What Happened to Goodbye

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah DessenWhat Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers
Number of pages:  416
My copy: ebook from Amazon Kindle Store

Another town. Another school. Another Mclean. Ever since her parents’ bitter divorce, Mclean and her father have been fleeing their unhappy past. And Mclean’s become a pro at reinventing herself with each move. But in Lakeview, Mclean finds herself putting down roots and making friends—in part, thanks to Dave, the most real person Mclean’s ever met. Dave just may be falling in love with her, but can he see the person she really is? Does Mclean herself know?

* * *

Sarah Dessen is a comfort read. I learned to love the YA genre through her books, and even if I’ve read other good contemporary YA novels (hello John Green and Melina Marchetta), Sarah Dessen remains as the queen of my YA-novel loving heart. So there was really no question that I’d get her newest book, What Happened to Goodbye, in the blink of an eye. In fact, this is probably the most expensive ebook that I’ve purchased so far (it’s $1 more expensive than the usual ebook price).

Mclean Sweet lived a normal life, until her mother fell in love with the coach of the basketball team that her father loved. After a messy divorce, Mclean joins her dad with his traveling job, jumping from one town to another to improve or close some restaurants. Tired of her old personality, Mclean takes on a different persona and a name for every town she lives in — from a cheerleader, a theater geek to an all around girl, she does it all and disappears without a trace when they need to move. Mclean is prepared to do the same thing when she moves to Lakeview with her dad. That is, until she finds herself not only using her real name, but acting like herself.

Reading a Dessen novel for me is like coming home after a long day’s work and snuggling on my favorite chair with a good, comforting drink. It was so easy to immerse myself in Lakeview, and after reading all her other books, it almost feels like I’m coming home. That’s what reading What Happened to Goodbye feels like, especially for someone who’s loved and read all Sarah Dessen books like me — coming home after a long trip or adventure to faraway lands and finding comfort in all things old and new.

Although, as far as other Sarah Dessen novels are concerned, this book isn’t really all that. While it didn’t really annoy me, there were some things that kind of niggled at me and made this novel less “OMG AWESOME”. For one thing, the premise of this book reminds me of Stealing Heaven by Elizabeth Scott, with the town-jumping and the new personalities but sans the stealing. I think this may be what made it a bit hard for me to accept that Mclean could change personalities like that. I can’t help but think that her dad is a fugitive somewhere and he needs to escape, but he has a good job here, and he obviously cares for his daughter a lot. I just can’t figure out why he just runs off without saying goodbye to people — it’s not like he’s running away from not paying check city payday loans, you know? It seemed a little bit weak for me.

I also echo what other people say about the “swoon” (or “sa-woon”, LOL) in this book — it’s almost non-existent. Not completely, because the build-up between Mclean and Dave is agonizingly slow, and there aren’t much swoon-worthy moments here unlike the ones between Macy and Wes or Remy and Dexter. I understand how some people would be disappointed with that, and I am a little bit disappointed. Just a little, because I actually liked it. Sometimes the agonizingly slow stuff makes for good stories in the end, you know?

But on a more positive note, Sarah Dessen still knows her characters, especially the secondary ones! I loved the staff at Luna Blu, and Mclean’s friends, especially Deb! I also loved that giant Easter Egg there. A part of me wishes that Sarah Dessen would write an entire novel about that guy because he’s been in too many of her novels, and I think he deserves his own story. :D I loved Deb, too, but I think my favorite secondary character for What Happened to Goodbye is Opal, the restaurant owner. I spotted the development with her a mile away, but it was a satisfying reveal. :)

What Happened to Goodbye may not be a favorite Dessen, but I think it’s another solid release. As a longtime Dessen fan, I really enjoyed reading this one. However, if you’re new to Dessen, I’d suggest you pick up her older titles, especially The Truth About Forever, This Lullaby, and Just Listen to be introduced to her contemporary YA writing prowess. :)

So what’s next for Dessen? I truly hope she decides to write a book with a male lead this time, just like John Green is writing a book with a female lead. I think it’s high time we read a story of a Dessen boy from his point of view, right?

Rating:

Other reviews:
Forever Young Adult

Steph Su Reads

inkcrush

The Truth About Forever

The Truth About Forever by Sarah DessenThe Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Puffin
Number of pages:  390
My copy: paperback, bought from Powerbooks

Sixteen-year-old Macy Queen is looking forward to a long, boring summer. Her boyfriend is going away. She’s stuck with a dull-as-dishwater job at the library. And she’ll spend all of her free time studying for the SATs or grieving silently with her mother over her father’s recent unexpected death. But everything changes when Macy is corralled into helping out at one of her mother’s open house events, and she meets the chaotic Wish Catering crew. Before long, Macy joins the Wish team. She loves everything about the work and the people. But the best thing about Wish is Wes—artistic, insightful, and understanding Wes—who gets Macy to look at life in a whole new way, and really start living it.

* * *

I’ve been trying to think of the best way to review this book, because I feel like the first review I wrote for The Truth About Forever did not do it any justice. The thing is, I don’t know how to write a proper review for this book without squealing or “sa-woon”-ing so much. Because believe me, I know I did that so many times when I was rereading this book.

But let me try again. Sarah Dessen’s The Truth About Forever is one of my favorite books of all time. It’s not my first Dessen, but it’s the book that made me love Dessen and made her one of my auto-buy authors. It’s one book I’ve reread multiple times and still get all swoony and happy and wishing for a romance like Macy and Wes did. Yes, even with their drama, because it made the ending so much satisfying in the end.

The Truth About Forever - UK coverThe Truth About Forever is about Macy Queen, whose life spun out of control when her dad died in front of her. Macy tried to hold it together for the sake of her family, hiding her grief and seeking perfection, thinking that this would help her mother who seeks perfection in everything she does as well, her own way of dealing with loss. The story starts with Macy’s boyfriend, Jason, leaving for Brain Camp and Macy facing a long summer with her strict schedule and routine. She’s okay, she always thought. Until one day, she meets the Wish Catering crew. One bad afternoon at her summer job, with a bad email to boot, she joins Wish, makes new friends, and meets Wes — the seemingly perfect guy with his own not-so-clean past, who likes flaws. Things turn interesting for Macy as she gets to know these people, and as she realizes that maybe it’s not so bad if her strictly-scheduled life unravels and she lets chaos in bit by bit.

Ah, this book. I think what makes me love this book more than I loved This Lullaby is how much I could relate to Macy. I’m fortunate enough to have my parents here with me so I can’t relate to Macy at that front, but the schedules? The need to be as perfect as I can be (sometimes, anyway)? Oh, I’ve been there. At the next rereads, I found that I wanted to shake Macy so hard — she needs to cry! She needs to snap out of the illusion that she needs to be perfect to hold things together. She needs to let go and reach for her mom so they could grieve together! Ah Macy, why do you frustrate me so much?

But it served as a good starting point. If there was anything that Sarah Dessen really knows, it’s how to write a story that seeps into you and hooks you, pulling you in up until the last page. There’s no need for magic or any supernatural creatures — just plain everyday things magnified, with added significance. The conversations could be just any normal conversation, but somehow they pack a punch. For example:

“Honestly,” I said.

“What?”

“Come on. You have to admit it’s sort of ridiculous.”

“What is?”

Now that I had to define it, I found myself struggling for the right words. “You know,” I said, then figured Kristy had really summed it up best. “The sa-woon.”

“The what?”

“Wes, come on,” I said. “Are you seriously not aware of how girls stare at you?”

How cute is that?

There’s really nothing new with the story, but thanks to the writing and the vivid characters, it becomes a little bit extraordinary. This book is one of the reasons I appreciate characters more, why I believe that even the most common storyline can be interesting when the roles are played by strong, well-developed characters.

And then there’s Wes. Dessen boys are well known among readers, and Wes is definitely my favorite. He just seems so…perfect. Strange to see a seemingly perfect guy in a book that tells the main character that perfection isn’t everything, don’t you think? Believe me, I’m still trying to find some kind of flaw in Wes. But I guess that’s what crushes are — it’s so hard to find a flaw in them. I think I’m not that infatuated with Wes that I’d try and look for someone exactly like him (but hey, I wouldn’t mind, haha), but I would like to have the same kind of development that Macy and Wes had. Their relationship is one of the most authentic ones I’ve read — built on shared experiences and conversations. Now where is that guy I could play a game of Truth with?

So yeah, even on my third reread, I still loved The Truth About Forever. It reminds me of why I started reading YA and why I like the contemporary genre. If you’re looking for a good contemporary YA novel you can sink your teeth into, or if you’re looking for a good Sarah Dessen novel to start with, I highly recommend The Truth About Forever. Read it and sa-woon. :)

Rating:

Other reviews:
Forever Young Adult

In My Mailbox (15): Where I Go “Squee!”

It’s still a pretty slow blog week and reading week, too. No slumps, I hope, just terribly slow reading because I always find something else to do whenever I find some free time. Next week seems to be a very exciting week in the book world (hee, Thursday Next reference!) since it’s time for Book Expo America, and about half of the bloggers I follow are going there. Unfortunately, I’m all the way on the other side of the world, so I can only “watch” people squee for the entire event and all. Don’t worry, one day, I’ll be there, too.

I did have my own squeeing moments the past week because of the good books I got. It’s was very good mailbox week. :)

SQUEE-WORTHY. :)

  1. Divergent by Veronica Roth (Fully Booked). I got this one last week, really, and I know this is a splurge because it’s a debut, but enough good reviews around tell me I may like it. Plus it was sale in Fully Booked Eastwood last week, so I decided to make use of that to get 20% off on a hardcover. I love how fiery the cover is, don’t you think? :)
  2. The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta (Book Depository). Okay let me squee! I wasn’t expecting this to arrive until next week, so seeing this package really excited me! I cannot wait to read this.
  3. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (Book Depository). And another squee! This one I wasn’t expecting to arrive until first week of June, so I was even more surprised when I got it this week. It is very pretty in person, and again, I can’t believe I got this for less than $10. :) I love that the pages are glossy, and you should see the illustrations:
    Now, I should probably read the two other books in the Chaos Walking trilogy soon. Hee.

My Book Depository package also arrived with cute bookmarks! The Piper’s Son came with a music-themed bookmark, one side showing basic piano chords (some I still vaguely remember, LOL) and the other side showing basic guitar chords. A Monster Calls came with a colorful calendar bookmark. I don’t know how that fits the theme of the book, but who cares? A reader can never have too many bookmarks. :)

Bookmarks from Book Depository

I also got some ebooks, which arrived last week:

  • What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah DessenWhat Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen (Amazon Kindle store). Apparently, the print copy of this book won’t be here until June, so an ebook sufficed for now. I don’t mind buying a print copy since it is Sarah Dessen anyway. I’ve finished this book last week, but I’m kind of having a hard time writing a review.
  • Love Story by Jennifer Echols(Simon and Schuster Galley Grab). I wouldn’t have seen this if Kai hadn’t tweeted about it. It was hidden in the adult e-galleys in the Galley grab newsletter, so easy to miss. :) I have no idea when I’ll be able to read this, though.

See, pretty squee-worthy, right? I’ll be reserving some of these books for possible slump days — nothing like an awesome book to snap you out of a slump.

Oh, and there should be more posts in this blog next week. I just remembered — I’m participating in Armchair BEA! :) Now I just hope I don’t forget about it…

Have a great Sunday, everyone! :)

Favorite Books as Gifts

The other weekend was the first Filipino Book Bloggers meet-up for the year 2011, which was also the first Flips Flipping Pages meet-up for the year, and the first one I attended with them. It’s always fun to spend time with fellow book-lovers discussing books and I liked that we discussed our best and worst reads for 2010. It just goes to show how different everyone’s choices are.

Anyway, there was a book swap after the discussion, and we were advised to bring our best or worst book for swapping with other people. Since my worst book is an electronic copy, I decided to bring a brand new copy of my best book (one of them, anyway — Feed by Mira Grant) so other people can read it. I figure if a blogger gets it, then a book about blogging (and zombies) should be in good hands, right?

I realized then that I’ve been giving books as gifts ever since I can remember. I don’t always receive books as gifts (with the exception of last Christmas and my 18th birthday — bags of books there), but I know that I always go to books whenever I’m giving gifts way back. I think that was before I really knew about the concept of gift certificates (sorry, I was way younger then and I never thought of GCs), and I always found it difficult to get clothes for someone else. If the recipient of the gift isn’t a reader, then I would resolve to getting her* pillows, stuffed toys or candles.

I find it kind of funny that I tend to give specific books as gifts, especially for people who don’t have wish lists. You know how when you spot a copy of one of your favorite books in the store, and for some reason you want to buy another copy even if you already have a copy (or multiple copies of it). It’s like, you want to buy that copy and give it to someone who you know will appreciate the book in the same way as you did. Like you’re saving the book or something. That’s how I feel, anyway. :D It’s almost like getting a pet for someone who you know will take care of that pet the way you would. Did that make sense?

I’ve been keeping count of the books that I loved and gifted/gave away to other people. So far, they are:

  • Feed by Mira Grant – 3 copies bought (1 gift and 2 for give away)
  • Paper Towns by John Green – 2 copies bought (1 gift and 1 for give away)
  • The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen – 1 copy as gift
  • Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins – 2 copies bought for give away
  • The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde – 1 copy as gift
  • Naermyth by Karen Francisco – 3 copies bought (1 gift, 2 give away)
  • The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness – 1 copy bought for give away
  • Tall Story by Candy Gourlay – 1 copy as gift
  • Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti – 1 copy as gift

Most of those books are my favorites, or if they aren’t in my list, they’re books with good reviews. I find it funny that I have bought so many copies of Feed and Naermyth and Paper Towns – promoting much?

What about you? Do you have specific books that you give as a default gift? How many copies of your favorite books have you bought as gifts for friends or for giveaway?

* I say “her” because it’s very hard to shop for some guy friends who are not readers. It’s not like you can give them something generic like bathroom faucets or something. Anyone who agree with this, say aye!

In My Mailbox (13): The First Weeks of January

It’s been a while since I did an In My Mailbox post, and it’s not because I went on a book buying ban, but because I was just too lazy to make a post about the stuff I got. I thought I’d be able to make it long into a the new year without buying new books, but alas. Who am I kidding?

So this is a consolidated post for the past three weeks of January, and maybe even some in December. If I can remember what I got back then, of course. :P

In My Mailbox is a weekly book meme hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren, where bloggers post about what books received that week, be it via  mailbox, library or store.

BOUGHT:

  1. White Cat by Holly Black – I only got this because Chachic posted a positive review of the book, and see, I’m still easily swayed. It helps that I got the e-galley of the next book from Simon and Schuster, so when I saw this in Fully Booked, I knew I can’t let it go anymore. :P
  2. Some Girls Are by Courtney SummersHolly reviewed this early this week, and well, consider me sold. I love contemporary and I like reading about high school cliques (sans the scandals, of course), and this one got really good reviews. I’m so glad I spotted this one yesterday when we visited Fully Booked after the FBB/Flippers meet up. :)
  3. Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta – This was actually the first print book I purchased this year. I saw it in Fully Booked Eastwood and didn’t let it go, forgetting that there was a sale that weekend. Pfft. Ah well. :)

GRABBED:

Noli Me Tangere by Jose Rizal, translated by Soledad Lacson-Locsin. At yesterday’s Filipino Book Bloggers/Flips Flipping Pages meet up, someone had this translation of Noli Me Tangere up for book swap. I have been wanting to get my hands on a translated copy of this novel for a long time now, but I wasn’t sure which was the best translation. This one was what Blooey and the Flippers read last year, and is said to be a really good translation. I got it and no one stole it from me, so…yay. Finally!

Now a little backgrounder: Noli Me Tangere is written by the Philippines’ National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. This is a required reading in high school, but I never really read the novel in its entirety because our copy in high school was the summarized version (no, it’s not abridged, if you’re thinking that’s the term — it was actual chapter summaries that we had to summarize for another report. Hmph). I figure in my life as a reader, I must read this novel at least once in my life. So yay.

The bookmark is one of the giveaways for the Flippers meet-up. :)

GIFTED/BORROWED:

  1. Captivating by John and Stasi Elredge – this is a Christmas gift from my friend RE. I’ve read this one in college and it was one of those good books for women that I really liked. My mom has my other copy of this and I don’t even know where it is right now. Haha. I don’t know if I will read this anytime soon, but it’s nice to know I have another copy here to refer to when I need it. :)
  2. Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis – this is lent to me by RE, too, and this is the best C.S. Lewis work according to him. This is only a lending copy though. Heh. I have a feeling I’ll like this one, too, and I’ve reserved it for February reading already. Now to find a copy of this one. Hmm.

WON:

Being Jamie Baker by Kelly Oram. I’ve seen this book from Kai‘s blog, and I added it on my wish list for the sheer pink-ness of it. :P I followed the author on Twitter, then on Facebook for her contest and even exchanged tweets with her during NaNoWriMo. I never expected to win because I’m not really lucky with winning, but lo and behold: I was her second winner! :) Thanks, Kelly!

This kind of took its sweet time to arrive at home, and I thought it would be lost in the mail forever, but good thing it arrived just before 2010 ended. :) I love how pink the book really is. :D The book is signed, too:

EBOOKS:

I got too many ebooks since December. Talk about crazy buying binge? Sort of. :P I also got a ton of e-galleys from Simon and Schuster’s Galley Grab. :D

Bought:

  • Miss Match and Match Point by Erynn Mangum
  • Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John – loved this!
  • Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen – my physical copy is with some friend, so I splurged on an ebook.
  • Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro – loved this, too! Review coming up soon
  • Infinity by Sarah Dessen

For Review:

  • Save as Draft by Cavanaugh Lee
  • Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances O’Roark Dowell
  • Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis
  • Red Glove by Holly Black
  • Stay by Deb Caletti
  • Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz

There is probably more, but I forgot about them.

I know I said I won’t be stressing over my TBR, but I really think I should get to reading the other books that are starting to pile up in the apartment, the ones I acquired before 2010 ended. I really should work on that. I should.

Yeah, I always say that. :P I bet most of you guys do too. :P