Monday, May 22, 2017

Spotlight: The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

You guys know I am a huge Sarah Dessen fan and I am part of the #ReadADessen campaign that features all of her novels until the release of Once and For All, which is due out next month.  I am so excited, because it isn't summer unless I am reading a Sarah Dessen novel.

This week we are talking about The Moon and More, which I thoroughly enjoyed when I read it a few years ago. And how gorgeous is the new cover?

Goodreads says, "The perfect life?  At first glance, Emaline seems to have it all. A great boyfriend, a close-knot family, an idyllic beach town to call home. But now, in the summer before college, Emaline wonders if perfect is good enough. Then she meets Theo, an ambitious young New Yorker assisting on a documentary film about a reclusive local artist. He's sophisticated and exciting, and thinks Emaline is destined for bigger things. Emaline wants the moon and more, but can she balance where she comes from with where she's going?"
Here are my top five reasons why you should read The Moon and More this summer: 

1) Characters - Dessen writes such memorable characters and I loved the character of not only Emaline, but also her best friends Daisy and Morris.  Somehow Dessen creates secondary characters that are just as memorable as the main character.  

2) Relationships - Yes, most of Dessen's "summer reads" focus on that one important summer and that one special love, but this book has so much more than that. Emaline's rocky relationship with her father is important in this novel as well as her younger brother.  But more importantly, The Moon and More is all about Emaline's relationship with herself before she goes off to college.

3) Colby - I want to move here. No seriously. Colby is Dessen's fictional southern beach town which is the setting of many of her novels. Coming back here is like revisiting an old friend. For the Dessen fan, this is always so much fun, especially when you catch cameos from her other beloved characters. 

4) Heart - The reason why I adore Dessen's novels so much is not only are the perfect for the beach thanks to the setting of Colby and the common theme of that one special summer, but they always, always have heart. They are beach reads with heart.  They are smart, the characters are memorable, and the plot is always engaging.  They aren't fluffy beach reads; they are so, so much more.

5)  That Summer - You know the summer I am talking about. That one special summer that sort of changed things for you. A coming-of-age, if you will.  Dessen does this so very well and in The Moon and More.  For Emaline it's the transition from high school to college, which is an important time in an adolescent's life.  Dessen captures this perfectly and how Emaline's most important relationship is, after all, with herself. She needs to understand herself and what she wants for the future.

So, if my five reasons why you should read The Moon and More this summer didn't entice you to pick up a copy, check out my full review here. I think you'll be sold!

Are you new to Sarah Dessen or a long-time fan? What's your favorite Dessen? Do you plan on reading any this summer? Let me know in the comments below. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sunday Post and Giveaway Winners (31)

Book Review: The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord
Waiting on Wednesday: That Inevitable Victorian Thing
Book Review: The Book of Summer by Michelle Gable

I am contining with the #ReadaDessen campaign and sharing my thoughts on The Moon and More. Even though I already read and reviewed this book a few years ago, I am revisiting why we should read it again! It's the perfect summer read!

 I will also be sharing a fun giveaway involving Bonnie and Clyde and my thoughts on Nancy Thayer's Secrets in Summer. Thayer's books always make for delightful beach reads and I especially love the Nantucket setting.


Little Excavator by Anna Dewdney - Thanks to Penguin Random House
No Good Deed by Kara Connolly - Thanks to Delacorte

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

And the winner of Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen goes to..... 


Congrats! I hope you enjoy the book!

Have you read any of these books? Are they on your TBR list? Let me know your thoughts. Thanks for visiting. This meme is hosted by Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

Friday, May 19, 2017

If You Love Southern Beach Reads

Guys, it is officially beach read season!  Some of my favorite beach reads have Southern settings. The beaches, the sunshine, the palm trees, the small town...what more could you want? Not only is the South home to many gorgeous beaches, it's also home to two of my favorite destinations: Savannah and Key West.

If you are looking to armchair travel to the sunny South this summer or you want a Southern beach read to bring with you to the pool or on vacation, look no further. Here are my some of my favorite beach reads with Southern settings.

Adult Fiction:

Hemingway's Girl by Erika Robuck  (Key West, Florida)
Slightly South of Simple by Kristy Woodson Harvey (Georgia)
The Night the Lights Went Out by Karen White (Georgia)
The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews - (North Carolina)
The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank (Charleston, South Carolina)
All Summer Long by Dorothea Benton Frank (Charleston, South Carolina)
Under a Dark Summer Sky by Vanessa LaFaye (Key West, Florida)

YA Fiction:

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen (Colby, North Carolina)
The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen (Colby, North Carolina)
Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer Holm (Key West, Florida)
The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han (Cousins Beach - Fictional Southern beach town)
Endless Summer by Jennifer Echols (Alabama)
Sixteenth Summer by Michelle Dalton (Georgia)

Southern Beach Reads on my TBR List: 

Coming Out This Summer:

Beach House for Rent by Mary Alice Monroe (Isle of Palms, South Carolina)
Same Beach, Next Year by Dorothea Benton Frank (South Carolina)
Cocoa Beach by Beatriz Williams (Cocoa Beach, Florida)

Backlist Southern Beach Reads:

Summer at Hideaway Key by Barbara Davis (Gulf Coast of Florida)
Flight Patterns by Karen White  (Florida coast)
The Sound of Glass by Karen White (Beaufort, South Carolina)
Sea Change by Karen White (St. Simons Island, Georgia)
Lies and Other Acts of Love by Kristy Woodsen Harvey (North Carolina)
The Summer Girls by Mary Alice Monroe (Sullivan's Island, South Carolina)
Spring Fever by Mary Kay Andrews (North Carolina)

What are some of your favorite Southern beach reads? Which ones are on your TBR list? Do you have any recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments below.  

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Book Review: The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

Pages: 400
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: May 16, 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: Open Road Summer,
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Lucy Hansson was ready for a perfect summer with her boyfriend, working at her childhood Bible camp on the lake. But when her mom’s cancer reappears, Lucy falters—in faith, in love, and in her ability to cope. When her boyfriend “pauses” their relationship and her summer job switches to a different camp—one for troubled kids—Lucy isn’t sure how much more she can handle. Attempting to accept a new normal, Lucy slowly regains footing among her vibrant, diverse coworkers, Sundays with her mom, and a crush on a fellow counselor. But when long-hidden family secrets emerge, can Lucy set aside her problems and discover what grace really means?"

Lucy is pretty much the perfect girl. She's a high school junior who does well in school, she is on the swim team, her boyfriend is a perfect gentleman, and she gets along very well with her parents.  Her dad is a pastor and Lucy just assumed she would be spending another summer working at Bible camp, which is something she actually looks forward to doing.  But Lucy's world is turned upside down when her mother's cancer reappears.  Her mother encourages Lucy to take a job at another camp that that her friend runs. It isn't a Bible camp; it is for kids that are dealing with tough times and Lucy's mom thinks she could really help the children.  Lucy doesn't necessarily want to do this, but if her mom is asking her, she tries her best.  To top it off, her seemingly perfect boyfriend wants to take a break from their relationship, so this is really going to be a different sort of summer for Lucy.  While at camp, she meets new people, she is forced out of her comfort zone more often than not, and even learns some long kept family secrets.  Emery Lord's The Names They Gave Us is a moving YA story that will definitely tug on my people's heartstrings.

Even though I really couldn't relate to Lucy in The Names They Gave Us, I appreciated her story, which is always the mark of a great author.  Lucy is very religious and starts questioning her faith once her mother's cancer returns. I could appreciate this part of the novel as there always comes a point in most people's lives when this happens.  Although Lucy is one of the most religious characters I've encountered in years, Lord doesn't write her as being overly preachy or annoying.  She is frustratingly naive, but endearing.  When Lucy's mom requests she goes to Daybreak, I knew that Lucy's world was going to open up tremendously and I was happy for her to be out of her comfort zone.

Summer camp is the best setting for a character who is pretty sheltered. Lucy gets the opportunity to meet people who are different than herself and expand her horizons. It truly is Lucy's coming-of-age story and I loved this aspect of The Names They Gave Us.  Lucy even starts a romance while at camp, but that is definitely not the focus of the story.

While at camp, Lucy unearths a major family secret and while I found this compelling, I thought it was a bit rushed.  I sort of wanted Lucy to explore this a bit more, but since it was towards the end of the novel, we really didn't have much of a chance to even process it greatly.  

Nonetheless, The Names They Gave Us definitely tugged on my heartstrings. I didn't enjoy it as much as Lord's other novels that included a swoon-y romance, fantastic dialogue and friendships, or a great road trip, but I think many young adults may connect with Lucy's story and that is what's most important. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: That Inevitable Victorian Thing

This is a weekly meme hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine.  "Waiting on Wednesday" spotlights upcoming releases that I'm eagerly anticipating.

That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E.K. Johnston
Pub. Date: October 3, 2017

Goodreads says, "Set in a near-future world where the British Empire never fell and the United States never rose, That Inevitable Victorian Thing is a novel of love, duty, and the small moments that can change people and the world. Victoria-Margaret is the crown princess of the empire, a direct descendent of Victoria I, the queen who changed the course of history two centuries earlier. The imperial practice of genetically arranged matchmaking will soon guide Margaret into a politically advantageous marriage like her mother before her, but before she does her duty, she'll have one summer incognito in a far corner of empire. In Toronto, she meets Helena Marcus, daughter of one of the empire's greatest placement geneticists, and August Callaghan, the heir apparent to a powerful shipping firm currently besieged by American pirates. In a summer of high-society debutante balls, politically charged tea parties, and romantic country dances, Margaret, Helena, and August discover they share an unusual bond and maybe a one in a million chance to have what they want and to change the world in the process —just like the first Queen Victoria."

Doesn't this sound really unique? I was completely sold on it when I read the synopsis, but then I saw the cover.....stunning!  What do you guys think?

Monday, May 15, 2017

Book Review: The Book of Summer by Michelle Gable

Pages: 432
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: May 9, 2017
Publisher:  Thomas Dunne
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Physician Bess Codman has returned to her family's Nantucket compound, Cliff House, for the first time in four years. Her great-grandparents built Cliff House almost a century before, but due to erosion, the once-grand home will soon fall into the sea. Though she s purposefully avoided the island, Bess must now pack up the house and deal with her mother, a notorious town rabble-rouser, who refuses to leave.  The Book of Summer unravels the power and secrets of Cliff House as told through the voices of Ruby Packard, a bright-eyed and idealistic newlywed on the eve of WWII, the home's definitive guestbook, and Bess herself. Bess's grandmother always said it was a house of women, and by the very last day of the very last summer at Cliff House, Bess will understand the truth of her grandmother's words in ways she never contemplated."

Dr. Bess Codman is going through a really, really bad divorce.  She returns to Sconset, Nantucket at her father's request to help get her mother, Cissy, out of their beach house.  Cliff House, which at one time was a beautiful mansion on the bluff, is now, essentially, falling into the sea due to erosion.  Cissy needs to bid the house farewell, but she can't seem to as it has been in her family for generations.  She wants to find a way to save the house.  While trying to pack up the place, Bess comes across The Book of Summer, which is the guestbook that her great-grandmother started to highlight each summer at Cliff House.  Bess is totally absorbed by her grandmother and great-grandmother's tales along with other guests of the house.  Flashbacks to her grandmother, Ruby, who loved Cliff House tremendously, fill in the gaps of their family history along with highlighting some family secrets.  Michelle Gable's The Book of Summer is a multi-generational saga that has it all if you enjoy how history and the present can intertwine to reveal an interesting story.

Bess' divorce is literally a nightmare in The Book of Summer. Seriously. Her husband is a monster and where better than to seek refuge and get her ducks in a row than at her family's beautiful beach home on Nantucket. Except there's one problem. The house is slowly slipping into the sea and while most people would cut their losses, Cissy is determined to save the house.  Bess is here to talk some sense into her mother, but while here, she sort of delves into her family's past when perusing The Book of Summer.  She also has a lot of personal things to sort out and the reemergence of her high school boyfriend also complicates matters.

Cissy is quite the character in The Book of Summer.  She's fierce, she's stubborn, and she's a force of nature. While she isn't always practical, you have to appreciate her determination.  I found myself really interested in her back story, which is eventually revealed in the novel's flashbacks.

The character that I was really drawn to in The Book of Summer was Cissy's mother, Ruby, whose story we learn about through not only the entries in The Book of Summer, but also flashbacks to the time surrounding WWII.  I adored Ruby and whenever her narrative was over, I found myself wishing it could go back to it.  Ruby's story not only highlights female strength during difficult times, but it also provides a lot of insight into what Bess' family endured during WWII and the secrets they held onto for many years.

The setting of Nantucket was perfect for The Book of Summer and the idea of gorgeous homes being destroyed due to erosion is based on real-life events on Nantucket.  I especially loved the flashbacks to WWII and the home in its heyday.  The parties on the lawn, the big bands, the gorgeous views, and the simple beauty of a gorgeous summer day is captured expertly by Gable.

If you enjoy historical beach reads that focus on family, you'll love The Book of Summer. I especially appreciated how the past intertwined with the present and the message of female strength throughout the novel.  I definitely recommend this one!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Sunday Post and Giveaway Winners (30)

Book Review: Slightly South of Simple by Kristy Woodson Harvey
Book Review: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher 
Waiting on Wednesday: Jane, Unlimited
The Forever Summer by Jamie Brenner

My Summer Kickoff Feature continues with a review of Michelle Gable's The Book of Summer, which is a fantastic "historical beach read" and one of my favorites of the summer.  I'll also be sharing my thoughts on Emery Lord's The Names They Gave Us, which is also a good summertime read, especially if you enjoy smarter beach reads with a lot of heart.  Lastly, I will also be sharing my favorite Southern Beach Reads, which make for excellent books to bring along on your summer vacation. 

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon - Thanks to Simon Pulse
The Scribe of Siena by Melodie Winawer - Thanks to Touchstone
The Wildling Sisters by Eve Chase - Thanks to Edelweiss and Putnam

And the winner of Adult-ish by Cristina Vanko goes to....


Congrats! I hope you enjoy it!

Have you read any of these books? Are they on your TBR list? Let me know your thoughts. Thanks for visiting. This meme is hosted by Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

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