It’s officially spring in New York City. I know this because I bought my first iced coffee of the season at lunch yesterday and the pull toward bright, lighter clothing is so strong. I am resisting but one thing I can’t resist are all the spring beers available on tap. If you are a little nervous about beer, I feel like spring is a good time to do a few tastings. Everything is light! (But it tastes better than anything labeled “light” or “lite” — score!)
This month, we’re getting into the spirit of Earth Day and in the spirit of recycling and reusing I’m going to chat about a beer I’ve had before but had again recently: Captain Lawrence’s Freshchester Pale Ale. It’s wheat-y, it’s light and it goes down so easily… you could probably have three and not even realize it. Bonus: this beer is recommended to be paired with pizza or Mexican food. Does it get any better?
It does! I am so pumped for my book recommendation today.
First There Was Forever by debut writer Juliana Romano pubs on the 14th of this month and in the spirit of Earth Day, the main character, Lima, loves to garden, her mom’s big into health food, and they love to go to the farmer’s market. She’s only 16 but she’s sort of an old soul and that’s probably why I felt for her so much when her best friend starts to change and life gets complicated very quickly. One of my favorite books this year, the cover is beautiful, and the inside will certainly get your heart pumping and your toes dying for a dip in the Pacific Ocean.
I have a hunch we’re in for a lovely spring — whether we’re talking brews or books. Go out there and have an adventure, okay?
Check out what’s brewing at: The Book Addict’s Guide | Andi ABCs | Just a Couple More Pages
Positively Beautiful by Wendy Mills ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury Kids
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: cancer, best friends, planes
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley. (Thanks!)
Summary: As if her mom having breast cancer isn’t hard enough, Erin finds out that she may have inherited a rare gene mutation (like her mom did from her grandmother) and she could have cancer too. Does she find out the truth now or does she forget this is even a possibility for now?
Last Friday, Angelina Jolie wrote an op-ed for the New York Times, sharing her decision to remove her ovaries and fallopian tubes. As the carrier of the BRCA1 gene mutation, Jolie believed going through with this procedure (and, therefore, speeding along menopause) was the right decision for her — especially knowing that her grandmother, aunt, and mom all died of cancer very young. In her piece, Jolie urges women to know all of their options and emphasizes that everyone needs to choose their own path, but also makes sure we know: “Knowledge in power.”
This leads me to Erin in Positively Beautiful. Not only is she going through the motions of being a normal teenager (a mysterious boy from her class, a great best friend who starts ignoring her for a new boy, missing her dad, learning a new skill), she finds out that her mother has breast cancer and she could be a carrier of the gene mutation. Does she take the test and find out? Or does she forget about it? As you can imagine, it’s difficult to just ignore something this huge, this life altering, and Erin finds herself depending on online support from others in the same boat — most specifically, Ashley, a girl in Florida who is always trying to convince Erin to smell the roses and experience all the beauty there is in the world — especially when life seems so hopeless.
Wendy Mills has crafted a unique story here. I loved that Erin decided to take flying lessons. The late night, abandoned building adventures she took with her best friend and boys from school. Even the growing pains that Erin experienced with Trina, her lifelong best friend, when she landed a guy who finally appreciated her. To be in this position, with her mom sick and a mysterious cloud possibly hanging over her head, Erin is caught between the life of a typical teenager and a girl forced to grow up way too fast, forced to make decisions that could affect her entire life.
Shocker: we don’t always know what to do when life gets this out of hand. I won’t say Erin gets a get out of jail free card but she certainly takes an unexpected detour Survivor-style — granting her a respite — for a little bit anyway. She might be overwhelmed but she’s not silly enough to think she can escape her problems forever. Instead, supports shift and she returns to real life recharged and as ready as she will ever be to face the unknown.
While I personally may have turned down the drama in the high school aspect of this book, I thought it was great how Positively Beautiful shed light on a subject we don’t see much in young adult literature — without being preachy. It’s a book that definitely marches to its own drummer, and that’s exactly why I couldn’t read fast enough and sat in one spot until I reached the end. (Warning: tissues are not an option.)
Add POSITIVELY BEAUTIFUL to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Buy at B&N
Well, another month bites the dust. Who’s prepared for April and taxes? (UGH.) Ahem, sorry – that’s what I’ve been focused on a lot the last two weeks. April is going to be full of sunshine and reading outside and lots and lots of vitamin D. (We hope.) Here are a few highlights of our March:
We had an awesome time participating in Cassie’s #15beautifuldays in March! Thanks so much for hosting this, Cassie, and we hope you guys enjoyed seeing a bit more of our lives outside of books on our Instagram.
SHOPPING LIST MUSTS
Estelle’s Picks: The Wrong Side of Right • A Mad, Wicked Folly
Magan’s Picks: Things We Know by Heart • The Start of Me and You
WHAT TO CLICK
SUMMING IT ALL UP
Small Damages by Beth Kephart
Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Clark
Trust the Focus by Megan Erickson
The Winner’s Trilogy
In Some Other World, Maybe by Shari Goldhagen
Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby
The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord
Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes
Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz
One Wish by Robyn Carr
Better Than Perfect by Melissa Kantor
When Joss Met Matt by Ellie Cahill
Dove Arising by Karen Bao
Top Ten Books We Want to Re-Read
The Beginning of Our Attachment (our Twitter/G-Chat beginnings)
Top Ten Books on Our Spring TBR List
Estelle and James’ Early Beginnings (inspired by The Start of Me and You)
Little Kids: Books About Feelings
Dive Into Diversity: They Work Hard for the Money
Pub Date: Can I Be So Blunt
What were some of your favorites in March? Let us know in the comments.
Here’s to amazing books, beautiful weather, and no terrible April Fool’s jokes being pulled on you today! 😉
Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby [twitter • website]
Publication Date: April 21, 2015
Target Audience: Young Adult
Keywords: death of a boyfriend, transplant donor recipients, moving forward
Format Read: ARC from Publisher (Thank you!)
Summary: Quinn feels unable to move on until she has closure about Trent’s last donor recipient, Colton, who received a heart transplant. When their two worlds collide, Quinn knows she should tell Colton who she is, but it’s easier said then done when she starts developing feelings for him.
• • •
Quinn’s boyfriend is killed in a freak accident while he’s out for a run early one morning. Quinn wasn’t with him, but any other day she would have been. When Things We Know by Heart opens, it’s been 400 days since Trent’s death. 400 days of Quinn’s life being on hold — removing herself from her activities, failing to apply for college, sleepwalking through graduation, and distancing herself from her friends. The one thing she’s successfully managed to do is meet four out of the five donor recipients.
But the fifth one puzzles her; why hasn’t he responded to her letters? Consumed with finding him, she pinpoints where he is by the magic of the Internet and stumbling upon his sister’s blog. Colton received Trent’s heart and Quinn feels if she could just see him, maybe she could finally feel some closure. She goes to his home town to catch a glimpse of him, but her startled clumsiness causes them to do more than bypass one another and begins a sweet friendship.
As the days tick by and Quinn’s silence becomes deafening, she knows she’s gotten in too deep with Colton. She knows she should have been upfront about who she was, especially once she can’t seem to think of him as just a friend. Though their relationship isn’t an honest one, she just can’t seem to back away. Kirby did a phenomenal job creating a complex storyline — How does Quinn reveal herself and not risk heartbreak (again)? — but she peppered Things We Know by Heart with great adventures, an awesome connection between Colton and Quinn that just made me smile, and really, really strong family dynamics. (The bond between Quinn and her sister Ryan is so authentic; when Quinn least wanted to get out of bed, Ryan was there to shove her out of it and to speak truth when it was the hardest thing to say.)
Things We Know by Heart is ultimately a simple story of moving on when you’re not sure you should or are able. Plus a sweet romance. The strength is in all the small details that are layered with beautiful moments and pacing that feels so effortless. I love that Jessi honed in on heartbreak and moving on and did it so, so well.
(My really, really minor complaint would be that I would have liked to have seen some of those friends Quinn neglected for the last year filter back into her life, but really — such a teeny tiny thing to have hoped for in a darn near perfect book.)
Add THINGS WE KNOW BY HEART to Goodreads • Amazon • Barnes & Noble
Greetings! We’re switching this week’s Top 10 Tuesday up a bit. Instead of ten books we recently added to our lists… how about ten books we’ve recently added to our re-read list? The truth is Magan and I are pretty much failing at the re-read this year. I guess that happens when you love the books you’re reading… but, sooner rather than later, we’re going to want to fall back on some of our favorite comfort reads. (Yum. Like comfort food. Ice cream. I’m hungry.) Plus, we need to get our ducks in a row for the re-read challenge hosted by Kelly and Hannah.
We’re committed. We’re prepped. Here are the books on our re-read list:
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell | From What I Remember by S. Kramer & V. Thomas
To All The Boys I Loved Before by Jenny Han
On the Fence by Kasie West | Open Road Summer by Emery Lord |
The Summer of Firsts and Lasts by Terra McVoy | The Comeback Season by Jen E. Smith
The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler | Unbreak my Heart by Melissa Walker |
Don’t Let Me Go by J.H. Trumble
Can’t wait to see which books you tempt us with this week! Happy last day of March!
The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: March 31, 2015
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: friendship, family, grief
Format read: ARC borrowed from Elena @ Novel Sounds. (Thank you!)
Summary: Paige embarks on a plan to move forward from her grief over the death of her first boyfriend and the fears that have manifested since then.
After reading Open Road Summer, I’m always going to look forward to Emery Lord’s books. Why? Because she has a great way of bringing to life the important female friendships of teenage-hood. Sure, romance and family drama is folded into the fictional worlds she creates, but Lord understands that these friendships are the core of our lives. The difference between having strength and backing down when we don’t have the energy or the bravery to move forward on our own just yet.
From the cover and the title, you would be right to assume that The Start of Me and You solely focuses on a romance storyline but more than once during my reading, I found myself questioning both of these details because it was so much more than that. Paige is reeling from the death of her boyfriend and decides the only way to break out of it is to make a to-do list to help her focus. She wants to go out on a date and get comfortable around water again. But before those two, she decides to get involved with the Quiz Bowl club — where her pop culture knowledge will be of use and she finds herself befriending her crush’s cousin, Max.
Max is great. He just is. He’s the kind of boy we dream of meeting. Paige finds him easy to talk to and to joke along with but he’s also the nice boy so as she gets closer to Max, she’s still crushing on his cousin (Ryan) and somewhat intently focused on making that relationship happen. (It became cripplingly embarrassing at a certain point.) There are feelings floating around, but what’s really occurring is the creation of a new friendship circle — bringing together Paige’s best friends, Max, and Ryan. I love how this occurrence was so shocking to our main character but came together so organically at the right time. It’s the kind of love story I want to read about.
Speaking of love, Lord nailed the dynamics between Paige and her best friends. It’s difficult to write about a group like this one and make each girl feel like a real person and not a caricature. There were a few times I got them mixed up but, on a whole, she did well (yay diversity!) and also folded in important issues like naturally comparing between friends, and what happens when a close friend puts her boyfriend ahead of her gals and he’s just… not that great. Growing pains in friendships suck, they do, and I’m glad that Lord doesn’t shy away from them.
All in all, The Start of Me and You is another lovely, lovely book from Lord. Does it top my affection for Open Road Summer? No. It reads a bit younger, the writing wasn’t as layered and crisp, and there were a few too many pop culture references for me but I love how romance is not her big focus here and she works to develop friendships between all of her characters, especially the sweet bond between Paige and her grandmother.
Add THE START OF ME AND YOU to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Buy on B&N
M’s review of OPEN ROAD SUMMER | Collaborative OPEN ROAD SUMMER Playlist