Second Chance Sunday- The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

truth

Title: The Truth About Forever[Amazon]
Author: Sarah Dessen[website]
Publisher: Penguin Group, Inc.
Genre: Contemporary
Source/Type: borrowed/paperback
Stars: 5 out of 5

Publisher Description:
That’s what Macy has to look forward to while her boyfriend, Jason, is away at Brain Camp. Days will be spent at a boring job in the library, evenings will be filled with vocabulary drills for the SATs, and spare time will be passed with her mother, the two of them sharing a silent grief at the traumatic loss of Macy’s father.

But sometimes unexpected things can happen—things such as the catering job at Wish, with its fun-loving, chaotic crew. Or her sister’s project of renovating the neglected beach house, awakening long-buried memories. Things such as meeting Wes, a boy with a past, a taste for Truth-telling, and an amazing artistic talent, the kind of boy who could turn any girl’s world upside down. As Macy ventures out of her shell, she begins to wonder, Is it really better to be safe than sorry?

My Thoughts:
It’s hard to capture the amazing feeling I got from reading this book. It was just pure, complete, total love! I hated to see it end but I didn’t want to put it down. There was something about every single character that you just ended up connecting with and finding endearing. Macy was so real trying to be in control of everything after loosing one of the most important things in her life and not having the chance to do anything about it. She felt that being perfect would keep her world together and she did everything in her power to do just that. She needed order and structure and that was how she lived until she met the best people to come into her life. The 5 people that worked at Wish catering were the exact opposite of the neat structured monotony that she had been living in over the last year and a half and it was just what she needed.

And what can I say about Wes…WES! Le sigh. The boy was hot and perfect and the perfect companion for Macy. The build of their friendship may have been the absolute best part of the book. They were real and honest with each other and in the process vulnerable without even realizing it. Wes is the kind of boy you dream of. Perfect with his imperfections. I really hate to see him go.

Seriously out of all the books I read this year, this was one of the most well told stories. I would mind reading it again and again and see once again how everybody grows and changes. And I would absolutely recommend it to others for sure. Highly great read!

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Discussion: When You Were Mine – Rebecca Serle

When I was writing reviews with Michelle over at Galleysmith we would have book discussions from time to time. We have had quiet a few going for a while now and since Michelle is on a hiatus we decided to post them over here.

when

Title: When You Were Mine[Amazon]
Author: Rebecca Serle[website]
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: Contemporary
Source/Type: Gifted/Hardcore
Reviewed by: Andi & Michelle

Publisher Description:
In this intensely romantic, modern recounting of the greatest love story ever told, Romeo’s original intended—Juliet’s cousin Rosaline—tells her side of the tale. What’s in a name, Shakespeare? I’ll tell you: Everything.

Rosaline knows that she and Rob are destined to be together. Rose has been waiting for years for Rob to kiss her—and when he finally does, it’s perfect. But then Juliet moves back to town. Juliet, who used to be Rose’s best friend. Juliet, who now inexplicably hates her. Juliet, who is gorgeous, vindictive, and a little bit crazy…and who has set her sights on Rob. He doesn’t even stand a chance.

Rose is devastated over losing Rob to Juliet. This is not how the story was supposed to go. And when rumors start swirling about Juliet’s instability, her neediness, and her threats of suicide, Rose starts to fear not only for Rob’s heart, but also for his life. Because Shakespeare may have gotten the story wrong, but we all still know how it ends….

Discussion:
Andi
: As a Romeo and Juliet fan, okay, I’ll admit it is the Leonardo DiCaprio version, I was so excited about this book when I heard about it and I have to tell you M, it lived up to my expected hype. It really was a fabulous take on a classic tale. It had a great story of friendship and love mixed in with heartache and longing. Serle took a classic, familiar story and made it into something modern and fresh and from a different point of view. For me having Rosaline, the much forgotten first love of Romeo, as the main character was pretty ingenious.  What did you think?

Michelle:  LOL!  You and your Leo….

I’m going to admit (and it likely won’t come as a surprise to many who know me), the classics in literature do nothing for me.  I can’t read them without being bored to tears and eventually giving up.  That is why I love me some retellings (classics, fairy tales, you name it).  Because I can get down with the general vibe of the original story and still enjoy the contemporary tone.

Serle did a great job with this retelling because I really did feel the irony and the Shakespearean nature without having to endure all of the “doest thou..” crapola.  I couldn’t agree more on the ingenious selection of telling Rose’s story as opposed to the more obvious choices of Romeo or Juliet. Seeing their story through her eyes and also experiencing her own story was fantastical.

A: It added something to the original that was missing, it added conflict. By making it more a ‘triangle'(and I use that word lightly), it gave the characters more depth I think and let the audience feel more. In the original I felt bad for Romeo and Juliet, but something about the addition of Rosaline made the whole story more gut wrenching. it also helped that I hated Juliet and Rob in this book. HAHA. Have you ever seen two more spoiled people that thought they deserved whatever they wanted? At one point I wanted to be the one to do Juliet in!

M:  UGH, yes!  Juliet was a shrewish b*tch.  I just wanted to throttle her at every turn.  I did want the background between the girls to be a bit more fleshed out though.  The controversy that lead to the family feud was too vague it needed more depth to really show why the events that were spurned occurred. It felt a bit contrived that Juliet went for Rob so quickly.  Sure, I got that it was revenge at the start but without that deeper backstory it just felt somewhat forced.

A: I guess that didn’t really bother me as much because even Rose didn’t know it was revenge so I didn’t feel out of the loop in terms of that aspect. But I do agree about the family feud. I didn’t really like it and didn’t get why it was an issue between  the brothers in the long run. It was definitely added to make the conflict bigger but I think if a different problem was the cause it would have flowed better.

M: By focussing solely on the teens I found that the story lost some of it’s punch.  If a teacher wanted to use this book as a tool to in a literature class it would definitely be lacking in giving the true perspective on the original.  However, that isn’t necessarily the goal here.  Being a retelling it’s goal is to differentiate itself from the original.  But it should also carry through the essence so that the reader who isn’t familiar with the original could go to it and see the similarities.  Serle definitely does this in spades with the relationship between Rose and Juliet and the boys but not much anywhere else.  Can you imagine how much more awesome it would have been if we’d seen more of the parents, the conflict and the interaction they had in the relationships?  I think that would have given me some of that awesome angst I so long for in a story like this.

A: And we do know how much you love your angst, don’t we?! Haha!

But seriously, I do agree to an extent. A little more background would have really upped the ante some. But I also liked that Rosaline was the main focus just for the fact that she is such a non-entity in the original. I think what may have helped a little more was more Juliet. Yes, I hated the character. She was definitely not my favorite at all, but with some more connection, whether through flashbacks, stories or current situations, between her and Rosaline and even Rob wood have made just a hint of difference and really showed the animosity she felt towards her cousin and why Rosaline was so betrayed by her actions.

M:  Word THAT!

Angst is one of the things I like best in a story.  Particularly when it’s done right and realistically!

To your point about Rose, I agree.  I knew very little about her so focusing on her as the primary point of view was a good thing.  Like you’ve said showing her through the relationships she’s built with Juliet and Rob would have gone a long way.  She seemed a bit bland for the most part.  Pining away for Rob when I didn’t see much chemistry there.  Also, what was it that Rob saw in Juliet to draw him away from his life-long friend?  Sure, she was beautiful and had money but there had to be more depth to it to really have him gravitating to her so quickly.  Don’t you think?

A: Yeah, I just didn’t see what was so hypnotizing about Juliet that Rob would do such a complete 180. The only thing that made sense was that whole ‘meant to be’ crap that is a massive theme in the Shakespeare story, but it wasn’t explored much in this book so it just kind of didn’t connect for me.

I will say there was one quote that I think perfectly summed up this book. I mean it is beyond perfect when you think about it.

“They died together; they’ll always be remembered together. It’s decided, once and for all. He was hers. The rumors don’t matter; they’ll fade…People may remember it was suicide, but my name won’t be attached. It will just be two lovers, fused together forever.”

That to me is the essence of the whole story and why I loved it so much. Rosaline is never connected to the story and I loved how Serle pointed that out so poetically with the simplest of statements.

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Second Chance Sunday – Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

Over the past few years I have read some really greats books that I have reviewed over on Goodreads. Wanting to share the love I am starting Second Chance Sunday. Second Chance Sunday will consist of a book I have read, loved and gushed about and think it deserves a second look-d-lou so I can share the love.
And what better way to start off Second Chance Sunday then with none other then Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson:

summer

Title: Second Chance Summer [Amazon]
Author: Morgan Matson [website]
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Source/Type: Purchased/Hardcover
Stars: 5 out of 5

Publisher Description:
Taylor Edwards’ family might not be the closest-knit—everyone is a little too busy and overscheduled—but for the most part, they get along just fine. Then Taylor’s dad gets devastating news, and her parents decide that the family will spend one last summer all together at their old lake house in the Pocono Mountains.

Crammed into a place much smaller and more rustic than they are used to, they begin to get to know each other again. And Taylor discovers that the people she thought she had left behind haven’t actually gone anywhere. Her former best friend is still around, as is her first boyfriend…and he’s much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve.

As the summer progresses and the Edwards become more of a family, they’re more aware than ever that they’re battling a ticking clock. Sometimes, though, there is just enough time to get a second chance—with family, with friends, and with love.

My Thoughts:
Some books reach you on such an emotional level that they quickly become a part of you. Second Chance Summer did exactly that. It was by far one of the most exquisitely written stories about love, loss, and second chances. It is a story of hope and trust and opening yourself up to the unknown even when it gets scary. It’s a story of growing up.

I was immediately pulled in by the story of Taylor. Since she was younger the one thing Taylor was good at was running when things got hard. A middle child with a genius older brother and a ballet protege younger sister, Taylor never really found her place in her family. She felt like the let down, the disappointment, of the family. The only place she ever really felt like you fit in was at the lake house her family went to every summer until she was twelve. With Henry her first crush/boyfriend and Lucy her best friend, Taylor knew she belonged. But in her 12th summer, the last year they went to the house Taylor did something that split them apart and instead of sticking around to fix things she ran and never saw them again. Fast forward 5 years and Taylor’s whole world is coming in on her. Her father has been diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer and only has the summer left. Wanting to spend time with the whole family they pack up and go to their summer house. Now Taylor is not only faced with the memories and people she once left behind with no explanation, she now has to face the fact that in a few short months she will no longer have her father there for her. In a summer of second chances and making memories Taylor has to decide flight or fight.

I really don’t think I have the words to describe how much I not only loved this book but how it touched me in a way others books haven’t. Pancreatic cancer has been a huge part of my life. I’ve lost someone very close to me to it and I know how devastating it can be to a family when it is not caught in time(which is the case quite frequently with this disease). Morgan Matson used this in a way that was both true and emotional and I could totally put myself in Taylor’s place. It’s a scary disease and it works fast and that was captured perfectly and in a way that I had never seen in a book before. One second Taylor’s dad was fine and in the next he was in such pain he couldn’t even talk. It was heart wrenching in a very very real way. That alone made me love this book in a way that I haven’t loved anything else really.

Then there was Taylor herself. She was so terrified to get hurt, to live her life and own up to her mistakes that she constantly wanted to just run. She wanted to run far and she wanted to run fast. She had been doing just that all her life until her father, without knowing it, made her stand still. He made her go back to the lake house and face her demands and the people she had hurt in the past. Without meaning to her father taught Taylor to grow up and to learn that nothing was unfixable. Nothing was broken forever if you didn’t want to be. And with Henry and Lucy there showing her that people deserved to get a second chance Taylor grew in a way that I never would have imagined.

I bawled my eyes out for about the last 30 pages of this Sarah Dessen meets Jenny Han book and it was by far worth every tear I shed. It was deep and funny and a real coming of age story. Morgan Matson hit it out of the park with this book and it was completely worth all of the good things I heard about it. One of my favorites of 2012 and I look forward to for from them EXTREMELY talented story teller!

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Review: Graceling-Kristin Cashore

Review: Graceling-Kristin CashoreGraceling by Kristin Cashore
Series: Graceling Realm #1
Published by Harcourt
Published: 2009
Buy on Amazon
Add to Goodreads
five-stars

Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight--she's a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graces as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king's thug.

When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.

She never expects to become Po's friend.

She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace--or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away.

I’m going to say this and I’m going to say it without hesitation…Graceling was better than The Hunger Games. Yup, I said it out loud and I truly, honestly, 100% mean it. Because Graceling was hands down fantastic! It was a 471-page book and my only complaint is that it wasn’t longer. Graceling touched me in a way that no other book really has. And the truth is I almost didn’t read it. You see I had an aversion to all things deemed “fantasy” and refused to try them. Well after some listening to massive amounts of gush on this I took my BN gift card that I got for Christmas and bit the bullet and bought it. I have never been so happy to have bought a book in my life!

Graceling is the story of Katsa, a girl that has been graced with the power of killing. Since discovering her power when she was a small child Katsa has been “employed” by her uncle King Randa to do his dirty work and keep people in line. For years Katsa has been a prisoner to her grace, doing exactly what her uncle asked of her. That is until she meets Prince Po. Po is nothing like anyone else the lady has ever met. He has no fear of her. He has heard all the stories, knows what she is capable of and yet he doesn’t shy away from her. Instead, he inspires her to stand up for herself. Now broken away from the King, Katsa and Po go on a journey that neither one of them expected and learn things they never could have imaged about themselves, each other and the world they live in. As secrets start to be unveiled they both know one thing and one thing only…nothing will ever be the same again for either one of them.

So now I’m sure you are wondering why I loved this more than The Hunger Games. I know, it is a bold statement to make. But the reason? I felt the connection. I felt everything Katsa felt. I felt everything that Po felt. I was a part of their world and wasn’t afraid to be even when things were bad. I felt safe reading Katsa and Po’s story. And I felt the emotion between them. A book that could have easily been campy/cheesy never went there even once for me. It was believable and that right there is where my love comes so strong. As crazy and out there as these Graces were, I never once questioned the possibility of it. I was immersed in this world with everything I had and never thought anything about it.

Katsa was amazing. She was strong(and I don’t mean just physically), independent, and loving. She carried this whole book on her young shoulders and did it with ease. Sure it helped to have adorable, swoon-worthy, Po by her side pulling out everything he knew Katsa was, but she was the hero. She was the star and even Po pointed that out to her(which I loved!). Was she uncertain and scared like any girl in her place would be? Absolutely, but she handled herself with grace and class and held herself together in the face of danger after danger to get done what needed to be done. By far one of the strongest, if not THE strongest, female leads in a book. And then you have Po. Sidekick like Po who was happy to be the sidekick. He wasn’t one of those macho neanderthals that pouted if a girl was better then him at anything. He didn’t think he was the best at much and that right there made him a “heartthrob” and a character I will never forget.

Truth: That description is totally lame! I wanted to tell you how awesome this book. I wanted to describe every detail and feeling and emotion I got. But the thing is, I can’t. If I do, there is no point in your reading and what is the fun in that? You need to want to read it, be teased enough into reading it, be dying to pick it up. Because another truth…you won’t be disappointed.

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