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Estelle: Fan Art by Sarah Tregay

Fan Art by Sarah TregayFan Art by Sarah Tregay ( web | facebook )
Publication Date: June 17, 2014
Publisher: Katherine Tegen
Pages: 368
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: coming out, best friends, literary magazine, art class, graduation
Format read: ARC from Publisher via Edelweiss. (Thanks!)

Summary: Jamie is in love with his best friend, Mason. He’s pretty sure Mason is into girls. Mason has no idea that Jamie is gay. Jamie’s fear of coming out rules the last months of his senior year, and well as his role as designer on the literary magazine when the staff can’t seem to agree on one particular piece.

This is another one of those situations where I love an author’s past work (Love + Leftovers is just amazing) and was highly anticipating their next book… only to be disappointed.

Sigh. It makes my stomach hurt just to say that.

I liked a few parts of this novel but, collectively, something did not click when all the pieces were put together. First, Jamie. He’s gay and in love with his male best friend, Mason. Though his parents are open and supportive, Jamie is struggling with coming out to Mason, much less telling him how he feels. He doesn’t want their years of friendship to disappear with his honesty overload.

As readers, we hear all of his insecurities and his fears. I work very hard to be a compassionate reader but, at some point, I really needed him to move forward. It was almost like the worrying when on for so long; it didn’t create a story arc. It was more of a straight line. Add in conflicts within the literary magazine (that started a little bit too late in the story) about an LGBT comic a student has submitted. There’s a group vote about the piece, but when it’s met with such indignation, it starts to eat away at Jamie. He feels every student should be represented in the literary magazine, and rejecting the piece is not the right thing to do.

His taking matters into his own hands does create a level of anxiety in the book. What will the consequences be? But, at the same time, the driving force of the book should have been something more.

The bright spot of the book was Jamie’s new friends with fellow art geek, Eden. She’s overcome with pressures of her own, but for once, he has someone to talk to about coming out and being himself… in front of everyone. Their friendship grew to be so special, and I loved how they supported each other and were also a little tentative with one another — just like new friends growing to trust each other would be. Another sweet detail was Jamie’s relationship with his baby sisters. They loved him so much, and he truly came from a loving family who tried to connect with each other despite busy schedules.

On their own the poetry included was beautiful and gave us a glimpse into the different personalities at this school but it also made the book feel a little uneven. Introducing other mediums into novels is something I personally love. It gives a book a collage feel, but the story also has to benefit from these breaks in the story and it didn’t in Fan Art. I almost wish the book had been more rooted in the lit magazine environment, and less in art class and in Jamie’s head. It was hard for me to get a grasp on all the different characters, and more of a focus might have helped with that.

Despite unbalanced storytelling, I was rooting for Jamie and Mason. I couldn’t help but think of one of my favorite authors, J.H. Trumble, who has written some great romances that reminded me a bit of these two. (Check out Don’t Let Me Go.) In the end, Fan Art was too much of one thing and not enough of another.

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July 3, 2014 - 10:19 pm

Alexa S. - It’s a bummer that Fan Art wasn’t quite as good as you’d hoped it would be, especially because you really liked her other novel! I was going to read this one, but then decided against it, and I’m kind of glad I did now. I do love that there were still a few details that stood out to you in a positive way though, like that friendship between Jamie & Eden!

June 25, 2014 - 6:31 am

Leah - :( What a disappointment! I had grabbed this one from EW and thought it sounded fantastic..looks like I wasn’t missing anything!

June 24, 2014 - 3:08 pm

Cassie (Happy Book Lovers) - I literally just finished this one and got my review up too! I was glad you felt the same way, I was nervous I was going to be the only one. I wanted to like it so badly, and I just felt like everything never really came together. I haven’t read her other one though, and I’ve heard amazing things, so I may give that a shot.

This cover is so cute though, I want to hang on to my ARC because it’s pretty! (classic book hoarder right here)

June 24, 2014 - 10:47 am

Betty - Ughhh. :( I hate it when this happens. You read a book by an author and assume that every book they write will be just as good…. but then they just aren’t. This books sounds really good premise wise. I’m sad it didn’t meet your expectations. I might have to check out Love + Leftovers though!! Haven’t read it!

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Open Road Summer: A Playlist + More Gushing

It’s kind of crazy when everyone in your timeline loves a book.

Like REALLY loves a book.

Normally, I would wait until later in the year to get to it. Wait for all the hubbub to die down. But with Magan texting me friendship quotes and after watching her vlog (a lot of times, I miss her), I knew I had to make it a priority. So on a weekend when I really needed to love a book, I brought Open Road Summer along. I expected to love the romantic interest a lot, sure, but I did not expect to fall head over heels for the friendship in this book. We should all be so lucky to know a connection like the one that Reagan and Dee share. It’s honest, it’s not always easy, but there is extreme loyalty — whether in action or silence — and they just get each other. It was the biggest highlight of Open Road Summer for me. (Seriously, all the quotes I wrote down were about Reagan and Dee and I just… cried so much during some of their scenes. I thought the book was incredibly powerful and well-done in so many ways.)

So it was an extra bonus that country music was everywhere in this book. While it wasn’t always this way, country is my favorite genre of music. It makes me feel full and happy, and I just love the way that the songs tell a story. It’s been about 10 years now (ahh) that country music has provided the soundtrack to many late writing nights, annoying commutes, brutal workouts, and even a few songs at my wedding. Not everyone in my life feels the same way about country, sadly, so I’m happy that I’ve met smart people like Cassie and Ellice throughout my book blogging who love it too! Since the three of us adored ORS so much, we teamed up to create a country soundtrack that reflects moments and feelings in the book.

Open Road Summer County Playlist

For me, I tried to focus on songs and musicians that don’t necessarily get a ton of play. (You know me with my “under the radar” everything.) And, truthfully, I thought soundtracking ORS would be so difficult or distracting but with so many emotions and great moments, it just felt like fun. Here are a few of my own contributions (and why I picked them):

“I Break Everything I Touch” by Jason Aldean: There’s a great song called “I Break Things” by Erika Jo but unfortunately it’s not available on Spotify.  But I think Jason and Erika’s songs describe exactly how Reagan was feeling in the beginning of ORS. She just couldn’t get anything to work out right.

“Famous in a Small Town” by Miranda Lambert: I used to love to sing this song in my car and I had to use it when thinking of how Dee’s life has changed since being a regular high school kid.

“Homemade Love” by Jessica Harp: Jessica Harp used to be in The Wreckers with Michelle Branch (oh my god, was that almost 10 years ago?!), and that’s how I got into her. It’s her only album but this song popped into my head as soon as I heard Dee and Jimmy’s backstory.

If you know country even a little bit, you could probably think of about twenty songs right off the bat to explain Reagan and Matt’s relationship. These were my top picks:

  • “Stop Drop + Roll” by Dan + Shay: their car ride.
  • “Cool Thing” by Rascal Flatts: just them meeting each other in the first place.
  • “There’s Where It Is” by Carrie Underwood: two people who did a lot of work to get to this point.

Jo Dee Messina’s “Was This My Life?” is so Matt’s life philosophy after what he’s faced in life. “Oh, we just get one ride around the sun / In this dream of time, it goes so fast.”

I think Ellice + Cassie will agree that the biggest challenge was finding a good friendship song. We need some female country singers to get on this! Perhaps the song to best fit Reagan and Dee’s friendship is “You Find Out Who Your Friends Are” by Tracey Lawrence.

When the water’s high / When the weather’s not so fair / When the well runs dry / Who’s gonna be there? /
You find out who your friends are.

On that note, that’s enough from me! Time for you to get listening!

We sincerely hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed putting it together! Be sure to head over to Cassie’s blog for a special guest + Ellice for more chatter about our playlist collaboration efforts! Hooray!

More on OPEN ROAD SUMMER: Magan’s vlog | on Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Befriended with Emery Lord

July 3, 2014 - 10:41 pm

Alexa S. - I LOVED OPEN ROAD SUMMER! It’s definitely one of my favorite 2014 reads, and after reading your post, I’m SORELY tempted to reread it RIGHT NOW. But I do love the points you touched on, and I’m definitely giving the FULL playlist a listen while I do blogging stuff this weekend!

June 25, 2014 - 6:27 am

Leah - ESTELLE. OH. MY. GOD. I love this. Seriously, truly, love this. Yay country, yay ORS, YAY YOU. (& omg The Wreckers!!)

June 23, 2014 - 10:18 pm

Chrystal @ Snowdrop Dreams of Books - I love this post and how much you explain your playlist choices. I really need to read this book and also start writing down my reading playlists.

Thanks for sharing!

June 23, 2014 - 3:41 pm

Anna - I loooooooove that you are gushing about this book. I adore it!

June 23, 2014 - 12:50 pm

Lucy - Nice playlist! Perfectly captures the mood of ORS. Love that book!

June 23, 2014 - 11:51 am

Kelsie - Ooo this post came at a great time! I’m leaving for my honeymoon this week and this is the book I chose to read first! :)

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Nailed It: We’re Back (and It’s Summer!)

Hiya! So we took a little unexpected hiatus from our NAILED IT feature (somehow 3 months has passed) but we’ve still been painting our nails and sharing new colors with each other. (Our latest addiction is the Sinful Colors brand you can pick up at the drugstore. The polish was recently highly rated in Consumer Reports for being long-lasting and well-priced. [$2!!] I bought a few and it’s true — the color lasted longer than a week! Worth picking up.) Anyway, we’re back with some gorgeous book covers + color palettes! Hope this inspires you to get colorful and get reading!

estelle.

Summer of Yesterday by Gaby Triana (Released 6/17/2014)

Nailed It Summer of Yesterday by Gaby Triana

Big thanks to Jen from Pop! Goes the Reader who put this title on my radar. She + I are huge fans of Disney theme parks and when she told me this was a time traveling book that focused on a now abandoned water park, I was all in. I just got it in the mail this week so I can’t tell you my thoughts quite yet but how romantic is this cover? I absolutely love the colors and how subtly magical it all looks. I love dark colors like Octavia on my toes in the summer, and switching between Princess Grace and Paulette would be so fun. Don’t you think? I never wear enough orange-y colors.

 PaulettePrincess Grace | Octavia

magan.

Boomerang by Noelle August (To Be Released 07/8/2014)

Nailed-It-Boomerang-for-Noelle-August

Elements of this book that make me excited: it’s a new adult about two people who happen to work at the same place (where dating a co-worker is off-limits) AND they’re competing for the same job. *claps hands excitedly* I love that this cover is eye-catching and has such bold colors. (And I kind of love the outfit the girl is wearing, though I’d never be cool enough to pair those colors together in real life.) I had to throw in the bonus color, Soraphine, because who doesn’t want to rock white nail polish while they have a gorgeous summer tan? I already own Amy… and maybe Myriam, too, (I forget), but I would most certainly love to add these other two to my ever-growing polish collection. As well as this book…

Amy | Myriam | Alma | Soraphine

♥   ♥   ♥

And in case you missed it:

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Don’t forget to say hi below! Any fun nail obsessions lately??

Psst. We got a shiny instagram account this week! Follow along if you’d like!

June 22, 2014 - 11:14 pm

Alexa S. - YAY FOR A NEW NAILED IT! And you both totally nailed it with these cover + polish combos. I’m loving all the bright colors, since I tend to gravitate towards those when the weather is warmer!

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Shelve It: Saturday & Summer

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

Oh man. It’s been about a month since I did one of these. But hello! I’m here. How are you all doing? It’s been a busy few weeks so far — friends visiting, lots of work changes, James finally got a small break from school, the weather is nice — you know the drill. Basically the books keep piling up and I haven’t shared them with you. Well, well, well. Today is your lucky day. Hope you find something in these piles that catches your eye!

Oh hey, it’s the first day of summer! Do something fun! And go wish Anna of Anna Reads a happy birthday!

Let’s get started:

From Jamie (Perpetual Page Turner) ♥

Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern (I read this + loved it.)
Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang (September 2014)
Kiss of Broken Glass by Madeleine Kuderick (September 2014) — verse book!

From Elena (Novel Sounds) ♥

Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers
Starstruck by Rachel Shukert
The Comeback Season by Jennifer E. Smith (The original cover!)
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (prepared to give this a second try)

From Maggie (Just a Couple More Pages) ♥

Boomerang by Noelle August (July 8 release)

Shelve It June 21 Gifted

From Bloomsbury (Thanks Courtney!)

My Best Friend, Maybe by Caela Carter (A favorite of 2014 for me.)
When Mr. Dog Bites by Brian Conaghan

From Harlequin (Thanks!)

The Fragile World by Paula Treick DeBoard (October 2014)

Shelve It June 21 For Review

Borrowed

Behind the Scenes by Dahla Adler (out 6/24; I really enjoyed it!); thanks Rachel!
Searching for Sky by Jillian Cantor; thanks Lauren!

Shelve It June 21 Borrowed

Bought

Since Last Summer by Johanna Philbin
Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally (My original copy got rained on.)
Racing Savannah by Miranda Kenneally
Triangles by Ellen Hopkins ($1 at my used bookstore) * verse + grown up book *
Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers ($1 at my used bookstore)

Shelve It June 21 Bought

(For my Nook)

Fever (A Songbird Novel) by Melissa Pearl
Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker
Just One Night by Gayle Forman
The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks
Another Little Piece by Kate Karyus Quinn

Preordered 

In Deep by Terra McVoy (Out Jul8 8; read it this week + omg, can’t get enough)
Make It Real by Sabrina Elkins (eBook out July 1)

Big thanks to those who contributed to my book collection in the past couple of weeks! xoxo

Actually, I’ve done pretty well on the “not buying as much” thing. Really! This is been a month of progress.

What’s been in your shopping bag lately?:)

Psst. Thanks for stopping in… we’ll be back tomorrow with a long overdue NAILED IT!:)

June 24, 2014 - 11:08 am

Leah - YAY, My Best Friend, Maybe!! I wasn’t sure what to expect, but ended up reading it an entire sitting. So wonderful!

I’m curious about Searching for Sky. I bought Margot (Adult historical focusing on Anne Frank’s sister!!) that I’m itching to read. :) I’m looking forward to seeing what her YA is like!

June 24, 2014 - 9:59 am

Danielle @ Love at First Page - BOOMERANG! I’m soooo beyond excited for that book it’s ridiculous. I hope you love it! That’s a really great haul you got there – can’t wait to see what you think of all those. :)

June 23, 2014 - 12:54 pm

Lucy - You have some awesome book friends! I love verse novels so just added Kiss of Broken Glass to my TBR. Happy summer reading :)

June 22, 2014 - 8:17 pm

Anna - Thank you for the birthday wishes! <3 <3 <3

June 22, 2014 - 9:01 am

Rather Be Reading: Nailed It: We're Back (and It's Summer!) - […] Estelle does a Shelve It! […]

June 21, 2014 - 8:29 pm

Alexa S. - What a fun book haul post! There are a ton of great titles in here, so YAY YOU. Also, in terms of a book haul, if we were to look at the books I’ve ordered recently, I’m fairly certain I can credit you for at least 1/2 of them. Just saying ;)

June 21, 2014 - 6:18 pm

Jen @Fefferbooks - Cracked Up to Be looks super cute! You know…from the cover. :) But we all love covers, yes?

June 21, 2014 - 1:27 pm

Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook - Definitely yay for the first day of summer. We’ve been having GORGEOUS weather the last few days in Syracuse, and it makes me so happy. I own a copy of Catching Jordan and I STILL haven’t read it. It’s terrible. Behind the Scenes looks super cute. I so want to read that one too.

Enjoy your goodies, and the nice weather. Also, I’m totally awful and still haven’t mailed out Grasshopper Jungle to you yet. I promise to mail it out very soon.

June 21, 2014 - 10:19 am

Amy @ Tripping Over Books - I’m envious of your willpower to “not buy things”! I have none, although I’ve been better about it, too, come to think of it.
All of these sound wonderful! I’m really curious about Say What You Will. I was drawn to it at first because, superficially, one of the main characters shares my name. But the story itself sounds very emotional and intense. I can’t recall ever hearing about a book featuring two main characters who suffer from disabilities (although I’m sure I just missed some), and certainly never cerebral palsy.
Also, I read Just One Night, and it was lovely. I know a lot of people liked the way Just One Year ended, and I was impressed with the structure for sure, but my heart wanted just a teensy bit more. This was perfect for that part of me.
Good luck with Beauty Queens! I haven’t had the best luck with Libba Bray’s books, alas. This one included. But I hope you get through it on your second go around!

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Why in 5: Make It Count by Megan Erickson

Make It Count by Megan EricksonMake It Count by Megan Erickson ( web | tweet )
Book 1 of Bowler University series.
Publication Date: June 3, 2014
Publisher: William Morrow Impulse
Pages: 384
Target audience: Mature young adult/New Adult
Keywords: college, tutoring, learning disability, romance, friendship
Format read: ARC from Publisher via Edelweiss. (Thanks!)

Summary: Kat is desperate for help in statistics and can’t believe her luck with her boyfriend’s roommate, Alec, turns out to be her tutor. He has absolutely never liked her. Suddenly, she’s looking forward to tutoring sessions because of, well, not the smoothies or the statistics. It’s true Kat isn’t much into long-term commitments; she lets a relationship run its course and then moves on. But there is something about Alec — she wants to talk to him about things she never brings up with anyone. After a lousy breakup with his high school sweetheart, Alec isn’t ready to trust anyone again but when his tutoring gig leads him to Kat; he finds himself feeling a way he hasn’t let himself in a long time even though he knows he shouldn’t.

five (see? I’m being mathematical) reasons to pick up MAKE IT COUNT

1. I feel like I need to say this is not a cheating book. I know a lot of readers have a hang up about this so I don’t want this detail to deter you from picking up Megan’s book. When we meet Kat and her boyfriend, Max, it’s so obvious things aren’t working out. Max is acting differently; Kat is holding back and it’s only a matter of time. Even so, Alec and Kat’s tutoring sessions lead to an automatic friendship. (A playful, almost-immediately intimate one.)

2. Kat is not a perfect student, and as the story goes on, readers learn about her struggles even as a young kid. Her parents didn’t push her to go to college because she was never much of an academic. Right off the bat, I admired Kat’s drive. But the second part? I have yet to read a book where a character had a learning disability. She goes through a range of emotions (esp. in the way she finds out about it) and I think Erickson wrote this part of Kat’s character with so much care and thoroughness. Too many times characters in NA don’t have this kind of depth and I appreciated this layer to Kat and how this struggle caused her to grow as the story went on.

3. Alec is geeky hot. And his nickname is Zuk like Danny Zuko in Grease. How adorable is that? Immediately, Alec felt like a mature and super laidback character. He was concerned about his friends; he has that “fixer” quality that I so understand in people. (I have it too.) He’s also respectful and super thoughtful. But he’s also not perfect. Like anyone, he doesn’t know how to handle all situations even though he wants to be. He hasn’t had the happiest childhood (though his mom is a treat) but has used tragedy to propel him forward. As a leading guy, he knew to keep his distance because his friendship with Max was important to him (they are childhood pals) but also preferred having Kat in his life SOMEHOW. Even if it wasn’t the way he wanted it to be, at first.

4. Let’s hear it for the supporting characters. Erickson did a great job of evolving each of the main character’s separate stories. Alec’s voice of reason was Danica, one of his classmates, who always tells him how it is (even when he doesn’t want to hear it). And for Kat, there’s Tara. The two girls have obviously spent a lot of time together, they know each other’s families and there’s just a nice comfortable feeling to their friendship. Even as we got further into the book, Erickson did not stop developing great side characters. I had a nice handle on this group of people, how they operated, and how important they were to each other.

5. The best for last? The chemistry between Alec and Kat was insane. Despite all the “life” things on my mind this week and all the plans we had, I could not could not get Alec and Kat out of my mind. WOULD THEY EVER KISS? OMG I CAN’T STAND IT. CAN I POSSIBLY SNEAK MY BOOK AT THIS VERY INOPPORTUNE MOMENT? Yes, it was that kind of book. A nice, slow burn. Totally worth the wait. Bonus: you could tell the author worked carefully to create Alec and Kat as two separate characters. Yes, they complimented each other but they weren’t dependent on one another to live their lives. I respected that. Yay for healthy relationships!

I think you know where I’m going with this…

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September 12, 2014 - 9:01 am

Make It Right by Megan Erickson (New Adult Review) - […] be honest. I wasn’t much of a Max fan when I read Make It Count. In fact, it surprised me that author Megan Erickson decided to have her next book in this […]

July 6, 2014 - 8:22 pm

Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide - Geeky hot? Good characters? Awesome romance? YESSSS. I think I picked this one up from Edelweiss so it sounds like I really need to get on it!

June 24, 2014 - 9:58 am

Danielle @ Love at First Page - This sounds so good! I love a good slow burn romance, and I’m so happy to hear that cheating isn’t an issue (not a fan of that at all). I actually already bought this for my Kindle – hopefully I’ll be able to start it soon. :) Great review!

June 23, 2014 - 12:57 pm

Lucy - I liked this one too! So cute and entertaining. Looking forward to reading Make it Right!

June 21, 2014 - 8:24 pm

Alexa S. - Okay, seriously, you are a MASTER at making books sound amazing! I’m thrilled that this one was a big hit with you, and you’ve successfully got me curious enough to want to go and read this… *hurries over to Amazon*

June 20, 2014 - 11:26 am

Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook - OKay, I sooo want to read this now. I was worried that it was a cheating book, so I’m glad to hear it isn’t. I have read a few books with characters with learning disabilities, but they have both been guys. So I would be excited to read something about a women with a learning disability.

June 20, 2014 - 9:25 am

Rosie - This sounds really interesting, I finished We Were Liars last night and could do with something else to read.

Rosie x

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