Estelle: Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
Pages: 272
Release Date: October 11, 2011
Publisher: Ember
Target Audience: Young Adult
Why I picked it up: I’ve been wanting to read about this book for a long time but when I read on Jana’s blog that the book was set in New York and during Christmastime… it moved to the top of my must-read list!

Summary: Dash finds a red moleskin notebook on a shelf at The Strand and embarks on a scavenger hunt pinpointed by a series of challenges with its owner, Lily.

There’s nothing I love more than New York City and Christmas time. (Except maybe Walt Disney World.) Add in a bookstore and moleskin notebooks and I am pretty much in my element. Dash & Lily reminds me of a younger, less intense version of one of my favorite movies, Serendipity. Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack meet days before Christmas in a New York department store. Unfortunately they are both in other relationships and decide to leave their next meeting to chance.

While Dash & Lily’s premise is entirely different it is the back and forth, the sense of adventure, and mystery that is so familiar to me. The book is not overly romantic, but more about discovery. It is more goofy and over-the-top than some epic love story. But its innocence is part of its charm.

Sometimes it’s hard to pick up a book that has garnered such high praise from other readers; you don’t want to be disappointed. But I’m happy to say I grew pretty addicted to Dash and Lily’s story. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised that each of the characters were more developed than I had expected. I loved the details of their family backstories and all the supporting characters who contributed to the story.

Still, the end just snuck up on me and many elements that contributed to the character development were forgotten. I don’t want to reveal any spoilers but part of me wondered if the book would have felt more complete if the beginning was shorter.

As the second book I’ve read where two authors alternate chapters (first was Will Grayson, Will Grayson), Rachel Cohn and David Levithan did a great job. I actually had trouble believing it was actually written by two different authors. I also suspect one of them is a huge Muppet fan and that’s pretty awesome in my book.

This also may have been the first book I’ve read in awhile where I felt more connected to the male lead character. Dash is independent and more grounded while Lily’s enthusiasm and the fact she is so sheltered makes her feel very young to me. Yet I am totally on the same page with her love of baking, Christmas lights, and carols (although I guarantee she is a better singer than I). Not to be a negative Nelly, but I did wonder (quite a bit) about how compatible these two would be.

See? This is why I need to start a campaign for a sequel because I really want to know what happens next!

 If you want a book that is just plain fun, gives you an incredible tour of New York, and teaches you a slew of vocabulary words, what are you waiting for? It’s just about perfect for this time of year.

Buy on Amazon | Goodreads

Estelle: Let it Snow (Three Holiday Romances)

Let It Snow by Maureen Johnson, John Green, Lauren Myracle
Pages: 368
Release Date: September 11, 2008
Publisher: Speak
Target Audience: Young Adult
Format: Paperback from the Library
Why I picked it up: Saw it all around the blogosphere and had to get my hands on it!

Summary: A romantical (and coincidental) collection of short stories that center around one crazy blizzard.

Hear me out. Let it Snow is dubbed as “three HOLIDAY romances” and as my husband keeps telling me, the holiday is over. I’m still giving it another week. But really, who cares? We read summer books when it’s not summer so why not read holiday books when the holidays are over?  I’m kind of impressed with how I justified that one.

If you live in a place like I do (New York) that is known to get a lot of snow (so excited we have been spared so far), you know the evil of these storms. The sore backs, the badly iced roads, the slipping, the sliding. Sure, it’s pretty and sometimes you get a school day or are able to stay home from work. But it can be downright awful. In Let It Snow, it is one of these annoying storms that creates complications for its characters but also causes them to meet new people, better understand themselves, and discover love.

Each short has been written by an author I’ve read previously – Maureen Johnson (13 Blue Envelopes), John Green (Will Grayson, Will Grayson) and Lauren Myracle (Love, Peace & Baby Ducks). For the most part, I thought each story was well developed (even though they run about 100 pages each) and did a clever job of expanding on some of the details in the other stories. I loved Maureen’s Jubilee Express and John’s A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle best and felt that Lauren’s The Patron Saint of Pigs fell short. There, the main character, Addie, was reeling from a breakup with her boyfriend Jeb (who we first meet in Jubilee Express). The story was set up like a modern day Christmas Carol where the main character has to undergo some kind of personality change. To me, the transformation was just not believable. I didn’t see her work for it.

It’s been awhile since I’ve read a short story, and I think this might be my first time reading YA short stories. I was just completely impressed with how much was packed into 100 pages, and best of all, how real the characters were. Each story managed to feature many different characters yet I never felt like someone was left out or that I didn’t understand why they were there. Plus I never knew so much excitement could take place in proximity of a Waffle House.

I definitely think Let It Snow is a must-read. It’s also a great chance for readers who haven’t experienced these authors yet to be introduced to them. It’s heartwarming without being corny and cheesy, and it’s pretty telling when you care so much about characters that you don’t spend a full novel with.

Buy it on Amazon | Goodreads