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Meg Says Read This: Saint Anything

saint anything

I remember the first time I picked up a Sarah Dessen book. Sixth grade, in my middle school library, I can even remember which shelf it was on. That Summer, with it’s yellow binding caught my attention immediately. The front cover had a drawn picture of a girl, and a punch buggy in the background. I fell in love with Dessen’s writing, at once. Then the Sunday, the day before the first day of college, bid day, I met one of my favorite friends in the whole world – Leah. Freshman year we quickly discovered our shared appreciation for the young adult lit world, but particularly Sarah Dessen. She let me borrow Lock and Key and The Truth About Forever. I devoured them in that little twin bed in the corner of my fifth floor dorm (I had a lot of time on my hands about the second week of school when I caught something terrible that left me sick and struggling to breathe in bed for days.) I say all of this because here I am, at 28 now, still devouring Dessen’s each freshly released novel. (And Leah and I still discuss them like we did ten years ago.) I always have this struggle with wanting to read books at exactly the right time. I figured it was fate that the library had an e-book of Dessen’s latest – Saint Anything right before my trip to Jersey. So, it was time to dust off the old Kindle, and from the Panama City, Atlanta, and Philadelphia airports and planes, and cozy lazy November mornings, Saint Anything was a great companion.

I’ll say, I think this is one of Sarah Dessen’s grittiest novels to date. Sydney has long lived in the shadow of her ever charming, popular, but at times wreckless older brother Peyton. The story begins in a court room at Peyton’s sentencing for an act that will shake the family’s lives, and beyond. His mistake has changed the path of an innocent teenager. Sydney is well aware of the consequences, and the story unfolds as she tries to live her life carrying the guilt of her brother’s actions. Sydney’s mom buries herself in the acts of trying to bring “normalcy” to her relationship with her son, as if he’s just received detention and not serving time. Sydney’s dad pours himself into his work, and when he is home, silently goes along with her mom. This is why, though scary, Sydney welcomes a change of scenery by switching to a new school (mostly because of the cost of her expensive school being too much to go along with all of the court costs.) Basically seeking an alternative from heading straight home after school to afternoons of binge watching Real Housewives, and trying to pass the lonely hours before dinner – she finds herself at a local pizza shop, Seaside. Here she meets a fabulous family, and soon, before she even realizes it – she’s started a friendship with siblings Mac and Layla. Sometimes, you meet people who just “get it.” And you don’t know why you’re revealing personal information, and trusting strangers with intimate details about your life – but you are. Perhaps a sense of safety or familiarity or comfort in their warmly chaotic lives, nudged Sydney in the right direction.

Sydney builds a new life for herself at Jackson High School. She finds herself in new friendships she can confide in. She doesn’t have to just be “Peyton’s little sister,” and she’s no longer invisible.

Saint Anything untangles some heavy truths. Having hard conversations, facing things that have been easier to avoid, taking the leap of trusting and investing in new friendships and relationships, and seeing how the good can grow.

I don’t want to spoil it by divulging anymore, but Saint Anything was a fun read and I think Sydney’s character matured throughout the novel. It feels like we can always count on Dessen to provide a story with characters that you want to be friends with, and advice you can take to heart. Long anticipated and not disappointing in the slightest – it made me excited to see what direction Dessen will go next. If you haven’t got your hands on a copy of Saint Anything yet, I highly recommend checking it out!

Also, watch this adorable book trailer:

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Read This

Wordy Wednesday, Read This: Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour

I’m not gonna lie, this is not a recent read for me. I read Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour a while ago. By that I mean before I started keeping a log on my Tumblr, so like spring of 2011 I think. When I first read it, I didn’t even know how to blog about it because I knew no amount of enthusiasm in a blog post would do this beautiful story justice. Look, it’s May of 2013 and this book still gives me butterflies when I think about its awesomeness. Morgan Matson is a master of her craft. It seems that every time I go to write a post for Top Ten Tuesday on The Life of Mugs, I find myself wanting to include this title. It almost doesn’t matter the topic, I seem to find a way to work it in. I guess you could say it’s one of my favorites, and I have a really hard time showing favoritism for books like that – but it just seems to come naturally with this story. So much time has passed, so obviously my recounting the story won’t be as clear as it would’ve been in 2011, but I can’t not share it with you any longer or hold back from urging you to read this one as soon as you can. I own two copies of this book, which means if you want and you’re anywhere near me I’ll totally let you borrow one so we can gab about it afterwards.

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour appeals to me through so many different aspects: self-discovery, music loving, ROADTRIPPING, romance, summer, navigating grief, spontaneity, adventure…

When the book begins, Amy Curry is not in one of the greatest seasons of life. Tragedy has stricken her family, her heart is still aching, and now her mom has decided to uproot them across the country just in time for her senior year of high school. Amy’s mom is pretty protective, so in order to get from California to Connecticut, she’s enlisted an old friend’s son as a companion of sorts. Enter Roger. Of course, spending hours upon hours in a car with someone you’re going to get to know them – thus the opportunity for readers to see a friendship develop between Amy and Roger. What about more than a friendship? You’ll have to read it to find out! Where would the fun be in a road trip if you didn’t ditch the itinerary a little? And what about travelin’ songs? Any author who includes playlists in the chapters with artists such as Jack’s Mannequin, Band of Horses, Vampire Weekend, Nekko Case, Elliott Smith, Matt Pond PA, Damien Rice, Elvis, Broadway Tunes, – I could go on and on, but the point is she has phenomenal music taste and instantly scored a million cool points in my mind. Plus there are little tid bits of mementos like you’re viewing a scrapbook from pit stops along the way. There are so many layers to this story, as we watch Amy delve into emotional territory and baggage she’s shoved aside for a while, and we see her and Roger gain trust in one another. Just blogging about this story makes me want to go ahead and read it again.

It seemed that the more I read, the more overwhelmed I was with just how wonderful each aspect of the book was. Like if people could be books, than I had found my match. I hate to label things but really with it being May and all, this is a great “summer read.” (But if you see this entry later or you know, you’re in Australia or something, read it regardless of the season.) Be prepared because even if you’re like “ohh! Summer, adventure, roadtrips! yada yada” this story has some depth to it, as well. It’s one of the greatest character transformations I’d seen in a while. Even still, and look how many books I’ve read since then? Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour will always hold a special place in my heart, so do yourself a favor and go check it out.

Also, after you’ve read it go check out the incredible playlists from the book!

Listen

Listen to This: M.Ward’s “Carolina”

Here’s my concentrated effort towards not being such a slacker in the blogging world, (and hopefully bringing you quality posts.) I mentioned before how my awesome friend Erin made me a SWEET mixed CD for my birthday. Well, it’s been the soundtrack to my car rides again lately, and I have to share a favorite gem. I was familiar with M. Ward’s song “Carolina” (on the End of Amnesia album) before I got this CD in the mail, but it was her mix that reminded me of what a brilliant song it is. Honestly, if my car had a play count of how many times I repeated a track I can’t even imagine what number this one would be up to at this point. Sometimes, I listen to it three times in a row. Obviously I have obsessive issues, but hopefully you can appreciate what a beautiful tune this is as well!

“Used to feel like California, with babys eyes so blue,Now I feel like Carolina, I split myself in two…”

Listen

Listen to This: “Age Six Racer” and “Stolen”

Happy Friday everybody! Y’all know by now how much I love Fridays. Probably because they’re a prelude to what I think is my favorite, Saturday. (Though I’ll never complain about a great morning at City Church and a Sunday brunch.) Anyway, not only is it September 21st, but it’s the last official day of summer. Tomorrow marks the beginning of fall. For us Floridians, (Chris is from SoFla btw!) this isn’t really a significant turning point because the weather moves at a much slower pace. We’ll continue to get those summer-like thunderstorms, sweat drenching heavy humidity, and sweltering high temperatures. That is until one morning when all of a sudden you go outside and realize, it’d be a lot better if you had on a coat. It happens just like that, like the snap of your fingers. Although, I will say the mornings are darker (pre-time change,) and the leaves are getting crunchier around the neighborhood. Maybe these are our own little signs of the changing season.

It’s been a bit of a personal tradition of mine to always listen to Dashboard Confessional’s “Age Six Racer” (on the Swiss Army Romance album)at the end of summer each year, since sometime in middle school. (I especially enjoyed listening to this song on the last night before school started over the years, too.) So, with that – I’d like to share it with you all today! So long sweet summer, enjoy guys!
Here’s a live version of the song someone uploaded to YouTube several years ago:

 

Also, let’s do another double whammy because it’s Friday so it should have some extra pizazz! This official video from Chris Carrabba is another wonderful summer song, (and the video is gorgeous!) This one’s a bit less obscure, so you’ll probably recognize it. Plus, it’s totally different from Age Six but the imagery is so pretty in the video and made me want to escape to the beach asap, so I had to share. Here’s, “Stolen” (from the album Dusk and Summer):

 

Read This

Read This: Being Friends with Boys

Alright guys, I know I have had a bit of overload on the “Listen to This” posts lately, and have slacked in the “Read This” department. Confession: I’ve been in a bit of a slump in the reading category. I’ve trudged through Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler, and I’ve renewed it multiple times from the library. I really loved her previous novel, Twenty Boy Summer, so I expected to have a similar immediate fascination with this one (hello! there are delicious cupcake descriptions at the beginning of each chapter!) Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. I’ve just had a bit of reading ADD all together, as I started Melissa Walker’s Unbreak My Heart this week too, and I have just been SO SLOW. My brain has been pre-occupied with the Olympics lately, and in my spare time I haven’t really felt like sitting still…at all.

I really don’t want this to give any reader’s a negative impression of either story, I love both authors and I’m sure the novels are wonderful, I just couldn’t get my head in the game for them now. BUT! The good thing is before I hit that slump, I finally read Terra Elan McVoy’s Being Friends with Boys (which if you remember, was on my summer TBR list.) As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve loved McVoy’s earlier novels, am delighted to own a signed copy of Pure, and it thrills me to know she once lived and went to school in Tallahassee!

Last summer when I read The Summer of Firsts and LastsI felt it had the perfect mix of teen angst, uncertainty, and finding yourself as a young girl. McVoy hit the nail of the bond of sisterhood and friendship right on the head. I wanted to go to summer camp, or at least be a camp counselor (yeah, that’s a recurring desired job over the years.) With Being Friends I reflected a lot on past friendships of my own with boys. Just like in this charming story, those situations can get messy and tangled, but you can also find some pretty amazing lifelong buddies. I loved the main character Charlotte. She made me want to be an awesome punk rock band girl who had a voice to go with the lyrics she creates. (Not that I haven’t secretly imagined that since I was about thirteen and my obsession with Something Corporate began, and I just wanted to be a “Punk Rock Princess.” I never did find my “Garage Band King”…) Reading this book reminded me so much of how quickly things change in a school day or over a weekend. Our hearts on our sleeves, feelings constantly getting hurt, freezing out each other. How soaring an awesome weekend can make you feel. All the millions of words we want to say or right down, but what we end up saying coming out completely different. McVoy captures all of it here. Also, I’m a big fan of when authors tie-in locations to their work, and McVoy writes about Atlanta and her current neighborhood here in the setting, which is pretty sweet and makes me want to go for a visit!

Here in North Florida, it’s the first day of school for a lot of kids, and I feel like this is a pretty great book to start your year off with. I definitely recommend checking it out! Have you read it yet? Did you enjoy it? Leave a comment and we can chat about it!