Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What Happened to Goodbye--Sarah Dessen

Title: What Happened to Goodbye
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Viking, 2011
Pages: 402 p
Source: Friend
Compensation: None

I was lucky enough to get a copy of this book from a good friend who reviewed it for the BlogHer book review club. Check out her review.

I love Sarah Dessen (Along for the Ride, Lock and Key, Just Listen). My absolute favorite was the first book I read, Keeping the Moon, but it was before-blog days. Whenever I read a new Dessen book I feel like I'm back with a familiar friend; I can pretty much tell you what the framework will be--a troubled girl will connect with a troubled boy (usually over the summer, but not always) and although there will be bumps along the way, their friendship will blossom into romance and help the both of them. It is a testament to Dessen that she manages to do this while creating fresh characters and putting them in different situations that keep readers coming back for more.

In her latest offering, Dessen tells us of Mclean, a daughter of divorce and upheaval. Mclean, named after a famous basketball coach, once had a good childhood, until her mom decided to cheat on her Dad with the new basketball coach in town. Her parents divorced and her mom married the coach, had twins, and completely changed her life. Unable to forgive her mom, Mclean lobbies the court to allow her to stay with her father--a traveling restaurant manager who takes over failing restaurants and rehabilitates them and then moves on. This nomadic life style allows Mclean to abandon her past and the nosy gossip of her friends and to recreate herself in each new town. She changes her name, her hobbies, her style, her personality and doesn't get close to anyone knowing that it will all be over soon. Until she gets to Lakeview and she finds herself slipping and letting people know the real her, including neighbor Dave, a teen boy with problems of his own.

In addition to the troubled girl meets troubled boy theme, Dessen also likes to throw in the importance of friendship--true friendship--in her books. Girls, teens, humans, need to make meaningful connections with other people. Mclean had "friends" in all the towns she lived in, but she didn't trust any of them to tell her real name or to share her real feelings. It wasn't until she came to Lakeview and met Dave that she found her "3 a.m."--the person she knew she could call at 3 a.m. when she needed help. Connecting with Dave also allowed her to open up to other kids in school, including Deb, a girl who needed friends just as much as Mclean.

Dessen got me again with What Happened to Goodbye. I knew how the problem would be resolved, how the story would end, and yet, I still wanted to keep reading. Dessen continually creates characters that I want to connect with and stories I want to read.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Spellbound--Cara Lynn Shultz

Title: Spellbound
Author: Cara Lynn Shultz
Publisher: Harlequin Teen, June 2011
Pages: 352
Source: egalley through Netgalley courtesy of the publisher
Compensation: None

I read this book back in June, but I am clearly on summer vacation because this is the first chance I've had to sit down and try to write a review. 

Emma just wants to get through school unnoticed, but she's a new student in an expensive prep school so that's not likely to happen. It's even more unlikely when she catches the eye of the hottest guy in school-Brendan--who doesn't give the time of day to any of the other girls. Emma is instantly attracted to him and thinks Brendan feels the same, until he inexplicably withdraws from her. Weird things happen around her and she starts dreaming about past lives with all signs pointing to Brendan being dangerous for her. She consults with her only real friend at school--a Wiccan--who confirms that Emma and Brendan have a long history together in their past lives and that each life ended tragically for them. Armed with this knowledge Emma needs to decide if she should pursue her "soulmate" or try to ignore her destiny.

Spellbound is a quick entertaining read that will surely appeal to all the paranormal romance readers out there, as well as regular romance readers who like the forbidden love angle. Emma is an interesting character who has a horrible tragic background but still approaches life with a snarky sense of humor. She was fun to read and her instant romance with Brendan made sense. Teen boys will probably not be interested in the story except for the Twilight-loving boys who are becoming more common these days.

I'm an Amazon Associate now. If you click on the Amazon links & buy anything I might make a tiny bit of money.

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