Tag Archives: Sarah Dessen

Book Season 2009

Day 19There’s a time every year that I call “Book Season“. It’s usually around August to September, when all book stores I frequent go on sale, and usually ends right by Manila International Book Fair. These times are practically heaven for me as I get to buy a whole lot of books (then again it’s not like I don’t buy a lot off-season too), which all get added to my growing TBR list. In fact, there are still books on my TBR list from book fair two years ago. Haha.

I’ve always had somewhat of a generous stash every year after Book Season. This year was a bit different though. Good, yeah, but kind of different.

I hit MIBF last Saturday to see if I can find anything I like and buy it. I ventured into the fair with a list of books that I don’t necessarily need to have. The past years I have a list of books that I must have but this year, it’s just…”Okay, if I find it, I’ll probably buy it.” When I got to the fair, I ended up buying some pens from the Pilot booth and then three more books in National Bookstore (which I realized that I can still buy in National Bookstore with the same discount).

And all books I bought were in hardcover. And you know how I don’t like hardcovers.

But still, I think it’s a pretty good haul. They’re all “hot” books anyway:

Book Fair Haul
Book Fair Haul

I finally gave in and bought the hardcover copy of Sarah Dessen‘s Along for the Ride. Couldn’t resist, plus I can’t wait to read it anyway (and I’m almost done reading it!). The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins were highly recommended by Blooey, so there. :)

Hm. All sales ended yesterday, I think, and I just realized…almost all books I got to buy on all sales were from the Young Adult section:

2009 Book Saeson Stash
2009 Book Season Stash

From top to bottom:

  1. My Imaginary Ex by Mina V. Esguerra (Powerbooks)
  2. Be Strong & Curvaceous by Shelley Adina (Fully Booked)
  3. Who Made You a Princess? by Shelley Adina (Fully Booked)
  4. The Miracle Girls by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt (Fully Booked)
  5. Breaking Up Is Hard to Do by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt (Fully Booked)
  6. Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen (National Bookstore)
  7. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (National Bookstore)
  8. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (National Bookstore)

Not bad, not bad. I’m just surprised it’s almost all YA. I can see a trend coming in, haha. I find myself gravitating towards that section of the bookstore ever so often. Maybe I should go back to YA for NaNoWriMo.

Right now there’s no other book I want to buy yet. I was thinking of Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol but it’s too expensive for me, plus I figure I can borrow it somewhere. :) I also wanted to buy those cool Austen reprints at National Bookstore…but I figured I could buy it next time. Or ask for it as  a Christmas gift. Support my Classics reading challenge! Give me Classic books (preferably Jane Austen :P).

Till next year, I guess?


Lock and Key (Sarah Dessen)

Rating: [rate 3.5]

Lock and Key (Sarah Dessen)Ruby can take care of herself.

She’s usd to counting on no one and answering to nobody. But all of that changes when her mother vanishes and Ruby is sent to live with her older sister, Cora. Now Ruby’s got her own room in a fabulous new house, she’s going to private school, and — for the first time — feeling as if she has a future. Plus, there’s an adorable and sweet boy next door, Nate. Everything should be perfect. So why is Ruby so wary? And why is Nate keeping her at a distance? Ruby soon comes to realize that sometimes, in order to save yourself, you’ve got to reach out to someone else.

Don’t you think that’s such a pretty cover? There’s really something about Sarah Dessen‘s book covers, and I know how much it appeals to its target audience.

Lock and Key is about Ruby Cooper, who moves into her siser’s place after her mother left her behind to fend for herself. Ruby has gotten used to taking care of herself ever since her sister left and her mom could hardly be counted on. She was so used to not owing anyone for help that when she moved to her sister Cora’s place, all she wanted to do was go back. But her new family was insistent on letting her stay and taking care of her, especially Jamie, Cora’s husband, who wanted to provide a good future for Ruby. Ruby is stuck, and despite all good things happening to her, she couldn’t help but feel wary of all this good fortune. She knows that Cora’s world isn’t her world, but she knew she couldn’t count on her mother anymore. But can she really learn to trust all the other people that’s coming in her life?

All the typical Dessen elements were in the story: Ruby, the sort of troubled child who’s left to fend off for herself; Nate, the cute neighbor who Ruby falls for but then has a secret of his own; Olivia, her classmate who she didn’t really like at first but then became friends with; Harriet, her boss at her job who was even more of a control freak than Ruby. There are also old friends who are only in the book to appear that they’re not really “friends”: Marshall, Ruby’s sort of boyfriend and Peyton, the closest thing she had to a best friend. Though not set in the summer, like other Dessen books were, this one still spanned a couple of months, almost half a school year if I got it right. There’s a lot of looking into the past, and backstories and family events and little symbolisms that made the story poignant.

I liked how Dessen was descriptive with Ruby’s past and everything around her  — from Ruby’s new room to the key that she kept hanging around her neck. The thing about Lock and Key for me, however, is that it read too much like Love Walked In by Marisa Delos Santos, with the mentally unstable and possibly a drug addict mother (who would probably pay for appetite suppressants over her daughter’s needs) leaving the daughter to fend off for herself and someone coming in to save the daughter. I couldn’t help but recall that other novel while reading this one. It’s not entirely the same, but the similarities just feel a bit odd.

But if you’re a Dessen fan, you’ll love all the Easter eggs in this novel. You’ll find a character from almost all of Dessen’s past novels. I especially love it when Kristy and Bert from The Truth About Forever showed up in one scene. :D

Lock and Key is a good read, but I think it’s not really as good as The Truth About Forever or Just Listen or This Lullaby.

The Truth About Forever (Sarah Dessen)

Rating: [rate 5.0]

The Truth About Forever (Sarah Dessen)A LONG, HOT SUMMER…

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 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 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?

The blurb does not do justice with the whole book. It says a lot about the story, but nothing about the amazing characters.

Macy Queen strives to be perfect. Not because she wanted to, but she felt like she needed to. After the death of her father, she started hiding inside herself, convinced that her mother needed her to be strong. Macy tries to get perfect grades, gets the perfect (and smart) boyfriend, and is prepared to face the long summer with the things expected of her.

But with anyone who tries to avoid the proper stages of grieving in losing a loved one, it always catches up on you. That summer, Macy’s world turns upside down when she meets the Wish Catering crew. There’s Delia, the very pregnant owner of the business; Kristy, the fashionable girl who befriends Macy and gets her to go to the parties they go to; Monica, Kristy’s sister who barely utters a word (and probably can’t say a word about weight loss pill); Bert, the Armageddon-obsessed dorky guy who drives an ambulance; and finally, Wes, the guy with the past (as the blurb mentioned), and probably the hottest fictional guy I’ve ever read about. :P Seriously, there’s something about how Dessen wrote about Wes that makes me crush on him. :P

The cast of characters is one of the things that make this book interesting. I can’t imagine not having any of them there, even the two snobby girls at the library that Macy hates. Their reactions to the plot felt so real that I felt like I was there with them while reading it. I don’t think there’s any catering company that has as many disasters as the Wish catering crew did, but it’s that chaos that makes them who they are.

Story wise, it’s pretty straightforward. The things that happened aren’t that unexpected, really, like Macy’s mom’s breakdown or her leaving the job. It’s what you’d expect to happen in a storyline like this, and even if it is expected, it worked. The characters managed to carry the whole book through and leave an important lesson about grieving and imperfection.

And again, on Wes: I agree with what Sarah Dessen wrote in her book info:

I think that in a lot of ways, he was the kind of guy I was always looking for: one who wasn’t so interested in the “perfect,” girl, whoever she might be. A boy who likes flaws, who sees potential in everything. While Delia’s company may represent chaos, Wes to me is hope. To him, nothing is ever finished, or broken. It’s just waiting to be incarnated, to begin as something new, again.

Now who wouldn’t fall for a guy like that? :P

This is the type of book that I will re-read every year, just to get that tingling and fluttery feeling whenever Macy and Wes would start getting close. :) This is certainly one of the best YA books I’ve ever read. And if you’re into YA, I suggest you read it too.

Keeping the Moon (Sarah Dessen)

Rating: [rate 4.0]

Keeping the Moon (Sarah Dessen)Colie expects the worst when she’s sent to spend the summer with her eccentric aunt Mira while her mother, queen of the television infomercial, tours Europe. Always an outcast — first for being fat and then for being “easy” — Colie has no friends at home and doesn’t expect to find any in Colby, North Carolina. But then she lands a job at the Last Chance Cafe and meets fellow waitresses Morgan and Isabel, best friends with a loving yet volatile relationship. Wacky yet wise, Morgan and Isabel help Colie see herself in a new way and realize the potential that has been there all along.

After finishing this one, I have read all of Sarah Dessen’s books except for Lock and Key whose paperback version is still not out. So let’s just assume I’ve read everything from this point. :P

Sarah Dessen is here with another great book, Keeping the Moon. I didn’t really understand why that is the title of the book while reading it, until the subject of the moon was brought up. And it tied up pretty nicely with a very nice ring to it. :) Anyway, Dessen has done it once again with a good storyline that is not only fit for young adults but also in those who are past that age but is still worried about impressions and looks. In this book, Colie was a fat kid who used to have a fat mom until her mother (and her) lost weight. Her mother became Kiki Sparks, fitness extraordinaire, and she just became Colie, who was somewhat missing all her flabs. On her mother’s European tour, she gets sent to her aunt, who is somewhat weird (with her outrageous outfits and the notes found on everywhere around her house), and meets a wacky cast of characters – Morgan, Isabel and Norman.

More than the story, it was the characters that drew me in the novel. There’s Mira, Colie’s aunt, who, as mentioned earlier, was kind of eccentric, and did not care one bit about how other people thought about her. There’s Morgan, the overdramatic neighbor who is in love with a baseball player and would make deviled eggs when she’s upset. There’s Isabel, Morgan’s housemate, who scares Colie at first because of her attitude towards her, but turns out she actually has an interesting past. And finally, there’s Norman, the guy who lived in Mira’s apartment, an artist, and a rummage sale freak with all odds and ends found in his room (I bet if he could find a way to squeeze in some automotive lifts in his room, he’d have those too).

As with other Dessen books, this was set over the summer, where a lot of things happen. Colie goes from a reserved girl who hid herself from the crowd because of what people at her school say about her, to a girl who learns to appreciate herself for who she was, and learns that she deserve respect just like every other person does. She draws strength from the people she meets over the summer in her confrontation with a bully, and then finds that she can also give strength to other friends who needs someone to be strong for them.

It’s a really nice story, and I liked reading it because it had a really nice message about perfection, self-respect and self-image. :)

Some of my favorite quotes in the book:

If something doesn’t work exactly right, or maybe needs some special treatment, you don’t just throw it away. Everything can’t be fully operational all the time. Sometimes, we need to have the patience to give something the little nudge it needs. (Mira)

You should never be surprised when someone treats you with respect, you should expect it. (Isabel)

Dreamland (Sarah Dessen)

Rating: [rate 3.5]

Dreamland (Sarah Dessen)Wake up, Caitlin.

Ever since she started going out with Rogerson Biscoe, Caitlin seems to have fallen into a semiconscious dreamland where nothing is quite real. Rogerson is different from anyone has ever known. He’s magnetic. He’s compelling. He’s dangerous. Being with him makes Caitlin forget about everything else — her missing sister, her withdrawn mother, her lacluster life. But what happens when being with Rogerson becomes a larger problem than being without him?

This is definitely a far more serious Sarah Dessen book that all the others I have read. Dessen’s novels deal with serious issues, but this one feels even more serious than the other ones, from the very cover to everything inside. That level of seriousness kind of made me feel like even I was in dream land, like everything was surreal.

The story’s good, with remarkable characters, especially Cass and Boo. Cass only has a few lines but her disappearance and small reappearance had a huge impact in the entire story that I kind of wish there was more of her. I got annoyed at Caitlin for not standing up for herself but I also felt concern for her the way her family and friends did. However, I feel like there’s a lot more things that could have been uncovered, like why Rogerson did what he did, and what happened to him next. Then again, it was Caitlin’s story, so the focus was more on her, and how she recovered.

It was good, but it’s really not something I’m looking forward to read again and again, unlike The Truth About Forever or Just Listen. It’s also not something I’m going to let someone read when she’s new to Sarah Dessen’s work. Dreamland is good, but I honestly think it’s not as good as the others.

Light and Darkness

It’s Sunday night and it will be Monday in a few minutes, and I had a really short yet busy weekend. But it was all very interesting. :)

Last Saturday, I woke up late and rushed all the way to Makati to meet up with Cors at Greenbelt for our confession. I realized then how far Makati really was. Total rides I had to go to all the way to Makati from our place: 4. Gah. Well, at least it gave me a lot of walking time. :P

After lunch at Burger King, we roamed around at Greenbelt 5. We visited the new branch of Fully Booked and marveled at (what else?) the books and other items like greeting cards that greeting cards online cannot replace. I was on a mission to find a paperback copy of City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare, but instead, I found Sarah Dessen books! Hope is not lost! I couldn’t leave the store without them, so I ended up swiping my card to get That Summer, Dreamland and Keeping The Moon, which I haven’t read yet. Talk about giddy. :P

After confession (yay happy forgiveness :D), Cors and I met up with her friend at Robinson’s Place Manila (it’s been years since I last went there), and then headed to MV Doulos.

Now it’s my third time to MV Doulos, and I wasn’t really expecting to get anything there, since the last time I was there, there wasn’t anything I liked. This time, though, they brought back the fiction area where I got my Francine Rivers books (that I have yet to read!) from my first MV Doulos trip. They were now selling three books for P200 there with a free bag. There were CDs I wanted to get but decided not to, a kid’s series that I wanted to get but it wasn’t complete (sometimes I hate that I have to complete a series to fully enjoy the books), but I still ended up buying something after a quick search over at the center table: Jake Thoene’s Chapter 16 series. I hear they’re like Tom Clancy books which I haven’t read yet, but I’m curious. :P So they’re now added in my growing TBR list.

Earth HourI got home thirty minutes before Earth Hour. I joined last year’s Earth Hour and I totally forgot to turn off my lights but this year everyone was intent on making me remember. :D It felt like a New Year’s countdown when everyone was counting down to turn off the lights and then it was total darkness. Except for my iPod, laptop and the TV. :P

I watched some of the coverage of the Earth Hour, and I know this is incredibly sappy, but I started tearing up and blubbering when I watched Nat Geo’s video clip about how the world united as one during the 2008 Earth Hour because of what Sydney did in 2007. Did it make sense? I don’t know, something about people uniting for a cause always touches me and makes me blubber like an idiot. ^^;

The darkness was oddly calming, though, and it was really nice to be a part of something big. :) And this has totally made me think more of how I do things now, and how it affects the environment. Seriously.

Today was another day at the mall, where we heard mass and then went our ways to go shopping. I was still hunting for City of Ashes so I went to Powerbooks…and guess what did I saw? The rest of the Sarah Dessen books. Crazy. I couldn’t leave the store without it, especially The Truth About Forever. After lots of roaming around, trying to spot City of Ashes, I decided to get Someone Like You, This Lullaby and The Truth About Forever because I know I would totally regret it if I don’t. My credit card is definitely complaining though. :P


Weeee. Don’t they look pretty? :D Now I only need to wait for the paperback copy of Lock and Key and it’s complete. :P

And I can’t wait to re-read The Truth About Forever in print. ;)

Speak novels

I love that they all have that Speak logo there. The very last book (the one with the green back) is Robin Palmer’s Cindy Ella). I am now always on the lookout for these kinds of YA novels. :)

Now it’s already past midnight, meaning it’s Monday already and it’s back to work. I better get to bed now. :) Busy week up ahead!

Just Listen (Sarah Dessen)

Rating: [rate 4.5]

Just Listen (Sarah Dessen) Last year, Annabel was “the girl who has everything”—at least that’s the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf’s Department Store.This year, she’s the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong. Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owen’s help,maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends.

I picked this book on a random book splurge. I think I wasn’t in a good mood then, so I browsed around National Bookstore and waited a bit before deciding to buy it. It seemed very interesting among all the YA books I saw in the bookstore, plus I remember seeing some of my friends recommending her books…and so I bought it. The last time I bought a YA book (I think it was Private by Kate Brian), I was really disappointed, so I hoped this one won’t disappoint.

And it didn’t.

Just Listen is about Annabel, a seemingly perfect girl on the outside who needs no treatments for acne, but a lot devastated on the inside. The novel talks about her family, her friendships and her growing relationship with Owen, the music lover who always says what’s on his mind. Annabel, on the other hand, prefers to keep things inside her, especially if she thinks it would disrupt the “peace” that other people have. It’s not about keeping a reputation, but just looking out for them in a way that she could and at a cost.

The novel is very realistic, and it deals a lot about eating disorders, complicated friends and being true to yourself. I loved how I can still relate to it even if I’m way above the YA age (or not :P), how I managed to see myself in Annabel as I read the novel. While reading Just Listen, you’ll find yourself rooting for Annabel (and Owen) and hoping that things become okay with her. The flashbacks were seamless, almost like you were really looking into Annabel’s mind as she recalls them all.

This is the kind of fiction I love. It kind of reminds me of those YA/Chicklit books written by Christian authors that I buy, but this one is more mainstream and doesn’t talk of God. However, the lessons that the story has is very valuable, and this is something teens should really read.

Two things I wish that would happen (spoiler alert): I wish to know how Clarke lost her allergies and I kind of wish there’s some kind of resolution for Annabel and Sophie, other than them not talking anymore. Or at least, some kind of encounter. But then I guess that part is left open to interpretation and possible spin offs. :)

If only there were more Dessen books available in Manila! I found one in BookSale, which I will hunt down soon, and then I’ll look for some during the Book Fair. :D If all else fails, I’ll ask my dad to get me her books. I’m definitely a fan. :D