This week, I had the opportunity to attend an author meet-and-greet plus book signing while Morgan Matson, one of my favorite authors, was on tour for her new book, Save the Date. As a bonus, the event I attended had another author I love, Siobhan Vivian, who was promoting her newest book Stay Sweet. While I have always loved reading, I’ve never been able to meet the author of a book I love, ask questions, or get a book signed in person. I could not have been more happy with how the event turned out and though it would be nice to recap it on the blog, as well as share a short review of each of the books!
The signing took place at my favorite bookstore: Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Siobhan’s book is all about ice cream (and friendship, feminism, and love), and at the event a local ice cream shop brought four flavors. All of us at the signing could try the ice cream, which was delicious!
Everything about the night was perfect. My sweet mom came along with me and I couldn’t have possibly been more excited. Meeting the authors was great, but I think the most amazing part was being able to hear them talk about their books. They described the way they literally brought characters to life on the page. They answered questions about plots and characters and their writing processes. To the authors who do the work they do, thank you! You impact so many people.
To be honest, I was nervous to be in the presence of authors whose books are so amazing. However, I had no reason to be scared! Morgan Matson is so down-to-earth, funny, and genuine. She was beyond kind and ready to answer questions, and neither she nor Siobhan seemed to have any concern for the meet and greet running over-time. They were willing to have conversations with everyone there, and even gave me some very kind and valuable advice about becoming a writer and starting a novel this summer. Siobhan Vivian was undoubtedly brilliant and hilarious, and I’m sure that if anyone had glanced over at me during the whole event, they would’ve seen a face equivalent to that of a little kid on Christmas.
I would go to this event again in a heartbeat, and if Siobhan Vivian or Morgan Matson are ever on tour close to home again, I will absolutely be stopping by.
The Books: Save the Date by Morgan Matson
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.
There’s the unexpected dog with a penchant for howling, house alarm that won’t stop going off, and a papergirl with a grudge.
There are the relatives who aren’t speaking, the (awful) girl her favorite brother brought home unannounced, and a missing tuxedo.
Not to mention the neighbor who seems to be bent on sabotage and a storm that is bent on drenching everything. The justice of the peace is missing. The band will only play covers. The guests are all crazy. And the wedding planner’s nephew is unexpectedly, distractingly…cute.
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.
Anyone who has ever asked me for a book recommendation, particularly in the summer, will likely get a sampling of Morgan Matson’s books. They are some of my favorites, and I re-read Since You’ve Been Gone and The Unexpected Everything every summer. Her work is always filled with the most vivid characters, real and flawed relationships, and wonderful moments. Save the Date did not disappoint–I could barely put the book down. Charlie is such an authentic and genuinely relatable character, especially with her hesitance to embrace change. When I started college, I was torn between loving an increased level of independence and wishing for home and my family. However, Charlie is much more than that. She is so loving and loyal, ready to do whatever it takes to make the wedding weekend a success.
Although the book takes place over the course of one weekend, that does not mean it lacks story or plot. Every sequence of action, conversation, and setting is so vivid (and hilarious). The wedding disasters are perfectly timed and written hilariously. Every supporting character, from the papergirl next door to the wedding planner’s nephew, is beautifully developed. After I finished the book, I kept thinking about the Grant family and their story, wondering what happened next. When a book leaves you invested in the story, you know it’s a good one.
Grant Central Station
One of the coolest aspects of the novel is that Charlie’s family has been the star of a comic strip, drawn by her mother, for her entire life. Morgan Matson actually worked with an artist, providing details of the script, characters, setting, and more, to create the comic strips within the book. This is so unique and well-done, adding such life and vivacity to the story. When she talked about this at the event, I couldn’t really believe how above and beyond she went to bring each aspect of the story to its fullest potential.
Writing Likable Characters
Another amazing thing Morgan addressed at the event was the likability of characters. Although likable characters are generally preferred by readers, Matson’s characters always have some foundational flaw that they come to acknowledge and fix over the course of the book. While this sometimes can feel forced in YA literature, Morgan Matson executes both the flaws and their remedies impeccably well and in relatable ways. To me, her characters are more likable because they aren’t perfect.
I 100% recommend checking out Save the Date and of course, all of Morgan Matson’s other novels. My version from Target includes over thirty pages of exclusive bonus content. If you’re familiar with The Unexpected Everything, you’ll get to peek in on Andie and Clark in their lives at college!
The Books: Stay Sweet by Siobhan Vivian
A summer read about first love, feminism, and ice cream.
Summer in Sand Lake isn’t complete without a trip to Meade Creamery—the local ice cream stand founded in 1944 by Molly Meade who started making ice cream to cheer up her lovesick girlfriends while all the boys were away at war. Since then, the stand has been owned and managed exclusively by local girls, who inevitably become the best of friends. Seventeen-year-old Amelia and her best friend Cate have worked at the stand every summer for the past three years, and Amelia is “Head Girl” at the stand this summer. When Molly passes away before Amelia even has her first day in charge, Amelia isn’t sure that the stand can go on. That is, until Molly’s grandnephew Grady arrives and asks Amelia to stay on to help continue the business…but Grady’s got some changes in mind…
This book is SO cute.Stay Sweet follows the story of Meade Creamery, and specifically, Amelia, who is finally getting her shot at being a leader and giving the girls of the store the best summer of their lives. Of course, not everything goes as planned. Amelia is forced to grow into herself, especially in terms of leadership and confidence. There’s a mystery–what’s the secret ingredient in the famous, immensely beloved ice cream flavor Home Sweet Home? There’s very real (read-flawed) friendships. Amelia’s best friend Cate is more confident, bold, outspoken, carefree, and wild than she is. This triggers friction between the girls, but ultimately makes them stronger in the long run.
I devoured this perfect summer beach read in just a few hours. Siobhan Vivian manages to capture so much of what it means to be a teenager. For Amelia, being a part of Meade Creamery isn’t just a summer job. Working there means being part of something bigger than herself. She discovers herself through a second family. It means working hard and reaping more rewards than just money. For Amelia, being a Meade Creamery girl makes her a part of a tightly woven, rich history. I found Amelia to be such a relatable character.
On Girls and Leadership
At the signing, Siobhan talked about the struggle that often occurs for girls in leadership roles. Growing up, most girls are encouraged not to “be bossy”, and when they grow up, this translates to a fear of expressing opinions or delegating. Amelia has to come to terms with the complex nature of leadership dynamics, especially when you are friends with those around you and have to fight to have your voice heard.
A Little History
The way Meade Creamery was founded surprised me in the best way. Molly Meade founded the creamery in the 1940’s to distract herself and her friends from their boyfriends, who were off fighting in World War II. However, Molly’s story ends up being feminist in its own way. At the event, Siobhan discussed the research she did to make Molly’s journal entries realistic. She actually purchased and read through dozens of Seventeen magazines from the 40’s! How cool is that?!
I’ll definitely be reading Stay Sweet again before this summer is over. I loved it so much. I love a good coming-of-age story, and this one involves girls sticking together and good friendships. Flawed characters learning to be who they are capture the more complex and realistic aspects of being a young adult.
Thanks for reading!
I had the best time at the book signing! Plus, I absolutely loved both Morgan Matson’s and Siobhan Vivian’s new books. I highly recommend both of the books. Hopefully, I inspired you to pick them up for yourself this summer! If you are in need of more summer reading ideas, I have an entire post dedicated to it here and here!
Do you have any summer reading recommendations? Leave me a comment and let me know!
As usual, feel free to follow me on Goodreads here to keep up with what I’m reading.