Sweet Summertime Reads - Summer Beach Reads Feature with Fiction Folio and GReads!

Sweet Summertime Reads: The Yearbook

Sweet Summertime Reads - Summer Beach Reads Feature with Fiction Folio and GReads!

Welcome back for another Sweet Summertime Reads post. As summer winds down, stores fill up with huge school supplies displays that make us yearn for the days we’d be doing our school shopping and prepping for our first days of school. So this week, Ginger, Tara, and the two of us are focusing on going back to school. Estelle and I thought we’d celebrate the new school year with some of our favorite books and aspects of going back to school.

making new friends.

winger by andrew smith and the reece malcolm list by amy spalding

Winger by Andrew Smith: Goodreads | Amazon | Magan’s Review
The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding: Goodreads | Amazon | Estelle’s Review

M: In my tiny little town, there wasn’t a lot of people turnover. Friends from year to year pretty much stayed the same and since my school included Pre-K through 12th grade, there was no changing campuses and fretting over who I would meet. New people were scarce. Maybe that’s why I get nostalgic when I read about YA characters venturing into new schools. It seems like such an opportunity — a fresh start. However, it also seems frightening and kind of scary! I loved how Ryan Dean was taken completely out of his comfort zone by having to live with guys he had preconceived notions about. Definitely changed his perspective and life. Read Winger, y’all!

E: My town wasn’t really THAT tiny, and I don’t remember every starting a school year thinking “oh yay! I can’t wait to make new friends!” Probably because I just couldn’t wait to see my old ones. In high school it was a little different when we were able to choose our own electives (creative writing, journalism) and started to get paired up with different people in our class. (I graduated with 742.) I remember making some special friends in those classes just like Devan was trying to / starting to make with some of the theatre kids at her school.

new clothes.

going vintage by lindsey leavitt and queen of kentucky

Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt: Goodreads | Amazon | Magan’s Review
The Queen of Kentucky by Alecia Whitaker : Goodreads | Amazon

M: Clothes shopping was something that was a favorite, favorite part of my going back to school experience. I would plan out my outfits for weeks. We didn’t shop at the nicest stores or have tons of money to splurge on tons of new things, but I was really excited about the experience. I love, love, loved going with my mom. If only my taste was an ounce as awesome as Mallory’s in Going Vintage. I wasn’t nearly that brave or cool.

E: The best part of back to school was definitely buying new fall clothes, and then picking out what I would wear the first day back. So so exciting. (As I got older, I did stop wearing the dresses and tried to be cooler by wearing jeans.) Queen of Kentucky is such a great book in general because it deals with fitting in with a new group of kids but also maintaining who you are. Ricki Jo is a hilarious main character and she has some fun makeover moments that I loved experiencing with her!

after school activities + clubs.


Band Geek Love by Josie Bloss: Goodreads | Amazon
Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe by Shelley Coriell: Goodreads | Amazon | Magan’s Review | Themed Gift Pack

E: I’ve talked about it on here plenty of times, but I was a band geek. I was a majorette (twirled a baton) but I went to band camp, had practice after school every day, went to every single high school football game (home and away), and performed at other events too. It was like a full-time commitment, and I loved the friends that came along with it. But there was drama and a lot of romance and a lot of gossip, and Band Geek Love gets that so so right.

M: Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe made me really wish my school had it’s own little radio show. I desperately wished I could have been spending time with the mismatched crew after school trying to save the radio from being cut off. Despite not having that experience, I could visualize every moment of it.

sports + athletics.

dairy queen by Catherine Gilbert Merdoch and Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdoch: Goodreads | Amazon
Dare You To by Katie McGarry: Goodreads | Amazon | Estelle’s Review

M: Dairy Queen is my current audiobook read and oh. my. gosh am I loving it. DJ is so full of personality and my, oh, my does it make me want to do another rewatch of Friday Night Lights. The football rivalry runs so deep in DQ. DJ knows her stuff and definitely knows how to stand up for herself, even around pig-headed football players. This is one book that definitely had me more alert than listening to music as I drove to photograph a wedding.

E: I used to play softball in a league not related to school, but I did play with a few classmates and we always invited our teachers to come to our games. (Such suck ups, we were.) My high school “team” was really the marching band (see above and YES it is a sport) but when I’m reading books now of kids this age playing sports, I really wish I would have had the guts to play for the softball team. Ryan in Dare You To was an amazing baseball player and so motivated to make it big. I loved seeing that side of his character.

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Did you see the awesome kindergarten and high school photos Ginger shared in her back to school post?

Make sure you check out Tara’s blog later this week for her back to school post, too! Can’t wait to see what she comes up with!

Tell us what your favorite back-to-school book recommendations would be…

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

Estelle + Magan: A Joint Shelve It from Texas!

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

These last few days, we’ve been together, reunited in Texas. Holy crap, you guys! It’s been amazing. But as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. Estelle left yesterday afternoon to head back to NYC and Magan spent the remainder of the day crying. Every time we see each other, we wish we lived closer to one another.

We made a joint Shelve It our first evening together. Estelle brought a few books for Magan to read and over the last few weeks, Magan’s gotten a few new ones in the mail. Enjoy!

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Books Mentioned:

  • Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher — Release Date 11/12/13 — Goodreads | Amazon
  • Runt by Nora Raleigh Baskin — Release Date 7/23/13 — Goodreads | Amazon
  • All the Truth That’s in Me by Julie Berry — Release Date 9/26/13 — Goodreads | Amazon
  • Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith — Release Date 2/20/14 — Goodreads | Amazon
  • OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu — Release Date 7/23/13 — Goodreads | Amazon | E’s Review
  • Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan — Release Date 8/29/13 — Goodreads | Amazon
  • Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan — Release Date 8/27/13 — Goodreads | Amazon

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Huge THANK YOUS to Stasia Ward Kehoe for Runt and All the Truth That’s in Me
and Jess from Gone With the Words for Grasshopper Jungle!

And, of course, stay tuned for more Shelve Its from us because we couldn’t avoid going to a bookstore.
Kind of inevitable, right? Estelle went home with as many books as she brought to Texas!

Happy Wednesday, friends! Thanks for checking out our Shelve It post!

Sweet Summertime Reads: Crafts and Sips


Welcome to a live post coming to you straight from Texas! For the first time ever Magan and I are working across from each other at the same table! So so exciting. When we knew I was definitely coming to visit for a few days, we were so thrilled to come up with a project we could actually work on together.

So how about a little arts and crafts?

A few months back, blogger and artist Lauren Donaldson was kind enough to send us a copy of MASON JAR CRAFTS. It’s a neat little book filled with every day crafting ideas, as well as wedding and holiday projects too.

Since we’re a little rusty in the crafting department and wanted to make something with usability, we opted to create some mason jar drinking glasses inspired by one of Lauren’s projects.

Martha Stewart Paints – We purchased these for another project, but it turned out that we needed them for this one as well. You’ll notice we were using paint pens in a few of the photos, but we soon realized those weren’t working very well and we swapped to these guys.

The MASON JAR CRAFTS book and the stencils we chose for the lettering on our mason jars (also made by Martha Stewart).

More lettering and the arrow Magan ultimately chose to use in the end.

Our mason jars, two for each of us!

Estelle working on her jars, lining the vinyl stencils up perfectly. (Magan was terrible at this.)

Magan trying to use the paint marker backwards to demonstrate her terrible technique. (Again, the paint markers didn’t work well with the stencils.)

Estelle laughing as we worked through a few trial and error problems with cleaning the stencils after using the paint markers.

Another attempt before we began using the paint shown above.

Estelle demonstrating the “HIS” mason jar she was making.

Magan began stenciling her name on a mason jar, but when the markers failed, she swapped to the cute arrows included in the stencil set.

A completed arrow successfully created with the Martha Steward glass paints.

Estelle’s successfully completed “HERS” jar with the Martha Stewart paint.

Estelle’s completed “HIS” and “HERS” mason jars!

For a refreshing beverage option, we mixed up one of TEQUILA MOCKINGBIRD’S (by Tim Federle) non-alcoholic goodies inspired by Where the Wild Things Are. (We were also wearing our pajamas when we first sampled them so we thought that was fitting!) The drink mixes pear juice, lemonade, and ginger ale on the rocks. We absolutely loved it.

The ingredients we needed to make our beverages. (Yes, we did use Gerber pear juice. We couldn’t find it anywhere else in Target. And it tasted great…!)

Estelle mixing the lemonade into the pear juice.

Our completed beverages, reading for drinking!

Estelle laughing as Magan awkwardly tried to get her initial reaction to the drink. Don’t worry, we fully approved.

Estelle’s completed, dried mason jar glasses.


For more Sweet Summertime Reads, check out the details of Ginger’s Chicago trip!

And, of course, Tara’s Fiction Folio will have some fun for you on Thursday!

Sweet Summertime Reads - Summer Beach Reads Feature with Fiction Folio and GReads!

Sweet Summertime Reads: From Songs to Pages

Sweet Summertime Reads - Summer Beach Reads Feature with Fiction Folio and GReads!
It’s music week for us! If you stopped by Ginger’s post yesterday, you’ll see that she created a Sweet Summertime Reads playlist for this year! Hopefully you’ll find some fun new tracks to jam to during your own summer adventures.

So what’s our contribution this week? Well, you know we love stories. Duh, we have a book blog and read like it’s going out of style. Books teach us about people and make us feel so many different emotions; music is like that in a lot of ways. It may not be the singer’s story but it is someone’s. This is why we decided to pick a few tunes that we would think inspire some great stories we’d love to find on our bookshelves one day!

Hope you enjoy!


I Don’t Want This Night to End by Luke Bryan

I’m a self-proclaimed country music fan. I just love how the songs tell us a complete story. There’s so much to get our of the lyrics, and when they are good, so good, they can make you feel a little sexy. (I’m not alone in this; Rachel from Rachel Reads feels the same way.)

Now this particular song came out last year, but oh man. I still love it like it was just released five minutes ago. There’s something so intriguing about a guy and a girl spending one night hanging out together, not knowing what’s going to happen the next day. The freedom of the open road, learning about each other, and oh the mystery.

Favorite line: “I don’t know what road we’re on or where we’ve been/ From staring at you, girl / All I know is I don’t want this night to end.”

Related book: From What I Remember by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas

Unemployed Boyfriend by Everclear

An oldie but goodie that is close to my heart. One summer, my ex-boyfriend’s best friend burned me a bunch of CDs to take on my annual Florida road trip. Everclear’s Songs from an American Movie Volume 1 was one of them and it is still one of my favorite albums of all time.

Because the answering machine message frames the beginning and ending of the song… it always felt so cinematic to me. Like I could see these characters in my head. A boy watching a girl who is not in the best relationship. He’s the good guy for her but will she ever notice him? This actually seems like it would be more of a mature young adult book (especially with the lyrics) but it could so work.

Truth: When I used to listen to this song in high school, I wanted the nice guy to be mine. I really did.

Favorite line: “Yeah you can be with me / Yes I will treat you like a queen / I will go to all those chick flick movies / That I really don’t want to see.”


Last Kiss by Taylor Swift


So unlike Estelle, I haven’t always been the biggest country music fan. In fact, I protested Taylor Swift for years and years because I just couldn’t get into her music. But by golly, her catchy lyrics eventually won me over and slowly, oh so slowly, I’ve started listening to more and more country music. Yes, I do realize I’m the one from Texas and I should bleed country music, but alas, it’s an acquired taste for me.

But back to the song. This is really a melodramatic choice. It’s about the ending of a relationship and how you don’t really expect that to happen. Remembering the good times is bittersweet, but I love how there’s a positive spin here — two people may not be meant for each other, but you can still wish them well and hope the best for them. I love the implication that we can be changed forever by a relationship.

Favorite line: “I don’t know how to be something you miss / I never thought we’d have a last kiss / Never imagined we’d end like this / Your name, forever the name on my lips”

Radioactive by Imagine Dragons

My “Magan Needs a Save the World” book side would really love to read a book with the power that this song evokes. It’s about being in the midst of a crisis and starting a revolution — being prepared to kick some major ass and fight. I really think this could apply to so, so much — life crises or the end of the world. We have to believe anything is possible and be prepared to stand our ground and fight.

Favorite line: “I’m waking up, I feel it in my bones / Enough to make my systems blow / Welcome to the new age, to the new age”


Tell us what songs you want to become a book!
Listen to Ginger’s Sweet Summertime Reads Playlist.
Check out Tara’s music-inspired post on Thursday at Fiction Folio.
*Bonus: Listen to Cassie and Betty’s Summer Playlist and Road Trip Playlist.*

Nailed It: August 2013 Book Releases + Pretty Colors

Every time, we throw one of these posts together… we can’t believe another month is come to a close. August 2013 Book Releases? So crazy how fast the summer is going. Hope you are enjoying all your books and painting your nails!

Last month, we changed things up and used Zoya colors to make some book cover palettes. We gave one of our colors away, and Jennifer won and picked an awesome red called Diana! She sent us a picture of her gorgeous manicure!

Zoya Diana from Nailed It Rather Be Reading Blog winner

Doesn’t it look fantastic?

Jumping back to this month, we’re back to the rainbow of Julep colors out there and hope you enjoy what we came up with this time around!



The Hero by Robyn Carr

Nailed It The Hero by Robyn Carr August 2013, part of Thunder Point series

This is actually the first “big kid” book I’ve picked to feature for Nailed It! The books in Robyn Carr’s Thunder Point series have such dreamy covers, and when I first spotted The Hero… I was just so taken with how gorgeous the colors were. It’s such a striking cover, and from all the rumors I’m hearing, it’s the best in the series so far. (Yes!!)

Unlike other romance novels I’ve read recently, Carr’s Thunder Point series jumps from various people in town rather than focusing on just one person’s story. I like this a lot because you can really invest yourself in the characters and don’t feel like you are missing too much when you move to another book. In The Hero, we have a new football coach, a young boy who just found out who is bio dad is, and a lot more hi-jinx. I can’t wait to get started.

As for the color palette, purple has always been one of my favorite colors + I just love the shades here. Perfect for the summer but also workable for the transition to the fall.

Alaina | Gabrielle | Alice


Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

cover love for counting by 7s by holly goldberg sloan

I haven’t read a book by Holly Goldberg Sloan yet, but I’d like to change that right now. I’ve heard amazing accolades sung for this particular book. “It should win awards” has been one of the best endorsements I’ve heard for it. That means a lot, right?

Plus, this cover is ridiculously awesome. I’m so in love with the color combination and the layout. If you walked into my house, you wouldn’t be surprised to find these colors accenting our home. I’m so drawn to them! I love the pops of color on the clean white background. And the typography? Nice, simple, understated. I sent this ARC to Estelle after I went to ALA and I can’t *wait* to hear what she thinks about it. This might be a pre-order book for me soon!

Lena | Jackie | Harper


So tell us what you think of our Nailed It selections for August!
What covers are you guys loving right now and what books are you anxious
to get your hands on this coming month?

Sweet Summertime Reads - Summer Beach Reads Feature with Fiction Folio and GReads!

Sweet Summertime Reads | Oh, the Places We Would Go (in NY + TX)…

Sweet Summertime Reads - Summer Beach Reads Feature with Fiction Folio and GReads!

Welcome back for this week’s Sweet Summertime Reads post! This week we’re discussing road trips. Yesterday Ginger shared her desire to road trip along the California Pacific Coast Highway. (Sidenote: Five years ago, Magan called San Diego home and Ginger’s post made her extremely nostalgic. Friends, if you ever have the chance to drive with your windows down and meander along the PCH, please, please do so!) But back to business — for our road trips, we thought it would be fun to share a few places we’d want to take one another if we got to hang out together in our hometowns. Are you ready? Buckle your seat belt!


Well, you see. I grew up in a town of 350 people. Yes, as in that was the population. There were NO stop lights and a blinking intersection made its way town as I was making my exit. The nearest Wal-Mart was about a 30 minute drive away. As you can guess, there wasn’t a whole bunch to see there. I’m kind of cheating and taking Estelle (and you!) on a road trip through Austin, where I currently live. It’s way cooler. And there’s a ton more to do. (Also! Estelle will be visiting me in a few short weeks so some of these things might really be happening, y’all!) 

One of my favorite, favorite locations in Austin is Mount Bonnell. It’s a lookout point over Lake Austin. You have to climb tons of steps to reach the top, but the view is so worth it. On a clear day, you can look left (south) and see downtown Austin. Turn your head 180 degrees to the right and you can see the gorgeous lake curving around the city.

Oh, and you wanna know why this spot is a favorite of mine? It marks the beginning of my marriage to Dustyn. He proposed to me here one somewhat rainy November day almost TEN years ago. We climbed out to the farthest overhang and he feared for his life so he didn’t drop down on one knee (he doesn’t have the best balance), but he whispered sweet words to me and asked me to be his wife. *swoon*

mount bonnell - a place to visit in austin texas

Left Image from Austin Parks & Rec; Right Image from Austin Night Owl

Next up on our road trip would either be Hamilton Pool or Barton Springs Pool. It can be your choice, I promise. You see, we’re doing a summertime feature, so I’m assuming that you’re visiting in that time frame…and guys, it’s HOT here. We’ll need to cool off, especially after our climb up Mount Bonnell. Hamilton Pool (below, left) is absolutely gorgeous. Stunning really. It just seems like it’s carved right out of the earth. And Barton Springs Pool (below, right) — well, it’s about 68 degrees year-round, according to the Parks & Rec website. Sounds delightful, doesn’t it?

And our final stop for the day would most definitely have to involve some food, right? I think yes. We’re hypothetically going to have a long day of climbing and swimming (or getting a tan). We’re going to be hungry after all of that. AND, I can’t let Estelle or you guys come to Austin, Texas and not have some BBQ. Allow me to introduce you to one of my most favorite BBQ locations, The Salt Lick. There are a few locations around Austin, but I wouldn’t be a good host if I didn’t take you to the original out in Driftwood, TX. It’s located about 30 minutes outside of Austin, and has more seating (read: picnic tables) and BBQ than one could possibly imagine. Their food is absolutely delicious. In fact, my stomach is growling right now. Yum, yum.

the salt lick -- places to eat in austin texas

Image from Trip Advisor

So that wraps up my day trip through Austin, Texas. Whatdya think? When are you visiting? 😉


Greetings! I’m going to tell you something revolutionary: New York City is really hot during the summer. If someone (Magan, perhaps) asked me what time of year they should visit, I would probably suggest the fall or Christmastime. But alas, I will play tour guide for any of my pals when they come to visit. Here are a few of the stops I think that Magan (and you!) should put on your to-do list for your next Manhattan visit!

I’m going to start with the good stuff. Forget the romance in Serendipity. How about the friendship? I always loved that scene where Kate Beckinsale and Molly Shannon had dessert at the restaurant of the same name. Known for this delicious frrrozen hot chocolates and lovely vintage/eclectic decor, this little gem of an eatery is worth the long wait. (For those of you who are wondering, the actual real food a.k.a. not dessert is super delicious too.)

Since Magan is a photographer extraordinaire, I wanted to think of a place with some amazing views. I’ve never been to the High Line before. It’s an elevated park built on a freight line and it has an interesting mix of greenery and the concrete jungle that NYC is all about. During the summer, the park has some great events including STAR GAZING on Tuesday evenings. I asked Magan if she thought that was too romantic to include for a gal pal date but because she’s the best sport, she loved it. So not only did I think the High Line would be a great place for Magan to shoot, but we can also sit back and read on the lawn, or grab a cold drink or snack from the food trucks. So fun!

 Reading Tara Altebrando’s Dreamland Social Club last year convinced me Coney Island was a must-do. This trip (it’s about an hour out of Manhattan by subway) would have a bit of everything: Nathan’s hot dogs, a walk on the boardwalk, a dip in the ocean, and just a nice summer way to escape the city. Plus there are fireworks every Friday night during the summer. That sounds like the perfect ending to a beach day!


On Thursday, be sure to stop over at Fiction Folio to see where Tara is road trippin for Sweet Summertime Reads.

What are your favorite places to explore in your own hometown?