Friday, August 31, 2012

Get Your Swag On : Creative Bookish Swag

Promotional products have always been a big part of the marketing mix for all industries. It seems that  those in the publishing industry have managed to go beyond pens and key chains with unique promotional items that will keep you buzzing !

The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd : Tea

During a giveaway Shepherd gave readers a taste of her book with a fGothic-Thriller with swag !

The Dark Divine Trilogy by Bree  Despain : Nail Polish

Each installment of the Dark Divine trilogy received its own nail polish tinted to match the book cover. I haven't read this series yet so I'm not sure if nail polish plays a part in the story. Either way It creates a great color scheme and certainly appeals to fashion-conscious readers. 

If I Lie by Corrine Jackson : Tissues

This is actually some pretty clever swag. If you've read the synopsis of If I Lie you know this is going to be an emotional story , so it's going to be handy to have these around. 

Half-Blood by Jennifer Armentrout : Guitar Picks

If you've read Jennifer Armentrout's Half-Blood you know where the guitar picks come in. They even have clips so they can be clipped to your shirt.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

52 Days of 52 Reasons to Love Jessica Brody and Her Books

1 of 52 reasons to LOVE 52 Reasons To Hate My Father. 

There’s this chain in Los Angeles called Numero Uno and it's Jessica's favorite pizza of all time. It’s thick crusted with big chunks of tomatoes. Heavenly!

For 51 other reasons, visit YA Book Nerd (August 24th), and I’d So Rather Be Reading (August 27th)

Check out below for more information about 52 Reasons To Hate My Father and keep scrolling to see the trailer along with a behind the scenes video !


Lexington Larrabee has never to work a day in her life. After all, she’s the heiress to the multi-billion-dollar Larrabee Media empire. And heiresses are not supposed to work. But then again, they’re not supposed to crash brand new Mercedes convertibles into convenience stores on Sunset Blvd either.Which is why, on Lexi’s eighteenth birthday, her ever-absent, tycoon father decides to take a more proactive approach to her wayward life. Every week for the next year, she will have to take on a different low-wage job if she ever wants to receive her beloved trust fund. But if there’s anything worse than working as a maid, a dishwasher, and a fast-food restaurant employee, it’s dealing with Luke, the arrogant, albeit moderately attractive, college intern her father has assigned to keep tabs on her.
In a hilarious “comedy of heiress” about family, forgiveness, good intentions, and best of all, second chances, Lexi learns that love can be unconditional, money can be immaterial, and, regardless of age, everyone needs a little saving. And although she might have 52 reasons to hate her father, she only needs one reason to love him.



Thursday, August 23, 2012

Audio Book Review: Something, Maybe by Elizabeth Scott

  • Release Date: March 24th 2009
  • Pages: 217
  • Audiobook Length: 5 hours 23 minutes
  • Genre: Contemporary
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse
Synopsis: Everyone thinks their parents are embarrassing, but Hannah knows she's got them all beat. Her dad made a fortune showcasing photos of pretty girls and his party lifestyle all over the Internet, and her mom was once one of her dad's girlfriends and is now the star of her own website. After getting the wrong kind of attention for way too long, Hannah has mastered the art of staying under the radar...and that's just how she likes it.
And you think you have parent issues.

Something, Maybe is the story of Hannah, a girl who wants nothing more than to go through life and high school unnoticed. Well, except by her hipster co-worker Josh. Anonymity isn't easy for Hannah as her estranged senior citizen father is the eccentric owner of a popular softcore porn website and her mother is a former model who talks to a camera in lingerie for a living. When Hannah's Dad tries to bring her  back into his life nothing is ever the same. Hannah learns about trust and discovering what love truly is

I really enjoyed this story, it's a  light, romantic coming of age teen story and it's short at just over 200 pages. I love Scott's ability to tell a complete story in only a few pages. Something about Scott's writing is so honest and feels genuine.

The audiobook is narrated by Ellen Grafton, and I loved her voice for Hannah. It has this great youthful quality, I can't put my finger on who she sounds like it's kind of like Ellen Page. She does great male voices as well.

My favorite part of this story had to be Hannah's crush on Josh because from page one I think everyone knows he is a pretneious idiot, but Hanna is so entrhalled by this crush she just can't see it. Josh carries around thick books so people can see he reads "heavy stuff", claims to care about the environment and the world by going to coffee shops and talking about change instead of actually doing it. I just thought Hannah's williingness to overlook his faults in the name of a crush was so true to what high school is like.

I also like Hannah's relationship with her mom. She doesn't resent or hate her mom for her past. She accepts her mom for who she is and Hannah's mom does the same for her.

I will say  I'm not a fan of the title. It doesn't play well with the book and is forgettable. It  seemed like an odd choice. Well, it turns out Something,Maybe was not the original title for this book.  It was originally titled the more provocative, Live!Nude!Mom!, but a major bookseller didn't think that was appropriate for YA and refused to carry the book with that title. While I understand why they changed the title, I really wish they weren't put in the position to do it to begin with. I actually think the more "provactive" title has more appeal. Check out all these covers with the original title. Score one for bowlderizing YA.

Overall, this novel is a bit predictable, but still a good story with some really great moments.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Summer of Sarah Dessen : Along For The Ride

“People don't change. If anything, you get more set in your ways as you get older, not less”

- Sarah Dessen, Along For The Ride

Synopsis : It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live. 
A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother.

I've had this audiobook for at least 3 years, so when I started commuting this was on of the first audiobooks I  "read".

Going into Along for the Ride I was excited to read another Dessen novel that takes place in Colby, NC. The same small beach side town town as Keeping The Moon.

Growing up in the world of academia Auden West is  book smart,  motivated , intelligent; but more importantly she is alone and she likes it that way. . . or so she thinks.The summer before college Auden takes her first big risk and  spends the summer with her dad and new stepmother in  Colby, NC in search of The Best of Times, but she finds so much more.

Dessen is the queen of Manic Pixie dream guys romance,  but the romance isn't the main story happening in Colby, NC.  What really stuck out for me in Along For The Ride were the friendships, families and characters.

I found Auden was a sympathetic character but she isn't the girl next door. I enjoyed the way she progressed through the novel, she is the kind of character you want the best for but sometimes it's really hard to like her. Her relationship with a broken bike-loving boy  was sweet but didn't really stand out to me.

What I did love was the secondary characters and all the little quirks they have. Even though there were so many side characters they were developed so well  by the end of the book I felt like I knew what they would say and do before they would do it.

What is great about this novel is that it is the least "teen issued" focused Dessen novel I've read so far. Instead we get a glimpse into a the hardships of marriage, motherhood, divorce and death. Adults, who have a tendency to get shafted in YA are allowed to have personalities and story arcs in this novel

My only issue with this book was  towards the end the retrospective story telling was in overdrive sometimes it was retrospective inside retrospective for tiny little events. And all of the characters got a little too prophetic.  It seemed like every other paragraph there would be a stunning realization-metaphor-monologue. 

While this book is an amazing ride, the ending has few  bumps and goes a little off road  before coming home. Along For The Ride is truly a coming of age contemporary with heartfelt lessons about family, tragedy and friendship that will really stick with you.

Connections (via Wikipedia because they are stealthy !)
  • Two of Heidi's friends are Isabel and Morgan from the book Keeping the Moon
  • At the Last Chance Cafe, Auden gives her order to Colie from Keeping the moon
  • The boy that stood Auden up at the prom was Jason Talbot from The Truth About Forever who also appears in What Happened to Goodbye
  • I also think big sister Caroline from The Truth About Forever is who the stepmom wants to name Thisbe after.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Audiobook Review:: My Soul To Take by Rachel K Vincent

  • Release Date : July 29th 2009
  • Pages : 279
  • Audiobook Length : 8hrs 21 minutes
  • Genre : Urban Fantasy
  • Publisher : HarlequinTeen

Synopsis: She doesn't see dead people. She senses when someone near her is about to dieAnd when that happens, a force beyond her control compels her to scream bloody murder. Literally.Kaylee just wants to enjoy having caught the attention of the hottest guy in school. But a normal date is hard to come by when Nash seems to know more about her need to scream than she does. And when classmates start dropping dead for no apparent reason, only Kaylee knows who'll be next.
In Texas, beautiful teenage girls are dropping dead. No one knows why. Not even  Kaylee Cavanaugh who can predict these deaths with a deep ear-splitting scream. Kaylee thinks she is crazy, but with the help of the popular jock, Nash Hudson, secrets will be revealed and the deaths of these girls will be solved one way or the other.

I enjoyed this novel. I liked the way we see how Kaylee is dealing with her special "ability" before she knows what  it is. At first she is confused, frustrated and angry; but even more she is afraid of herself because last time she screamed it landed her in the psych unit. It doesn't help that her father is living thousands of miles away in Ireland and has left Kaylee with her aunt, uncle and Sophie, her spoiled cousin.

The paranormal elements weave into the story nicely and I found the setup believable. There are a few twist and turns and it's exciting to see how the story develops.

I was a little frustrated with Kaylee, because when Nash Hudson is introduced he is suddenly treated like the second coming. I mean yes he does help Kaylee, but suddenly Kaylee always listens to him, he is more important than her family and they become boyfriend and girlfriend after like a few days.. This isn't so bad because Nash is a nice guy. He isn't controlling or brooding. He's just an okay guy, but I think Kaylee gives him way to much credit.

Amanda Ronconi performs the female voices perfectly on the audiobook but I thought she had some odd inflections on the male voices. She tried a few different Texan accents which I thought was pretty smart.

Vincent has a good grasp of Urban Fantasy and  I can't wait to read the next one to see how Kaylee's world is explored and how her relationship with Nash develops.

Sidenote:  At BEA, our blogger friend Miranda from Texas said that they call all soda "Coke", something I noticed they do a lot in this book. I think that was a smart move by Vincent. Localizations like this are what makes UrbanFantasyy.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Audiobook Reivew : Pure By Julianna Baggott

  • Publication Date : Feburary 8th 2012
  • Genre : Post-Apocalyptic 
  • Pages : 431
  • Audiobook Length : 14 hours 9 minutes
  • Publisher : Grand Central Publishing (Imprint Hachette Book Group)

 . . . Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost-how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. . .There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge [feels] . . . Different. He thinks about loss . . . that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. . . When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again.
Pure is the ultimate survivalist story

I started reading the galley of this book a few months ago and  found its  vivid descriptions and imagery a little dark; or as Kat said on Twitter "It makes The Hunger Games look like a Disney film." However, I'm glad I gave this book a second change.

Pure is one of the best post-apocalyptic novels I've read all year. It mixes what YA survivalist novels like Eve by Anna Carey and Under The Never Sky by Veronica Rossi  have done, but in such a uniquely dark and unbound way. It takes the story of the protected "insider" meets the savage "outside world" and turns it completely on its head.

Seven years after a devastating detonation destroyed the world as Pressia Belze  knew it, there are two type of survivors; the scared, fused Wretches who live in the harsh landscape without hope and the Pures who escaped into the Dome and  wait benevolently from inside to re-emerge when the world has rebuilt itself.

 Pressia and Partridge,a Pure who escaped from inside the Dome, are about to make a journey across the dangerous Wasteland; filled with mutated creatures, blood-thirsty soldiers, and the not so benevolent eyes of the Dome. Together they they will discover that nothing is as it seems.

 The world building in this book is phenomenal. We actually feel the anguish of Pressia and the others living on the outside of the Dome as they deal with tier deformities and trying to survive. 

  I found the surreal elements and fearsome images reminiscent of Stephen King. Which is also to say that the  characters also jump to a lot of correct conclusions. After a while you just kind of have to go with it. There are  just so many hold your breath moments in this book. It's not just the romance or the macabre description but it is the realizations, motivations and choices the characters make.

The characters in Pure move independently from each other, their development and stories rely solely on their own understanding of the world they live in; because of this there is just so much angst and tension between them. The novel features a total of four POVs, these different perspectives and hardships helped add to the intricate detail of the story.

The audiobook featured some amazing performances. Usually  I'm not a fan of audiobooks with more than one voice actor, but it worked well here. I really enjoyed El Capitan's voice actor and Khristine Hvam is really good with male voices.  Although I did a cringe a little on the inside when a deep-voiced male actor was performing a female voice.

Warning ! This book does get  dark and has its fair share of Nightmare Fuel. There were parts where I was like WHAT DID I JUST READ ? WHAT THE WHAT ?!? I'm a very squeamish person and  I was still able to enjoy it, so it wasn't that bad. It really adds to the story.

Julianna Baggott has a creative style and unbelievable imagination. Pure is a sophisticated post-apocalyptic survivalist  journey story filled with tough choices and hardships.

Sidenote : The film rights have sold to Fox 2000.  I think this book has great crossover appeal. It's not what you expect when you think YA dystopian.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Audio Book Review : This Dark Endeavour by Kenneth Oppel

  • Release Date: August 23, 2011
  • Page Number: 304 pages
  • Audiobook Hours: 8 hours 7 minutes
  • Genre: Historical/Fantasy
  • Publisher: Simon & Shuster for Young Readers
Synopsis: Victor and Konrad are the twin brothers Frankenstein. They are nearly inseparable. Growing up, their lives are filled with imaginary adventures... until the day their adventures turn all too real. They stumble upon The Dark Library, and secret books of alchemy and ancient remedies are discovered. Father forbids that they ever enter the room again, but this only peaks Victor’s curiosity more. When Konrad falls gravely ill, Victor is not be satisfied with the various doctors his parents have called in to help. He is drawn back to The Dark Library where he uncovers an ancient formula for the Elixir of Life. Elizabeth, Henry, and Victor immediately set out to find assistance in a man who was once known for his alchemical works to help create the formula
This Dark Endeavor is a man before the myth story of the boy who will become famous for creating the most notorious monster of all time.

 I went into this audiobook with only a fleeting knowledge of the novel Frankenstein  written by Mary Shelley. While you don't have to read the classic novel to understand this book it may help you make some connections.

16-year-old Victor Frankenstein and his twin brother, Konrad  lead a life of privilege in their father's estate in Geneva. But when Konrad falls ill, Victor finds himself on a dark journey to save his brother using forbidden methods he doesn't fully understand. To me this book can be best described as steampunk meets alchemy meets Downton Abbey. Which seems totally weird, but in this book it works.

I was recommended this audiobook by Reading Teen and Emily's Reading Room during a Twitter chat  and  it is just perfect. The narrator, Luke Daniels is brilliant at what he does. There is a scene where Konrad and Victor are fencing and having this intense conversation and I literally felt like I was hearing two people sparring words and saber instead of one person reading. He does such an amazing job of interpreting Oppel's writing. He can work any emotion into his voice.

The actual plot of this book is pretty linear and basic, you have your typical Freudian trio; Victor's the heady impulsive leader, his distant cousin Elizabeth is the logical, head on her shoulders girl, and their friend Henry is the cautious one who balances them out.The plot line is very structured and slow paced, so the narration by Luke Daniels just stole the show and elevated the story.

I didn't really like Victor as a character and on some level I don't think we are  supposed to. There were times when he was just petty, childish and selfish. I mean I get that he is only 16-years-old and a bit jealous of his brother, but some of the things he said and did made me hate his character.

An overall great book, I really can't find any big faults with it, the audiobook is great and I am very curious to read the sequel, Such Wicked Intent which comes out on  next week on August 21st !

Side note: I just love the original cover by the way. I mean the new ones are okay, but the original one has so much mystery to it. It has this forbidden look, like we are seeing something we shouldn't  and I think it captures the book perfectly. I think the news ones look a little too romantic.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Sense List Vol. 15

    Beautiful Creatures 
  • Baz Lurhmann's The Great Gatsby will be a summer blockbuster instead of a holiday film. The release date has been pushed back to summer 2013


  • Wanna see your name next to Kaiden and Anna's in Sweet Hope by Wendy Higgins ? Check out Wendy Higgins' cover design contest hosted by Bewitched Bookworms.

Cover Reveals 
This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E Smith
The Mirrored Shard by Caitlin Kittredge

Friday, August 10, 2012

If These Books Were Judged By Their Covers : Next Cover Redesign

Shatter Me, The Across The Universe series,  An Abundance of Katherines and Sarah Dessen novels ! So many YA novels got makeovers this summer.We wanted to see if we could predict the next series to get a  cover redesign. These are our guesses, which do you think will get a redesign ?

Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood

Okay so this one is based on something Spotswood mentioned at an author event. She said that some  felt the cover was a little to "sexy" for YA.

Illuminate by Aimee Agresti

We have quite a way to go until Gilded Wings #2 but I have a feeling that the photographic cover might be replacd with something more text heavy. The gilded text stands out so much, I think it could make the cover on its own, similar to the Hungarian Edition of the novel

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

With The Book Thief being adapted into a film I'm betting that this book will soon be sporting a redesign or a  movie tie-in cover.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

The model on this cover is pretty but she doesn't lend much to flexibility. I mean what is she going to face the other way ? I think the next cover might have a full body shot or something less up close and personal.

Which books do you think will (or wish would ) get a redesign next ?

Book Review : Innocent Darkness by Suzanne Lazear

  • Release Date : August 8th 2012
  • Genre : Fairytale/Historical
  • Pages : 408
  • Publisher : Flux Books
Synopsis:Be careful what you wish for...In an alternate version of 1901 Los Angeles sixteen-year-old Noli Braddock's hoyden ways land her in an abusive reform school far from home. On mid-summer's eve she wishes to be anyplace but that dreadful school. A mysterious man from the Realm of Faerie brings her to the Otherworld, only to reveal that she must be sacrificed to restore his dying world.  Her best friend, V . . . appears to help Noli escape and return to the mortal realm . . . but if she does  the entire Otherworld civilization will perish.
The Huntsman travels to the  mortal world seeking out those special girls with the spark; wild, creative and unbound. The Huntsman whisks these sparky girl away to Otherworld where they are loved, celebrated and every whim is indulged

 Then they are sacrificed. Blood spilled to keep Otherworld alive.

 And 6 years later the Huntsman hunts again.

 Magnolia "Noli" Braddock is a girl filled with the spark. However, in her upper-middle class neighborhood her willful, rebellious behaviour along with her penchant for mechanical prowess is seen as troublesome and not suitable for young lady.

Noli is sent to Findlay School for Girls, a reform school notorious for producing mindless and proper marriageable girls. She has been taken away from her  home, her mother and her best friend V Darrow. Deep in despair she  learns the hard way why she should never talk to strange Faeries; when she meets Kevighn Silver-Tongue. The Huntsman.

I think alot of the mixed rating for this novel lie in the misleading cover and genre. This novel isn't  a historical and isn't a zeppelin/gadget filled Steampunk.  I think the best way to describe this novel is that it is tried and true Fairytale. It is what I expected and what I got. 

We've got Faeries, a damsel in distress, princes, queens and true love. The novel has a clever plot with smooth pacing and quite a few plot twist. This novel is also a bit more steamy than most YAs, which I suppose is a reflection of the Victorian-era setting of the novel.

Our heroine Noli wants to do what she can to help support her mother a high-class woman now resorting to working in order to support herself. I liked Noli's drive and her defiance while at the reform school

As the novel  progresses we are introduced to more characters and plots and soon Noli takes a back seat. She seems to lose her spark  and isn't very recognizable from the first chapter. We hardly get a re-mention of her mechanical tinkering. I just found the other characters and their stories more interesting than Noli's. There was so much tension and deceit happening between the other characters. This novel has a lot of great back stories.

The novel lost me a bit towards the end. It features a Deus Ex Machina and there seemed to be a lot of padding. There is one chapter where Noli reflects and talks out the love triangle and I just didn't see the point.

Towards the end the novel really comes full circle in somewhat of an ironic way which really ties the novel together. I can't wait to see what else awaits our characters in Otherworld.

Innocent Darkness is a debut YA Fairytale with a clever story and plot,but still leaves  something to desired.  If you are looking for a romantic Fairytale this is the perfect novel to get lost in.

*ARC received for review.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Jess' Bout of Books Goals

Jess' Bout Of Books Read-A-Thon Goals !

Bout of Books Read-a-Thon

Once again Books and Sensibility is joining Bout of Books 5.0. You can check out Kat's goals post here !
What is Bout of Books ? Find out here.

I'll  also be updating  on my Goodreads page and Twitter


I'm going to be super ambitious.I have so many books I've started and haven't finished. Not to mention a few review books I want to knock out for September. I want to finish at least half of these books and get halfway through on the other half.


Jess's bout-of-books-5-0 book montage

The Mockingbirds
For Darkness Shows the Stars
The City's Son
Lock and Key
My Soul to Save

Jess's favorite books »


Number of books I've read today:
My Soul To Save : 83 Pages

Number of books I've read today:
Total number of books I've read:


Number of books I've read today:
Total number of books I've read:


Number of books I've read today:
Total number of books I've read:


Number of books I've read today:
Total number of books I've read:


Number of books I've read today:
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Audiobook Review: Tempest by Julie Cross

  • Release Date: January 17th 2012 
  • Pages: 334
  • Audiobook: 10 hours 51 minutes
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Synopsis:  The year is 2009.  Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is a normal guy… he’s in college, has a girlfriend… and he can travel back through time. But it’s not like the movies – nothing changes in the present after his jumps, there’s no space-time continuum issues or broken flux capacitors – it’s just harmless fun.That is… until the day strangers burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, and during a struggle with Jackson, Holly is fatally shot. In his panic, Jackson jumps back two years to 2007, but this is not like his previous time jumps. Now he’s stuck in 2007 and can’t get back to the future. 

Forget everything you know about time travel. It's 2009 and  19-year-old Jackson Meyer can travel through time, but it's nothing too exciting; until the day he gets stuck in the past

This book is interesting because it falls more into the New Adult category than Young Adult. Our protagonist, Jackson is a  student at NYU  and falls into the older side of YA protagonists at 19. His girlfriend Holly, an NYU freshman,  doesn't know he can time travel and is the basic pretty, middle class girl with standards and  modesty about her success. 

I knew this book has lukewarm ratings so I was hoping the audiobook would help me like it more. I found the narrator to be spotty and at times his voice for a character would become inconsistent. Some of his voices were even kind of annoying.  His voice for Holly's friend Jana was just so ridiculous I couldn't take it seriously.

I won't be spoiler-y but basically when something happens in the present to Holly, Jackson panics and time travels away only to gets stuck in the 2007. Now he needs to figure out what happened to Holly and how he can save her

This is where my biggest pet peeve comes from. Jackson doesn't do anything to actively try and save Holly. For a while he just chillaxes in 2007 and tries to date the 17 year old version of HollyJackson is relatively weak as the novel's protagonist here. A lot of the time he is protected and treated like kid and not a 19 year old. When he makes discoveries about his origins it just doesn't make sense that no one would have told him. 

This novel reminded me  of Breaking Dawn in it's structure. It is so cluttered by odd moments, side stories and characters.

Some people rated this book low because the time traveling wasn't made super clear and while that was confusing it isn't what bothered me. I mean up until the end the time traveling is pretty straightforward. The book includes dates for some chapters to help clear up timeline.

The ending did end in kind of a cliffhanger and with a lot of loose ends so, I think I will continue with the series. 

Side Note: You can  follow the male cover model on Twitter. :

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Summer of Sarah Dessen : Just Listen

“Silence is so freaking loud.” 
- Sarah Dessen, Just Listen

Synopsis: 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.
Note: This week Kat is posting a re-post of Just Listen for Summer of Sarah Dessen

So, this is the first Sarah Dessen novel I've read in a few years and I was nervous. I've always raved about her writing and I wondered if her writing was nearly as good as I remember. Would I still enjoy it?  The answer is yes.

Just Listen follows the story of Annabel Greene, a girl who is trying to keep up the facade of a perfect life when in reality her friendships and family relationships are crumbling around her. When she starts to sit next to Owen Armstrong at lunch, that all slowly changes.

Just Listen is a beautifully crafted novel and  I adore it on so many levels. This is a book not only about a girl and her coming-of-age story, but also one about ideas. Powerful and brilliant ideas.

What Dessen does so well is she allows her characters to tell their own stories. They characters know (or at least think they know) themselves so well that the storytelling feels completely organic.

In Just Listen, Anabel plays the role of both antagonist and protagonist. She is the character you want to cheer for, but sometimes she is her own worst enemy.The main male character, Owen Armstrong is easily likeable. It's hard not to be taken in by his easy going yet intense dialogue.  It just leaps off the page. I found his insights and concepts in this book to be so interesting. 

My favorite character was Anabel's sister, Whitney. She was the most vivid character and I felt like she was someone I knew. Her storyline is the one that stuck with me the most.

One of the major themes of this novel is about the difference between what we think we see and what we are actually seeing. It also explores the ideas of why we do this and the impact of that judgment.

One weakness I'd point out is how Dessen  leans on the Manic Pixe Dream Girl Guy plot a lot. Often these girls don't see what is wrong with their lives until a guy comes into their life and shows them. However, I find the guys in Just Listen to be extremely likeable. Dessen doesn't write about insta-love or overly dreamy chiseled cliches. She writes about real people and about relationships. She spends more time describing characters traits than their eye color.

This novel is gripping, relatable with smart and witty dialogue. Dessen has created a character you want to cheer for and situations we have all experienced.


Remy and Truth Squad from This Lullaby make an appearance


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