meg says read this, Read This

Read This: Once and For All

Is it really summer if you don’t read a Sarah Dessen book? YOu may recall that Dessen’s latest Once and For All was on my list of anticipated reads for this year. Now that I’ve read it, I just want to be immersed in the story again. As you know, I’m not a fan of formulaic writing (exactly why you don’t want to get me started on Nicholas Sparks books.) Although some may think that Dessen’s novels are predictable, I on the other hand am pleasantly surprised by her plot twists. There was a gut punch in Once and For All that I wasn’t expecting, (which is sometimes a delicious surprise, but here I was biting my lip, and trying not to cry.) Okay, okay I’m getting ahead of myself. Once and For All chronicles the summer before Louna goes off to college. Her mom owns a wedding planning business with her best friend William. Louna is used to not getting caught up in the “magic” of weddings, constantly seeing the bridezillas or the behind the scenes meltdowns, but you have to wonder how a teenager got so jaded. What happened that makes her question if true love is real? Well, you’ll find out. I love that in this story, we’re introduced to Louna’s best friend Jilly, and the trouble maker ADD son of a client Ambrose – both of their personalities balance out Louna’s serious nature. Ambrose is completely unpredictable, and Jilly is all about “living your best life” (however you do that!) As the story unravels we learn about Louna’s past, maybe what makes her skeptical or hesitant, and we’re also reminded that people aren’t always what they seem to be on the surface. It’s a great summer read, as Dessen finds a way to take us back to her favorite endless possibility beach town, Colby, and even teenagers working hard in the summer have to let lose once in a while. I read this entry on Sarah Dessen’s website where she wrote about some of the things that inspired Once and For All (two babysitters simultaneously planning their own very different weddings.) Then I stumbled across this passage, which not only sums up the heart of Once and For All, but it’s also pretty accurate about life:

As I started to think about all this, I began taking it wider, to the idea of how many “perfect” things we want, or are allowed. I’d had everything I wanted with SAINT ANYTHING: maybe I’d never get that again. Louna, my narrator, has this amazing first love and thinks that’s her only chance, her once and for all. But life goes on, even after those walking into the sunset moments. We can’t always have a perfect day, or a perfect experience. We need to take those great moments, though, and appreciate them. It’s tough for us perfectionists, but it’s true. The best stories, I have learned, often come when things don’t go as you planned. (source)


I definitely recommend this book for some summer reading, but I’ll warn you maybe I’m just a sap, or maybe the content really does go straight to your heat – I found myself tearing up a few times. Even still the imagery will make you laugh a few times, as you imagine Loud Cell Phone Lady in the coffee shop, or Ambrose and his antics, or Jilly’s siblings running all over the house. Dessen did it again with a little world to get lost in, and remind yourself of a few of life’s most important lessons.
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Friday Five, meg says listen to this, meg says read this, meg says watch this

Meg Says: Friday Five

 

Switching it up a little on this Friday. Here are five things I found super exciting about this week, still all relating to my latest read this, listen to this, and watch this obsessions:

  1. Sarah Dessen’s Once and For All and Paula Hawkins Into the Water are both available for me to pick up at the library. I foresee some pool or beach side reading in my weekend plans (pending this rain storm passes, otherwise it’ll probably be snuggled up.)
  2. I re-watched About Alex for (I think) the third time, a few days ago and was reminded why I was obsessed with this film in the first place. If I ever made a movie, this is the tone, vibe, soundtrack feel, cast chemistry I’d be going for.
  3. This anthology video Maren Morris released:

  4. HOW HAVE I NOT MENTIONED IT HERE?! (But across various other social media platforms.) JOHN GREEN’s NEW BOOK! Set to release in October Turtles All the Way Down. Go ahead and pre-order your signed copy now. (Literally can’t wait!)
  5. Speaking of awesome things happening in October…Stranger Things SEASON TWO!

meg says read this, Uncategorized

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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Wordy Wednesday, Read This: “The Moon and More”

Recently, I finally got some time to lose myself in Sarah Dessen’s latest young-adult novel The Moon and MoreIt doesn’t matter how old I am, I continue to anticipate each new release this woman writes. (And in the meantime, really enjoy a peek into her mind and life with her random tweets about Good Morning America, food, her family, and the beach.)

If you’re a Dessen fan, than you might be happy to see The Moon takes readers back to the beach town of Colby, the setting of one of her previous novels, Along for the Ride (and one of my favorites.) This time though, we’ll see it through the eyes of local girl, Emaline. It’s the last summer before she’ll head off to college. She’s been dating her boyfriend Luke for years. She works at the family’s business, renting out condos to tourists. Of course though, it’s the summer to shake things up and boy do things change in her life in those few short months. Changes in romantic relationships, new friendships forged, Emaline has a lot of things to learn about herself before she goes off into the “real world.” Emaline finds herself in an interesting situation as she makes friends with renters of one of the fanciest beach houses, who just happens to be a documentary film maker and her intern assistant. Will she leave Luke for artsy Theo? Will she cross the divide and have a real relationship with her biological dad? Will Emaline follow in the footsteps of the other people she’s watched in Colby or make her own path?

I really liked the character development in this one. There’s a certain maturity about each person, and it was cool to see them grow throughout the story. Also, I love when people point out what we can learn from kids, and don’t discredit them. Whether you’ve read any of Sarah Dessen’s other novels are not, I’d recommend this one. It’s a fast paced interesting read. Dessen doesn’t disappoint!

Read This

Wordy Wednesday, Read This: “Fire with Fire”

I lucked out on a recent trip to the public library last Friday and was able to pick up three new titles I’ve been excited to read! Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian’s Fire with Fire (follow up to Burn for Burn,) Sarah Dessen’s The Moon and More and Tera Elan McVoy’s Criminal. As I mentioned earlier this week, I haven’t been reading for pleasure in a while. Actually, if you check out my reading log on my Tumblr account, it’s been quite some time. (Let me add though, that list is for books I finish reading. I can’t tell you the number of books I’ve picked up and read fifty or so pages of, but my attention span just couldn’t last this summer.) From these three choices I picked Fire with Fire to start. It’s pretty lengthy, (which is exciting when you’re a bit addicted to the author team – these BFFs to do great work together!) but I’m sure you’ll fly through it because it’s a great page-turner, leaving you on the edge of your seat, dying to find out what happens next!

Honestly, if you haven’t read Burn for Burn go ahead, do yourself a favor and start there. Then when that’s finished, go ahead and read this one. Fire with Fire had some twists and turns I wasn’t expecting, and some I was anticipating. The psychological game, and how easy it is to get wrapped up in the story reminds me of my (perhaps a little bit unhealthy) fascination with Pretty Little Liars. 

If you’re looking for a fun, intense, suspenseful, maybe even a little bit super-natural on top of the regular perils of high school friendship and romance? Definitely give Fire with Fire a read! Lillia, Kat, and Mary are back at it again…now having to deal with the consequences of the plot twist of their plan from the first in this trilogy. But just wait until you find out what happens next…