in an unexpected location that changes things for the both of them in ways they never could have imagined. What once seemed impossible might not be that way. However nothing is ever easy. Especially if the worse things you feel about yourself start to threaten the things you always thought you wanted. And for Josh and Isla those things might just be each other.

It’s funny because in Anna and the French Kiss you don’t really even think twice about Isla. If you haven’t read the book as many times as I have you may not even notice her. And Josh, he was a great secondary character and side kick to St. Clair, but not someone you really thought about. But I was super excited when I learned these were our two leads in Isla and the Happily Ever After. There was something that fascinated me about what I did know about them and it peaked my curiosity. Isla was your everyday, uncertain, shy teenage girl that had a crush on a guy she thought was out of reach. And Josh was the guy that seemed to not care about anything when he really cared about everything. He was sad and lonely and needed something to make him say it was okay to feel. There was a connection there that is hard to explain other than saying these two were filled with magic. And as the book progressed they changed as people and grew in ways they never would have. Magic I tell you, magic.

Another thing that Perkins does well is the secondary characters. Isla had some great people in her life that taught her things that made her grow as a person separate from her connection with Josh. Kurt was a fascinating addition that was able to be Isla’s voice of reason. He told her things she didn’t want to hear about herself but needed to hear. And then you have her sister Hattie. She was perfect with her pouting and mean façade but really she was a representation that change is scary and people act all sorts of ways when they are scared. These two characters added not only to Isla but to the story as a whole. Perfection

Honestly reviewing this book is hard for me. It’s bittersweet because this trilogy, all of these characters, mean something to me. It sounds weird but reading Isla and the Happily Ever After was the end of an era. It was like graduating and leaving everything behind. I almost felt like Josh did, all alone after losing my friends. But in true Perkins fashion she went out with a bang that made my heart sore, my cheeks hurt from smiling and my heart ache with longing. She gave me two new fantastic characters to love and brought in pieces of ones that I loved from the past. So with that I thank you Ms. Perkins for giving me these books and these characters and for doing something even more important, making me a reader.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format: Kindle Edition
So, here it is. The end of a series that will be in my list of favorite series EVER 4ever. As much as I wanted to take my time and read it slowly and savor it, I ended up eating up in one big gulp. I didn't even get a bellyache! My heart did go through the wringer a bit, though. There are high highs and a low low felt like a squeeze to my heart and made moisture release from my tear ducts.

Let's start with Isla and Josh. Their story is as delicious as you'd expect. The first half of the story reminded me of Anna and St. Clair's love story in that they fall in love in Paris and wander the streets and take in all those amazing sights in the City of Light. But their story is unique.

Circumstances will test the crushes-turned-to-love that Isla and Josh find in France. And Spain. And New York City. And...I don't really want to say any more than that! I seriously think opening up this book without knowing a lot of details beforehand is the best way to open this sweet package of goodness. Just know we're dealing with Josh, a boy that knows (and has known his entire life) exactly what he wants in his life. Isla is more of the "I don't know what I'm going to do after high school" type. So, you know...they have some THINGS to work through.

Next, we get to talk about Anna, St. Clair, Lola and Cricket. Because guess what? You'll get to see them all! Perkins weaves them into the story like the master storyteller that she is. I swear my heart rate goes up by 100 beats per minute at the mere mention of St. Clair. He remains my favorite Perkins hero. Josh is a close second, though.

Lastly, lets chat a bit about Stephanie Perkins, okay? Guys. She's effing brilliant. BRILLIANT. This book is pure perfection. It has a heroine who is identifiable in her insecurities, a hero who is a good guy and so incredibly swoon worthy, an autistic secondary character who is written remarkably well and with zero stereotypes. It has adventure. It has sexy times. It has the right amount of angst. It has humor. Stephanie Perkins holds the recipe for the perfect book.

I know we've waited a long time for Isla and Josh's story and I know that might worry you--it worried me! The delays were totally understandable and I want to you to understand this one thing: She did the right thing in taking her time with this story. This book may very well be her best book yet. (I say *may* because ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS gets a 1,000,000 points for introducing me to St. Clair.) You won't be disappointed.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 14, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Isla Martin has had a hopeless, all-consuming crush on Josh Wassertein since their first year at the School of America in Paris. After years of pining, Isla has grown used to watching Josh from afar.

Then one magical, painkiller-fueled, chance encounter in New York the summer before their senior year changes everything.

After years of bad timing and missed connections, Josh and Isla are finally together. But with false-starts and near-misses aplenty, neither of them is sure this relationship is meant to last. Isla doesn't understand how someone like Josh can ever feel as deeply for her as she does for him. Neither is sure how to deal with the growing pains and doubts that stem from their new, intense relationship.

With uncertain plans for college and the future looming, Josh and Isla will have to learn to be apart before they have any chance of staying together in Isla and the Happily Ever After (2014) by Stephanie Perkins.

Isla and the Happily Ever After is the highly anticipated conclusion to Perkins' loose trilogy that began with Anna and the French Kiss and continued with Lola and the Boy Next Door. These books function as perfect companions to each other but Isla's story is very much her own and functions as a standalone. Readers who have followed these books from the start, however, will be pleased with cameos from all the obvious suspects toward the end of the novel.

While much of the story focuses on Isla and Josh's fledgling relationship, Perkins also artfully explores changing friendships as well as the complexities relationships with sisters. Kurt, Isla's best friend, is an especially wonderful addition to the story. Isla's panic at facing her future both in terms of college and life beyond is authentic and well-handled throughout the story.

Although Josh and Isla are perfect together, Isla's growth is happily a solo endeavor as she is forced to acknowledge her flaws as well as her strengths and wants. Isla (and Josh) are often foolish and make mistakes but they also both learn and begin to thrive because of them.

Perkins is a master when it comes to writing clever, swoony romances. Josh and Isla are perfect counterpoints to each other in this story about first love and growing up. Isla and the Happily Ever After is an apt conclusion for these characters and a perfect romance for anyone looking for a smile.

Possible Pairings: Girl Overboard by Justina Chen, Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley, When It Happens by Susane Colasanti, Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg, King of the Screwups by K. L. Going, To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han, Alice, I Think by Susan Juby, The Piper's Son by Melina Marhcetta, The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
Something about this novel seemed odd right from the beginning.
First off, the good stuff: Isla and the Happily Ever After is written in Stephanie Perkins’ cute, fluffy style that makes you want to absorb the whole book in one sitting, and you won’t even notice how quickly time flies by.

Another perk is the setting. This time, we don’t only follow the main character’s life in the charming Parisian boarding school known from Anna and The French Kiss, but we also get a glimpse at a different European city as well as Isla’s home in Manhattan. I appreciate stories that place a special emphasis on the setting, as opposed to those that are set in an unnamed, random town that has no significance to the plot.

Instead of having two characters who get together at the end of the book after a long period of struggles and complications, Isla and Josh become a couple almost instantaneously. While I appreciate Stephanie Perkins’ effort to shake up her pattern a bit, I thought it was neither convincing nor paricularly suspenseful for the readers.

At the beginning we learn that Isla has had a crush on Josh for years. They coincidentally meet at a restaurant in their mutual hometown Manhattan, and Josh takes an interest in her right away. Apart from the fact that this seemed awfully convenient, it all happened way too fast. What starts as a teenage crush turns straight into a relationship, without any nuances of them getting to know each other. That’s kind of an unhealthy base for getting involved with someone. Perkins expects you to accept Isla’s feelings for Josh without any reasons for readers to understand his appeal.

I usually read contemporaries in which the boy gets the girl at the end, and the banter beforehand provides tension and maintains the suspense throughout the whole novel. In this case, however, the story arc felt anti-climactic and slightly random.

Isla focuses more on the problems that arise when you’re inexperienced and in a relationship. There were two major obstacles in the protagonists’ relationship. The first one happened halfway through the book and came as no surprise. The second problem, though, was far-fetched and felt like the author was making a mountain out of a molehill, for the sole purpose of having some drama.

Isla’s teen angst was just too much for my taste. I lack self-confidence myself, so I normally like awkward characters, but this time it didn’t feel right. I didn’t care much about Josh, either, until the end of the book. He came across as a rich kid and I couldn’t understand why he acted the way he did, with made it hard for me to sympathise with him. And Kurt, Isla’s autistic best friend, was fifth-wheeling it big time.

Another unpleasant surprise was the humour. Some scenes are goofy and funny, but there are other parts when I was weirded out by the things the characters were laughing about. I don’t remember feeling this way about Stephanie Perkins’ previous novels. It was odd.

If all that sounded horrible to you, let me assure you that I nonetheless enjoyed Isla and the Happily Ever After, even though I was disappointed with it. The ending is what saved this book for me. It rounded up unresolved issues between Isla and Josh, as well as with her little sister Hattie. The protagonists made some progress in their relationship, and their mutual feelings seemed more realistic and comprehensible.

We also get to see more of Josh’s personality through his graphic novel. As a fan of comics and art, I enjoyed that aspect of the story. The fnal reunion with Anna, Étienne, Lola and Cricket was adorable, so in the end, the novel does somewhat live up to its title. In my opinion, it’s just nowhere near as good as Stephanie Perkins’ previous novels.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 15, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
When I started reading this book, I was oh so excited and I had just so many hopes and aspirations because of the other books in the series, and I'm overjoyed to say that all of my wishes came true. This book actually was more than I could've hoped for.

The starting of the book was absolutely hilarious and I was hooked from the very first chapter. Even the pace was perfect and so was the. but the best part, hands down was Stephanie Perkins' writing. The story was beautifully narrated and everything was so relatable, it made me happy. From the characters which were all original and grappling and again, relatable (I'm running out of words here!) to the locations where the book was based in (Paris and New York. I KNOW. ), it was near perfect.

Another very good aspect of the book was Isla's self journey of discovering herself, and loving herself. One thing I love about Stephanie's characters is that they're all so REAL with all these real problems and real reactions and instead of being pretentious, they're I don't know, real ?(I really need to but a thesaurus). Anyway, the setting was perfect and so was the length of the book. Often when I read books,I'm left with this unsatisfied feeling with the ending because I wanted more or because the ending didn't feel like an ending, but that wasn't the case with Isla And The Happily Ever After. It was beautifully ended and summed up the entire series very faithfully.

Speaking of the ending, I'd like to tell the reader, that you have a VERY VERY VERY nice surprise waiting for you. I mean, give the award of the best surprise-the-reader-with-wonderful-news award to Stephanie Perkins, because towards the ending, again to be very spoiler free, something happens. Something that will make you put the book down and cry beautiful tears of happiness. You're gonna laugh, cry with tears of joy and laugh a little more, thank the author and say, I don't believe this, this can't be happening. Trust me, it's a perfect ending to the book and series. just wait to reach the ending.

Anyway, coming back to the book, I loved it, though absolutely cannot compare it and place it above or below any of the other two because they're all so good. You're all going to love the book and it WILL most definitely rise up to your expectations too. Amazing friendships, sibling relationships, romance and most of all, journey of self discovery.

Buy it, trust me you will NOT be disappointed.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 15, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Isla and the Happily Ever After is the perfect book for anyone looking to laugh, smile and cry all at the same time.

Having read the Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door, I was greatly looking forward to this next installment. I usually do not put high expectations on a book because I want it to surprise me, but this book is AMAZING. It surpassed what I was expecting and I can truly say it is my favorite out of the three books.

Isla and Josh felt much more real to kids their age and I was rooting for them since the beginning. The experiences they both go through is genuinely how awkward high school relationships begin. Isla having a crush on the boy who doesn't know she exists. It was pure perfection.

Thank you, Stephanie Perkins. You had be crying along with Isla and Josh, but you gave us all the Happily Ever After we all strive to have.
Read it today!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 14, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Amazing!!! Josh is my favorite Perkins boy!! Oh Stephanie, I could kiss you. I love him!! And I love your writing and this story is pure Stephanie magic. My heart fluttered while reading and I felt like I was falling in love right alongside Isla and Josh. The museum, the dress, the comic book store in Paris. It's all romantic perfection, like a dream of falling in love.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Really kind of a let down to such a great series. The other books made me feel like a 16 year old girl again who knew what Lola and Anna were going through. This book though made me feel old (20) because I just could not grasp how fast Isla and Josh's relationship moved, nor could I relate to Isla at all. I understand the whole first love thing but even in the first two books there was a really nice build up to a solid relationship. For me, I just felt at times that Isla was stupid and naive, and not in an endearing teenage way that I could relate to. I am a hopeless romantic myself and can let love sweep me away but the way it swept Isla away just made her into an idiot. When she spends all that time away from Josh she's so heartbroken and can't even make decisions for herself. I found her empty on the page without Josh there to get the banter going. I was not sympathetic at all to her decision to break her own heart before Josh did. Granted, I wouldn't have trust Rich Boy Josh with my heart either considering all the sex and masturbation he had in his comic book, but come on, that's needless heartbreak and tension in a plot that already has enough with Isla's own problems of feeling lost.

The pace of the book I felt was also not as flowing. I found myself not wanting to read it because I knew Josh was going to be with Isla in almost every chapter and I knew they would end up together in the end, and was kind of hoping maybe for Isla to NOT get back with Josh and find herself, find her womanly self. At least in Anna and Lola, the girls had time to themselves to BE themselves, to think for themselves. The only time Isla had that was when her and Josh were (SPOILER, DON'T READ AHEAD IF YOU HAVEN'T READ) broken up and she realised she didn't NEED him but still WANTED him. I feel that is a really good aspect of this novel that young girls should really read. Another good aspect was the ending which was a great nod to her fans from the first two books.

Other than that, I feel really let down by this book. Maybe I just had too many expectations but so many of us YA fans have really developed a love for Stephanie Perkins' books that I felt like she would really do the last book to the series justice. I also got the sense in this book that she was ready to be done with these characters because character development of Isla and Josh was very slow. I thought that Hattie had more character development than them.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 14, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Sigh…what wonderful way to end this series! Isla and the Happily Ever After is like hot apple pie, a cup of hot chocolate or a warm buttery croissant…cozy and satisfying. This novel was such a fun read and filled with so many “awww” moments that I couldn’t help but grin most of the time. Isla and Josh are just so freaking cute together that you almost can’t stand it. But you can…cause it’s Stephanie Perkins…and it’s awesome.

Isla and Josh are not strangers to us, we’ve met them before in Anna and the French Kiss (Josh more so than Isla) so there’s already a little bit of history and back story for these two. It was cool to make the connection and realize that we’re talking about THAT Isla…the one we got a glimpse of in Anna and Etienne’s story. Especially when you go back and re-read Anna after finishing Isla. Which I did do, thanks to the Happily Ever After read along…such a great idea! No question about it…this book is all about falling in love. There’s no drama, no messy relationships and no doubt about the fact that these two are crazy for each other. Of course, there is some drama as you get deeper into the book and you’re left wondering what will happen to this couple, but regardless of how the story ends, it’s such a fun ride to see Isla and Josh’s love story from the beginning.

There is so much epic goodness in the last few scenes of this book that bring such a satisfying conclusion to the entire series! I literally squealed out loud in one scene and almost broke into (happy) tears in another. This book manages to wrap up all three installments into one perfect little package and that made me incredibly happy. The reason I am such a fan of this series is that they make me feel great when I am done reading and Isla and the Happily Ever After was no exception.
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