Magan: In My Mailbox (1)

Kristi at The Story Siren started a weekly meme called In My Mailbox, where bloggers can share books they’ve checked out of the library, borrowed from a friend, or received from a publisher. As Estelle and I are still pretty new at the whole blogging thing, we’ve been reluctant to participate. Being newbies didn’t seem like a good reason for us not to participate – it seemed like the best reason to get involved. Today is the perfect day for me to show you the loot I picked up …

(For now – I don’t know how to make awesome vlogs, so I’ll just be sharing a list of the books. I’ll try to work on figuring out vlogs.)

All links below will take you to Goodreads so you can add these books to your own lists.

From the Library:

books by courtney summers, favorite books by courtney summersFall for Anything by Courtney Summers








maureen johnson books, books to read for young adult girls

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson








cover with a boy girl and dog through a fence, stay with me book cover

Stay With Me by Paul Griffin








book cover in bue black and white, daughter of smoke and bones book cover, in my mailboxDaughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor








books about abduction and identifying with captorsStolen: A Letter to My Captor by Lucy Christopher








 Perfect Chemistry (Perfect Chemistry #1) by Simone Elkelesbad boy attracts good girl books








The Maze Runner by James Dashner








Unforgettable by Loretta Ellsworth








From NetGalley:

The Princesses of Iowa by M. Molly Backes








Waiting to Forget by Sheila Kelly Welch








Saving June by Hannah Harrington





Pardon the Funky Text…

We use a plug-in to help us manage and design our website. They rolled out an update today that is REALLY messing up the design. Our colors and fonts are kind of messed up (don’t you just love the bright 1990s blue?).  Please excuse the mess.

I hope it all gets straightened out soon, but until then, Rather Be Reading is a little more colorful… 🙂




Magan: Populazzi by Elise Allen

books about high schoolers who climb the social ladder to be popularPopulazzi by Elise Allen
Release Date: August 1, 2011
Pages: 400
Target Audience: Young Adult
How I found out about it: From Kristi’s blog – she did a review and I immediately added it to by to-be-read list.
Format: Kindle download
Summary: Cara is challenged by her best friend Claudia to move up The Ladder to become Supreme Populazzi at her new school, where she will have the chance to reinvent herself and begin her junior year of high school with a fresh start.


I began Populazzi hoping to read something that was light-hearted and fun. Cara is going into her junior year of high school with a big book from her best friend, Claudia, that details how to move up the social ladder.  Claudia’s plan never felt extremely convincing to me, and I immediately thought I would be able to predict the outcome and ending.  Cara didn’t seem overly excited to be reinventing herself either and for that reason alone, I didn’t understand why she so easily went along with all of the plans to change.

As I got deeper into the book, I realized Cara was just like me as a high school  girl. She was searching for who she was. She didn’t know which group of people she belonged to and she wasn’t comfortable enough with who she was not to care if she wasn’t the most popular girl in school. Pretty much every girl can relate to how Cara felt as she waded through all the drama. Young girls will relate to Cara’s soul-searching, and adults will have flash backs to those not-so-glorious days when we were so self-conscious. I reflected a lot on who I was back then, and I came to realize that Claudia’s plan would have been the greatest idea to 16-year-old-me. As an adult, I found it transparent and saw all the fatal flaws…especially when they pertained to the resident-geek-crush, Archer.

I adored Archer’s character. He was the boy I hoped Cara would realize was perfect for her, but of course she made so many mistakes throughout her climb that Allen had me convinced that wasn’t a possibility.  The book felt so much longer than it was because Cara had to go through so much before becoming true to herself. Allen definitely did not make Cara’s journey an easy one, which made the story all the more convincing.

Overall, I enjoyed this book so much. Some parts were laugh-out-loud funny and others I was cringing hoping all the bad would quickly pass. I think any girl who remembers what it’s like to find out who you are in high school and any girl currently going through that part of her life should definitely pick up this book.



Happy Tuesday, everyone! It’s Magan bringing you the top ten authors I’d want to join me at my Thanksgiving feast.  Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme started by The Broke and the Bookish, one of our very favorite blogs.  As I work on my hypothetical list of authors I can’t help but think about how I need a bigger dining room table. And how loud I anticipate things would get if this ever actually happened because there would be so much laughter filling the room.  Check out who Tahleen at the Broke and the Bookish would be inviting.

1. My very first guest would be none other than the very talented, ever quirky, blue-haired Stephanie Perkins. She’s the author of Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door. I began following Stephanie on twitter immediately after I finished Anna because I imagined her real life was probably just as awesome and interesting as her character’s lives.  And it’s true. She keeps things interesting and fun in twitterverse.

2. My second guest is also chosen for the way she makes me laugh and crack up – both in her book Hourglass and on twitter. This person would be the one and only Myra McEntire.  I imagine she and Stephanie can swap stories about hunky, dreamy boys to leave the rest of us in wonder.

3. Estelle lives in NY and I live in TX, but since we’re hypothetically speaking, she would definitely be coming to my Thanksgiving get-together. For that reason, I would invite Jennifer Echols so she and Estelle could geek out over The Muppets together. Oh, and also, Jennifer is kind of phenomenal at dreaming up boy-characters that are 100% swoon worthy. She’d join in on that aforementioned conversation about boys with Myra and Stephanie for sure.

4. I’d need Courtney Summers there to make sure that we keep it real. I think Courtney would be super sweet, down-to-earth, and would hopefully share her inspiration behind Some Girls Are.

5. To balance out the dining table, I’d have to invite two of my favorite people who write something completely different from all the ladies listed above. I’d completely fall over dead if Suzanne Collins walked through my front door. Hopefully she wouldn’t mind if I geeked out over The Hunger Games a little.  And that second person would be…

6. …only the sweet and super-talented Veronica Roth. I’m kind of amazed by how well this brilliant lady wrote Divergent. Um, I went to a book signing to see her. Maybe she’d drop some juicy details about Insurgent if I made a delicious pumpkin pie… just.for.her.

7. As I mentioned in my post about Virtuosity, Jessica Martinez plays the violin herself. I think she’d provide some much-needed ambiance, and maybe we’d just open the floor for her to perform a mini-concert before dinner is served.

8. It wouldn’t be a party until J.K. Rowling arrived. Enough said.

9. Considering I just saw Breaking Dawn, Part I yesterday, I do have a few questions that I think Stephanie Meyer could answer for me. Just to clear the air. Imprinting on a baby?  Yeah, I read the books, but I still think this would be a great discussion topic. Dontcha think?

10. Last, but definitely not least, is the lovely Jenny Han. I just kind of think she’s adorable, and I would love to talk to her about what her upcoming projects are…cause I need something to replace Conrad and Jeremiah.

So what do you think about my list? Seems like my husband might have to go find another Thanksgiving party because this one might be a little estrogen-heavy. :-/ Share you lists! I’d love to see who you invited!

Magan: Crossed by Ally Condie

ally condie dystopian trilogy, matched #2 by ally condie, crossed by ally condieCrossed (Matched #2) by Ally Condie

Released: November 1, 2011
Pages: 384
Target Audience: Young Adult
Format: Downloaded to my Kindle.
Why I picked it up: Last year I read Matched – my first dystopia ever. I had to continue reading the series.
Summary: Cassia goes in search of Ky in the Outer Provinces, only to be told that he and two other guys have escaped. She and fellow escapee, Indie, are determined to find them and desperately want to join up with the Rising because they no longer believe in the Society.


Last year when I picked up Matched, I was so intrigued by the idea of Cassia being matched to two boys – one who was her best friend and another who was an outcast in the Society. I fell in love with how Cassia begins to realize her world isn’t exactly as perfect as she’s always been told. I admired Ky’s character for being so strong; he was an outcast but none of that was his fault. He taught Cassia so much and I couldn’t wait to see if they fell in love. I devoured this book, staying up until 4AM to finish it. Over the last year, I’ve been a major cheerleader for Matched. Highly anticipating Crossed – hoping to finally have a few more answers.

When Crossed was released, I immediately downloaded it to my Kindle. I needed to begin reading it right away. Cassia goes in search of Ky, who she believes to be in the Outer Provinces. Ky has escaped from there and is trying to find a way to get back to Cassia. My first thoughts were, “Seriously!?  They’re going to go in circles and never find one another?”  Much of this book is about their struggles trying to survive and not be detained by the Society again. Unlike in Matched, Crossed is told from Ky and Cassia’s perspectives. We have an inside look at where they are at all times. While I enjoyed hearing from both characters, I do think this added an element of confusion to the story.

The entire story takes place over a very short amount of time, but Condie did a beautiful job making the reader feel as though they were exhausted and tired right along with Cassia and Ky. She didn’t quickly or easily tell the story of how they were climbing, running, and hiding through the canyons. Because they were in unfamiliar territory, I kept trying to figure out if they were near each other and wondered if someone would be mistaken for an enemy and killed.  I felt on edge the entire book because they could so easily be discovered and their whole mission to find one another would be forfeit.

We are introduced to several new characters in Crossed – Indie, Eli, Vick, and Hunter. I had no idea who to trust. By the end of the book, I didn’t know if the Rising was good or bad, if they had fallen into the trap of the Society again, and whether Ky and Xander really had Cassia’s best interests in mind.  Ky knows of a secret that Xander is keeping, but he wants Cassia to find out from Xander himself.  Aside from a short scene in the beginning with Xander, we don’t see much of him in Crossed. I was hoping for a bit more with him, but I think he will certainly shine in the last book.

Overall, I think Condie does a brilliant job as an author – she makes me feel exactly how the characters would be feeling. It is really hard for me to say that I 100% loved Crossed because I was so utterly confused and discombobulated, but I do think that was the intent. Though I wish I had more answers and knew a bit more about what would happen in the next book, I am thrilled that I am kept guessing. I am elated that I won’t be able to guess the ending.  I am, however, sorely disappointed that I’ll have to wait another entire YEAR for the final book to be released.

For anyone who might be a fan of the Hunger Games, I think the Matched trilogy would be a great series for you. What pulls me into the Matched books are the relationships between Cassia, Ky, and Xander. With the Hunger Games, I found myself extremely disgusted with the Capitol and therefore just as invested even if Katniss didn’t end up with Peeta or Gale. These are two very different dystopias, but if you enjoy this type of read, you should definitely consider picking them up.

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Magan: Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers

book cover for cracked up to be by courtney summers

Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers

Length of Book: 214 pages
Type of Book: YA
Format: Library Book
Release Date: December 28, 2008

I read this book because: I like books that tackle big issues. This one hinted at something BIG and suspenseful that happened and I was really intrigued.
Synopsis: Parker Fadley is a former perfectionist.  After an unspeakable event occurs and Parker’s life crumbles, her parents put her on suicide watch, her former friends keep close tabs on her, and her guidance counselor threatens to take away her graduation rights.  What is it that made Parker’s world turn upside down?


This was my very first Courtney Summers novel. I was super intrigued by the summaries on all of her books – she appears to tackle huge issues in a very tactful way for teenagers. This particular book was my first to read because there was an element of suspense. We are introduced to Parker at the height of all the confusion – her life has gone to crap, her parents tiptoe around her, her guidance counselor and principal are on her case, and she meets the new boy at school.  The catch is that Summers strings us along with subtle hints and slowly pieces the entire story together.

I immediately lusted over wanted to be Parker Fadley. She was a strong, witty, takes-no-crap kind of girl. Her sarcasm left me in fits of laughter, even though I knew that deep down it was just a cover up for whatever she was hiding.  When new-boy-Jake is introduced, he becomes yet another source of tension. Parker is trying to force him away with all the abrasiveness she can muster, but something continues to pull them together. Jake is intrigued by Parker because he can’t figure her out. I was definitely rooting for Jake because I found that Chris (Parker’s ex-boyfriend-that’s-still-in-love-with-her) had serious issues since he was in a relationship yet still confessed his undying love to Parker.  I also couldn’t figure out why Chris and Parker had ever broken up, so I assumed that the unspeakable-suspenseful-truth had something to do with him.

Overall, I really enjoyed Summers’ writing. She’s clever and funny in all the right places. I do wish the story had progressed a bit faster so that the ending wouldn’t have been so abrupt. Once I finally figured out what happened, the story ended ten pages later leaving me with a few too many unanswered questions. I am all about using my own imagination and filling in the gaps of the story, but I really felt like this needed a bit more. I would have been happier if the book were a little longer.  Although this book wasn’t a best-book-of-all-time kind of read for me, I will still definitely be picking up more of Summers’ writing.

Are you a fan of Laurie Halse Anderson‘s books?  If so, then I highly recommend you check out Courtney Summers. And vice versa. I’ve read a number of Anderson’s books – Speak, Wintergirls, Twisted, and Prom.  You can’t go wrong with any of those if you’re looking to read something similar to Summers’.

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