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Archive for the ‘Sarah Dessen’ Category

The best way to describe What Light by Jay Asher is that it is suitable for one of those Hallmark or Lifetime Channel cheesy Christmas romance movies. So, the less said about it the better.

Synopsis: Sierra’s family owns a Christmas tree farm in Oregon. From Thanksgiving through Christmas they relocate to California to sell the trees. The farm and lot have been in the family for generations.

As a result of this lifestyle, Sierra has two sets of friends, one set in each state and gets emotional every time she has to leave one for the other. She’s also avoided entanglements in California, knowing she’s a short timer.

This year is the exception. She meets Caleb, a boy with a shady past. Her overly protective father, now has cause to be even more protective.

What Light is ready made for TV, cheesy plot, semi-tearjerker ending, set at holiday time. Quite the change from Asher’s overly serious, suicidal Thirteen Reasons Why. I had nothing else to read so I kept going, but luckily I’m not diabetic because the sugary sweetness of the book would have put me in a coma.

If you go for this sort of book (guilty pleasure or not), go for it. Otherwise read Sarah Dessen or Emory Lord or Morgan Matson.

The end.

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Yes, I know. I should have posted this a few months ago. Better late than never???

Andie Walker’s summer isn’t going as planned. Her summer program at Johns Hopkins fell through. Her Congressman father is under investigation. In the five years since her mother died, Andie’s been left in her Connecticut home in the care of sitters while the Congressman is in Washington. Now he’s home, thinking he can be the father he hasn’t been in five years. However, there is an awkwardness in the air. They have nothing to say to each other and now she’s got a curfew.

UnexpectedEverything

The bad news is that the only summer job Andie could get was walking dogs. The good news is that this is the first summer in several years that her ‘group of four: Andie, Palmer, Bri and Toby’, will all be home for the summer.

The bad news is that before she even started her job she got slobbered over by a runaway dog. The good news is that particular dog walker was kind of cute.

Morgan Matson, author of Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, Since You’ve Been Gone and Second Chance Summer, is a master of the summer time romance. As you know, I rank her up there with the established Sarah Dessen and newcomer Emery Lord (by the way, her new book When We Collided should be on your reading list).

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When you pick up The Unexpected Everything you know there will be romance and the inevitable breakup, there will be unrest among the group of four, there will be father-child consternation. But isn’t that what you expect in a ‘beach read’, which this clearly is (and I mean no disrespect by it). I will admit that it took me about 50 pages to start getting into the book, but once I did, I didn’t want to put it down.

The cover of The Unexpected Everything utilizes the ice cream theme found on Since You’ve Been Gone. With the addition of a gaggle of dogs (is that what a bunch of dogs is called?), the cover makes the book totally inviting. Ice cream and dogs. Made for summer.

So, if you haven’t read Morgan Matson, you should start. If you have read her books, this is a welcome addition to her library.

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Clare and Aiden have 12 hours before she departs for Dartmouth in HelloGoodbyeNew Hampshire and he jets to Los Angeles to attend UCLA. The question that so many teens face but hasn’t been written much about in YA literature is what do they do. Having been dating for 2 years Aiden is of the impression that long distance romances can work and there are so many folks who have married their high school sweethearts. Clare, on the other hand, thinks that they should break up now, while on an up streak, rather than wait until it fizzles out over time and seeing each other on college breaks becomes awkward. However, Aiden, always the joker, hasn’t been keen on discussing this subject.

So, on their last night together in the suburbs of Chicago, Clare the anal one and list maker in the relationship, has created a list of places of importance to their relationship that they must visit before leaving for separate coasts. Aiden, the unromantic one of the duo, isn’t quite sure what occurred at some of these spots but he’s going along with Clare.

In the 12 hours from 6 PM to 6 AM the next day, Clare and Aiden come to a decision. Along with this, readers get a glimpse of both Aiden’s and Clare’s parents, who play a major role in how the teens react to their situation. Additionally, they get to know their best friends, Scottie and Stella, who also impact their decision.

ComebackSeaspmHello, Goodbye and Everything in Between is a great title because the book is a 12 hour roller coaster of emotions. Should they? Shouldn’t they? Saying goodbye to friends and family is tough even if it isn’t permanent.

I’ve been a fan of Jennifer E. Smith from The Comeback Season, to StatisticalProbabilityThe Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight to Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between. While at the beginning of the book, it wasn’t my favorite, by the time I got to the end, it was high on the list (I think The Comeback Season will always be my favorite since it was my first (and her first) Smith book). You know what to expect with Smith. A great story. Great characters. A great ending. And possibly a teary eye at the end.

I’d put Jennifer E. Smith up there with Sarah Dessen, and new favorites Emery Lord and Morgan Matson.

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My first Sarah Dessen book was Dreamland, upmteen years ago andSaintAnything I was hooked. It was about an abusive relationship, as was Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn, which I read shortly after. Both authors have since moved on from topical issues, Flinn to retelling fairy tales and Dessen to summer romance. So I was happy to see that in Saint Anything, Dessen has inched back towards a topical issue.

Sixteen year old Sydney Stanford’s older brother Peyton had it all-charm, athleticism, smarts-but for some reason he threw it all away, drinking, breaking and entering, etc. Having served several short stints in jail, he’s now locked away for a longer time for something more serious, drunk driving and hitting a pedestrian.

BreathingUnderwaterSydney, in order to avoid knowing eyes and whispers, decides to leave her prestigious private school for the local public school, Jackson High, where nobody knows her. This also meant leaving behind her best friends Jenn and Meredith and their after school coffees, etc. After her first day of school, not wanting to go home to a mother so focused on Peyton, she wanders into a local pizza place. As she opens the door, a good looking guy, Mac, comes in behind her and goes behind the counter. Sitting and eating her pizza, a young blond girl, Layla, rushes in and disappears behind the door marking Private. Little does Sydney know how important these two people will become in her life.

DreamlandThis is the second book in a row I’ve read where mothers become overbearing, for one reason or another, and children suffer. Sydney’s mother, Julie, is so focused on making Peyton’s jail time as comfortable and enjoyable as possible (yes, it is jail, not play school) and in making sure that Sydney doesn’t make the same mistakes, that the once lively Julie has become a machine. She’s talking with prisoner advocates, monitoring Sydney’s activities and organizing parents of other inmates, so that Sydney’s once idyllic home life has been obliterated.

In addition, Sydney also has to deal with the creepy Ames, a friend of Peyton’s who has wormed his way into the Stanford household as her mother’s friend. His mere presence makes her uncomfortable, but of course, no one notices.

As I said, Saint Anything is a step towards realistic fiction while not losing the summer romance angle that has made Sarah Dessen as popular as she is. Dessen explores Peyton’s feelings towards his family, the society imposed and self imposed isolation that comes from being in jail. Julie’s transformation from lively, energetic mother to overbearing, focused, disciplinarian, which in part causes Sydney’s feeling of isolation from family and friends, is palpable.

In typical Dessen fashion, music plays a major role in Saint Anything. She has created a cast of characters that you’ll love from page one. Saint Anything is another winning Sarah Dessen book which fans will devour…if they haven’t already. (P.S. Other than mentioning the fictional town of Colby, I didn’t recognize anything from any of her other books. She usually does have oblique references to prior books. So, if you find one, let me know.)

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If we’re truthful, we all have our guilty reading pleasures. StartOfMeAndYouThose of you who follow this blog know that I like YA chick lit, like those books written by Sarah Dessen. But I’ve also mentioned two newcomers to my chick lit reading list: Morgan Matson and Emery Lord. The Start of Me and You is Emery Lord’s latest book.

I like the beginning of The Start of Me and You. “…Our town (Oakhurst, Indiana) was too big for people to know everything about you, but just small enough for them to clench down on one defining moment like teeth clamped on a prey. Won the spelling bee in fourth grade? You are Dictionary Girl forever….” Paige Hancock was the Girl Whose Boyfriend Drowned. It might have been a year ago, but she still gets That Look. She’s still afraid to go swimming. She still gets nightmares that she’s drowning.

The beginning of her junior year, she decided she needed to change and make a five point plan.

  1. Parties/Social Events
  2. New Group
  3. Date (Ryan Chase)
  4. Travel
  5. Swim.

To that end, she joins the Quizbowl team, in part because nerdy Max Watson, its captain, is cousins with Ryan Chase, a guys she’s crushing on. What better way to meet Ryan.

OpenRoadSummerOf course, I’m not giving anything away by saying that The Start of Me and You is about Paige realizing it’s the nerdy guy she likes. But as is said in the book, it’s the journey, not the end that’s the fun part. Lord has given Paige a great group of girlfriends, Morgan, Kaleigh and Tessa, who are always there for each other. She’s provided a wise grandmother and an annoying little sister. And of course, she’s provided some family drama and some boyfriend drama. All the right ingredients. I like her easy going writing style and the story line, which is quite different from her previous book Open Road Summer, which is also chick lit.

If you’re looking for some fun reading, give Emery Lord a try.

P.S. She does the old Sarah Dessenesque mention of characters from her previous book in the current one, but only once that I could see.

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For those of you who haven’t become jaded regarding Valentine’s Day or those of you who want vicarious romance, here are a few good teen romance authors.

There are the old standbys like Sarah Dessen, Julie Anne Peters and Jennifer E. Smith. But there are a few new authors on the horizon. Morgan Matson, Sara Farizan, Emory Lord and Nina LaCour. Here are some books from the newer authors for you..books you might not have heard of

TellMeAgainTell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan – Leila, an Iranian American teen, attends a private high school, where her parents have high expectations for her future. She has made it to her junior year without romance complicating her life, and that’s just fine with her. Leila would just as soon not have everyone find out that she likes girls. But when beautiful, confident, worldly Saskia breezes into the narrator’s life, everything turns upside down.

LastForeverThe Last Forever by Deb Caletti – After a trying bout with cancer, Tess’s mother has died, but she’s left behind a one-of-a-kind pixiebell plant. When her impulsive, pot-smoking, less-than-dependable father takes her on an extended road trip to the Grand Canyon, Tess brings the plant with her, but keeping it alive during their journey through the desert is a struggle. Unexpectedly, Tess’s father brings her to the home of his mother, an artist Tess barely remembers. Tess is in for some life-changing lessons about old family grudges and secrets held by new acquaintances, including a boy who makes it his mission to help Tess save the withering pixiebell, and wins her heart in the process.

SecondChanceSummerSecond Chance Summer by Morgan Matson – Seventeen-year-old Taylor and her family-her mother, father, older brother, and younger sister-are off to the Poconos for the summer, whether everyone wants to or not. Taylor falls in the latter category. Returning to their lake house after a five-year absence fills her with dread: she’ll have to face her estranged best friend as well as the boy she left without saying goodbye.

 

EverythingLeadsToYouEverything Leads to You by Nina LaCour – Eighteen-year-old production design intern Emi is getting over her first love and trying to establish her place in the Los Angeles film industry. Set during the summer before her freshman year of college, Emi spends days designing sets for a blockbuster, and, later, a low-budget indie film (complicated by the presence of her ex, also working on both films). When she and her best friend Charlotte find a letter hidden in the possessions of a recently deceased Hollywood film legend at an estate sale, they begin searching for its intended recipient. Eventually that leads to Ava, a beautiful teen to whom Emi is immediately attracted.

OpenRoadSummerOpen Road Summer by Emery Lord – Reagan joins her best friend Delilah’s summer concert tour to escape some poor decisions and break some bad habits, finding romance and complication instead.

 

 

 

 

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Most of you know two things about me by now: (1) I do like young adult chick litAmyAndRoger (OK, romance!) and (2) I feel compelled to seek out independent bookstores wherever I am and buy something. The problem with working in a library and also reviewing books for library journals is that I have most of the books that I want at my fingertips.

So, when I found myself in Northshire Books in Saratoga Springs this past week it was tough finding a book I wanted to buy. (As an aside, Northshire Books is a great bookstore. Two levels, the upper level children’s and young adult. I could have browsed there for hours…actually I did, on two separate occasions.)

SecondChanceSummerMy purchase, however, finally ended up being Morgan Matson’s debut novel Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, her other books being Second Chance Summer and Since You’ve Been Gone. Although I have a long history reading and loving Sarah Dessen’s books, Ms. Matson is certainly moving up the ladder and is challenging Ms. Dessen for the top YA Chick Lit spot.

In March, Amy was driving and involved in an accident. Her father was in the passenger seat and was killed. Rather than rallying around each other, her mother and twin brother, Charlie, seemed to withdraw into themselves, not talking at all about what happened. What was worse was that she was her father’s favorite. They shared so much and suddenly he was gone.

In an abrupt move, Amy’s mother, a college professor took a job across the country in Connecticut. She left in May after putting their California home on the market, leaving Amy alone in California to finish school and then drive their car to the East Coast. However, since Amy stopped driving after the accident, her mother recruited Roger, a friend’s son to drive with Amy as passenger. Amy, Charlie and Roger used to play together eons ago.SinceYouveBeenGone

Amy needs to get to Connecticut but Roger has an ulterior motive for taking the cross country trip. While Amy’s mother has plotted out a 4 day route, made motel reservations and everything, Amy and Roger decide it might be worth it to take a ‘road trip’. I’m sure you can guess the ending, but in this particular case, the journey (no pun intended) is delightful. Ms. Matson’s inclusion of Playlists, photos, receipts, drawings and more just add to the enjoyment. In an afterward, she mentions that she is a road trip fan and actually took the trip about which she is writing.

By the way, my favorite character is Bronwyn, who plays a small but pivotal role. She a combination of southern hospitality and wisdom.

I’d suggest that Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour is a great beach read, but while it is 60+ degrees out (in November), I’m not sure if it’s beach weather. So, instead, settle down on the couch, get a drink of some sort, fluff up the pillow and meander through Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour.

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