She Regrets Nothing by Andrea Dunlop

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Hello, World.

I am so excited about this review because this book was a bit lighter than some of the previous reading I’ve done this summer. She Regrets Nothing is Andrea Dunlop’s second novel, and now I’m hoping to pick up a copy of her first soon. Her writing is captivating and fun and kept me turning pages so quickly. Usually I’m a slow reader, I like to absorb a story slowly, really enjoy the words, but this book kept me guessing I wanted so badly to know where the story was headed, that I blew through 20 or 40 pages during my morning reading session and 60 or 80 pages during my after work reading session.

I was seeing this book all over the Bookstagram corner of Instagram in February and March, but I was still on a book-buying freeze. Then, however, Alyssa of @sweptawaybybooks announced that she was giving away a signed copy of the novel. I entered, thinking I probably wouldn’t win and moved on. Then I got a DM that I’d won! Two days before I left for my DC summer, the book arrived at my home, signed with a little note from Dunlop. I had already purchased some other summer books, so decided to get through them first (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) before starting this one. Once I picked this novel up, I couldn’t put it down.

If you’re wondering what it’s about, the synopsis is as follows:

When Laila Lawrence becomes an orphan at twenty-three, the sudden loss unexpectedly introduces her to three glamorous cousins from New York who show up unannounced at her mother’s funeral. The three siblings are scions of the wealthy family from which Laila’s father had been estranged long before his own untimely demise ten years before.

Two years later, Laila has left behind her quiet life in Grosse Point, Michigan to move to New York City, landing her smack in the middle of her cousins’ decadent world. As the truth about why Laila’s parents became estranged from the family patriarch becomes clear, Laila grows ever more resolved to claim what’s rightfully hers. Caught between longing for the love of her family and her relentless pursuit of the lifestyle she feels she was unfairly denied, Laila finds herself reawakening a long dead family scandal—not to mention setting off several new ones—as she becomes further enmeshed in the lives and love affairs of her cousins. But will Laila ever, truly, belong in their world? Sly and sexy, She Regrets Nothing is a sharply observed and utterly seductive tale about family, fortune, and fate—and the dark side of wealth.

In my words, it’s about a Laila Lawrence, a twenty-three year old who will do just about anything for security, belonging, and comfort. She strikes me as a more mature Jenny Humphrey (in season one of Gossip Girl, not the seasons when she lost it). Once the full cast of characters was introduced, I had so much fun with the story. I kept waiting to see who could be trusted, who was merely there to serve plot, and who was there to stand in for a stereotype. Though I really didn’t like Laila, she’s pretty cold-hearted, I found myself wanting her to redeem herself with her family and have some semblance of home. My favorite character, the one I found to be the most genuine, was Liberty, Laila’s older, literary agent cousin. Some characters made me roll my eyes and others made me want to yell “get over yourself!” but overall, the group was a fun one to follow.

Ultimately this is a story of ambition, sex, and upper-class wealth in New York City. While a lot of people are, for good reason, comparing this book to Gossip Girl, I was getting major Revenge vibes while reading. Laila has a card to play, but she soon realizes the table at which she’s playing is a bit big for her, a bit out of reach, and just slightly too secluded for her to really find her footing on her chair. She orchestrates her life around the fact that she knows a secret and wants to get to the bottom of why she was denied a life she thinks she should have had. In that way, it reminded me of Revenge.

This book is the perfect combination of light and fun while also discussing some really real issues. For example, the book discusses, in pretty good detail, the double standards for men and women and the age gap in relationships and who should hold what role. I liked Cameron and Liberty’s relationship because it felt so much like how this would actually go (up to a point). Liberty’s ambition and drive is what draws Cameron in, but later is what he expects her to tone down so as to not outshine him. This, and so many other moments, highlight that regardless of class the role women are expected to play is often one of the ambitious but willing-to-comprise woman.

This read was so much fun in that it felt like Gossip Girl for grown-ups with a heavy dose of Revenge. I kept wanting to find out people’s motivations and who, ultimately, was keeping the largest secret. I will say, some people had massive issues with the Act Three twist in this novel. While I was kind of like, “hmm seems random,” I didn’t feel it was completely out of left field. Given the already high stakes in the book, it seemed to fit. However, I will say the last few chapters kind of felt a bit disconnected as they shifted focus. I’d been concerned about Laila and her story for most the book, and suddenly I found myself hearing from one of the, previously seeming, lesser characters. I would have liked to experience the ending through Laila, but I understand why the last few chapters focused on a different character. Still, despite this twist, I loved the read and would recommend it!

Truly,
Callie leigh

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Educated by Tara Westover

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Hello, World.

My reading for June is going well. I have one week left and one book left on my June TBR. So, I’m hoping that because the book is a bit shorter, I’ll be able to zip through it this week. Today, however, I wanted to share my review of Educated by Tara Westover. I don’t typically reach for nonfiction and have rarely finished a memoir, but I ripped through this memoir and couldn’t stop thinking about it between reading sessions. This book highly recommended by people who read it. I first hear about this book from Ali Edwards, who shared her praise for this book on Instagram.

What appealed to me about this book was the educational journey that Westover experienced, her desire to learn, what her learning about the world meant for her relationship with her family, and how the family dynamics at play. As I said, I often have trouble getting into nonfiction. I put down Hilbilly Elegy a few months ago and haven’t picked it back up. While interesting, it wasn’t a book I yearned to keep reading. So, I was nervous this book would cause me to hit a reading snag. However, I was sucked in from pretty much the first page.

This book focuses on Westover’s childhood, which was riddled with religious fanaticism, oppression, paranoia, danger, and abuse. I was rooting for Tara throughout the whole novel, and at times wanted to shake her. I wanted to shout, “but you’re so much better than that!” or “ask for help!” and I appreciate the self-awareness this memoir has. Westover repeatedly explains that her actions were not rational and that she had an utter inability to ask for help. Honestly, this book made me feel appreciative of the incredible support system I have while seeking education and made me want to reach out to mentors who pushed me to improve and challenge myself and believe in myself, as I watched Westover gain some really strong mentors.

While some parts of the story are really hard to read (super abusive brother and delusion of her parents), I just couldn’t stop reading and rooting for Tara to overcome the terribleness of her family structure and the oppression they attempted to impose on anyone who challenged her father or older brother. Honestly, the whole time I wasn’t sure why her father was so defensive of her abusive brother. I get not wanting to face hard issues, but it seemed like his relationship with Tara was, initially, much stronger than with the brother. I found his defense of the brother a bit confusing, but it also made sense given the delusion and paranoia documented earlier in the story.

The story has a satisfying ending, and it’s so interesting to watch Westover’s personal growth. I love her writing style, and I love that she’s honest about where she is with her family relationships and where she hopes they go. I thoroughly enjoyed this read and I think it’s so beneficial to accept that we can love people but sometimes it’s better to not have them in our lives. I was so intrigued by this story from start to finish. I may or may not have entered a rabbit hole of interviews with the author on YouTube upon finishing it. Some critics say this book isn’t inspiring. I think it is insofar as accepting that it’s perfectly okay to put yourself first and pursue an education with everything you have.

I highly, highly recommend this read. I think if you want a hard but strong story, this is for you!

Truly,
Callie leigh

Summer Reading


 

Hello, World.

When I finish a school year, I usually take about a week to just veg. I don’t do a whole lot, other than get outside and relax because I don’t want to deal with a lot of really overly stimulating stuff.  However, something I am excited to do every summer is read for fun. Being an English major creates a sort of love/hate relationship with reading. I love reading, but I have to do so much reading when I’m in school, typically with books I don’t really care a whole lot about (like all British Literature class reading lists). So when I actually have time to read for fun, I want to take full advantage. I miss being able to just read a book that I want to read, and tell people about it. So this summer, I plan to read basically as much as I can. I was reading advice to 1Ls from faculty at William and Mary Law, and everyone essentially said that the important thing to do the summer before law school is rest, and read. Basically don’t overdue it, but read enough to keep your brain limber and ready to receive information. So, here are some books I’m currently planning to read:

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After You

I’m excited to read this because it is the sequel to Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. I loved the first book, and I’m interested to see how the sequel goes!

Outlander

I love this TV show, but I really want to read the first book!

Big Little Lies

This book was recommended by a few people, and I always see it at Barnes and Noble. The story line seems interesting, so I’m ready to read it.

The Vacationers

I’m currently reading this, and really like it so far! It seems like a popular beach read. I also really like anything involving family dynamics, and this definitely covers that.

The Nest

I’ve seen this book everywhere recently. Another family-based book, it sounds super interesting and I’m excited to start reading it.

Friday Night Lights

Hopefully I’ll get to this book, as I was inspired to read it after falling in love with the TV series. I want to read more about small town football purely because I find it fascinating and went to a high school heavily sports focused.

What are you reading?

Truly,
Callie leigh

Easy Summer Reading

Hello, World.

You know what I don’t like? Rigid summer reading lists. Every summer since my junior year of high school, I’ve made a list in early May of books I wanted to read over the summer. While making the list is fun, once actual summer arrives, I feel super limited in what I can read. Sometimes I’m just NOT in the mood for what’s on my list, but I feel like I have to get through the list. This often leads me to read less because I’m avoiding starting the next book on the list. This summer, I decided to have a fun, easy summer. Though I have to read two novels for my thesis project, the rest of my list is, well, nonexistent. I bought a ton of great books before summer started, and now I”m going to pick what to read to next based on what I’m in the mood for, not based on a stipulated list. So, I wanted to share some of my top picks for summer reading! Some of the novels I’ve read personally, and some are on my to-read list, but regardless, from what I’ve experienced or heard, I know all these novels are pretty light and quick reads.
Summer Reading
Me Before You | Leave Your Mark | Saint Anything (Currently Reading!) | Big Sur | Looking For Alaska | Americanah

Looking for Alaska by John Green inspired my institution of the life library in my own life. I buy tons of books, and add them to my shelves, hoping I’ll get to them eventually. I love reading, and I have so many things I want to read, so I just keep adding to my library. I’m also definitely one of those people that will have an in-house library in my home. Anyway, the above books are great reads that’ll make you think, but are also light enough to be enjoyable summer reads. Happy reading!

Truly,
Callie leigh

What I’m Reading: An Abundance of Katherines

Hello, World.

I’m slowly working my way through my summer reading list. What’s funny is that when I got home for summer, I read a 400 page book in two days, and then I read This Is Where I Leave You. Both the novels I read were good, and I wanted to continue reading, but I got a little busy and wasn’t making the time to keep reading. I’m actually working through an LSAT study book, and reading articles about various law schools I’m interested in each morning, which cuts down my daily reading time. It makes for interesting reading as far as “this is my future here” reading, but I’m excited to announce that I finished reading An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. For the record, I absolutely love John Green. He’s one of my all time favorite authors. I read The Fault in Our Stars and Looking for Alaska during spring break of 2013, and fell in love. His characters are so memorable, always. Anyway, when I was creating my Summer 2014 reading list, I knew I had to read at least one John Green book. Given that I had read Paper Towns as well, I figured An Abundance of Katherines was the next logical choice.
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After seeing the movie adaption of The Fault in Our Stars (which I loved and shed too many tears during), I decided to read An Abundance of Katherines next. Compared to other John Green novels, this novel took me a little longer than just one or two days. I’m not sure why, but the storyline was hard for me to relate to, but then all of the sudden, around page 100, I got hooked and finished the rest of the novel in one sitting. I really enjoyed the novel. The jumping off point for the novel is simple: a child prodigy that’s been dumped by 19 girls, all named Katherine. Katherine XIV, the latest Katherine, leaves Colin Singleton (said child prodigy) heartbroken and distraught when she breaks things off just before the novel begins. Following the nineteenth dumping, Colin has little motivation to do much of anything other than wallow in self pity (like most heartbroken people). His best friend, Hassan, however, decides the two of them should go on a road trip to an unknown destination to help Colin get over Katherine XIV. While on his road trip, Colin hopes to complete the Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, believing that he can use the theorem to avoid future heartbreak, as it will be able to predict the outcome of future relationships. The story does take a few humorous turns, such as two Chicago natives trying their hands at Southern-style hog hunting. That was a laugh-out-loud moment. Colin’s demeaner was similar to a way more romantic as well as self-questioing, but still socially awkward version of Sheldon from “The Big Bang Theory.” As a fan of the show, I, of course, found this humorous and interesting and cute.

When someone dates nineteen people who all have the same name, spelled the same way, you can’t help but think they either are more interested in dating the name, and therefore don’t actually care about the person who bears it, or they never quite recovered from the first heartbreak with the name. In this novel, I held the second view for a while, but as the story progressed, I realized each Katherine was distinct, thought certain details do imply that the name itself holds weight. Alas, I thoroughly enjoyed the novel. I found it quirky, funny, and raw at all the right times. There is something about John Green’s delivery that makes you feel you’ve participated in something greater than just the everyday mumbo jumbo some novels cover. The novel may focus on a seemingly outrageous storyline, but I felt like there were aspects to all characters that you could relate to on some level. If you like John Green, I suggest reading this! It’s available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Indiebound if you wish to support your local booksellers.

As always, here are some quotes I found particularly compelling:
“Ergo: girls should always make the first move, because (a) they are, on the whole, less likely to be rejected than guys, and (b) that way, girls will never get kissed unless they want to be kissed.”

“He liked the idea of coffee quite a lot-a warm drink that gave you energy and had been for centuries associated with sophisticates and intellectuals.”

“Colin often thought about this in relationship to the monotony of dumping: we have thirty-two teeth. After a while, having each tooth individually destroyed probably gets repetitive, even dull. But it never stops hurting.”

“…Eventually he stopped thinking about the Theorem and wondered only how something that isn’t there can hurt you.”

“You’re not boring. You’ve got to stop saying that, or people will start believing you.”

“It’s just that I learned a while ago that the best way to get people to like you is not to like them too much.”

Perhaps my favorite: “The thing about chameleoning your way through life is that it gets to where nothing is real.”

“I don’t think you can ever fill the empty space with the thing you lost…I don’t think your missing pieces ever fit inside you again once they go missing.”

Sorry for the overload on quotes, but I find John Green rather quotable, like Mean Girls, but for a more intellectual setting. Okay, maybe not, but you understand (hopefully?). What are you reading at the moment?

Truly,
Callie leigh

Tan-Lines and Novels

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Hello, World.

Summer 2014 is approaching quickly (like, in 2.5 weeks!!!), and as it gets closer, I can’t help but concentrate on the fact that I get to read for pleasure. I love reading, I really do, but during the school year I tend to get really burnt out from reading article after article about dinosaurs, wars, or literary theory. I registered for classes for Fall 2015 today, but I want to make sure that I spend this summer reading all kinds of amazing novels, and fall back in love with reading before I get back into an academic setting. I’ve compiled a list of 12 novels that I want to read this summer, and I thought I’d share with all of you. 12 novels is a bit ambitious, I am aware, but I plan to coordinate my reading on a “fun, easy read,” to “thought provoking and deep” cycle. I plan to use goodreads.com to keep me one track! You can follow along, follow my list, or communicate with me about the books on my list here. As for what is on my list, I’ll share below:

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Fight Club was suggested to me by my friend, Kate (the girl who did the photos in my last few outfit posts!). I’ve heard great things about it, and I’ve never seen the film, so I thought it would be a fun read this summer. The story line is a little bit outside my comfort zone as far as novels go, which I am looking forward to!

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I was going to read this novel in high school for a final paper, but decided against it at the last minute, and ever since I’ve wanted to go back and read it. I’ve heard nothing but great things about this novel, and I feel like it’s one of those novels that I just need to read as an English major.

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I was tempted to put, “John Green. Enough said,” but I should probably say that this is one of the few books by him I have yet to read, and so this summer I’m making it happen.

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I love John Steinbeck. He’s a great writer, and I’m excited to read this novel. It’s one of his shorter books, so I think it’ll go rather quickly, but in usual Steinbeck fashion, will be dense.

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This novel was recommended to fans of John Green, so I figured I would check it out. Also, the plot line stood out to me because it felt really relatable for multiple reasons.

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Again, as an English major, I feel its a necessary read. This is one of the novels I picked up, and put down numerous times because I wasn’t in the mood to read it. This summer, however, I feel like I can do it.

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I picked this book up over Spring Break, but just couldn’t get in to it for a couple reasons. First, I was so burnt out from school that I needed a completely carefree week with my family. Second, I was so ready to be done with classes that the idea of reading stressed me out. Third, its about marriage, which isn’t on my mind at all, so it was hard to relate to. But then my mom and I had a “bride movie” marathon that included Bride Wars, Something Borrowed, and 27 Dresses, and this book suddenly seemed super appealing!

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Fitzgerald is such a renowned writer, and everyone seems to either love him or hate him. I feel like I have yet to really figure out where I stand in relation to his writing, and I’m hoping this novel will help me figure out my feelings. Also, Blair Waldorf mentions this book, so you know, its a must read.

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I also picked this book up during Spring Break, and it seems like a fun, goofy, but insightful read! I’m excited to read about a bookstore because I feel like they hold a magic that only bibliophiles know.

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I weirdly haven’t read this novel. Confession time? I guess so. My high school did required reading rather oddly, so I didn’t have the chance to read a lot of the novels my friends read in high school. I could have read them in my spare time, but these books are novels I enjoy talking about with people, so I’m excited to read it and talk about it with my college friends.

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This novel is two different story lines that are tied together by a single thread. They take place roughly 100 years apart, and I was captivated by the slave narrative aspect versus the modern lawyer aspect. I like books that compare pre-Civil War America to modern society’s beliefs.

What are you reading this summer?

Truly,

Callie Leigh

What’s On My Nightstand

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Hello, World.

People who know me really well know that my ‘dream occupation’—or at least the one I would write down in elementary school when the teacher asked what I wanted to be when I grow up—is being an author of young adult fiction. I’m always trying to improve as a writer, and most of the advice that published authors offer to aspiring writers is to read as much if not more than you write. So, while I do read classics, I also continue to read young adult fiction. For a long time my favorite two authors of young adult were Sarah Dessen and Kate Brian (pseudonym for Kieran Scott). About my junior year of high school, I become a true fan of only Sarah Dessen. But in the last year or so, I’ve added John Green to my “top YA fiction writers” list. Today, or should I say yesterday, I added Gayle Forman to the third line of my list.

When I met Sarah Dessen, she was handing out novels for correct answers to trivia questions, and the girl sitting next to me won Just One Day by Gayle Forman. The girl, Julie, told me that she had already read the novel, and loved it, but she had the hardcover edition, and thought the paperback edition would be easier to take to school with her or just carry around should she choose to reread the novel. So, I wrote down Gayle Forman on a slip of paper, stuck it in my newly autographed This Lullaby, and totally forgot about the book. But then one day, I was browsing Barnes and Noble, and there it was, sitting one row up from John Green, and one row down from Sarah Dessen: Just One Day. I had recently received a gift card from aunt, and so despite my already determined summer reading list, I grabbed if off the shelf and bought it, all 369 pages. I usually don’t like going against my reading list, but I felt like this book was one I needed to read immediately. So I did.

The novel is very interesting, and although the storyline isn’t completely original, the characters are likable, which, I think, is a vital component to a good book. The back of the book reads:

“When sheltered American good girl Allyson first encounters laid-back Dutch actor Willem at an underground performance of Twelfth Night, there’s an undeniable spark. So when fate brings them together a second time, Allyson takes an uncharacteristic leap, changes course, and follows Willem to Paris. After just one day together, the spark bursts into a flame…until Allyson wakes up after a whirlwind day shocked to discover that Willem is gone. A life upended in one day turns into a year of self-discovery as Allyson embarks on a journey to break free from a lifetime of limits in order to find her true passions, and maybe even true love.”

While the middle of the book lagged a little, the beginning and ending were strong. There is an element of urgency and mystery within the story that I really enjoyed, and Allyson shows that sometimes you have to lose yourself to find who you really want to be. Throughout the novel, I struggled about whether or not I wanted Allyson to find Willem, since they were only together one day, and maybe her image of him is different than what he is in reality. As I was reading, though, I could relate to Allyson wanting to find him because after only one day with him, she was different, she was the person she wanted to be and someone who she actually liked, unlike what she thought she should be to please those around her. Willem, as most foreign men appear, is beautiful, warm, fun, and spontaneous, and as I reader I immediately fell in love with him.

Allyson was a little too self-pitying for my taste through the middle of the novel, but she grows stronger as the novel progresses, which is good as far as character development. One thing that really bothered me about this novel was the number of typos I found. I’m usually forgiving about typos simply because I know it’s hard to catch every little thing, but this book had so many errors that it became distracting. Maybe a closer final edit for One More Year will solve this typo dilemma. The ending is a cliffhanger, so I am looking forward to One More Year to get answers to the questions I have from the ending of this novel!

Some quotes I found particularly striking were:

“Sometimes the best way to find out what you’re supposed to do is by doing the thing you’re not supposed to do.”

“Stains are even worse when you’re the only one who can see them.”

“I think everything is happening all the time, but if you don’t put yourself in the path of it, you miss it.”

“You’re just trying on different identities, like everyone in those Shakespeare plays. And the people we pretend at, they’re already in us. That’s why we pretend them in the first place.”

“But what if Shakespeare― and Hamlet― were asking the wrong question? What if the real question is not whether to be, but how to be?”

“This next kiss is the kind that breaks open the sky. It steals my breath and gives it back. It shows me that every other kiss I’ve had in my life has been wrong.”

“Sometimes you can only feel something by its absence. By the empty spaces it leaves behind.”

“There is a world of difference, Lulu, between falling in love and being in love.”

The amount of Shakespeare in this novel is ridiculous, but in a wonderful way. It seems a lot of story lines can somehow be compared to all of Shakespeare’s works, so I loved seeing this modern novel connect to Shakespeare, and all the identities and lovers he created. If you enjoy young adult fiction, or want to visit Europe (namely, Paris), but can’t afford a plane ticket, or perhaps if you want to have a love affair with an exotic Dutch guy, then I suggest you go pick up a copy of One More Day. The novel is a quick read, and keeps you turning the page until there are none left.

Truly,

Callie Leigh

What I’m Reading

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Hello, World.

I recently finished reading Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, and thought I would share my experience with reading this well-known, widely read classic. Prior to reading this novel, I had only read his short stories (“A Clean, Well-Lighted Place,” anyone?), and I was a little hesitant to read an entire novel because sometimes when I really enjoy a writer’s short stories, I end up disliking their extended works. However, I actually enjoyed The Sun Also Rises all the way through. Reading the novel took me a little longer than I anticipated because I haven’t really been in a super reading mode lately considering all the stress I’ve been under, but this novel got me back into reading mode once I hit page 100. The story follows Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley on their journey through France and Spain in the 1920s. There is a tortured quality to their relationship, and it’s as if Brett, a strong and independent woman, only reaches out to Jake when she is at her most vulnerable. Throughout the novel, I was rooting for Jake and Brett to finally end up together, but since don’t want to ruin the novel for you, I suppose you will have to read the novel to find out if that happens.

A majority of the novel takes place in cafes and hotels, which envelops the story in a romantic light. I liked Hemingway’s quick dialogue, and found the story to be entertaining. He chooses his words carefully, and only gives details that you absolutely need to understand the story, which I appreciate. He’s definitely not one of those writers that fill pages with fluff, which is probably why he’s so renowned. I hope you might take a little time to read this book because the writing is truly beautiful. The ending made me tear up, which is highly unusual for me (unless I’m reading John Green, that is a completely different story). But the ending of this novel has some great last words. So, grab some shoes, go to your bookstore, and check it out!  

Some quotes I found to be especially beautiful were:

“You can’t get away from yourself by moving from one place to another.”

“I am always in love.”

“I did not care what it was all about. All I wanted to know was how to live in it. Maybe if you found out how to live in it you learned from that what is was all about.”

“Everyone behaves badly–given the chance.”

At the risk of sounding oxymoronic, I would recommend this novel to people looking for an easy-read classic.

Truly,

Callie Leigh 

Summertime Reads

MOON AND MORE

Hello, World.

I’ve been reading The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen for the past few days, and just finished it this morning. This is Sarah’s eleventh novel, and chronicles the summer of Emaline, a local to Colby (the beach town regular readers will recognize from Keeping the Moon, Along for the Ride, and others). Emaline is working for her family’s realty business, and since this is a classic Sarah Dessen summer novel, her entire life path and outlook is morphed by events within the novel. Unlike Sarah Dessen’s other novels, however, the book begins with Emaline already in a relationship, and follows how that relationship is affected by Theo’s entrance, an aspiring filmmaker from New York who is assisting a woman making a film about one of Colby’s own (hint: we’ve seen this character in many of the Colby-based novels).

The Moon and More was a fantastic read, and readers of Sarah Dessen will not be disappointed. For those of you who are used to Sarah’s usual “skeleton” setup, be ready for a bit of a change. Personally, I was excited to see that Sarah’s normal pattern of how events play out in the novels was a little different in this book. A very refreshing read. However, one thing that bothered me was that one of the beach rentals that Emaline manages is named Sand Dollars, but there are a few moments in the book when she refers to this mansion as Sand Castles. I’m pretty sure this is due to a name change that occurred somewhere in the writing or editing process, but was for some reason unnoticed in final edits. Other than that name, though, all of the other relationships and names had consistency. The most intriguing relationships, in my opinion, are between Emaline and her father, Emaline and her mother, and Emaline and her sister Margo.

Not to give anything away, but the mother-daughter relationship in this novel is slightly unusual compared to other Dessen novels, but again, this was a welcomed change. Emaline also had a bit of a different personality from other protagonists, as she is a local to Colby, which this detail in itself is unusual, and she has an outlook that is different from Auden in Along for the Ride, who is an outsider looking into the Colby lifestyle. We get a sense of the feelings of those who have grown up in Colby have about outsiders, summer, the beach, and Colby. I liked Emaline as a protagonist, and she seemed slightly surer of herself than other Dessen leads. In true Sarah Dessen fashion, The Moon and More focuses on how certain choices and events lead to a crossroads, and how in the summertime anything is possible. She also shows that people can just go along, thinking nothing is changing in their lives, until that moment when everything changes all at once.

As far as style, Sarah Dessen is witty, sarcastic, humorous, reflective, and thought provoking. She always has little gems thrown into her stories, making a grander statement about society, family, or just about loving yourself. The thing with Sarah Dessen is this: I started reading her in the seventh grade when I felt alone, insecure, and distraught about fitting in. I may be much more confident today as an 18, almost 19-year-old girl, but she will always have a place in my heart, and I will continue to read whatever book she releases. She always has knockout quotes, and here are a few from The Moon and More that stuck with me:

“…Trying to break it down this way, to minor and major offenses, maybes and what-ifs, was like arguing over the origin of cracks in a broken egg. It was done. How it happened didn’t matter anymore.”

“That was the problem, though. When you’ve never gotten love from someone, you don’t know what it might look like if it ever does appear. You look for it in everything: any bright light overhead could be a star.”

“The thing is, you can’t always have the best of everything.”

My takeaway from this novel: Be thankful for what you have, admire where you come from, accept that not everyone will see things your way, and accept that change can be for the better.

That’s it, folks. A small summary/review of The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen. Go pick up a copy if you haven’t already, and have a great weekend (although in summer, every day feels like the weekend).

Truly,

Callie Leigh