sarah dessen –

I spy a book festival + updates!


4 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: News

It’s time for the National Book Festival in D.C. again! Remember last year when I met Sarah Dessen? Good times.


John Green. R.L. Stine. David Levithan. Lowis Lowry. Melissa Marr.

These are some of my favorite authors. I can’t wait to see them, to hear them speak. (And maybe get some autographs if I feel like standing in lines for several hours.)

I wasn’t fortunate enough to meet any fellow bloggers last year, but I’d love to change that this time around, if possible. Let me know if you’re going!


And now, an obligatory response to the Where have you BEEN? question:

School. It has taken over my life. Even when I’m not in classes or at work, I’m STILL working. When I have downtime, I tend to waste it playing games or lurking on Twitter. You know – basically wasting it on everything aside from reading and blogging. But this isn’t anything new, is it?

Bottom line is I’m booked solid. But I’m not gone!

I’m doing my best to keep in touch while also keeping my school priorities straight. It’s an important year.

Hope everyone’s doing well!

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TGR’s 2nd blog birthday!


14 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Discussion, News


It’s TGR’s 2nd blog birthday!

It really doesn’t feel like I’ve been blogging and managing a site for two full years. It still feels like I started just yesterday. To think that I’ve come this far, and gotten through all the ups and downs I’ve encountered, I’m proud. TGR may be young, but it’s not that  young.

In the past year, TGR has really grown:

It made the switch from Blogger to WordPress. (Guide here.)

It introduced a new feature.

Of course, as the sole operator of TGR, I’ve grown too in the past year:

I pursued a new project.

I took the time to appreciate what TGR has done for me, and thanked all of you in this wonderful community. (We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for each other.)

I met Sarah Dessen at my first-ever author signing.

And I’ve read some really  awesome books.


The thing about book blogging is that it isn’t solely about the books. In fact, a lot of book blogging is about the book bloggers. And this past year has been very kind to me in that department. I’ve not only met new bloggers, but also grown closer to those I met two years ago. Yes, blogging is a lot of work, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. And the friendships I’ve formed are irreplaceable. I don’t view those that I’ve met or gotten to know only as book bloggers; I view them as friends.We may live all over the world, but we’re still there for each other. They make blogging worthwhile.

So thank you, my lovely friends. I hope to read and share many more books with all of you.

One of the most important things I’ve learned this past year about blogging is that blogging is about giving back. And I don’t mean through giveaways. It’s about giving back to all the authors who consistently aid our never ending reading needs. It’s about treating each other with respect, and passing along good books. It’s about coming together and sharing knowledge.

It’s not about sacrificing your personal life, your job, or having fun. Book blogging isn’t simply what you make of it, but also who you make it with.

Happy birthday, TGR!

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REVIEW! One Moment by Kristina McBride.


3 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book reviews, Four Stars

One Moment by Kristina McBride

Maggie Reynolds is eagerly planning the summer before her senior year, which will include hanging out with her best friends Shannon, Tanna, and Adam, and losing her virginity to Joey, her boyfriend of two years. But when daredevil Joey dies cliff-diving with Maggie and she can’t remember the moment before his fall, an investigation ensues. Initially Maggie blames herself for the accident (“What if one small thing changed? Would we all be hanging out right now, listening to music while Joey laughed at something stupid”), but when Adam refuses to answer questions about the last 24 hours of Joey’s life it becomes clear that both Adam and Joey were hiding something from her. As Maggie’s memories gradually return, she collects clues to uncover the truth.


A contemp I just wanted to hug over and over.

One Moment is sad, but not overtly so. Joey’s death is obviously a constant rain cloud hanging over the heads of the other characters, especially Maggie’s, but it isn’t overwhelmingly depressing. Each character handles Joey’s death in their own ways, but realistically. McBride’s writing then gives these realistic feelings and thoughts added beauty through imagery.

What I love most about this book is that, while it could have just focused on Maggie overcoming her boyfriend’s death, McBride actually takes it one step further. Rather than make Joey’s death a mystery, she makes Joey’s life a mystery. I enjoyed putting the pieces together, even though some were fairly predictable. There isn’t much of Joey prior to his early death, so by having to discover his secrets, it’s a way to uncover him as a character – through past and present, and from a couple perspectives. You get Maggie’s memories, but also her friends’ recollections as well, which help to piece together the puzzle.

It’s not the plot that sets this book apart from others, though. It’s the writing, and the feelings and images evoked from it. Stylistically it’s simple, but oh so comforting and subtly dazzling in its descriptions. The writing itself is what gives this story that extra oopmh. At times it reminded me of old school Sarah Dessen novels – the ones that leave you with those pensive thoughts and warm feelings.

Go read, hug and experience One Moment‘s quiet magic.

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Why I love Contemporary YA – Just Contemporary, week 1!


5 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Uncategorized •

Learn about the Just Contemporary event here.

Contemporary means present or modern.  And in the world of YA books, it typically means teens just living their lives, taking one step at a time, dealing with school, family and boys, of course.  But why is this appealing? Why do I read it when there are blood-thirsty vampires and wizards running about?
Because contemporary YA is real. It doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not, because it can’t. It’s real life. It’s relatable. It’s knowing you’ve got something in common with someone. It’s knowing you’re not alone, no matter the subject.
What would my teenage years have been like without Meg Cabot? The old Meg Cabot. I’m talking Princess Diaries and All American Girl, with their awkward, nerdy female protagonists, looking for ways to embrace their weirdness.  What would I have done without Sam and Mia? They helped me think that just maybe high school could be bearable.

Or what about Rachel Cohn’s Gingerbread series? If not for those, I’d have never gotten an up-close look at the constructs of long-distance relationships, or the matching of fun with work.  I’d also certainly not have longed for a surfer boyfriend.
?And I can’t not mention Sarah Dessen, who is probably considered the Mother of all Contemporary YA. (And rightfully so.)  Her stories illuminate the lives of teens everywhere, dealing with issues of friendship to family hardships to medical problems.  She takes the pain and coaxes it, showing that things really will be all right, if you give them the chance to be.
And then every once in a while, you come across those special books – the ones that will stay with you for a long time.  They’re not just beautiful, they’re powerful.  They take your world and turn it upside down, leaving nothing but raw emotion in their wake. For me, this type of special book is, and always will be, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson.  It deals with a controversial topic, and is often banned, but in all honesty, it’s moving. Touching. Poignant. I can’t imagine anyone reading Speak and not being sucked into the contemporary YA circuit. It’s that wonderful.
There’s a lot to learn from contemporary YA, and I think that’s what keeps me coming back for more. The lessons never end.  I can read ten books about boyfriends and breakups and rotten friends, and still see a different perception – a different angle to the story – every time. It never gets old.
Contemporary YA is me.

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I saw Sarah Dessen! + other excitement.


7 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Uncategorized •

Do you see this?! That would be the autograph of the one and only Sarah Dessen. I stood in line for a little over an hour for this signature. Was it worth it? Heck yes! Not only did I get to watch her Q&A session, but I also MET her. We talked about the weather. Sounds funny, but it was still an amazing minute or so. (DC felt like it was 80 degrees, and the humidity was so bad that you just felt sticky and disgusting ALL DAY.) I also managed to get my picture taken with her, but I refuse to post it publicly because I look like I’m drowning in the humidity, and my hair was super frizzy at that point. But if it wasn’t already apparent, I was, and still am, totally excited about it! It was also my first author signing, so that made it even more special.

But really, it was fabulous. The National Book Festival in DC was jampacked with tons of book lovers, cool posters, book sales, book bags, and so much more.

The bonus? Toni Morrison’s signing tent was directly next to Dessen’s, so I got to see her, too! Talk about amazing.

In other fabulous news…


Oh, how long I waited for you, Pottermore!
But seriously. I’ve been waiting forever. Since before summer ended. ?And now that I have it…. I got sorted into Ravenclaw. Needless to say, I’m a bit disappointed, but certainly not surprised. I have no doubt that if, in fact, Hogwarts were real, I’d be sorted into Ravenclaw. It’s just that my heart will always belong to Slytherin (and Draco).
Other than that, it’s super cool! A bit less interactive than I pegged it to be, but who knows? Maybe it’ll shape up.
Are you on Pottermore yet? We should be friends!
* Sorry for the lack of updates around here! As you can see, I’m very, very busy procrastinating on schoolwork. And when I’m not procrastinating, well… I’ve got a lot of schoolwork! I’m trying to read in the meantime, but I’m afraid it’s going a bit slowly. But I’m still here, I promise!

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REVIEW! What Happened to Goodbye.


3 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book reviews, Three Stars

What Happened to Goodbye
Sarah Dessen

SUMMARY (from B&N):

Since her parents’ bitter divorce, Mclean and her dad, a restaurant consultant, have been on the move – four towns in two years. Estranged from her mother and her mother’s new family, Mclean has followed her dad in leaving the unhappy past behind. And each new place gives her a chance to try out a new persona: from cheerleader to drama diva. But now, for the first time, Mclean discovers a desire to stay in one place and just be herself – whoever that is. Perhaps her neighbor Dave, an academic superstar trying to be just a regular guy, can help her find out.

My rating: 3 stars.
If you’re looking for romance, walk away. You won’t find it in here. The typical cutesy formation of relationships in Dessen’s novels does not shine through in What Happened to Goodbye. At all.
That being said, without the romance the book is actually very stale, anticlimactic, boring.  Perhaps the story drags because it totals 416 pages.  But it drags – horrendously – if only because there is no action or suspense whatsoever.  Nothing really adds up – not Mclean’s wanting to stay in the quirky town (how is it different than any of the others?), not her friendships (with characters that outshine her in every scene), and not her dad’s job at the restaurant.
The book has all these elements of a great story, particularly great narration, but does nothing with them.  It remains flat.  The characters are nothing special; they’re all very – dare I say it? – stock-like.  I didn’t even really click with Dave, Mclean’s love interest, because I had no reason to.  There’s no reason to like any of the characters because they don’t do anything.
The writing itself is heavy on repetition.  It feels like Mclean narrates a scene, then reiterates it before narrating the next.  As such, there’s a building block feel to the structure.  But unless you’re forgetting things that quickly, there’s no need for it and it slows the pace.
On the upside, it’s very heartfelt and real – like Dessen’s other novels.  Unfortunately the lack of direction gives the story little purpose.

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In My Mailbox (10).


6 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Uncategorized •

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen.

Feels like I’ve been waiting forever for this one! So excited!

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REVIEW! Twenty Boy Summer.


4 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Book reviews, Four Stars

Twenty Boy Summer
Sarah Ockler


According to Anna’s best friend, Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy every day, there’s a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there’s something she hasn’t told Frankie – she’s already had her romance, and it was with Frankie’s older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.

My rating: 4 stars.
Ockler’s descriptions go above and beyond; they’re heartfelt, beautiful, real. Right off the bat they sucked me into the story, transporting me from Anna and Frankie’s town in New York right to Zanzibar Bay with them. You’d think there could only be so many ways to describe a beach and its town, but Ockler takes it that one step further – almost like providing me with a piece of it.
As far as characters go, Anna and Frankie are typical teens. Anna’s more thoughtful and sincere, while Frankie’s a wild-child. But it was Matt that really made the story for me, even though his actual presence is limited – he’s incredibly realistic in both action and personality: boyish but caring, immature but mature, spontaneous but planned. He’s a mixture of so many things all at once, and for so little time, but that’s what makes him perfect. Other characters, like Sam, were nice, but seemed to be trying too hard to mimic what Matt was for Anna. Because of this, I never felt all that attached to them.
The story itself keeps a very steady pace once they reach Zanzibar Bay, chugging along in an almost real-time manner. While this worked in some spots, in others it did not. There were times when unimportant things to the story, such as when the girls applied their makeup, dragged on. 
But I’m glad the “twenty boys in twenty days” situation doesn’t go overboard. Ockler could’ve pushed it to the extreme, but doesn’t. And it makes sense the way it ends up. However, the ending was a bit iffy. I’m not all for random blow-ups and surprises without any warning or buildup, but that’s exactly how it goes. Everything, in a rush, explodes and resolves at the end – which wasn’t by any means terrible, it just happened to leave me with a more sad than happy feeling once finished.
Either way, Ockler manages to take the simple premise of Twenty Boy Summer and take it to the next level. Very reminiscent of Sarah Dessen’s works.

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Book Blogger Hop (21).


20 COMMENTS • This post is filed under: Follow Friday, Memes

Book Blogger Hop

I came across the Hop and Follow Friday while I was blog hopping – how appropriate! – and decided to join in on the fun.

The Book Blogger Hop is a weekly thing going on over at Crazy-for-Books. If you’re a new blogger like I am, or have been blogging for a while, stop by the sites and get involved!


Weekly question: What book are you most looking forward to being published in 2011? Why are you anticipating that book?

Definitely Sarah Dessen’s What Happened to Goodbye. I love all of her novels, and I’m sure this one won’t be disappointing. I love a good YA contemporary.

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