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Mini Reviews Galore: Catching Up!

I was waiting for Sarah Dessen’s latest novel for so long. I don’t know how many times I mentioned how much I wanted to read this one. 

Well, I finally got to read Dessen’s newest creation, and I was less than impressed. Where was the storytelling that drew me in in The Truth About Forever, Just Listen, and Along For the Ride, to name a few? I’ve noticed the slight decline in Dessen’s work lately, but never expected to see it so blatantly in this one. 

The protagonist isn’t very likable, and the love interest is kind of an asshole. I liked the world building regarding Colby, because it sounds so ideal, and I liked the relationship between the protagonist and her little brother. But other than those things, I was very disillusioned when I finished the book. 

The prose was at times boring and drawn out, while the conclusion lacked that classic Sarah Dessen feel. I’m a sucker for her endings, so I was very disappointed with this one. 

I give it a 3 because it’s Dessen and I don’t feel right giving her books less than a 3 out of 5—but this one came pretty close. 

___

             

Ah, the Too Far series by Abbi Glines! 

I absolutely adored this series. It was spicy, dramatic, and delicious. Of course, it’s a little cliche and features a man who is very possessive, but for the sake of the book, and the fact that Rush, the love interest, is absolutely sigh-worthy, I overlooked these things.

It’s pretty easy to do. 

I wouldn’t recommend this series to anyone under the age of 18, because of the VERY obvious display of sexual loving, but to those who are of age—read on!

___

I LOVED Morgan Matson’s Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour

I’m a huge fan of books that feature adventures like road trips, so I was very pleased to learn more about the U.S. with Amy and Roger. But of course, this young adult novel doesn’t simply follow these two characters on a geography lesson. Matson’s novel touches on the subject of loss, friendship, love, and what it means to finally let go and grow. 

The chapters that feature memories from Amy’s past are a little annoying because, though they help us see who she is, they interrupt the current story. If Amy is trying to overcome her past, why do we have to relive it? 

did love the imaginative use of postcards, pictures, and little notes and drawings within the book. I love visual proof of what the characters are seeing, so this made Matson’s book all that much more memorable.

This is where we are introduced to Matson’s writing and I have to say, I’m a fan now. 

For fans of road trip adventures, cute male characters, and quirky friendships!

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I enjoyed Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock, but it lacked a certain touch that would otherwise make it a favorite. 

It was creepy and exciting, since it’s set in a world where werewolves are a reality—which reminded me of Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse series. I was drawn to the mystery aspect of the book and how this ghost was seemingly haunting her best friend.

What I didn’t like so much: 

  • The detective work isn’t as prominent as the synopses hints at.
  • There is a LOVE TRIANGLE. Like, a pretty obvious one that set my nerves on edge. Just, no.
  • The protagonist is one of those plain Janes who magically has all the guys wanting her, putting her in the cliche woods.

What redeemed this for me: 

  • The creepy small town
  • The surprise twists
  • The sexy male characters (ignore my age)

I have many mixed feelings regarding this one, but it was a fun read. 

___

Happy reading!

Read the first chapter of young adult author Sarah Dessen’s new novel, out June 4.

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(Photo: )

10:35AM EST November 8. 2012 - Fans of Sarah Dessen’s best-selling young adult novels have a new coming-of-age tale to look forward to just in time for beach season. In June 2013, Dessen will return with her 11th novel, The Moon and More.

The North Carolina-based author is known for her popular stories about growing up, such as The Truth About Forever and Along for the Ride, which peaked on USA TODAY’s Best-Selling Books list at No. 11 in 2009.

In The Moon and More, Emaline works at her family’s vacation rental company the summer before she leaves for college. She must confront her values, goals and choices as her relationship with city-boy Theo evolves and she’s forced to say goodbye to the beach town where she grew up.

Take a first look at the book jacket and read an excerpt of the novel, which will arrive on June 4…

Check out the excerpt at the above link!

Source: U.S.A. Today

New Sarah Dessen Novel Name Change!

The Moon and More, expected publication is May 2013

No cover yet, but here’s the synopses! 

Set in the fictional beach town of Colby, where several of Dessen’s novels take place, it features 18-year-old Emmeline, who is spending her last summer before college working for her family’s vacation rental business and enjoying a summer romance with a young aspiring filmmaker.”

I’m crazy excited for this, are you?

Day 7: Most Underrated Book:
Just Listen, by Sarah Dessen
I know a lot of people have read this, but when one thinks of Sarah Dessen s/he usually thinks of The Truth About Forever, Dreamland or Lock and Key, or even that Mandy Moore movie, but Just Listen is one of Dessen’s best novels, in my opinion.

Day 7: Most Underrated Book:

Just Listen, by Sarah Dessen

I know a lot of people have read this, but when one thinks of Sarah Dessen s/he usually thinks of The Truth About Forever, Dreamland or Lock and Key, or even that Mandy Moore movie, but Just Listen is one of Dessen’s best novels, in my opinion.

If you like: Young Adult, romance, coming-of-age, strong female protagonists, dramatic fiction
“Last year, Annabel was “the girl who has everything”—at least that’s the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf’s Department Store.This year, she’s the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong. Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owen’s help,maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends.”
Happy reading!

If you like: Young Adult, romance, coming-of-age, strong female protagonists, dramatic fiction

Last year, Annabel was “the girl who has everything”—at least that’s the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf’s Department Store.This year, she’s the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong. Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owen’s help,maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends.”

Happy reading!

Spotlight Author: Sarah Dessen

One of the masters of Young Adult fiction, Sarah Dessen was born June 6th of 1970 in Evanston, Illinois. She is the daughter of a Classicist professor (her mother) and a Shakespeare professor (her father), and they both teach at the University of North Carolina. Even though she was born in Illinois, Dessen has spent the greater part of her life in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where she currently resides as well. 

Fun Fact: 

  • Because of her father’s career, Dessen has seen Shakespeare’s As You Like It at least five times.

Dessen has admitted to a lifetime love affair with books. Her parents, to her chagrin, always bought her books for Christmas instead of the jewelry and pretty clothes that her friends received. Despite her dismay with books as presents, Dessen’s always been a big reader and she has her parents to thank for that, since they too love reading. A lot of you aspiring authors may love this bit: Dessen has always written. She received an old manual typewriter when she was about eight or nine years-old from her parents as a gift. 

On her love of writing and her experiences growing up as a writer, Dessen has quoted on her website: 

I was the kind of kid that people always sighed over and said, “She has such a wild imagination,” which usually meant “I wish Sarah would try to stick to the truth.” I have a tendency to embellish: I think it’s just a weakness of fiction writers. Once you learn how to make a story better, it’s hard not to do it all the time.

-(Sarah Dessen)

Despite what others thought, Dessen obviously followed her dream of being an author and succeeded, but the teenage version of Dessen was not privy to this information just yet. Dessen has admitted that she had a lot of girl friends in high school, and as a result, they later inspired some of her stories. It probably hasn’t hurt her either that they are all still friends. Ever wonder how Dessen is able to write in such a powerful teen voice? It is because of these same friends and the experiences she shared with them!

When she graduated high school, Dessen began taking classes at the Greensboro College in North Carolina, but she dropped out shortly after to take classes at the University of North Carolina. There she studied Creative Writing and English, eventually graduating with honors. When she graduated, Dessen’s parents were hoping that she would find a “real” job, but she maintained her job as a waitress at the Flying Burrito restaurant, while trying to finish a novel to publish. 

Fact: 

  • Dessen wrote a novel by the time she graduated from university, but she thought it was so bad that she began working on her second novel (which she worked on while waitressing).

During her endeavors as an aspiring writer/waitress, Dessen’s family was supportive, despite her decision to continue her own path. She resided in a small, old home in her hometown for a few years as she wrote during the day and waitressed during the night. 

Success came to Dessen when she finally sold her first novel, That Summer three years after graduating from university. Even so, she wasn’t offered a teaching job for another year. 

What Dessen admits she loved and misses about her waitressing gig, since she thought it was the perfect job for a writer:

-The overheard gossip

-The things she witnessed that served as great material for her stories

-The fast money, which included going home without any leftover work

-The free Mexican food

When Dessen began her writing career, she admits that she’d never thought of being a Young Adult writer. Her agent, however, had other ideas on this matter. According to her agent, Dessen had the ability to write in a strong teenage voice. Having figured this out, Dessen’s second manuscript was sold to Orchard Books. After embracing the title of “Young Adult Author”, Dessen believes that she writes for teens because she still has so much to say about her high school experience.

Cool fact:

  • Dessen used to spend a good deal of time in the parking lot of her school. (She admits to being a bit of a burnout in her bio on her website), and this experience aided in the creation of a lot of her ideas.

Books that influenced Sarah Dessen’s writing:

  1. A Summer to Die, Lois Lowry
  2. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, Judy Blume

When it comes to writing, Dessen wants to be able to write books that help readers feel like they’re not alone. She wants to create stories that strike and resonate within her readers, much like what she experienced when she read the already mentioned novels.

Before Dessen became a full-time author, she was a teacher and on this she comments: “Teaching was great for me, because I got to show people how writing can really change the way you see not only yourself but the world. I’ve found in my own life that if my writing isn’t going well, not much else will” (Sarah Dessen). 

Currently, Dessen lives with her husband, daughter, and two dogs in the country. She admits to not being able to keep any plants alive, yet likes to garden. She harbors a love of shopping for clothes (particularly black pants) from the clearance rack at the GAP, and she loves to drink Starbucks mochas, despite how hyper they make her. Her ability to be so candid on her bio shows us a writer who is just like us, but who loves her craft immensely.

Sarah Dessen is an inspiration to many authors who strive to write books that send the same message of empowerment that she fights to achieve within her writing. Many more great things will come from this author, and I personally can not wait to read her future novels!

Want to check her out? Here are her novels:

1. That Summer:

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.”

 2. The Truth About Forever:

    A long, hot summer 

    Sixteen-year-old Macy Queen is looking forward to a long, boring summer. Her boyfriend is going away. She’s stuck with a dull-as-dishwater job at the library. And she’ll spend all of her free time studying for the SATs or grieving silently with her mother over her father’s recent unexpected death. But everything changes when Macy is corralled into helping out at one of her mother’s open house events, and she meets the chaotic Wish Catering crew. Before long, Macy joins the Wish team. She loves everything about the work and the people. But the best thing about Wish is Wes—artistic, insightful, and understanding Wes—who gets Macy to look at life in a whole new way, and really start living it.”

    3. Just Listen

      “Last year, Annabel was “the girl who has everything”—at least that’s the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf’s Department Store.This year, she’s the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong. Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owen’s help,maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends.”

       4. This Lullaby

      “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?”

       5. Along For the Ride

      “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.”

       6. Lock and Key

      Ruby, where is your mother?

      Ruby knows that the game is up. For the past few months, she’s been on her own in the yellow house, managing somehow, knowing that her mother will probably never return.

      That’s how she comes to live with Cora, the sister she hasn’t seen in ten years, and Cora’s husband Jamie, whose down-to-earth demeanor makes it hard for Ruby to believe he founded the most popular networking Web site around. A luxurious house, fancy private school, a new wardrobe, the promise of college and a future; it’s a dream come true. So why is Ruby such a reluctant Cinderella, wary and defensive? And why is Nate, the genial boy next door with some secrets of his own, unable to accept the help that Ruby is just learning to give?”

       7. Someone Like You

      “Halley has always followed in the wake of her best friend, Scarlett. But when Scarlett learns that her boyfriend has been killed in a motorcycle accident, and that she’s carrying his baby, she’s devastated. For the first time ever, Scarlett really needs Halley. Their friendship may bend under the weight, but it’ll never break—because a true friendship is a promise you keep forever.”

       8. Dreamland

      “Rogerson Biscoe, with his green eyes and dark curly hair, is absolutely seductive. Before long, sixteen-year-old Caitlin finds herself under his spell. And when he starts to abuse her, she finds she’s in too deep to get herself out…”

       9. Keeping the Moon

      “Colie expects the worst when she’s sent to spend the summer with her eccentric aunt Mira while her mother, queen of the television infomercial, tours Europe. Always an outcast — first for being fat and then for being “easy” — Colie has no friends at home and doesn’t expect to find any in Colby, North Carolina. But then she lands a job at the Last Chance Cafe and meets fellow waitresses Morgan and Isabel, best friends with a loving yet volatile relationship. Wacky yet wise, Morgan and Isabel help Colie see herself in a new way and realize the potential that has been there all along.”

      10. What Happened to Goodbye

      “Since her parents’ bitter divorce, McLean and her dad, a restaurant consultant, have been on the move-four towns in two years. Estranged from her mother and her mother’s new family, McLean has followed her dad in leaving the unhappy past behind. And each new place gives her a chance to try out a new persona: from cheerleader to drama diva. But now, for the first time, McLean discovers a desire to stay in one place and just be herself, whoever that is. Perhaps Dave, the guy next door, can help her find out.”

      I hope you enjoyed this Featured Author! Remember that you can always either check this out again or any other Features, here

      Next weeks featured author is: Michael Crichton!

      Also, you can always request an author whenever you wish, simply ask.

      The sources used for this piece:

      Happy reading!

      Recommendation: The Truth About Forever, by Sarah Dessen

      If you love teen fiction with a coming-of-age story that is deeply moving, relatable, and extremely well written, then you should check out:

      The Truth About Forever, by Sarah Dessen

      Why you’ll love this:

      Sarah Dessen is one of those Young Adult authors who has inspired countless authors to follow their passion of writing. It is her powerful stories, such as The Truth About Forever, that makes Dessen perhaps one of the most influential writers of the 21st century (in my humble opinion). Not convinced? I believe that this is one of her best works yet, so if you have checked out one of her previous novels, then I strongly urge you to give this one a shot. Written in powerful prose, Dessen takes the reader through a journey of emotions that follows a young, relatable teenage girl as she learns what is important in life, how to deal with grief, and most importantly, how to be herself in a world that imposes expectations on her. If you love Colasanti, Caletti, and Echols, you’ll definitely love Dessen. 

      Sixteen-year-old Macy Queen is looking forward to a long, boring summer. Her boyfriend is going away. She’s stuck with a dull-as-dishwater job at the library. And she’ll spend all of her free time studying for the SATs or grieving silently with her mother over her father’s recent unexpected death. But everything changes when Macy is corralled into helping out at one of her mother’s open house events, and she meets the chaotic Wish Catering crew. Before long, Macy joins the Wish team. She loves everything about the work and the people. But the best thing about Wish is Wes—artistic, insightful, and understanding Wes—who gets Macy to look at life in a whole new way, and really start living it.”

      Happy reading!

      Day 1: Favourite Book

      This one is extremely hard, but if I had to choose just ONE I’d probably go with Sarah Dessen’s The Truth About Forever

      This one has always been on my mind since I first read it a few years ago, introducing me to the wonderful world of Dessen. Her realistic characters and situations made me relate to the story, and not just because of the context of the text… but because of how powerful the storytelling is. If you’ve never read this one, give it a shot. It is a Young Adult fiction piece, but in reality, it is in a league all of its own. 

      Sixteen-year-old Macy Queen is looking forward to a long, boring summer. Her boyfriend is going away. She’s stuck with a dull-as-dishwater job at the library. And she’ll spend all of her free time studying for the SATs or grieving silently with her mother over her father’s recent unexpected death. But everything changes when Macy is corralled into helping out at one of her mother’s open house events, and she meets the chaotic Wish Catering crew. Before long, Macy joins the Wish team. She loves everything about the work and the people. But the best thing about Wish is Wes—artistic, insightful, and understanding Wes—who gets Macy to look at life in a whole new way, and really start living it.”

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