Wedding Shenanigans, Family Disasters, and Childhood Crushes in Save the Date by Morgan Matson

“It was that feeling like when the lights come up after a movie—how it takes a minute to let go of the world you’d been immersed in. ”

I’ve been patiently waiting for this newest Matson’s book, back when its release date had been set for the same day as Sarah Dessen’s Once and For All, both surrounding the wedding season, though, the latter is more on planning than attending one. Save the Date still holds the same hectic atmosphere since the main event – the wedding – is taking place at the Grant’s house with a bunch of siblings set to arrive all at once.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start at the beginning:

Charlie Grant’s older sister is getting married this weekend at their family home, and Charlie can’t wait—for the first time in years, all four of her older siblings will be under one roof. Charlie is desperate for one last perfect weekend, before the house is sold and everything changes. The house will be filled with jokes and games and laughs again. Making decisions about things like what college to attend and reuniting with longstanding crush Jesse Foster—all that can wait. She wants to focus on making the weekend perfect.

The only problem? The weekend is shaping up to be an absolute disaster.

Over the course of three ridiculously chaotic days, Charlie will learn more than she ever expected about the family she thought she knew by heart. And she’ll realize that sometimes, trying to keep everything like it was in the past means missing out on the future.

I forgot how quickly these contemporary reads go by. You start to get into it and then poof the book’s over.

Save the Date, in particular, hit it off with a bang by starting with a romantic get-together that swept me right into the storyline. I’m a (low-key) sucker for obsessional crushes, so seeing Charlie’s keenness on her childhood crush was all too real; Jesse Foster is no longer a boy in her eyes, but a mythical figure that can do no wrong.

The book hits the mark on experiencing unrequited crushes and observing from the sidelines. Like my favorite quote from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before conveys: ‘You’d rather make up a fantasy version of somebody in your head than be with a real person.’

I mean, I can’t stop thinking about this:

“Jesse didn’t move over from his spot on the middle cushion, so when I sat on the couch, I was closer to him than I had ever been before, except for two memorable occasions—when we’d been stuck in an elevator together at a laser tag place for Mike’s fourteenth birthday, and a memorable car ride when I was twelve and we’d been coming back from playing mini golf in Hartfield, all of us crammed into the car, and somehow, I’d ended up in the way back next to Jesse, Mike on his other side. And Jesse kept turning to talk to Mike, which meant he kept leaning into me, his bare leg pressing against mine. It had been a thirty-minute ride home, and the whole time, I’d prayed for a traffic jam, a road closure, a flat tire—anything to keep it going longer. So, as I sat on the couch next to him now, it was with full awareness that this proximity to him—voluntary, as opposed to car-logistic mandated—was a brand-new thing.”

rubs hands together Now, it’s getting good.Save the Date 2-- bookspoils

“She didn’t know what it was like to look and wish and want, always two steps behind the person, always on the edges of their life. What it was like to stand next to someone and know you weren’t registering with them, not in any meaningful way. That you thought about someone a thousand times more than they’d ever thought about you. To know that you were just a face in the crowd scenes while they were center stage. And then, all at once, to have the spotlight finally swing over to you. To suddenly be visible, to be seen, no longer one of the people in the background who never get any lines. To suddenly be in the midst of something you’d only ever looked at from the sidelines. What that felt like when it finally happened, dropped in your lap when you were least expecting it, like a gift you were half-afraid to open.”

This right here is exactly why I so love Wren’s line from Fangirl: “That moment,” she told Cath, “when you realize that a guy’s looking at you differently—that you’re taking up more space in his field of vision. That moment when you know he can’t see past you anymore.” 

I’ll never tire of seeing books get it right when discussing something close to heart. I was living vicariously through Charlie and Jesse’s interactions, which is why this became such a pivotal reading experience for me when it went the extra mile of showing the reason these types of crushes don’t tend to develop any further is because you hold them on this invisible pedestal, whereas for them you’re just a body in a crowd.

“He was a nice guy. He was cute, and he was a great kisser. But that was actually all I really knew about him, Jesse the actual person. I couldn’t have told you his favorite movie, or his roommate’s name, or his greatest fear. He wasn’t who I thought he was all those years, because that person didn’t exist. That Jesse was just a compilation of everything I’d projected onto him, coupled with a handful of real-life interactions that I’d given far too much value to.”

Her anthem should include Dua Lipa’s New Rules.

Analysing and reading into their every move can become exhausting really quickly, so I was beyond grateful to safely experience from the sidelines where all this can lead to with Save the Date. (Another great book that touches upon this is The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah.)

I’m putting that major revelation aside by moving on to discuss the actual book, which is ‘what you see is what you get’ synopsis-wise since the entirety of it is set around three hectic wedding days (without any major flashbacks). Consequently, the usual contemporary, summer fun isn’t quite as present here as with Matson’s previous books, especially when each developing storyline could be detected from a mile away.

The only remaining upside Save the Date held for me were Charlie’s siblings with their dynamic personalities put into one house. It’s the little things that made them seem so close to me. Like, calling for “witnesses” when making a bet, or their “not it” gesture of pulling on their earlobe.

“This was one of the thousands of tiny things that only happened when we were together, one of the things you didn’t know you’d miss until it was gone.”

It’s these details that are able to procure real, authentic moments.

“Mike Drop?”
“No!” I said quickly. Mike Drops were something that J.J. and Danny had done a lot when Mike was in elementary school and they were much, much bigger than he was. It was true to its name—Danny would pick up Mike, yell “Mike Drop!” and toss him in the air and J.J. would dash in and catch him just before he hit the floor. All of which had worked out great when Mike was six. But as they’d all gotten older, J.J. sometimes forgot to catch him, and they had a way of getting people injured, sometimes all three of them in the same Mike Drop.”

They were a never-ending hoot to read about. As well as the scarcely Grant Central Station comic strips scattered throughout.

Save the Date 1-- bookspoils

Save the Date 3-- bookspoils

Plus, there’s the added bonus of featuring quite the creative chapter titles that make for a compelling road ahead, with favorites including: “Or, Acronyms Are Not Always a Good Idea Or, AANAAGI” & “Or, 98% of All Statistics Are Made Up on the Spot.”

Overall, Save the Date was an enjoyable YA read, though a bit rushed in places, and included just the right amount of fun and laughter.

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Review: Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 by Elena Favilli, Francesca Cavallo

This book arrived just as I had completed reading the previous collection with my little sister during the weekend; Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls did just what it promised… meaning that she was put to sleep right away. I think the historical aspect wasn’t quite there yet for my nine-year-old sister.

Still, I was ecstatic to hear the news of this follow-up book to come out. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 boasts a brand new graphic design, a glossary and 100 incredible new portraits created by the best female artists of our time.

I liked, in particular, the inclusion of new, contemporary women in this edition, since I had just finished my reading of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah, and here we have her familiar face featured!Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 1-- bookspoilsGood Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 2-- bookspoils

But my main issue with Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 stems from the fact that these summaries skip one too many significant details and it results in an inconsistent, half-hearted historical biography of these accomplished women.

I also feel like the book reduces the women’s accomplishment a tad by making their hard work sound like a breeze. Like, with Lilian Bland building her own plane, they make it sound like she snapped her fingers and boom there’s a plane: “Lilian read everything she could find by the Wright brothers and other famous aviators about how to build a plane. She succeeded in building a flyable biplane—an aircraft with two pairs of wings—then went on to build a full-scale glider, just like the one her boyfriend hadn’t let her fly.”Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 9-- bookspoilsGood Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 10-- bookspoils

Putting my hindrances aside, I’d still like to share some of my favorite stories of these extraordinary women:

  • JOHANNA NORDBLAD
    ICE DIVER

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 3-- bookspoilsGood Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 4-- bookspoils

This mentioned a film “made about one of her incredible dives,” and I was utterly hypnotized watching it. I had to replay the video over and over simply to wrap my mind around the scope and expansiveness of Nordblad’s chilling actions.

“It shows a solitary figure dragging a sled to the middle of a frozen lake, leaving a trail of footprints behind her in the snow. She cuts a triangle into the ice with a saw and sits on the edge. Taking a deep breath, she slips into the black water. A different universe unfolds around her: silver and deep blue-black, silent and beautiful. She swims along like a mermaid, at peace with the world.”

  • J.K. ROWLING
    WRITER

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  • BRENDA MILNER
    NEUROPSYCHOLOGIST

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 7-- bookspoilsGood Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 8-- bookspoils

  • VIVIAN MAIER
    PHOTOGRAPHER

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 11-- bookspoilsI can’t stop staring at this utterly haunting painting.Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 12-- bookspoils

  • SKY BROWN
    SKATEBOARDER

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 13-- bookspoilsGood Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 14-- bookspoilsThis nine-year-old skater is an inspiration.

Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 09.46.55I am, however, eternally perplexed at their notion of including a Nazi-born girl in this collection, because we should, of course, applaud a fish for swimming, instead of shining light on the many brave Jewish women to survive and oppose the terrors of the Holocaust…

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Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!

Vine Book Tag: uh, yeah, I sure hope it is

This tag all about vines and books, originally created over at emmmabooks, came at a seamlessly perfect time, as I recently discovered this wholesome Youtube channel full of the rarest vine compilations, and I had the time of my life going through them all. I’m weirdly dedicated to it, as well, going the extra mile of writing down my favorite vines* so my memory won’t fail me (with titles like: “ancient vines i watch with my grandfather,” “vines rarer than a good night’s sleep,” and “vines 2 trick you into feeling happiness”). Plus, ever since I reviewed milk and vine in 2017, I’ve just been looking for a reason to combine books and vines on my blog again, and this feels like a great comeback.

(Warning: I’m going to have way too much fun coming up with answers for these must-know, burning questions.)

I Want To Be Famous: 

A book that is underrated but deserves more hype

I just recently completed my reading of Tell the Machine Goodnight by Katie Williams, which can essentially be narrowed down to two things: 1. it is a futuristic take on our national obsession with positive psychology, our reliance on quick fixes and technology. 2. it has the most brilliant insights and stubble little quips on life that are the key to my heart. Here’s an example of a favorite passage of mine, taken from my full review“Being home from college for the summer is like sleeping over at a friend’s house you’ve only ever visited in the afternoon. The furniture is familiar, but the light has gone funny on you.” 

I felt this all the more keenly when I stumbled upon this tweet the other day, channeling into those same emotions:

Tell the Machine Goodnight is set to release June 19th, so I’m hoping that by then the hype will have caught on. (In the meantime, I’d recommend checking out the gem that is Motherest by Kristen Iskandrian that was released last year, which I always rave about in tags for underrated favorites but decided to mix things up this time.)

Hzzuhk: 

A plot twist that caught you off guard

This answer will thread upon spoilers

Not a day goes by where I don’t try to make myself forget the moment of utter disbelief The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah made me go through when it hurt one of the best fictional boys to have graced my reading: Matthew Walker. If you’ve read my emotional review for the book, you know that Matthew’s friendship and budding relationship with our main character, Leni, was one of the most honest takes I’d read on experiencing the rush of giddy, young love. I always circle back to two quotes, in particular, when it comes to these two:

#1 realizing the moment you’ve caught feelings (so worth the read!!):

“It didn’t take Leni long to know that she was in trouble. She thought about Matthew constantly. At school she began to study his every move; she watched him as she would a prey animal, trying to glean intent from action. His hand sometimes brushed hers beneath the desk, or he touched her shoulder as he passed by her in the classroom. She didn’t know if those brief contacts were intentional or meaningful, but her body responded instinctively to each fleeting touch. Once she’d even risen from her chair, pushed her shoulder into his palm like a cat seeking attention. It wasn’t a thought, that lifting up, that unknown need; it just happened. And sometimes, when he talked to her, she thought he stared at her lips the way she stared at his. She found herself secretly mapping his face, memorizing every ridge and hollow and valley, as if she were an explorer and he her discovery.”

No fictional couple has made me feel as deeply as they have.

#2 the hidden things love teaches Leni:

“It was wonderful, exhilarating. She learned things no book had ever taught her—how falling in love felt like an adventure, how her body seemed to change at his touch, the way her armpits ached after an hour of holding him tightly, how her lips puffed and chapped from his kisses, and how his rough beard-growth could burn her skin.”

I was utterly intoxicated with their every move, which is why I wasn’t willing for anything even remotely bad to occur in the plot that would set them apart… Being this invested with a fictional couple meant that when the plot twist dropped (literally), it hit like a brick and I was beyond devastated. I go more deeply into what I felt in my review, but suffice to say that months and months later it still hurts to revisit it in my mind.

I Didn’t Get No Sleep ‘Cause of Y’all: 

A book you lost sleep over

The first feeling that hits me whenever I look at the cover for Matti Friedman’s Pumpkinflowers is utter and complete sleep-deprivation, simply because I thought it a bright idea at the time, upon waking up in the middle of a rare winter night, to read this war story deep into the morning hours; I hit two hours of sleep total that day.

It was one small hilltop in a small, unnamed war in the late 1990s, but it would send out ripples still felt worldwide today. The hill, in Lebanon, was called the Pumpkin; flowers was the military code word for “casualties.” Award-winning writer Matti Friedman re-creates the harrowing experience of a band of young soldiers–the author among them–charged with holding this remote outpost, a task that changed them forever and foreshadowed the unwinnable conflicts the United States would soon confront in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.

Avi Ofner’s story still affects me deeply today. As well as this passage below that I shared in my review, recounting Harel’s response after tragedy hit his platoon:

“Once, in a television interview, Harel was asked how he did it—how he went back to the army after what happened. He looked at the interviewer for a moment. Here was a chance for an expression of ideology or faith, a love of country, all of those generations of Jews looking at him, depending on him not to give up. In the fighting in Jerusalem in 1967 some of the soldiers claim they felt King David himself pushing them through the alleyways. How did Harel go back? There might have been a flicker of disdain in his eyes, but otherwise he betrayed no emotion. “On the bus,” he said. It is one of the great lines.”

So No Head?: 

A book that makes you PISSED OFF (an event makes you angry or you’re angry you wasted time and money on this book)


I recently caved in to read the sequel to Wires and Nerve, Vol. 1, aka Marissa Meyer’s graphic novel adoption to The Lunar Chronicles, and I couldn’t even bother to complete it because I became so stuck on how utterly recyclable the plot for this sequel is.

Iko – an audacious android and best friend to the Lunar Queen Cinder – has been tasked with hunting down Alpha Lysander Steele, the leader of a rogue band of bioengineered wolf-soldiers who threaten to undo the tenuous peace agreement between Earth and Luna. Unless Cinder can reverse the mutations that were forced on them years before, Steele and his soldiers plan to satisfy their monstrous appetites with a massacre of the innocent people of Earth.

And to show he’s serious, Steele is taking hostages.

Scarlet and Wolf being separated is literally the same storyline (step by step) as Winter, the fourth book in TLC series. Also, the reasoning behind everything in the plot felt so caricature-esque; it’s like the author lost track of her characters and their unique components. The cast of characters in here (Cinder, Iko, Kai, Thorne, Cress, Scarlet, Wolf, Winter, Jacin) don’t hold their distinct voices anymore. I have no idea who’s talking unless I take a close look at the arrow of the speech bubble. It’s like they all lost their identity with this overkill sequel.

gone rogue-- bookspoilsPlus, now that’s it’s been a good couple of years since I last read about Wolf and Scarlet, I’m couldn’t shake my mind off the fact that 2014 YA dystopian was obsessed with Stockholm syndrome romances, like, first Warner and Juliette resurfacing with Restore Me, and now these two…

Can I Get A Waffle?: 

 A sequel/spin off that you are begging your favorite author for

Fangirl-- bookspoilsThe number of times I pick up Fangirl simply to read a page (preferably featuring Levi, as my review states: Why I Fangirl over Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl (Spoilers: Levi)) as a pick-me-up* during the day is insurmountable. And on every reread, my mind keeps begging for any info on new content from the author, preferably a fictional novel.

(*My process includes closing my eyes, flipping the book to a random page, taking my sweet time reading and smiling at my favorites, and then putting Fangirl down with a ‘to be continued’ look.)

To answer the question, my wildest dream would, of course, include a full sequel to Fangirl (other than the Cath and Levi cameo we receive in Landline). But I know not to get my hopes up on that one, so I’ll settle for any news regarding the future projects of Rainbow’s fictional books. I’d love to see her explore more Young Adult, in particular.

Please, Rainbow, can I get a waffle?

HoOAOAOOAOAH: 

A new release you are knocking on your local bookstore’s door for


I’ve had my eyes on this particular beauty of a book – on par with our green theme – since April, and I’m patiently waiting for the chance to read it. Thankfully, the synopsis sounds just as good as the cover looks:

It is Spring. A young woman, left by her husband, starts a new life in a Tokyo apartment. Territory of Light follows her over the course of a year, as she struggles to bring up her two-year-old daughter alone. Her new home is filled with light, streaming through the windows, so bright you have to squint, but she finds herself plummeting deeper into darkness; becoming unstable, untethered. As the months come and go, and the seasons turn, she must confront what she has lost and what she will become.

At once tender and lacerating, luminous and unsettling, Territory of Light is a novel of abandonment, desire and transformation. It was originally published in twelve parts in the Japanese literary monthly Gunzo, between 1978 and 1979, each chapter marking the months in real time.

I’m especially intrigued by the concept wherein each chapter in the book marks the months in real time. I hope it lives up to the hype I’ve created in my mind.Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 09.46.55

Finally, to really end this tag on a good note, I have to highlight some of my absolute favorites:

Really hits the spot for me when compilations already have me laughing by the second vine, like the above.

I cannot get the race car cry after “I love you and I miss you” out of my head (minute 7:50), and it’s becoming a problem.

Another particular love of mine is when they include back-to-back vine series, like the one with the cups starting at the first minute.Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 09.46.55

And that’s an official wrap on all my answers for the Vine book tag. I hope you enjoyed reading! If you’re interested in answering these questions, I tag you.

Oh, and let me know any of your favorite vines in the comments below!

Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you want to buy any of the reads I mention in this post, just click on the books to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!