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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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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! ♦


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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.

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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.


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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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Mid-Year Review: Favorite Books of 2017 (so far)

Background Image: Royalty Free Image via Pixabay.com
Cover Images: via Goodreads and NetGalley
Music: Song Title – “Buddy” (Royalty Free Music from bensound.com)
Quotes: excerpts from the reviews I wrote about these books (see links below)

 

Read My Full Reviews Of These Books:

A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

Dawn Study by Maria V. Snyder

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Frost Like Night by Sara Raasch

Paintbrush by Hannah Bucchin (ARC review)

Prophecy Awakened by Tamar Sloan (NetGalley review)

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, Pictures by Oliver Jeffers

Zodiac by Romina Russell


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ARC Book Review: Paintbrush by Hannah Bucchin

Thank you to NetGalley and Blaze Publishing, LLC for providing me with an advanced copy to read and review.

Image via NetGalley

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

My Summary:
It’s senior year. Mitchell is the popular boy in school with an image to protect who can’t wait to leave the Indian Paintbrush Community Village for Sustainable Living right after graduation. Josie loves Paintbrush and would be perfectly happy spending the rest of her life there gardening – she thinks. The two long-time childhood friends begin to unknowingly take a more serious step in their relationship after “Mitchell’s mother makes a scandalous announcement” (from official book summary) and Josie starts to become fed up with one of her younger sister’s reckless behavior. Now they must navigate through the uncertainties of the present, figure out what they mean to each other, and decide what path their lives will take.

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My Review:
I really enjoyed reading this book.

What first caught my eye about Paintbrush was its cover. It’s so simple and pretty and I love the soft colors of purple, pink, orange, blue and green beautifully shaped into a flower against a white backdrop. I think it’s a perfect symbol for what the book is about.

The plot summary is what made me request this title. It sounded really interesting and just the right book for me.

Mitchell and Josie were great characters to get to know. All the characters were great – the Paintbrush community is full of all kinds of people you’ll just love. But these two just had something particularly refreshing about them that I haven’t seen in YA in a while. Their struggles and experiences, their growing relationship felt so real and relatable. They’re both 18, heading off to college soon, and trying to figure out life after graduation which is approaching fast. It’s such stressful and exciting time in a teenager’s life and I think the author perfectly captures this milestone of youth. The progression of Mitchell and Josie’s relationship – though rocky – was as lovely as the entire book.

The scenery in and around Paintbrush is gorgeous and vividly expressed. It made me long to see such landscapes and walk around in nature.

Hannah Bucchin’s debut novel, Paintbrush, was a delightful story that had me falling in love with the characters, on the edge of my seat with its plot, and feel all the feels with its touch of romance. This was a big win for me. And I look forward to reading more from her.

Paintbrush is set to be released July 11, 2017. You can learn more about the book and Hannah Bucchin author here.