Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Labor Day Weekend: My Favorite Books of Summer 2015

I hope everyone had an enjoyable Labor Day weekend, whether you relaxed, worked, or used the time to get stuff done around the house. I fall under the latter group for my three day weekend, in fact I didn't read a single book. I had a list a mile long that I have been itching to get done for quite some time. We've lived in our house since the middle of May and, while we're all settled in, we still had a ton of boxes and bags we never unpacked or even organized. I finally decided enough was enough and sorted through every box, bag, and unorganized area in our home and it looks amazing. I am sore, I am tired, but I am a little less stressed from the clutter and a lot happier with being able to locate everything.

It was awfully weird to not read any books however, I even put some into a pile to donate. I read almost every weekend, I like to laze in bed after T has gone to work and read until I finally need to get up for breakfast. It was nice to wake up early and prioritize some of the stuff we've let slide by and it gave me an opportunity to reflect on some of the books I've read. Summer books are definitely one of my favorites; I like to lay in the sun and read, ignoring the rest of the world around me. This summer I had the opportunity to read a lot, in fact I read about 10 books while we were in Hawaii for a week in June. I didn't read all new releases, I went back to a lot of old favorites, but I read a handful of new releases that were really, really good. To me, Labor Day is the last true weekend of summer; it's getting colder in the evenings, staying dark in the mornings, and the invites to pool parties have slowly dropped off. It's the season to start bringing out the fall decorations, to save for winter Holiday plans, and start cuddling into blankets. I thought the best way to welcome in fall, and close out the summer, would be to list a few of my favorite summer reads of 2015. They don't all have a summer theme, but they're the perfect books to read on a day when you don't have to do anything except relax and daydream all your cares away.

Saint Anything - Sarah Dessen
5 stars
"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."

In my opinion, you just can't go wrong with anything written by Sarah Dessen, but she's also my favorite author so I am a bit biased. Saint Anything was a refreshing, long awaiting release from Dessen. It's got a different feel than some of her past works, I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that the main character, Sydney, doesn't have an event directly affecting her, but more is wrapped up in a situation that happened to someone else. She's shy, a little lost, and sincerely feels for every person she crosses paths with. I loved Sydney, I loved the Chathams, and I loved Saint Anything. I'd recommend it to anyone who asked me for an easy, coming of age novel, because it will make you think in ways you did not expect.

21 Stolen Kisses - Lauren Blakely
5 stars
"When I first met him I resisted.

Like any forbidden love, I told myself he was a crush, and it would pass.
That was a lie. It never faded.
And I never expected he would fall for me just as hard.

There were so many reasons that should have kept us apart, least of all, the decade that separated us. Growing up in New York City, I learned early on that love is a double-edged sword. Love broke up my parents, love took away my friends, and love — the big, intense, never-been-like-this-before love — landed me in therapy. Now I’m heading to college, and it’s time to give love a clean slate again. But, can I really start over when he’s still in my life Because the one man I’ve always wanted, is also the only guy I absolutely can’t have…And he wants me just as fiercely.

Can I settle for anything less than the love of my life?"

Do not judge this book by the author, this is not an erotic romance, this is a New Adult romance. I am a fan of Lauren Blakely's books, I know that isn't everyone's cup of tea, however 21 Stolen Kisses is nothing like Blakely's other work. It's an edgy, forbidden romance novel that has so much depth to it I beg you to give it a chance. I am always a fan of a book that has a character who grows, who learns and changes as the book goes on. Kennedy does just that, she isn't just a 17 year old girl in love with an older man, she's dealing with situations far more important, like trying to atone for her mother's past mistakes and all those she's hurt on the way. The love is slow blooming, the forbidden aspects very apparent, but it's told in a very easy, unhurried way. I enjoyed reading from both character's perspectives, although the past/present can get a bit confusion. This book was one of those that I took with me to Hawaii, I've actually read it two more times since. It's an easy read, not too long or too short, and it flows just as a romance and coming-of-age novel should.

Since You've Been Gone - Morgan Matson
4 stars
"It was Sloane who yanked Emily out of her shell and made life 100% interesting. But right before what should have been the most epic summer, Sloane just…disappears. All she leaves behind is a to-do list.

On it, thirteen Sloane-inspired tasks that Emily would normally never try. But what if they could bring her best friend back?

Apple picking at night? Okay, easy enough.
Dance until dawn? Sure. Why not?
Kiss a stranger? Um...

Emily now has this unexpected summer, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected), to check things off Sloane's list. Who knows what she’ll find?

Go skinny-dipping? Wait...what?"

If you've heard the hype about this book, released in 2014, believe it. This is a read for Young Adults, or for those of us who just love YA novels. It's summery, it's cute, it's tame, and it's everything friendship and girly rolled into one. Emily spends her summer following Sloan's list of things, and while they're tame tasks, they're real and mean a lot to the character. Emily is shy, timid, and overthinks everything but as Since You've Been Gone progresses she grows, she makes choices for herself, and she finds out who she's meant to be, who she's happy being, without anyone else making her mind up for her. If you have one last opportunity to lay by the pool or on the beach before summer ends, read this one, I don't think you'll regret it.

While I read far more than just three books this summer, these are three I can say I would easily recommend to almost anyone. They're easy reads, they may make you think they may not, but they're perfect for a relaxing day in the sun.

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