Happy July! June was another slow reading month for me, but I feel like I savored the 2 books that I read and was able to enjoy them in some new ways. There was a lot of outside reading done, which is something I wish I was able to do all the time. I also read for hours in bed and I haven’t done that in a long time. Both of these books are on my Summer TBR, so I’m feeling accomplished about that.
Once and For All by Sarah Dessen / 2017 / Viking Books for Young Readers / ★★★★★
Let’s talk about this beautiful Sarah Dessen book. Now, I knew that I would like it, but it exceeded all of my expectations. Before I read it, although I do have an unread sampler that I picked up months ago, I didn’t know anything about the plot. Within the first 50 pages, I was hooked with this story and the characters. Louna may be one of my favorite contemporary characters that I’ve read in a long time. She’s honest, extremely professional, and strong. Although a bit standoffish due to heartbreak, she’s still a loving person and her journey throughout this book feels natural. I also love Jilly and Ethan and Ambrose and William and Natalie. Basically, everyone. They all add something important to this book and I like that there are glimpses into their personal lives. The wedding planning business is perfect for a summer read, and I do love books that go into detail oriented events for a bit of fun, and the different stances on love throughout this book gives you something to think about. I don’t want to say too much about the romances in this book because I think that going into it not knowing was one reason I rated it 5 stars, but her romances are always a nice touch to the experiences of her characters. If you’re anything like me, this book will make you cry and laugh and leave you with a positive feeling.
Also important to mention is how gorgeous this book is physically! The cover looks great on a computer screen, but you must see it in person, especially with that dust jacket off. The colors are perfect.
The Secret Ingredient of Wishes by Susan Bishop Crispell / 2016 / Thomas Dunne Books / ★★★★
I love a good summer book about a southern small town. Add in some magic, like say being able to grant wishes (!), and it’s right up my alley. My favorite part about this book were the characters. As a southerner myself, I appreciate when an author can write southern characters without resorting to stereotypes. Ashe is a gentleman, but he also stands back and lets Rachel handle herself. Catch is an older woman, a Southern grandma type, who takes care of everyone in the town it seems, but she won’t let anyone take advantage of her. Then there’s Rachel. It was a little odd at first because we have the same name and hometown, but I ended up liking her a lot. Her story is intriguing and her personality is well written. She’s working through tough stuff, and that makes her vulnerable, but she’s braver than she knows. The romance involves a lot of unresolved tension, so that added to some of that southern heat (yeah, I went there). There were some times when I thought things were going to be a lot darker than they were, but this was a light hearted read and definitely worth a few days of my time. There were also a lot pies in the book, so it may leave you craving some. I have to give this book about a 3.5/4 stars because the last couple of chapters felt rushed, but I did like the overall story and ending.
The book reminded me of Sarah Addison Allen with its small town, magical elements, and food, and that makes me want to read more of Susan Bishop Crispell as soon as possible. I’m interested in seeing what her other books are like.