Nailed It: Hollywood Edition

Hollywood Week at Rather Be Reading Blog

Welcome welcome welcome to an absolutely fun week at Rather Be Reading Blog! We’ll be hosting an entire Hollywood Week, inspired by the Starstruck young adult series by Rachel Shukert. Hollywood in the 1930s, three strong (yet flawed) ladies trying to make their marks in showbiz, and all the road blocks that get into their way. With the recent release of Love Me, book two in the series, we’ve decided to take a break from our “regular programming” and bring you a week of original features, guest posts, and more!

To kick off this week’s feature, here is a Hollywood-inspired Nailed It featuring two books that share the ups and downs of “glamorous” celebrity life. Thanks so much for stopping in! (And enjoy the Oscars tonight!!)

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Estelle’s Pick:

Starstruck by Rachel Shukert
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | My Review

Nailed It Starstruck by Rachel Shukert

Avery | Alice | Mona

With spring (hopefully) arriving soon, I am loving this color palette. Pink, purple, and a great gray (to match the cover character’s eyes). I wish I had found the perfect blond to go with this lady’s locks but unfortunately I couldn’t. (Isn’t it great how there are so many shades in the hair detail, btw?) Since this book series inspired this Hollywood Week, I won’t tell you how good it is again (okay, I will… it’s super good) and I love how the gal on this particular cover looks so hopeful. Hollywood is a little tougher than she thought it was going to be.

Magan’s Pick:

Reality Boy by A.S. King
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Estelle’s Review

nail polishes to match the cover of reality boy by a.s. king

Sheila | Jet | Lena | Catrina

Compositionally, I think the cover for Reality Boy is so visually appealing. It catches my eye every single time I stare at my bookshelves. (I really, really need to read this soon – especially after Estelle’s awesome review.) These days, “Hollywood” is composed of so, so many reality TV stars: musicians, housewives, waitresses, etc. You name it, there’s a television show for it. Though I hang my head in shame, I find myself watching these ridiculous (read: brainless) shows as much as the rest of America. (Especially when Mamma needs a little drama to keep her awake during baby girl’s 3 A.M. feeding. Can I get an amen?) Though my choice doesn’t focus as much on the glamorous side of Hollywood, I think it’s super fitting for what’s trending right now. And the color palette? I’m still not entirely sure about yellow on my own nails, but sign me up for all the other colors, please.

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What color are you coveting this spring?

(big thanks to rachel from hello chelly for the amazing banner for this series!)

Nailed It: Tales (and Nails) of Friendship

It’s February!

A very special month over here at Rather Be Reading because someone is due to have her baby this month, another someone is celebrating a birthday, and at the end of the month, we celebrate three years since the first time we met! (We’ll let you guess who is who with those first two.)

We decided to sort of throw an unofficial friendship month and our Nailed It book picks reflect that. Hope you are looking forward to these two books (both come out this month!) and we would love to hear what friendship books you have enjoyed!

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Magan’s Pick:

The Sound of Letting Go by Stasia Ward Kehoe | Release Date: February 6, 2014

Add to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Buy from B&N

nail polish colors matched with the cover of The Sound of Letting Go by Stasia Ward Kehoe

Since we’re focusing on strong friendships for our Nailed It, I want to feature Stasia Ward Kehoe’s The Sound of Letting Go because for so many reasons Daisy and her best friend’s relationship felt so, so real to me. It’s complicated and imperfect. They have struggles and sometimes don’t agree on everything. But you know what? That’s real life. It’s idealistic of me to expect to get along with even my best friends all the time because we’ve experienced so many different things and have different upbringings, right? The cover for this book is so beautiful. The bokeh is gorgeous and I NEED to own all of these colors. I’ve admitted before that I’m not much of a purple kind of girl, but DANG is Reece calling my name!

Cynthia | Aisha | Reece

Estelle’s Pick:

Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor | Release Date: February 11, 2014

Add to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Buy on B&N

Nailed It Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor

Zoe and Olivia are dealt the ultimate test when Olivia is diagnosed with cancer. I can’t even begin to imagine. These two girls have spent so much of their lives together — dancing, hanging out with each other’s families, school, everything — and now this. It was very touching and difficult to watch how their friendship grew and changed during this ordeal. Was their friendship perfect? No. But were they loyal to each other? Did they allow each other to make mistakes and then make up for it? Yes. Yes. Yes. I tried to go mostly upbeat with the colors (it was hard with this cover and the subject matter) but I think it all evened out. The dark forest green (Diane) is actually my favorite. Go figure.

Diane | Misti | Myrtle

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Thanks for stopping by!

Nailed It: Upcoming January Releases

Eeep! Welcome back for our first 2014 Nailed It post! We’re switching things up again to focus on January 2014 book releases because the new year just screams new releases, doesn’t it? Besides, you might have a gift card or two burning a whole in your pocket that you *need* to spend on one (or both) of these books!

Magan’s Pick:

Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill

My Review | Add to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Buy from B&N

pairing book covers with nail polish

Something Blue | Tatiana | Evelyn

Just my personal opinion, but I think Lauren’s books have the prettiest covers. I LOVED the Meant to Be cover, and I’m equally excited about this one. The colors are fun and exciting, especially for this time of year when things can seem a bit drab and gray. During the winter, I tend to be drawn to darker colors, but I think I should really consider spicing things up a bit more with some color. Evelyn is absolutely gorgeous — I am so, so tempted to order it right now. (*restrains self and works on online shopping addition as New Year’s resolution*)

Estelle’s Pick:

When I Was The Greatest by Jason Reynolds

Add to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Buy from B&N

Nailed It When I Was the Greatest Jason Reynolds

Marion | Nellie | Catrina | Cleopatra 

I’ve been looking forward to this title since I first read about it during BEA last year. It’s on deck as far as my reading list goes, and I can’t wait: New York setting and a male narrator. The cover is very intriguing and I’m looking forward to seeing how it fits in with the rest of the story. I heard Reynolds speak during a blogger get together during BEA too, and I love how he talked about family and being a neighbor and big cities. (Plus April gave it a big thumbs up!)

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What colors + books are you looking forward to this January?

Estelle: We’re Not Talking About Books Q&A

Good morning, friends!  Today I’m answering some questions that Magan sent me a few days ago. I hope you’ve enjoyed this series so far! It’s been so fun to reflect on the past year together and share it with you. (If you misses Magan’s Q&A, here it is!)

Just a small thing: MAGAN CAME UP WITH SOME TOUGH QUESTIONS!

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What are your favorite go-to places to shop? I know we both have so much love for Fossil, Modcloth, and all things Kate Spade, but what are your hidden gems?

Oh shopping! I buy a lot of my clothes at The Loft — but I guess one of my “hidden gems” is American Eagle. I feel super old even admitting this but I have gotten some great tops there this year, and I love their accessories. (I’m still a little scared of their jeans because of the junior sizes but Aerie has some comfortable yoga pants.

Tell me about one of your favorite Disney moments of all time…

Ah! That’s so tough to narrow down. I just went on a great trip in November with a bunch of friends I met from blogging about Disney and it was such a blast. But one of my favorite memories is from my honeymoon back in 2011. We wore those silly bride and groom Mickey ears and went to take pictures with some characters. Chip and Dale performed an entire wedding ceremony for us in front of the people waiting in line to meet them and it was so much fun! The cast members were lovely and took a ton of pictures of it for us.

Best Disney Moment Rather Be Reading Blog

You mentioned in one of your questions to me that I’ve become more selfless this year; when I think about you, I see that you seem like a stronger, more confident woman. What changes occurred in 2013 that led to this refined you?

Oh gosh. I really appreciate that. Maybe because we are almost to 2014, but I think I’ve been pretty self-reflective the past few weeks. I can’t help it. It’s been a fantastic year — definitely in the marriage, friendship, hobby, and work categories. But some other things haven’t been so great, and I think I’m just trying to learn from those? Surround yourself with people who are honest with you, have your back, and are truly there when you need them? It’s been quite a transition period for me… moving in the past year, taking on more side projects, and meeting new people and I’m learning that if you want something, you have to ask for it or just go for it. There’s that too. You never know what’s going to happen, and you never know how opportunities are going to impact your life. (In a good way.) I don’t know if all of that has made me “stronger, [and] more confident” because half the time I feel like this super flawed teenager but… I’m trying so I think that counts for something. Oh also… lower your expectations. This is something I need tattooed to my arm because I tend to forget it. But it does make things less stressful.

What are a few things in 2013 that you hoped to achieve/accomplish/experience that maybe you didn’t get to and hope to in 2014?

One thing that stands out is writing for myself? I bought a new journal before my trip to see you in Austin, and the pages inside are still blank. I really need to get on that. (Of course there are also a ton of practical things like saving enough money, not buying a ton of books… haha. Those GROWN UP THINGS.)

Reflecting on your year+ of James being in law school and you guys moving to an apartment in the city, how do you feel those changes impacted your life in 2013?

First of all, being closer to the city has been amazing for us.  We have explored more in the past year than we did in 3 years when we had our house in Long Island and I’m so grateful for that opportunity. With James so busy, I’ve realized just how precious free time is and we try to make the most of it. It’s also inspiring to see your partner working so hard to achieve something, and it has really pushed me to do better for myself.

View from Subway Stop Rather Be Reading Blog

Will you forgive me for not having a real Christmas tree? PLEASE?

I need to talk this over with my therapist.

What do you think is in store for Miley Cyrus in 2014?

I hope the media can stop reporting on her lack of clothes? That would be a start. I’m actually excited for her. I feel like she threw herself into this new record (which is really really great) and made such a splash so maybe something a little bit more low key from her? She is so talented and I want people to recognize her for her voice over her twerking. That is at least my wish for her.

Describe one of your best days from 2013. Tell us what happened and why it was so amazing!

One weekend when James was super busy during the summer, I decided to visit my parents and we got to do a day trip to the shore. It was the first time we all hung out together down the shore (minus James) since maybe high school? It was so much fun, and I was even more grateful for the trip after a really terrible fire ripped through the boardwalk we always visit a few months afterwards. It was extremely devastating to watch so many places we frequented for years and years destroyed. I’m happy we were able to squeeze in some recent memories. It was such a fantastic day especially because the opportunities to hang out like that are so rare now.

Top 2013 Memory Rather Be Reading Blog in Seaside Heights

As someone who has never been to Disney World, where do I even begin planning a trip and what are the absolute must-sees? Oh, and when’s the best time of year to go?

Basically, just take me! I will be your tour guide! But seriously, best time of year depends on who you are going with. Couple trip vs. family trip? I wouldn’t suggest spring break or during Christmas break (super crowded) but for a couple, I love going in the fall because of the Food & Wine festival (lots of foods to try from around the world, and the weather is awesome). I always try to tell people to go down there with the “we will do what we can” mindset because it can get overwhelming and it’s just not possible to do everything and enjoy yourself at the same time.

Best spots to check out when planning are: AllEars.Net, Disney Food Blog, Eating WDW, and Touring Plans.

What is a lifetime goal that you hope to accomplish? (I know, I know. I’m being super nosey!)

I still would love to write books. But books don’t get written just by thinking of them… so. Should probably do something about that.

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Hope you enjoyed that! How would you answer any of these questions?

Magan: We’re Not Talking About Books Q&A

Estelle and I are swapping questions and getting into the nitty gritty details… Welcome to our “We’re Not Talking About Books Q&A.” Today I’m answering Estelle’s questions and soon she’ll be answering mine. I haven’t even read her questions yet. I’m just copying and pasting them and writing whatever first comes to mind. Are you scared? I kind of am. But let’s get started, shall we?

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I feel like you had a good traveling year. What was your favorite trip? Where do you want to try to go next year (a trip with the little one or maybe a romantical trip for two)?

I did! This year feels like such a blur because so, so many things happened, but we got to go on a few trips! First was our trip to DC in February, where we reunited for a little more than 24 hours. That was such a whirlwind trip; it went so fast and we tried to squeeze so many things in, but I loved that there were little moments like you and I taking the time to meet up with Sasha of Sash and Em for dinner. In May we went to Colorado with my family. It was our first trip as parents so that was a wee bit stressful for me and I’m positive we overpacked. I think I took enough diapers for an army. That trip and our August trip to Florida with Dustyn’s family were both very meaningful (and necessary) because this whole foster care process has been so stressful. If I didn’t highlight my hair, I’m certain you’d find a bunch of gray hairs on my head. Those trips really gave us time to escape reality, be a little family, and not focus on all the normal craziness we face on a daily basis.

non-bookish end of year reflections with magan

(Left) Magan (l) and Estelle (r) outside the Newseum in D.C.;
(Right) Magan + Her Husband, Dustyn, on the beach in Cape San Blas, FL

As for next year, we have zero trips planned right now. That seems kind of sad to admit, but there are still so many what-ifs in our lives with our foster daughter and we have Baby Blasig making an appearance in February of next year. I would love to plan a getaway trip with Dustyn at some point, but it would probably be mid-to-late 2014 to who knows where. It won’t even matter, I’m sure. Our 10-year anniversary is in July so hopefully we’ll do something memorable to celebrate!

It might just be because I’m your friend but when I think of you this past year, I feel like (if it’s possible) you’ve become more selfless and have really come into your own as a mom. You’re my first close friend who is a mom so maybe I’m just noticing it more? I don’t know! But I feel like it’s the coolest thing and I’m in total awe of all you do. Is there a change you feel in yourself after the past few months?

Oh, man. Were you intending to make me cry, Estelle? Geez, Louise. *grabs tissues* I definitely feel like I’ve changed a lot this year, but I can’t really pinpoint how I have or even begin to put that into words. I think my priorities have shifted so much. There’s definitely been so much less “me me me” (especially when it comes to spending money and shopping). I feel like almost every time we’ve had a court hearing, we’ve anticipated losing our foster daughter and that’s really taught me the value of time and how precious it can be. I’ve also had to be more gracious and accepting of a lot of situations I never thought I would be faced with. I don’t think I’ve particularly done anything TO change, but my heart and focus have been changed because of her. She’s just taught me so, so much. Especially how to be more patient. I’ve never, ever been a patient person and that’s one thing I’ve been told I am over and over again this year. (I’ve always secretly giggled at that because usually my insides are so anxious.) All of the changes I feel and am experiencing right now, I hope they last and are more than just temporary. You and I have talked a lot about, and I’m holding onto a card forever that you wrote me, about how because of our foster daughter, a lot of good has occurred. My pregnancy might never have happened. I might have stayed so selfishly me-focused, and my eyes certainly wouldn’t have been opened to the entire foster care world.

What do you want more of in 2014 that you didn’t get this year?

It’s funny you mention this because I’ve been thinking about this question a lot lately. I’m never one to make big resolutions at the beginning of a new year, but I am hoping to change my perspective on a few things. Growing up, we never really had a ton of people over to our house besides grandparents. Now isn’t the time or place to discuss why that is, but recently a friend said to me, “I think it’s been a year since I’ve been to your house.” That really, really hit me like a ton of bricks. I’m finding that I love to have people over, but constantly feel self-conscious about the state our house is in (especially now that we have a little person who leaves toys stranded every three feet). One of my biggest hopes is to let those fears reside and to really be more inviting and allow more people into our lives. We do a lot of dinners out or hang out at friends’ houses, but I want to bring that sense of community into our home and not keep people at arm’s length. This answer is probably so much deeper than you were hoping for, but it’s just what’s been on my mind lately.

WHEN ARE WE HANGING OUT AGAIN? (Yes I screamed that.)

As soon as possible. Sadly I’m now in the not-safe-to-fly part of my pregnancy, but soon you’ll have a little Blasig to meet! And I really do want to visit NYC again soon. I feel like no matter how many times I go there, I’ll always find something new to see and experience.

Do you think we will get more Zac Efron next year? Because… I’m seriously disappointed in his life choices and lack of movies in my theater. What are we going to do with him?

I sincerely hope so. And hopefully our clean-cut Zac will return and there will be no more press releases about his rehab stays. (Has anyone else been as deeply disappointed with him as we have?) We haven’t seen nearly as many movies this year as we have in the past, and I’m sure Dustyn is oh-so-thankful for less of Zac’s smoldering physique, but come on! WE NEED MORE ZAC!

Can you share one of your favorite pics from the year?

Of course I can! This photo is from our Florida vacation where I seriously wished I had carried my camera everywhere we went. This is an iPhone photo of a boat floating by right by where we stopped to eat that evening. I don’t remember the food or what I ordered. I don’t remember the name of the restaurant, but I do remember the peacefulness of this moment and how absolutely beautiful the sky was.

magan's favorite travel photo from 2013

The most fun moment you had this year?

Goodness gracious. I know this may sound like a cop-out answer, but honestly, every moment you and I had together was so awesome. I wish that could happen way more often than it does. Talking/texting/chatting just isn’t enough. Aside from our gushy friendship, I loved finding out that we were expecting our first baby and telling our grandparents all about it at a surprise lunch. We had them all arrive at the same restaurant together. I made little boxes with scratch off tickets that told them we were expecting (which shocked them because everyone suspected maybe we had big foster daughter news to share). I also included one of our ultrasound photographs in frames for them and personal notes to each one of them about how excited we are for them to meet Baby Irmagerd. I also gained a new appreciation for my job this year that gave me a different perspective on why I love being a photographer; the bride from my last wedding of the year sent me an email on behalf of one of their groomsmen who wanted to know if my assistant that day was single. That’s pretty priceless!

And the best buy of 2013? (I’m sure there were many of them.)

You’re catching me on a day when I’ve just splurged on something super fun for myself. I bought the new Urban Decay Naked 3 palette, and ohemgee is it beautiful. (For those who aren’t aware, Estelle and I are make-up junkies, too.) When I was excitedly doing my make-up this morning, I couldn’t even begin to pick out which colors to use first. They’re all so beautiful! If you are a make-up-aholic, you need this in your life.

With just a few days left until Christmas, what’s a stand out memory from the holiday that you have?

Growing up, my maternal grandparents would always come over to our house to help us put up the Christmas tree. It was never planned and happened spur-of-the-moment, but I remember them always being there. This year, with baby girl in our house, Dustyn and I put the tree up pretty early so she’d have a long while to experience the lights and ornaments. We were initially having the problem of her going to the tree and taking (i.e.: yanking) all the bottom ornaments off. One day my grandma and mom came to Austin to hang out with us. We made a trip to Michael’s and my grandma mentioned wanting to get baby girl her own Christmas ornament. Baby girl chose a sparkly snowman with silly arms and legs. When we got back to our house, grandma unwrapped the ornament and let baby girl put it on the tree. Every single morning, one of the first things she does is run to our tree, find her snowman, and bend down to give him a kiss. I swear it’s the cutest thing in the entire world; she sporadically checks on him throughout the day, too. These two memories are so special because it’s essentially the meshing of my childhood with hers and having my grandma be so integral to both.

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Stay tuned for Estelle’s answers to my questions!
Tell us your answers to any of the above questions…
We always want to get to know you guys better, too!

All Magan Wants for Christmas Is…

christmas music playlist

This happened last week. And you know… when Magan tells me to jump, I say how high! Well, kind of. But I can’t allow one of my closest friends to be BORED by her Christmas music. I can’t. I won’t allow it. And since I had so much fun putting together this collection of songs last year on Rather Be Reading (it’s also becoming a tradition to feature Magan’s face on these posts), here I am yet again.

Once Thanksgiving hits, I listen to Christmas songs on my way to work, at work, while I’m shopping/baking/wrapping/crafting, and I know you are probably shocked, while I’m writing this post. (We have some Tran-Siberian Orchestra playing at the in the background at the moment.)

So here are a few albums, I think of as staples in my collection (a.k.a. buy them!):

Holiday Album Must Haves - Rather Be Reading

Johnny Mathis: Merry Christmas | NSYNC: Home for Christmas | Mariah Carey: Merry Christmas

Johnny is definitely a classic crooner. I used to listen to this on cassette with my mom when we would drive to the mall to go Christmas shopping when I was young. NSYNC? I wore through two of these CDs. Reminds me of high school and college so much. And Mariah? Her voice is beautiful, every song is catchy, and I can’t believe it’s almost been 20 years since it came out. (Oh my god.)

What I think is worth buying this year:

Holiday Albums Worth Buying in 2013 - Rather Be Reading

Kelly Clarkson: Wrapped in Red | Matthew Morrison: A Classic Christmas | Mary J. Blige: A Mary Christmas

I am so obsessed with Kelly’s album. Touching and fun original songs, great versions of classics: I feel like it’s the first modern album since Mariah’s to make me feel so giddy and merry. You might know Matthew Morrison from Glee? He’s fantastic and he chose some great songs for this EP. And I never imagined I would be buying a Mary J. Blige album but I have so enjoyed her performances on Christmas specials this year + her version of “This Christmas” and “Do You Hear What I Hear” are just so great.

EEE! All of these make me so excited. (And also sad I can’t list every single album I own… Boo!)

Okay, okay. Am I trying Magan’s patience? 🙂 It’s time for the 2013 Rather Be Reading Holiday Mix. I hope you enjoy this one!

What you’ll be hearing: Muppets, Leona Lewis, Jordin Sparks, Martina McBride, Lady Antebellum, Johnny Mathis, Nat King Cole, and more…

Be sure to leave any of of your favorites in the comments! I love hearing what everyone’s listening to this holiday season.

Happy listening!