The Moon and More

The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Puffin
Number of pages:  416
My copy: paperback, ordered from Book Depository

Emaline is spending her last summer before college in her home beach town of Colby. Everything is familiar – from working for her bossy sister Margo at the family rental company to Emaline’s gorgeous (and regularly shirtless) childhood sweetheart, Luke.

But when an out-of-town brash New York filmmaker, and her young assistant Theo, come to stay at one of the beach houses, everything Emaline thought she knew about herself changes.

But can her heart let go of a life she’s loved for so long?

* * *

Finally a new Sarah Dessen. It’s been a while since I last read one because I’ve already gone through all of them, and I was really glad when I heard that her latest book, The Moon and More is out this year. Even if I didn’t exactly love What Happened to Goodbye, I am always looking forward to Dessen’s books because her books are automatic comfort reads.

It’s summer in Colby and Emaline is spending her last summer before college working in their family business. She’s used to everything in Colby — her stepsisters, her mom, her (usually shirtless) boyfriend Luke — and she’s really just waiting for summer to be over before she heads over to the university. Then Emaline’s father comes to town and stays there for the summer, reminding her of everything that did not happen between them in the past year. As if that’s not enough, a filmmaker and her assistant, Theo, from New York comes and stays for the summer and Emaline somehow gets roped into their project. She thought she knew everything and she wasn’t expecting her summer to suddenly change, but now everything is changing…is she ready for them all? Does she even want to change?

The Moon and More latest has all the usual elements of a Dessen novel — summer, an ordinary girl on the verge of a big change, best friends, family and a cute guy. Or, make it two cute guys. This is the first time I’ve read a real love triangle in Dessen’s books, one where I don’t really know who to root for because they are both good and charming and full of faults all at the same time. I liked that it wasn’t an annoying love triangle, and I felt Emaline’s confusion and pain and happiness and her attempt at adjusting with the changes coming her way. But I think what I liked about this set up is how I ended up rooting for Emaline in the end, hoping that she’d make the right decision for herself and nobody else. I think that’s one of the things that made this novel really good for me.

As always, I loved the secondary characters that surrounded Emaline here. I love her family and I saw how their home was always wacky (with people who won’t get out of her room) but supportive, and her half-brother is one of the most adorable siblings I’ve ever read in Dessen’s books. I also love Emaline’s best friends, Daisy and Morris, and their quirky relationship is really begging for a spin-off. There were the usual easter eggs from Dessen’s previous novels (specifically Along for the Ride and Keeping the Moon), although I needed to refresh my memory about them because it’s been a while since I read those books.

I’m glad that that I really liked The Moon and More. After the previous Dessen book, I was kind of afraid that her magic is getting lost on me, but this book proved that it was just a fluke. It was a pleasure getting lost in Colby for hours, and I can almost feel the sand between my toes and hear the waves crashing on the shore as I read this. The Moon and More is a good summer book — it’s just too bad I didn’t really read it during summertime in the Philippines. :)

Rating:

Required Reading: July

Other reviews:
The Midnight Garden
Stay Bookish

The Next Best Thing

The Next Best Thing by Kristan HigginsThe Next Best Thing by Kristan Higgins
Publisher: Harlequin
Number of pages: 400
My copy: ebook review copy from Netgalley

Lucy Lang isn’t looking for fireworks…

She’s looking for a nice, decent man. Someone who’ll mow the lawn, flip chicken on the barbecue, teach their future children to play soccer. But most important: someone who won’t inspire the slightest stirring in her heart… or anywhere else. A young widow, Lucy can’t risk that kind of loss again. But sharing her life with a cat named Fat Mikey and the Black Widows at the family bakery isn’t enough either. So it’s goodbye to Ethan, her hot but entirely inappropriate “friend with privileges,” and hello to a man she can marry.

Too bad Ethan Mirabelli isn’t going anywhere. As far as he’s concerned, what she needs might be right under her nose. But can he convince her that the next best thing can really be forever?

* * *

I read The Next Best Thing by Kristan Higgins because I need to get into the “romance” mood while I was writing my romance novella. Back that time, all the books I was reading were not in the romance genre and I needed the appropriate feels, as well as a reference for my story, and this was the closest I could pick. (Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to read this as much as I wanted to during the time I was writing the first draft of the novella because I was too busy. Plus my mind just won’t get into the mood without it being influenced too much)

I’ve had my eye on this book ever since I read (and liked) Somebody to Love. I met Lucy and Ethan in that book from Parker’s POV, and I liked them so much that I wanted to read how they got together anyway, especially when the dad of Parker’s son is Ethan. Strange set-up, don’t you think? In The Next Best Thing, Lucy Lang is a young widow who is ready to date again. She isn’t looking for spark — just a nice man who wouldn’t die on her anytime soon or even make her too in love because she’s not sure if she can suffer the loss again after her husband died. With that in mind, she had to take the first step: she had to tell Ethan Mirabelli, her brother-in-law and best friend, that they have to stop hooking up. But Ethan isn’t convinced that Lucy needs anyone else — will he be able to convince her that he’s what she wanted all along?

This was lots of fun. I loved Lucy and the people that surrounded her in that small town. The entire town felt so real, with Lucy’s mom and aunts who were also all widows (The Black Widows), Lucy’s in-laws, her ‘nemesis’ Dorall Anne and even Jimmy, her deceased husband. I love that Lucy is a baker, and she’s also as neurotic and lovable as Kristan Higgins’ other heroines are. I liked how Lucy and Ethan’s relationship was shown, from when they met to how it all finally ended — the push and pull, the tension and how they tried to be around each other. I loved how Lucy got to the realization at the end, and how she made peace with her past. That “grand gesture” in the end was messy and funny but still perfect for the two leads.

I really liked The Next Best Thing, and I think I liked it especially because Parker was also there and her character was quite consistent there as it was in the spin-off. If I were ever to have Lucy moments, I would want to have a friend like Parker. (But I think I already have several Parkers in my life :D)

The Next Best Thing is another really good book from Kristan Higgins. I’m still working through her back list, but I won’t read too fast because I want to make sure that I always have one of her books unread in my shelf whenever I need a pick-me-up. :)

Rating:

Other reviews:
Good Books and Good Wine

2013 Mid-Year Report

I saw some of my friends do a post similar to this, and I was checking my archives and as it turned out, I haven’t really made a list like this in my past years of book blogging. Since this book blog has been feeling a little bit lonely lately, So I figure I’d write something like this. And yeah, maybe do a check on my goals, too, to see if I am still sort of on track. :)

Image from we heart it

Image from we heart it

Best Books of 2013 (So Far):

In no particular order:

  • Life of Pi by Yann Martel: “The ending left me…reeling. A friend told me about the twist in the story, but I wanted to be surprised and boy was I surprised. I couldn’t wrap my head around it for a while, and I had my first case of a book hangover for the year, which was extended right after watching the movie.”
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: “One last thing: I hope that when Death comes for me, he’ll find my soul sitting up.
  • Iscariot: A Novel of Judas by Tosca Lee: “Would there have been redemption for Judas, if he had just waited? Could he have become someone like Peter, who denied Jesus but accepted mercy which led him to become the great church leader that he is? If he had just waited until Sunday, would he have believed that Jesus was indeed the person he had been waiting for his entire life?”
  • 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff: “If you happen to pass by 84 Charing Cross Road, kiss it for me? I owe it so much.
  • What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver: “Because really, what do people talk about when they talk about love? My friends and I do this a lot, and while we all have these ideas and dreams and everything, I don’t think we will ever grasp what love really is about. The best we can do, I think, is try.”
  • Icon of the Indecisive by Mina V. Esguerra: “Let’s just say this book had me…er, squeeing more than half the time. Hee. There were many, many things I wanted to ask at the end of the second book, but I’m very glad to report that this third book delivers.”

Honorable Mentions:

2013 Goals Checkpoint:

  1. 52 Books – upped to 75, when I realized that I will probably reach 52 a bit earlier. Then I got into a reading slump. Heh. But I am at 38 books now, and Goodreads tells me I am 1 book ahead. So yay.
  2. 5 Classics – 1 out of 5. Eep. I have to catch up.
  3. 4 Chunksters – 2 out of 4. Reading my third this month!
  4. 20 Filipino Books – 10 out of 20. Good job, self. *pats*
  5. Required Reading – I am surprisingly managing this well. There were some books that I postponed reading (for the future (hello, May books), but other than that, I think I hit my monthly goals quite well.
  6. The Reread Factor – I’ve reread several books but I didn’t get to review them. Oops. Maybe next time. :)

I don’t review all the books I read now because sometimes I get too lazy to review and by the time I realized that I should review it, it’s been too long and I can’t remember what to write anymore. So…there. But don’t worry, this blog isn’t going anywhere. :D I’m just a little busy with other life things. :)

Happy reading for the rest of 2013!

Required Reading 2013: July

June felt like a short month, which is kind of strange because there were days that I spent at home, writing, which should be slow days. Or maybe it’s because I was on a mid shift schedule so my days were faster? Either way, I really was in a reading rut last month because I didn’t feel like reading much, except maybe something light and romantic. Still, I managed to finish the only book in my reading list for June — a day late for the discussion, but still, I finished!

  • The Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon (3/5) – It was fun in some parts, but also equally not fun in other parts. It was a lot of parts dragging, though. Maybe Chabon isn’t for me? Or maybe I should try another Chabon book? I had a lot of fun during the discussion, though, so I did my best to finish the book even after. I am keeping my copy on my shelf because it looks nice there. :D

Required Reading: July

We are now at the second half of the year, eep! A bit of panic mode, but not really with reading, because I find that I am still on track with my reading goals (the 52 books challenge is upped to 75, btw). I think I am out of my reading rut. I think! I hope these books really bring me out of it!

Required Reading for July

  • A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin – Finally moving on to the second book in this series. I don’t think I will be able to do a marathon reading for these books, so one a year should suffice? :) Reading this with some buddies, and I’m expecting it to be as fast-paced as A Game of Thrones was, so this shouldn’t take me that long to read it, right? :)
  • The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen – Ah finally. Some good old contemporary YA from my favorite contemporary YA author. I started this already, and it’s nice to go back to Dessen’s writing. :)
  • Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – Our book club’s book for discussion this month, moderated by our book club’s canon couple, Bennard and Rhena. :) This is my first GGM, and I don’t really know what to expect. I read the first few pages of this earlier and I like the opening line: It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love. Well that was quite a beautiful (and sad) picture.

I hope July will be a good reading month for everyone. :) Happy second half of 2013!

All’s Fair in Blog and War

All's Fair in Blog and War by Chrissie PeriaAll’s Fair in Blog and War by Chrissie Peria
Publisher: Independent
Number of pages: 109
My copy: ebook, from Amazon Kindle Store

Five Cuevas @fivetravels
Three guesses to where I’m going next. Starts with an M. Ends with a U. Has a lechon named after it. #travel

Travel blogger Five thinks she has hit the jackpot when the Macau Tourism Board invites her over for an all-expense-paid blogger tour in exchange for blogging about Macau. But while she happily signs up for the trip, she didn’t sign up to be travel buddies with the infuriating Jesse. Will her dream vacation turn into a nightmare junket? Or will falling in love be on the itinerary?

* * *

I’ve been in a reading rut in the past month because I was too busy doing something else, and that “something else” is writing my novella. I took my own sweet time reading our book club’s book of the month because I couldn’t focus on it, and I didn’t have any desire to read anything else that isn’t contemporary romance because it was all my mind can handle that time. When one of our classmates in #romanceclass released her book into the wild last week, I automatically bought it and loaded it into my Kindle. For one, it’s contemporary romance, which is just what I need; it’s Filipino; and finally, it’s a classmate’s work, so I should support! (Plus, look at that gorgeous cover!) I finished reading this in a day, and when I was done, I found myself thinking, “What reading rut?

In Chrissie Peria’s All’s Fair in Blog and War, we meet Five Cuevas, a virtual assistant by night and travel blogger the rest of the time, reading an email from the Macau Tourism Board inviting her for an all-expense paid trip to Macau. It was something I would joyfully jump into, and Five does the same thing. It was exciting, until she meets Jesse Ruiz, the photoblogger who gets in her way and on her nerves. She’s determined not to let him ruin her trip, but it’s proving just a bit hard when she was partnered with him for the rest of the trip.

Okay, this is fun. So much fun. I love books with blogging, regardless of whatever kind of blogging that is. I love Five’s voice, and her passion for traveling and writing about it. I love the entire set-up and how she and Jesse met, and how their relationship grew in the story. It was a short trip, but it was believable, and reading the story made me want to go to Macau, or at least, find myself some egg tarts! There were so many lines in the book that made me smile, and it’s no surprise that I breezed through it because I just wanted to keep on reading to know what happens to them in the end.

Granted, the story could be longer, and there could have been more tension, but for a quick and light read, All’s Fair in Blog and War really works. It’s the kind you’d want to read on a trip, or the kind you’d recommend to a friend who’s going on a trip (I did that), or the kind you’d recommend to a friend who’s looking for a light read (I also did this). I was happy with the ending, and how they got to the ending, especially for a social media/blogging junkie like me. :P If you’re a blogger, a traveler or a reader (or, maybe even all)  who is looking for a light and sweet contemporary romance fix, then All’s Fair in Blog and War is a book for you. :)

Rating:

* Follow Five (@5travels) and Jesse (@wanderingcamera) on Twitter for more swoon online! :D