Sunday, 30 June 2013

Monthly Round-up: June

Sorry I didn't do one of these for May, but I didn't really get around to doing much of anything in May that wasn't panicking about exams, but they're all over now so...

Books read in June

1. The Truth About Forever (reread)
2. The Raven Boys
3. Diary of a Crush: French Kiss
4. Anna and the French Kiss (reread)
5. Audrey, Wait!
6. Cracked Up To Be
7. The Taming of The Tights
8. My Life Next Door
9. The Night Itself
10. The Survival Kit
11. This is What Happy Looks Like

This is probably the most books I've ever read in a month before, which is pretty cool. Though that's probably because of all the contemps and french kissing. Bit of a theme for the summer, but alas, only in my reading habits. ;)

Book of the Month:

You know what, I can't really decide. I liked pretty much all of the books I read this month, but if I had to pick one, it'd probably be...

Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway

Books reviewed:

In other news, Google Reader is dead. But, you can still follow me via other feedreaders! The one I use is Bloglovin' because it's easy to use for a simpleton like myself, and you'll probably have noticed the huge, self-indulgent button on the sidebar by now which will (hopefully) enable you to follow me. It would be really nice if you still did want to hang out here, but I'm not offended if you don't really care. I'm trying not to be too in your face about this whole thing, because I'm pretty sure everybody knows about Google Reader dying and has sorted out their arrangements by now, so this'll probably be the last I have to say about it (again, apart from the great big 'FOLLOW ME' button on the sidebar...) (If you didn't notice it HERE  should be the link to it. Okay, I'm done now.)

In other, other news, it's nearly the summer holidays! Which means I'll probably actually have time to do stuff again! Yay! I may even be creative and post something that isn't a meme or a book review! But don't hold me up to this I don't want to let anybody down by not actually following through on what I'm saying right now!

Okay, so, that was June! 

Saturday, 29 June 2013

The Night Itself review

The Night Itself
Zoe Marriott
July 4th 2013
Walker Books

When fifteen year old Mio Yamato furtively sneaks the katana - an ancestral Japanese sword - out of its hiding place in her parent's attic to help liven up her Christmas party costume, she has no idea of the darkness she is about to unleash on modern day London, or the family secrets that she is going to uncover.

The paralysing paranoia that descends on her before she gets to her friend's party is her first clue. The vivid and terrifying visions that nearly get her killed are a pretty good warning too.

The giant nine-tailed cat demon that comes after the sword and tries to rip her throat out? Overkill.

Seconds away from becoming kitty-food, Mio is saved by Shinobu, a mysterious warrior boy. But it's already too late. Mio has ruptured the veil between the mortal realm and the Underworld, and now the gods and monsters of ancient Japan stalk the streets of London, searching for her and the sword. 

With the help of her best friend Jack, a fox spirit named Hikaru - and the devoted protection of the betwitchingly familiar Shinobu - Mio attempts to discover the true nature of the sword and its connection to the Yamato family. Because if she doesn't learn how to control the katana's incredible powers, she's in danger of being overwhelmed by them. And if she can't keep the sword safe from the terrible creatures who want it for their own, she'll lose not only her own life... but the love of a lifetime.

 I have been excited about reading The Night Itself pretty much ever since Zoe announced it, mainly because a) Zoe Marriott is fabulous and writes fabulous books and b) it is an urban fantasy for teens set in London and based around Japanese mythology. Seriously, who the hell wouldn't want to read that?! The Night Itself was really, really good, but it didn't 100% meet my expectations, though I can already tell that it will become one of my favourite series, like, ever. 

My favourite part of the book was definitely the mythology. Ever since I was about ten, I think, I've had this huge fascination with Japan (by which I mean I have read and seen more than a shit ton of manga and anime) and its folklore, and seeing how it could be integrated into the modern world, so I was understandably really bloody excited about the folklore aspect of The Night Itself. It was really refreshing, not just to read about the mythology of a culture that is so different from out own, but also just because of, like, how much Zoe actually knows as well as how she's worked it to the book's advantage. It just worked really well, and really, we should have more books about magic Katana's (which reminded me a bit of, like, all the historical/paranormal mangas and animes like InuYasha and Rurouni Kenshin ect. Not a bad thing at all - they were the things that really set off my interest in the history and culture of Japan, so...) and Fox demons/Kitsune.

The book itself takes place over the span of about 2 days, so it feels like all the time in the story is really expanded and so much happens that you sort of forget that it's all taken place in this compressed time period as you're swept away by everything that's happening. I think it had its advantages and disadvantages, especially as it was the first book in the series. On one hand, I think it worked really well because of the fact that it really threw you into the action straight away with little release from all of the events that take place, and just the sort of madness of the completely strange world that Mio has been thrown into with hardly any preparation. But, it did mean that I didn't get as much, like, backstory and development as I wanted, but I do think that that will all come in the next two books, so I'm not too bothered. 

I liked Mio and Jack and Shinobu and Hikaru a lot, too, as well as just the pure diversity of characters. It sucks, but only a handful of the books on my shelf are narrated by or have main characters that are not white and/or not straight, so it's a joy to read a book which has both of those things (Mio, Shinobu and (I think) Hikaru are Japanese and Jack is mixed race and not straight - the Jack is short for Jacqueline, btw). Also, they were just a lot of fun to read about. I really liked Mio and Jack's friendship, and I didn't even mind the sort of insta-love between Mio and Shinobu (honestly, don't let it put you off now that I've said that. It actually works.) and the changes that happened to Mio as a result of all the stuff that happens. 

The Night Itself is not my favourite of Zoe's books (FrostFire and Shadows on the Moon are absolute crackers) but I think that might partially be down to the fact it was just such a completely different book to anything she's written before, which is why I like the cover so much. It shows that even though The Night Itself is by the same person who writes beautiful, amazing high fantasy, this is a completely new turn for her and yes, it is different and new and not what you expect, it's still awesome. I hope it attracts a wider audience for her work, too, so that even more people will get to read her fabulous books.

Overall, I liked The Night Itself a lot, and that it worked really well as the first book to what will be an awesome, exciting and probably emotional trilogy.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Cracked Up To Be review

Cracked Up To Be
Courtney Summers
23rd December 2008
St Martins Griffin

When "Perfect" Parker Fadley starts drinking at school and failing her classes, all of St. Peter's High goes on alert. How has the cheerleading captain, girlfriend of the most popular guy in school, consummate teacher's pet, and future valedictorian fallen so far from grace?

Parker doesn't want to talk about it. She'd just like to be left alone, to disappear, to be ignored. But her parents have placed her on suicide watch and her conselors are demanding the truth. Worse, there's a nice guy falling in love with her and he's making her feel things again when she'd really rather not be feeling anything at all.

Nobody would have guessed she'd turn out like this. But nobody knows the truth.

Something horrible has happened, and it just might be her fault.

Cracked Up To Be was brilliant. There were very few things about it that I didn't enjoy, and I think the only thing that stopped from truly loving it was that, even though it was great, you can tell that Courtney Summers can do even better.  I cannot wait to read the rest of her books so I can see how the rawness of Cracked Up To Be can work itself into something even more awesome and beautiful, you know?

Parker Fadley, you are indeed far from 'perfect', but holy hell are you a wonderful, beautiful, complex character. Her voice was so strong throughout the book, and I think that that is what made it so great. I mean, Parker is a bitch, and I loved that anyway, but she also had so many layers. Sure, she was mean and  bitchy and anal and a perfectionist, but she's also full of this guilt and pain about something that happened the last year and that you don't really know much about until the very end of the book. She has this insane need to be perfect and be the best and it's seriously like a compulsion for her. It was just really great to read about such an interesting character, though if you are the sort of reader who likes to read a book and not be in a lover/hate relationship with the POV character, Cracked Up To Be may not be the book for you (though even if you are that type of reader, you should still try it. It's really great.)

I liked the sort of mystery of the plot, too. As I've just said, it's sort of the main cause of Parker's recent sort of breakdown and this sort of change in her personality (I say sort of because she'd already been this type of person, she just hid it better and had more barriers before all of this shit). In a way, it was sort of predictable, but just because Parker is such a great and kind of unpredictable character, it was still really gripping to read. I also loved the fact that it did have such an impact on her, and showed another side to her that we wouldn't have got to see, like the fact that she has panic attacks and has just shut down because of it.

I think the one thing that just didn't work entirely for me was the flow of the book. It's not like it didn't flow at all or anything, it was just that there were times when I was slightly confuse about what was actually going on. Like Parker and Chris's relationship and the ambiguity there, or Parker and Becky. I guess, though, that this could've been down to the fact that they just weren't doing what I thought that they would do. Like, they were stereotypes in a way, but on the other hand, they completely weren't? That's the best was I can word it.

Overall, I was surprised by how much I liked Cracked Up To Be, and by how much I enjoyed Parker's voice. I am very much looking forward to reading Courtney Summers's other books to see what they're like, too, and I think that she's pretty outstanding already just going off of this one.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Audrey, Wait! review

Audrey, Wait!
Robin Benway
April 10th 2008

California high school student Audrey Cuttler dumps self-involved Evan, the lead singer of a little band called The Do-Gooders. Evan writes, “Audrey, Wait!” a break-up song that’s so good it rockets up the billboard charts. And Audrey is suddenly famous!

Now rabid fans are invading her school. People is running articles about her arm-warmers. The lead singer of the Lolitas wants her as his muse. (And the Internet is documenting her every move!) Audrey can't hang out with her best friend or get with her new crush without being mobbed by fans and paparazzi.

Take a wild ride with Audrey as she makes headlines, has outrageous amounts of fun, confronts her ex on MTV, and gets the chance to show the world who she really is.

I think I'm a little bit in love with this book. I always knew that I'd like it - it's exactly my kind of book, but I didn't think I'd get this into it or love it this much. I am about 90% certain though that that's entirely due to Audrey.

Audrey is just the best. Like, think of all your favourite contemporary heroines and squish them into one snarky, sweary, complex blonde girl and you have Audrey. She may not be to some people's tastes, and some people might just think she's not any different from any other contemp heroine (because sometimes when you've read so many sort of 'light' books in a row, they can all sort of blur into one) but she clicked with me. I loved her foul language, and her snark was so on point that I would just crack up laughing. I loved her passion for music, and I lovedlovedloved her at the very end because, let's face it, if you have read this book, that was the best way to end it ever. Seriously. Audrey knows how to stick it to the man.

It feels like I say this about every book ever, but I adored the side characters. James was way more interesting than I thought he'd be, and he had way more personality than I thought he would have. When we first meet him in the book, he's just the awkward guy that Audrey works with at this awful ice cream place called the Scooper Dooper (seriously), but he's actually really funny and sweet. Victoria was probably my favourite, though, along with her boyfriend Jonah. She's just crazy, and I mean that in the best possible way. But I also really liked the conflict (I felt like I should put in at least one sort of fancy word because so far this review is basically the equivalent of lots of smiley emoticons and exclamation marks and over entuhiasm) between her and Audrey about the whole Audrey being kind of famous thing. Audrey just wants to keep under wraps after a bad experience at a gig, but Victoria kind of wants to exploit it to get free stuff despite Audrey's feelings. It was nice to get to see the two sides of it, even if I am pretty firmly on Audrey's side because who actually wants to be hounded by paparazzi and constantly judged by people who don't even know you?

Which kind of brings me to my third point about why I loved Audrey, Wait! (apart from writing out the title a lot. What? I like exclamation marks!) was the sort of uniqueness of the plot. It's not like I've never read a book set around fame or the music industry before, because I have and I love them, but this sort of brought a new take to it. Audrey literally is just a 'normal' girl - she wasn't trying to get famous. Like, she didn't want to be an actress or a musician or actively put herself in the public eye at all. She'd just been thrown into it because of this great song that her (ex)boyfriend wrote after she broke up with him. I don't know, I just thought that that was a really interesting take on the whole fame thing. It was good. Also, because Audrey is awesome and has an awesome taste music, I found a load of great songs that I'd never heard before that were in this book, which is always a good thing (though please, why is there a significant lack of Audrey, Wait! based playlists on the internet. I would like one. Muchly.) 

I know that this is fairly short and riddled with unnecessary parenthesis, but it pretty accurately conveys my inexplicably strong feelings about this book which I had not been expecting to have. Seriously, if you like books about music or about awesome characters and are looking for something awesome to read (and you haven't read this already like me) the read it. NOW.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Letterbox Love #36

Letterbox Love is the UK's version of IMM, hosted by the lovely Lynsey at Narratively Speaking :)

For review:
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (this wasn't technically for review, but I went to his event at Penguin this week and it was really great and he was really funny and we all got signed copies there. Thank you, Penguin, for the book and for the lovely event!)
The Night Itself by Zoe Marriott
Flora & Ulyssess by Kate DiCamillo (Thank you Walker for both of these. I am ridiculously excited for the Night Itself Itself, and Flora & Ulyssess looks adorable and fun.)
The Taming of Tights by Louise Rennison (I don't always like to admit it, but I adore these books and I read the latest installment in a day. Such fun. Thank you Harper!)

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick (I am just over halfway through this book and really enjoying it! Plus the cover is lovely.)

What did you get in your letterbox this week? :)

Thursday, 13 June 2013

The Raven Boys review

The Raven Boys
Maggie Stiefvater
September 18th 2012

Blue has spent the majority of her sixteen years being told that if she kisses her true love, he will die. When Blue meets Gansey’s spirit on the corpse road she knows there is only one reason why – either he is her true love or she has killed him.

Determined to find out the truth, Blue becomes involved with the Raven Boys, four boys from the local private school (lead by Gansey) who are on a quest to discover Glendower – a lost ancient Welsh King who is buried somewhere along the Virginia ley line. Whoever finds him will be granted a supernatural favour.

Never before has Blue felt such magic around her. But is Gansey her true love? She can’t imagine a time she would feel like that, and she is adamant not to be the reason for his death. Where will fate lead them?

The Raven Boys was a lot better than I thought it would be. Maggie's books are great, but they can be a bit hit and miss for me, and The Scorpio Races is still one of my favourite books ever and The Raven Boys just didn't sound like it could top it for me. It didn't, I'll be honest, but it's also a completely different book to anything else that Maggie has written and I think that that's one of the things that I like most about her. All of her books are paranormal and they have hints of romance, but none of them feel the same.

Before I read The Raven Boys, I thought Blue was the main character and the only main character, but I really should've learned  by now  that Maggie doesn't really like sticking to one narrator, so we also get to see the story from Gansey and Adam's points of view too (though the whole book is in third person so it's not really confusing or anything). I actually enjoyed this more than I thought I would, because I didn't think the actual raven boys would be as important as they were, but it was really important for being able to understand them, because if the whole thing had been from Blue's POV, the first half of the book would've been pretty short and we would've spent the whole time thinking Gansey was a huge douche when really he's just a bit careless.

I will admit, though, that Blue was probably my favourite character. She wasn't the most interesting character, though, it's just that personally I loved her because she was so sensible even though she tried really hard to be eccentric. And I loved getting to read the chapters where she was at home and getting to spend time with her mother and her mother's friends who all live in the same house and are all psychics. It sounds a lot funnier than it is in the book, but I still think it should be a sitcom or something. I'd watch it. There's definitely more to find out about Blue's background, though, like who or what her father actually is and why she's some sort of psychic energy intensifier.

Although I did like both Gansey and Adam a lot too, and found their personal stories interesting as well as their contribution to the overall story, I enjoyed reading about Ronan and Noah slightly more. For one, they both have some really weird stuff going on with them, some of which is explained, but some of which is just like a bomb dropped at the end of the book. Besides that, even though Noah isn't in it a lot, he was very sweet. And Ronan was just like a ball of rage who hates everyone apart from Gansey, Adam, Noah and Blue (a little bit) and a raven called Chainsaw. I don't even know why I like him. I usually hate characters like him, but I have a soft spot for Ronan. Maybe it's the Latin.

I also just really found the plot so fascinating because it was so unlike anything else I've read. Like, it's about magic and energy and these things called Ley Lines, which isn't that weird by the standards of YA paranormalish fiction, but it was the whole search for Glendower, this old Welsh king who's supposedly sleeping in Virginia and will grant a favour to whomever wakes him. I had literally no idea that this was what the book was about. I thought it was about the whole Blue killing her true love stuff! Which it is, but definitely not to the degree that I thought that it would be. Like, I didn't even know who Glendower was before I read this book and I feel kind of ashamed about that as a history geek and half-Welsh person. However, Horrible Histories did a parody of Tom Jones song all about this Glendower fellow so now I'm basically all caught up. But seriously, when was the last time you read a book about mystical dead Welsh kings?!

The Raven Boys was a really great start to what I am certain will probably be a great series, and I am so excited about reading The Dream Thieves as soon as it comes out. There was a lot of stuff wrapped up in this book, but there's still a lot of loose threads and I'm excited about seeing how all of these things relate back to Gansey's quest to find Glendower as well as seeing what will happen about Blue's who 'if you kiss your true love he will die' business. Maggie does like to leave us hanging!

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Letterbox Love #35

Letterbox Love is the UK's version of IMM, hosted by the lovely Lynsey at Narratively Speaking :)

Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway (This book is perfect and I love it. That is all.)
Diary of a Crush: French Kiss by Sarra Manning (Sarra Manning is the bomb. And I will live to regret ever calling anything 'the bomb' on the internet.)

Friday Brown by Vikki Wakefield (sounds like a really lovely contemporary)
The Savages by Matt Whyman (it's about a family of cannibals. Enough said, I think. Thank you Hot Key for these!)
Goblin Secrets by William Alexander (I have never heard of this book before, but it looks pretty cool. Thank you Constable & Robin!)

Everything is Fine (and Other Lies I Tell Myself) by Cathy Brett
Follow Me Down by Tanya Byrne
This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E Smith (Thank you Raimy from Readaptor and Headline for these! I am so excited to read Follow Me Down.)

What did you get in your letterbox this week? :)

Thursday, 6 June 2013

The Oathbreaker's Shadow review

The Oathbreaker's Shadow
Amy McCulloch
June 6th 2013
Random House Childrens Books

Fifteen-year-old Raim lives in a world where you tie a knot for every promise that you make. Break that promise and you are scarred for life, and cast out into the desert.

Raim has worn a simple knot around his wrist for as long as he can remember. No one knows where it came from, and which promise of his it symbolises, but he barely thinks about it at all—not since becoming the most promising young fighter ever to train for the elite Yun guard. But on the most important day of his life, when he binds his life to his best friend (and future king) Khareh, the string bursts into flames and sears a dark mark into his skin.

Scarred now as an oath-breaker, Raim has two options: run, or be killed.

A gripping YA action-adventure fantasy, the first part of a planned duology.

The Oathbreaker's Shadow is a solid, quality piece of young adult fantasy (ooh, look at me talking like I know what I'm actually talking about!) which originally took me a while to get into, but slowly drew me in with its brilliant world building and characters. I am very much looking forward to how things will resolve themselves in the next book!

The concept of this book was what really drew me to it (though I guess that's true of most books...) but I've never read a book before that was a fantasy and set in this really interesting middle eastern/Mongolian inspired world with this really cool idea of people making promise knots and having to live with the consequences of breaking those promises physically for the rest of their lives. See, when a person breaks their promise knot, they essentially get followed around by the spirit of the person who they broke their promise to. When Raim's promise knot breaks, he gets followed by the spirit of his friend Khareh, which allowed for some interesting stuff, let me tell you. The actual Khareh (Not the spirit one. yeah, I know I'm not explaining this very well, which I why usually try not to summarise stuff.) is going down a bit of an evil, power hungry path, and it would have been really easy just to let it be and have him be a complete douche, but his spirit self wasn't crazy/power hungry and it kind of showed why Raim would have been friends with Khareh in the first place and that at one time he was a different, better person to the person that he is now. If that made any sense at all.

I also liked Raim a lot as a main character. I don't read that many books with male main characters, so it can sometimes take a while to fully get into it (not that I find it, like, really hard to relate to male characters or anything because I don't want people to think that I'm implying something like the whole 'books about boys are for boys and books about girls and for girls' bullshit). That also might have been because it takes  while to get solidly into the story and for us to get to see more sides to Raim. Wadi was great, too, and I liked getting to see the different cultures in this world and their relationship with the whole Oathbreaker thing. I really want to find out more about both Raim and Wadi's backgrounds, though, because of Raim's promise knot that he had since he was born, pretty much, and because there's some stuff going on with Wadi, too.

The world was rich and well developed, and there was a nice balance between the world building and the actual story, which can be a bit of a problem with fantasy. Also, the setting was one of the more original settings that I've read about and you could really tell that she'd done her research and knew a lot about the places and cultures that the setting was influenced by. Lazar, the place where exiled Oathbreaker's try and get to, was probably my favourite all the places in the book just because it was so interesting and completely not what you'd expect it to be, and I liked finally getting to find out why Oathbreaker's were exiled and what they could actually do.

The Oathbreaker's Shadow was a really great, action-packed fantasy novel with plenty of fights and magic and deserts to whet your appetite, if you like those kinds of things...

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Unspoken review

Sarah Rees Brennan
September 11th 2012
Random House Books (US)

(I would've used the UK cover, but look at the pretty!)

Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.

But all that changes when the Lynburns return.

The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?

Unspoken was an interesting book, and I enjoyed it, but I didn't love it as much as I was expecting to given that Sarah Rees Brennan wrote it (And she's fabulous and hilarious and brilliant and I want to meet her again). It was good, but it felt a bit like there was something missing, stopping it from being stand-out awesome. But I will 100% be reading Untold when I can get my grabby little hands on it.

Kami was a really fun character, and her relationship with Jared was probably one of the most interesting things about the book. There was all the tension between them, and they had this really close, intense relationship because of the fact that they were psychically linked and until they'd met, they'd both thought that the other was imaginary. It kept on bordering on romance but never quite working out because of a mixture of all those things and the fact that Jared is a Lynburn. I kind of want them to get together, but at the same, there is just something off about it that makes me think that it wouldn't work out all that well (though that might just be because SRB is kind of completely evil).

 The plot was interesting, but it got off to kind of a slow start and took me a while to actually get into it, though again that might just be because I was reading it in the week where I had most of my exams and my concentration was kind of elsewhere. Like with most good books, though, by the end, I couldn't put it down because it was all action and I had to see where it was going and whether everyone was going to make it out okay.

The side characters were interesting and fun in true SRB style, and Angela is really just the best. I mean, really, who doesn't love people who hate people and love napping? I'm still not really sure how I feel about Ash, Jared's cousin. I don't not like him or anything, I just feel like I don't want to trust him even though he's not that bad. But his dad is actually that bad. Like, seriously. The setting of Sorry-in-the-Vale and the whole backstory about the Lynburn's and what they actually were worked really well, I thought, and I liked having the mystery about it.

The only thing that really didn't work for me was Sarah's writing style. I got used to it after a while, but it just sounded so American even though it's meant to be set in England - in a small village in the Cotswolds no less. After all of the British books I have read where they get the tone of Britishness just right, this just felt off until I got so far into the story that I didn't really care anymore. It's a small thing, and I guess it wouldn't really bother you if you are American, as a British reader I did get a bit annoyed (I didn't feel this as much with The Demon's Lexicon even though that's set in England, too, so I think it's just this.) Then again, it could just be me.

Overall, I really enjoyed Unspoken, but I didn't love it as much as I wanted too. I am invested enough in the series now, though, so I think I shall definitely be reading Untold.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

The Moon and More review

The Moon and More
Sarah Dessen
June 4th 2013
Puffin Books

Luke is the perfect boyfriend: handsome, kind, fun. He and Emaline have been together all through high school in Colby, the beach town where they both grew up. But now, in the summer before college, Emaline wonders if perfect is good enough.

Enter Theo, a super-ambitious outsider, a New Yorker assisting on a documentary film about a reclusive local artist. Theo's sophisticated, exciting, and, best of all, he thinks Emaline is much too smart for Colby.

Emaline's mostly-absentee father, too, thinks Emaline should have a bigger life, and he's convinced that an Ivy League education is the only route to realizing her potential. Emaline is attracted to the bright future that Theo and her father promise. But she also clings to the deep roots of her loving mother, stepfather, and sisters. Can she ignore the pull of the happily familiar world of Colby?

Emaline wants the moon and more, but how can she balance where she comes from with where she's going?

Sarah Dessen's devoted fans will welcome this story of romance, yearning, and, finally, empowerment. It could only happen in the summer.

The Moon and More is, in a way, surprising for a Sarah Dessen book. It's no secret that I love her and all of the books by her that I've read so far (only about 8), but they are a bit formulaic. The Moon and More is the first book I've read by her that really breaks that formula, but retains that familiarity and comfort that reading a Dessen book can have, if you get what I'm saying.

It took me a while to get fully into the rhythm of The Moon and More (I keep on wanting to call it the Best After Ever, it's really annoying me), but I think that can be applied to more of the Dessen books I've already read, because it takes about 100 pages usually to get fully into the swing of things. I like the gentle pace of her books, because even though they can be slow, they're still kind of unputdownable. Like, I've just spent the past two days solidly just rereading her books (they are so good will someone please explain to me why they're so good?!).

Usually, with Dessen's books, there's also a swoonsome boy who all the readers will fall for because they're just so wonderful and flawed and pretty and *sighs*, and with a boy called Theo, a filmmaker's assistant no less, i was fully expecting to get my swoon on. As well as this, there was Emaline's boyfriend/ex-boyfriend Luke, who was less of a douche than I thought he would be (I thought it would be like another Jason situation). Really, though, the main boys in this book are Emaline's father (not her dad - there's a difference) and his son, her half-brother, Benji. Theo and Emaline's father had a lot in common personality wise in that they were both sort of about fixing people in the way that they wanted them to be, equating success with happiness, to sort of make up for their own failures. Sort of. And Theo is obsessed with everything being The Best, and he is sweet, but he's also an acquired taste, I think, and you can sort of tell that he isn't your typical Dessen boy because he doesn't try to be understanding in the way that they usually are. If anything, he's more the Jason.

The Moon and More is really, completely about Emaline's growth, and also about change and finding yourself and all those other things that things for teenagers are usually about. I liked Emaline a lot, and I liked getting to see Colby from a different perspective. Normally it's from the point of view of character who's just moved there (out of the ones that I've read), but Emaline has lived there her whole life. It was nice getting to see a place that we're kind of familiar with already (if you've read a lot of Dessen's books) from the point of view of someone who's spent their whole life in this small beach town. I also loved all the parts of the book with both her and Benji, because I fee like he sort of played the part that the swoonsome boy usually plays (not in that he's swoonsome, but that he's some part/the main part of why Emaline had sort of changed for the better by the end of the book). He was just so adorable.

There was also a great cast of other side characters, like Morris and Daisy, and Emaline's mother and her two sisters Amber and Margo. I kind of wished that there could have been a bit more between Emaline and her mother, because while the stuff that was in here was good, interesting parental relationships are one of my favourite parts of Dessen's books, though I understand that most of that was between Emaline and her father, which was really good to read. And Morris! Morris is Emaline's kind of hapless, slow-moving best friend and I loved him and everything he did and the ending was perfect and I'm so happy for him.

The Moon and More wasn't my favourite Sarah Dessen book, though I feel like none of her books will ever live up completely to the feeling of when I read Just Listen and The Truth About Forever and Along For The Ride (my first Dessen books), though I could just be being a bit pessimistic. It's still a really enjoyable read, though, and I enjoyed the breaking of the formula. It was a good move, and the right way for this book to go (though after having finished it, I really wish it would've been called The Best After Ever. It makes so much sense when you read it!)
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