The Bookshelf Corner

A creative space for all things books and writing….


2 Comments

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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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.


Leave a comment

Additional Skills for Writers

As a writer we need to know how to write professionally, creatively, analytically, and persuasively. We likely seek to earn degrees in English, Creative Writing, Journalism, or any other related fields. But I feel there are additional areas of study that can provide additional beneficial skills to writers of all levels. Of course, you don’t have be an expert in these areas to be a successful writer, nor do you have to learn them. But it never hurts to acquire new skills.

 

MARKETING
Knowing and understanding marketing techniques is key to building a brand, gaining readership, and putting your writing out there. You’ll want to stay up to date on current trends and be actively present on social media to effectively engage/network with others and promote yourself.

WEB DESIGN
Having a website where people can learn about you, your writing, and upcoming works is a good things to have. You don’t need to be a pro to create the perfect website. And knowing the basics of HTML and CSS is good for sprucing up your website and posts. There are plenty of websites – WordPress, Blogger, Weebly, Squarespace, for example – that have great user interfaces and options to building the perfect website/blog for your needs. Or, if you’re feeling ambitious, you can create a website from scratch.

GRAPHIC DESIGN
Making your own graphics can be fun (as long as what you create is of your own creation and doesn’t violate copyright laws). Creating promotional materials/graphics can help “sell” your work. You can create more engaging graphics for social media or your website. You can look up examples of graphic design in use online or search through your local library or bookstore. You can also try sites/programs like Canva, Adobe Photoshop/Illustrator/InDesign, or Microsoft Publisher.

PHOTOGRAPHY/PHOTO EDITING
Whether for bookstagram or your website or for an article, learning the basics of photography and photo editing can come in handy. To edit photos or graphics you’ve made, you can use software like Autodesk Pixlr Editor (a web application) or Adobe Photoshop.

LAW
Not a skill but something to know and understand: copyright laws (a must), the language of contracts (rule of thumb: never sign something without reading what it says first), and tax information (this can be a tricky area but a must) for wherever you call home.

 

Of course there are probably other skills that could be useful to writers but these, in my opinion, seemed liked the most important. I advise doing your own research into the sites/programs I mentioned above; I’ve used them all except for Blogger and Squarespace (but they seem like good sites to make websites/blogs). I hope this was helpful, even if just a little bit, to you and that it made sense. I’m a big believer in having a variety of skills because you never know when they could come in handy.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed today’s post. What other skills do you think would be useful for writers to learn? What more should people know about the skills I mentioned above? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Let me know what you think in the comment section below.

As always, happy writing!


1 Comment

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


Leave a comment

2017 Summer Reading List

Currently Reading: Slaves of Socorro by John Flanagan (Brotherband Chronicles, book 4)

Currently Reading: Once and for All by Sarah Dessen

(ARC) Blood Guard by Megan Erickson (Mission, book 1)

River of Dreams by Lynn Kurland (A Novel of the Nine Kingdoms, book 8)

Dreamer’s Daughter by Lynn Kurland (A Novel of the Nine Kingdoms, book 9)

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard (Red Queen, book 2)

Battle Magic by Tamora Pierce (The Circle Reforged, book 3)

(2nd Read) Mastiff by Tamora Pierce (Beka Cooper, book 3)

Scorpion Mountain by John Flanagan (Brotherband Chronicles, book 5)

The Ghostfaces by John Flanagan (Brotherband Chronicles, book 6)

 

♦ Happy First Day of Summer! I hope everyone has a great summer season! ♦

♦ What’s on your summer TBR list? ♦

♦ As always, happy reading and happy writing! ♦


1 Comment

Book Review: Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Rating: 3/5
Recommend to Others?: Yes
Favorite Passage: “Words matter, in fact. They’re not pointless, as you’ve suggested. If they were pointless, then they couldn’t start revolutions and they wouldn’t change history. If they were just words, we wouldn’t write songs or listen to them. We wouldn’t beg to be read to as kids. If they were just words, then stories wouldn’t have been around since before we could write. We wouldn’t have learned to write. If they were just words, people wouldn’t fall in love because of them, feel bad because of them, ache because of them, and stop aching because of them.”

 

My Summary:
Rachel moves back to Gracetown where she grew up to live with her aunt after failing Year 12 due to her brother’s death just months before. Getting away should drastic her from the pain of losing her brother. She hasn’t been able to feel but she’s all too aware of the feelings she left behind in a love letter tucked between the pages of a favorite book belonging to her long-time best friend Henry. He never responded. She’d rather avoid him but, unfortunately, she’ll be working with him at his family’s bookstore. Henry’s not fairing so well either. His girlfriend’s dumped him, the bookstore’s in financial trouble, and his family seems to be falling apart at the seams. But love and life and words between the pages of books may offer a kind of solution for Rachel and Henry.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Review:
Words in Deep Blue was okay. I wasn’t blown away by it but it has good qualities.

I first discovered this book on NetGalley but by that time it was not available for requests anymore. Luckily, my local library was ordering a copy and I was happily the first cardholder who got to read it. What made me interested in reading this book was the cover – blue is my favorite color and the book jacket is so pretty and has a unique design. I also liked the premise and, as a self-proclaimed book nerd and hopeless romantic, it spoke to me.

But the book ended up being okay, sadly. The story concept I liked – it’s YA love presented from a fresh angle. Henry’s family bookstore has a section called the Letter Library where you can write or mark the book how you wish or leave notes inside but you can’t take/buy any of the books. I love that idea for a bookstore – it’s got a communal and romantic feel. And throughout the book you get to read some of the letters in between the chapters told in Rachel and Henry’s POVs. I’m not familiar with most of the books being referenced (which is fine) but it did distance me a little (which is not the author’s fault). I was never one for literary novels but I recognize some titles from school. I felt more like a spectator as I was reading. I didn’t feel connected to the story or characters, but I was invested enough to read it in full.

I love YA but the teenage aspect in this book was annoying to me (especially with one character) – this I say as an adult whose teenage years can still be recalled. The characters are (I’m guess here) between 17 and 19 years old (excluding the grown-up characters featured).

Cath Crowley writes wonderfully and I love how she chose to frame the story – a mixture of past and present. I will say that there was too much repeating of what was said in a previous chapter at the beginning of the next chapter going on. Sometimes it was unnecessary or could have been framed better. But the writing is solid. There were many great lines/passages. You get a clear picture of who each character is. They’re likable, each with his or her distinctive challenges being face. They are all effected by something and/or someone in the story.

I think in its own right, Words in Deep Blue is a good book. I just didn’t particularly enjoy as much as I thought I was going to.


1 Comment

(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?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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.


Leave a comment

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!