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Book Report: Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller

Hello, friends! It’s been a long, long while (over a year!) since we’ve done a joint review (aka: book report around here) together. How this works is we each read the same book and have a nice, long chat about it. We really try not to be spoilery, and if we think something might be, we’ll let ya know. This time we’re discussing Trish Doller’s new release Where the Stars Still Shine.

joint book review of Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish DollerWhere the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Pages: 352
Target audience: Young Adult
Keywords: kidnapping, Greek family, reunification with family
Format read: ARCs from the publisher (Thank you!)

Summary: Callie and her mother have been on the run for over ten years. After her mother’s arrest, Callie is reunited with her large Greek family and biological father, from whom her mom kidnapped Callie. She’s torn between making a new life with him and being loyal to her mother.

We’re changing up the formatting a little bit for this review. You can keep track of who said what by our little photographs. Just in case you’re not familiar with what we look like, here ya go:

Magan Blasig Magan

Estelle Hallick Estelle

Magan Blasig Where the Stars Still Shine is Trish Doller’s second book. We both loved Something Like Normal. After finishing WtSSS, how do you feel about Doller’s writing?

Estelle Hallick Something Like Normal was fantastic and I think my only disappointment was the length. I wanted more! So as far as that goes, I think Trish really nailed it in her new book. It felt developed in a different way and gave us a longer amount of time to spend with these characters.

Magan Blasig I completely agree. I really felt time passing in this book and connected so deeply to the situation. From the very first chapters, I felt invested. We have Callie, a girl who was kidnapped from her father by her mother as a result of their divorce. She and her mother have lived in countless cities and assumed as many identities. The situation made me feel such a tightness in my chest. I’m pretty sure I didn’t breathe sometimes, especially as we learned more and more about Callie’s life growing up.

Estelle HallickSame here. I really felt for her. She had such love for her mom, even though she was pretty much absent and all of these terrible things were happening. When you read about a situation like that, you can’t help but think JUST HOW LONG CAN THIS GO ON? It made me think a lot about labels, and having affection for people because they are in this authoritative position. Like of course I love her because she’s my mom but she is not a stand up person. Does that make sense?

Magan BlasigYES! It really hurt because Callie knew right from wrong, but every time her mother re-entered her life, all logic went out the window. It made me realize how blind we can be. It’s no secret (per the book’s summary) that Callie is reunited with her biological father after her mother is arrested. I really, really felt for her dad. I admired his character so very much.

Estelle HallickME TOO. Wasn’t he the best guy? He could have so easily made Callie’s mom out to be this enemy but he didn’t.

 

Magan BlasigYou’re so right! He never bashed her or said negative things. Even though their marriage ended, it was clear that he would have tried to make it work. I think dads are so often absent in YA books, and I applaud Doller for how involved she made Greg. And really, her entire extended family. How much did you love her BFF/cousin, Kat?

Estelle HallickLike you, I loved loved all the supporting characters. Loved seeing a Greek family. I don’t remember seeing that in any other YA book. But Kat was awesome. So many times girls are feuding in books or being bitches and Kat was so open and warm and wonderful. It was interesting to watch Callie’s reactions to that.

Magan BlasigYES! I could visualize Kat and Callie’s family so well. One of my college friends got married last year and they had a big Greek wedding. I felt like Doller really nailed everything about this aspect. And I couldn’t agree more about Kat. She just inserted herself into Callie’s life — Callie had never had a friend, much less a best friend. I admired how they worked through the tense situations that came up, especially pertaining to Alex.

Estelle HallickYes. Alex. Did you not fear for the worst?

 

Magan BlasigIt really took some time for me to trust him. Their relationship was SO HOT from the very beginning and I just knew bad things were looming.

Estelle HallickWasn’t it?? Hearing about Callie’s relationship with sex was like… not what I was expecting.

 

Magan BlasigTotally. Doller was, to me, very bold with how she handled sex in WtSSS. She was very careful about how she described passionate scenes, not taking things too far, but at the same time, I felt like she pushed the limits, too. Does that even make sense? HAHA!

Estelle HallickTotally. I loved it.

 

Magan BlasigSo Callie has some… ghosts in her closet. She has some pretty serious issues to deal with. I personally struggled a lot with these revelations. I wanted to punch things, skip the scenes, and protect her all at the same time. Do you have reactions like this to these kinds of things in books?

Estelle HallickOf course, I felt terrible for her and I wanted her to be able to move forward from this. But sometimes I feel like these books are the most effective. (Like Live Through This.) Trish didn’t let this become “an issue” book because, just like in real life, when something nightmarish like this is occurring real life keeps rolling on.

Magan BlasigI’m really glad you brought up Live Through This. This book and WtSSS are the two books that stand out, in my mind, as being really effective at discussing the mental and emotional turmoil people suffer through. I found both of these to be a little difficult for me to read, but equally addicting. And I agree with you about WtSSS not becoming an issue book. I was pleased to see Callie learning to trust people and letting herself open up about certain things when the timing was right. Ideally, I hope this is what someone would do in real life.

Estelle HallickMe too! I really do. So what was your favorite scene and what do you think could have been improved?

 

Magan BlasigOh my goodness. TOUGH QUESTIONS. As much as I would love to say that my favorite was the scene where Alex and Callie go snorkeling, I think I have to say when Greg takes Callie to see a house that’s under construction. I felt that was a major breakthrough for them. (Actually, both scenes really were.) And I don’t really have anything that I feel super needs to be improved, but I think in the future, I would like to see Doller explore a family that has their shit together. In Something Like Normal, there were some pretty messed up dynamics, and there definitely were here as well. I would love to see her create a family that’s well-balanced and see where she goes from there. What would the major drama be there? I’m sure she could come up with something excellent. Now, right back atcha. What do you think?

Estelle HallickOh, I love everything you just said. The snorkeling scene was amazing and made me want to snorkel again. The exhilaration Callie feels? Amazing and so true to life. I also did love any scene with Callie and her Dad, like the one you mentioned. BUT I also loved how much books meant to Callie. I do think so many readers are going to love how connected she felt to them, and how much they meant to her.

Magan BlasigOh, gosh, yes! THE BOOKSTORE!

 

Estelle HallickWasn’t that the best? I wanted to go there!

 

Magan BlasigYES! Me too! Soooo, what about improvement?

 

Estelle HallickI think there could have been a little more at the end? Another scene with the family? The pacing was great and the story felt whole but I could have used a few more scenes to get it going. Also I would love to see a companion novel about Kat.

Magan BlasigOH! That’s an awesome idea! I really did love Kat. She was such a standout character. I cannot say that enough. And yes, I can see how the ending felt a little unsatisfactory. I have to admit that I was a little bit shocked by how things ended, but I wasn’t unhappy.

Estelle HallickMe neither. So maybe it’s just a selfish desire to want more, as we do with really good books.

 

Magan BlasigAbsolutely. Well put! Any final thoughts about Where the Stars Still Shine?

 

Estelle HallickI think this is one of the most solid reads of the year for me. Trish does a great job of balancing a lot of different plotlines and personalities and her writing is just top notch. It’s definitely on the serious side but I think that makes the joyous, sweeter moments pop more.

Magan BlasigI completely, completely agree with you. When I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it and planning out the next time I could! I really, really want everyone to read this book. And I’m such a fan of Doller’s. You described it best: solid.

Estelle HallickAny final notes? Should we say something more about Alex?

 

Magan BlasigI’m not sure. I kind of liked the mystery surrounding him.

 

Estelle Hallick Me too. Haha!

 

Magan BlasigI will say that I think readers should set aside plenty of time to read this all at once. I hated that I had to read it over a few days.

Estelle HallickI agree. I rarely read books all in one sitting but it was nice to have airplane time to dive into this story. (Esp. when I was so sad to leave you!)

Magan BlasigAww, sad day!

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February 27, 2014 - 8:00 am

We're Celebrating Our Friendiversary! - […] this has caused me to withdraw a bit from life to focus on the chaos. What I loved most about Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller was how Kat, Callie’s cousin and self-imposed BFF, pursued Callie. Callie was a very distant […]

September 23, 2013 - 11:08 pm

Genevieve - The more I hear about this book, the more I want to run out and buy it, and I almost never buy books when they first come out. I love reading about family dynamics and this review has me really excited to read about this fascinating-sounding family!

And I hope you do more joint reviews in the future! I think it’s easier to come up with things you might not think about otherwise when you’re talking with someone else. Makes me kind of wish I had a coblogger to write joint reviews with. :D

September 22, 2013 - 1:11 pm

Hannah @ So Obsessed With - OH MY GOODNESS STOP RIGHT NOW. I’m so glad I’m reading this now and not like a month ago since it comes out on Tuesday. Whew! Thank goodness! Y’all have made me even more excited for this release! (PS Pleeeeeeasse keep doing more of these joint reviews. LOVE THEM SO MUCH.)

September 18, 2013 - 3:02 am

Alexa Y. - YAY FOR A BOOK REPORT! Loved what you gals had to say about Where the Stars Still Shine, particularly since it felt like I was sitting there listening to you chat. I agree with many things you’ve said about this book, particularly when it came to Callie and her dad. I think, overall, that’s probably my favorite part of this one!

September 11, 2013 - 8:01 am

Book Report: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell - […] week, we revived our Book Reports with Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller. We got some great feedback from you guys, and really, really enjoy diving into these discussions. […]

September 5, 2013 - 3:18 pm

Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook - I loved your discussion of WtSSS! It was really entertaining, but I also feel like I got a great sense of the book. I haven’t read this one or Something Like Normal, although I picke dup SLN last year. It’s collecting dust on my shelf :)

I’m definitely going to check this one out. I’m very curious about Greg, Kat and Alex :)

September 5, 2013 - 5:56 am

molly @ wrapped up in books - I love the back and forth style of the joint reviews! WtSSS is one of my favorites from this year so far. I’m like you guys, I just wanted more! This book stayed with me for a long time after reading it, and that doesn’t always happen to me.

September 4, 2013 - 9:17 pm

Bookworm1858 - Love the format for this (your pictures make a nice touch!) I only skimmed since I haven’t read this yet and I’m trying to enter it fairly blind about the events but I’m really excited to see that the length helps develop the story better. I thought SLN was too short and could have used a few more pages to deepen everything.

September 4, 2013 - 1:58 pm

Candice @ The Grown-Up YA - This convo rocks! I kept feeling like I needed to jump in but… couldn’t because I was reading it. :)

This is my first Trish Dollar book – which isn’t hard since she only has 2! – but I absolutely LOVED it! I was a little nervous about the sex because I had just come off reading another YA book where the sex was wildly over the top but this… wow. It just made me feel like it was super romantic while at the same time being super hot. I was a little back and forth with Greg. On the one hand I felt for him OH SO MUCH but on the other I didn’t quite feel like I got him. However, the scene where he takes Callie to the house? Oh I got teary! Alex was such a strong character for me because there was more to him than met the eye. I loved his “secret” even though it broke my heart.

Great review/discussion ladies! Would love to see more like these!

September 4, 2013 - 8:47 am

Ginger @ GReads! - I LOVE what you guys did with this review. The convo back & forth was so much fun to read. I literally felt like I was sitting here with you guys, just listening, hehe. Oh this book. THIS BOOK. There’s a special place in my heart for it (& Trish too!). All of the elements you picked out, especially Greg, are some of my favorites, too. I agree that Trish pushed the limits with this one, but never made it uncomfortable. I think the best kinds of books are the ones that leave us thinking long after we’ve finished them. So happy to see that both of you enjoyed this one so much!

Estelle: My Favorite Mistake by Chelsea M. Cameron

My Favorite Mistake by Chelsea CameronMy Favorite Mistake by Chelsea M. Cameron
Publication Date: August 27, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Pages: 400
Target audience: New adult
Keywords: college, secrets, love/hate relationship
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley (Thanks!)

Summary: Taylor’s sophomore year has a surprising beginning when she finds out housing has paired her with the tattooed Hunter. She immediately can’t stand him and the way he looks at her, and she’s not sure how she can get through the year with him living in her room. Still reeling from an event that happened during her childhood, she has put up a lot of walls but no matter where she seems to turn, Hunter is right behind her. Will she lose control and fall for him? Does he have some secrets of his own?

I haven’t had the best luck with “new adult” books. There are already so many books I love with college-aged characters without slapping a label on it. But that was before the cliche of new adult began. The bad boy, the smart girl, the sex, and more than likely, the secrets from their past.

I know My Favorite Mistake seems to check off all of those things one by one, but after a decent Publishers Weekly review, I decided to give it a whirl. I’m happy to say that Cameron certainly gave me the well-rounded characters I’ve been looking for in this genre. Taylor is a self-sufficient sophomore in college who loves to read (she works in the library) and is super close to her sister. While Hunter may be tattooed and hot (even Taylor comments how typical this is), he can cook up a storm, play Taylor Swift on his guitar, and is really good with kids.

When they get stuck in the same room together (though Hunter doesn’t see it this way), Taylor is beyond bothered and Hunter comes up with a simple solution: prove to me that you either love or hate me and I’ll move out for good.

I never did get this ultimatum. It was so open-ended, but oh well. It seems Taylor is sort of scratching her head over it too and the tension between the two, the sweltering chemistry, builds and builds and builds until I thought I was going to crack. Cameron definitely excels in the slow burn romance, lighting little fires here and there. All their friends know they are into each other but they resist for so long.

There is the bad stuff though. Hunter and Taylor bond over their pasts, even though they don’t know each other’s stories. When they realize they both have pretty bad nightmares, some of their baggage seems to give way and they start to form (gasp!) a friendship. (Not without that whole attraction thing though.)

Unfortunately, more than halfway of the book, a book that I was more than addicted to and couldn’t stop thinking about, My Favorite Mistake lost a little steam. Was the book too long? Probably. Why did Taylor and Hunter speed things up when they took so so long to get somewhere? I have no idea. The reveals of the secrets didn’t bother me as much as the sudden caricatures Taylor and Hunter became. I needed them to put on the brakes a bit.

As far as New Adult goes, I’m definitely going to keep up with Cameron and what she writes next. My Favorite Mistake really had a ton of promise and kept me preoccupied throughout a lot of travel time, and I’m hoping she takes the plunge in book 2.

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September 18, 2013 - 2:58 am

Alexa Y. - I don’t read new adult books very often, and usually only try them out based on other people’s recommendations. Since you partly liked this one, I might consider giving it a whirl!

September 3, 2013 - 7:14 pm

Jen - Hmm, this NA book DOES sound pretty typical, but I couldn’t help but swoon a little when you described Hunter. I’m glad you weren’t too disappointed with the characters though! That’s interesting that they sped up their relationship even though the book was long.. I’ll have to check this one out when I’m in the mood, great review, Estelle!

September 3, 2013 - 7:00 pm

Bookworm1858 - I’m confused about why they were roomed together? I’ve heard of colleges allowing male/female pairings but only if specifically requested. I’m still not really sold on NA though I have enjoyed The Social Code and Fangirl recently, both of which I think technically could be classified as such due to their college-aged protagonists.

September 3, 2013 - 1:28 pm

Maggie @ Just a Couple More Pages - I’ve struggled with “new adult” books, too, but I really do like reading about college-aged characters. Even if it does slow down half way through I might have to give this one a try given all the other nice things you had to say about it.

Nailed It: Upcoming September Releases

Welcome back for another Nailed It! We love choosing some of our most anticipated books for the upcoming month and pairing nail polish colors with the covers. It’s like we’re getting to do a little shopping without actually shopping. (Most of the time. One too many times we may have splurged on some of the colors we chose! Oh, and the books, too!) September kicks off another great fall season of releases with a million and a half books we want to read. What a tough choice we had narrowing it down to one book each!

Estelle>>

Jessica Darling’s IT List (#1) by Megan McCafferty

Add to Goodreads | Pre-Order on Amazon | Release Date: September 3, 2013

The long-awaited prequel to the amazing / life changing Jessica Darling series is going to hit shelves tomorrow. Spoiler alert: it’s freaking great.  We travel back in time with Jessica to her first day of seventh grade and all her jitters, adventures, and super huge personality. I love grown up Jessica but I love love this one too. She is honest and hilarious and makes the absolute best observations about the world. Okay so the cover went through a few versions but I love how the final is faceless (so important) and so colorful. Most of these colors (give or take the yellow) are staples in my own nail collections so I hope you enjoy them as well!

Jessica Darling

Amy | Bethany | Alma | Avery

Magan>>

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Add to Goodreads | Pre-Order from Amazon | Release date: September 10, 2013

So I may have cheated a teeny tiny bit by choosing four colors this month instead of three, but COME ON! There are such lovely colors in Fangirl’s cover. Am I right? (Actually, I’m pretty obsessed with ALL of Rainbow’s book covers. Her illustrator(s) are amazing!) And how could I not choose this book as one of my most anticipated when I gushed and fell incredibly in love with Rainbow’s writing after reading Eleanor and Park? We’ve got the amazing green color of the background that I think I would wear all year and the pop of reddish color with the title. The brown and yellow are subtle, but equally lovely colors. I’m not sure I ever would have pulled this color palette together on my own, but I’m really digging the combination.

nail polish colors to match rainbow rowell

Denver | January | Heather | Blake

Now who is in the mood to paint their nails after this Nailed It? (And then read because we don’t want to ruin them, do we?!)

What’s your favorite color for fall?

September 22, 2013 - 1:13 pm

Hannah @ So Obsessed With - I SO want the Julep January & Avery nail polishes. Love those colors – and I’ve been on a pink polish kick lately!

September 18, 2013 - 2:55 am

Alexa Y. - I’m loving both palettes ladies! But I think my favorite would be the one for Jessica Darling because it’s just so bright and colorful and happy.

September 10, 2013 - 7:57 am

Maggie, Young Adult Anonymous - As always, you nail (har har) the colors. Perfect choices!

September 5, 2013 - 10:31 am

Cassie - LOVE these colors. ALL of them!!! <3

These continue to be some of my favorite posts :-D

September 3, 2013 - 6:26 pm

Alisa Selene - Love the color choices for fan girl!

September 3, 2013 - 10:51 am

Rachel - I’m actually painting my nails as I’m reading this! Haha. I love the Fangirl choices. I would totally wear Denver. And Avery. But I wear every shade of pink sooo that’s kind of a given. I know I say this every time, but I love these posts so much.

September 3, 2013 - 10:44 am

elena - LOVE these color! rainbow has the best covers and i love the mint/pink combo.

September 2, 2013 - 2:31 pm

Annie - The palette for Fangirl is just as pretty as the cover itself! I’m a huge fan of pastels and Denver & January really speak to me!

September 2, 2013 - 11:33 am

kimberlyfaye - I love both, but Fangirl is my favorite. That mint green is gorgeous. :)

September 2, 2013 - 9:39 am

Bookworm1858 - I love that you both chose 4 colors! I think I’d prefer the Jessica Darling color palette just because I tend to be more into bright colors especially since it still feels very much like summer here but as it cools down, the colors of Fangirl will also be appealing to me.

Shelve It: Estelle Talks End of Summer, Books + More

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

Hi! It’s Labor Day weekend, already! I changed my calendar to September! Where is this year going?

Hope all of you had some fun and/or relaxing plans for this weekend! We’ve been sort of just hanging around and it’s been so nice not have to rush off to do anything so yay for that!

I made a video today talking about the books I’ve gotten in the mail, bought lately, and also so fun other things like the holiday I am most looking forward to. Also is my head just crooked or is it my glasses? I really need to get these adjusted. I keep fixing my head and nothing works.

I should also say (another) happy birthday to Magan on here because she is one of the strongest, most selfless, funny, creative, and talented people I know. I’m so grateful to know her and work on this blog with her. But most of all, she is one of the best people in my life and I am so so appreciative of whatever strange fate-like thing made that happen. THANK YOU UNIVERSE.

Enough about me, on with the show:

Books in the mail:

Jessica Darling’s IT List by Megan McCafferty (September 3) — thanks Little Brown!
New Money by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal (September 10) — thanks St. Martin’s Press!
Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando (December 24) — thanks Elena!
The Boy on the Porch by Sharon Creech (September 3) — thanks LitLushes!

Books I bought:

After the Kiss by Terra Elan McVoy — thanks to Tigerlily Rachel’s Teen Week series!
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

On the blog this week:

Fun facts about Magan + a surprise birthday giveaway!
Reviews of Fire with Fire, The Returned, Crown of Midnight, The Hero, and Counting by 7s.
Ginger told us all the fun and snazzy details of her summer.
You can win some of our top summer reads! Giveaway open to U.S. and Canada!

What’s up with you, friends? Come say hi!

September 22, 2013 - 1:17 pm

Hannah @ So Obsessed With - Hey hey! I just bought NEW MONEY because of you + the South. I just can’t resist! Also, love that it’s about a girl in her twenties. Really looking forward to it!

September 18, 2013 - 2:54 am

Alexa Y. - Watching your video makes me miss you more!!! But I will be back soon, so we will have to meet up at some point. Anyway, great haul of books! Can’t wait to hear what you think of Roomies :)

September 3, 2013 - 10:33 am

Rachel - AWW I love watching your videos because then I can pretend we’re actually in the same place haha. I miss you!! I can’t wait to read Roomies and to hear your thoughts on it because it sounds REALLY good. Also, thanks for the shout out! :)

September 2, 2013 - 11:47 am

Kate - Those look like some awesome books! I am so excited for Jessica Darling’s It List! Hope you enjoy all your new books!

September 1, 2013 - 8:24 pm

Jen - YAYAY I love watching vlogs! And I freaking love your hipster glasses, Estelle! Anyways, you got some pretty awesome reads that I’m looking forward to: Jessica Darling’s, Roomies, and Leonard Peacock! I’m excited to see what you think of them. Happy reading!

September 1, 2013 - 6:13 pm

Bookworm1858 - Ooh Roomies-I’m really excited to learn more about that one as i adore the sound of its concept and that it’s written in emails.

Magan: 28 Things to Celebrate Number 28

Hi, friends! Today is a super special day for me! IT’S MY 28TH BIRTHDAY! I am not really sure how in the world a whole year has passed. Do you guys feel that way when your birthday approaches? Usually I’m excited for a solid month leading up to my special day because I love to celebrate, but this year, it feels like it’s kind of snuck up on me. Funny how that happens…

I’ve been wracking my brain for how I should celebrate this year with you guys, and I feel like I’m coming up so empty-handed. Let’s just say a lot of really big life things are happening right now (specifically some new not-so-happy-for-me updates with our foster daughter) that have really shocked/surprised/hurt me a lot this week. Because I could oh-so-easily become super sappy and emotional here, I’m going to attempt to come up with a list of things you might not know about me. Let’s get started, shall we?

  1. My birthday is the same day as my maternal grandparent’s anniversary! This year they’ll be celebrating FIFTY (yes, 5-0) years of marriage!
  2. That one time I thought it would be cool to dye my hair super opposite colors. (Yuck.) The photo is circa 2008.

    I have two siblings, both younger. My brother, Justin, is 24 and my sister, Ashley, is 22. The older we get, the closer we become. I once broke my foot trying to separate my brother and sister from a sibling fight as I tried to CARRY my sister down a few stairs. Bad idea, friends.

  3. Speaking of my family, they’ve somehow roped me into doing a fantasy football league with them this year. Have I mentioned how little I actually follow sports? This is a guaranteed disaster! (Who knows football? Who can I tweet for help?)
  4. Since I’ve been married (9 years + counting), Dustyn and I have lived in five different places.
  5. One of those places was in an apartment in San Diego, CA after I graduated from college. I had big dreams of leaving Texas and exploring the world a little more, but even though we left, my heart remained in Austin.
  6. I didn’t own cowboy boots until two years ago. These are my very first pair (that I remember ever owning).

    I’m not sure I’ve ever mentioned that my actual college degree is in Interior Architecture. I kind of got into it by accident. I applied for one program (architectural engineering) at Texas A&M and they accepted me into it; at my college orientation, I found out that program had been discontinued in 1979. How I got accepted into it still baffles me. By default, they put me in the architecture program. I was scared out of my mind because I didn’t know anything about drawing, much less designing.

  7. After I got married, the summer after my freshman year of college, I transferred to the University of Texas (Hook ‘em!). It’s there that I officially transferred into the Interior Architecture program and felt a lot more at home. Designing interiors felt more comfortable than having to worry about the entire building.
  8. My last semester of college, I had a design professor from hell. That was one of the roughest semesters for me because my husband’s grandfather was passing away and we made multiple trips to the hospital to see him because we would get calls saying, “Today could be the day.” My professor absolutely didn’t understand, didn’t care, and basically had no heart. Did I put as much effort into my work as I had semesters before? NO. But did my final project turn out well? Yes. I received awesome feedback from the review panel and my professor didn’t like that. He stood up in front of everyone in the room and said that I didn’t deserve their praise because “if I had worked harder, my project could have been even better.” Basically he publicly humiliated me and I cried my eyes out in front of an entire room. I still wish I had written to the dean and reported him after this incident because this was terrible… I thought he was going to fail me after saying everything he did.
  9. My mom is one of my absolute closest friends. I can call her when I’m upset and she just gets it. She had me when she was 19 and because it was just the two of us for a while, I think it forged a bond between us that’s impossible to break.
  10. I have known my sister-in-law since I was in first grade and she was in kindergarten. We grew up in the tiny town of Dime Box, TX and married brothers. Best feeling in the world to have someone who knows me so well and always gets what I’m thinking.
  11. I’m pretty sure you guys know me as someone who has very desperately wanted to be a mom, but in all honesty, I wasn’t exactly sure when I’d want to be a mom. I married my husband at 18 and wasn’t sure if I wanted kids for a long while. (Yes, I’m sure part of that is because I was so young.) Something inside me clicked one day and all my maternal-ness came rushing in.
  12. I really, really hate to cook and clean house. I mean, HATE. I do it because it needs to be done and my husband is quite a helper, but ugh. If I had a magic wand, I would make sure I never had to do either of those things again.
  13. My 13th birthday involved a trip to Dallas for my very first concert ever, ‘N SYNC! Oh my gosh. I will always, always remember that trip and also my first visit to the Rainforest Cafe to celebrate the day after.
  14. My floppy hat, purchased in Greece.

    My favorite places I’ve ever traveled to is Greece. Dustyn and I went there two years ago and it’s the most picturesque place I’ve ever been. I find myself longing for those days of exploring with him and dragging our broken suitcase around the islands.

  15. Part of the reason we were in Greece is because Dustyn was sent there for a conference. While he worked, I lounged on a chair by the ocean and devoured all five of the Jessica Darling books. Greece and Jessica Darling will forever be linked together for me.
  16. I would love to call myself an eclectic reader, but I think I’m pickier than I’m willing to admit.
  17. As a wedding photographer, the number of personal photos hanging in our house is pretty sad. I am pretty stinking terrible at printing and framing my own photographs.
  18. I feel like I could easily be one of those people who lived in tons of places so I could experience different types of lifestyles, BUT if you refer to #5, you’ll see that this is impractical in theory because I love Texas too much. Also, money.
  19. In college, I was a Mary Kay saleswoman for a while. I wasn’t very successful, but my friends and I had fun going to the meetings and doing our make-up.
  20. when magan was a mary kay consultant

    With my college friends after a Mary Kay make-over. From L to R: Karmyn, Maggie, Me, and Angela. Please ignore the red-eyes.

    I absolutely LOVE surprises, but I always accidentally ruin them. My husband has tried so many times to surprise me on my birthday or our anniversary and I’ve unintentionally ruined things.

  21. My first “boyfriend” was when I was in 8th grade. I was a total cougar and dated a younger guy. (A 7th grader.) I freaked out when he kissed me on the cheek on the bus ride home from a hockey game.
  22. My favorite color is grey. It kind of always has been, but my mom used to REFUSE to let me buy plain grey t-shirts. I thought they looked perfectly comfy when paired with jeans, but she thought it was too casual. Guess who thinks grey t-shirts are cool now?
  23. TV shows I watch or have loved: Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Hart of Dixie, Parenthood, Dance Academy. (Any recommendations for awesome ones would be greatly appreciated!)
  24. My love for reading returned when I lived in San Diego. A co-worker and I would read books together (a mini book club!) and discuss at each other’s desks. Some of those books were the whole Twilight series, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and a few books by Henning Mankell.
  25. My bookshelves (in the living room) are organized by book color, unless they belong to a series.
  26. I read hardback books without the book covers. They’re slippery and they make reading that much more difficult. Usually the covers become my bookmarks.
  27. 2009: My Grandpa’s 70th birthday party.

    I grew up living less than a mile from my grandparent’s house. I don’t get to see them as much now that I live farther away, but it still makes my day when I get to spend time with them.

  28. Favorite Sweet: Sour Patch Straws, strawberry, please!
    Favorite Cereal: Cheerios with Sliced Bananas
    Favorite Soda: Coca-Cola
    Favorite Cake: There’s a tie between Italian Cream Cake and Carrot Cake.

Surprise Giveaway!

To thank you for following Rather Be Reading and for reading all of my nonsense above, I’m celebrating my birthday by giving away a $28 gift certificate that I hope you’ll buy awesome books with! I know 28 is such a random number, but hey! — that’s how old I am today. The giveaway is open to anyone that can use Amazon.com to place an order. The certificate will be delivered to your email address. You must be 13 years or older to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I hope you’re having an amazing Saturday! Thank you for celebrating my birthday with me!

September 22, 2013 - 1:18 pm

Hannah @ So Obsessed With - I read this on my phone back when M posted it, but I never came back to comment. So, this is me stopping back by and telling you how much I enjoyed getting to know you better through this post! So fun! And happy very belated birthday sweet lady :) So glad you were born!

September 18, 2013 - 2:52 am

Alexa Y. - Belated happy 28th my dear Magan (at least on the blog comment)! These 28 facts were extremely fascinating, and I love that you shared them with us. Hope you had a wonderful birthday! <3

September 10, 2013 - 8:03 am

Maggie, Young Adult Anonymous - Happy belated birthday, Magan!! I absolutely love your 28 facts. BTW, there’s a good chance you’ll WIN your fantasy football league. Beginner’s luck, baby! Look how short your hair was! I hope everything works out with your foster daughter and that you had an amazing birthday.

September 3, 2013 - 7:56 pm

Heather M - Happy belated birthday Magan! With all the wonderful things going on in your life now, I hope you experience a marvelous 28th year! And thanks for sharing so much about yourself. I love that you’re such a Texas girl too- never would’ve thought I would be, but its hard to imagine being anywhere else. And thank you for your birthday generosity!

September 3, 2013 - 12:10 pm

Ghenet Myrthil - Bah! MAGAN! Please ignore my typo below. :)

September 3, 2013 - 12:09 pm

Ghenet Myrthil - Happy belated birthday, Megan! It was fun learning more about you through your list! :)

September 2, 2013 - 6:59 pm

Liz (Along for the Read) - Happy Birthday, Magan! I love this post, it is so nice to read about all the personal tidbits that make you who you are!

September 2, 2013 - 10:03 am

Anastasia - Happy Birthday!!

September 1, 2013 - 9:58 pm

Anna - Sending very happy #28 wishes your way, Miss Magan. It’s gonna be a good year! <3

September 1, 2013 - 5:17 pm

Shelve It: Estelle Talks End of Summer, Books + More, Estelle - […] Fun facts about Magan + a surprise birthday giveaway! Reviews of Fire with Fire, The Returned, Crown of Midnight, The Hero, and Counting by 7s. Ginger told us all the fun and snazzy details of her summer. You can win some of our top summer reads! Giveaway open to U.S. and Canada! […]

September 1, 2013 - 7:24 am

April Books & Wine - That was actually really fun to read — isn’t Jessica Darling perfect for a binge read? Granted, I read them while I was still living at home, but yes, love love love those books.

Jerk professors are the worst. I never had an experience quite that bad, but I did fail one class in college lol, but then I retook it and all the tests and lectures were exactly the same.

I bet you are going to be a totally awesome mom, seems like the time is perfect for you and Dustyn.

I hate cooking and cleaning too!

Those boots are super cute!

Happy birthday <333333

September 1, 2013 - 4:18 am

Bailie @ The Hemborg Wife - This was really fun to read, I have also lived five places with my husband but in five years!

September 1, 2013 - 1:51 am

Melissa @ Writer Grrl Reads - HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!

August 31, 2013 - 10:10 pm

Bookworm1858 - Happy birthday! Thank you so much for sharing a little bit more about you-you’ve given me some inspiration for celebrating my birthday later this year :)

August 31, 2013 - 9:13 pm

Ginger @ GReads! - Happy Happy Birthday, Magan! I loved reading your list of 28 things :) For #23 may I suggest the summer TV show Camp on NBC? It’s super super cute & think you’d enjoy it! Makes me laugh a lot! I hope this day has been amazing for you, xo.

August 31, 2013 - 9:03 pm

Lisa - Happy Birthday! I had a lot of fun reading all your facts. I know it’s over with, but I’m sorry your professor was so rude. Bleck.

Also, your brother is hecka cute. Haha.

August 31, 2013 - 6:46 pm

Rose @ The Bedtime Bookworm - Happy birthday Magan! It was fun to learn more about you! I always love posts like these :)

August 31, 2013 - 6:30 pm

VeganYANerds - Happy birthday, hun! I love your 28 fact celebration! Enjoy your day :)

August 31, 2013 - 6:25 pm

Kristia - Happy birthday! :) Have a wonderful day!

August 31, 2013 - 5:20 pm

Stormy @ Book.Blog.Bake. - Happy birthday! It was fun to read your 28 facts–especially the one about getting accepted into a program that had been discontinued. I know schools are big(especially A&M), and things slip through the cracks, but that one is quite mind-baffling.

August 31, 2013 - 4:54 pm

Heather C. - Happy birthday, Magan!! Enjoy the last years of your 20s. I turned 29 this year, and I’m petrified of turning 30, lol. I feel super old =( lol

August 31, 2013 - 4:18 pm

Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl - Happy birthday, Magan! What a fun way to get to know you better!

August 31, 2013 - 3:52 pm

Ashton - Happy Birthday, Magan! Hope you have a fabulous one!

August 31, 2013 - 3:50 pm

Tammy - Book shelves by color look amazing! Happy 28th!