Once and For All by Sarah Dessen


Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: After a tragic loss of her first love, Louna no longer believes in happily ever after which is tough because her day job as a wedding planner has her surrounded by a thousand versions of just that.

What made me pick it up: Sarah Dessen is one of my favorite YA authors and one of my most enjoyed author follows on Twitter. I was excited to learn about this new book and grabbed it as soon as I could.

My favorite parts: Dessen doesn’t shy away from real teen behavior or feelings which I appreciate. Louna has suffered a catastrophic loss and spends her time with two cynical parental figures who no longer believe in love. Her growth throughout the story and courage to be honest with herself and willing to consider love again is powerful. More than anything Dessen shows how sadness and hope go hand-in-hand.

Who it’s great for: Teens of all ages. Dessen fans. Anyone looking for a hopeful love story that stays on the realistic side.

Erica’s rating: five-shells

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The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin


Originally published in: 2014

What it’s about: A widowed bookseller approaching middle age finds himself suddenly tasked with taking care of an orphaned baby girl.

What made me pick it up: This author was on the long list of possible invitees to our wonderful hometown book festival but I didn’t recognize her name so I checked what she had written, realized I hadn’t read it, and grabbed it off the shelf that day.

My favorite things: This book was a quick and pleasant read. I liked the relationship building and the mild and predictable plot twists. The characters were also enjoyable. It has a mild grumpy old man factor, but since he’s only in his late 30s when the book begins I don’t think it quite qualifies as one of those books. More than anything it reminded me of Mitch Albom’s writings – how a character is supported and affected by a web of surrounding factors and characters he knows nothing bout, but we as readers do.

Who it’s great for: Fans of Mitch Albom or Fredrik Backman. Lovers of grumpy old man lit. Readers who enjoy small town novels with sweet stories and neatly wrapped up, hope filled endings.

Erica’s rating: three-and-a-half-shells

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When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon


Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: Rishi heads to a coding camp to finally meet and get to know Dimple, the woman his parents have selected for him to marry. Dimple is trying to become a world changing app developer and can’t figure out why some weirdo at coding camp is stalking her and talking about marriage.

What made me pick it up: It was getting a lot of press and play on Twitter. The cover is very engaging.

My favorite parts: This excellent YA novel is a wildly entertaining comedy of errors. While the timeline is, of course, a little condensed I really felt the emotions were authentic. I enjoyed the communication between teens and their families and even though it was a struggle, it was honest. The story line also incorporated the pressures of Indian-American children to uphold family traditions and cultural expectations while making their own way in America.

Who it’s great for: Teens of all ages. Anyone who wants a fun, light story and quick read. Readers looking for diverse books.

Erica’s rating: four-and-a-half-shells

Get this book on Amazon (affiliate link) or at your local library.