first impressions based on the first chapter of a book

First Impressions: Paper Valentine vs Shut Out

first impressions based on the first chapter of a book

Welcome to a new little feature here at Rather Be Reading. I, Magan, have had an extraordinarily hard time deciding what in the heck I want to read lately. I believe this happens to the best of us. Sometimes we just get stuck and despite the tons of books that line our shelves, we have NO IDEA what we’re in the mood for next. I’ve started doing something new. I read the first chapter of a few random books and see what sticks out to me most. (Note: I do not read the back-of-the-book summaries because I feel they’re rather misleading sometimes.) What pulls me in and makes me want to continue reading? For this particular post, I was sitting on the floor in Barnes & Noble, the options limitless, with no idea what I wanted to use my thrifty coupon on.

So here we are: Paper Valentine vs Shut Out

Paper Valentine by Breanna Yovanoff

I went to a signing with Brenna Yovanoff a few months ago at Book People and was really, really intrigued by her writing process. One thing that stood out to me was how she said the way the words sound matters to her. She writes a draft and there are holes in the story, but she’s writing based on the way things flow first and foremost. Amazing, right? Well, that’s why I decided to pick up her book for my first first-chapter read-through. To be honest, I’m not a fan of ghosts, but I thought maybe, just maybe, I’d be pulled in by her lyrical words. Here’s what I thought and learned:

first impressions of Paper Valentine by Breanna Yovanoff

  • Hannah’s (the main character) best friend died of anorexia.
  • Her BFFs ghost is haunting her (or just hanging around).
  • Hannah has a very close-knit family — frequent family dinners together, a strong sisterly bond, and it seems like they have rituals and habits.
  • A younger girl dies in their town.
  • Yovanoff sets the scene — we seem to know that we’re going to get a lot of backstory of what happened with Hannah’s best friend, but we’re also going to move forward with the mystery of who killed the new girl. 

Would I read this book? Absolutely. Yovanoff’s writing was so addictive, I almost didn’t want to stop reading (but I was hogging the YA aisle). I liked that I was getting a sense of the entire story — history (why is the ghost hanging around?!) + new material to progress the story forward. And — BONUS! — any story that features close family relationships wins major points with me.

Goodreads | Amazon


Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

After reading The D.U.F.F. by Keplinger, I have had Shut Out on my TBR list. You can refer back to my review of A Midsummer’s Nightmare to see that I’ve continuously felt like while Keplinger’s books are hot and sexy, they lack depth and substance. How would I feel after reading the first chapter of Shut Out? Would I be intrigued enough to march up to the purchasing counter?

first impression after reading the first chapter of shut out by kody keplinger

  • Lissa is frusttrated because her boyfriend is in the middle of a rivalry with the soccer players who keep interrupting their make-out sessions.
  • Despite their 16 months together, she cannot be honest enough with him to say how she feels.
  • Questioned where the plot was going? A break-up?
  • The first chapter was extremely abrupt with little information about what direction the story would head.

Would I read this book? Eventually, I believe it’ll be exactly what I need — something sexy and lighter. But for now, I feel a little frustrated that it seems so anti-climactic. It starts off with a bang, a make-out scene, but I already felt crazed that Lissa couldn’t stand up for herself. I definitely get the impression that this will be a library book kind of read for me. In case you’re itching to read a review, see what Estelle thought when she reviewed Shut Out.

Goodreads | Amazon


And the winner is: Paper Valentine.

Friends, hands down, the writing was just so lovely. I can’t wait to escape back into Yovanoff’s world. Even if there are ghosts and things that aren’t my usual cup of tea. She’s making me expand my horizons.

Nailed It: Upcoming July Releases

Hi there! Thanks for stopping by the blog for another Nailed It!

We’ve decided to mix things up a bit and introduce you nail-polish lovers to another brand we really adore, Zoya. Their color selection is fantastic and the polish is long-lasting. We’ve actually texted one another before that the polish was holding up so well, but we were ready for a color change before it even started chipping. So without further ado, here are two books we’re anxiously looking forward to in July.


The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

Add to Goodreads | Purchase on Amazon

It took me so long to pick a book to feature in this month’s NAILED IT. As always, there are so many pretty covers but I love this one a ton. The sun in the background, the color of her dress, the subtle plaid of his shirt. So great. I’m almost done with THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US and I am really liking it. The colors are kind of fall-ish but I could definitely see them popping during the summer too. It’s like the romantic part of summer — at dusk and holding hands!

The Distance Between Us Nailed It Zoya Colors Rather Be Rreading

Ginger | Gretchen | Stella

Magan >>

Truly, Madly, Deadly by Hannah Jayne

Add to Goodreads | Purchase on Amazon | Read Tara at Fiction Folio’s Review

I have to be honest and admit that there are so, so many stinkin’ books I’m looking forward to in July that I picked this one based purely on what I’ve been wanting to do with my nails lately. Dark nail polish has been a popular thing, but I feel it kind of phases out a bit during the summertime. I’ve seen so so so many girls rocking the dark nail polish with lovely coral or mint outfits lately. I absolutely love it! I personally want to push my summery colors aside to try this out. So why don’t you guys step away from the beachy reads and bright polishes to give this dark, mystery thriller a go with me?

nail polish colors to match the Truly, Madly, Deadly by Hannah Jayne book cover

Raven | Diana | Trixie


And because we are feeling generous today:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


What Happened on the Blog This Week:

Nailed It: Upcoming June Releases

Welcome to another Nailed It!

The weather is getting warmer in our neck of the woods, and we’re feeling more and more inspired to seek out the bright colors in our nail polish collections! Isn’t that the best?

Before we share our color palettes for some upcoming June releases, we wanted to feature some purdy nail photos from our giveaway winners back in April! Both gals were kind enough to share their nails in action.

Nailed It Winners from April 2013: Rather Be Reading launched a new series featuring nail palettes + book covers.

 Don’t they look fantastic? Love the colors they picked out!

And now for this months nail palettes + book cover pairings….

Magan’s Pick:

When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney, from a photographic standpoint, is a really lovely image. I love the editing they did on the photograph because it evokes a mood. I could not decide on a blue to pull from this cover (other than Julianne, that Estelle previously chose, and it still didn’t seem quite right either). What better time is there to wear white nail polish than when you’re working on your summer tan? And purples aren’t typically my first choice, but I love, love the shade on the WYWH cover. The green is maybe the less obvious choice, but I pulled it from the trees and the grass to give this a brighter, summery pop!

Julep Nail Polish Colors: Charlotte | Kate | Adrianna

When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney -- June 4, 2013 Release Date

Goodreads | Amazon

Estelle’s Pick:

The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen. I know, I know… everyone in the world is super hyping up this book but Dessen is a young adult staple and this cover — screams summer to me. So I don’t blame them. As for the cover, I love how the girl is walking down that pier, wearing such a relaxed outfit. The greens are so vivid and mostly, I am loving the array of colors in the title. Is anyone else super digging the newly designed Sarah Dessen covers? I cannot cannot get enough of them. The typography is so simple but it… just works!

Julep Nail Polish Colors: Ally | Leah | Avery


Nailed It The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen June 2013

Julep didn’t have any PERFECT blues to match the shades in this cover (there are so many) but ALLY  matches the title, LEAH is all about the grass, and AVERY is that cute little skirt our character model is wearing. This palette is so fun + perfect for vacation or a summer day out!

Goodreads | Amazon

Nailed It: May Book Releases Edition

Hola friends!

We were so thrilled by your response to our NAILED IT feature, and here we are again with another post — this time featuring May book releases. This is certainly one of the BEST months in this book year because we are uber excited about so many of the reads that are going to hit bookshelves.

Enjoy + happy painting!!

Magan’s Pick:

Golden by Jessi Kirby. A peek at Magan’s review: “You know that feeling when you love an author and you’re super excited for his/her next release… Then you’re completely blown away because this book … THIS BOOK trumps all the others? And you finish it with a happy, goofy smile on your face, but your heart is heavy because you’re sad it’s over? That’s how I felt after reading Jessi Kirby’s upcoming release, Golden.”

julep nail polish colors paired with golden by jessi kirby

Julep Nail Polish Colors: Stella | Ingrid | Sienna

Find Golden by Jessi Kirby @ Goodreads | Amazon

Estelle’s Pick:

Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith. You’ll catch Estelle’s review at the end of April, but she’s been calling it one of her favorite reads of the year for a long time now. Here’s a small snippet from her review: “In her debut, Hilary T. Smith weaves electrifying visuals with a raw (and fresh) writing style, as our main character discovers that life as she knows it is a complete mystery.”Nailed It Wild Awake by Hilary T Smith May Book Release

Julep Nail Polish Colors: Bethany | Daisy | Anne

Find Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith @ Goodreads | Amazon


Speaking of May, Julep just sent out the month’s colors for the Maven members. They are having a roaring 20s theme, which is oh-so much fun! Take a look!

What May book releases are you most looking forward to? Any favorite colors in these palettes?

Estelle + Magan: Nailed It (+ Giveaway)

Happy Tuesday, friends! Unfortunately this new feature was a casualty of our server issues from last week. Originally, we planned to post this last Sunday but here we are today instead! (In the future, look for a Nailed It post celebrating upcoming releases every three to four weeks!)

Here’s the story: We both have Julep Maven nail polish subscriptions and are (quite frequently) purchasing new colors. We have serious, serious addictions. (We both have very incriminating photographs of our polish collections. Eeep!) As we’re gearing up for warmer weather, summer reads, tans, and lots of sunshine, we decided to pick polish colors to pair with a book we’re each looking forward to. Our selections for April are…

Estelle’s Pick:

The timing for this post actually worked out because you will get to read my review of Someday, Someday, Maybe TOMORROW. Actress Lauren Graham has penned her fiction debut, and it was such a pleasure to read. I know the cover is a little muted when you think of summer colors but there are so many hidden gems of color when you really give it a look. Just like the book. Set in New York, I like there are a few lighter tones with a pop of red. It makes it fancy and a little glamorous.

My Julep color selections are: Julianne | Rose | Helen

Estelle Nailed It Someday Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham


Giving these colors a second glance, I want to push the YES button and buy them. The colors are definitely versatile enough to get you through the entire year!

Don’t forget to check out Someday, Someday, Maybe + stop in tomorrow and read my review!

Goodreads | Amazon

Magan’s Pick:

The Boyfriend App by Katie Sise stands out to me because of the colorful, bright cover.  And of course, if you read the book summary, it involves kissing lots of boys + a girl that’s amazingly talented (read: a smarty pants) and is developing an app to win a scholarship + she’s about to enter college (yay, older characters!). I’m guessing there are going to be some mishaps along the way, and hopefully a boy that she falls in love with!

My Julep color selections are: Susan | Portia | Amy

I would apply the pink on my toes because how cute would this color be with flip flops or sandals? So girly! And I would use the blues on my fingernails to do an accent nail with Portia. I personally own Amy, but dang, now I want all of them!

Goodreads | Amazon

Win a Julep Nail Polish Color

Because this is SUCH an obsession of ours, we want to spread the love. (And aren’t you so excited for your nails to have a pop of color?) One winner will receive a Julep nail polish color of their choice. Enter by telling us which color (of those we’ve listed above) you’d like to win in the comments below. The contest is only internationally to anyone over the age of 13.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

One last thing! Be sure to check out Mandee over at the BookishManicurist where she makes unbelievable pieces of art with her nails to correspond with the books she is reading/reviewing. It’s pretty unbelievable and she has the best nail polishing tips in town!

Thanks for stopping by Rather Be Reading today!

Estelle: The Glass Collectors by Robert C. Tabb

The Glass Collectors by Robert TabbThe Glass Collectors by Robert C. TabbSparklejollytwinklejingley Holiday Winter Book Reviews
Publication Date: April 28, 2012
Publisher: Self-published.
Pages: 212 pages
Keywords: holidays, 5th grade, gifts, bad luck
Target audience: Middle grade; certainly a family read
Format read: eBook sent to me from author. (Thanks!)

Summary: Nothing seems to go right for Emerson. He can’t pass the tests in his fifth grade class nor can he show up for school on time. With the holidays around the corner, Emerson is soon obsessed with the idea of creating beautiful glass candleholders for his mother… by collecting each piece of glass by himself. In the meantime, classmate Walt deals with much more responsible than a 5th grader should and Wheels, a huge baseball fan who is stuck inside during recess because of his wheelchair, is looking for one reason to WANT to go to school.

Do you remember when you were in fifth grade and every decision, every move felt like it was a life or death?

Indie author Robert Tabb expresses this urgency and invincibility quite well in The Glass Collectors. At first, I thought the characters had quite mature voices for their age but then I remembered, oh hey I used to talk and think like that too because everything was so mega important back then.

Lead character Emerson seems to be behind on the eight-ball most of the time. His mom works a lot, his dad has left, and he sort of takes care of himself (in what I’m assuming is a safe, safe town). He’s late for school, he can’t pay attention in class, and he’s always concocting some kind of outlandish plan — like making his mother a Christmas present. As a reader, there’s no way I thought a 5th grader collecting glass and gluing it together was a good idea but Emerson thinks it’s genius and will stop at nothing to get it done.

You have to admire his tenacity.

In the meantime, his peers, Walt and Wheels, are facing some real predicaments. Walt is stuck caring for his younger sisters, after his mom jumped ship and his dad is unable to deal. His Mr. Mom routine is very cute and very admirable, but I couldn’t help but feel saddened by it. He needed help. And Wheels doesn’t have many friends due to his disability disabling his social life.

There’s a lot going on. The characters jump back and forth pretty quickly, and I think The Glass Collectors would have benefited from a layout that pointed out the switch in POV a little bit better. I would have liked more development in the lives of Wheels and Walt as well; the connection between the three would be that much stronger. (A detail I did love was the sarcastic 5th grade teacher.)

The Glass Collectors, set in 1989, certainly illuminates with nostalgia (who else remembers those annual gift shops with the #1 Dad merchandise? My dad still has some of it.) and the spirit of the holiday season. Emerson reminds me of a walking disaster with a whole lot of heart, and you can’t help but wonder how his plan is going to turn out.

While the pace certainly picks up as you get further and further in, Tabb ends too prematurely and the impact is not as great as it could be. In fact, instead of an epilogue, I would have loved for the story to end in 1989 with the future left untold. Despite a few of my qualms, I could definitely picture a parent reading this to their children before bed for a few nights in a row or an older reader plowing right through it.

It’s certainly a feel good holiday story with a good amount of charm and utter silliness. Think A Christmas Story meets Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

Make It Yours: The Price is Right: Rather Be Reading's rating for affordable books you can't miss!

Goodreads | Amazon (It’s 99 cents — you cannot go wrong!)

Sparklejollytwinklejingley Holiday Winter Book Reviews Song Pick



The nostalgia, the young crowd in the book = “Linus + Lucy” instrumental by Vince Guaraldi Trio from one of my personal favorites, A Charlie Brown Christmas.