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Steal the North by Heather B. Bergstrom | Estelle Reviews

Steal the North by Heather BergstromSteal the North by Heather B. Bergstorm ( facebook )
Publication Date: April 10, 2014
Publisher: Viking
Pages: 336
Target audience: Adult
Keywords: family secrets, faith, nature, young love
Format read: Borrowed from library after glowing rec from Leah at The Pretty Good Gatsby.

Summary: Sixteen year old Emmy is shipped off to spend the summer with an aunt and uncle she never knew existed. Her aunt is pregnant, and after a series of miscarriages, the church is performing a ritual on her and they need a family member who is also a virgin. Emmy spends her summer getting to know her delicate aunt, her loving uncle, and the boy next door — Reuben — who becomes the closest friend she has ever had. Time with her aunt means many questions about the secrets her mom kept, who she really is, and affects who she wants to become.

This is hands down one of the best fiction books I’ve picked up in years.

I was nervous about it, too. Leah over at The Pretty Good Gatsby awarded the book such high praise. Wanting to feel the same felt like an added pressure but a chapter in, I was hooked. With Steal the North, you aren’t sucked in in a way where you want to speed read the whole thing. As the book shifts POVs from the big hitters like Emmy, her mom (Kate), her aunt (Beth), and Reuben (the boy next door) to the smaller characters, there is a lot of exposition. Explanations of backgrounds, family trees, and a lot of beautiful description of this Pacific Northwest town. The land is its own character because in all of these stories, it has been a catalyst in the decisions then make and who they are all destined to become.

Emmy is a bit of a conundrum. There are so instances she acts so wise and so much older than she is, but there are others where she can be so naive and so inexperienced in life. She is so tied to her mom because for so long Kate made her believe it was them against the world. No other relatives and a dead father. But imagine the surprise when Emmy finds out that her own story is not what she thought at all. She is quickly sent off to stay with her Aunt Beth and Uncle Matt for the summer, without enough time to deal with the repercussions of her mother’s many lies.

Immediately, Emmy and Beth are like peas and carrots. The intimacy and connection they shared when Emmy was just a baby is back, and they spend much of the summer getting to know each other all over again. I loved their relationship. Beth and Matt are very into the church, but they don’t expect Emmy to believe what they believe and I liked the respect they had for her. Her time alone eventually leads to her spending a lot of time with Reuben, a Native American teenager, who lives in the trailer next door.

It was Beth and Reuben’s belief in much more than what they could see that took Steal the North to a whole new level for me. Beth concocting her antidotes around the house, and Reuben sensing the presence of his dead father, and both of their commitments to the earth fused to create this overpowering spirituality in the whole book. The secrets and the pasts of these characters was haunting every scene, and the fear, the shame, and even the hope was so palpable. It’s overwhelming to think words on a page could be this powerful.

Steal the North is a love story not limited to the feelings between Reuben and Emmy. Mothers and daughters, sisters, husbands and wives, and most importantly how we feel about ourselves. The sense of loyalty, the heartbreaking betrayal, and the tough decisions we make because of our love for others can be found throughout the story. I laughed, I swooned, I cried, and I wondered if this family could ever be whole again. Could Emmy break out of her shell and trust? Could she forgive her mother and forgive herself?

This book is as much about death as it is rebirth. I am totally in awe of Bergstorm’s talents: how well she described the land, her decisions to reveal important information what she did, her pick of what character got to tell what, and most importantly, how she challenged her characters and stretched them beyond their comfort zones. Life could be hard, and it could also be good. Very, very good.

From the writing to the characters to how invested I felt in the smallest detail to the biggest, Steal the North is a book I am going to give a special spot on my bookshelf and buy for others whenever I get the chance.

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December 15, 2014 - 9:01 am

Big Kids' Table | The Best and Most Surprising of 2014 - […] Steal the North freaking knocked my socks off. For regular YA readers, this is the perfect pick for crossover because the main character is a teen going through a ton of changes with family, boys, and herself. The writing is beyond spectacular. Big thanks to Leah at The Pretty Good Gatsby for putting it on my radar. […]

November 21, 2014 - 7:30 pm

Alexa S. - Steal the North is definitely seems like an incredibly intense reading experience! So many layers, so many characters – I just think it would be an interesting read. Glad you wound up enjoying it.

November 17, 2014 - 4:45 pm

Heather Brittain Bergstrom - Thank you so much, Estelle, for writing and posting such a thoughtful and awesome review of my debut. It is thrilling for me as a writer when a reader gets EVERYTHING I was trying to accomplish. I especially liked your attention to the spiritual aspect of the novel. Lovely review! Yours and Leah’s…two of my very favorite reviews! Thanks again!

November 10, 2014 - 5:24 pm

Leah - Oh, Estelle. ♥ ♥ ♥!!! I’m beyond thrilled that you loved this one so much and I’ve been DYING to read your review. It’s so hard to put into words just how this book made me feel: I seriously ran the gamut of emotions and your review made me FEEL all over again – a reread is totally in order!
I hope Heather writes another book – AND SOON. This is a debut, E! That boggles my mind.

November 10, 2014 - 10:42 am

Brianna - This one sounds like a book to savor and get lost in. Thanks for sharing your review.

November 10, 2014 - 9:37 am

Rebecca @ Reading Wishes - I first saw this book when you featured it along with some other Adult titles in a post (I’ve blanked on the feature). I don’t really read Adult books, but I’m sure I will in a soon, and boy, you’ve sold me. it might take me a little while to get round to this, but in the meantime, I’m off to add this to my TBR. You make this sound fantastic, thanks to your fabulous review! So glad you liked it!

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Althea & Oliver by Cristina Moracho | Estelle Reviews

Althea and Oliver by Cristina MorachoAlthea & Oliver by Cristina Moracho ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: October 6, 2014
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Pages: 384
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: friendship, 90s, New York City, romance, sickness
Format read: ARC borrowed from Gaby at Book Broads. (Thanks!)

Summary: Althea and Oliver have been best friends since they were kids. Althea realizes she wants something beyond friendship with Oliver around the same time he keeps falling asleep for long periods of time and no one knows what’s causing this to happen. Set in the 90s, the story brings Oliver to New York for a possible treatment while Althea stays in Wilmington. She decides to drive up to New York City to find Oliver, but ends up finding something entirely different.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Althea & Oliver is probably the YA that the naysayers don’t realize exists. It’s literary, it’s layered in its storylines and the emotions build up in all of them, and not even close to fluffy. In fact, I would call the general feeling of this book melancholy.

If you haven’t guessed from the above description, Althea & Oliver is not exactly a story you are going to fly through. I was unsure if I was actually liking what I was reading for a long time. How can you like a girl doting over her best friend? What if that best friend is basically disappearing for weeks out of time because of some mysterious illness? I mean, there’s nothing truly happy here. But I was intrigued by Oliver’s strange health issues and I was hooked by the friendship between the two. Oliver and Althea maintained an intimacy that you don’t find a lot in young adult books. Sure, feelings beyond platonic were swirling around there but you can’t deny their closeness — how their families knew each other so well, how they always seemed to be stuck together, and how they accepted each other, faults and all.

I love how Moracho gave these characters room to grow beyond each other. Things happen, Oliver is off to New York, and Althea is acting out back in North Carolina. She makes the decision to lie to her dad and head to New York and talk to Oliver, and a major detour changes the course of the story. This is a tough one to review, friends, because so much happens that you need to discover for yourself. But what happens when you are so dependent on a friend and they can’t be there for you anymore? Do you continue to push this closeness or do you let the wind take you? Do you take this opportunity to get to know yourself without the other person? Will both of you ever be ready to take your relationship to the next level at the same time?

So much about Althea & Oliver felt more mature than a lot of other young adult books I read. I couldn’t help thinking it was the lack of technology in the story because it was set in the 90s. There was nothing keeping anyone together when they were apart except for some stray phone calls. Both Althea’s dad and Oliver’s mom allowed their kids to be very independent. These details definitely allowed the characters to do their own thing but it also didn’t disqualify their parents from the story either. (Big thumbs up.)

These two characters certainly hit rock bottom in two very different ways, and it was so emotional and heartbreaking and authentic how they climbed out of these holes and figured out next steps. I wouldn’t even say this book is about coming to clear conclusions but making the right decisions for right now, and keeping the future open. It’s so scary to jump into the unknown and this feeling is basically the theme of being a junior in high school. Moracho nailed it, making my heart swell and burst so many times.

I cannot wait to see what she is writing much, and I look forward to more thoughtful, and engulfing young adult books like this one.

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November 26, 2014 - 10:52 am

Alexa S. - I hadn’t really heard a lot about Althea & Oliver prior to your review. And really, how could I NOT have heard about this one before now? It sounds really interesting, and I love that you feel like the dynamics of their friendship and the plot was pretty well done, even with the melancholy tone. I’m definitely considering reading this!

November 19, 2014 - 2:36 pm

Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide - I’m so glad you enjoyed this one! Looks like we really had very similar feelings & thoughts. I really enjoyed how mature this was — both in content and writing. I felt like it just really all fit together and certain situations just made the characters more real.

November 9, 2014 - 9:53 am

Sue Holmes - This sounds really good. I haven’t heard about it before and admittedly the cover puts me off, but I like the sound of the characters, especially that they go through ‘stuff’ and grow on a personal level. We don’t see enough of this in YA. Thank you for the great review. :)

November 8, 2014 - 10:27 pm

Brianna - This is the first review I’ve read of this one, but it sounds really good. I love that it’s set in the 90s. I think technology invades books too much anymore.

November 7, 2014 - 11:23 pm

Kaitlin @ Reading is My Treasure - This looks like my type of read! I’m glad it wasn’t fluffy. I prefer more serious contemporaries. Great review! I’m looking forward to reading this one. :)

November 7, 2014 - 1:19 am

Rebecca - I heard about this at an event months ago and liked the sound of it, but unfortunately haven’t heard much about it since. I’m intrigued by the topics the author touches on, plus I love novels set in the past decades, but that don’t fall under historical. I’m glad you liked this!

November 6, 2014 - 2:40 pm

Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook - I’ve been curious about Althea and Oliver. I keep side-eyeing it while I am at work. It’s that yellow cover – so eye catching.

Anyway, I’m glad that you did like this. I think I will give it a try sometime, but when my brain is a little more focused than it has been lately.

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A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray | Magan Reviews

Book Review of A Thousand Pieces of  You by Claudia Gray


A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird #1) by Claudia Gray (website | twitter)
Publication Date: November 4, 2014
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages: 368
Target Audience: Young Adult Fiction
Keywords: parallel universes, time travel, death of a parent
Format Read: ARC received from the Publisher. (Thank you!)

Summary: Marguerite seeks answers about her father’s death and travels between parallel universes using the Firebird, the device her parent’s created that make such travel possible, in search of his suspected murderer.

Marguerite is the artist in a family of award-winning physicists. When her father dies and her parent’s assistant, Paul, takes off looking like the most obvious suspect, she has no choice but to emerge herself in her parent’s scientific world to find answers. Even if that involves learning how to use the Firebird, the device her parents created that allows her to jump to alternate dimensions. Marguerite has always felt like her parent’s assistants were adopted family members and there were these inexplicable moments she had with Paul that make her wonder how she could have been so fooled.

The strongest component of A Thousand Pieces of You is seeing Marguerite take a crash course in survival and physics to seek answers. Essentially with a turn of the Firebird, Marguerite finds herself in a parallel universe where the people she knows and is familiar with exist, but things can range from being ever-so-slightly altered to feeling centuries behind technologically. When she takes over another Marguerite’s body, she has to quickly adapt to her surroundings so she can cleverly figure out where Paul is located and when the proper time is to move on to the next place.

There are elements of a great chase paired with this very mysterious relationship between Marguerite and Paul. Her search is for more than closure and justice, but it’s a sweet, wild ride to see how Paul and Marguerite’s story morphs through each dimension. It’s a beautiful, tangled mess of cat-and-mouse paired with a confusing “what-if” love story as we flash back to learn about Paul and Marguerite before her father’s death. There’s a huge internal struggle to believe that Paul couldn’t have done something so destructive and devastating, but when all evidence points to him, how can it be denied? I absolutely loved how complex and intelligent the storyline was, but how the majority of the story focused on the simplest question: What lengths will we go to for the people we love? 

A Thousand Pieces of You is my first Claudia Gray book, and I’m incredibly anxious to get my hands on more of her work and to see where the rest of this story goes.

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November 26, 2014 - 10:59 am

Alexa S. - Though it started off a little slow for me, I really wound up loving A Thousand Pieces of You. I enjoyed seeing how the story unfolded, and found myself surprised by a few things (even though I’d guessed at a couple)! I loved seeing them travel into different universes, loved seeing the relationship dynamics laid out and just really, really enjoyed the wild ride Gray took readers on.

November 19, 2014 - 8:01 am

Quotables, Magan - […] Add A Thousand Pieces of You to Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | My Review […]

November 5, 2014 - 1:03 pm

Brianna - Sometimes I feel like I live in a parallel universe. But really, A Thousand Pieces of You sounds good.

November 5, 2014 - 10:34 am

Annette - Great review. I was really intrigued by this one. Especially the parallel universe plot. I found it to be pretty unique, which is always a good thing.

November 5, 2014 - 10:04 am

Sue Holmes - I have had my eye on this book ever since I saw the cover on Goodreads. So glad it’s going to live up to its cover! Can’t wait to get my hands on a copy :)

November 5, 2014 - 9:27 am

Nicole @ The Quiet Concert - I have been seeing many positive reviews for this book and each one is making me more and more excited to read it! I love that it offers so much more than a simple parallel universe story. Great review!

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Rather Be Reading Turns Three!

Hi, you guys!

Today we’re super excited to celebrate our THIRD ANNIVERSARY! On November 1st, Rather Be Reading turned three! (Flashback to our first post/book report — a review of Sarah Ockler’s Twenty Boy Summer.) Celebrate with us by reading a few then/now comparisons and entering two giveaways below! We thank each and every one of you for stopping by to share our love of reading. Each time we sit down at our computers, it’s because we’re excited to share our thoughts about our books and this blog is a labor of love that wove our friendship together. We’re very thankful for your comments/tweets and the friendships that have evolved because of our little slice of the internet.



  • You guys have definitely witnessed my hair transformations, beginning with my ombre look back in 2011. I loved that hair, but boy it’s been a nightmare getting the ombre out. I’ve been ombred, brown, red, strawberry blonde, and am currently back to a close-to-natural hair color. I don’t know what was up with my eyebrows back in 2011, but I’m glad to see they’ve stopped looking like backwards apostrophes.
  • Back then I had no daughter and hadn’t been a foster parent yet, and I photographed more weddings than any year since (I think). My life was more leisurely and I focused a lot of time on reading, DIYing, and building my business. I currently have a 9 month old daughter, spend time with our foster daughter every other weekend since her return to her bio family, am photographing more families than weddings this year, and DIYing is probably one of the least important things on my mind right now.
  • My reading goal the year we began was 80 books, but I excitedly beat that goal and read 91. I feel almost ashamed to say I’ve gone backwards and have a lower goal this year than I have in the last three years, but it’s true. My goal is 52 – one for every week of the year – and I’m probably still going to be pushing myself in the coming weeks to hit that. This year has involved so, so, so much change it’s almost unbelievable.
  • I used to never watch television, but I have developed a major crush on Nashville, Parenthood, Million Dollar Listing (any city), Modern Family, and am currently re-watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix.
  • My addictions have grown beyond nail polish to include lipstick and eye shadows. It’s a sad, sad thing that an Ulta is opening up within a few miles from me. I’m going to need to drive completely out of the way to get to Target. 😉


Then and Now Rather Be Reading Blog

I miss those glasses.

  • Like Magan, I’ve had a total hair transformation too. The bangs I had in the “then” photo was a total hack job, and I was scared away from them until this winter. Except as you can see from my current picture, I decided to chop off 17 inches of hair and go for the pixie. (I am loving it!)
  • I have a very strong memory of working on early reviews for RBR (pre-opening) at my dining room table in our house with the sun shining through the sliding glass doors. Never did I think we would sell our house a year or so later, move to the city, and James would be going back to school to get his law degree. Yet here we are. There are days I miss our house, but I am so happy we decided to make a move that made US happy. (Plus James graduates in May already. How insane is that?)
  • 2011 was a big year for me because I co-founded This Happy Place Blog AND Rather Be Reading within a few months of each other. (Oh! I also got married.) I am so happy that both are going strong, and I honestly owe both so much. They give me a creative outlet, got me into writing again, brought wonderful people in my life, and kicked up my confidence and taught me a lot I never would have learned otherwise. A few months ago, I started a brand new job and part of me wonders if I would have been on this path without these two projects.
  • My reading is out of control. I have more books in my apartment than I ever had in my house. Piles are everywhere. Ah. In 3 years, I have bought so many books and visited so many bookstores. I never had to think of enforcing something like a book ban (maybe one for clothing). I want to support the writers I love. I can’t help it! Lately, I’ve been thoroughly supporting my library which makes me breathe easy. (And also makes feel like a part of my community.)
  • Fun fact: I’ve traveled to Walt Disney World exactly six times since we started the blog and will head back for the big 7 this weekend. (Only to prove my obsession in this place has only grown. I am a loyalist, what can I say?)

As long as blogging continues to be fun, you can be sure we will continue to make our little home on the web at Rather Be Reading Blog. We like to think of this as the low-cost way the two of us can have “coffee talk” 2-3 times a week while we live in separate states. Now the only thing we need is a definite reunion date… get excited! That will be coming soon! 😉

So thank you thank you thank you for EVERYTHING!

Exciting News + (little kids) Giveaway!

In addition to Estelle’s Big Kids’ Table feature, I, Magan, am going to be sharing children’s book recommendations monthly in a Little Kids feature beginning in January. I read tons and tons of children’s books each week and realize that engaging, adult-friendly kids’ books are a rare gem. Macmillan recently shared a few of their upcoming favorites with me, two of which I’m really, really loving: Special Delivery by Philip C. Stead and Ben Draws Trouble by Matt Davies. Enter below to win a pre-order of each of these books! (Even if you don’t have kids, enter so you can spread the love to a niece/nephew or your friend’s babies!)

The rules: You must be 13 years or older to enter. US residents only, please.



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Anniversary Giveaway!

This year we want to share copies with TWO PEOPLE of the books we’ve reviewed together, KISS KILL VANISH and ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER! We’re also including a few of our favorite non-bookish things as well (there will be fun surprises from us included in the winners’ packages!).

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Estelle and Magan August 2013

November 26, 2014 - 11:14 am

Alexa S. - Happy three years of blogging, Estelle & Magan! Time’s seriously flying by so darn fast. I’m so grateful that you two have continued to be involved in this crazy blogging community, with your well-worded reviews and awesome features. But I’m even more thankful to be able to call you both my friends! So glad for all of the discussions and hangouts and collaborations, and looking forward to many, many, many more <3

November 14, 2014 - 10:40 pm

Lisa @ Bookish Broads - You are both so beautiful, creative, hilarious and wonderful. Congrats on three years!

November 13, 2014 - 7:15 pm

Michelle Lee - My favorite beauty product is my MAC lipstick! I just love the shade of pink that I have! Thank you for this amazing giveaway! Congratulations on turning three years on your blog! :)

November 11, 2014 - 4:52 pm

Sandy S - This is hard: my favorite adult book this year….I just finished Lies We Tell Ourselves and that one moved me so much!

November 11, 2014 - 4:50 pm

Sandy Steckler - I have a few favorite children books as I am a substitute teacher and these are what the kids enough as read-a-louds: Memoirs of a Goldfish, Falling for Rapunzel, The Night I Followed the Dog, Chicks and Salsa, AlhpaBlock, Arnie the Doughnut, Casey in the Bath, Living Lights: Fireflies in Your Backyard, and Dave Horowitz books.

November 9, 2014 - 10:55 am

Saiesha - My favourite book this year would be Divergent, really different from my genre but loved itt <3

November 5, 2014 - 7:12 pm

Ginger @ GReads! - Awe, I love you girls and I’ve loved watching this blog grow into such a fabulous, inspiring place to discuss all things books :) The two of you have worked hard, and it truly shows. Thank you for sharing your passion for reading with me and so many others. Each one of our lives has changed a lot in the last three years (especially this year alone). I do miss our chats, and still hope to meet Estelle in person one day. I miss you girls! but I’m happy to know I can always find y’all here :) Congrats!!

November 5, 2014 - 9:24 am

Nicole @ The Quiet Concert - Congratulations ladies! I love this post and seeing you both undergo so much positive change! And your new do’s are super cute ;). I think your blog is wonderful and your posts always inspire me so thank you for giving us 3 years of your time and here’s to many more!

November 4, 2014 - 6:21 pm

elena - HAPPY 3RD BLOGOVERSARY, BBS!!! so happy blogging has lead me to you guys! <3 <3 <3

November 4, 2014 - 3:07 pm

Lucy @ The Reading Date - Happy 3 years, ladies! Your blog is a fave of mine and I’m excited to see what’s in store for you. And your hair is looking sassy too! Keep having fun with your blog :)

November 4, 2014 - 1:33 pm

Brooke - Congratulations on 3 years, ladies! Cheers to many more. :)

November 4, 2014 - 8:36 am

M, I’m thrilled you’re going to highlight kids’ books! My nieces are starting to get away from storybooks, but I absolutely love them & have begun making a little library for any Leah Jrs that might appear someday 😀
My favorite storybook ever is The Salamander Room by Anne Mazer. It’s been years since I’ve read it (though I just recently found a copy at work and immediately snatched it up!), but I remember being absolutely enchanted + the artwork is gorgeous. I’m also a biig fan of David Wiesner’s Tuesday.
& you ladies are too cruel to ask for just one favorite for the year! CHEATING HERE & YOU CAN’T STOP ME. I’ve narrowed it down to three: STEAL THE NORTH by Heather Brittain Bergstrom, THE TRAITOR’S WIFE by Allison Pataki, & ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr.

November 4, 2014 - 8:26 am

Leah - Again, congratulations! You two are among the sweetest, loveliest women I’ve met and I don’t think I’ve ever told either or you this, but your friendship inspired me to break out of my shell and start chatting up customers at work – a new BFF could be in the very next aisle!
Magan, I refuse to believe your daughter is already NINE MONTHS OLD WHAT. & Netflix is a deliciously wicked place. Estelle, I’m SUPER jealous of your hair cut (so many times I’ve thought about rocking a pixie, but every time I chicken out). LIVING THROUGH YOU, LOVE! Love, love, love you both & I hope you’ll get a reunion soon! ♥

November 3, 2014 - 11:33 pm

Kailia Sage - I am so with you on the Ulta Megan but with DSW because my obsession is with shoes. I also found the PERFECT red lipstick and it’s from Revlon (I can’t remember what it’s called–oops) . Congrats on 3 years ladies!

November 3, 2014 - 9:20 pm

Mariah - Ah, I got so excited that I forgot a couple of things! Three years is AWESOME!! That takes a lot of dedication! I loved your then and now pictures. I am 21 years old, but I LOVE storybooks. One of my absolute favorite authors of this genre is Peter Brown. I was able to meet him this past year, and he is awesome!

November 3, 2014 - 9:16 pm

Mariah - I have read so many incredible books this year. I really cannot pick just one, so here are just some of my favorites that I have read since January: Shatter Me series, Grisha trilogy, Rumble, Just One Year, A Little Something Different, Illusive. There are a lot others, but those are the ones that came to me first!

November 3, 2014 - 5:48 pm

Ashley - God, my favorite thing I’ve read the whole YEAR? I think it was probably either Landline by Rainbow Rowell or The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin.

You have no idea how much it pains me to not say all the rest! (Laini Taylor! Stephanie Perkins! Jandy Nelson! Maggie Stiefvater!)

November 3, 2014 - 3:51 pm

Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide - OMG YOU GUYSSSSS. Three years! I am so happy for you and your wonderful blog and your friendship and your books and your HAIR!
You two are such wonderful people and I’m so happy that I’ve found your blog and formed friendships with you! I hope to meet Magan someday in person and can’t wait until I see Estelle face-to-face again! You gals are fantastic <333333 I hope to see much much much much much more from you! xoxox!

November 3, 2014 - 3:32 pm

Heidi @ YA Bibliophile - Congrats! You ladies are lovely and I’m so pleased for you and your blog. Three years!!! As far as favorite book of the year… SO MANY! But I have to go with Isla and the Happily Ever after since it’s the one I waited for the longest :)

November 3, 2014 - 3:31 pm

Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook - Aww, congrats on three years! That is so awesome!

I feel very similar, Estelle, about how blogging has boosted my confidence. I’ve been trying to write a post about it for a year, but haven’t quite figured out the right way yet.

Also, Estelle, I love the pixie cut!

November 3, 2014 - 2:59 pm

Asheley (@BookwormAsheley) - Happy Three Years!! I adore you guys so much and I love this blog. I won’t write a novel here but you both know that. E, if you decide to stop in NC this time at the same place as last time, I now live about 10 minutes away. Here’s to many more!

November 3, 2014 - 2:09 pm

Ashley C - Congratulations on 3 years! That’s incredible :)
I can’t pick one favorite book so far this year. So many to choose from! Thank you for the giveaway though!

November 3, 2014 - 12:37 pm

Brittany T - ill tell both! My favorite book was Heir of Fire best series ever! My favorite beauty products are a toss between 3 since i cant pick, cover girl BB cream light weight great coverage that makes my skin look fresh and not caked, Nars highlighting powder, and rosebud lip salve which is great for chapped winter lips last forever and has even saved my rough cuticles and minor burns! Please try the rosebud salve its incredible!!

November 3, 2014 - 12:01 pm

Tiff @ Mostly YA Lit - Happy blogoversary! I just wanted to say…you ladies are two of my favourite bloggers. Your writing is superb, and your friendship is awesome. Also, you guys have the best recs – After I Do? So helpful!

Fave book I’ve read this year is a toss-up between Open Road Summer and I’ll Give You The Sun.

Fave beauty product right now is Bite Beauty’s two-in-one mini-lipsticks – I have the one in Palomino/Violet, and it’s great for a pop of colour.

November 3, 2014 - 11:15 am

Betty - I love you two!! Not only is your blog one of my favorites, but so is your friendship! It is easy to see how genuine you both are and how much you care about each other! Cheers to many more years of an amazing blog and friendship!!

Oh and my favorite beauty product is Egyptian Magic!

November 3, 2014 - 11:12 am

Jess @ Gone with the Words - This blog and my daughter share the same birthdate! :) Now I’ll always remember it. I’m so happy you two ladies came into my life. You do such an amazing job at spreading the bookish word with your well-thought-out posts and reviews. HAPPY THREE YEARS!!

November 3, 2014 - 10:46 am

Brianna - Happy Blogiversary!

November 3, 2014 - 9:17 am

Meg - Oh! Anddddd my favorite read this year would have to go to Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette, which was ridiculously fun and engaging. I listened to it on audio and was so sad when it was over — I miss the characters!

November 3, 2014 - 9:14 am

Ashley - Oh you two! I know my heart and my life is so much better having you both it in! As for book recommendations. My current favorite children’s book is The Day The Crayons Quit and my favorite book this year in general, so far, is Everything Leads to You.

Hearts in my eyes for both!

November 3, 2014 - 9:13 am

Meg - Woo! Congrats on three wonderful years — you ladies are awesome! Have loved following along and look forward to all that’s to come. :)

In terms of kids’ books, my all-time favorites are Eric Carle’s picture books — but delving beyond that, I was once enamored of a book called The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord. I can remember checking it out endlessly from the school library and just falling in love with the illustrations!

November 3, 2014 - 8:57 am

Jessica - Congrats to turning three! I can’t believe it’s three years already (!!) and I’m so excited to see what else is in store for you guys! I love the joint posts and it’s pretty neat to see how things have changed from then to now. My fave book of 2014 has to be Since You’ve Been Gone. I love Morgan Matson.

November 3, 2014 - 8:27 am

Rebecca @ Reading Wishes - Wow, three years! You guys don’t look a day over two 😉 hehe. I haven’t been following you from the very start, so I really enjoyed the photos and you guys sharing with us your blogging journey from then to now; the things that have changed; and the things that still remain the same. Hope you guys get to meet up again soon! Remember, we want to see the evidence (pictures) of this happening otherwise it didn’t, OK? 😛 You guys are one of my favourite blogs and I hope there are still many more awesome blogging years to come from you guys. On that note, a big congratulations!

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Eclectic Picks from Publishers Weekly | Big Kids’ Table

big kids

Happy Halloween! Let’s talk boo-boo-books! 😉

It’s been awhile since I picked up an issue of Publishers Weekly and scouted out some good titles.

Last week’s issue made it pretty easy for me to pick out some new-to-me titles (some of yet won’t be out until 2015). Like anything else, there’s no telling if a book is a winner until you actually pick it up and read it yourself. Oh the pressure! But perhaps the best part of plucking up a new book and coming to the love it or hate it conclusion.

Here’s the lineup:

Big Kids


A Second Bite of the Apple by Dana Bate (November 2014)

Sydney Strauss is obsessed with food. Not with eating it–though she does that too–but with writing about the wonders of the gastronomic world, from obscure fruit hybrids to organic farming techniques. Since food journalism jobs are more coveted than Cronuts®, Sydney pays her bills working for one of TV’s biggest egomaniacs–until she’s left scrambling for shifts at a local farmers’ market.

Stacking muffins for the Wild Yeast Bakery isn’t going to win her any James Beard awards. But soon Sydney is writing the market’s weekly newsletter, and her quirky stories gain attention from a prominent food columnist. After years of putting her love life into deep freeze, she’s even dating again. And then Sydney gets a shot at the story, one that could either make her career or burn it to a crisp–along with her relationship and her reputation… (from Goodreads)

Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar (December 2014) — historical romance!

London, 1905: The city is alight with change, and the Stephen siblings are at the forefront. Vanessa, Virginia, Thoby, and Adrian are leaving behind their childhood home and taking a house in the leafy heart of avant-garde Bloomsbury. There they bring together a glittering circle of bright, outrageous artistic friends who will grow into legend and come to be known as the Bloomsbury Group. And at the center of this charmed circle are the devoted, gifted sisters: Vanessa, the painter, and Virginia, the writer.

Each member of the group will go on to earn fame and success, but so far Vanessa Bell has never sold a painting. Virginia Woolf’s book review has just been turned down by The Times. Lytton Strachey has not published anything. E. M. Forster has finished his first novel but does not like the title. Leonard Woolf is still a civil servant in Ceylon, and John Maynard Keynes is looking for a job. Together, this sparkling coterie of artists and intellectuals throw away convention and embrace the wild freedom of being young, single bohemians in London.

But the landscape shifts when Vanessa unexpectedly falls in love and her sister feels dangerously abandoned. Eerily possessive, charismatic, manipulative, and brilliant, Virginia has always lived in the shelter of Vanessa’s constant attention and encouragement. Without it, she careens toward self-destruction and madness. As tragedy and betrayal threaten to destroy the family, Vanessa must decide if it is finally time to protect her own happiness above all else. (from Goodreads)

The Last Cowboy in Texas by Katie Lane (December 2014) — country music + cowboys = a perfect combo!

Country music princess Starlet Brubaker has a sweet tooth for moon pies and cowboys: both are yummy-and you can never have just one. Now Beckett Cates may not be a cowboy, but he certainly has the heart, soul-and body-to whet her appetite. He’s a sexy ex-Marine with a touch hotter than the scorching Texas sun and arms strong enough to catch her when she lands into trouble.

Playing bodyguard to America’s sweetheart isn’t easy for Beckett. But falling for her sure is. Unfortunately, Starlet has a reputation for keeping a guy or two wrapped around her finger and Beckett refuses to be anybody’s backup. So now it’s up to Starlet to prove that she’s put her cowboy-crazy days behind her. Otherwise, she’ll be singing solo instead of living in harmony with the man who’s loved her even before her fame and fortune. (from Goodreads)

Bonita Avenue by Peter Buwaldo (January 2015)

Siem Sigerius is a beloved, brilliant professor of mathematics with a promising future in politics. His family—including a loving wife, two gorgeous, intelligent stepdaughters and a successful future son-in-law—and carefully appointed home in the bucolic countryside complete the portrait of a comfortable, morally upright household. But there are elements of Siem’s past that threaten to upend the peace and stability that he has achieved, and when he stumbles upon a deception that’s painfully close to home, things begin to fall apart. A cataclysmic explosion in a fireworks factory, the advent of internet pornography, and the reappearances of a discarded, dangerous son all play a terrible role in the spectacular fragmentation of the Sigerius clan. (from Goodreads)

The Precious One by Marisa de los Santos (March 2015) — loved her work in the past!

In all her life, Eustacia “Taisy” Cleary has given her heart to only three men: her first love, Ben Ransom; her twin brother, Marcus; and Wilson Cleary—professor, inventor, philanderer, self-made millionaire, brilliant man, breathtaking jerk: her father.

Seventeen years ago, Wilson ditched his first family for Caroline, a beautiful young sculptor. In all that time, Taisy’s family has seen Wilson, Caroline, and their daughter Willow only once.

Why then, is Wilson calling Taisy now, inviting her for an extended visit, encouraging her to meet her pretty sister—a teenager who views her with jealousy, mistrust, and grudging admiration? Why, now, does Wilson want Taisy to help him write his memoir? (from Goodreads)

So what looks good?:)Don’t forget to share the great non-YA reads you’ve been reading lately!

November 26, 2014 - 11:20 am

Alexa S. - This really is an eclectic bunch of books! I do love the variety of stories and characters that I “met” through this post a whole lot, though I think I’m likely to actually pick up and read The Precious One!

October 31, 2014 - 12:39 pm

Leah - Sydney Strauss is my new BFF. Obscure fruit hybrids, food journalism, farmers markets. yep, definitely keeping an eye out for this one!! This book actually reminds me a lot of Paige Shelton’s Farmer’s Market mystery series if, you know, you swap out the romance for some good ol’ murder.

I grabbed Vanessa and Her Sister from ng a while back but haven’t read it yet! Do you think you’ll read this one? If so, I’d love to hear what you think!

Country music and cowboys is a perfect combo indeed. While I love the idea of cowboy romance novels, I’m a little ashamed to admit I haven’t read one yet! Should this one be my intro?

Bonita Avenue‘s cover is s-t-u-n-n-i-n-g…but the professor of math part scares me, E. :(

Okay, so I haven’t read anything from de los Santos before, but I know her covers like the back of my hand. We see her stuff a LOT at work and she’s always a good seller. This new book sounds like something I could see myself reading!

October 31, 2014 - 10:51 am

Brianna - They all look good. I have an ARC of Vanessa and Her Sister. I may have to bump it to the top of the list.

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The Fragile World by Paula Treick DeBoard | Estelle Reviews

The Fragile World by Paula Treick DeBoardThe Fragile World by Paula Treick DeBoard ( web | twitter )
Publication Date: October 28, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Pages: 432
Target audience: Adult
Keywords: family, death, revenge, effects of traumatic events
Format read: Finished copy provided by Harlequin. (Thanks!)

Summary: When Daniel dies in a freak accident, his parents and sister have no way to predict the changes that will come to their family as the years go on.

Over a year later, I’m still recommending The Mourning Hours, Paula DeBoard’s debut, to people. It’s had a lasting effect on me; what can I say? Obviously, I’ve been looking forward to her second book since I finished the first, and yet again, DeBoard has written an engrossing and heartbreaking tale of a family dealing (or not dealing) with the impossible.

It’s been 5 years since Daniel’s death. The musical prodigy away at Oberlin College, struck down and killed in an accident. No one (except the driver) could have stopped this from happening but the logistics of a statement like that are kind of lost on Curtis (husband and dad) and Olivia (daughter and sister). Curtis completely detaches from his wife, his work (he’s a physics teacher), and basically his entire life, while Olivia is scared of everything. She records all of her fears (from the mundane to the ridiculous) in a Fear Journal, starts wearing all black, and steps away from her friends. Kathleen (wife and mom) tries her darnedest to push Curtis and Olivia to move forward but after giving it all she has, decides to move back to her hometown. Instead of deciding to go with her mom, Olivia stays with Curtis. So a family of four becomes three; becomes two and one.

Grief is a powerful emotion, and it’s difficult to see how much it steers the lives of Curtis and Olivia. Sure, they are getting through day-to-day together but they are not talking about the past, not bringing up Daniel, and certainly not making strides when it comes to living fulfilling lives. It’s not until Curtis has an episode at school that he decides the only thing he can do is kill Daniel’s killer, disguising his revenge road trip as a fun vacation with Olivia that will eventually lead back to Kathleen.

A majority of the book is told in the heads of Olivia and Curtis, as the chapters swap between the two. This tactic definitely made the book move a bit slower, but it only showcased DeBoard’s knack for dialogue because when it popped up, it was good. Despite their hurt, Curtis and Olivia do have this adorable father / daughter friendship and I enjoyed Olivia’s quips. In ways, I’m not sure what would have happened if Curtis didn’t decide to take this trip. I picture both of them living like Big Edie and Little Edie at Grey Gardens. But, sweet readers, things can only get worse especially when you aren’t communicating and your mind is just not functioning the way it should.

Yet again, DeBoard had me at the edge of my seat with The Fragile World but in a totally different way. Was there any way this family could be repaired? Could they move on? Would Curtis go through with his revenge plan? I truly had no idea until I reached the final page, and it left me totally shocked and surprised and even a little bit angry. But perhaps the most shocking thing is that I felt hopeful too. Maybe not a lot, but just enough that I was thinking a lot about what hitting rock bottom truly means, and also the different avenues that love and devotion can take us and bring us back.

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Add THE FRAGILE WORLD to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Buy on B&N | The Mourning Hours review

November 26, 2014 - 11:29 am

Alexa S. - I have an odd fascination with grief, and seeing how different people manage to portray the many different ways it gets experienced. Grappling with the concept of grief is what makes The Fragile World sound so interesting to me, and I really think I’d like to give this one a shot at some point!

November 2, 2014 - 11:24 am

Brianna - I love with books with alternating POVs and this one sounds really good.

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