Tease by Amanda Maciel (twitter)
Publication Date: April 29, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Target Audience: Young Adult
Keywords: bullying, suicide, lawsuits, book told from bully’s perspective
Format Read: ARC received from the publisher.
Summary: Sara is being tried for the death of former classmate, Emma, whom she and her friends Brielle, Tyler, and Dylan bullied. The story is told from Sara’s perspective as her trial nears and she reflects back on the past leading up to Emma’s death and present day.
Hello again, friends! I’m back with another vlog review, and –wow!– what a book Tease was. I’ve seen a bit of differing opinions about this one because author Amanda Maciel takes you (uncomfortably) inside the bully’s mind. As a reader, you’re going to want to wring Sara’s neck in hopes that she could see that she’s done wrong and made some major mistakes. Does that happen? You’ll just have to find out for yourself. But do know that you’ll feel frustrated with Sara. She thinks her actions are justified; she felt threatened by Emma and had a hard time standing up to her best friend, Brielle, when she suggested something particularly nasty to do/say to Emma because Sara felt like her friendship with Brielle was slipping away.
Simply stated: Tease is complicated. It’s a difficult read, but it’s very relative and important. Read it.
Add TEASE to Goodreads | Buy from Amazon | Buy from Barnes & Noble
Welcome! How is it the last day of April already? Didn’t I just take my Christmas decorations down? I’m flabbergasted by how fast this year is flying so far. But the end of the month does mean BIG KIDS’ TABLE and I do love working on this feature. Big thanks to those of you who gave me positive feedback on last month’s Receipt Recommendations; I will hopefully be doing another one sometime in the future. (But I really must take a break from buying book so sit tight.)
Today, though, today I am focusing on Harlequin. Yep. You read that right. Now raise your hand if you hear Harlequin and think of romances. It’s okay. No one will throw tomatoes or hardcovers at you, I promise! Because, for a long time, I didn’t know there was more to Harlequin than romance either. Don’t get me wrong — I love Harlequin romance writers like Kristan Higgins and Susan Mallery but last year I was psyched to discover writers like Jason Mott (The Returned) and Paula Treick DeBoard (The Mourning Hours) — a supernatural and thriller, respectively — from the MIRA imprint.
So this year, I’m anxiously looking forward to the non-romance titles being released from Harlequin in hopes I have similar reading luck! Here are a few that have caught my eye…
Where Earth Meets Water by Pia Padunke (paperback release date: April 29, 2014)
Karom Seth should have been in the Twin Towers on the morning of 9/11, and on the Indian shores in 2004, when the tsunami swept his entire family into the ocean. Whether it’s a curse or a blessing, Karom can’t be sure, but his absence from these disasters has left him with crushing guilt—and a belief that fate has singled him out for invincibility.
Karom’s affliction consumes everyone around him, from his best friend, Lloyd, to his girlfriend, Gita, who hopes that a trip to India will help him find peace. It is in Delhi that he meets Gita’s grandmother, Kamini—a quirky but wise woman with secrets of her own. At first Karom dismisses Kamini, but little does he realize that she will ultimately lead him to the clarity he’s been looking for.
Estelle notes: It’s so rare for me to read a book that includes a trip to India. (My mind always moves toward The Namesake, which I loved.) Definitely want to check out another.
Empire Girls by Suzanne Hayes + Loretta Nyhan (release date: May 14, 2014)
Ivy and Rose Adams may be sisters, but they’re nothing alike. Rose, the eldest, is the responsible one, while Ivy is spirited and brazen. After the unexpected death of their father, the women are left to reconcile the estate, when they make a shocking discovery: not only has their father left them in financial ruin, but he has also bequeathed their beloved family house to a brother they never knew existed. With only a photograph to guide the way, Ivy and Rose embark to New York City, determined to find this mysterious man and reclaim what is rightfully theirs.
Once in New York, temptations abound at every turn, and soon the sisters are drawn into the glitzy underbelly of Manhattan, where they must overcome their differences and learn to trust each other if they’re going to survive in the big city and find their brother. Filled with unforgettable characters and charm, Empire Girls is a love letter to 1920s New York, and a captivating story of the unspoken bond between sisters.
Estelle notes: NEW YORK + THE 1920s? Sign me up.
The Good Girl by Mary Kubica (release date: July 29, 2014)
Born to a prominent Chicago judge and his stifled socialite wife, Mia Dennett moves against the grain as a young inner-city art teacher. One night, Mia enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn’t show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. With his smooth moves and modest wit, at first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia’s life.
Colin’s job was to abduct Mia as part of a wild extortion plot and deliver her to his employers. But the plan takes an unexpected turn when Colin suddenly decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota, evading the police and his deadly superiors. Mia’s mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman will stop at nothing to find them, but no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family’s world to shatter.
Estelle Notes: Thrillerrrrr. If this book is anything like The Mourning Hours, I will be reading it under my desk at work. (Um, no. Just kidding. I did not do that. Okay fine… I did but it was a Friday afternoon in the summer!)
And, two of my most anticipated this year, bring us right back to the beginning of this post. Jason Mott is releasing a new book in September called The Wonder of All Things:
On an ordinary day, at an air show like that in any small town across the country, a plane crashes into a crowd of spectators, killing and injuring dozens. But when the dust clears, a thirteen-year-old girl named Ava is found huddled beneath a pocket of rubble with her best friend, Wash. He is injured and bleeding, and when Ava places her hands over him, his wounds miraculously disappear.
Ava has a unique gift: she can heal others of their physical ailments. Until the air show tragedy, her gift was a secret. But now the whole world knows, and suddenly Ava is thrust into the spotlight. People from all over the globe begin flocking to her small town, looking for healing and eager to glimpse the wonder of a miracle. But Ava’s unusual ability comes at a great cost—her own health—and as she grows weaker with each healing, Ava begins searching for an escape. Wash agrees to help Ava, but little does she know he has his own secret he’s been harboring, and soon Ava finds herself having to decide just how much she’s willing to sacrifice in order to save the one she loves most.
And so does Paula Treick DeBoard with The Fragile World (October 2014):
The Kaufmans have always considered themselves a normal, happy family. Curtis is a physics teacher at a local high school. His wife, Kathleen, restores furniture for upscale boutiques. Daniel is away at college on a prestigious music scholarship, and twelve-year-old Olivia is a happy-go-lucky kid whose biggest concern is passing her next math test.
And then comes the middle-of-the-night phone call that changes everything.Daniel has been killed in what the police are calling a freak accident, and the remaining Kaufmans are left to flounder in their grief. The anguish of Daniel’s death is isolating, and it’s not long before this once perfect family find themselves falling apart. As time passes and the wound refuses to heal, Curtis becomes obsessed with the idea of revenge, a growing mania that leads him to pack up his life and his anxious teenage daughter and set out on a collision course to right a wrong.
So there ya go — five new books for the price of one post. Hope there’s something here that floats your boat!
As you can probably tell my boat is pretty much forever floating.
P.S. If you read any non-YA titles this month, definitely let me know! It’s only fair
We’re best friends, Estelle and I. We live miles and miles apart, but there’s seldom been a day in our three year friendship that we haven’t talked about something. Our friendship is the platform from which Rather Be Reading was created. Because of that, we’ve been really wanting to focus on friendship more. Something positive and uplifting. We both find friendship to be such an incredibly important aspect of the books we read. They can often make or break a book. There’s the good, the bad, the ups, the downs… and through all of that, you need a best friend. Someone to hold your hand as you wade through the craziness of life.
Hence the new feature we’re rolling out right now: Befriended.
We’re beginning with one of our very favorite new authors, Emery Lord. We’ve both read Emery’s debut novel, Open Road Summer and fallen madly in love with her incredible writing. (Admittedly, we’ve also watched her awesome author intro video and want to be her BFF, too). Reagan and Dee have this outstanding friendship with years and years of history and love between them. We asked Emery to talk to us a little bit about her personal best friend and in the vein of our themed gift-packs, to create gifts to and from Dee and Reagan. It’s an understatement to say I love how this came out and how much I adore what Emery wrote about her best friend. (Fact: I teared up reading it.)
A big, huge THANK YOU to Emery for helping us introduce our new friendship feature, Befriended. Without further ado, please welcome Emery to Rather Be Reading…
My BFF and I met at church when we were in fourth grade. We were in all the same activities our entire lives and have so many similarities, but we’re different in a lot of ways too. Even little things. I’m a basic-nail polish kind of gal, and she’s great at, like, nail art and Jamberry nails. She went to a small private college for Music Ed; I went to a larger public school for Communications and English. She lives in the suburbs near our hometown; I live in a more urban setting a couple of hours away. She got married in the winter surrounded by cranberry reds and creams, in a strapless dress with her hair up. I got married in the spring, surrounded by peony pinks and tuxedo blacks, in a dress with sheer sleeves and my hair down. I wore her veil.
I wrote about to very different BFFs in Open Road Summer because I wanted to show that you don’t have to have everything in common to be best friends. You just have to show up, emotionally. Everyone understands a relationship like marriage…that I chose my husband to be my family. But my best friend is someone I chose to be my family too. It’s a sisterhood of choice, and it doesn’t matter how far apart we are or how many differing choices we make. What we have in common is 20 years together and so much love and loyalty that we can fill the miles between us. That’s truly all we’ve ever needed.
- – -
From Dee to Reagan
- Arrow Necklace: This is a necklace Dee lets Reagan borrow in Open Road Summer. I think she’d get her one of her very own, since Reagan loves it–and probably write her a cheesy card tying in lyrics to Kacey Musgraves’ song Follow Your Arrow (which I love).
- Photo Cube Printer: Reagan’s a photographer, so she’d love this for iPhone photos taken on the go.
- Vintage 1971 Canon 35mm Camera: Dee’s an antiquer, so she’d absolutely snag this vintage camera for Reagan.
- Ferris Wheel Photo Frames: Dee would get this both as a way for Reagan to display photos and to tease her a little about Matt Finch and a Ferris Wheel
- Boots: Reagan loooves shoes and these boots are totally her style.
- New York Book: Dee is super supportive of Reagan’s ultimate goal of attending NYU. She’d absolutely gift Reagan with NYC-related things to share in her excitement about that.
- – -
From Reagan to Dee
- Bestie iPhone Cases: Reagan would totally get these infinity BFF phone cases for herself and Dee, since they’re in a long-distance friendship/on the phone so much of the time. But, since Reagan would be using the phone case too, she’d pick something a little less frilly
- Decorative Pillow: Something for Dee’s tour bus or new apartment–Reagan’s sense of humor and something to make Dee laugh.
- Tennessee Necklace: To remind Dee of home.
- Floral Weekender: So not Reagan’s personal style, but definitely Dee’s. I think Reagan would get this for Dee to remind her she’s only one packed bag away from a weekend trip home.
- Every Day Journal: One of the things Dee struggles with is how quickly life seems to be moving–by the time one thing happens, she can barely process it before the next big thing happens. Reagan would buy this one-line-a-day journal to help her remember each day without spending too much time memorializing instead of living–something she’s big on
- Dolly Parton Quote: Dolly is one of Dee’s heroes, and Reagan would want to remind Dee that even Dolly has seen herself through the rain!
Thank you so incredibly much to Emery Lord for stopping by RBR
to help us kick of BEFRIENDED. Friends, please, please read Open Road Summer
as soon as you possibly can. And stay tuned for more friendship-related posts!
Add OPEN ROAD SUMMER to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Buy from Barnes & Noble | My Review of ORS
The Battle of Darcy Lane by Tara Altebrando ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: March 22, 2014
Publisher: Perseus Books
Target audience: Middle grade
Keywords: summer, friendships, camp, cicadas
Format read: ARC paperback from Publisher. (Thank you!)
Summary: It’s summertime and Julia is planning on spending the warm weather with her best friend, Taylor. That’s until the new girl moves in. Alyssa is competitive and gets to watch the shows that Julia isn’t allowed to, and soon Taylor is ditching all their plans to spend more time with Alyssa. Despite Alyssa’s unfriendliness toward her, Julia still tries to get in her good graces but instead finds herself preparing for a “Russia” (it’s a ball game) showdown in front of the entire neighborhood.
When I was in first grade, a new girl moved in (I still remember her full name) and stole my best friend. I remember how sad I was when I found out my BFF was hanging out with the new girl (instead of me) and even more so when the new girl was just NOT nice to me.
This is something you never ever forget. It’s traumatic for a kid (and adult, for that matter) when the friend you love the most in the world is suddenly gone and you have no control over making it better. Or even understand why it’s happening in the first place when all you’ve been is nice. Don’t those best friend necklaces mean anything?
Julia’s original dreams for her summer are shattered when Alyssa moves on her block. She acts like a jerk, and for some reason, Julia’s BFF, Taylor, thinks that’s an attractive quality in a friend because she starts secretly and not so secretly hanging out with Alyssa instead of Julia. As you can imagine, it sucks. For Julia, obviously but also for the reader because she keeps trying to make a threesome out of the twosome, to get her friend back, and to try to get Alyssa to like her.
Why why why do some people just not like you? This is such a horrible lesson to learn because sometimes there’s no answer to that question.
So a summer that was supposed to be filled with days at the pool, the occasional trip to the city, and awaiting the arrival of the cicadas is spent with her (ultra cool) parents, convincing them to let her switch rooms and redecorate with more “grown up” decor, and attending music camp with her friend (and crush) Peter. She’s also perfecting her skills at the ball game (“Russia”) that Alyssa introduced to the neighborhood as the two are set to compete in a major showdown to become “Russia” champion of Darcy Lane. (Julia’s commitment to “Russia” was super commendable.)
Throughout the book, I loved Julia’s observations on her parent’s relationship, the meaning of life, and also her great passion for music. (It reflected so much of what I felt during those early days of band in middle school — the triumph of people coming together!) These were the parts of the story that really made me smile and fall in love with her character.
The Battle of Darcy Lane is so charming, bringing me back to those awesome, fun-filled days of summer from my childhood but also reminded me of some of the more difficult parts of being a kid. (I wish I could have told Julia her situation with Alyssa and Taylor would make her stronger but she had to learn that on her own.) Altebrando transitions from YA to middle grade so well, bringing along so many of the reasons why I love her work: the humor and the heartbreaks of life, honesty, and a full picture of Julia’s family and this neighborhood.
Add to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Buy on B&N
Bonus: This book trailer was made by 11- and 12- year old filmmakers! How cool is that? It definitely portrays The Battle of Darcy Lane perfectly:
A Passionate Love Affair with a Perfect Stranger by Lucy Robinson
( web | tweet )
Publication Date: May 2013
Publisher: Notting Hill Press
Target audience: Adult
Keywords: dating websites, career, Edinburgh
Format read: ARC provided by author. (Thank you!)
Summary: A break from a bustling career for a workaholic is never a good thing. Charley is determined to make the most of her time, and decides to start her own business — ghostwriting for those on dating websites who need a little help making the initial connection. So what happens when she begins falling for one of the guys she’s writing to for a client? Things only get more complicated when she goes back to her “real” job, the guy she’s been in love with forever admits he’s getting a divorce, and a sneaky coworker is determined to take her job. And that’s only at her day job! Can she juggle it all?
Having the busiest week last week, it was a treat to pick up A Passionate Love Affair… during my down time. Charley is so zany, so intensely intense — she wormed her way into my heart and is one of the more memorable characters I’ve met in a long time. (I was reminded so much of reading Sophie Kinsella and Emily Giffin back in the day with this title.)
First of all, starting a company where ghostwriters are hired to help those who are having trouble on dating sites? Total genius. It seems like everything goes right for a person like Charley — she has the career, she makes good money, she has great friends, an awesome family — but the love part just hasn’t clicked for her yet. It’s not surprising either… she’s been crushing on a guy in her office for years (too many years) and his flirtation keeps her hanging on (even though he’s having an affair with a married woman).
Right off the bat I loved the premise, but it wasn’t until Charley starts writing notes for clients (specifically for a very very busy career woman named Shelley) that she starts a bit of self-actualization. Has she been ignoring friends and family because work is her life? Has she pretended to be someone else in relationships and that’s why they never worked out? So as she talks to William as “Shelley” and he starts hitting all the right buttons about letting her hair down, enjoying life, Charley gets a little smitten. Like, a lot smitten. To the point where you will NOT believe the lengths she would go to. (But I was along for the ride and loving it.)
I can’t tell you anymore.
But there’s a surprise, and then another surprise and whoa, Robinson took this story to a whole different place than I would have ever thought. It was fantastic, though, because I had no idea how things would end, how all of this might blow up in Charley’s face, and what it would mean for her career, and her love life. It’s good stuff; I promise.
Clocking in at almost 500 pages (I’ll admit I was a little nervous about this), we get a full picture of Charley’s family including her banjo-playing dad and her two sisters. There are also her friends — Sam, her childlike but adorable roommate who is recently engaged, and her best friend, Hailey, who is the best kind of gal pal because she tells the harsh truth even it’s the last thing that Charley wants to hear. Of course, the work drama played a big part in A Passionate Love Affair too… the crappy coworker (in the inappropriate short skirts) who wants to usurp Charley’s job and most importantly, figuring out proper work/life balance. Was it even possible for her?
In her 30s, Charley was still someone trying to figure out who she was and I really liked seeing that, especially because so many experiences and such different people had an influence on her conclusions. We never know who is going to have that kind of effect on us, and it just goes to show that learning to love and trust yourself is an on-going life lesson. I couldn’t have asked for a more fun and charming book, and I loved the emphasis on dating in the digital age. (While I was reading this, quite a few convos popped up about dating websites and I couldn’t help but smile and think of Charley.) It’s such a relevant experience these days, and no matter how hilarious Charley’s experiences are throughout the book, it will no doubt give you something to think about how you approach relationships and balance work and play in your life.
P.S. I can assure you this review was not ghostwritten.
Add to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon <– it’s 2.99, what are you waiting for?!