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Pushing that Preorder Button

Today I’m talking about one of my favorite things in the whole world: shopping!

I love to shop for dresses, purses, makeup, home decor, stationary, arts and crafts supplies, gifts for other people. I mean, you name it and I love to buy it. Especially, books. Lots and lots of books. On Amazon, on B&N with same-day shipping to Manhattan, at the bookstore, at another bookstore, at Target. If there are books somewhere in the vicinity, I have probably looked at them, hemmed and hawed about buying them, and then, eventually pulled the trigger. (Much to the chagrin of my husband since there are stacks and stacks of unread books in our apartment. I love you, husband!)

But there’s one shopping experience that I exclusively use for books.


It wasn’t always this way. Before my rediscovery of reading,  meeting Magan, Rather Be Reading, I was happy enough to find books on the feature tables at the bookstore. The only book I can remember preordering was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I didn’t keep up with release dates and even if I just stumbled upon a future release by an author I loved, I waited until the book came out.

Blogging about books has changed my life in many ways. (Yay friendships! Yay inspiration!) But it’s also changed the way I shop for books. And even between the last year or so, my preordering process has altered too. Last year, I was focused on early releases. If I loved the book, I would preorder it. But when I realized I was getting these finished copies in the mail and not even reading them, I started to cancel my orders and take a break from that entirely.

This year, I’m taking a different approach. I want to read books that my friends are loving and I want to take some chances, and a lot of the books I’ve preordered so far this year follow those two guidelines. So today I’m sharing what goodies should be making their way to my mailbox in the next couple of months. And most importantly, WHY I chose these titles. (Can we talk about how convenient this process is too? No going to the bookstore and not finding it. No forgetting to go the bookstore. And the promise of mail on a Tuesday? The best!)

word of mouth.

Books I Preordered March 2014

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkowski ( Goodreads | Release Date: 3/4/2014 ): The 4-star and 5-star reviews that kept popping up on Goodreads convinced me to take the plunge. Fantasy is not really my go-to genre so I am really trusting these guys to be right. (I’m reading it right now, and will report back.)

Pointe by Brandy Colbert ( Goodreads | Release Date: 4/10/2014 ): Sex & Violence author, Carrie Mesrobian, has been very vocal about Brandy’s work on Twitter and I decided to press the preorder button after seeing some “must buy” tweets from her. Since then, Liz from Consumed by Books and Dahlia from Daily Dahlia have been singing Brandy’s praises so I think my choice was a solid one. (Did I mention it also got a starred review in Publishers Weekly?)

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord ( Goodreads | Release Date: 4/15/2014 ) Summer, romance, friendship! I’ve read so many great reviews for this title already but it wasn’t until the fangirling of Judith and Alexa that I finally took the plunge. I am so excited to get a head start on summer! I need warmth and I’m a sucker for a great summer romance.

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes ( Goodreads | Release Date: 7/1/2014 ) This release date is so so so far away, but after finally reading Me Before You, I think Moyes is an auto-buy for me. Ellice from Paper Riot (and Kelly from Belle of the Literati) have been talking it up SO much… and I caved. Something to look forward in the middle of the summer? Nice to have an adult read to look forward to. (That hasn’t happened in a long time for me.)

publishers weekly.

We Are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt

We Are The Goldens by Dana Reinhardt ( Goodreads | Release Date: 5/24/2014 ) This is really unprecedented for me. I have two of Dana’s books on my Nook (unread), and I hadn’t heard of this title until I saw a really awesome starred review in Publishers Weekly so I decided to give it a shot.

And just for fun…

book i already read that i had to preorder.

Great by Sara Benincasa

Great by Sara Benincasa ( Goodreads | Release Date: 4/8/2014 ) I’m falling back into old habits by grabbing a copy of this but I loved it too much to pass by a chance to have my own copy. My review should be up next week or so, but this retelling of Gatsby had a fresh voice, addicting deception, and was super discussion worthy. It’s definitely worth reading and got me out of a tremendous slump.

books i already read that i want to preorder but i’m waiting.

why? because more than likely they will have events in nyc & i want to buy them in person. so really this category is about spreading the word to YOU because i really enjoyed these.

Books I Want to Cheer About March 2014

The Geography of You & Me by Jennifer E. Smith ( Goodreads | Release Date: 4/14/2014 ) Jennifer’s prose is gorgeous and the story of two people who bond over one evening and then are separated is so so so good. I loved the family side stories and the push and pull between the characters. Plus NEW YORK. BLACKOUTS. Did I mention amazing writing? I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish this one.

Life by Committee by Corey Ann Haydu ( Goodreads | Release Date: 5/13/2014 ) It’s no secret I was a fan of OCD Love Story, and I was so happy to see Corey create something so totally different with her second book. I was on the edge of my seat with this multi-dimensional main character who is navigating life with her unhappy parents who are expecting a baby, the boy of her dreams who has a girlfriend, and this secret online group that makes her feel brave until they don’t anymore. Definitely in my favorite list for this year so far.


Here’s hoping my book shopping inspires some of your own! Because early buzz is important! Preordering is good for a book and good of the book’s author! (Check out this great article that Ellice over at the Paper Riot shared last week; she was the final push I needed to write about my preordering practices!)

Now it’s your turn! What are your preordering practices & how have they changed?
Anything good coming up in the mail for you?

March 30, 2014 - 10:24 am

Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide - Oh wow, you loved GREAT that much? Are you a Gatsby fan or was the book just that good? I read Gatsby in high school and I enjoyed it but I didn’t love it so I didn’t even download the egalley of GREAT because I thought I wasn’t going to like it enough!
I can’t wait to read the Geography of You and Me. I’ve been hearing really good things about it! BUT I should read This is What Happy Looks like first too! :)
I’m not really a pre-orderer AT ALL. I don’t know why… Maybe because I like walking into the store and picking out my book and I NEED to take it home with me (I don’t like waiting for deliveries) but I just pre-ordered a bunch of books yesterday because I want those ASAP and going to the store takes a lot more time now than it used to because nothing is on the way home anymore haha.
YAY all good things! :)

March 30, 2014 - 7:30 am

Week in Review | The Librarian Who Doesn't Say Shhh!The Librarian Who Doesn't Say Shhh! - […] talks about experiencing book feels while reading in public Estelle @ Rather Be Reading looked at the fun of preordering books Brittany @ The Book Addict’s Guide’s latest bookish addiction is audiobooks (mine, […]

March 29, 2014 - 8:25 pm

Cassie - OH YES. #1: JoJo Noyes. One Plus One is AMAZING. Open Road Summer? YES – so excited for that one!!! Life by Committee looks awesome and We are the Golden has me SUPER intrigued.

SO LOVING THIS POST!! I even LOVEEEE Kindle preorders!! To have it just pop up??? SO FUN!!!

amaazinggg idea!

March 24, 2014 - 12:48 am

Retrospect #11-12 (Double Edition): March 23rd : Dudette Reads - […] Estelle @ Rather Be Reading talks about pre-ordering books. […]

March 22, 2014 - 12:12 pm

Alexa - I think it has been a long time since I preordered anything. I was buying finished copies like yourself but then I stopped doing that as well. Now I don’t have a ton of extra money since I quit my job to be in a medical program full time so I hardly preorder books.

March 21, 2014 - 6:58 pm

Kelly - I never preorder books! I think the only one I’ve ever preordered was Deathly Hallows, and that was only to a) guarantee myself a copy on release day and b) to avoid spoilers by reading it ASAP.

I really like the idea of preordering something that won’t be released for months, and forgetting about it, only to have it show up on my doorstep! Might be a new shopping tactic I need to employ :)

March 20, 2014 - 7:59 pm

Alexa S. - I only started pre-ordering things recently, and they’re usually things that I’ve (a) already read and loved or (b) are follow-ups in a series! I don’t do it often still, as it’s a fairly new thing for me — but I love it! Getting book mail is the best. (Also, your post kind of made me want to get Pointe!)

March 19, 2014 - 6:59 pm

Laura @ Scribbles & Wanderlust - Because I work in a bookstore, I tend to wait to borrow the hardbacks of books I’m interested in, read the first 50 pages, and then decide if I’d like to buy it and join the hype. I’m always so nervous about spending money, because sometimes the hype doesn’t live up. However, getting ARCs and THEN buying them — that always happens. THE GEOGRAPHY OF YOU AND ME is one of them; read the ARC and immediately pre-ordered so I could have my own copy.

Beautiful thing about ARCs. You’re reading them for free, like a library, without the lending/return policy. A blessing for my wallet.

I’ve heard great things about POINTE too…let us know what you think!

March 19, 2014 - 3:15 pm

bookrockbetty - I think you’ll really like Open Road Summer!! I liked that it not only focused on the romance, but a lot on friendship too… plus the whole… hot musician falls for non famous girl is always a fun premise!!! <3 I love the Life By Committee cover.

March 19, 2014 - 3:13 pm

Molly @ wrapped up in books - I’ve been trying to cut back on my pre-orders this year. I always buy books at author events, and I go to anything local, so that’s already several full-price hardcovers a year. If I really love a debut I read as an ARC I’ll sometimes pre-order. I do order library books 2-4 months out so we get them on release day and to support authors, because I know those pre-order numbers are important.

March 19, 2014 - 11:07 am

Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook - I tend to go through phases of buying books, or getting them from libraries. But I really don’t preorder many books, usually because I know I can get them very quickly from the library.

I think you’ve picked some great books to pre-order though. I definitely want to read Open Road Summer. And I’m very interested in Pointe because BALLET!

March 19, 2014 - 10:51 am

Ginger @ GReads! - I preorder books, but not a lot. If it’s a book I know I want to read the day it is released and I won’t be able to get to a bookstore for some time, then you bet I click that preorder button. But my most recent trip to the bookstore reminded me how much I miss wandering through the aisles, picking up a book and reading the back cover, then deciding if I want to buy it or not. It’s a feeling that just calms my soul and something I won’t get from clicking a preorder button. But I do understand the importance of those preorders and how they benefit the author & such.

Btw, good decision on preordering Open Road Summer. I was going to do the same, but decided to hold off because Emery Lord will be here in April and I plan to buy a copy for her signing.

Estelle: Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

Side Effects May Vary by Julie MurphySide Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: 3/18/2014
Publisher: HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray
Pages: 336
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: cancer, friendship, romance, parental relationships, revenge
Format read: ARC from Publisher via Edelweiss. (Thanks!)

Summary: Alice and Harvey are two estranged friends who team up to complete her must-do list when Alice is diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. Her great strides to make things right (even by doing things so wrong) comes back to haunt her when she surprisingly goes through remission and now she must deal with all she’s said and done.

In a perfect world, we would all be wonderful at expressing ourselves (especially during sticky situations) and handle every tough break with positivity, decorum, and acceptance. Instead, humans, despite their best intentions, slip up all the time. They close themselves off from people (even the ones who care the most) and instead of making the best out of a bad situation, kind of make things worse.

I’m happy to say Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy features imperfect characters, especially the main character Alice. She’s diagnosed with cancer and her mom is lying to the family. She has every right to be angry, definitely. So she recruited her old friend, Harvey, to help her out with a to-do list of things she wants to accomplish before she dies. Most of them are over the top, crazy and insane, but the devoted Harvey is on board, even though their history — childhood friends! friends with feelings! a rift! — is still a thing.

It’s true that I’m more of a Harvey than an Alice. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I am loyal to people I care about. Sometimes too loyal. This is probably why I related more to Harvey than I did to Alice. Like her character, she was even written with a certain bit of detachment so it was hard to connect to her, especially when as a reader we are privy to her feelings but continue to watch her not use her words or tell anyone how she really feels.

Cancer is a common ingredient in books, but I loved Murphy’s unique take. In chapters that alternate between Harvey and Alice, we also switch between time periods: THEN (when Alice discovers she has cancer) and NOW (when Alice unexpectedly goes into remission). So basically Alice has to deal with the repercussions of her actions and for someone as guarded and fearful of confrontation like she is… that’s freaking scary.

I absolutely could not wait to find out how all of this would end. Would Alice let Harvey get away? Would her revenge tactics haunt her forever? Could she move forward with her second chance at life? Something so many people in her position would embrace so thankfully? (Alice is pretty much the only character I’ve ever read about who is pissed off about beating cancer.) So many characters are forced to make adjustments after Alice’s diagnosis changes and it’s really interesting to see how those dynamics play off each other.

Murphy’s writing is sharp, I love her dialogue, and even the other situations she folds in (not being ready to have sex yet, “friendly” competition, mother/daughter relationships and even son/mother relationships, bullying) fit in so naturally. I was completely hooked and read most of Side Effects May Vary in a day. (I was also focused on finding some of Julie’s homages to God Shaped Hole by Tiffanie DeBartolo, a book we both love.) While some of the time transitions were a bit confusing and I would have loved for the ending to be stretched out a bit more, the character growth, the great writing, and creative storytelling made this a winner for me.

I can’t wait to read it again.

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March 30, 2014 - 10:20 am

brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide - Oh wow, very much of a winner! Being that person who puts off “cancer books” (it’s just not a topic that appeals to me a lot), I don’t even have this one on my TBR. I think you may have just convinced me!

March 19, 2014 - 10:56 am

Ginger @ GReads! - Oh this book. And this writer! How I adore both. I love that Alice is a character that is so easily hated, yet by the end of the story there’s a sense of understanding as to why she is this way. That right there is a testament to Julie’s writing. So glad you enjoyed this book.

March 19, 2014 - 12:05 am

Liz - I find it interesting that you identify as Harvey. I am probably some disgusting combination of Alice and Harvey–I do wear my heart on my sleeve, and am loyal when I want to be, but I know how awful I can be when I want to be. I want a boy like Harvey and I connected to Alice’s desire to stop being awful. Great review, Estelle.

March 17, 2014 - 11:34 pm

Alexa S. - I liked Julie Murphy’s writing a lot! I was swept up in Side Effects May Vary, curious to see how it would all end. Alice wasn’t particularly likable, but I could understand where she was coming from in a way. And Harvey deserved a shake or two, but I liked him a lot!

March 17, 2014 - 6:22 pm

Alice - I’m very much looking forward to reading this one sometime soon. It sounds like a really interesting story. It sounds like Alice is either a character that is hard to relate to because of her imperfections but I’m glad that that didn’t affect how you felt overall about this story. Not all characters are perfect!

Great review Estelle! :D

March 17, 2014 - 4:22 pm

Lauren @ love is not a triangle - I’ve gotten very wary of ‘bucket list’ plot lines. But this one sounds like it was done differently. I’ve read a lot of mixed reactions to Alice’s behavior, but I’m glad that you were able to understand where she was coming from. The fact that you want to read this again is definitely a big plus! Great review.

March 17, 2014 - 2:28 pm

Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook - Side Effects May Vary is definitely a book I want to read, so I’m glad to hear you liked it. It must be quite a shock for Alice after she’s done whatever it is she does, to learn she will have to live with it a lot longer than she was expecting.

March 17, 2014 - 2:21 pm

Maggie @ Just a Couple More Pages - I am such an Alice (not something I’m necessarily proud of, but at least I’m self-aware enough to realize it?) and maybe that explains why we’re friends? I am so mad I only found out about the God-Shaped Hole Thing after I read the book (I think I saw you or G mention it on Twitter) which I guess just means I have to go back and re-read it. There was something I thought of to say while I was reading your review but now I can’t remember. Sometimes I think I subconsciously challenge myself to leave the most random comments on your posts.

March 17, 2014 - 12:19 pm

Addison (Of Spectacles and Books) - I loved this book as well! I enjoyed the imperfectness of Alice. It made me relate to her more on a human level.

Estelle: 16 Things I Thought Were True by Janet Gurtler

16 things i thought were true by janet gurtler16 Things I Thought Were True by Janet Gurtler ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Pages: 283
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: kids + parents, road trip, romance, new friends
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley. (Thanks!)

Summary: Morgan has never known who her dad is, and when her sick mom finally relents and gives in, she doesn’t waste anytime planning a road trip to go see him. Along with her new (highly enthusiastic) friend, Amy, and her boss from the amusement park, Adam, she is off to meet her father and uncovers more secrets then she expected.

There are some books that handle multiple plotlines with grace, and there are some that buckle under the pressure.

Unfortunately, 16 Things I Thought Were True falls in the second category. In addition to the summary I wrote above, Morgan is also reeling from a viral YouTube video that ostracized her from all of her friends and her peers and she has (get ready get set) a Twitter addiction. See? It’s a lot.

It’s a shame too because I was very intrigued about Morgan’s Twitter life and her quest to find out who her dad was. But when you add in the melodramatics from her mom (very uncharacteristic but health problems inspired her to share her love for Morgan more freely), the road trip, the romance, new friend Amy’s own challenges, and the fallout from all of these events? Not only was the rapid fire succession of storylines overwhelming, but because  it was impossible to give each and every storyline enough attention (especially in 283 pages) I had trouble investing fully.

I don’t think I would have felt as let down if there weren’t bright spots like the remarkable chemistry between Morgan and Adam, the loyal and chatty Amy, who has her own baggage but brought a lot of vibrancy to these pages, and a road trip to Canada (that was my first time reading about one). I wanted 16 Things to live up to its full potential but as complicated moments only grew even more complicated and heartbreaking, the reality factor drifted further and further away.

As a self-admitted Twitter addict, I loved the inclusion of the tweets at the start of the chapters (I wish it was all consistent though) and even the idea of Morgan escaping to the Twitter world because she was feeling lonely and insecure. Totally relatable yet while I understand the importance of real social interaction vs. the (sometimes) false intimacy of social media platforms, I was unhappy with how quickly some of the characters in the book glossed over (what could be) important bonds for Morgan. I know it’s “just the internet” but so many of us know it can be a place rooted in true friendships.

Despite some positives in 16 Things I Thought Were True, I would have much preferred a story that streamlined its multiple arcs and had a sharper focus on one (or two or three) of its many themes. On the upside, I’m definitely up for trying another Gurtler book and finding out that works for me.

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March 21, 2014 - 11:09 pm

Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide - Ah, the dreaded negative review! Or, constructive :)
That’s a shame. I actually don’t even think I ever got approved for this one on EW so maybe that’s a good thing. It sounded cute but sounds like it was a bunch of good ideas that 1) didn’t shape up and 2) were too much for one book. Sorry you didn’t enjoy this one as much as you hoped!

March 17, 2014 - 4:25 pm

Lauren @ Love is not a triangle - I”m sorry this one didn’t work for you :(. Road trip stories are great, but i totally know what you mean about feeling like a book has packed too much into it. But a strong romance, good friend and using current technology in the text (having them on twitter) are all pluses for me. Not sure I’ll read this, but thanks for the review!

March 17, 2014 - 7:16 am

Amy @ bookgoonie - Thanks for the warning. I’ve only read 1 Gurtler & it was focused, but created a sense of unease. I’ll pick a different one to give a 2nd chance.

March 16, 2014 - 6:33 pm

Alexa S. - It sounds like the author tried to tackle a few too many things in this novel! Still, there’s something about the elements in this story that make it seem appealing in its way. I don’t think I’ll be reading it, but it will make me curious if any other authors will tackle somewhat similar things in another novel in the future.

March 16, 2014 - 1:36 pm

Maggie @ Just a Couple More Pages - Was this the one we talked about where you were struggling the write the review? I think it came out really well. I had been interested in reading this, I was never dying to read it, but you’ve definitely tampered down my interest. It’s so hard when there are bright spots among what’s otherwise a not so great book because you think about what could have been!

March 16, 2014 - 4:45 am

The Bookish Manicurist - It’s shame that this book had too many things going on, especially with the page limit. It does sound quite unique and fun, though!

March 15, 2014 - 4:52 pm

Danielle @ Love at First Page - I want to read and like this book, but I’m reading more negative reviews than positive. :/ Maybe I’ll have to skip it. I hate missing out on a potential road trip + romance book though.

Thanks for your thoughts!

March 13, 2014 - 9:49 pm

Lisa is Busy Nerding - Bummer. But you highlight the good parts of this while explaining the downfall! Authors, you do not HAVE to put ALL OF THE THOUGHTS IN YOUR HEAD into a book.

March 13, 2014 - 6:08 pm

Molly @ wrapped up in books - That’s too bad — I was interested in the social media aspect of this, but sounds like there is way too much going on.

March 13, 2014 - 12:42 pm

Rachel - This is so sad. I really wanted to read this one! I’ve only read one other book by her and didn’t like it, but I was going to give her a second chance. I strongly dislike it when a book has many plot points but doesn’t go into any sort of depth with them, so I think I’m better off not taking a risk and reading this one. :/

A Rare Mid-Week Shelve It (Plus Giveaway!)

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

I’m sorry to tell you that it’s not Sunday. But yesterday I was all dressed up and not post-gym gross for once so I decided to clean off my “kitchen” table (it’s in the living room, if I’m honest) and share with you what I’ve been buying lately: the results of my book buying ban, some great mail thanks to some awesome people, and a few stragglers I picked up today!

Plus I talk about my problems with reading hardcovers over eBooks during the week. I’ll be curious to hear you guys handle this VERYSERIOUS problem.:)

Hope you enjoy this week’s Shelve It! (I just read this is our 60th video on YouTube… how is that possible?!)


Sex and Violence by Carrie Mesrobian (B&N coupon)
All the Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry (B&N coupon)
Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt (gift card)
Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler (gift card)
The Winner’s Curse
by Marie Rutkoski (pre-ordered)
You Are Here by Jennifer E. Smith (used copy)
Out of Easy by Ruta Sepetys
Anatomy of a Single Girl by Daria Snadowsky

I also bought a copy of Love Me at the Rachel Shukert book signing. How did I forget to mention this?!

In the mail:

Kiss Kill Vanish by Jessica Martinez (Thanks Jessica!) — out October 7th!
Nantucket Red by Leila Howland (Thanks Jamie!) — out May 13th!

Don’t forget we still have copies of Starstuck and Love Me available for you to win rolled over from our Hollywood Week! I’ll be picking a winner on Sunday!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You don’t want to miss these great stories!

Let me know what you are reading + buying lately! (Did any of you give up shopping for Lent?)

Thanks so so much for stopping in today! <3

March 16, 2014 - 5:47 pm

Alexa S. - Yay for a new vlog from you, E! It’s just nice hearing you talk about your book purchases again :) Also — You Are Here! Out of the Easy! Anatomy of a Single Girl! Great, great, great titles that I’ve also read and loved <3 I actually don't mind having a hardback/paperback with me on the morning commute; it's less likely that I'll damage it when I drop it, as opposed to my iPad where I read all my e-books!

March 16, 2014 - 4:39 pm

The Bookish Manicurist - All the Truth That’s In Me is wonderful, I hope you love it! Fixing Delilah sounds good, I’ve seen such good reviews – I promise I’ll read it!
The Winner’s Curse is getting a lot of hype, I have plans to read it too.

Yes, I worry I will ruin books when I carry them in my bag and you don’t have to worry with ebooks, but I do prefer reading actual books!

March 16, 2014 - 1:33 pm

Maggie @ Just a Couple More Pages - Don’t mind me, just catching up with blogs…Sex and Violence, All the Truth That’s In Me, and Out of the Easy were three of my favorite books from last year so I am super excited for you to read them!

March 13, 2014 - 10:03 pm

Lisa is Busy Nerding - It’s so different from everything on my tbr PLUS you loved it so basically yes. The idea of the movie stars meets YA sounds fun!

March 13, 2014 - 10:01 pm

Liz - Carrie Mesrobian is seriously one of the coolest people. I went to the launch for SEX AND VIOLENCE and she’s super witty and nice in person. I still need to read her book. I have not read THE VOW or ANATOMY OF A SINGLE GIRL but they are both on my pile so I’ll have to bump them up now.

I can’t wait to hear how you like THE WINNER’S CURSE! I hope you read it soon.

March 13, 2014 - 8:44 pm

Amy B - I am still hearing great things on these books. Even if I don’t win, I am going to find myself a copy.

March 12, 2014 - 9:19 pm

alicia marie - I loved Starstruck and it was definitely one of my favorite books last year!! I’m super excited to read Love Me :)

March 12, 2014 - 6:32 pm

Amy - I don’t think I have read anything like these two books before, they sound really interesting!

March 12, 2014 - 3:03 pm

Lucy - You picked up some good books! Seriously some of my favorites of last year- like S&V, Out of the Easy, and Tell the Wolves. Can’t wait to hear what you think of them.

I read Anatomy of a Boyfriend last year and really liked it! Very Judy Blume Forever-esque. I need to circle back with the companion book soon.

Don’t know how I’ve missed out on Fixing Delilah but you make it sound like a must-read.

Have a good week!

March 12, 2014 - 1:25 pm

Ashley @ Ok, Let's Read - You’re the second person I’ve seen mentioning Sex and Violence. I don’t know if it’s just me, but with a name like that.. I just really want to read that! I’ve also wanted to read Anatomy of a Single Girl for a while now.

I’ve heard mixed reviews about the Starstruck series, to be honest. And, that’s what makes me want to read it! I love when books have mixed reviews because then I can read them, form my own opinions and join in the conversation.

March 12, 2014 - 11:28 am

Shelby Brown - I have heard so many great things about the starstruck series, and I have been meaning to read them for a while. I get excited by a book that people are extremely passionate about!

Estelle: Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

Better Off Friends by Elizabeth EulbergBetter Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg ( tweet | web )
Publication Date: February 25, 2014
Publisher: Scholastic/Point
Pages: 288
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: friendships, middle school/high school, family, romance
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley (Thanks!)

Summary: When Levi and Macallan first meet in seventh grade, they never imagined they would end up best friends, sharing family dinners, and, most of all, having people assume right and left they are in a relationship. But as they move through middle school and high school, the friendship gets hot and cold because of significant others, inability to manage time, and the chemistry between them. Can guys and girls really be friends? Or is it totally impossible?

I am immediately into books that tackle the big question: can guys and girls really be friends? Because, seriously, at 29, I still have no idea if it’s true. Do I have a clearer answer now that I read Eulberg’s adorable book? Okay, maybe not. But I do agree that having a friend of the opposite sex can be wonderful and complicated at the same time.

Better Off Friends is a light, sweet read and I fell completely in love with both Macallan and Levi. I mean, how cute could they get? Paired in seventh grade when Levi first moves to Wisconsin, they form an unexpected friendship when they start having family dinners together, hanging out at the park, and sharing friends. But things get difficult especially in middle school when boys worry about fitting in with boys and don’t want to necessarily be known for being friends with girls. (Ugh.) But Levi still stands his own, and really cares about nurturing his friendship with Macallan. He’s genuinely a good guy.

And for Macallan, it seems like Levi enters her life at the perfect time. Her family has just taken a huge hit, she’s sad, and gradually, she finds someone to trust, welcome into her circle, and in ways, I think it helps her to move past the pain of unexpected tragedy and learn how to be close to another person. I loved Macallan’s feisty-ness, her bravery, and how she was so dedicated to things (cooking, especially) and people. See? Great characters.

But all genuinely good people make mistakes (especially when a friendships spans so many years like this one, as we get to high school) — they fail to recognize how their significant others are taking up their time, they don’t always tell the full truth, they give into social pressure, and they don’t stand up for the other at the most opportune times. As the years went on, the growing pains of Macallan and Levi’s friendship sadly push them apart, but it feels impossible  to stop.

Could they make it through? Would their history help them to reconnect? Was all the tension caused by more than just time getting in the way? New girlfriends and new boyfriends? Were they not seeing what was really there? Eulberg might not have tackled these questions as deeply as I would have liked, but Better Off Friends was hard to put down and I found myself wistfully staring at my eReader, wondering what would become of Macallan and Levi once I was to get back to reading.

That, my friends, is what I call a worthwhile read.

While Better Off Friends was definitely a highlight amongst my reads this year so far, I did find the interludes (Macallan and Levi’s discussions between chapters) confusing. I loved hearing their reactions but I wondered where exactly they were coming from (the heavens?) and if it gave too much away. I also would have loved for a stronger secondary plotline involving Macallan and Levi worrying less about each other and more about something in life. A wish that would have been a challenge because of the span of time covered in the book, but better developed relationships with supporting characters would have worked too.

All in all, Eulberg has created two true-to-life characters that I care about and I know I will be thinking about as the reading year continues. Plus I will always be wondering: where are they now? (Also I must say: the chapter art — silhouettes of either Macallan or Levi swinging depending on chapter POV? So gorgeous, and a great detail.) 

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March 21, 2014 - 10:23 pm

Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide - How funny! I actually liked the interludes. I was impressed because I hadn’t seen that before.
I’m glad you liked it! I thought it was just so light and cute and I feel the same way — I still have no idea if this is really possible, because as far as I’ve seen, it’s kind of not haha.
I agree that I enjoyed it BUT didn’t quite fall in love with it. I do think there could have been a bit more development as far as a secondary plot goes.
Great thoughts on this one! Interesting to see! :)

March 16, 2014 - 7:25 pm

Alexa S. - I’m really looking forward to reading BETTER OFF FRIENDS. I think there’s something about Elizabeth Eulberg’s books that I always find fun, interesting and relatable, so to see her tackle this (very important) (very discussable) question in her way will be a fun experience!

March 11, 2014 - 11:39 pm

Ellice - You already know how much I LOVE this book, so this review made me so happy. I was thrilled when I saw that it got a “worth it” rating. ;)

I do have to agree that their conversations at the end of the chapters were confusing. My e-arc had formatting issues, so there wasn’t any separation between the chapter and that conversation, so I had NO IDEA what was going on for the first few chapters. When I realized that it was a present-day conversation, I just assumed they were texting or talking through something like Gchat or Facebook messages? I understand what you mean about those conversations giving too much away, because I figured out how it was probably going to end based on those. BUT, at that particular moment in time, it was refreshing for me to have a book that didn’t stress me out, one that I could just sit back, relax, and read. If I had read it at another time, that little detail might have annoyed me.

I just loved Levi and Macallan. There aren’t many guys that age that would be quite as sweet and sensitive as Levi was in junior high/high school, so I enjoyed that quality in him (although it may be a bit of a stretch). And I loved that Macallan was so unique in a lot of ways too– her family is Irish, she learns to cook really difficult recipes at a young age, she’s named after Scotch, etc. etc. I just like the book’s originality and the fact that it is such a feel-good read. <3 I think it will be a go-to when I need a pick-me-up :)

Anyway, now that I have left you a novel of a comment, I guess you've figured out that I enjoyed your review? Haha

March 11, 2014 - 12:45 pm

Candice @ The Grown-Up YA - I actually really liked this one. It wasn’t deep or anything, just a cutesy feel good book.

As for the little interludes between Macallan and Levi, I felt they were kind of like the little interludes in When Harry Met Sally when they would cut away to a couple talking about relationship stuff. That’s how I had to rationalize it in my mind!

March 10, 2014 - 4:08 pm

Maggie @ Just a Couple More Pages - Your “heavens” question made me laugh out loud. I pictured those interludes being like Gchat conversations they were having as they looked back at their friendship. They were ambiguous, but I thought they had their good moments. (Like when Levi realized she got her period.) I know you didn’t love, love this like I did, but I’m glad you still found it “worth it.”

March 10, 2014 - 11:07 am

Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook - I just don’t know if I want to read this one, Estelle. I’ve read three of Eulberg’s books – The Lonely Hearts Club (super cute), Prom & Prejudice (sweet) and Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality (not a fan). Because I really didn’t care for Revenge, I’ve been super hesitant to read this one.

I feel like what you said – how Eulberg didn’t tackle the issues as deeply as you would like – is always the case with her books. I always feel like a little bit is always missing.