As bubbly as champagne and delectable as wedding cake, Once and for All, Sarah Dessen’s thirteenth novel, is set in the world of wedding planning, where crises are routine.
Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that’s why she’s cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm’s length. But Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged, now that he’s met the one girl he really wants.
This book is all about weddings, so having a subtle person throwing flowers into the air was certainly a nice touch. It’s a simple cover, yet it tells a lot about what the book may entail. I especially love the background color and, like all of Dessen’s books, the title, and author name pop out nicely and are large enough to be seen.
While I haven’t read all of Dessen’s books like most people, I’m trying to catch up. This is the author’s latest book and I grabbed it as soon as I could to keep up with the times. It didn’t disappoint.
I felt as though this plot was a bit cliche. Louna works with her mother planning and working weddings but she doesn’t date herself. She doesn’t really believe in love. Then her mother hires Ambrose, an interesting character. Of course, Louna is distant toward him but Ambrose keeps trying. I’m sure you can already tell what’s going to happen.
Still, Dessen did it right. Louna carries baggage from a past boyfriend which heats things up a bit.
I enjoyed all the characters. Louna made a great female lead and while Ambrose was annoying at first, he grew on me.
Louna’s mother was also a great character. She was the perfect mother figure but she and Louna had a good relationship with each other which made me feel good.
This book is a decent length with some lengthy chapters. It all flows well and reads easily. It’s got a good pace and can be a quick read but you want to take your time with it.
Dessen didn’t disappoint. If you enjoy a little romance, but not over-the-top romance, and like young adult, check out this book. Or any of Dessen’s books.
Once and for All by Sarah Dessen gets… 5 out of 5 stars
“Everyone’s always in their own world, when it’s still an option.” –Sarah Dessen, Once and for All
As far as Haven is concerned, there’s just too much going on.
Everything is changing, and she’s not sure where she fits in.
Then her sister’s old boyfriend shows up, sparking memories of the summer when they were all happy and everything was perfect…
But along the way, Haven realizes that sometimes change is a good thing.
This novel wasn’t exactly what I expected it would be. From the summary, I honestly thought the premise of the story would be a bit more… inspirational, I guess you could say.
The main character is Haven and everything seems to be against her at the moment. Her father is getting married and she and her older sister, Ashley, have to go to the wedding while their mother is home feeling down about it. Ashley herself is getting married in a couple of weeks and moving out of the house to be with him. Meanwhile, since it’ll just be Haven and her mother, her mother thinks it may be a good idea to sell the house.
That’s a lot of change and if I were Haven, I’d be flustered too.
Haven talks a lot about Ashley and the many boyfriends she’s had in the past and how she dumped them all coldly. Haven isn’t a huge fan of Lewis, Ashley’s fiance, but remembers one boyfriend in particular: Sumner.
Haven runs into Sumner after so many years while out to dinner with her father. She remembers how much she loved having Sumner around and how happy Ashley was when she was dating him.
And that’s about it.
Like I said, I expected a lot more from this story.
Sarah Dessen’s characters are usually complex and well thought out, but I was too much of a fan of the characters in this novel. Haven was alright, but she could get annoying at times. Ashley was annoying. Sumner was pretty cool. I liked him.
As always, Dessen has a wonderful writing style. Her novels always flow so well that whether you’re into the story or not, it’s hard to put down.
The ending moral did make sense, but I wished there was more of a plot.
That Summer by Sarah Dessen gets 4 out of 5 stars.
“We’ve got to think back to the good times, Haven, and just remember them; that’s all we can do. We can’t worry about the past or what happened at the end, anymore.” –Sarah Dessen, That Summer
Love can be a very dangerous thing.
After her sister left, Caitlin felt lost.
Then she met Rogerson.
When she’s with him, nothing seems real.
But what happens when being with Rogerson becomes a larger problem than being without him?
My Review (may contain spoilers!):
Another beautifully written novel by Sarah Dessen.
I have to admit when I read the summary of the book I didn’t know what to expect. So when domestic violence and relationship abuse became a theme of the story, I was a bit surprised.
That’s a tough topic to discuss, but Sarah Dessen made it work. The story is nicely written and you really sympathize with the characters, even Rogerson who is the violent one.
The significance of the title was tied in nicely to the story as well. It was a subtle theme and it took me a while to figure it out, but as usual Sarah Dessen leaves no stone unturned.
The ending was happy, though it was bittersweet at the same time. It was satisfying, which is all you can ask for with any book.
I would definitely recommend this to anyone.
Dreamland by Sarah Dessen gets 5 out of 5 stars.
“If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last few months, it’s that sometimes you just have to close your eyes and jump.” –Sarah Dessen, Dreamland
Check out my Goodreads to see what I’ll be reading next!
Sydney has always felt invisible.She’s grown accustomed to her brother, Peyton, being the focus of the family’s attention and, lately, concern. Peyton is handsome and charismatic, but seems bent on self-destruction. Now, after a drunk-driving accident that crippled a boy, Peyton’s serving some serious jail time, and Sydney is on her own, questioning her place in the family and the world.
Then she meets the Chatham family. Drawn into their warm, chaotic circle, Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance for the first time. There’s effervescent Layla, who constantly falls for the wrong guy, Rosie, who’s had her own fall from grace, and Mrs. Chatham, who even though ailing is the heart of the family. But it’s with older brother Mac—quiet, watchful, and protective—that Sydney finally feels seen, really seen, at last.
My Review (may contain spoilers!):
This book was amazing. The idea of having someone in the shadow of her troubled brother (who is in prison) was implemented so well.
I simply fell in love with Sydney, Mac, Layla, and their mother. I had a love-hate relationship with Sydney’s mother and father and absolutely hated Ames, but only because I was sympathizing with Sydney. I felt so in tune with these characters.
The writing itself was pretty good. Sarah Dessen has a knack for painting beautiful pictures in my mind. I did think the beginning of the story was a bit long. However, once you get to the end of the book you realize that absolutely everything that happened earlier was build-up. Nothing was out of place and nothing was thrown in just to fill in more pages.
The ending, the last few chapters, were just fantastic. It was emotional and I shed a few tears, which just proves how much I love these characters. They were a mixture of worried-tears and then happy-tears, but any story that hooks me that deeply is a win for me.
Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen gets 5 out of 5 stars.
“There’s no shame in trying to make stuff work, is how I see it. It’s better than just accepting the broken.” –Sarah Dessen, Saint Anything
Be sure to check out my Goodreads to see what I’ll be reading next!
“Every lie is built upon a kernel of truth.” –Henry Spencer, Psych
Fiction is a lie. Sorry to burst your bubble, but there is no Hogwarts, no Narnia, and no Shire. We all wish they exist (especially the men), but alas they don’t. We’re stuck on Earth with seven billion other people–95% of those other people don’t even know you exist.
Without these fictional places and characters, life would be pretty boring. There would be no imagination, no creativity, and no pretending. Such a sad life.
However, if fiction doesn’t exist… where does it come from?
Surely J.K. Rowling didn’t actually attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in a past life and of course C.S. Lewis didn’t discover a new world in his wardrobe when he was a child.
They created and imagined it. So, where does that creation come from? I’m going to point you back to the top of this post and look at a quote from my TV Dad, Henry Spencer (from Psych) who once said, “Every lie is built upon a kernel of truth.”
Fiction is the same way–authors put a little of themselves into their writing. It is from there that inspiration sparks an idea. An idea becomes a novel.
I’m sure if you knew your favorite author personally, you would be able to pick up small truths here and there in their fiction. For example, YA author Sarah Dessen is coming out with a new book this May. As her husband read the novel, she tweeted:
Update: he just discovered where I dropped his name in the book. SCORE! *grins*
Writers have a way of taking reality and playing around with it until it’s something no one has ever imagined. However, they’re still sane enough to throw in a few bits of real life.
To me, that shows readers what the authors are into; things they like, things they don’t like. Often, when writers add themselves into a story, they get added in as a character. For me, I’m usually the protagonist. My protagonists tend to either have a similar personality, looks, age, or sometimes a mixture.
It doesn’t have to be a character, though. It can be anything like an object, a setting, a plot, or even an occupation. I tend to have a character who writes or teaches for a living because those are two of my passions.
I think that makes writing all the more fun and reading all the more like a puzzle. The questions will never be answered unless you talk to the author personally, but I’m sure there are some novels out there that would be easy to try to guess. Some truths are easier than others.