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.
Watch This

Watch This: Zach Sobiech’s Story

So, here’s the thing. I had a song in mind that I wanted to share with you all for Turn It Up Tuesday, but then as I was driving to work this morning and listening to the radio (Bobby Bones on 94.9 TNT) play the Today show clip where they spoke with a fourth grader whose teacher covered him during the tornadoes in Oklahoma, and even on The Voice last night as they talked about the Red Cross number for relief donations by text message in the wake of utter devastation these storms have caused (text REDCROSS to 909999 or for Salvation Army text STORM to 80888) – I just couldn’t go about a regular post today. I don’t normally do posts like this on here, usually these are reserved for my more personal blog The Life of Mugs, but I think it’s important that everyone take a step back today and just be grateful for what you have, those you love, and try to smile. Even if you’re right smack in the middle of what feels like an impossibly dark day.

Last night, two of my friends shared this video on Facebook (from this Upworthy blog) and I just couldn’t ignore it even though I wasn’t aware of what I was about to watch. All I could think was “wow.” I encourage you to take a few minutes out of your day and see Zach’s story. Here’s the thing, your heart might break a little while you’re watching this. I’m not going to pretend that I maintained a tough exterior, I started crying, tears streaming down my face but you’ll also laugh, and you’ll smile and Zach’s words are going to resonate in your ears. His song, will hopefully get stuck in your head. Think about the little moments, think about how beautiful life is. Think about all the ways you can make the people around you smile or have a better day, and in turn glow with positivity yourself.

And I’ll leave you with this video of “Clouds”

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Read This: See You at Harry’s

Hello there everyone! I know, I’ve taken quite the hiatus from blogging as of lately but I think it’s important to do something like this when you’re enjoying it, and when it starts to feel like a chore maybe it’s time to take a step back. SO, step back I did but now I’ve returned. 2013 has started off with plenty of movie watching and book reading over here. If you’re interested in the lists I keep up with on a regular basis, check them out here: Watch List 2013 and 2013 Reading List. (The format on tumblr just makes it extremely easy for me to keep track of over there.) As you can see, I’m going strong on memoir addiction again. (Actually, I’m reading No Limits by Michael Phelps,) but I like to think there’s been some variety thrown in there. Since I ended 2012 on a music and movie heavy suggesting spree, I figured I’d start this off with a book recommendation.

I had previously read Jo Knowles, Jumping Off Swings a few summers ago. I follow her on Twitter, and I had seen much praise for her middle-grade novel, See You at Harry’s. I figured why not throw it into the mix for one of my first YA-ish reads of 2013? Oh.My.Goodness. I was not prepared for the emotional roller coaster I was boarding when I dove into this one. Seriously, let me tell you – I had to take a break from reading and eat dinner because I literally couldn’t see the pages through my tears. (I’m not trying to spoil the story by any means, which if you don’t want details I would say avoid the product description). I like surprise, though. I tweeted Jo Knowles about my breaking heart, ate some dinner, and then finished reading because I had to see how the rest of this beautiful story unfolded.

Author, Libba Bray reviewed this story in a perfect way (in my opinion): “Jo Knowles has crafted a shimmering, pitch-perfect novel of love, loss, and resilience which finds the beauty in the small joys of everyday living, the comfort in the often-infuriating bonds of family, and the gentle hope that grows from the heartbreak of tragedy. Beautiful and life-affirming.

Some favorites from this story: Fern and her siblings all have names from beloved books! Fern is named from Charlotte’s Web, Holden from Catcher in the Rye, Sarah from A Little Princess, and Charlie from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. How awesome is that?!

I read See You at Harry’s right before I went out-of-town with my parents to Savannah for MLK Jr. weekend to celebrate my dad’s birthday. It really had me reflecting on relationships within the family, and all those little quirks that those you shared space under a roof with know. It had me thinking about my own favorite moments with my dad, my mom, my younger brother and truly appreciating the time we’ve had together. Typically we get a long, and a meal together or really anything is an enjoyable experience filled with good conversation and a lot of laughter. Knowles really captured family dynamic, and the perspective of a middle-schooler through Fern. What the world looked like from that angle, the sensitivity levels, the boldness, the confusion and love. Friendship was also a key part throughout the story, and how at times we really have to rely on those who know us best to help us work through some rough stuff life will through out there.

If you haven’t read See You at Harry’s do not snub it for being a middle-grade novel, you are seriously missing out on a deeply touching, heart-warming, truly wonderful story that I’m pretty sure left a permanent mark on my heart.