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Book Review: Once and for All by Sarah Dessen

Image via Goodreads | Published by Viking Books for Young Readers

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Romance
Rating: 5/5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

Book Summary (via Goodreads):
As bubbly as champagne and delectable as wedding cake, Once and for All, Sarah Dessen’s thirteenth novel, is set in the world of wedding planning, where crises are routine.

Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that’s why she’s cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm’s length. But Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged, now that he’s met the one girl he really wants.

Sarah Dessen’s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything—humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself.

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My Review:
This is the first book I’ve read by Sarah Dessen and I loved it. Once and for All is a beautiful story of love, second chances at love, and if happily-ever-afters exist.

This novel really pulls at the heart-strings, especially with what incites the conflict and every obstacle that follows. What made me pick up this book was that it involved wedding planning and the premise seemed really interesting. Those two things combined surely would make a great story, right? It did. Also, let’s not forget that the cover is simple but gorgeous.

Every character I loved and had something wonderfully special about them.

I’ve read stories with cynical main characters before but Louna – which, by the way, I love her name – has to be my favorite. There’s just something really likable about her that I can’t quite fully describe. She’s a cynic – and understandably so as you get further into the book – but her character is just so…on point and dynamic that her notions about love don’t deter a hopeless romantic like myself.

Ambrose I have a love-not-so-love feelings toward. I did not care for Ambrose for a majority of the story – probably because of his personality and overly cocky presence. But he’s not all bad. He has his moments. His character in the story is one thing that makes this story so good. In the early chapters of the book, I couldn’t see what effect he’d have on Louna by the end but his influence worked its way in well. Where their relationship ends up by the story’s conclusion I was 90-95% satisfied with.

Natalie Barrett (Louna’s mom) and William (Natalie’s partner at the company) are just darling. I loved them both and their back-stories. I found myself rooting for them as much as Louna. They are three lovable cynics. Louna’s best friend, Jilly, is great – the kind of friend everyone needs – and I love what the author chose as her family background.

I liked that the wedding planning business aspect was present throughout the entire story. I have no experience in that area but the weddings depicted in Once and for All I have no doubt have actually happened in real life. It was like watching an episode of Say Yes to the Dress. The story also flips back and forth between past and present a few times. I really enjoyed (contrary to the feels felt) those chapters that took place in the past and how Dessen placed them within the storyline so perfectly and with great affect.

As stated previously, this is my first time reading a book by Sarah Dessen. I’ve known about her books since (I think) This Lullaby was published and know her and her books are really popular. I never read any of her books way back then was because I was very much enthralled in fantasy worlds and knights and magic and shifters for a very long time (still am).

But I saw Once and for All on NetGalley. The cover looked so pretty so I was curious to see what it was about since I also recognized the author. I was very intrigued by the premise and wanted to read more. I’m glad I did. I have been missing out. Sarah Dessen is truly a talented writer and has a beautiful way of telling a story and crafting characters. Once and for All was a fantastic read and one of my favorite books of 2017 (so far). I highly recommend reading this book. I’m definitely going to check out her other novels.


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Beautiful Covers For New Anticipated Books

I’m a bit late to this but the covers for two books I’m looking forward to reading were recently revealed! I am so in awe of these beautiful covers. Just gorgeous. Sadly, these books won’t be released until early 2018. But for now enjoy these lovely book covers!

Heart on Fire by Amanda Bouchet
Kingmaker Chronicles, book 3
Publisher: Piatkus
Release Date: January 2, 2018

Image via Goodreads

Such a pretty and beautiful cover! Loving the blend of colors, especially where the power is emanating from Cat’s sword. She looks strong and stunning on this cover, like an Amazonian gladiator. This is sadly book three of the trilogy but I anticipate an epic conclusion to Cat and Griffin’s story.

Past Reviews: A Promise of Fire (Book 1) | Breath of Fire (Book 2)

 

Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce
The Numair Chronicles, book 1
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Release Date: February 6, 2018

Image via Goodreads

Interesting and stunning cover. I am loving this cover. I have a guess of what the feather symbolizes but the dripping of gold has me at a loss (perhaps related to where the story takes place?). I might have to re-read the Immortals quartet again where Numair is primarily featured. I’ve been waiting for Numair’s story (from his younger days) to be told for many years so I have high expectations. But if it’s anything like this cover and author, it’s going to be fantastic.

Past Post: My Literary Hero: Tamora Pierce


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(NetGalley) Book Review: Waiting for Sophie by Sarah Ellis, Illustrated Carmen Mok

Thank you to NetGalley, Pajama Press, and Myrick Marketing & Media for providing me with an e-copy (of the ARC galley) to read and review.
Waiting for Sophie was recently released April 3, 2017.
I received an e-copy of this book after its initial publication.

Image via NetGalley

Genre: Children’s Fiction, Picture Book
Rating: 4/5
Recommend to Others?: Yes
Favorite Quote: “I want to smash it to smithereens and flush it down the toilet.”

 

My Summary:
Liam has been waiting a long time for his baby sister, Sophie, to arrive. He couldn’t be happier when she finally comes home. But in no time he starts to become impatient and wishes she would grow up faster so they can play and do more things together. Can Liam learn the virtue of patience?

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My Review:
A cute story that teaches children about patience. It’s especially perfect for parents to read to their small (only) child when there’s another on the way.

Carmen Mok does a wonderful job with the illustrations and I love the color palette she chose.

I found myself invested in the story, anticipating how Liam would deal with his disappointment about all the things Sophie can’t do. He has a typical reaction to Sophie and I was pleasantly surprised at how adorably proactive he became.

I think my favorite thing about this book was whenever the word “smithereens” was used – it’s such a quirky, funny-sounding word to include in a children’s book. However, I’m really confused about why the grandmother is called “Nana-Downstairs.” Is it that she lives downstairs in the house? I had a hard time getting past the oddity of her name which felt so out-of-place.

Sarah Ellis has a way with words; I would read more books by her.


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Library Mini Haul! & Slight Change To TBR List

An unexpected thing happened. My local library recently acquired Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley and Once and for All by Sarah Dessen!

I first found these books on NetGalley but one wasn’t available for request and the other I didn’t feel I met the publisher’s approval requirements. Later I saw that my library was ordering a copy of both titles, which made me so so happy that I immediately placed a hold on them. I was thoroughly surprised and didn’t expect them to become available so soon but I’m happy they did. However, this means I’m going to have to adjust my TBR list for the next couple of weeks.

Below lists what I’m currently (still) reading, what I plan to read next, and then what I’ll be reading afterwards.

CURRENTLY READING:

Image via Goodreads

Image via NetGalley | ARC copy

READING NEXT:

Image via NetGalley | ARC copy

Image via Goodreads

READING AFTERWARDS:

Image via Goodreads

Image via Goodreads

Reading 2 books at once is always challenging but reading 6 total in two weeks is certainly bananas! But I’m really excited to read all these books and can’t wait to write reviews for them. My Summer Reading List will be up June 21 – the first day of summer!

To stay up-to-date on all the books I’m reading, you can follow my Goodreads page.

To stay up-to-date on the blog, you can follow me on Twitter @bookshelfcorner.

Have a great day, everyone! And happy reading!

 


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(NetGalley) Book Review: Prophecy Awakened by Tamar Sloan

Thank you to NetGalley, Clean Reads, and Xpresso Book Tours for providing me with an e-copy to read and review.

Prophecy Awakened is a new book recently released April 25, 2017 and is now available in e-book format.

I received an e-copy after its initial publication.

 

Image via NetGalley

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Paranormal Romance
Series: Prime Prophecy Series, book 1
Rating: 4.5/5 (Note: I gave this book 5 stars on NetGalley and Goodreads, which don’t have half rating)
Recommend to Others?: Yes
Favorite Passage: “Downstairs the front door opens and closes, and Mitch’s voice skips up the stairs. Stash lets out an excited bark and launches off the bed in a single leap. His jet-propelled body vaults through Noah as if he doesn’t pose a barrier. And he doesn’t, he’s unceremoniously bowled backwards from the bed. Stash streaks from the room without a second glance. Noah is nowhere to be seen.”

 

My Summary:
Eden St. James has never been able to fit in. Anywhere. Shy and self-conscious, and an uncanny ability with animals, she doesn’t expect her life at her new school to be any different. That is, until she makes eye contact with Noah Phelan.

Noah has felt lost for the past two years after his intended path in life mysteriously halts. It seems he can do nothing but continue on toward a partly uncertain future. But what he is sure about is the instant attraction he feels when he meets Eden, diverting his path toward something possibly truly wonderful.

Noah wants to see where this connection leads but Eden is hesitant to take a leap of faith. Can they solve the mystery of their unexpected connection?

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My Review:
This book was everything and then some – perfect for a paranormal romance-loving, wolf-obsessed, hopeless romantic like myself! One of my new favorite books ever and of 2017.

Tamar Sloan is a talented writer. Her writing is so wonderful, modern, lyrical, flowing and youthful. She puts together interesting and engaging details and descriptions that I can only hope to achieve with my own writings.

Prophecy Awakened has likable characters readers will love getting to know and just the right amount of romance. This story earned extra brownie points before it even began as it involves wolves (my spirit animal). Not to mention the cover is so pretty.

Eden was my favorite character as I could see much of myself in her. She’s brave and smart and quick-witted. But overall, she is a perfect protagonist to help tell this story. I loved the two dogs, Stash and Caesar – they’re so cute and playful and loyal and everything I love about dogs in general. I also liked that though you only get Eden’s and Noah’s POV, Mitch (Noah’s younger twin brother) and Tara (Mitch’s girlfriend) aren’t pushed to the background. You get to know and love them just as much as Eden and Noah.

As much as I loved this story there were still a few things that rankled me a little. There were one too many repeated phrases or similar descriptions of the same thing, most notably the word “heat” and its variant tense-spellings. Also, certain things happened in the story that would warrant an immediate investigation due to the significance, but it seemed like none of the immediate characters wanted to try to find the truth of the matter. It’s almost like they forgot about it or wanted to forget about it entirely. Why? I have no idea.

I like the things the author has done to differentiate her wolves from other books with wolves – for example, the shifting process, the size of the wolves. But it felt like there was some lack of strength of presence, something missing I can’t quite pinpoint. Perhaps it’s just a part of them blending in with the human populace? Perhaps I’m just used to the wild strength I’ve seen in other books involving wolves? But what is undeniable is the lovely sense of community and family you get from them.

Whatever issues I had with the story were far outweighed by my enjoyment of it. I was so engrossed in the story that I was reluctant (and sad) each time I had to put it down to go do something else. I can’t wait for the next book to come out. Prophecy Awakened was awesome to read and is a great YA novel to have on your bookshelf and TBR list.


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ARC Book Review: A Pattern for Pepper by Julie Kraulis

Thank you to NetGalley and Tundra Books for providing me with an advance copy to read and review.

Image via NetGalley

Genre: Children’s Fiction, Picture Book
Rating: 5/5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

My Summary:
Pepper needs a special dress for a very special occasion. But will she be able to find the perfect pattern that’s just right?

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My Review:
This book was so cute! Pepper is so adorable. She’s classy and sassy and knows what she wants just like any child. I got a Goldilocks and the Three Bears vibe from reading this story. I also liked learning about the different kinds of fabrics, which immersed me more into what was happening.

What I loved most about this book were the illustrations. My eyes swept over the pages, needing to take in every little wonderful detail and color. I love the way the pictures are laid out on the page and that sometimes you get a different angle/perspective of a scene. Interesting border choices are used as well that I found to be particularly complimentary to the story.

A sweet story that tells it like it is, I’d recommend it to child readers and anyone who enjoys children’s fiction. I definitely want to read more books by Julie Kraulis.

A Pattern for Pepper is set to be released August 1, 2017 by Tundra Books.


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(My) Most Anticipated 2017 Book Releases

The latter half of 2017 is shaping up to be an exciting time for book lovers. I’ve found a few amazing books that will be released later this year that I’m pretty excited for and curious about.

~July 11~

Loved by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast (House of Night Other World, book 1)

I’m very curious to see where the authors will take the characters next in this series and what about this new series is new – especially, after how the last HoN book, Redeemed ended.

~August 29~

Thirteen Rising by Romina Russell (Zodiac, book 4)

This is – sadly – the fourth and final book of this series. The first three were amazing! Zodiac was thrilling, Wandering Star had me on the edge of my seat, and Black Moon left me crazy to know what happens next. I highly recommend this series. I am really looking forward to seeing how this story concludes.

~October 31~

Tortall: A Spy’s Guide: Compiled by George Cooper, Tortall’s Spymaster by Tamora Pierce with Julie Holderman, Timothy Liebe, and Megan Messinger

Another book by one of my favorite authors? Yes, please! George Cooper is one of my favorite fictional characters. I’ve read snippets of his spy wisdom in (I think) just one other book. But to have a whole book dedicated to spy stuff? Again, yes, please!

~November 21~

Siege of Shadows by Sarah Raughley (Effigies, book 2)

The first book had me floored. It was action packed and full of all the feels and incredible to read. I had placed book 2 on my to-read shelf immediately after I had finished Fate of Flames.

~December 5~

The Dreamer’s Song by Lynn Kurland (A Novel of the Nine Kingdoms, book 11)

I’m three books behind in this series, so I don’t know when I’ll get to this book. But it’s still exciting that this series continues on. Lynn Kurland is one of my favorite authors.

 

You can also follow me on Goodreads to stay up-to-date on the books I’m reading.