#ReadADessen Review: Along for the Ride

It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.
A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.
In her signature pitch-perfect style, Sarah Dessen explores the hearts of two lonely people learning to connect.

 

The first time i read Along for the Ride I was in high school.  Now that I am an adult and am re-reading this book I am seeing it in a much different light. When I was younger I never realized how toxic Auden’s mother and father were. While I was reading this i was kind of shocked to see how toxic her parents were because i did not remember seeing them in such a negative light. As someone who has dealt with toxic family members in their life, I understand the struggle one goes through while coming to terms with the fact that someone you love is toxic to you and you don’t want to let that person go because you do love them and care about them. Auden deals with her parents toxicity gracefully as she learns who she is.

This book is all about change and if people can change. At the beginning of the story we see Auden as a young woman who doesn’t really know who she is. She does her best to please her parents and she does the best in school so that they will notice her.  As the story progresses we see Auden come out of her shell, and learn who she is as well as who she wants to be. The journey Auden goes through is something most young women can relate to. In this book we also see how the people around Auden change, it is nice that we can see the changes her parents go through as she grows as a person.

Although this is not my favorite Sarah Dessen book this is most definitely in my top 5 favorites.This book is perfect for any woman who has had any type of family issue or has simply experienced change in their life.

4.5 Bards

Along for the Ride


Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only

#ReadADessen Revew: This Lullaby

 

 

When it comes to relationships, Remy doesn’t mess around. After all, she’s learned all there is to know from her mother, who’s currently working on husband number five. But there’s something about Dexter that seems to defy all of Remy’s rules. He certainly doesn’t seem like Mr. Right. For some reason, however, Remy just can’t seem to shake him. Could it be that Remy’s starting to understand what those love songs are all about?

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to write a review of This Lullaby just because it is extremely hard for me to try not to gush about how much I love this novel and try to give it an actual critique-type review.  I am going to try though, but be forewarned: this is one of my favorite books of all time, so be prepared for gush.

Let me start off by saying that Dessen does an excellent job of establishing Remy’s, the narrator, voice immediately.  Not only is Remy a bit snarky, but she has some serious sarcastic and bitchy moments that really help characterize her for the rest of the novel.  Remy has a rock solid group of girlfriends to spend the summer with before college, and a typical place to hang out and sneak drinks underage.  I had all of these things as well.  Probably one of the reasons when I read this originally when it came out I felt like Dessen was writing about my life and my initial love for the novel.

After reading it again, I find that I am impressed by Dessen’s story telling ability and the subtle growth that Remy makes as the book continues.  Not only does Remy’s attitude start to shift, but she begins to become the person she needs to be in order to succeed in life.

Dexter, oh Dexter.  What can I really say about my first laugh-out-loud enjoyment and crush on a fictional character?  This doofus would likely be the love of my life if he was real.  The whole scene where Dexter and John Miller are discussing their respective relationships while sitting outside the QuikZip is brilliant.  Kudos to Dessen to making such an endearing character so vibrant and, well, crushworthy.

I will leave you with some of my favorite quotes from This Lullaby, and an active plea for you to pick up a copy of this novel as soon as you can.  You will not regret it!

Favorite Quotes:

“Everything, in the end, comes down to timing. One second, one minute, one hour, could make all the difference. So much hanging on just these things, tiny increments that together build a life. Like words build a story, and what had Ted said? One word can change the entire world.”

“I meant what I said to you. I wasn’t playing some kind of summer game. Everything I said was true, from the first day. EVERY GODDAMN WORD.”

“Huffah.”

5 Bards to the story I’ve always loved and for the story I will always re-read.

fivebards

#ReadADessen Review: The Truth About Forever

Are you as excited about the release of Sarah Dessen’s newest young adult novel, Once and For All (out June 6, 2017) as I am?! We teamed up with Penguin Teen to celebrate the release by counting down the weeks with reviews of her previous novels. Check out the description of Once and For All, and then our review of The Truth About Forever.  Stick around until the end of the post, you can enter to win a full set of Dessen’s catalog in paperback!

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.

 

REVIEW:

In The Truth About Forever, when asked how she is coping with her father’s death, invariably seventeen year old Macy Queen’s answer is “fine,” when nothing could be further from the truth. In actuality, she is drowning in grief while maintaining a flawless façade of good grades and unblemished behavior. Though she feels lost when her boyfriend heads to “Brain Camp” for the summer, she finds herself a job with the quirky Wish Catering crew, and meets “sa-woon”-worthy Wes, whose chaotic lifestyle is in direct opposition to her own.

As the two share their stories over the summer, Macy realizes she can no longer keep her feelings on ice. Though it feels like her future ended with her dad’s death, Macy’s learns that forever is all about beginnings.

I sit here, after finishing The Truth About Forever for about the 20th time, and I am crying.  This book isn’t just important to me because of how long I’ve been a Dessen fan, but because I grew up with a lot of death in my life.  Yes, that doesn’t sound ideal or even something that you’d want to hear about, but it’s true.  I’d been to more funerals in the first 12 years of my life than I would go to in the next 12. So this book spoke to me in so many ways.

Another aspect that was important to me was the accurate representation of disease like breast cancer (my mother is a survivor) and heart disease (two of my grandparents passed away from heart attack’s like Macy’s father).  So obviously, so many ways I connect to this novel that have nothing to do with the love story, which, in my opinion is much more of a third tier narrative compared to that of Macy’s healing and her growth as someone who was no longer defined by her grief.

Sure, I love a good romance like the next person, but I think I fell in love with the friendship that Macy and Wes developed before anything romantic happened.  Honestly, I think this type of relationship development is so much more rewarding than immediate physical intimacy.  Not saying that I don’t enjoy physical intimacy (I now feel like I need to apologize to my mother), but the friendship foundation has always made any relationship worthwhile for me.

I am working on a piece that explains how much Sarah Dessen’s writing has meant to me, and how her books have always provided a light in the darkness any time I needed it.  I find picking up her books, even if I’ve read them more than twenty times, to be so fulfilling and beautiful.

I will always give this story, one of my heart (hand in heart, anyone?!), 5 Bards.

 

 

 

 

Enter to win! 

Giveaway Details:

Enter for a chance to win one (1) set of Sarah Dessen’s books in paperback (ARV: $132.00).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on April 17, 2017 and 12:00 AM on May 29, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about June 1, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

 

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Book Crafts: Book Cover Coasters

Finished Product!

Things you’ll need:

  1. Pictures of your favorite book covers printed on regular paper or with photo paper
  2. Mod Podge Clear Gloss
  3. Mod Podge Clear Acrylic Sealer
  4. Ceramic tiles 4×4 (found in your local hardware store)
  5. Peel and Stick Felt
  6. Sponge Paint Brush

 

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: June 6, 2017

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.

The Re-Read Frenzy

So, now that Summer has rolled around and changes are hitting the Midsummer team (Jess is starting a new job and Olyvia is moving to Texas) we have both been caught up in re-reading some of our favorites. Re-reading can be something that can make you feel comfortable and as if you are hanging out with an old friend.  There is also something to be said about how re-reading can encourage children to continue to discover new novels and stories similar to those they already love.  In fact, I really think that re-reading was a huge influence on how much I adore reading today.

Although, to be fair, the first book I liked to re-read was The Foot Book by Dr. Seuss and I didn’t so much read it as I had it memorized and would randomly flip the pages to make it look like I was reading! (I was a precocious kid)

Another benefit of re-reading favorites is that you will always find something new.  I’m yet to re-read a novel and be unsurprised by a small detail I’ve never noticed or even had a specific sentence or scene jump out at me in a whole new way.  It’s so fun.

From two book nerds to you: here are some of our favorite re-reads and why we enjoy taking time out of our busy reading schedule to sit back down and remember why we loved them in the first place.

Olyvia: It helps when I’m in a reading slump, but also when I can’t choose what to read next, if I go back to my favorites I’ll usually pick something new but similar.

Olyvia’s Go-To Re-Reads

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas
Anything Libba Bray.

Jessica’s Go-To Re-Reads: 

Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

What are some of your favorite re-reads?  What book do you always turn to in time of reading slump or indecision?

If anything, you can take this from our post: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas is definitely a series you should pick up, read, and re-read.

Celebration Giveaway!

I’m not sure if you all follow Sarah Dessen on Facebook or any of her other Social Media outlets, but she finally released that she is currently writing a new novel.

Now, maybe you aren’t as excited about this as I am, but Sarah Dessen is the reason I even enjoy contemporary young adult literature.  I frequently recommend my favorite of hers, This Lullaby, to those who are asking for contemporary book requests.

SarahDessenSelfie

When I got to interview Sarah Dessen

I am super excited about the fact that she is working on a new novel, so I am giving away 2 Sarah Dessen paperbacks!

You can check out my reviews of some of her novels at the following links and read my interview with Sarah, too!

This Lullaby

Along for the Ride

That Summer

The Moon & More

Saint Anything

Interview

Enter to win these paperbacks now!  The contest ends on Monday, March 14.

 

 

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Bowie & Books

bowiequote

 

We here at A Midsummer Night’s Read wanted to do something to honor the memory of the talented and wonderful David Bowie, so we decided to gather a few of his great songs and apply them to a few good young adult books!

David Bowie was an avid reader and supported efforts to encourage children to read.  So how better to honor him than with words: his and a few good authors.

The first song that really stuck out, “Heroes,” is from the album of the same name released in 1977.

“And we kissed, as though nothing could fall (nothing could fall)
And the shame, was on the other side
Oh we can beat them, for ever and ever
Then we could be Heroes, just for one day”

The book that I paired with this song is
These Broken Stars
by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. It tells the story of a figurative princess with all the riches in the world and a former war hero that are having to save themselves and their future.  Plus, they fall in love and really do become heroes for each other and their world.

 

The second song I chose has a great message and an unforgettable beat, “Golden Years.”

“Don’t let me hear you say life’s taking you nowhere, angel
Come get up my baby
Run for the shadows, run for the shadows
Run for the shadows in these golden years”


The Start of Me and You
by Emery Lord really reminds me of this song.  The friendship between Paige and her best
friends as well as her blossoming relationship with Max really define what was the “Golden Years” of her life.  They will not let her miss out on those years, and really, don’t we all need people to help us through that?

 

The third song I chose is one of his lesser known songs from Space Oddity, called “Letter to Hermoine.”

“They say your life is going very well
They say you sparkle like a different girl
But something tells me that you hide
When all the world is warm and tired
You cry a little in the dark
Well so do I”

I imagined this song from the point of view of the male characters in Sarah Dessen’s The Moon and More, as they would think upon Emaline and her future without them.  This novel really was about Emaline’s journey and her story, but the guys play a big part in her development as a character, so I found this song about longing and missing her to be fitting.

 

The fourth song I chose, I chose mostly in honor of Prince Magnus from the Falling Kingdoms series, and it is fittingly titled “It Ain’t Easy,” and it is from the seminal 1972 album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust.

“When you climb to the top of the mountain
Look out over the sea
Think about the places perhaps, where a young man could be
Then you jump back down to the rooftops
Look out over the town
Think about all of the strange things circulating ’round”

Like I mentioned, I hear this song and I think of Magnus and his struggle to find his place and his future within the battle for Mytica, and of course, I think of his blossoming feelings for Princess Cleo and what that could bring to the table.

 

Fifth is one of Bowie’s songs that was co-written with the late Beatle, John Lennon.  “Fame” fits a number of novels that I could think of, but this one in particular.

“Fame, makes a man take things over
Fame, lets him loose, hard to swallow
Fame, puts you there where things are hollow
Fame”

Of course I immediately thought of Emery Lord’s country pop star novel, Open Road Summer, when I listened to this song today after hearing of Bowie’s passing.  For me this song is for Lilah, because she loses so much in her fame throughout the novel, including someone she loves.  So it is a good fit.

 

 

This is probably one of Bowie’s more romantic songs, in my opinion, and “Soul Love” is another amazing track from The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust.

 

“New love – a boy and girl are talking
New words – that only they can share in
New words – a love so strong it tears their hearts
To sleep – through the fleeting hours of morning”

I had to choose Emily Henry’s debut novel, The Love that Split the World, when listening to this song again.  It really just made my heart feel all of the emotions that I felt when reading Natalie and Beau’s love story.  My review of this book will be up on January 29, so sit tight and listen to “Soul Love” while you wait.

 

 

The last song I picked for this post is one of Bowie’s most popular, the catchy “Changes” from his album Hunky Dory.

“Don’t tell them to grow up and out of it
Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes
(Turn and face the stranger)
Ch-ch-Changes
Where’s your shame
You’ve left us up to our necks in it
Time may change me
But you can’t trace time”

I had to chose Adam Silvera’s More Happy than Not for this song, because there are a lot of things going on in Aaron’s life and he is going through a lot of change.  He is going through change with the death of his father, his sexuality, and understanding what it really is that makes him happy.

 

Thank you, David Bowie, for being a constant innovator and a true role model for individuals everywhere.  Thank you for showing that reinvention of self and art is beautiful. Thank you for the music.

 

Summer of Sarah Dessen Review: Along for the Ride

It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.

A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.

I think the most wonderful thing about reading Dessen’s books after having met her and spoke with her about her characters is that while I can tell the difference between them, is that they have a specific thing in common.  Most of them are a bit socially awkward and have little experience in the social department, and Auden is no different.  Many of them are a bit bookish as well, which makes me love them more because I was the same way.  Auden is different from the others in that she is very independent.  I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t have been brave enough to go to a diner by myself at 4:00 AM when I was that young.  Auden’s brave streak really flourishes in Dessen’s narrative, and I think that it really defines her more than her intelligence or her being an introvert.

Along for the Ride really exemplifies how the “journey” trope in a narrative can be used without a character going on an actual, physical journey (i.e. a road trip, destination trip, etc).  Auden goes on a metaphysical journey over the course of living in Colby for the summer.  She has her first sexual experience, makes her first girlfriends, learns that there is more to life than studying and academic achievement.  There are a lot of themes that run throughout this novel, discovering who you really are is one of them, but the other one is with family.  Dessen is practically an expert at exploring familial relationships and dynamics in her narratives.  Auden has to deal with her estranged parents and their expectations for her, her father’s remarriage and newborn child, and her flighty brother flitting around Europe.

This novel’s pacing is wonderful and the story is over before you even realize it.  The characters introduced throughout the story are all important to understanding the dynamics of friend groups and how important friends are to becoming the person you want to be.  I especially love the friendship that grows between Auden and Maggie throughout this story, because it starts off pretty rough, but they come to really know one another.  Auden’s romantic interest in the book, Eli, is someone who comes from a damaged background too.  I like that there is a certain aspect of them helping one another discover how to pick up the pieces and move forward.

Along for the Ride: 5 Bards

fivebards

 

 

 

For more on Sarah Dessen here at A Midsummer Night’s Read, check out my INTERVIEW with her and read my reviews from the first two weeks of the Summer of Sarah Dessen.

Week 1 – Saint Anything
Week 2 – The Moon and More
Week 3 – That Summer

Be sure to follow along with the Summer of Sarah Dessen, and leave a link to your review in the comments!

SummerwithSarahDessen

 

Summer of Sarah Dessen Review: That Summer

9780142401729_ThatSummer_CV.inddThe more things change…

As far as Haven is concerned, there’s just too much going on.

Everything is changing, and she’s not sure where she fits in.

Then her sister’s old boyfriend shows up, sparking memories of the summer when they were all happy and everything was perfect…

But along the way, Haven realizes that sometimes change is a good thing.

To be completely honest, it has been at least 10 years, if not more, since I originally read That Summer.  So while this novel isn’t one of my go to re-reads of Dessen’s, I still think that it is a really good exemplification of how much an author can grow from the beginning of their career to where they are now.  Speaking of NOW, you can check out my review of Sarah Dessen’s newest release, Saint Anything, by clicking on the title.

Anyway, there is a lot that goes on in That Summer, so much so that it can be an overwhelming narrative at times.  I think that Dessen has really improved from a narration stand point since this novel, but I also think that the jumbled narration fits really well with Haven’s character.  Haven is a girl who begins the novel stuck in the past.  She is constantly comparing the way things are currently in the story, with her parents divorced and her dad remarrying, to the way it once was during one specific summer.  Now, I firmly believe that Dessen did a superb job portraying Haven as a girl who looks back before she looks forward, and I believed it 100% because I was also that girl.  Haven is delightfully down to Earth and easy to relate to.

Ashley, her older sister, former serial dater turned conservative bride-to-be reminded me of a lot of girls that I knew in high school.  I found her to be very unrelatable, but I really liked the exploration of the sisterly bond and how it can ebb and flow over the course of changing personalities and the widening of different experiences.

I think that the thing I enjoy about all of Dessen’s novels is how the events of her novels really effect the family as a unit.  That Summer is more focused on that dynamic than some of her other books and I really think that since there isn’t a super sizzling romance involving the main character that a lot of readers didn’t enjoy the story.  But I think that this narrative is much more than that, it is really about the familial bond that can still be there under the duress of change.  Those with similar family issues would probably feel a very strong connection to this book, but even though I didn’t experience any of these, I really felt like I was witnessing a real experience.

4 Bards for That Summer.

fourbards

 

 

 

For more on Sarah Dessen here at A Midsummer Night’s Read, check out my INTERVIEW with her and read my reviews from the first two weeks of the Summer of Sarah Dessen.

Week 1 – Saint Anything
Week 2 – The Moon and More

Be sure to follow along with the Summer of Sarah Dessen, and leave a link to your review in the comments!

SummerwithSarahDessen

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