Thursday, April 30, 2015

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen [Book Review]

Title: Saint Anything
Author: Sarah Dessen
ISBN: 0451474708
Release Date: May 5th 
Source: From Publisher for honest review.
Peyton, Sydney's charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion's share of their parents' attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton's increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?
Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.
The uber-popular Sarah Dessen explores her signature themes of family, self-discovery, and change in her twelfth novel, sure to delight her legions of fans. 
It's no secret that I adore Sarah Dessen. I don't think there is a Sarah Dessen book that I've met that I didn't like. It's gotten to the point where it's just a thing, Sarah Dessen writes something and I love it. It's cause and effect, and it just makes sense. Saint Anything was no different it has cemented this fact in my mind even more.

This title has been labeled as dark for Dessen, and while I understand this comparison, I don't think it can be labeled as "dark" because it isn't... at least not really. This title deals with some tough issues, but I don't think it is any darker than Dreamland or Just Listen. It feels more adult in the handling, but it is still very much a fantastic contemporary YA.

Saint Anything focuses around our heroine, Sydney and the life she lives after her older brother, Peyton, gets sent to prison. Sydney is incredibly relatable, anyone who has ever felt alone will experience some degree of Sydney's emotions. While Sydney attempts to maneuver her way into a new school and new life she is faced with problems that no high schooler should experience, but most do. Sydney feels alone, and that her parents aren't don't understand her, or rather fail to see her at all.

Sydney's story grips you from page one; I loved her world and I wanted to spend more time with her. Sydney's emotions are expressed so wonderfully in this book that I felt as if I was a part of her story, or I had experienced her story before. And maybe to some degree I had. Maybe to some degree we all have.

This book focuses less on the romantic aspect than some of Dessen's other titles, but the romance is still there. I actually appreciated the focus on Sydney's story rather than the focus on Sydney's relationship status. The relationship between Sydney and her family was enthralling and I found it to be pretty powerful.

The new friends Sydney experiences act as a release from her life at home -- something that reminded me a lot of The Truth About Forever and Wish Catering. Just as i enjoyed the people of Wish, the people at Seaside Pizza were pretty great.

This book was very layered, with various themes and focuses, and in the end it was another example of Sarah Dessen's fantastic storytelling skills.

Overall: Saint Anything is wonderful. If you're a fan of Sarah Dessen's previous books or of contemporaries, this book cannot be missed. The ending left me hoping and happy, and in the end that's the most important thing. For anyone who has ever felt alone, this book is for you.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine

This week's title is one that sounds AMAZING! Though sadly, it is still many months away. 

Release Date: September 15th, 2015

Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked . . . until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back. 

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine— Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.

I've always felt there was a kind of camaraderie between Tennessee and Texas, it is as if we're two parts of the same backwards soul. 

I love the sound of this title and I can't wait!  

What are you guys waiting on this week? 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Top Ten Favorite Authors

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the Broke and the Bookish

Here are some of my top authors! I have sprinkled in some new with some old. This was one of the hardest lists I have ever done... let me know if we share any! 

What is on your list this week? 

Mark Twain
Sarah Dessen 
Maria V. Snyder

J.R.R. Tolkien
Anne Frank
Charles Bukowski
J.K. Rowling

Sara Raasch (brand new to the list LOVED Snow Like Ashes) 
Gail Carson Levine
Lauren Oliver

Saturday, April 18, 2015

99 Days by Katie Cotugno [Review]

Title: 99 Days
Author: Katie Cotugno
ISBN: 0062216384
Release Date: April 21, 2015
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: From Publisher for honest review. (Thanks EW & Harper!)

Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything—how I destroyed my relationship with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college, and be done.
Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”
Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me. 

When I began this book I did not expect for it to give me the power house of emotions that it granted. I was unsuspecting, I did not think I would become so indebted and so at risk. It looked cute, and I love a fun contemp so I had high hopes, but I was definitely not expecting to be drawn in immediately to the story and be immobilized for hours. I couldn't stop reading. I looked up two hours later to find it was way past my bed time and this book had just controlled my life for a bit.

This is one of those book things that I love to happen and I can tell you that in 99 DAYS you get transported into Molly's life quite instantly.

The introduction of Molly's story comes in small bits, instantly easing you into the larger picture and getting you actively involved as you struggle to discover it all.  You begin with a sea of questions asking: What happened with Molly and Gabe? What is happening with Patrick now? The mom did what?! etc...

This continues until you reach a state of satisfaction having MOST of the story at your disposal, but there are still questions which need to be answered.

The relationships in this book are intense, not in a negative way, but each character has history that goes deep. The writing really displays how close the characters are, the writing style complements it and allows the relationships to flourish and grow. The setting adds to this idea with a small town feel that adds to the close knit feel.

The story is told in chronological order from Day 1-99. This was a really cool way to tell it and it added a nice feeling to the limited time that summer has to offer. Some days had really nothing at all, some went on for pages and pages. I really enjoyed this aspect and it added another dimension for me.

The ending was a little less than stellar - and I only say this because there was so much build up that I felt didn't get entirely placed away. I didn't dislike it, I definitely didn't think it was out of place, and it made sense... but I'm hoping there's a sequel because I would love to spend some more time with Molly, Patirck and Gabe!

Overall: If you love contemporaries that are so good you become lost, this book is for you. This book holds all the elements of a great story, with all those good feelings that make you unable to stop. Don't miss it.

4.5 keys rounded to 5.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Waiting On Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

This week I am focusing on a historical fiction by one of my favorite historical writers! 
Deeanne Gist has written many historical fictions with definite crossover appeal... this one looks so good! 

Look for it May 5th!
From the bestselling author of It Happened at the Fair and Fair Play comes a compelling historical novel about a progressive “New Woman”—the girl behind Tiffany’s chapel—and the love that threatens it all.
As preparations for the 1893 World’s Fair set Chicago and the nation on fire, Louis Tiffany—heir to the exclusive Fifth Avenue jewelry empire—seizes the opportunity to unveil his state-of-the-art, stained glass, mosaic chapel, the likes of which the world has never seen.
But when Louis’s dream is threatened by a glassworkers’ strike months before the Fair opens, he turns to an unforeseen source for help: the female students at the New York Art Institute. Eager for adventure, the young women pick up their skirts, move to boarding houses, take up steel cutters, and assume new identities as the “Tiffany Girls.”
Tiffany Girls is the heartwarming story of the impetuous Flossie Jayne, a beautiful, budding artist who is handpicked by Louis to help complete the Tiffany chapel. Though excited to live in a boarding house when most women stayed home, she quickly finds the world is less welcoming than anticipated. From a Casanova male, to an unconventional married couple, and a condescending singing master, she takes on a colorful cast of characters to transform the boarding house into a home while racing to complete the Tiffany chapel and make a name for herself in the art world.
As challenges mount, her ambitions become threatened from an unexpected quarter: her own heart. Who will claim victory? Her dreams or the captivating boarder next door?

 What are you guys waiting for this week?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - Bookish Quotes!

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the Broke and the Bookish! 

Here are some of my favorite quotes from books! 

Little known fact, Eeyore is my spirit animal. 

I could write a book about my love for Anne Shirley. 

Who doesn't love Shel Silverstein? 

Sarah Dessen can't not be on this list. 

When I first read Alice in Wonderland I thought it was insane. Then it began to grow on me and I have begun to appreciate the crazy. 

Harry Potter had to be on this list as well. I'm still in Dumbledore's Army. 

Stephen King's On Writing is where I go for writing advice. If you like to write and need to get kicked into shape -- read On Writing. It is so fantastic. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach

Title: We All Looked Up
Author: Tommy Wallach
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 1481418777

Four high school seniors put their hopes, hearts, and humanity on the line as an asteroid hurtles toward Earth in this contemporary novel.
They always say that high school is the best time of your life.
Peter, the star basketball player at his school, is worried “they” might actually be right. Meanwhile Eliza can’t wait to escape Seattle—and her reputation—and perfect-on-paper Anita wonders if admission to Princeton is worth the price of abandoning her real dreams. Andy, for his part, doesn’t understand all the fuss about college and career—the future can wait.
Or can it? Because it turns out the future is hurtling through space with the potential to wipe out life on Earth. As these four seniors—along with the rest of the planet—wait to see what damage an asteroid will cause, they must abandon all thoughts of the future and decide how they’re going to spend what remains of the present.

The hardest reviews to write are the ones where you feel in the middle, and for WE ALL LOOKED UP, that's exactly how I feel. I didn't dislike it, but I didn't love it either. The book started off strong and then lost it somewhere towards the middle for me.

I wasn't really indebted into the characters very much, and at some point I realized I was reading to find out what happened with the asteroid. I wanted to know the fate of the planet... not really the fate of the characters.

For me, I felt that the characters were kind of too crazy. I couldn't relate to them personally because they seemed so much the opposite of myself that I couldn't put myself in their shoes, and the decisions they made often irritated me more than anything.

I really wanted to love this book because I've heard so many good things, but it ultimately fell kind of flat for me.

I will say that the author's writing was good and I can definitely see where he was going with the decisions that he made, and the character development he portrayed - it was just lost on me personally.

I did enjoy the world building as it represented a society which crumbled in the face of disaster, which is something I feel would actually happen in the face of this kind of disaster.

Ultimately, if you're interested in books where the characters experience extreme transformations in the face of the apocalypse, this book is for you.

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