Today I’m talking about one of my favorite things in the whole world: shopping!
I love to shop for dresses, purses, makeup, home decor, stationary, arts and crafts supplies, gifts for other people. I mean, you name it and I love to buy it. Especially, books. Lots and lots of books. On Amazon, on B&N with same-day shipping to Manhattan, at the bookstore, at another bookstore, at Target. If there are books somewhere in the vicinity, I have probably looked at them, hemmed and hawed about buying them, and then, eventually pulled the trigger. (Much to the chagrin of my husband since there are stacks and stacks of unread books in our apartment. I love you, husband!)
But there’s one shopping experience that I exclusively use for books.
It wasn’t always this way. Before my rediscovery of reading, meeting Magan, Rather Be Reading, I was happy enough to find books on the feature tables at the bookstore. The only book I can remember preordering was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I didn’t keep up with release dates and even if I just stumbled upon a future release by an author I loved, I waited until the book came out.
Blogging about books has changed my life in many ways. (Yay friendships! Yay inspiration!) But it’s also changed the way I shop for books. And even between the last year or so, my preordering process has altered too. Last year, I was focused on early releases. If I loved the book, I would preorder it. But when I realized I was getting these finished copies in the mail and not even reading them, I started to cancel my orders and take a break from that entirely.
This year, I’m taking a different approach. I want to read books that my friends are loving and I want to take some chances, and a lot of the books I’ve preordered so far this year follow those two guidelines. So today I’m sharing what goodies should be making their way to my mailbox in the next couple of months. And most importantly, WHY I chose these titles. (Can we talk about how convenient this process is too? No going to the bookstore and not finding it. No forgetting to go the bookstore. And the promise of mail on a Tuesday? The best!)
word of mouth.
The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkowski ( Goodreads | Release Date: 3/4/2014 ): The 4-star and 5-star reviews that kept popping up on Goodreads convinced me to take the plunge. Fantasy is not really my go-to genre so I am really trusting these guys to be right. (I’m reading it right now, and will report back.)
Pointe by Brandy Colbert ( Goodreads | Release Date: 4/10/2014 ): Sex & Violence author, Carrie Mesrobian, has been very vocal about Brandy’s work on Twitter and I decided to press the preorder button after seeing some “must buy” tweets from her. Since then, Liz from Consumed by Books and Dahlia from Daily Dahlia have been singing Brandy’s praises so I think my choice was a solid one. (Did I mention it also got a starred review in Publishers Weekly?)
Open Road Summer by Emery Lord ( Goodreads | Release Date: 4/15/2014 ) Summer, romance, friendship! I’ve read so many great reviews for this title already but it wasn’t until the fangirling of Judith and Alexa that I finally took the plunge. I am so excited to get a head start on summer! I need warmth and I’m a sucker for a great summer romance.
One Plus One by Jojo Moyes ( Goodreads | Release Date: 7/1/2014 ) This release date is so so so far away, but after finally reading Me Before You, I think Moyes is an auto-buy for me. Ellice from Paper Riot (and Kelly from Belle of the Literati) have been talking it up SO much… and I caved. Something to look forward in the middle of the summer? Nice to have an adult read to look forward to. (That hasn’t happened in a long time for me.)
We Are The Goldens by Dana Reinhardt ( Goodreads | Release Date: 5/24/2014 ) This is really unprecedented for me. I have two of Dana’s books on my Nook (unread), and I hadn’t heard of this title until I saw a really awesome starred review in Publishers Weekly so I decided to give it a shot.
And just for fun…
book i already read that i had to preorder.
Great by Sara Benincasa ( Goodreads | Release Date: 4/8/2014 ) I’m falling back into old habits by grabbing a copy of this but I loved it too much to pass by a chance to have my own copy. My review should be up next week or so, but this retelling of Gatsby had a fresh voice, addicting deception, and was super discussion worthy. It’s definitely worth reading and got me out of a tremendous slump.
books i already read that i want to preorder but i’m waiting.
why? because more than likely they will have events in nyc & i want to buy them in person. so really this category is about spreading the word to YOU because i really enjoyed these.
The Geography of You & Me by Jennifer E. Smith ( Goodreads | Release Date: 4/14/2014 ) Jennifer’s prose is gorgeous and the story of two people who bond over one evening and then are separated is so so so good. I loved the family side stories and the push and pull between the characters. Plus NEW YORK. BLACKOUTS. Did I mention amazing writing? I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish this one.
Life by Committee by Corey Ann Haydu ( Goodreads | Release Date: 5/13/2014 ) It’s no secret I was a fan of OCD Love Story, and I was so happy to see Corey create something so totally different with her second book. I was on the edge of my seat with this multi-dimensional main character who is navigating life with her unhappy parents who are expecting a baby, the boy of her dreams who has a girlfriend, and this secret online group that makes her feel brave until they don’t anymore. Definitely in my favorite list for this year so far.
Here’s hoping my book shopping inspires some of your own! Because early buzz is important! Preordering is good for a book and good of the book’s author! (Check out this great article that Ellice over at the Paper Riot shared last week; she was the final push I needed to write about my preordering practices!)
Now it’s your turn! What are your preordering practices & how have they changed?
Anything good coming up in the mail for you?
Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: 3/18/2014
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: cancer, friendship, romance, parental relationships, revenge
Format read: ARC from Publisher via Edelweiss. (Thanks!)
Summary: Alice and Harvey are two estranged friends who team up to complete her must-do list when Alice is diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. Her great strides to make things right (even by doing things so wrong) comes back to haunt her when she surprisingly goes through remission and now she must deal with all she’s said and done.
In a perfect world, we would all be wonderful at expressing ourselves (especially during sticky situations) and handle every tough break with positivity, decorum, and acceptance. Instead, humans, despite their best intentions, slip up all the time. They close themselves off from people (even the ones who care the most) and instead of making the best out of a bad situation, kind of make things worse.
I’m happy to say Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy features imperfect characters, especially the main character Alice. She’s diagnosed with cancer and her mom is lying to the family. She has every right to be angry, definitely. So she recruited her old friend, Harvey, to help her out with a to-do list of things she wants to accomplish before she dies. Most of them are over the top, crazy and insane, but the devoted Harvey is on board, even though their history — childhood friends! friends with feelings! a rift! — is still a thing.
It’s true that I’m more of a Harvey than an Alice. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I am loyal to people I care about. Sometimes too loyal. This is probably why I related more to Harvey than I did to Alice. Like her character, she was even written with a certain bit of detachment so it was hard to connect to her, especially when as a reader we are privy to her feelings but continue to watch her not use her words or tell anyone how she really feels.
Cancer is a common ingredient in books, but I loved Murphy’s unique take. In chapters that alternate between Harvey and Alice, we also switch between time periods: THEN (when Alice discovers she has cancer) and NOW (when Alice unexpectedly goes into remission). So basically Alice has to deal with the repercussions of her actions and for someone as guarded and fearful of confrontation like she is… that’s freaking scary.
I absolutely could not wait to find out how all of this would end. Would Alice let Harvey get away? Would her revenge tactics haunt her forever? Could she move forward with her second chance at life? Something so many people in her position would embrace so thankfully? (Alice is pretty much the only character I’ve ever read about who is pissed off about beating cancer.) So many characters are forced to make adjustments after Alice’s diagnosis changes and it’s really interesting to see how those dynamics play off each other.
Murphy’s writing is sharp, I love her dialogue, and even the other situations she folds in (not being ready to have sex yet, “friendly” competition, mother/daughter relationships and even son/mother relationships, bullying) fit in so naturally. I was completely hooked and read most of Side Effects May Vary in a day. (I was also focused on finding some of Julie’s homages to God Shaped Hole by Tiffanie DeBartolo, a book we both love.) While some of the time transitions were a bit confusing and I would have loved for the ending to be stretched out a bit more, the character growth, the great writing, and creative storytelling made this a winner for me.
I can’t wait to read it again.
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16 Things I Thought Were True by Janet Gurtler ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: kids + parents, road trip, romance, new friends
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley. (Thanks!)
Summary: Morgan has never known who her dad is, and when her sick mom finally relents and gives in, she doesn’t waste anytime planning a road trip to go see him. Along with her new (highly enthusiastic) friend, Amy, and her boss from the amusement park, Adam, she is off to meet her father and uncovers more secrets then she expected.
There are some books that handle multiple plotlines with grace, and there are some that buckle under the pressure.
Unfortunately, 16 Things I Thought Were True falls in the second category. In addition to the summary I wrote above, Morgan is also reeling from a viral YouTube video that ostracized her from all of her friends and her peers and she has (get ready get set) a Twitter addiction. See? It’s a lot.
It’s a shame too because I was very intrigued about Morgan’s Twitter life and her quest to find out who her dad was. But when you add in the melodramatics from her mom (very uncharacteristic but health problems inspired her to share her love for Morgan more freely), the road trip, the romance, new friend Amy’s own challenges, and the fallout from all of these events? Not only was the rapid fire succession of storylines overwhelming, but because it was impossible to give each and every storyline enough attention (especially in 283 pages) I had trouble investing fully.
I don’t think I would have felt as let down if there weren’t bright spots like the remarkable chemistry between Morgan and Adam, the loyal and chatty Amy, who has her own baggage but brought a lot of vibrancy to these pages, and a road trip to Canada (that was my first time reading about one). I wanted 16 Things to live up to its full potential but as complicated moments only grew even more complicated and heartbreaking, the reality factor drifted further and further away.
As a self-admitted Twitter addict, I loved the inclusion of the tweets at the start of the chapters (I wish it was all consistent though) and even the idea of Morgan escaping to the Twitter world because she was feeling lonely and insecure. Totally relatable yet while I understand the importance of real social interaction vs. the (sometimes) false intimacy of social media platforms, I was unhappy with how quickly some of the characters in the book glossed over (what could be) important bonds for Morgan. I know it’s “just the internet” but so many of us know it can be a place rooted in true friendships.
Despite some positives in 16 Things I Thought Were True, I would have much preferred a story that streamlined its multiple arcs and had a sharper focus on one (or two or three) of its many themes. On the upside, I’m definitely up for trying another Gurtler book and finding out that works for me.
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I’m sorry to tell you that it’s not Sunday. But yesterday I was all dressed up and not post-gym gross for once so I decided to clean off my “kitchen” table (it’s in the living room, if I’m honest) and share with you what I’ve been buying lately: the results of my book buying ban, some great mail thanks to some awesome people, and a few stragglers I picked up today!
Plus I talk about my problems with reading hardcovers over eBooks during the week. I’ll be curious to hear you guys handle this VERYSERIOUS problem.
Hope you enjoy this week’s Shelve It! (I just read this is our 60th video on YouTube… how is that possible?!)
Sex and Violence by Carrie Mesrobian (B&N coupon)
All the Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry (B&N coupon)
Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt (gift card)
Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler (gift card)
The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski (pre-ordered)
You Are Here by Jennifer E. Smith (used copy)
Out of Easy by Ruta Sepetys
Anatomy of a Single Girl by Daria Snadowsky
I also bought a copy of Love Me at the Rachel Shukert book signing. How did I forget to mention this?!
In the mail:
Kiss Kill Vanish by Jessica Martinez (Thanks Jessica!) — out October 7th!
Nantucket Red by Leila Howland (Thanks Jamie!) — out May 13th!
Don’t forget we still have copies of Starstuck and Love Me available for you to win rolled over from our Hollywood Week! I’ll be picking a winner on Sunday!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
You don’t want to miss these great stories!
Let me know what you are reading + buying lately! (Did any of you give up shopping for Lent?)
Thanks so so much for stopping in today! <3
Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg ( tweet | web )
Publication Date: February 25, 2014
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: friendships, middle school/high school, family, romance
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley (Thanks!)
Summary: When Levi and Macallan first meet in seventh grade, they never imagined they would end up best friends, sharing family dinners, and, most of all, having people assume right and left they are in a relationship. But as they move through middle school and high school, the friendship gets hot and cold because of significant others, inability to manage time, and the chemistry between them. Can guys and girls really be friends? Or is it totally impossible?
I am immediately into books that tackle the big question: can guys and girls really be friends? Because, seriously, at 29, I still have no idea if it’s true. Do I have a clearer answer now that I read Eulberg’s adorable book? Okay, maybe not. But I do agree that having a friend of the opposite sex can be wonderful and complicated at the same time.
Better Off Friends is a light, sweet read and I fell completely in love with both Macallan and Levi. I mean, how cute could they get? Paired in seventh grade when Levi first moves to Wisconsin, they form an unexpected friendship when they start having family dinners together, hanging out at the park, and sharing friends. But things get difficult especially in middle school when boys worry about fitting in with boys and don’t want to necessarily be known for being friends with girls. (Ugh.) But Levi still stands his own, and really cares about nurturing his friendship with Macallan. He’s genuinely a good guy.
And for Macallan, it seems like Levi enters her life at the perfect time. Her family has just taken a huge hit, she’s sad, and gradually, she finds someone to trust, welcome into her circle, and in ways, I think it helps her to move past the pain of unexpected tragedy and learn how to be close to another person. I loved Macallan’s feisty-ness, her bravery, and how she was so dedicated to things (cooking, especially) and people. See? Great characters.
But all genuinely good people make mistakes (especially when a friendships spans so many years like this one, as we get to high school) — they fail to recognize how their significant others are taking up their time, they don’t always tell the full truth, they give into social pressure, and they don’t stand up for the other at the most opportune times. As the years went on, the growing pains of Macallan and Levi’s friendship sadly push them apart, but it feels impossible to stop.
Could they make it through? Would their history help them to reconnect? Was all the tension caused by more than just time getting in the way? New girlfriends and new boyfriends? Were they not seeing what was really there? Eulberg might not have tackled these questions as deeply as I would have liked, but Better Off Friends was hard to put down and I found myself wistfully staring at my eReader, wondering what would become of Macallan and Levi once I was to get back to reading.
That, my friends, is what I call a worthwhile read.
While Better Off Friends was definitely a highlight amongst my reads this year so far, I did find the interludes (Macallan and Levi’s discussions between chapters) confusing. I loved hearing their reactions but I wondered where exactly they were coming from (the heavens?) and if it gave too much away. I also would have loved for a stronger secondary plotline involving Macallan and Levi worrying less about each other and more about something in life. A wish that would have been a challenge because of the span of time covered in the book, but better developed relationships with supporting characters would have worked too.
All in all, Eulberg has created two true-to-life characters that I care about and I know I will be thinking about as the reading year continues. Plus I will always be wondering: where are they now? (Also I must say: the chapter art — silhouettes of either Macallan or Levi swinging depending on chapter POV? So gorgeous, and a great detail.)
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