Rather Be Reading » A Young Adult Book Blog by Two Busy Girls Who Always Find Time For a Book

Masthead header

Magnolia by Kristi Cook (Character Gift Exchange)

Greetings, guys!

Somehow it’s been 8 months since I’ve done an official character gift exchange? What? How is that possible? I’m not entirely sure but as soon as I read Magnolia but Kristi Cook a few weeks ago, I knew they would be the perfect victims, er, candidates for my next one! First, a few reasons to pick up this August release paperback:

  • Magnolia by Kristi CookThe setting is practically another character. Cook described the gorgeous Mississippi town so well, I felt like I was practically living there too. It was so delightfully Southern and everything felt so gorgeous and grand.
  • It’s not exactly a Romeo and Juliet story. Instead of Ryder and Jemma want nothing to do with one another, and it’s their parents who are pretty much marrying them on the spot. Loved this twist, and also the backstory associated with it.
  • There is a storm. An intense storm that traps both of the main characters in a house — alone. With the threat of no electricity. So. I’ll let that idea simmer for you because it was awesome.

I sped through Magnolia so quickly because I could not WAIT to see what would happen.

And now for the character gift exchange!

Ryder to Jemma

Magnolia Kristi Cook Character Gift Exchange Ryder to Jemma

Industrial Film Bookends: Jemma is a budding filmmaker, and her dreams of going to film school in NYC makes up for a lot of her anxiety in the book because it’s not exactly what her parents have in mind for her. I loved this artistic side of her!

Hello, New York: An Illustrated Letter of the Five Boroughs: This book is quirky and fun, and I would imagine Jemma would be so thrilled Ryder was thoughtful and got her this. It’s a sign of support.

Glimmering Tough Hair Pin Set: Another detail I loved in the book was how Jemma had an eye for fixing vintage dresses and making them her own. I didn’t want Ryder to buy her a dress, especially because finding them is half the fun but I think these hair clips would compliment any one of her frocks.

Jemma to Ryder

Magnolia Kristi Cook Character Gift Exchange Jemma to Ryder

Antique Constellation Print: Stars are Ryder’s thing; instead of a football future, he wants his in astronomy and science. Wouldn’t this be fun to frame?

Romeo & Juliet: A Baby Lit Board Book: This is exactly the kind of gag gift I would give to a boyfriend/my husband. Ryder and Jemma are aware of their situation and this is a light-hearted reminder of their friendship and their family history.

Dinosaur Boxer Briefs: A tongue-in-cheek reminder to stick to your guns.

Hope you enjoyed these! Now hurry up + buy the book!

Add Magnolia on Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Buy on B&N

August 12, 2014 - 9:57 pm

Alexa S. - I JUST BOUGHT THIS BOOK ON SUNDAY. It sounded so charming, and I’m thrilled to hear you liked it! Plus, I love the character gift packs you’ve come up with; they’ve definitely made me curious about these two ;)

August 10, 2014 - 6:50 pm

Brianna - Fun post. I added the book to the list – I love the cover.

Back to Top|Subscribe via RSS|Subscribe by Email

Estelle: Until We Touch by Susan Mallery

Until We Touch by Susan MalleryUntil We Touch by Susan Mallery web | tweet )
Part of the Fool’s Gold Series.
Publication Date: June 24, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin
Pages: 384
Target audience: Adult
Keywords: PR company, small town, best friends, romance
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley. (Thanks!)

Summary: When Larissa relocated to Fool’s Gold from Los Angeles, it was for her job as a personal assistant/ company masseuse at an up and coming PR agency. She hangs out, lives near, and works with her best friends. When her mom plants the seed that she is in love with her boss a.k.a. best friend, she denies it to everyone, especially herself … until she can’t anymore.

If the day is just too humid and you are in a grumpy mood, I suggest picking up a Fool’s Gold book. It’s a scientific fact that it raises your spirits!

Truthfully, Until We Touch isn’t my favorite Fool’s Gold book. It was far too repetitive with some of the details and I thought our main man, Jack, had to step up his penance game at the end of the book. (This is the first time I’ve seen a hero in one of these books act like a total asshole. Fact.) But, despite that, I definitely enjoyed getting caught up in all the happenings in the town (a new football program at a nearby college!) and reuniting with some of the characters I’ve met in past books.

And there’s nothing like two best friends not realizing they have the hots for each other when they, indeed, have the hots for each other.

Larissa is a gal who is generous with her time and her ability to help people, and I had to laugh out loud at so many of the causes she roped Jack into just because she could not say no. (An owl, people! An owl.) Even though, Jack makes it known he’s not an emotional guy (tragic past) he can’t help but give into her. She finds the cause, and he fronts the money (or the space). These two have an interesting dynamic, and proclamations of love were a bit anti-climatic but I still found their “courtship” super sweet and sexy and fueled by other surprises.

I can’t pick up a Fool’s Gold book without daydreaming about moving to a similar town. Sure, it’s small and there’s a ton of meddling but everyone looks out for each other and it always seems the possibilities for happiness (career, friendship, love) are aplenty.

Until We Touch plucked me from my unhappy place and welcomed me into a MUCH better one.

rather be reading worth it icon

Add to Goodreads | Buy on B&N | Buy on Amazon

August 12, 2014 - 10:12 pm

Alexa S. - Your review made me smile :) I think that’s a good enough reason for me to try and check out this series at some point, yes? Plus, it’s always fun to watch two best friends fall in love.

August 8, 2014 - 12:16 am

Estelle - I just fixed it! Thanks for the heads up! :) And for stopping in, of course!

August 7, 2014 - 6:07 pm

Brianna - Sounds like a perfect beach read.

P.S. Your Amazon link isn’t working. :(

August 7, 2014 - 11:02 am

Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook - I finally read my first Fool’s Gold book (Chasing Perfect) not too long ago, and it was a really fun read. Do you have a favorite in the series? I liked Chasing Perfect but I wasn’t madly in love either.

I am very curious about the relationship between Jack and Larissa in this one. I am always a sucker for best friend turn lovers romance.

Back to Top|Subscribe via RSS|Subscribe by Email

The Prince of Venice Beach Themed Gift-Pack (for Boys!)

Howdy, friends! Last week I reviewed The Prince of Venice Beach by Blake Nelson. While I read it, I couldn’t help but jot down a list of things Cali did or items that seemed significant. I was so inspired to turn all of these into a themed-gift-pack because a) we haven’t done one for guys before and b) it’s been a while since we did a gift-pack. Two birds, one stone, my friends! If you have a special male someone you are in need of gift ideas for, I hope this book inspired gift-pack will get your wheels turning!


gift ideas based on a book for boys

  1. Tree House – Cali lives in a tree house, and maybe it’s a little pricey to build a tree house, but how about a nice stroll through a park? That would be woods-y.
  2. Picnic Basket – Imagine the date nights in the tree house.;)Or, ahem, the park.
  3. Mossimo Red and Navy Striped Swimsuit – A necessity when you live around Venice Beach.
  4. Mötley Crüe Tickets – Cali listens to these guys throughout the book. I think he would have appreciated being gifted tickets.
  5. Diamond Ixtapa Skateboard – The skateboard provides transportation for Cali as he’s on one of his secret people-finding missions.
  6. The Big Sleep Book by Raymond Chandler – Cali’s a reader. Gotta love guys who are into books, too!
  7. Movie Tickets – He takes his friend Ailis out to the movies for a non-date date.
  8. Red Air Jordans – I’m not giving away any details here about how these are incorporated into The Prince of Venice Beach, but I really liked the little scene they played a part in.
  9. Library Pass – Remember how I mentioned Cali loves books? I know you can’t really “gift” a library card, but maybe you could take a picnic basket and have library dates with your main squeeze!

The Prince of Venice Beach Review | Not That Kind of Girl Gift-Pack | Unbreak My Heart Gift-Pack

August 12, 2014 - 10:20 pm

Alexa S. - I just ADORE that you did a gift pack for the guys! Also, I’d really just like that treehouse and that picnic basket for myself, please and thank you.

Back to Top|Subscribe via RSS|Subscribe by Email

Estelle: Cancel the Wedding by Carolyn T. Dingman

Cancel the Wedding by Carolyn T. DingmanCancel the Wedding by Carolyn T. Dingman ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: August 5, 2014
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
Pages: 416
Target audience: Adult
Keywords: summer, South, mothers/daughters, family secrets, romance, marriage
Format read: ARC from Publisher via Edelweiss (Thanks!)

Summary: Olivia escapes her job and fiancee to head off to a small town in Georgia to find out about her mother’s childhood, and discovers more than she expected… about her family and herself.

I think we’ve all probably hit a point in our life where we wish we could press pause, take a major break, and decompress.

In the world of fiction, this is possible for Olivia who leaves town as her fiancee tries to pin down a date for their long-time-coming wedding and decides to use the first year anniversary of her mother’s death to do it. She wanted her ashes spread into spots in her childhood hometown, a childhood that her mother (Janie) never shared with Olivia or her sister, Georgia.

So she’s really killing two birds on this impromptu road trip with her niece, Logan. Find out why her mom made these specific instructions and figure out if marriage to Leo and her demanding job is truly what she wants for her life.

I was immediately swept up in the small town of Huntley, Georgia. Debut author Carolyn Dingman painted such a charming portrait of the place where Janie grew up — down to the charming details of the building, the vast lake, and the friendly people. I was ready to head down there myself. The town is so tiny that it doesn’t take many to find a person who recognizes Janie’s last name, and soon the cute newspaper editor, Elliot, is part of the research team too.

Piece by piece, Olivia is formulating a family tree she never knew existed, learning about the fascinating history of the town (Tennessee Valley Authority Act!!)  her mother never wanted to talk about. I was totally hooked to this mystery (pretty creeped out at times), and loved as each part of the story clicked into place. Never predictable, Dingman kept me curious throughout the entire book. In fact, Cancel the Wedding was one of those books I kept thinking about when I was not reading it. (Isn’t this torturous sometimes?!)

As if Olivia’s life isn’t messy enough, she starts to feel completely at home in Georgia. It’s so unexpected and she’s so wrapped up in her mom’s story, that she doesn’t necessarily pay her “true life” the attention it needs. Avoiding Leo, discounting her sister’s advice, and even dismissing some of her niece’s own admissions. (This teen was smart.) You knew that reality was going to slap her in the face soon, and eee, I was nervous nervous nervous. But, at the same time, totally torn because I loved as she and Logan acclimated to life down South, Olive’s growing affection for Elliot, and how each discovery about her mother made her own life snap into better focus bit by bit.

It just that the whole “getting answers” part took longer than the people in her life wanted it to.

Honestly, the only drawback to Cancel the Wedding were the areas where the author decided to explain confrontations instead of present more dialogue. It made it a little difficult to hear the voices of the characters, and also to connect. I wouldn’t have minded an even longer story if there was a bit less exposition and more showing.

Despite that, the book was just so darn readable. I could not get enough of this sweet small town (the history was so impressive), the colorful supporting characters, budding romance, and a main character finding the bravery to put her life on the path she wants — even if that means making hard decisions later rather than sooner.

Cancel the Wedding is the perfect read for your summer getaway.

Rather Be Reading Buy It Icon

Add to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Buy on B&N | Book Depository

August 12, 2014 - 10:34 pm

Alexa S. - I kept seeing this at Barnes and Noble this past week! I remembered seeing that you had reviewed yet, but hadn’t read this till now so I wasn’t sure if I wanted to invest in reading it. But you had me at Southern charm and finding out secrets! I really do want to read this now, even with a title that kind of threw me off when I first saw it ;)

August 12, 2014 - 12:47 pm


Back to Top|Subscribe via RSS|Subscribe by Email

If You’re Feeling [ Fill in the Blank ] Book Recs

Oh hey there. A Saturday post. Shocking, I know.

I like fun posts on the weekends so I hope you do too.

So I’ve been reading a lot this summer (no surprise there) and I wanted to give you a quick rundown of some of my favs. I haven’t formally reviewed these titles on Rather Be Reading Blog and I probably won’t but I had to get them on your radar somehow!

Let’s begin…

if you’re feeling like getting organized:

Objects of My Affection by Jill Smolinski

Lucy sold all her possessions and her house to send her teenage son to rehab, and now she’s been hired to organize and clean an old artist’s house. She is quite possibly the most difficult, frustrating client in the world but since Lucy wrote an entire book on organization it should be a snap, right? Wrong.

Objects of My Affection Circle

Final thoughts: This book made me laugh and got totally frustrated with the main character, who doesn’t know when to stop meddling. It’s kind of a great though; the narrator’s voice was fresh and very entertaining. I’m sad it took me so long to discover this one!

if you’re feeling musical:

The Sound of Us by Ashley Poston

Did you ever dream about bumping into your favorite musician? Junie certainly never wanted anything to do with Roman Holiday, a “has been” band that dealt with quite a bit of tragedy in the past. When she meets the lead singer on her summer vacation, she can’t believe how much they have in common or how much she actually likes him in person.

The Sound of Us by Ashley Poston

Final thoughts: I bought this book awhile ago at the urging of quite a few people, and finally read it a few weeks ago. Ever since, Springsteen has been following me everywhere. I thought it was sexy, honest, and fun and included so much of what people want in their YA: great friendships and diversity. Definitely worth downloading on your eReader.

if you’re feeling fancy:

Behind the Scenes by Dahlia Adler

Ever want to go on the set of TV show? We get a backstage pass because of Allie’s best friend, Vanessa, who just nabbed a leading lady role. To save money for college, Allie works as Vanessa’s tutor/assistant on set and gets to meet everyone’s celebrity dreamboat, Liam. Just as she starts to fall for him, PR decides Vanessa and Liam need to pretend they are dating to drum up enthusiasm for the new show. Drama, insecurity, the works!

Behind the Scenes Circle

Final thoughts: I keep calling this book the PERFECT Friday night date. I rarely sit in one spot and read a book for an entire evening but Behind the Scenes was one of those rare reads. As a debut, I thought Dahlia’s characters were incredibly realistic and I loved the dialogue. The Hollywood details were fun, and, ah, Liam really IS a dreamboat but in a nice boy kind of way… not like this unattainable thing. I’m so looking forward to the next book!

if you’re feeling shocking:

The One & Only by Emily Giffin

Texas. Football. Shea lives for both. But she’s also not sure what the future holds for her: career and romance-wise. After her best friend’s mom dies, life as she knows it completely changes. How she loves, who she reunites with, challenges of a new job, and more.

The One and Only Circle

Final thoughts: Ah. Ah. Ah. This book really tested me as a reader. I knew what was going to happen; the foreshadowing was there but somehow, shockingly, Giffin made me believe in this unconventional turn of events. If you love football, the South, and are an open-minded reader, you should pick this one up. I was surprised how attached I was to it; I haven’t read a Giffin in awhile and I wanted to buy this one immediately. (It’s so heavy though so I’ll wait for paperback.)


I hope so! I have to say — it’s been a very very enjoyable year of reading for me so far. Hope you feel the same.

August 2, 2014 - 10:47 pm

Alexa S. - The idea behind this post is so cute! I’ve read a few of the recs here, but there is definitely one that I have my eye on (The One and Only). Here’s to hoping I actually get my hands on it soon!

August 2, 2014 - 2:23 pm

Brianna - I have The One and Only sitting on my shelf. It’s hardback and heavy, but it lays pretty flat so I think I can prop it up on a pillow when I’m reading so I don’t have to hold it.

August 2, 2014 - 11:03 am

Lucy - Love these mini reviews! Very creative way to share these books :)

I just picked up the audio of The One & Only – you make it sound like something I will like so we will see!

I have a copy of The Sound of Us to read- it sounds really fun and I’ll have to bump it up the list.

I’m always feeling like getting organized but i think Objects of My Affections would make me feel stressed out. Sounds intriguing though!

Back to Top|Subscribe via RSS|Subscribe by Email