Can’t Look Away by Donna Cooner
See Also: Skinny by Donna Cooner
Publication Date: August 26, 2014
Target Audience: Young Adult Fiction
Keywords: beauty and fashion vlogger, loss of a sibling, moving to a new state
Format Read: Arc received from the Publisher. (Thank you!)
Summary: Torrey, popular fashion and beauty vlogger, doesn’t know how to deal with the sudden harassment and criticism she receives from her followers after the death of her younger sister. Her family moves from Colorado to Texas to be closer to family, and Torrey has to figure out how to mourn her sister and move on.
Almost exactly two years ago, I raved about Donna Cooner’s Skinny, a book about a girl who undergoes gastric bypass surgery and deals with insecurities and body image issues, even though her physical appearance is changing. I really connected with Ever and felt super pumped to read Donna’s newest book, Can’t Look Away, about Torrey Grey, who is a popular beauty and fashion vlogger. The scenarios are almost completely reversed — Ever is a girl who had zero self-confidence and had to work really hard to accept and love herself. Torrey is popular and extremely well-known, but when her 12-year old sister is killed by a drunk driver, her character is questioned and she’s criticized for detaching and not addressing what’s happening.
But ultimately, the lesson is still the same for both Ever and Torrey: despite fame, beauty, body size, popularity, vlog views, etc., both girls have to learn to love and accept themselves despite any of those other outside factors.
Torrey was a more difficult character for me to relate to because her every move seemed calculated: How do I promote myself? How will everyone react to xyz? What can I do to gain more views and recognition? Believe me when I say I could relate to those feelings because I’ve dealt with that with my businesses and with Rather Be Reading. You pour so much of yourself into these projects and want people to love and appreciate it as much as you do. I think I’m in a personal place of wanting to be a blogger and a business owner, but also not wanting my entire life to be only those things. And that’s what I wanted for Torrey.
I wanted to see her mourn her sister and stop worrying about how to connect to the internet to see what people were saying about her. I wanted her comments to not be so snippy with her cousin, Raylene, who was trying desperately to forge a friendship with her. I wanted Torrey to not care quite so much about sitting at the popular table at her new school. Oh, and that boy she liked, Luis? I wanted to shout, “JUST GO FOR IT! Who cares if he’s “unpopular”!” Torrey had a lot of growing up to do, but I think one thing stands out. Sometimes when we’re in the midst of something deep, hard, and heavy, we find distractions to focus on. We fill our time with the mundane details so we can cast aside all of the hurt we don’t want to deal with.
In a nutshell, that was Torrey. It was easier for her to focus on being the girl she used to be instead of letting it sink in all the ways her life would now be changed without her sister. The growth does happen, but I wanted to see it happen a little less rapidly. And what about her parents? They were on the periphery of the story and we saw how they dealt (or didn’t deal well with their grief), but I felt there should have been a little more involvement with helping Torrey overcome her obstacles. She deals with Internet bullying and moving to a completely new state, and the death of her sister all by herself.
Can’t Look Away is so pertinent and has some really valid points and lessons. I, always the proponent for loose ends to be tied as much as possible, wish there were a few moments that felt a little more ironed out, but overall, this is another great contemporary by Cooner. Definitely looking forward to more!
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Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle ( web | twitter )
First book in a trilogy.
Release Date: October 21, 2014
Publisher: Poppy/Little, Brown
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: Hollywood, love triangle, debut actor, friendship, romance
Format read: ARC given to me by Elena @ Novel Sounds. (Thanks!)
Summary: Paige is just a normal high schooler with her two best friends until she is plucked from her home to a movie set when she lands her first role in a big deal Hollywood movie. Set to star in a trilogy based on a best-selling book series for young adults, Paige deals with the ups and downs of her first role and the cute boys that come along with it: one that makes her feel at home on set and another who makes her feel a little off kilter.
Despite a few personal snafus (not enough family interaction and a love triangle), I had a total blast reading Famous in Love. I mean, a girl has her dreams come true before she even graduates high school and lands an insanely big role in a film trilogy. I was basically picturing a Shailene Woodley or Jennifer Lawrence the whole time I was reading and you know, you just can’t lose in that kind of reading situation.
Filming in Hawaii and away from her best friends and family, Paige is thrust into the movie world: getting screamed at by her director day after day, gossiping with her makeup lady, and waking up at the crack of dawn to act with the hot actor, Rainer Devon. Rainer is incredibly great to Paige, and tries to make her feel comfortable amongst all the pressure to make the movie a hit. I really liked him (even if I kept wondering when he would do something questionable) so this made it even harder when another heartthrob, Jordan Wilder, is cast in the other open male role. He’s more mysterious and standoffish but also a good guy and Paige can’t help this connection she feels to him. To both of them, really.
She’s living the life, right? Serle pulls off this whole love triangle in a real life and in a movie thing quite well. Even if everyone was falling for each other pretty quickly, I was sold. On who I have no idea but still. I could see the appeal of both guys. The chemistry Paige had with each of her co-stars was addictive and deliciously angsty in a way I haven’t felt in awhile.
Could Serle have dug a little deeper throughout the book? Totally. I was interested in Paige’s relationships with her siblings (their back stories were all well-presented) and I couldn’t imagine her parents not communicating with her very much as a minor in her first grown-up job away from home. If Serle would have folded these details in, there’s no telling how much I would be loving Famous in Love. Even so, for someone who fears starting a new series and isn’t a love triangle fan, this book was like a light and fun Hilary Duff song I couldn’t help but smile and enjoy.
Add FAMOUS IN LOVE to Goodreads | Buy on B&N | Buy on Book Depository
Hello there! It’s Friday!! Hooray! We are also more than halfway to Halloween, which I will admit is not a favorite holiday of mine. I’m more into autumn decor than ghosts and goblins but I understand that some love it more than Christmas and Santa. Gasp! (Just kidding.)
In the spirit of All Hallows’ Eve, I’m chatting about pumpkin beer. What a shocker; I know. I’m pretty particular about my pumpkin brews. Not too spicy, not too heavy (imperial pumpkins are not my favorite; they are darker and taste more like liquor). So I was really thrilled to see Southampton Publick House Pumpkin Ale at my supermarket this week. This is the brewery right near my first college (I’ve mentioned this before) and their pumpkin has the subtle flavors I enjoy so much: spice, pumpkin and vanilla extract. This beer is just like a liquid dessert.
(Tip: Before pouring your beer, line the rim of your glass with cinnamon. So so good.)
Now what about a good read to go along with that? Well, it’s getting cooler. How about 11/22/1963 by Stephen King? 849 pages of goodness to keep you totally addicted and wrapped up in your cuddliest blanket. This isn’t a typical “scary” King book; there is time travel, a man on the run, and what happens when one person gets so caught up in an alternate life. Main character Jake has to pretend in order to survive, and also fulfill his task of stopping the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Isn’t Halloween all about pretending?
Other things on my list as Halloween gets closer?
- Cooking Beer & Cheddar Soup (it’s so so good)
- Watching Hocus Pocus at least once
- Buying a little pumpkin for my desk at work
- Waiting for the Great Pumpkin to arrive…
Another recent beer winner: Shiner Oktoberfest and one I’m looking to try: Red Hook Pumpkin Porter.
Thanks for stopping by another #pubdate! Hope you enjoyed it & will share book/beer suggestions below! Cheers!!
Your hosts: Brittany’s Halloween Pick | Maggie’s Fall Pick | Andi’s Fall Pick
Hold on to your hats, friends.
We are so thrilled to be presenting the cover of Tara Altebrando’s upcoming middle grade novel: MY LIFE IN DIORAMAS. You may remember that Tara released a fantastic book in this same genre in April called THE BATTLE OF DARCY LANE (Running Press). I loved it but more important people had this to say about it:
- “It’s a smart, sensitive portrait of an age when change is in the air, for better or worse.” – Publishers Weekly
- “Julia is a flawed but earnest girl, and she learns how to deal with mean girls at her own pace and with cheer-worthy dignity. Readers searching for something similar to the books of Beverly Cleary or Judy Blume should look no further.” – Booklist
- “Altebrando’s clear, intelligent writing captures the sweet details that comprise Julia’s everyday life: a fresh coat of paint for her bedroom, a brilliant band-camp concert, a slice of birthday cake shared compatibly with the boy next door.” – School Library Journal
Tara definitely deserves all the praise, so I’m amped to share all the details of her April 28, 2015 release.
But, first! This truly gorgeous cover from T.L. Bonaddio:
What to expect from MY LIFE IN DIORAMAS:
Twelve-year-old Kate Marino thinks she is a real mastermind. At least when it comes to hatching a plan to dissuade potential buyers from purchasing Big Red, the old farmhouse that has been the only home Kate has ever known, and which her parents are selling in order to downsize.
Kate has not even moved yet, and already life is changing in unwelcome ways. Suddenly every moment and memory seems fleeting—even things she thought would last forever. Making dioramas of the people she loves in the place that she holds dear gives Kate a sense of calm. But it may take several bags of stink, the help of her best friends, and a few fake dogs in order for her to be able to keep her life the way that she knows and loves it.
With sincerity, humor, and heart, author Tara Altebrando (The Battle of Darcy Lane) thoughtfully explores the pain—and promise—of letting go. Artist T.L. Bonaddio’s warm interior illustrations accentuate the tangible shoebox moments that make an impression for a lifetime.
So what do you think?! We cannot cannot wait!
→ ADD TO GOODREADS ←
The folks at Running Press have been nice enough to offer an ARC of MY LIFE IN DIORAMAS to one lucky winner. Must be 13 years old to enter and be living in the United States. (The ARC will be on its way to you in January so it will be a new year gift!) Be sure to enter by using the Rafflecopter widget below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Psst. Still here? Good!! April 2015 may be far away but it also gives us a chance to read up on all the Tara books! Here’s a list of her great titles to keep you busy until then:
Thanks for stopping in today and big thanks to Running Press + Tara for including us in
the exciting MY LIFE IN DIORAMAS news!
HAPPY READING (and WAITING)!
Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin ( facebook )
Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Publisher: Macmillan/Feiwel and Friends
Target audience: Middle grade
Keywords: Aspergers, OCD, hurricane, family, dogs
Format read: ARC paperback from Macmillan. (Thanks!)
Summary: When a hurricane hits inland, Rose’s best companion — her dog named Reign — goes missing. What happens when the one stable thing in your life disappears?
I didn’t realize how timely it would be to read Rain Reign, with the two-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy coming up. Like Rose’s father said more than one time, the storms never catch them! It was so similar to what we were all saying until the storm came and conquered. I may not have lost my dog, but the storm forever changed one of my favorite spots from my childhood so I understood this feeling of disarray and loss in the book.
Ann M. Martin is no stranger to my bookshelf. I’ve been a huge fan of The Baby-Sitters Club series since I was young, I’ve read a ton of her other books so, of course, I jumped at the chance to read her latest. I haven’t read a ton of books about children with Aspergers syndrome (in fact, I can only compare this to the TV portrayal of Max on Parenthood) but she handles it with sensitivity and authenticity. Rose’s dad cannot grasp his daughter’s tendency to discover new homonyms or recite prime numbers. Most importantly, he doesn’t understand that she cannot control her outbursts and it was heartbreaking how frequently he left her to her own devices.
Thankfully, Rose isn’t totally alone. She has her Uncle Weldon, who drives her back and forth to school and has such a soft and patient way of communicating with her. The total opposite of Rose’s father, unfortunately. (Definitely a point of contention between the brothers too but less of a focus in the story because hey it’s written for middle graders.) And then there is Reign, the dog that Rose’s dad found on a rainy night (get it?) and never leaves his friend’s side. Weldon and Reign provide the most stability for Rose, and for someone who needs routine to get through the day, they were as necessary in her life as food or water or shelter. They kept her going.
The hurricane touching down wreaks havoc on more than their town as Reign goes missing and the routine and life Rose has known changes completely. And it’s not over yet. Martin does such an effective job of showing how isolating Rose’s disorder is through her relationship with her dad and the students in her class, but there is the flip side of it too. Rose is smart, thoughtful, and believes in doing the right thing. She is capable of handling a lot even if she does have some difficulties day to day. Furthermore, there are dependable people in her life who help her work through her behaviors. (Kudos to Martin for including Rose’s teacher aide; they rock!)
At any age, we are always scared of the things we don’t know and so much of Rain Reign is about being accepting and understanding we all have hurdles to jump through.
Add RAIN REIGN to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Buy on B&N
Atlantia by Ally Condie (website | twitter)
See also my review of Crossed by Ally Condie
Publication Date: October 28, 2014
Publisher: Dutton Children’s
Target Audience: Young Adult Fiction
Keywords: underwater city, dystopia, broken world, young adult fantasy
Format Read: Arc received from the Publisher. (Thank you!
Summary (from Goodreads):Can you hear Atlantia breathing?
For as long as she can remember, Rio has dreamt of the sand and sky Above—of life beyond her underwater city of Atlantia. But in a single moment, all her plans for the future are thwarted when her twin sister, Bay, makes an unexpected decision, stranding Rio Below. Alone, ripped away from the last person who knew Rio’s true self—and the powerful siren voice she has long hidden—she has nothing left to lose.
Guided by a dangerous and unlikely mentor, Rio formulates a plan that leads to increasingly treacherous questions about her mother’s death, her own destiny, and the complex system constructed to govern the divide between land and sea. Her life and her city depend on Rio to listen to the voices of the past and to speak long-hidden truths.
Author Ally Condie is hanging out on Rather Be Reading today to discuss the importance of the names she selected in ATLANTIA. I don’t know about you guys, but I always, always want more information about an author’s thought process. Ally so carefully chose each of the names and it really makes my heart sing to learn these details. The whole world just comes alive a little bit more! I’ll be posting my official review later this week, but for now, I want you guys to say hello to Ally and get swept away by a few details in her upcoming release, ATLANTIA!
Writing Atlantia was a little different from writing my other books. While I always like the names to have meaning (Cassia, Ky, and Xander’s names are all significant to their characters), this time, I wanted the names to connect with water somehow. Because the city of Atlantia is underwater, I felt sure that this connection would occur to the people naming their children Below.
I came up with Rio and Bay’s names very early on in the process—I have to know my main character’s name, or I have a hard time writing. I knew that Rio and Bay’s mother would have thought very carefully and given them names with great meaning. And, since they are twins, I wanted their names to tie together in a significant way but also sound/look very different. Rio is Spanish for river, and a bay is a body of water forming an indentation of the shoreline (and yes, I just got that definition from the dictionary). 😉 Without being too spoiler-y, I think Rio’s mother knew very much what she was doing (and what she hoped for) when she named her daughters after bodies of water that touch both the land and the sea.
The next set of sister names I chose were those of Rio and Bay’s mother, Oceana, and her sister, Maire. Since Oceana was the leader of Atlantia, I wanted her to have a grand, encompassing, womanly name. Oceana means from the sea, and I loved the sound of it. For Maire, I wanted something a bit sharper, a little different. I looked for other names that meant ocean or water, and when I found Maire—which has two meanings (of the sea or bitter), I knew that I’d found the right fit for this particular character. The dual meanings reflect well the dual nature of Maire’s character.
The boys in the story also have names that connect with water. While True’s first name has an obvious meaning (and one that is very connected to his character), it’s his last name, Beck, that reflects the water connection. A beck is a brook, or a swiftly running stream. And that felt right for True and his role in the story. Fen Cardiff, the other main boy in the story, has a name that means marsh—land covered in water. Again, I don’t want to spoil anything, but that has a connection with what happens to Fen in the book as well.
As for naming the city itself, I wanted a name that reflected Atlantis—the lost underwater city of legend—but that sounded more feminine, since the main characters in this book are strong women (I also didn’t want to be tied too tightly to the legends of Atlantis and the preconceptions people have about an Atlantis story). So I changed the ending of the word slightly. I had no idea at the time that we would name the book Atlantia (I always called it Rio, which I knew we couldn’t keep for obvious reasons—the movie, etc.) but I think the fact that it sounded right made my editor think of it as the name for the novel, and I was happy to agree.
Thank you so much, Ally, for stopping by Rather Be Reading!
Friends, ATLANTIA is such a fun read. It was so nice to disappear into a world so
different than what I’ve been reading lately. Add this one to your TBRs!
Add ATLANTIA to Goodreads | Pre-Order from Amazon | Pre-order from Barnes & Noble
And join us on Team Above — who would want to live underwater anyway? A few reasons why above is better: SUNSHINE, sand, fresh air, STARS, and um, history. I can’t imagine living below water where — don’t you think it would feel like living in a snow globe?