It’s Here: Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally

Christmas has come early at Rather Be Reading!

We are really excited to present you with the cover of Miranda Kenneally’s upcoming novel: Breathe, Annie, Breathe. We have been huge fans of Miranda’s work since the release of Catching Jordan: she writes about brave young women with different backgrounds, beliefs, goals, and dreams. We love that about her.

Okay, okay, we can’t hold it in any longer. Here’s the gorgeous new cover of Breathe, Annie, Breathe:

Breathe Annie Breathe by Miranda Kenneally: cover reveal at Rather Be Reading Blog

Breathe, Annie, Breathe is part of the Hundred Oaks series and will be releases on July 1, 2014. Here’s the official summary:

Eighteen-year-old Annie Winters can barely run a mile without wheezing. Still, she’s training to run the Music City Marathon in seven short months. Running is so not her thing, but she has to finish what her boyfriend started… before he died.

Annie feels guilt that she’s still alive and blames herself for his death; she has to do this to honor him – running a marathon was his dream. Plus training gives her something to do, it’s a distraction. So is Jeremiah Brown. 

He’s an adrenaline junkie who runs marathons backwards. He flirts with Annie on the trails and it makes her feel alive and happy and guilty all at the same time. She wants to both race into his arms and sprint in the opposite direction – because loving is a risk she’s not sure she’s ready to take again…

Are you as psyched as we are?!

Be sure to add Breathe, Annie, Breathe to your reading list and stay up to date with Miranda’s work on Twitter and her website!

Now we just have to sit around and wait until July….

(In the meantime, take a visit to Hundred Oaks and check out Miranda’s latest: Racing Savannah! It’s so so so good!)

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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Turnin Up the Heat: Forget You by Jennifer Echols

Jennifer Echols Week Hosted by Kate's Tales of Books and Bands

Hello there! The wonderful Katelyn at Tales of Books and Bands is geniusly hosting Jennifer Echols Week! Magan and I are huge Echols fans, and we have been since before we started writing our blog. She is so so skilled at chemistry, tension, those delectable sexy moments, and creating fantastically addicting stories.

To celebrate Katelyn’s event, I decided to re-read Forget You this past weekend. It’s one of my top Echols books (Going Too Far holds my heart still); main character Zoey is dealing with problems at home with her dad marrying a very young woman he impregnanted and her mom not taking it well. Things get undeniably worse when she is in a car accident and can’t remember a thing about right before the accident or during. All she knows is Doug Fox, who outwardly despises her, is suddenly not letting her out of his sight and thinking they have a “thing”. Cute boy, a mystery, and a girl with a lot on her plate. Sounds fun, right?

This book was practically sizzling in my hands. The love/hate relationship, the unknowns, and the attraction between Doug and Zoey made this a total page-turner.

So today I’m dissecting the heat. Because how hot is hot? I guess we’ll find out with help from some of my favorite “boyfriends”.

setting.

Imagine the Florida Panhandle at the end of summer. It’s warm and steamy with lots of beach parties, topless boys, and a gorgeous ocean to cool off. (Three of my favorite things.) Plus Zoey, our main character, has some of her shoreline practically in her own backyard. Sounds pretty amazing, right?

survey says:

Rather Be Reading Turnin Up the Heat Zac Efron Rating

What does this mean? Pretty close to sizzling perfection. (Look at those eyes! Wait. Must focus on book.)

main character.

Not only is Zoey pretty and super fit (she’s captain of the swim team!) but she’s really good at taking care of people. Even when they screw her over. Even though she spends most of the book trying to figure out just what happened the day of the accident and working through all the changes in her family, you have to admire her for her dedication.

survey says:

Rather Be Reading Turnin Up the Heat Ryan Gosling Rating

What does this mean? Hey girl, I’m seriously intrigued even if you act kind of crazy in this book. P.S. You are H-O-T.

the boy.

Doug Fox is part Asian, has great hair, long eyelashes, a swimmer’s bod, and a great musical laugh. (According to Zoey.) He can be sort of bratty though and has a little temper but that fiery spirit makes him oh-so delicious because he’s kind of unattainable. And he keeps you on your toes. Did I mention he’s a great kisser and has gorgeous green eyes? And a killer bod? (He also has a job even if it kind of sucks because he works with his not-so nice dad. Oh — he also likes to read!)

survey says:

 Rather Be Reading Turnin Up the Heat Jeremy Jordan Rating

What does this mean? I know, I know. A lot of people have no idea who Jeremy Jordan is (Broadway star) but if any of you caught SMASH you would know he is so fitting for Doug. Brooding and sort of mysterious and kind of a bad boy (a.k.a. seriously misunderstood)? That is the kind of oh-my-gosh I can’t breathe sort of scorching leading man I love.

the chemistry:

Doug Fox is the kind of guy you want stuck with you in small spaces like the back of a police car or on a school bus. (Seriously.) I feel like he just looks at you and you feel tingly and your clothes kind of start falling of. I’m not kidding! Zoey tries so hard to remain resistant of his charms (and his eyes) but it’s really really hard + the slow burn of their tension-filled relationship (laced with all this mystery) practically sets the book on fire.

survey says:

Rather Be Reading Turnin Up the Heat Channing Tatum Rating

What does this mean? Look at that smolder. Channing Tatum, Magic Mike, THOSE ABS — Zoey and Doug’s chemistry is obvious off-the-charts blazing. If that’s not reason to pick up this book, I don’t know what is.

♥

Are you done fanning yourself yet?

Then I think it’s about time you made Forget You yours. Heatwave and all.

Add to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon

Sweet Summertime Reads: Setting the Scene (Jennifer E. Smith)

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

Note from Estelle: I am not ashamed to call myself a Jennifer E. Smith cheerleader. Since I read through all of her books last year, Jennifer has easily become one of my go-to authors. This year, she released a sweet story called THIS IS WHAT HAPPY LOOKS LIKE about every girl’s dream: falling for and meeting a celebrity. (Even though the main character had no idea her internet pen pal was said celebrity.) She was also the editor of Lauren Graham’s New York Times best-seller, SOMEDAY, SOMEDAY, MAYBE.

At a New York City book event back in March, I was really intrigued when she started talking about the setting of HAPPY. It started as a real place and morphed into a mixture of a few. I’m psyched to say Jennifer was awesome enough to agree to write about how the setting of HAPPY came to be as part of Sweet Summertime Reads. I hope you enjoy all she has to say and check out her great collection of books!

Take it away, Jennifer!

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When I first started writing This Is What Happy Looks Like, I knew the story would take place in Maine.  Even though I hadn’t been there in years, all those little towns along the coast had left their mark on me, and there’s something about them that has always felt quintessentially summery.

There were two places in particular that came to mind as ideal backdrops for the book: Camden and Marblehead.  They both seemed to match up to the images in my head; they were lovely and picturesque and a little bit quaint, but they had wilder sides to them, too, coastlines that were breathtaking and unforgettable.

I did a quick refresher course in the geography of both towns and ended up going with Camden as the setting.  But as I began to write, I realized that bits and pieces of Marblehead were creeping in, too: a gift shop, a stretch of beach, a lobster shack; little things that were conspiring to turn a real place into an imaginary one.

In my previous novel, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, much of the action took place in London, a place that’s pretty hard to fictionalize, and even though I’d been there many times, I still ended up spending a lot of time on Google maps to make sure I had the lay of the land.  But with this book, it occurred to me that maybe sticking to the facts wasn’t as important as getting the feel of the place right.

In the meantime, I was writing this book from my apartment in New York City, and I was starting to feel like I needed to get to the ocean for a little inspiration.  Since I didn’t have time to take a trip to Maine, I ended up hopping a train to Montauk one weekend, another coastal town, but this one in New York, on the very tip of Long Island.  And so, of course, that began to work its way into the book, too.

Montauk Jennifer E Smith inspiration for This is What Happy Looks Like

Whenever you write about a place, whether it’s real or fictional, this is what happens.  You can’t help but bring your own memories and experiences with you.  Even if the ice cream shop is based on someplace real, even if you’ve visited it a thousand times and ordered a thousand cones and can describe the layout with a blindfold on, it’s never going to be just about that particular ice cream shop.  Other places will inevitably find their way in, too, and sometimes in the unlikeliest of ways: the memory of a flavor your tried one summer in a different town; a joke you heard once in a candy shop; the person you were with when you dropped your cone that one time, and the way they laughed, how it echoed in the quiet of the shop.  Writers are like magpies; we take a piece of string from one branch, a bit of foil from another, a few twigs from the ground, and we use all of these to build our nests.

So in this way, it became clear very early on that I wasn’t just writing about Camden, or Marblehead, or even Montauk.  I was also writing about Lake Geneva in Wisconsin, where I spent summers at my best friend’s lake house, and Lake Tahoe in California, where I go with my family every year, and places in Florida and North Carolina and even Scotland, too.  And that was a good thing, because it only helped enrich the book, infusing it with not just the experiences of my fictional characters, but also my own memories from all the many seaside towns I’ve visited along the way.

So I finally gave in, and the town became Henley, Maine: entirely fictional, yet somehow as real to me as any place I’ve ever been…

In the wise words of Herman Melville: “It is not down on any map; true places never are.”

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Huge thanks to Jennifer for taking the time to stop in today!

Jennifer E. Smith This is What Happy Looks Like Guest Post about the story's setting

Check out Jennifer’s website | Follow her on Twitter | This is What Happy Looks Like

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More Sweet Summertime Reads fun @ GReadsBooks + Fiction Folio

jessi kirby author photo and golden cover

Blog Tour Kick Off for GOLDEN by Jessi Kirby + A Giveaway

Howdy, friends! Today we are so, so THRILLED to be kicking off the blog tour for Jessi Kirby’s GOLDEN. You may remember me fawning over this amazing new book by Jessi, but just in case you need a refresher, here’s my Golden review. I’m so, so excited to get to share an excerpt with you.

jessi kirby author photo and golden cover

About Golden by Jessi Kirby:

Published by: Simon & Schuster
To Be Released on: May 14th, 2013
Purchase it from: Simon & Schuster | IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Add it to Goodreads

Seventeen-year-old Parker Frost has never taken the road less traveled. Valedictorian and quintessential good girl, she’s about to graduate high school without ever having kissed her crush or broken the rules. So when fate drops a clue in her lap—one that might be the key to unraveling a town mystery—she decides to take a chance.

Julianna Farnetti and Shane Cruz are remembered as the golden couple of Summit Lakes High—perfect in every way, meant to be together forever. But Julianna’s journal tells a different story—one of doubts about Shane and a forbidden romance with an older, artistic guy. These are the secrets that were swept away with her the night that Shane’s jeep plunged into an icy river, leaving behind a grieving town and no bodies to bury.

Reading Julianna’s journal gives Parker the courage to start to really live—and it also gives her reasons to question what really happened the night of the accident. Armed with clues from the past, Parker enlists the help of her best friend, Kat, and Trevor, her longtime crush, to track down some leads. The mystery ends up taking Parker places that she never could have imagined. And she soon finds that taking the road less traveled makes all the difference.

(— Summary borrowed from Goodreads)

Excerpt from Golden:

The name on the next envelope snaps me back like a rubber band. I stare. Breathe. Stare some more.

Julianna Farnetti.

I look around, chilled. That can’t be right. But it’s right there in front of me, written in black ink with big loopy pen strokes just as gorgeous as she was. My first impulse is to see if anyone else saw. The clock ticks away the seconds on the wall. In one row of stacks are a couple of younger girls whispering and trying to look like they’re looking for books to check out. Ms. Moore’s keeping tabs on them from behind her computer, and the library TA, a tragically nerdy boy named Jake, shoves a book back onto the shelf then straightens out the ones around it for the millionth time. None of them look at me, but I’m nervous all of a sudden because right now it feels like I’m holding in my hands something I shouldn’t be. Like I’ve just brushed my fingers over a ghost. And by all accounts and definitions, I have.

Every town has its stories. Stories that have been told so many times by so many different people they’ve worked themselves into the collective consciousness as truth. Julianna Farnetti is one of Summit Lakes’. Shane Cruz is the other. And theirs–it’s a story of perfection lost on an icy road. They were one of those golden couples, the kind everyone adores and envies at the same time. Meant to be together forever. Teenage dream realized.

And both of them are frozen in time on a billboard at the edge of town for everyone to see. From behind a thick layer of plexiglass that’s replaced every few years, they smile their senior portrait smiles like they don’t know people have stopped looking for them. Somewhere along the line, the words on the billboard changed from MISSING to IN LOVING MEMORY OF, and I can remember thinking how sad that was, but it was bound to happen. Their parents buried empty coffins.

And still, we have the plaque in the gym, with a picture of Shane and Julianna together, his graduation gown arms wrapped tight around her shoulders and her cap crooked on top of her curly blond hair, both of them laughing like life was about to begin. His family started the scholarship in their name. Hers left town. And still, after ten years, they smile those frozen smiles that never age. Trapped behind the glass and the stories we’ve come up with for what happened to them.

I glance down again, read the name to be sure. Here in my hand is Julianna Farnetti’s senior journal. Pages she wrote before all of that, when the world was still at her perfect fingertips. When Mr. Kinney told her to capture herself in words she could read later.

(— Excerpt shared from pages 13-15 of Golden)

About Jessi Kirby:

Jessi Kirby is a former English teacher and librarian. She lives in Orange County, CA with her husband and two kids, where she writes stories and runs the beach every day. Well, almost every day.

Find out more about GOLDEN here.
Follow Jessi via her Website | Twitter | Facebook | GoodReads

(— About shared from Jessi’s Goodreads Author Page)

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♥

Add GOLDEN to your to-read list on Goodreads
Pre-order GOLDEN on Amazon
Read my rave review + check out our nail polish picks for GOLDEN
Check out Mundie Moms for more GOLDEN blog tour information

The Look’s Sophia Bennett Talks Literary Sisters + Giveaway

Note from Estelle: Hopefully you checked out yesterday’s review of The Look by Sophia Bennett, which was released in the United States on March 1, 2013. I can confidently say it was one of my favorite reads of 2013 so far. Took me by complete surprise. Today I hand it over to the author who discusses her favorite literary sisters! What a fun topic!

♥

The Look is about Ava and Ted – two sisters who get just about the best news and the worst news a girl can imagine.

I didn’t have a sister myself, but I was close to my brother. Now I have two sons and two stepdaughters, and I love watching the relationships between them. Big families rock! However, while I was growing up, I had to make do with sisters in books. Here are some of my favourites:

Cassandra and Rose Mortmain in I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

“I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. That is, my feet are in it; the rest of me is on the draining board, which I have padded with our dog’s blanket and the tea cosy.”

So those are the opening lines and I’m already in love with Cassandra Mortmain. She is such a clear-eyed, unromantic observer of the world around her, but that world – a ruined castle, a father who’s a struggling writer, a beautiful sister, a visiting American family with two gorgeous sons – can’t help but be romantic.

The book is like a poem to a lost England, which, written in the 1940s from Hollywood, is sort of what it was. Dodie Smith also wrote 101 Dalmatians. Also a classic, but very different! (I borrowed bits of Cruella de Vil for a character of mine in The Look.)

The Bennet girls in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

How could I not include the Bennet girls? We almost share the same surname, after all. Every time I read it, I love to love Lizzie and Jane, get exasperated by Mary (oh God, I think I’m a bit of a Mary sometimes), and despair at Catherine and Lydia.

The BBC is about to make a TV series about what happens six years later, when one of the characters gets murdered. (I’m not going to say who, but he so deserves it.) Apparently Clare Danes is one of the people up for Lizzie. That I would have to see.

The March sisters in Little Women by Louisa M. Alcott

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

No need to introduce them. You know them; you love them too. If you ever wanted to be a writer, you probably pictured yourself as Jo. Although I have to say her early success made it look much easier than it turned out to be for me, or most people. No matter. I forgive her. And I still envy her hair.

Pauline, Petrova and Posy Fossil in Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild

Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild

I don’t know if it’s the same sort of classic in the US that it is in the UK, but even though it’s older than our grandparents, our kids still read Ballet Shoes. I adored the story of three girls with different talents and ambitions (and necklaces – I was very jewelry-conscious when I was a young reader).

My favourite sister was Posy, the ballet-made genius, who remembered things with her feet. But I loved actress Pauline and engineer Petrova too, and they way they felt that they had only each other to rely on if they wanted to solve their problems. Emma Watson played Pauline in the most recent TV series of the book, by the way.

My first book, Threads (Sequins Secrets and Silver Linings in the US) was partly inspired by Ballet Shoes. Even so, I have to admit I only learned to spell Noel Streatfeild’s surname about a year ago. Check it out. Trickier than it looks.

The Chocolate Box girls by Cathy Cassidy

The Chocolate Box Girls by Cathy Cassidy

Cathy is a wonderful writer friend of mine, and a literary rock star for Middle Grade readers in the UK. Her latest series is about the Tanberry sisters, who become a family when Cherry’s dad moves in with the mother of Skye, Summer, Coco and Honey. They all live in a big, rambling house by the sea in Somerset, and the mum and dad are starting a luxury chocolate making business together. Yes!

Each girl has her own problems, hobbies, passions, love interest and charm. As soon as you read them, you feel a part of the family – protective of Cherry, worried for Honey. They’re on their way to becoming a new classic, and the series isn’t even finished yet!

Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants by Ann Brashares 

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares

OK, so they’re not officially sisters, they’re a sisterhood, but that’s good enough for me. I came late to the adventures of Lena, Tibby, Carmen and Bridget, but I immediately felt at home. I love the way the stories deal with serious issues like terminal illness, losing your virginity, and other serious issues, like unbreakable friendships and denim jeans that really, really fit. That’s the kind of balance I try to create in my own stories. When I’m struggling a bit, I get Ann Brashares off the shelf and think, ‘Oh, that’s how you do it.’

♥

Thanks Sophia! Be sure to check out Sophia’s website to find out more about her writing and books!

The publisher was nice enough to offer up a finished copy of The Look for a giveaway, so be sure to enter!

The Look by Sophia Bennett

What is THE LOOK about? The world becomes a confusing place for Ted when she finds out her fab-looking older sister, Ava, has cancer and must undergo treatment, and she (the odd looking one) is discovered by a modeling agency. Like always, Ava can convince her sister to do anything and Ted decides to take a chance on the modeling thing to raise Ava’s spirits. But the deeper Ted gets into this world, the more she learns about herself, her relationship with her family, and what she really wants. (EMH)

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