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Estelle: The Darlings are Forever by Melissa Kantor

The Darlings are Forever by Melissa Kantor
Publication Date: January 4, 2011
Publisher: Hyperion
Pages: 352
Target audience:  Young Adult
Keywords: girl friendships, starting high school
Format read: Hardcover borrowed from the library.

Summary:  Best friends Jane, Victoria, and Natalya are starting high school in three different schools. This is the first time they’ve ever been apart during the school year and promise each other they will remain as close as ever. Can they do it?

As a huge fan of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, I had a feeling I would really like The Darlings are Forever. And I did. In fact, I always wished the earlier Sisterhood book had more meat (I absolutely love the last two) and Darlings had the back story right from the start. While it took me a little bit of time to distinguish Jane, Victoria, and Natalya from one another, I liked this honest look at friendship. We all know how hard it is to remain close with our best friends who we may not see every day so I could easily relate to the struggle to be there for one another, while at the same time, taking the time to explore their new lives.

Uber confident Jane is attending a performing arts high school where she dreams of starring in a top production and catching the eye of her director. (Literally.) Victoria’s dad is running for Senate and she is forced to think five times before she does anything so she doesn’t risk making her dad look bad. Natalya received a scholarship and is attending a prep school with a bunch of rich kids. She (at times desperately) wants to be a part of the in-crowd and this story infiltrates Victoria’s. All of the girls deal with romance, fitting in, and being themselves. So no subject we haven’t read about before. But no fear, Kantor does manage to put her own little twist on a few of these storylines.

The Darlings are Forever is the perfect book for those who enjoy reading about female friendships and New York City. It may not be exactly on the light side but you won’t be crying your eyes out or throwing the book against the wall in fits of frustration either. And sometimes that’s exactly what you need. Some swoon, some drama, and some good old-finished gal pals.

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I’ve also reviewed: Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor

July 28, 2014 - 10:08 pm

Alexa S. - Friendship story in New York City? I’M SOLD. I seriously love a good friendship story, especially one that highlights each person in the group of friends well.

July 28, 2014 - 4:01 pm

Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook - The Darlings Are Forever seems really interesting. I never did read The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, but I’ve been meaning to for what feels like forever.

I always enjoy books about female friendships. Glad you liked this.

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Shelve It: New Books / New Friends / Giveaway

weekly feature to share the books magan and estelle are adding to their bookshelves each week

I wonder if I’ll ever NOT be amazed by how fast time is flying. It’s practically been a month since I’ve done one of these, and when I was getting my books together — I was pleasantly surprised how few i’ve bought in the last few weeks. Go me? Don’t get me wrong; so many great books are coming out but i’m so behind on reading what I own i’ve been making a conscious effort to do that. So this is what’s been happening…

What I bought:

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Like No Other by Una LaMarche
Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally
One Plus One by Jojo Moyes
Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Fun goodies in the mail:

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From Harlequin: The Oleander Sisters by Elaine Hussey
From Quinn @ Quinn’s Book Nook: Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
From Melissa @ Rolling with the Magic: Beer and Food by Mark Dredge

THANK YOU ALL!

Speaking of BEER, this week debuted my contribution to PUB DATE — a new feature I’ll be working on with a few fantastic bloggers and beer lovers. My sister made the banner and i am feeling way proud of her! So if you are curious about beer or just want another way to find a book recommendation, be sure to stop in!

In other blog news, Magan and I are so excited to share in the launch of THE PAGE GIRLS — a new online magazine dedicated to books, friendship, and cocktails. Seriously, could this new venture be any more perfect for us? I think not. So to spread the love, the gals of The Page Girls have donated some lovely blog-themed coasters and an eBook of a winner’s choice. If you’re a fan of finding super fun mail in your box, I recommend you enter this giveaway!

Page Girl Coasters 2

Here’s a little bit more info:

About The Page Girls | The Page Girls (www.thepagegirls.com) is a new online mag with an emphasis on books, cocktails, and female friendships. Each week, they publish a themed issue containing short stories, book reviews, personal and funny essays, videos, cocktail recipes, and more. Some sample issues include The Craziest Thing I Did For Love and LYLAS (Love You Like a Sister).

Sign up for The Page Girls’ weekly newsletter to get notified about new issues, and be sure to follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

Ebook giveaway (Winner chooses 1 title):

An Imaginary House by the Sea by Cecily Gates (Contemporary Romance)
HDU by India Lee (New Adult)
Normal is the Watchword by Jasmine Tru (YA Thriller)
Here for the Cake by Emily Poule (Rom-Com)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

In case you missed it:

  • I want you to consider buying AFTER I DO (contemporary fiction) + BLAZED (dark contemporary YA).
  • Magan wants you to borrow EXILE (a YA book for music fans).

How’s your summer been? Let us know + don’t forget to enter The Page Girls giveaway!

We hope you have a great week full of sunshine, books, and maybe a donut? Yum!

July 28, 2014 - 8:44 pm

Alexa S. - I think you got some pretty excellent things book-wise, if you ask me! I still want a copy of Jojo Moyes’ books :) Happy reading!

July 27, 2014 - 4:54 pm

tabithasbookblog - Breathe, Annie, Breathe was so good! It ended up being one of my favorites in the Hundred Oaks series, so I’m interested in hearing what your thoughts are. (or have you already read it)?

And then Blazed looks really good! I’m going to look into it.

July 27, 2014 - 2:59 pm

Brianna - I’m a new reader to your blog. I can’t wait to check out your reviews!

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Pub Date: A Summer of Reds

Pub Date Header

Hello, friends! We have made it to Friday + it’s a special occasion because it’s my first contribution to PUB DATE — the brain child of Brittany at The Book Addict’s Guide — where I will be sharing book + beer pairings along with the lovely Andi of Andi’s ABCs and Maggie of Just a Couple More Pages. And thanks to the talents of my sister (she painted this actually) we have a fancy dancy new header to debut today as well. Hooray!

We’re working with a summer theme this first go-round and last week, Brittany paired a pale ale with a really fun contemporary YA romance. (I’m not revealing any of the details because I want you to go visit B if you haven’t already!)

Before I share with my picks with you, a little bit about me and beer:

  • I was not a beer fan until 2009 or so when I discovered beer could actually taste good.
  • I love sour ales, anything with a hint of fruit, and a good stout. (Coffee or chocolate, count me in!)
  • This summer my husband and I once again bought a beer passport — it’s this event a few of the local bars in NYC put together where you buy the pass and get a free beer at 40-something bars, and you check them off as you go along. It’s been a great way for us to find new places to drink and have dinner, and also try a bunch of breweries.
  • I try to drink local whenever I can. So when I’m on a trip, the first thing I’m looking for is a beer I never tried before.
  • I get very judgmental when I see someone drinking a Miller Lite or Coors Light at a craft beer bar. I can’t help it. In New York City, that crappy beer could cost $8. At least for the same amount of money you could be supporting a local brewery and trying something that has a taste.
  • My advice for non-beer lovers: I honestly believe there is a beer for everyone. My first beer was a combination of a beer and champagne. I loved it and it made me braver about trying OTHER beers. You just have to be patient. Don’t be afraid to ask for a sample. (Beer flights are the best way to get a feel for what you like.)

Bravery is actually a great way to lead into my summer pick:

Nantucket Red by Leila Howland | James Page Brewing Ould Sod Irish Red IPA

Nantucket Red and James Page Ould Sod

Brave because I think Cricket is one of the strongest female contemporary leading ladies we have out there. In Nantucket Blue, she fought with her friendship when it totally changed, and in Nantucket Red, she’s fighting for her independence and also the chance to find out who she really is. (Confession: Nantucket Red actually spans more time than just the summer but the bigger chunk of the book is dedicated to time out in Nantucket.)

Like Cricket, JP’s Ould Sod beer is familiar with the perfect amount of spice. I’m not normally a fan of IPAs (india pale ales = too hoppy) but my husband and I spotted this beer because of it’s cool art and because we had never heard of an IRISH RED IPA before. (According to the website, it’s a brand new thing the brewery tried with hints of caramel and a throwback to Irish Reds from Ireland back in the day.)

It’s light enough to enjoy on a sweltering summer day (I don’t suggest having many stouts or porters in the heat) and the IPA adds the perfect bit of kick. Plus it comes in adorable 12 oz cans. Cans + summer time drinking just go together, don’t you think?

Two things:

  • Ould sod is an Irish expression for “home” + I think that has a lot to do with what Cricket is searching for in both Nantucket books.
  • JP’s Brewery calls their beers “adventurous brews with a twist.” Such a fitting modus operandi for a creative brewery (we tried the Chai Tea Porter + it was fantastic too) and a beer I’m working to desperately pair with one of my favorite young adult lit series.

Want to see if this beer is available near you? Check out their product locator!

Thanks for joining me for this week’s PUB DATE! I’d love to hear what you’ve been sipping lately.
Definitely let me know below + don’t forget to sit back and relax this weekend.

Cheers!

August 2, 2014 - 8:40 am

Leah - HAHAHAHA, ESTELLE. I love you, but we could never go out drinking together. Dark beers scare me. Stouts? No thank you! If I’m going to have a beer it needs to be super light, super sweet, and super fruity!

There was recently a craft beer event in town and it was really fun! Local breweries were there and I felt a bit adventurous. Matt is way more into beer than I am, so he was all about the darker ones. I stuck with the honey-cucumber and lavender-corriander ones. Don’t judge me.

July 27, 2014 - 9:01 am

Shelve It: New Books / New Books / Giveaway - […] of BEER, this week debuted my contribution to PUB DATE — a new feature I’ll be working on with a few fantastic bloggers and beer lovers. My […]

July 25, 2014 - 7:16 pm

Christina @ My Life in Books - There are no James Page Brewing products within 100 miles of MA *sniffs back tears*

July 25, 2014 - 12:47 pm

Alexa S. - I think you’ll be happy to hear that I am considering this Pub Date feature my “education” when it comes to sampling different beers (because I do know what you think of my occasional beer choices, lol)! I really prefer beer over other drinks these days, interestingly enough. I love this feature loads, and am looking forward to indulging in Nantucket Red this weekend (and perhaps grabbing a beer too)!

July 25, 2014 - 11:48 am

Andi - The pressure is on! You and Brittany did such great posts I’m worried about my turn.

I love the beer passport thing. I am the only one of my friends that likes craft beers and trying different one. They are all (GASP) Bud Light drinkers and rarely branch out to other beers. I’ve tried changing it but no go.

Great pairing. And I love the header!

July 25, 2014 - 10:31 am

Ginger @ GReads! - Have I mentioned how much I love this feature? Because I do! Enjoyed your tidbit at the beginning about how you discovered beer, the beer passport, and your irritation with Bud Light drinkers (I feel this way too!!!). A friend of mine has mentioned a local group of ladies who tour Houston pubs & try craft beers. I’m thinking about attending some time. Sounds like fun & a great opportunity to meet more people.

July 25, 2014 - 9:29 am

Cassie - to be honest I’m not a beer lover but I would definitely give this one to go because you paired it with Nantucket Red and I’m always willing to try new things! Again. Love this feature.

July 25, 2014 - 9:06 am

Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide - LOVE the fancy dancy header! <3
I just love your pairing. Everything about it is so perfect (not like I had any doubts) and I thought about the Nantucket books when choosing my post because they are just so perfect for summer.
I love your points on you and beer too! It's true. I drank crappy beer in college but I didn't really ENJOY it until maybe 3-4 years ago when I started trying different kinds (Shane was a big part of that too) and there really can be a beer for everyone!

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Estelle: Blazed by Jason Myers

Blazed by Jason MyersBlazed by Jason Myers ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: June 17, 2014
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 528
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: divorce, broken hearts, San Francisco, music
Format read: ARC from Publisher via Edelweiss. (Thanks!)

Warning: Blazed contains drug use, sex, and manipulative parents.

Summary: When armed with oxy and music, Jamie’s life is smooth sailing. Mostly. When his mom’s actions go a step too far, he’s sent to live with his estranged father in San Francisco for a week. Little by little, the stories his mom has told him about everything start to unravel and he finds himself in the midst of yet another complicated situation. Will he stay in San Fran? Is this his chance at a fresh start?

This is the second book I’ve read by Jason Myers and I have one question:

Why are we not talking about him anymore?

Everyone talks about wanting authentic and diverse books in their lives and well, here is another one of them that seemed to fly under the radar during release week. (Cue the sigh.)

Jamie, the main character of Blazed, is like meeting Holden Caulfield in present day. He’s passionate, he hates fake people, and he has many many observations when it comes to the world. Unlike Caulfield, Jamie depends on Oxy to get through the rough times and is also a musical genius. He can thank his mother for both of these things. She’s a retired ballet dancer who drinks and drugs herself so hard that she has no recollection of anything that happened the previous night. Jamie has learned to take care of their household, save his mom from crappy bars and shitty guys, and despite all of that, remains completely devoted and sure of his mother’s love for him.

As a reader, I was like: wake up, Jamie. Obviously, she was a terrible influence and putting unnecessary stress on the life of her teenage son. But, on the other hand, when he mentioned “the good days”: how she respected his art and encouraged him to listen to all this great music. She wanted him to do well. So the love was there even if everything about it was completely messy.

And it got even messier. When his mom takes things too far (even for her), Jamie is shipped off to San Francisco to live with a dad he has never gotten to know. In fact, all he knows about him are the stories his mom has relayed to him over the years and (I know you will be shocked) they are all super negative. It’s not surprising Jamie doesn’t warm to him, even when his dad tries so hard to make him feel comfortable and at home in SF. I don’t blame Jamie. He has felt tossed aside and forgotten for so long (he’s 14) and believes that his father ruined his mom. But, slowly very slowly, the truth begins to come out.

I loved Jamie’s time in San Francisco. For the first time, he was meeting people who truly cared about him and who totally inspired him. And for someone who loved music like he did (love doesn’t feel like a strong enough word here), Jamie was literally living in his dream world. But the drugs are aplenty in this new world too, causing a breakdown — totally different than the one that occurred at home. The big difference: there are consequences and truths that come to the surface, threatening to change life as Jamie knows it.

Is Jamie ready for that kind of change? He’s falling in love with the beautiful, musical, honest Dominique. He’s bonding and making music with new guys. He has a stepsister who looks out for him as much as he looks out for her. Can he be clean because he wants to and not because his girlfriend wants him to be? Can he and his dad maintain this talking honestly man-to-man thing?

The whole time I was reading Blazed, I was waiting for the shit to hit the fan. And that has to be a lot of shit because things were not looking that great as it was. Myers sucked me into the life of a young kid, forced to act like an adult, and constantly thrown into his mother’s delusions. Even as he adopted his mother’s addictive personality, Jamie was so utterly charming and you couldn’t help but root for him. I had no idea how the book would end. If I would be heartbroken or proud. It’s safe to say… I’m still not sure because there are definitely two sides to every story and we all have reasons for making certain decisions.

Blazed was dark, eye-opening, full of appreciation for art and individualism. It was fast-paced for its page count, and full of so many emotional up and downs. But it was the raw honesty of the main character that kept me hooked. I’m still thinking about him.

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July 27, 2014 - 11:00 am

Shelve It: New Books / New Books / Giveaway - […] want you to consider buying AFTER I DO (contemporary fiction) + BLAZED (dark contemporary […]

July 25, 2014 - 1:21 pm

Alexa S. - E, Blazed sounds like a really, really compelling contemporary. Seriously, your review has completely sold me on wanting to read this story! I would, most of all, like to meet Jamie. He sounds like such a flawed, real character and his story sounds like the type of story that will suck me right in. This is DEFINITELY going on my TBR.

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Magan: Exile by Kevin Emerson

book cover of exile by kevin emerson

Exile (Exile #1) by Kevin Emerson (twitter | website)
Publication Date: April 29, 2014
PublisherKatherine Tegen Books
Pages: 320
Target Audience: Young Adult
Keywords: music promotion, bands, fame
Format Read: ARC from Publisher via Edelweiss (Thank you!)

Summary: After being burned by her ex-boyfriend once he was signed to a major record label (thanks to Summer’s skills/help/knowledge/hard work), she’s on the hunt for a new band and a new beginning. She doesn’t anticipate that this will lead her to Caleb, whom she falls for, or that they’ll be on the search to solve a big mystery.

 

Summer is a local band promoter. She’s got sneaky ways of figuring out how to get her bands into the hippest venues and is a social media connoisseur. In fact, she’s so good that the last band she was managing got signed to a major record label. Oh yeah…her boyfriend was in that band. And guess what happened when they got signed? He said sayanara to Summer and left her behind with the memories of his lies and deceptions. Aside from the heartbreak she’s suffering through, Summer is most frustrated that none of her heard work is paying off for her. Shouldn’t she get some sort of credit for all the gigs she got them and the fan base she helped develop?

But it’s time for Summer to move on.

She connects with Caleb, who has recently had a major falling out with his own band. Taking him on is risky. Why are the people he spend forever making music with suddenly so anti-Caleb? Despite the warning signs, Summer is intrigued and helps him find new band members. Between Summer’s band promotion and Caleb’s songwriting, these two (oh so stereotypically) begin to fall for each other…which is exactly what Summer didn’t want to happen. Again.

Caleb, however, also has some major music industry connections that could propel his new band forward. Summer’s torn between wanting to respect Caleb’s wishes and doing what could really jumpstart their career. He wants to earn his fame on his own merit.

Exile is a fun, quick read that pulled me in simply because I’m a music lover. I thoroughly enjoyed the inside peek into what it might be like to manage a band and how burned Summer felt when she was cast aside when possibility came knocking on her former band’s door. I loved that Summer had to learn that you can’t help who you fall in love with, even if you’re trying your damnedest to guard your heart. The goose-chase to finding out what Caleb’s big news was and seeing how he would deal with each tidbit of information was really great, and I hope that readers connect with his strong desire to work hard and earn what they’re hoping for. (He really didn’t want to be given any handouts.)

Maybe my biggest point of conflict was connecting with Summer. There are hints at this double-life she’s living — the music promoter versus the good-student who might go to law school to please her father. There’s a lot of depth that can be explored there and I wish it hadn’t felt like as much of a side story. Realistically, I think it would have caused more of a struggle for Summer as she tried to perfectly balance all the plates she was juggling.

Final thought: Exile is the first book in a series. I’m terrible at keeping up with series these days. There’s something pretty refreshing about reading a book from start to finish and not waiting for more. I wish that had been the case for Exile.

PS: If you want to listen to a few of the songs from Exile, check them out on Kevin Emerson’s website and listen here.

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Extra bonus: I created a playlist of some songs I’m loving this summer. Enjoy!

 

August 11, 2014 - 4:01 pm

Magan - Thanks, Rachel! :) I’m so glad you enjoyed the playlist too! (Music twins, per usual!) I think the *biggest* downfall is that it’s a series. I’m SO terrible at keeping up with them, especially if it feels like the story could have been told in one book. Thanks for the comment + for stopping by. xo

August 11, 2014 - 4:00 pm

Magan - Alexa, if you give it a shot, I look forward to hearing what you think! :)

July 25, 2014 - 1:55 pm

Alexa S. - I do enjoy books that feature characters that are passionate about music. While I’m still on the fence about Exile (especially considering the last part of your review), I’m glad that the musical aspect in it is pretty strong :)

July 25, 2014 - 11:47 am

Rachel - This book sounds really good! Or, at least something I would like. I’m sorry you found it to be lacking depth in some places :/ That’s always a not-awesome feeling. I also had no clue that this was part of a series. That makes me nervous to read it just because I NEVER keep up with series.

Also, your playlist is A++++, Magan!

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