In Some Other World, Maybe by Shari Goldhagen ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: January 13, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Target Audience: Adult
Keywords: Pop culture, missed connections, growing up, 90s
Format read: Copy from Publisher. (Thanks!)
Summary: It all starts with a movie based on a popular comic. That’s the only thing tying these characters from different places together in December 1992 but as these individuals go off to college and to pursue their “dreams” their lives connect and reconnect in unexpected, heartbreaking, and happy ways.
What if? What IF? I’ve been muttering these two words to myself like a semi-crazy person since I finished In Some Other World, Maybe last night. How many times do we say this phrase during our lives? Wish we said or did something we didn’t, knowing it could have made the difference or maybe not knowing and noticing years later that it could have. It’s frustrating and it hurts but if we didn’t make choices (whether it means letting it all out or keeping something to ourselves), we’d never move anywhere. We’d always be bolted in place.
There are a lot of characters in ISOWM. They all share a common thread: they have an affection for a sci-fi comic turned movie and throughout their lives, it still seems to pop up. (It’s kind of amazing but in this world of recycling material for nostalgia sake — so familiar.) Eons & Empires is that one thing that takes these characters back to a time when their life was on the brink, everything was just beginning. Adam leaving his single mother in Florida to go to NYU; Phoebe leaving her lovable boyfriend to try her luck in Hollywood; Sharon living in New York and still haunted by her own “what if” when she skipped high school to see E&E.
In a world similar to Love Actually, the lives of these characters begin to intertwine — in Los Angeles, in New York, on a plane ride to Chicago — in really surprising ways. All I could think was: this was hard work on the author’s part. How did she make this work, and so believably? But she did. We see these people affecting each other momentously — relationships, sex, friendships — and then in smaller ones too. Bringing to life the bigger picture: we have no idea what small tiny thing is going to motivate and affect us.
It’s both amazing and scary to think about, isn’t it?
Truthfully, I haven’t felt this engrossed in a novel’s world in a long time. If I could have put my entire world on pause to read it, I would have. (Nonetheless, I finished in a little over a day.) It’s both lovely and heartbreaking how the lives of these characters click together and crack; the missed connections weighed on me so much. As an overthinker, I can’t help but retrace conversations and moments in an effort to find the sense in them, find out where the situation may have gone south. The intensity of that emotional rollercoaster was utterly palpable here; you would have thought I was living it myself.
This is one of those rare books I want to dive right back into, and stock up on copies to hand out to friends and family as gifts. The concept of connection and disconnect is so relatable — from the barista you see everyday to the person you’ve known your whole life and not to mention bonds constantly formed and fractured through social media platforms. We’re always one step, one decision away from our choose-your-own-adventure life. Do you go left or do you go right? In Some Other World, Maybe explores these complexities in the best, most thoughtful way.
Add in SOME OTHER WORLD, MAYBE to Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
So. I’m not much of a St. Patrick’s Day fan. It seems like most of the people here use St. P’s as a day to drink a lot of beer and get tipsy and well, I drink beer because I like the taste so there’s really nothing exciting in me taking part in a day like that. Also, I wear green all the time. (Well, sort of. I don’t own a lot of it.) I’m also not Irish? Okay. I’m armed with many excuses today. To be honest, my grocery store wasn’t even stocking Sam Adams Irish Red this year so I was forced to get a little creative.
(Am I turning into a Grinch about all holidays that aren’t Christmas? Maybe…)
Oskar Blues Brewery — the Colorado/North Carolina brewery that kicked off the craft beer in a can phenomenon — was actually IN my grocery store. I loved the “Can I Be So Blunt” quip around the rim of the can because I knew I would have some opinions about St. P’s Day and all of this could easily tie into a sort of loudmouthed, say-what-you feel-character in a great book.
Even as recent as a year ago, Pinner’s Throwback IPA would not be a first choice for me. I’m not an IPA fan; I don’t like my beers too hoppy but I’m trying to be all adult and open-minded about life now. (HA) Citrus, spicy, bready… I went for it and it scored big. I wish there wasn’t 6 inches of snow on the ground in New York because this would make a great spring beer. It was a little bubbly but not so heavy in taste that I wouldn’t want to have more than one — two would be perfect.
Let’s talk about a good read…
Love and Foreign Words by Erin McCahon: main character Josie is a total trip. When her sister shows up unexpectedly engaged, Josie is quick to grill her sister’s future husband. She isn’t shy with her 37-question survey she wants him to fill out nor is she quiet about how unbelievable their pairing is. I know she sounds a little bratty but I think it’s exactly how many loyal sister would act when life is about to change. This book is laugh-out-loud funny but also very heartfelt. Love with a capital L.
Now don’t forget to enjoy your weekend — whether you are sipping a craft beer, an iced tea, or some hot cocoa.
(Who knows — maybe my grocery store will get with the program and supply some better options for next time. Stay tuned…)
Thanks for checking out #PubDate!
The crew: The Book Addict’s Guide | Andi ABCs | Just a Couple More Pages
“Max was just so intimidatingly real.” – The Start of Me and You, Emery Lord
A few weeks ago when I read The Start of Me and You, I stopped myself on the page with the above quote (note: it’s from an ARC so it might not be in the final book but I hope it is) and thought: Hm. This reminds me of something. And then Emery leads into how Max is “not glamorous or idealized or complicated” and a light bulb went off. When I first met James, that was exactly what it was like. I always tell the story that I didn’t like him in college, but then after he graduated and I went off to a different school for my junior year, we reconnected and decided to meet up. We went to school for two years together, had many of the same classes, but never even had a cup of coffee in our cafeteria together. (No, we just shared awkward moments in the newspaper office and later, a grocery store.)
The first meeting didn’t feel right to me. Why? Because he was just so nice. He listened to what I said, he shared stories about his family with me, and he was generally curious. Sure, he smoked and his hair was long and in need of some product but he had a nice laugh and a great smile and didn’t chew loudly or anything embarrassing like that. As far as “first dates” go, I should have had no complaints but I was sure I didn’t want to go out with him again.
Why is it so hard to admit things are actually good?
My heart was confused. When I was forced to switch schools, a part of me thought I would get back together with my serious boyfriend from a few years before. I was sure if I had never gone long distance, we could make our relationship work and now I wasn’t as far. Everything about wanting him, being with him, and feeling disappointed by him was filled with such intensity. It was LOVE. It’s this all-powerful thing and it’s supposed to be loud and conquering and make your heart hurt, right? I was sure he and I were meant to be. This huge passionate love story that would end with a beautiful happily-ever-after. Surely, all the crying and “fighting” for him all happened for that very reason, right?
I think it’s really hard to come down from something like that. Reconcile with yourself that sometimes putting your all into something doesn’t work out. That maybe not all love stories are drowning in drama; that the chase should never seem never-ending. Your heart should not always be bruised. The happy moments should outweigh the difficult ones. And sometimes all the hope and all the effort in the world does not overcome all the cracks.
This is why I can totally relate to Paige’s “a-ha” moment. I invested four years of my life alternating between being a complete puddle vs. silly in love all to end up (kind of where we had started) getting very upset in the aisle of a dollar store. Then I re-meet this guy who I totally misjudged and it felt so easy. Too easy. Is this what love is all about? I’m still not sure but I’m glad I didn’t listen to myself and I went out with him a second time.
I never went on another date with anyone else again.
Today we’re celebrating our fourth wedding anniversary and as I write this, I’m realizing the difficult parts of our relationship didn’t pop up until later. Not the difficult kind of moments where I doubted we would make it or anything but moments I never would have predicted based on how easily we fell into a rhythm with one another. Love does not shield you from unexpected surprises or loss. It can’t protect you from hurt, but it can help you heal. It forces you be flexible and compassionate with one another, even when you might not understand it or necessarily want to be. As a couple, we’ve certainly been tested and I know those days are not over. But I can say that I have never loved harder because of those times. I read so much about focusing on your “baby family” before saying “I do” and I stand by that advice. That bond is the foundation of your commitment. You have to believe in it and each other when the going gets tough.
But the good times, man, they are good. Whether we’re splitting a pizza or a dozen cookies, or he’s playing a video game and I’m reading next to him on the couch, I’m so incredibly lucky to be married someone who (mostly) understands my crazy quirks and encourages me to push harder and be better. He also still deals with me when I’m hangry or super exhausted. He will randomly tell me that he is still so crazy about me, I’ll tell him to shut up, but secretly I love it. It’s likely we’ll never foresee who exactly is going to make a huge impact on our lives. Like Max for Paige, or me with James — the newspaper editor I once yelled at and then totally wrote off. Maybe the best things do happen when we place the least amount of pressure on them.
Dove Arising by Karen Bao ( web | tweet )
Part of Dove Chronicles.
Publication Date: 2/24/2015
Publisher: Viking (Penguin)
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: science fiction, Moon, family, bravery
Format read: ARC from Publisher. (Thanks!)
Summary: Phaet does her best to remain incognito as she lives her life on the Moon with her mother and siblings. But when her mom is taken away, she only has one option when it comes to supporting her and her siblings — to join the Militia. Being away from her family and her best friend combined with being the youngest training for a position weighs on Phaet, but unexpected bonds and the future of her family keep her going.
I may not be a huge science fiction reader but I am a big fan of eclectic reading palettes and debut writers — especially when those debut writers wrote their book secretly during their senior year in high school. It’s so darn impressive!
I felt a strong Mulan vibe from the moment I started Dove Arising. Main character Phaet (“fate”) and Mulan have a lot in common — both are willing to go to great lengths for the ones they love, even if it means putting themselves in danger. Phaet is only 15 years old but when her mother is arrested she steps up to the plate in a big way — willing to leave her siblings and her best friend to join the Militia and earn money to pay her mother’s bail and support the household.
It’s bold, it’s crazy, and, with a ton of training, it just might work.
Author Karen Bao isn’t presenting the Moon as a must-see destination by any means. It’s dismal, heavily monitored by the government, and sounds like the kind of place where life is all about going through the motions. Very few of the Moon citizens shake things up, and when/if they do, they become a target. Even Phaet’s tone is filled with defeat through most of the book. She is a product of her environment: extremely quiet and shy but full of observations and emotions she’s never comfortable expressing. Later, I liked how this trait morphed into one of her strengths.
Not only is Phaet making a huge decision about her future, but she struggling to gain her mother’s acceptance, mourning her deceased father, and coming to terms with feelings she has for the most unexpected person. She’s forced to grow up so fast, and I trust the repercussions from that sacrifice are only just beginning. Will it all be worth it? Does she have the power to help change her world?
In series, I find many of the first books focus a ton on world-building and providing readers with a foundation. There were so many great details here (particularly, Phaet’s hair) and the more action packed scenes felt like I was in the middle of a simulator ride. (Even if the urgency wasn’t turned up where it needed to be.) It’s my hope with the next two books, Bao dives deeper into Phaet’s character development and her emotions. In Dove Arising, I admired Phaet for her loyalty but I wished I had connected with her on other levels too.
I did discover something about myself while reading this. I’m really fascinated about the details that lead to Earth’s demise in books like these. Does this make me a sadist? Or maybe a secret sci-fi geek?
One final thing: I can’t tell you much about the ending. I mean, I won’t tell you anything about the ending, but I got a little giddy when I realized just how Bao was challenging Phaet next. It’s going to make for a very interesting second book, that’s for sure.
Add DOVE ARISING to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Buy on B&N
One Wish by Robyn Carr ( web | tweet )
Part of Thunder Point series.
Publication Date: February 24, 2015
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Target audience: Adult
Keywords: small towns, overcoming the path, family conflict, secrets
Format read: ARC provided by Publisher. (Thanks!)
Previously: The Homecoming by Robyn Carr
Summary: Grace owns Thunder Point’s flower shop, she has a great best friend, and she’s truly settling into this small community. When her friend (and top crush) Troy suggests she doesn’t have enough fun, he recruits himself as her “fun” coach. Grace gives in, despite her feelings and the secrets she has been keeping.
I’m a huge fan of the Thunder Point series because, unlike a lot of the other romances I read, Robyn Carr builds her stories beyond the couple, trickling in more personalities from the community and making it feel like you are truly a fly on the wall of the gorgeous (I really want to visit) Pacific Northwest town of Thunder Point. Here are five reasons to check out her latest, ONE WISH, and where I, again, remind you it’s okay to read these out of order:
1. A flower shop. As much as chemistry and love is important in a romance novel, I love great background stories and I thought it was so adorable that Grace owned her own flower shop. She took pride in her work and her business, and was so so great with her customers.
2. Non-drama relationship. It was refreshing that a majority of the “drama” in ONE WISH came from places other than Grace and Troy’s relationship. Sure, the whole thing started as nothing more of a friendship (from Troy’s perspective anyway) but it escalated in this sweet, natural, no hassle way. Sure there were some kinks but for the most part the “push and pull” was never a huge, melodramatic issue.
3. Ginger. Someone new is always moving to Thunder Point, and I’m praying that Ginger is a bigger character in one of the upcoming books. She’s dealing with depressing, and moves to TP to live with her grandmother and hopefully move out of her funk once and for all. I love how TP is such a healing place for so many and Ginger’s story (her husband leaving her; her young son dying) is one that I want to hear more about. (Great news: we get more hangout time with Ginger in A New Hope!)
4. A true community. I touched on this a little bit in #3 but something about TP always makes me miss living in the suburbs. These neighbors are always around to catch the other, and help out in someway and it’s so so so heartwarming and wonderful. I love these strangers find new connections and find themselves bonding for life with people they never thought they would. (Plus, the views. I want to hear the ocean.)
5. A Valentine’s Day dance. Did your school have one of these? I am pretty sure we didn’t but Troy teaches at the high school and he’s chaperoning one. I couldn’t help but laugh at how his students are in love with him, and just how popular Grace was with the young kids. This was such a fun detail!
It’s time for one of you to read ONE WISH. The lovely people at Little Bird Publicity have provided me with one copy for a U.S. winner. Please enter to win below & good good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
I have NO idea how tomorrow is the beginning of March. HOW HOW HOW? February was full of lots of new adventures, several great books, really cold weather just about everywhere, and way too much time spent looking up YouTube videos.
Here’s a little recap of this February with our most popular Instagram posts. (Are you on Instagram? Find us @ReadingGals, @thatsostelle, and @magan; we’d love to get to know you better, too!)
SHOPPING LIST MUSTS
Magan’s Pick: Liar’s Inc.
Estelle’s Pick: Girl Before a Mirror
We both HIGHLY recommend: I’ll Meet You There
WHAT TO CLICK
SUMMING IT ALL UP
Girl Before a Mirror by Liza Palmer
The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand
We Can Work It Out by Elizabeth Eulberg
The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds
The Curvy Girls Club by Michele Gorman
Promposal by Rhonda Helms
Cut Me Free by J.R. Johannson
Perfect Girl by Michele Gorman
My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga
I’m Glad I Did by Cynthia Weil
Since You’ve Been Gone by Mary Jennifer Payne
A cover reveal for Tara Jenkins Reid’s Maybe In Another Life due July 7, 2015
An author chat with Stephen Metcalfe of The Tragic Age
A peek at Jennifer Snow’s Brookhollow series from Harlequin
Kieran Scott shared her love story in the spirit of Valentine’s Day
Estelle’s fictional birthday party (to celebrate her 30th!)
Beyond High School YA Books (for those who seek older characters)
#SoRatherBeYoung: Harriet the Spy and Number the Stars (and Hannah’s post too!)
Little Kids: books to show/tell your children how much you love them
Dive Into Diversity Discussion: Religion in YA
Pub Date: Sorta Like a Love Story
What were some of your favorites in February? Let us know in the comments.
Cheers to (hopefully) more sunshine and being one month closer to summer!