1 star · romance · young adult

once and for all by sarah dessen is, for once, 1/5 stars

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once and for all

author : sarah dessen

pages : [hardcover] 358

memorable quote :

It’s about the courage to go for what you want, not just what you think you need. 

favorite character : ira

summary :

As bubbly as champagne and delectable as wedding cake, Once and for All, Sarah Dessen’s thirteenth novel, is set in the world of wedding planning, where crises are routine.

Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that’s why she’s cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm’s length. But Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged, now that he’s met the one girl he really wants.

Sarah Dessen’s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything—humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself.

review :

This is the first Sarah Dessen book I’ve ever read that I wished I DNF’d.

love Sarah Dessen. I think a lot of YA readers go through a phase between those pre-teen and teenage years where they discover Dessen, and her writing, and the wonderfully beachy, romantic, comedic, quirky books she writes. I love how each of her books references characters in the others. I love that feeling that there’s this town where all of the people are meeting and falling hopelessly, madly in love with one another in adorable ways.

I didn’t get any of that from Once and For All.

To be fair, I knew nothing about this book going in, because since high school Sarah Dessen has been on my auto-buy list. New book coming out? Say no more. I’ll end up reading it at some point. Quite the feat, because I can only name two contemporary writers on that auto-buy list, and not many more where I’ve loved their books. Contemporary, usually, isn’t the genre for me. I saw a copy of this book at my local Target that was autographed, freaked out a little, and immediately knew it had to come home with me. And so it began.

Once and For All is about Louna, who works for her mother’s wedding planning company even though she’s cynical about love because of a certain tragic backstory and doesn’t plan to follow the career past her last summer before college. Which was a little disappointing, because I feel like there was so much focus on her job, and it would have been nice if she’d been a little more enthusiastic about it. After all, she’s annoyed whenever anything goes wrong or a certain someone bumbles through her day, but she’s never happy about . . . anything. Even if it isn’t a lifetime career goal it would have been nice to see her involved, maybe with the creative aspects, or . . . Actually, I don’t think we were given any indication of what Louna would like to do besides this. And it’s fine, not to have your life set in stone when you’re eighteen, but it would have been better to know what she’s passionate about, or even just likes, rather than her moping around all of the time.

Another huge chunk of the plot concerns a bet that seems like a common staple in romantic comedy movies but I’m not sure I’ve read about in a YA book before. Rather than taking an unexpected or even whole-heartedly romantic turn like I’d hoped, it turned into something very predictable, very cliche, and very disappointing.

I may be one of the rare ones who doesn’t need to sworn over the romantic lead in my contemporary romance to ‘get it’. All I need is a good character. And I’m not sure I got even that much. Ambrose is very . . . quirky. And so not ready for a serious relationship, which I guess would be the only thing to save Louna from a certain tragic backstory.

Which . . . I’m not certain of how that was meant to fit into the rest of the plot. It happened five months before the book starts, I think, but everyone is already pressuring her to move on and basically find true love when she’s barely eighteen. Everyone in this book, Louna and Ambrose included, just needed to take a little time to just sit back and enjoy themselves a little.

While it was boring, the writing wasn’t absolutely terrible. I’ll still try more of Sarah Dessen’s books in the future. But I’m afraid that, now that we’ve hit book thirteen, if she doesn’t mix something up, the stories will always end up this bland.

1/5 stars

 

4 stars · fiction · young adult

The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

 

The Moon and More

author : Sarah Dessen [also wrote Along for the Ride and That Summer]

pages : [hardcover] 435

memorable quote The truth was, there was no way everything could be the Best. Sometimes, when it came to events and people, it had to be okay to just be.

favorite character : emaline

summary :

Luke is the perfect boyfriend: handsome, kind, fun. He and Emaline have been together all through high school in Colby, the beach town where they both grew up. But now, in the summer before college, Emaline wonders if perfect is good enough.

Enter Theo, a super-ambitious outsider, a New Yorker assisting on a documentary film about a reclusive local artist. Theo’s sophisticated, exciting, and, best of all, he thinks Emaline is much too smart for Colby.

Emaline’s mostly-absentee father, too, thinks Emaline should have a bigger life, and he’s convinced that an Ivy League education is the only route to realizing her potential. Emaline is attracted to the bright future that Theo and her father promise. But she also clings to the deep roots of her loving mother, stepfather, and sisters. Can she ignore the pull of the happily familiar world of Colby?

Emaline wants the moon and more, but how can she balance where she comes from with where she’s going?

Sarah Dessen’s devoted fans will welcome this story of romance, yearning, and, finally, empowerment. It could only happen in the summer.

review :

This book was amazing and surprised me in so many ways! If you’ve been wanting to read something by Sarah Dessen or have begun to think that all of her books are starting to feel the same (I think every fan can reach contemporary romance overload at some point) then you must pick up this book. It has the same unique feel as earlier Dessen books I’ve picked up had, yet the story is still told wonderfully and the characters are well fleshed out. Like always I absolutely adored returning to a familiar setting, featured in other books by this author, as well as the small connections that linked these characters to ones from other books. With every book Dessen releases I try to see how many connections I can make between it and the ones I’ve read before it. It’s like a literary scavenger hunt.

I could relate to Emaline so well because although she’s a few years younger than I am, I remember going through the stress of choosing a college and immediately afterward trying to determine where I’m going to go with my life. There’s this insane amount of pressure put onto students her age and I loved seeing her develop through this summer after her senior year. The Moon and More misled me and I loved that. It isn’t about romance. It’s about Emaline coming into her own and reaching for anything that will make her a better, happier person. She makes some mistakes on the way, which made me like her even more.

There were some characters that I couldn’t stand and in the beginning of the text I was afraid that I was intended to like them. While everything was sorted out in the end, I liked how The Moon and More manages, in an understated way, to point out that no one person’s life will ever be perfect and people don’t always need or get second chances.

I’d recommend this book to anyone looking for a light read this summer. If you’ve been a fan of Sarah Dessen like I am, I think this book will make you like her even more. If you haven’t gotten around to reading any of her books yet, maybe it’s time you took the plunge.

4/5 stars

If you liked this book you might also like That Summer or The Beginning of Everything

5 stars · fiction · romance · young adult

This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

This Lullaby

author : Sarah Dessen [also wrote: That Summer, Along for the Ride, Lock and Key,
What Happened to Goodbye and The Truth About Forever]

pages : [paperback] 345

memorable quote :

“Wherever you will go,
I will let you down,
But this lullaby goes on.”

favorite characters : dexter & remy

summary :

When it comes to relationships, Remy doesn’t mess around. After all, she’s learned all there is to know from her mother, who’s currently working on husband number five. But there’s something about Dexter that seems to defy all of Remy’s rules. He certainly doesn’t seem like Mr. Right. For some reason, however, Remy just can’t seem to shake him. Could it be that Remy’s starting to understand what those love songs are all about?

review :

I love Sarah Dessen and her books! This is a reread for me, but I’d completely forgotten everything about the plot and characters apart from what I saw on the back of the book. That’s what I like about these novels; I can return to them time and time again with a fresh outlook, the newest version of me, and still take something great away from it.

Above all else, I love the characters. Remy doesn’t think that love exists, she’s convinced most of her friends of this, and when she might start changing, she stops that right in its tracks. Dexter is just as stubbornly set in his personality, two parts goofy, two parts sweet, all parts clumsy. For the most part they’re complete opposites and I love seeing characters like that clashing in books like this.

While there was nothing spectacularly original about the setting, I’m still loving the fact that all of Sarah Dessen’s books intertwine. I like looking for the little similarities and seeing what might be the same as something in another book or what background character might play the starring role in another book. It’s like a young adult scavenger hunt.

While I don’t think that This Lullaby is my favorite Sarah Dessen novel, it’s still one of the top ones and I love it so, so much. I think now it’s a given for me to read at least one of her books during the summer. Although it does have the typical romance that usually fills such books, it also has a more serious note, isn’t such a lighthearted story, and bears a great message within its pages.

5/5 stars

5 stars · fiction · young adult

That Summer by Sarah Dessen

That Summer

Author: Sarah Dessen [also wrote Along for the Ride, Lock and Key, What Happened to Goodbye and The Truth About Forever]

Pages: [hardcover]: 240

Memorable Quote: Everyone can reach back to one summer and lay a finger to it, finding the exact point when everything changed. That summer was mine.

Favorite Characters:
Haven & Sumner

Summary:

For fifteen-year-old Haven, life is changing too quickly. She’s nearly six feet tall, her father is getting remarried, and her sister—the always perfect Ashley—is planning a wedding of her own. Haven wishes things could just go back to the way they were. Then an old boyfriend of Ashley’s reenters the picture, and through him, Haven sees the past for what it really was, and comes to grips with the future.

Review:

 I loved this book just as much as every other Sarah Dessen novel I’ve read, though this book takes a different route than the easy summer romances I’ve become used to. That Summer is more about a girl growing comfortable with herself and her own skin than her finding the perfect guy. That makes this book stand out more, and is exactly why I liked it.

Once again, a book by Sarah Dessen has supporting characters that are just as amazingly thought out as the main character. Sumner is brilliantly off the wall, doing things the opposite way that anyone else would do them. Haven’s sister, Ashley, who could get very annoying at times, was still interesting and stuck true to her personality. I easily fell in love with this cast of characters.

Although when I first started this book, I expected something different from what was given to me, I ended up loving the story all the same. Haven has insecurities just like every other teen girl. Hers take form in her height, which at 6 feet tall, isn’t exactly typical for a girl her age. So she hates it. I think this makes her easily relatable, because everyone I know hates something about themselves that they have absolutely no control over, and eventually have to learn to accept.

I give That Summer 5/5 stars. It was an awesome read that wasn’t too hard, perfect for the beach or a long car ride. I’ll be reading this one over and over, and I hope fans of Sarah Dessen as well as other young adult readers give this a chance.

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May 2011 Wrap Up

This month, I read:

The Adoration of Jenna Fox [Fox #1]-Mary E. Pearson
The Alchemyst [Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel #1]-Michael Scott
The Dead Tossed Waves-Carrie Ryan
Across the Universe-Beth Revis
Snow-Terry Lynn
What Happened to Goodbye-Sarah Dessen
The Iron Queen [Iron Fey #3]-Julie Kagawa

Books I purchased: 0
Won in Contest:  0
Borrowed from friend: 3
Checked out from library: 4
Review books: 0
Pages read: 2492

Challenge Status:

Show Me the Free: 0/12
2011 Debut Author Challenge: 1/12
Edgar Awards Reading Challenge: 1/5
2011 Book Blogger Recommendation Challenge: 6/15
Retold Fairy Tales: 5/6
Nicholas Sparks Reading Challenge: 1/4

This month was very hectic, but fun. I loved a lot of the books I read, and some were in a series I was dying to read. Hopefully next month will be filled with awesome books that I’ll want to read again and again.

5 stars · fiction · romance · young adult

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

What Happened to Goodbye

Author: Sarah Dessen [also wrote Along for the Ride, Lock and Key, and The Truth About Forever]

Pages [hardcover]: 416

Favorite Characters: Deb & Dave

Memorable Quote: When you can’t save yourself or your heart, it helps to be able to save face.

Summary:

In the past two years, Mclean Sweet has moved four times. At each stop, she assumes a new persona, but it never quite works. Whether she’s an effervescent cheerleader or an intense drama queen, nothing can permanently dispel the turmoil and rage at her mother since her parents’ divorce. Sarah Dessen’s novel about a teenager and her restaurant manager father captures the vulnerability that young people often experience after the dissolution of their family. A compelling story; strong characterization; and with a touch of romance.

Review:

I love Sarah Dessen’s books. Every single one I’ve read has been addicting from beginning to end, with the most creative characters, wonderful plot twists, and moving revelations-no pun intended. What Happened to Goodbye is about a girl, Mclean, who has moved around so often that she’d not even sure who she is any longer.

As in other Dessen books, the characters are fantastic. While in some the main character may seem lacking as a result of the incredibly defined minor roles, Mclean is wonderfully portrayed, and I quickly grew to love her. Jason from The Truth About Forever, who also makes an appearance in Along for the Ride, is also in this book. I love how every novel connects to the others in some small way. It feels like a game, looking for all the little details that hint at past characters.

I loved this book because I never knew what was going to happen next. Mclean was slowly losing her own identity while her relationship with each parent frayed. The plot could have spun off in several different ways, and I liked the direction it took.

While Dave might not be as mysterious or intriguing as other boys from Dessen books, he’s still awesome in his own way. I love how he’s geeky, knows it, and doesn’t care. He lets people know the real side of him, without being embarrassed about his true self. I think that he’s a really strong character because of this, and I really liked him.

I give What Happened to Goodbye 5/5 stars. I loved it! This is definitely one I will remember for a while and will pick up to read again!

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April 2011 Wrap Up

This month, I read:

The Scorch Trials-James Dashner
Tyger Tyger-Kersten Hamilton
You-Charles Benoit
Two Moon Princess-Carmen Fereiro-Esteban
Invincible-Sherrilyn Kenyon
Along for the Ride-Sarah Dessen
Happy Birthday to Me-Brian Rowe
Midnight Pearls-Debbie Viguie
Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow-Jessica Day George
Impossible-Nancy Werlin

Books I purchased: 1
Won in Contest: 0
Borrowed from friend: 1
Checked out from library: 6
Review books: 2
Pages read: 2856

Challenge Status:

Show Me the Free: 0/12
2011 Debut Author Challenge: 0/12
Edgar Awards Reading Challenge: 1/5
2011 Book Blogger Recommendation Challenge: 4/15
Retold Fairy Tales: 3/6
Nicholas Sparks Reading Challenge: 1/4

April was one of the busiest months I’ve ever had. It was fun while it lasted, but now I’m looking forward to summer weather! With only a short snatch of time until I’m freed from the stresses of school, it’s hard to concentrate on reading. 😀

5 stars · fiction · romance · young adult

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

Along for the Ride

Author: Sarah Dessen

Pages [hardcover]: 383

Memorable Quote: It was so weird, because usually I was totally nervous talking to guys. But Eli was different. He made me want to say more, not less. Which was maybe not a good thing.

Favorite Characters: Maggie & Auden

Summary:

It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.

A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.

In her signature pitch-perfect style, Sarah Dessen explores the hearts of two lonely people learning to connect.

Review:

I love all of Sarah Dessen’s books, and this is one of the few that I haven’t read yet. Along for the Ride is as sweet, funny, romantic, and fun as every other novel written by this author.

I really liked how Auden wasn’t the only one who needed her life to change for the better. Eli is still attempting to pick up the pieces of his life, and one summer of sleepless nights with Auden could help him heal. They both rely on each other evenly.

This book didn’t put as much emphasis on the minor characters as others by Sarah Dessen have. Instead, the plot circles around Auden, focusing on the miniscule changes in her life. I like how the reader can see each step of her transformation, even when that step is backwards.

I really enjoyed Along for the Ride and already have another Sarah Dessen book lined up on my to be read pile. I recommend this for any previous fans of her work or anyone looking for a light, fun summer read or romance. I give it 5/5 stars.

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Best of 2010!

It seems like this entire year just flew by! I’d like to ring in 2011 by revisting some of my favorite reads this past year:

 Best Historical Fiction:

Annexed by Sharon Dogar! I absolutely loved this book and it is highly recommended.

Best Mystery:

 

Juliet by Anne Fortier! This book kept me on the edge of my seat, and I loved every minute of it. From the romance, to the historical aspect, to the plot twists, it was perfection!

Best Romance:

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen! I love her books, and the chemistry between her characters is awesome. Macy and Wes are definitely my favorite couple.

Best Fantasy

 The Iron King by Julie Kagawa! I’ve read the first two books of this trilogy, and cannot wait until the third is released! I’ve fallen in love with the characters, especially Puck. (:

Best Steampunk:

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld! He’s one of my favorite authors, and this steampunk version of WWII does not disappoint.

Best Classic:

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde is a disturbing yet gripping tale about good and evil.

Best Modern Twist on a Classic:

Beastly by Alex Flinn! I read this because the movie’s set to come out in 2011, and I absolutely loved it!

Best Series:

The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series may be for a slightly younger age set, but I love it! The action, humor, romance all fit together perfectly, and I could not stop reading! Thankfully, there’s a spin-off series to keep me going. 😀

 

Best Trilogy:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins! This trilogy was gripping and had me on the edge of my seat from the very beginning. The world it was set it was fantastically described, and the characters were awesome!

Total number of pages read in 2010: 32335
Books Read: 102

All in all, a great year! How was your 2010?

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Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

 

Lock and Key

Author: Sarah Dessen [also wrote The Truth About Forever]

Pages [hardcover]: 422

Available Now!

Memorable Quote: Whenever something great happens, you’re always kind of poised for the universe to correct itself.

Favorite Characters: Nate and Jamie

Summary:

After her mom vanished in a stench of drugs and alcohol, Ruby continued to live in the family house alone. Finally found out, the introspective teenager is sent to the luxurious home of her older sister, Cora, whom she hadn’t seen in ten years. Everything there seems unfamiliar, uncomfortable, and supremely weird: her fancy new room; her lavish new wardrobe; the exclusive private school where she never quite fits in. Most mysterious of all is Nate, the friendly boy next door who seems to have a deep secret of his own. Another subtle character-driven teen novel by Sarah Dessen, the author of Just Listen and That Summer.

Review:

 I absolutely adore all of Sarah Dessen’s books. They’re beautifully written, with well developed characters and wonderful plot lines. I love how each and every character is unique, even the minor ones! I’ve never found as many memorable personalities packed into one book as her novels have.

 Ruby is a rebellious young girl who practically has to raise herself, as her mother absolutely detests all forms of responsibility. With this as her only role model, Ruby quickly becomes independent, but with this come bad habits-drugs and alcohol are abundent, as well as a horrible group of friends. Ruby never plans to finish high school, let alone attend college. She never believes she’ll even have a chance for a future.

Then her mom disappears, packing her bags and leaving in the middle of the night. Determined to stay on her own until she turns 18 and can do whatever she wants, Ruby begins to live without running water or electricity, barely getting by. Then the neighbors find out her mother is MIA, and chaos insues. Ruby’s shipped off to her sister Cora’s house, to live with her and her husband, Jamie.

Ruby didn’t even know her sister was married.

Throughout the book, the reader follows Ruby as she attempts to change her outlook on life. It’s been nothing but negative before, but maybe things could be looking up. And just as her life seems to be getting better, its getting worse for one of the people closest to her. Can she make a difference in someone else’s life? Ruby’s looked out for no one but herself in . . . Well, forever.

A fantastic page-tuner, Lock and Key will keep you addicted and wanting more. I give it 5/5 stars, and can’t wait to read another one of Sarah Dessen’s books!