Saint Anything

saintanythingSaint Anything by Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Number of pages: 417
My copy: paperback, ordered from Book Depository

Peyton, Sydney’s charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion’s share of their parents’ attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton’s increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?

Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.

But of course the newest Sarah Dessen will not escape my grubby hands.

Saint Anything is about Sydney, whose life changed when her older brother Peyton was convicted for drunk driving. Everyone loves Peyton, so when he was taken away, it felt as if Sydney’s life went with him, especially with how her family was left coping with the loss. Everyone was so concerned about Peyton, but Sydney couldn’t help but wonder about the his victim – what about him? Then Sydney meets the Chathams, a family that runs a pizza parlor near her school. They befriend Sydney, and soon, she gets into their world of pizza, the perfect fries, and bands. For the first time ever, Sydney feels that people are finally seeing her.

As with every Sarah Dessen I have read, Saint Anything starts out a bit slow, laying the groundwork for the story to come alive. I have read enough Dessen to know that this was her style, so I was patient, knowing it will all pay off in the end. And it did, as I was introduced to the Chathams. They charmed me, they really did. I loved their family dynamic, and how they were all crazy in a good way. I loved the pizza place, and Layla and Mac’s friends from school. The lunch scenes were perfect in so many ways and I looked forward to reading all of that.

Then there’s Sydney’s mom, who, I must admit, was a bit too much with holding Sydney to a certain standard. But again, it’s what mothers do, I think? It wasn’t really so surprising. But the real “villain” here wasn’t her mom, but that creepy guy who keeps on worming into their story. I suppose it was because I knew about him before I started reading, and that made him creepier. But either way, even if you don’t know him before this, I doubt you’d find him less creepy.

In a way, Saint Anything reminds me of my most favorite Sarah Dessen book, The Truth About Forever. There were many similar elements that make it almost a mirror novel, but not too much that they’re too similar. Mac is no Wes, but I still really liked him, and I really liked his slow-burn chemistry with Sydney. Bonus points to the Saint reference. :)

I really enjoyed Saint Anything, and if you’re a Dessen fan, this does not disappoint. I’m still waiting for a book in the POV of a Dessen boy – it’s about time, right? While I’m waiting, I think I’ll go and reread her previous books. :)


Favorite dog-eared quotes:

“There’s no shame in trying to make stuff work. It’s better than just accepting the broken.” I wanted to say he was lucky he even had a choice. That for most of us, once something was busted, it was game over. I would have loved to know how it felt, just for once, to have something fall apart and see options instead of endings.

You weren’t invisible, not to me. Just so you know.

Relationships evolve, just like people do. Just because you know someone doesn’t mean you know everything about them.

When faced with the scariest of things, all you want is to turn away, hide in your own invisible place. But you can’t. That’s why it’s not only important for us to be seen, but to have someone to look for us, as well.

Other reviews:
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2015 Half-Year Report

Oops, I didn’t forget this blog again!

I’m not going to make excuses to why I wasn’t able to blog in the past month, though, because really, it’s just going to be the same. I think we’ve (or at least, I) have come to accept that this will be updated when I feel like it, or when there’s a blog tour and all that jazz. Which seems to be a trend nowadays, so let’s sort of not dwell on that anymore.

So instead of dwelling, let me do a little update on what the first half of 2015 has been in terms of books. :)

Screencapped from my 2015 shelf on Goodreads :D

Screencapped from my 2015 shelf on Goodreads :D

I read 24 books in the first half of 2015, and that’s a little bit halfway through the 52-book goal for the year, not counting a couple that I reread that I didn’t add here. Most of these were 4-star reads, which has sort of become my default rating for books for some reason. Haha. I even managed to finish one dare book, so yay.

Best book from this half-year list? It’s a tie between Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen and Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami. They’re very different, but also they somehow evoked the same feel for me as I read them.

It’s been going slow ever since July started, though (but it’s really just what, 7 days in, so what do I know). I have been picking books from my shelf every now and then but for some reason they’re not capturing me. I feel like maybe I should be reading this because my book club is reading it, or I should be reading that because it’s supposed to be next. But sometimes you just have to follow your gut, and just read what you want for the time being.

Especially when work is being kind of stressful and you don’t want to think and you just want to settle into a good book and just read.

Oh, and another new reading thing I’m doing: I’m reading manga. Never thought I’d say that, because I’m not a manga person, but I just finished watching Attack on Titan/Shingeki No Kyojin and I need to know what happens next. So my good friend gave me the links and I binged on them last weekend. 20 chapters to go! (And my heart is not so ready yet.)

So, there. I do think I’ll reach my 52-book goal. But I’m probably going to follow my gut for most of the time and reach for the one that it wants to read. I have a feeling it’ll be time to read another David Mitchell after I finish this St. John Paul II memoir. That sounds about right.

Required Reading 2013: August

Well July was interesting, and long. Don’t you think so?

And of course, I rarely blogged again, except I wrote one more extra entry in July than I did in June, so that’s something. It’s not like I have a lot of books to review, anyway, because I haven’t been a fast reader recently.

So here’s what I finished for July from my Required Reading list:

  • The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen (4/5) – I really liked this – all that I expected of Dessen, which was very comforting because it felt like I was coming home (or at least, going to a very familiar summer vacation place).
  • Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (3/5) – I was a buzzer beater in finishing this for our discussion. It was good — I loved the writing, but I’m not exactly a huge fan of the story. Still a good start for GGM for me. Not entirely convinced I’d read all his other books, but I’m open to it in the future.

I totally slacked off on A Clash of Kings, and I feel really bad because my buddies are pretty much on track while I’m still on the fourth chapter. Ooops. I guess I just wasn’t in the mood yet? I’ll keep on reading, though — don’t worry about me, buddies! :)Required Reading: August 2013

But anyway, August. I call August a blank slate month, because it feels like I’m starting anew with so many things. This month’s book selections are a bit of a mix, and I honestly just grabbed some books off my shelf without thinking too much about it. :D

August 2013 books!

  • Reread: Tall Story by Candy Gourlay – TFG’s book of the month. I read this in 2010, and I’m looking forward to reading this heartwarming story again. :)
  • Spillover: A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin – I’m not giving up on this! I hope to finish this by mid-August. :)
  • Borrowed: No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July – borrowed this from Bennard, after I saw him give this 4 stars. I love the title, and the simple cover, and this one passage from the first story, The Shared Patio:

    Do you have doubts about life? Are you unsure if it’s worth the trouble? Look at the sky: that is for you. Look at each person’s face as you pass on the street: those faces are for you. And the street itself, and the ground under the street and the ball of fire underneath the ground: all these things are for you. They are as much for you as they are for other people. Remember this when you wake up in the morning and think you have nothing. Stand up and face the east. Now praise the sky and praise the light within each person under the sky. It’s okay to be unsure. But praise, praise, praise.


  • Beloved: The Woman Who Died a Lot by Jasper Fforde – I think it’s about time I read the latest Thursday Next novel. :)

I have a feeling GRRM will take up most of my time and I will probably not finish one of these books on time, but I can always hope. :) Just keep reading, just keep reading!

Oh and because it’s also Buwan ng Wika (Language Month) in the Philippines for August, I will be throwing in local stuff in the mix, at least, the light ones that will help me cleanse the palate every now and then. :) I will also hold some giveaways for new books released by my classmates in #romanceclass, so wait for those posts! (Promise, I’ll post about them :D)

I hope you have a fine reading August, friends. :)

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. :)


Required Reading: July

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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!