Your Non-Bookish Holiday To-Do List

Happy December, friends! (Wait. What? How in the world is it already December?!) We’re taking a break from our traditional reviewing this month to bring you a few original posts to break outside our mold, be creative, and celebrate the holidays. Join us, won’t you?

First up is our Non-Bookish Holiday To-Do List. Since we’re taking a break from our typical reading schedules, we think you should too. Step outside. Explore. Watch some cheesy Hallmark and/or ABC movies. Check out what we’ll be doing…

Your Non-Bookish Holiday Guide

  1. See Disney’s newest animated film, FROZEN. We actually both went with our hubby’s (they’re awesome, aren’t they?) during our Thanksgiving breaks from work. We both agree that you MUST see it. We were texting each other our favorite parts after we had both seen it. Definitely, definitely recommend it. Oh, and maybe bring some tissues. And don’t forget the popcorn!
  2. Go out and see CHRISTMAS LIGHTS. Seriously, go! Bundle up. Invite friends. Magan went with her foster daughter and husband this past weekend to Santa’s Wonderland in College Station, TX; there were over a million lights and a hay ride and live music and a petting zoo. Look up local places for your area. Another TX option is the Trail of Lights in Zilker Park. (Be warned. When Magan went last year, it was packed. Be prepared to wait in line to walk through the trail. Wear comfortable shoes!)
  3. Invite a best friend out for a delicious cup of HOT CHOCOLATE. Estelle highly, highly recommends going to The City Bakery if you live in NYC. Take some time to catch up with a friend. Maybe do some shopping together or just sit in a comfortable environment with your hot beverage and spend some time together.
  4. Watch some cheesy HOLIDAY MOVIES. Raise your hand if you’re addicted to Christmas movies? Who is DVRing all of them on ABC Family and the Hallmark channel? ABC Family has the 25 Days of Christmas marathon and the Hallmark channel has the Countdown to Christmas lineup. Don’t be ashamed. We all need a little heart-warming at the end of the year. Indulge! Estelle is really looking forward to Holidaze, premiering on December 8th.
  5. And last but not least, GET CRAFTY. Who would we be if we weren’t encouraging you to pull out your crafting scissors to get your DIY on? We love these two Pinterest projects — Gift Tags and Holiday Paper Tree. (Please excuse the random numbers 6 and 8 on the tree image.) We’ve both really enjoyed sharing our craftiness with our friends and family at this time of year because we hear back from those people throughout the year about how much they love the gift or thoughtfulness we put into it. While crafting does take some time and thought, it does help us to stick to our budgets!


Tell us what non-bookish things you like to do this time of year?
What are you most looking forward to this December?

Nailed It: Thankful for Family

With Thanksgiving Day so so close (we can’t believe it), we’ve decided to change things up once again for NAILED IT and focus on books with great family influences. Sometimes books in YA tend to go heavy on romance and friendships and forget that there are parents at home, but we have always noted to one another when a book HAS GOT IT ALL aka the craziness and awesomeness of family. Today we are sharing some more nail palettes (yay!) and titles that celebrate all the important parts of life.



It’s been really hard for me to stop thinking about the Time Between Us series by Tamara Ireland Stone. It was one of those unexpected reading experiences for me this year, and I can’t wait to read it again. (How many books can you say that about?) Sure this book is rooted in romance, and how a relationship can survive when time travel complicates things but Stone does not forget how much family affects decisions, expectations, and just, life in general. Especially when you are a teenager.

In both books (Book 1 from Anna’s POV, and Book 2 from Bennett’s), concerned yet supportive families take centerstage. They might not necessarily know all the details of Anna and Bennett’s relationship but there’s a certain cause and effect when the families are involved too. I was really glad to see that layer in both of these books. So many times this is just glazed over in young adult fiction.

If you are on the prowl for a well-rounded story with present parents (who are as flawed as our main characters), be sure to check out these two books. For this month’s Nailed It, I decided to focus on the newer release: Time After Time.

Nailed It Time After Time by Tamara Ireland Stone

I am loving this palette. It reminds me of early Thanksgiving mornings. Right?

Bette | Nadia | Vera  ♥  Add Time After Time to Goodreads


I’m in the final 6% of Ink is Thicker Than Water by Amy Spalding. My, oh my, how I love this family. The dynamics are really phenomenal — Kellie’s mom and dad are divorced, but they’re still both very present in her life. They’re two imperfect people that make mistakes, but that’s real life, right? Kellie’s stepfather is really incredible, too, as he balances his role of being her father the majority of the time, but knowing that he shouldn’t interfere and overstep his bounds.

I did some pretty major happy dances over Kellie’s relationship with her older sister, who was adopted. They’re each other’s go-to person, but things do get complicated when Sara turns 18 and her birthmother reaches out to her. Kellie doesn’t exactly understand why there’s distance between them, but she tries to be respectful at the same time. Really, though, I think everyone will fall in love with Kellie’s half-brother, Finn, this four-year-old ball of cuteness. And you’ll definitely love the way the older sisters accept responsibility for (and enjoy their time with) Finn.

Things definitely get a little bit sloppy as Kellie tries to find her place in the family and figure out who she is, but I love that Spalding so heavily focused on family. There’s also friendship and a love interest, but my  heart sang with glee when I realized how heavily Kellie was influenced by her family.

nail polish colors paired with ink is thicker than water book cover

I couldn’t find the perfect pop of pink to coordinate with her lipstick so I pulled the slight hint of blue from her scarf instead. I think the blue, white, and yellow translate to a bit more fall-ish than the pink would have anyway. Thoughts?

Millie | Nicolette | Catrina  ♥  Add Ink is Thicker Than Water to Goodreads


Tell us, friends, what your favorite family-influenced books are.
Thanks for indulging in our nail polish obsession with another Nailed It!

Shelve It: Upcoming Nook/Kindle Reads

weekly feature to share the books magan and estelle are adding to their bookshelves each weekIt’s Sunday! Woo!

Just wanted to express our heartfelt thanks to all of you who left us comments, tweeted us, etc. for our 2-year blog anniversary. We have definitely been riding a high all week, and even more so because our first Twitter Chat was absolutely so much fun and we can’t wait to do it again. So big hugs to those who chatted with us for close to 2 hours using the #rbrbash hashtag. It was so fun to hear what people love about books, what guys they like over Zac Efron (we are still crying over this) and what you look for in blogs you read and your own blogging habits. Hopefully we can do another chat soon!

No v-logs today for Shelve It, but instead we are going to highlight some upcoming releases that will be hanging out on our eReaders in the next few months. Not only is it crazy to believe that the new year is going to get here before we know it, but April books available to read? It’s like an early Christmas present! An early spring! An early everything!


Ink is Thicker than Water by Amy Spalding
Racing Savannah by Miranda Kenneally
Big Sky Secrets by Linda Mael Miller (cowboy romance!)


Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill
Going Rogue (Also Known As novel) by Robin Benway


Something Real by Heather Demetrios
Curl Up and Dye by Sharon Sala (adult lit!)


The Summer I Found You by Jolene Perry
Returning to Shore by Corinne Demas
The Other Way Around by Sashi Kaufman
The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner


Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
Far from You by Tess Sharpe
The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer

So much goodness to look forward to! I know we are going to concentrate a lot on mixing new releases and older book in the coming year so it’s going to be really fun to not only read these upcoming books but also explore our bookshelves for some favorites we didn’t even know we had.

What books are you most looking forward to in 2014? Are you changing up what you read at all?


In case you missed it:

We have two giveaways going on right now: 40 books for 4 winners | The Perfect Match, great romance novel!

On the blog this week:

Reviews for If I Lie by Corrine Jackson | Fault Line by Christa Desir | The Secret Ingredient by Stewart Lewis


Thanks for visiting! Have a great reading week!

Happy 2nd Anniversary to Rather Be Reading!

estelle and magan celebrate two years of blogging at rather be reading

Today is a super duper exciting day for us! (Well, technically November 1st was.) WE HAVE BEEN BLOGGING FOR TWO YEARS! Holy cow, you guys. Where has time gone? How have we been at this for TWO years already? As the saying goes, “Time flies when you’re having fun” and that definitely seems true when you’re doing something amazing with one of your best friends in the whole wide world.

We thought we’d highlight a few of our favorite moments since we began. So, so much has happened and it’s nice to reflect on all we’ve done and look back on the hard work and love we’ve poured into our little corner of the world wide web. Oh, and maybe, just maybe, there’s a giveaway at the end, too. How could we NOT celebrate with books?


Favorite Personal Posts


Magan's Pregnancy Announcement



It kind of goes without saying that one of my favorite moments to get to share with you guys was announcing my pregnancy. My whole body was shaking that day as I read your comments, received your tweets/texts, and sobbed as I was so overwhelmed by your excitement for Dustyn and I. BEST FREAKING DAY EVER.






On a Personal Note The Internet and I Screencap


I’m not going to lie… this post was really hard to write. But I guess it’s kind of inevitable after investing so much of my time into two internet communities for the past two years to come away with a few lessons. This post might be about friendships, people not being who you think they are, but it’s also a lot about what I want out of my own “internet” experience and how it’s impossible for it not to mesh into my real life. (I have to say, I received some of the most thoughtful comments on this one and I loved reading all of them.)



Favorite Blogging Posts


A Beginner's Guide to Austin TX


Our Beginner’s Guidebook to Austin, TX is a relatively new post to Rather Be Reading and there were several I wanted to pinpoint (like our YA Yearbook post or our crafting post), but I loved that this one was so interactive and part of my city, Austin, TX, and that I got to explore and HANG OUT WITH ESTELLE. That’s not something we get to do frequently together because we’re separated by (too many) miles. This post is photographic evidence of the fun we had and the memories we made.







NA Slumber Party Screencap


NA Slumber Party is a relatively new adventure that I have been so so so happy to be a part of. It’s honestly a testament to some wonderful, talented, hilarious people in this community. I get to read a book I probably wouldn’t normally pick up and share it with Asheley, Betty, Kelly, and Cassie. It’s a total blast, and checking out 3:AM Kisses by Addison Moore was so blush-worthy and fantastic… and just goes to show, you never know what’s going to happen when you team up with people. This is one of those happy accidents that I’m so grateful for.




Favorite Reads


Magan's Review of Winger by Andrew Smith



One of the most impactful books I’ve read this year is Winger by Andrew Smith. It was unique, fresh, hilarious, and a little bit sad, too. Talk about walking me through a gamut of emotions — this book did it. If you haven’t read it, add it to your TBR list yesterday. Or now. (Honorable mentions: manicpixiedreamgirl by Tom Leveen / Golden by Jessi Kirby / If He Had Been With Me by Laura Nowlin)





Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg Screenshot


I think it’s really funny than Magan and I both picked books with male narrators (something I always feel that is lacking in YA lit). There are too many books I could spotlight for this prompt but seriously Openly Straight hit me like a ton of bricks and has not left my brain. I loved main character Rafe who just wants to be a normal guy, his relationships with the guys at his new boarding school, and his freaking fantastic parents. Konigsberg is one of my favorite discoveries of the year & I cannot stop recommending this book to THE WORLD. (Runner up is OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu. Make me happy and go pick these titles up. Thanks!)


Our Celebratory Giveaway

We’ve taken forty books from our bookshelves to gift four winners. That’s ten books to each winner! All entrants must be 13 years of age or older and reside in the U.S. or Canada. Here are the books we’ll be giving away:

two year book blogging anniversary

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Thank you to all of our Rather Be Reading readers for continuing to be so encouraging and supportive.
Thank you for every comment, every post you read, every book recommendation — all of it. Thank you!

Join us this evening, 11/5, for our anniversary Twitter chat.
Follow us @ReadingGals and use hashtag #RBRbash!
We’ll see you there to talk all things books, boys, etc. at 9pm EST!

Shelve It: Double the V-Logs

weekly feature to share the books magan and estelle are adding to their bookshelves each week

Hey, hey! We’re both here this lovely Sunday with vlogs for you in this week’s Shelve It! We’re going to be celebrating our two year anniversary this week and we wanted to say hello, catch up, and remind you of something fun we have coming up this Tuesday! We’ll be doing a Twitter chat from our joint account @ReadingGals on 11/5 at 9pm EST. You can follow along and/or chat with us by using the hashtag #RBRbash. Please join in! We can’t wait to have some fun and talk all things book (and non-book) related with you guys!

Until then, here is a vlog from each of us. Estelle got some super awesome deals on books and Magan chimes in with her Allegiant hesitations, a book she didn’t finish, and more!

Books Estelle bought:

Time After Time by Tamara Ireland Stone
Just One Day by Gayle Forman (paperback!)
Playing Dirty by Jennifer Echols
Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan
Tangerine by Edward Bloor
Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters by Natalie Standiford
The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs
Charmed Thirds by Megan McCafferty
Prom & Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg
Freshman Year & other Unnatural Disasters by Meredith Zeitlin

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson gifted to me by the lovely Melissa from Writer Grrl Reads. Thank you thank you!

Books Magan bought:

Allegiant by Veronica Roth
He’s Gone by Deb Caletti
The Distance Between Us by Kasie West
Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas
Fingerprints of You by Kristen-Paige Madonia

Also recently gifted: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn from Hannah of So Obsessed With. Thank you, sweet lady! 🙂

« »

What Happened on Rather Be Reading This Week:

A review of The Vow by Jessica Martinez
A Big Kids’ Table Featuring YA Authors Suggesting Adult Reads
A Beginner’s Guidebook to Austin via Lovestruck Summer by Melissa Walker
A review of Reality Boy by A.S. King
A review of Playing Dirty by Jennifer Echols

« »

Thanks for watching our vlogs in this week’s Shelve It!
Have a fantastic week and join us on 11/5 for our twitter chat at 9pm EST!

A Beginner’s Guidebook to Austin via Lovestruck Summer

Back in August, Estelle visited Austin (!!!). On her flight, she re-read Melissa Walker’s Lovestruck Summer, which she’s raved to me about so, so much (and as she did in her review). Seeing as it’s set in my city, Austin, TX, I knew I needed to read it, too. Plus I just adore Melissa’s writing. While Estelle was in flight, I joined her in reading so that we could explore Austin through Melissa’s lens. With the digital release of Lovestruck Summer, we decided to tour Austin just as Quinn would have as she interned there for the summer.

First, you are probably wondering what Lovestruck Summer is all about, right? Quinn is a super music fanatic who bamboozles her way into a killer internship at a small music label in Austin for the summer. The job is not exactly what she envisioned and neither is living with her super girlie cousin and cross-dressing dog. The rugged cowboy college student next door, Russ, is totally determined to get Quinn off the couch and off to explore the finer parts of Austin.

So buckle your seatbelts! Estelle and I are taking you on a tour of Austin today! We’ll be chatting about the book, sharing photographs from around the city that we took together of specific landmarks or favorite hot-spots, and some of our favorite quotes to encourage you to download Lovestruck Summer ASAP!

Lovestruck Summer Melissa Walker 01

NOTE: This guy isn’t specifically mentioned in Lovestruck Summer, but he’s iconic around the University of Texas campus. Bevo (the UT Longhorn mascot) stands proudly in the parking lot near the Co-Op, the university bookstore, greeting all that come and go.

Lovestruck Summer Melissa Walker 13

“Penny is the newly elected president of a powerful University of Texas sorority–The UT Tri-Pi’s. I half thought she was kidding about the sorority thing, but when we walk into the condo, I realize that she is dead serious. Above the faux marble mantle, there are metallic purple letters that say Pi Pi Pi. Atop every surface in the living room–from end tables to windowsills–are framed photos showcasing the electric smiles of groups of girls in rainbow-colored dresses with cookie-cutter guys at their sides.”
Walker, Melissa (2009-05-05). Lovestruck Summer (p. 11). . Kindle Edition.
NOTE: So this isn’t exactly the Tri-Pi house Quinn’s cousin Penny was the President of, but it seemed fitting when we walked past it off-campus.

Lovestruck Summer Melissa Walker 02

“I found out that the guy with the weird high voice is Daniel Johnston, a native son of Texas who inspired musicians like Kurt Cobain in the early 90s. Daniel’s an artist, too, and I even bought a t-shirt with a design he drew of a little alien frog who’s saying, “Hi how are you?” It’s kind of an Austin thing, the girl at the store told me.”
Walker, Melissa (2009-05-05). Lovestruck Summer (pp. 76-77). . Kindle Edition.
NOTE: this wall is at the intersection of 21st and Guadalupe near the UT campus.

Lovestruck Summer Melissa Walker 03

“When I reach campus, my water’s almost gone. I find a drinking fountain and re-fill it before I spread out on the first big stretch of grass I find. Under a tree. I can’t risk getting sun, and I’ve never been into tanning. Besides, did I mention it’s a thousand degrees outside? It is. There are lots of students around, but I’m sure the crowds are much bigger during the year. Summer is always the best season in a college town, when the student population thins out a little.”
Walker, Melissa (2009-05-05). Lovestruck Summer (p. 44). . Kindle Edition.
NOTE: I, M, attended UT and as I was reading, I imagined this would be the area Quinn escaped to. This area of campus is referred to as the Six-Pack and during the school year, it’s covered with students in between classes who are either sleeping or studying. Oh, and yes, it definitely felt like 1000 degrees on the day we were there. SO HOT.

Lovestruck Summer Melissa Walker 04

Lovestruck Summer Melissa Walker 06

“On Friday night, I have plans to meet Jade and Sebastian at Dirty’s. I go to Jade’s house first to pick her up–she doesn’t live too far from The Drag, which is this main strip near campus, and it’s definitely my turn to drive.”
Walker, Melissa (2009-05-05). Lovestruck Summer (p. 122). . Kindle Edition.
NOTE: The Drag is a stretch of Guadalupe St. by campus that is packed with hole-in-the-wall restaurants, coffee shops, the University Co-Op, tons of graffitied walls, and students constantly moving about. We walked down a large stretch and may or may not have stopped into Urban Outfitters to shop for a little while (and cool off in their AC).

Lovestruck Summer Melissa Walker 07Lovestruck Summer Melissa Walker 08Lovestruck Summer Melissa Walker 09Lovestruck Summer Melissa Walker 10Lovestruck Summer Melissa Walker 11Lovestruck Summer Melissa Walker 12

Lovestruck Summer Melissa Walker-14

“When Russ parks the truck in the parking lot of the Four Seasons Hotel , I give him a skeptical eye. He grabs an old umbrella out of the back cab, confusing me further. The sky is crystal clear.”
Walker, Melissa (2009-05-05). Lovestruck Summer (pp. 117-118). . Kindle Edition.

“So there are probably a million bats under that bridge right now.”
“You mean like flying minions of Dracula?” I ask. “That kind of bat?”
“I wouldn’t bring vampires into this,” says Russ. “But yes, that kind of bat.”
“I’m intrigued,” I admit. “Go on.”
“Well, at sunset, they all come out to look for food ,” he says. “They stream over the water and fill the sky with black wings. It’s incredible! It’s like this giant cloud of creatures hovering over you.”
Walker, Melissa (2009-05-05). Lovestruck Summer (pp. 118-119). . Kindle Edition.

Lovestruck Summer Melissa Walker-18

“Even without the bats flying, this time around day’s end is stunning. There is a brief golden moment that seem like it comes straight out of a cinematographer’s filmic dream–the sparkling glow on the water, the bright green of the grass under the rose-hued sky. And Russ’s hair with a shimmer of sundown in it. It’s like a song.”
Walker, Melissa (2009-05-05). Lovestruck Summer (p. 121). . Kindle Edition.

Lovestruck Summer Melissa Walker-19

NOTE: This guy was sitting on a little dock overlooking Lady Bird Lake, headphones plugged into his ears, and singing at the top of his lungs (extremely off-key). We couldn’t help but pause and discuss his lack of humility and how fitting it was that he was so into his music…especially considering how musically focused Lovestruck Summer is. He was just begging to be photographed, really.

Lovestruck Summer Melissa Walker-20

NOTE: We walked down near the Four Seasons hotel where Russ and Quinn would have stood to watch the bats, but another great view is from the Congress Bridge. These people were lined up along the bridge and were able to watch the bats exit the bridge right under their feet.

Lovestruck Summer Melissa Walker-16Lovestruck Summer Melissa Walker-17

Estelle: Austin is one of my favorite places to visit. Not only is the atmosphere awesome and the people are so incredibly nice but two of my best friends live there! (You know one of them.) Before I met up with Magan during my trip, my friend took me tubing in a river. (Another moment included in Melissa’s book.) I highly recommend it, even if you look a little funny trying to hop into your tube. It was so relaxing and a nice way to drink sangria with friends.

There were a few times we kept bumping into 3 girls on tubes and finally just gave up and started talking to them. Such lovely people who were very excited about me visiting and started listed “must-dos” of Austin. I felt like a broken record because EVERYTHING they mentioned was in Melissa’s Lovestuck Summer. I already felt in the know. So this book can definitely be a beacon for anyone visiting this super cool place for the first time, or even a checklist for what you want to accomplish on future trips. I felt super connected to Quinn. (And even lent my copy of Melissa’s book to my other Austin best friend.)

Magan: So, so much of Lovestruck Summer felt incredibly authentic. I kept a running list while I was reading of locations I was familiar with that I wanted to take Estelle. There were, unfortunately, a few that we weren’t able to hit up (like the beautiful San Jose Hotel on South Congress), but I think it’s kind of nice that we have a few places to look forward to going together. Maybe next time we’ll plan a little better and it won’t be August and we won’t be sweating our way through the trip!

Aside from all the amazing landmarks mentioned in this awesome book, the music scene is incredibly inspiring. I wanted to get out of the house and listen to more music. I wanted to look up every band that was mentioned (even if some of them were made up). I’m not really sure why I didn’t read Lovestruck Summer sooner. Absolutely, absolutely put it on your to-read list. Or if you’re feeling wild, take a moment to download it for your Kindle. It’s only $3.99 and well worth the price!


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