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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!

Enjoy!

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.

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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.

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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

Cassie - THIS JUST SOUNDS SO PERFECT. I need it, RIGHT NOW. South, GEORGIA, SUMMER. GETAWAY. SOLD! Good job, E!

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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.)

 Are you feeling EXCITED, ELATED, BORED (no!), READY TO GO SHOPPING?

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!

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Big Kids’ Table: Cassie Takes Charge

big kids

It’s beyond a treat to welcome my favorite book blogger/cheerleader, Cassie, from Books with Cass to the Big Kids’ Table. Last year, she provided a Blogger Rec (if you remember) and today I gave her full reign of July’s feature. Hope you enjoy! xoxo

Oh well hello there lovelies!  I’m taking over the table today and talking about some of my favorite big kids’ books!  We have quite an array of genres that we are showcasing today but let’s start with a contemporary to kick things off shall we?

One Plus One by JoJo Moyes is an absolute delight. Jojo once again captures the heart and spirit of love in all its forms. She takes you on a journey of one group of people and shows you how they really all become a unit.

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

→ Next, we have a “new to me” author Sarah Addison Allen. Allen write southern fiction with a dash of magical realism. In her latest novel, Lost Lake, she takes you through two women’s lives and shows you what a single place can mean to a person. It was truly fantastic.

Lost Lake by Sarah Allen

→ For those suspense fans out there we have Tana French. Everything she touches is gold and so therefore I recommend EVERYTHING.  Start with In the Woods and continue from there. She weaves an intricate plot line through all her novels and continues to shock and amaze me in the best of ways.

In the Woods by Tanya French

→ You didn’t think I would leave out historical fiction did you?  No way!  I’ve got two here as well. One is I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe and the other is Madam by Cari Lynn. Madam is basically the story of a prostitute trying to come up the ranks in old school New Orleans. It’s a pretty awesome story that didn’t get enough buzz and it’s also pretty light on the historical side so I think it could appeal to those testing out the genre.

Madam By Cari Lynn

→ On the other hand, I Shall Be Near to You is a Civil War novel about a woman determined to stay with her husband who has gone off to war. This story is GORGEOUS. AND FLAWLESS. SIMPLY wonderful from start to finish. I would suggest you read it ASAP.

I Shall Be Near You by Erin McCabe

 

Alright guys. Thanks for sticking with me through all my recommendations!  I hope you try some out and sip on a nice cold beverage while you do so!

Massive thanks to Cassie for the variety of titles she shared with us today!

Don’t forget to stop by her blog or Twitter to leave her some love! ♥

August 2, 2014 - 8:53 am

Leah - HOLD UP. How on earth did I miss this?? A huuuge yes to anything Jojo! I’m slowly working my way through her backlog – so far I’ve read four & have a few more waiting for my in my book jar haha!
Yay SAA! I’m really new to magical realism & I know she’s one of the giants in the genre. Can I make a rec?? Menna van Praag’s THE HOUSE AT THE END OF HOPE STREET. It’s magical, whimsical, and tiny enough to be read in one sitting. The PERFECT magical realism book!
My mom is a big Tana fan & I’ve got the first sitting on my shelf. I’m planning on a binge session while on vacation and I couldn’t be more excited!
I’m thrilled to see MADAM here! I got a copy of it in the mail a few months ago but never got around to it.
:) of course it wouldn’t be a Big Kids Table post without I SHALL BE NEAR TO YOU! <3

August 1, 2014 - 5:59 pm

Alexa S. - Hurray for more awesome adult recs, and from one of my favorite people in the world! I’ve actually got 4/5 titles from this list on my TBR, so I’m kind of pumped about that :)

July 31, 2014 - 8:48 pm

Brianna - I have One Plus One on my Kindle and can’t wait to read it. I added Lost Lake to my wish list.

July 31, 2014 - 2:20 pm

Courtney @ Courtney Reads A Lot - I’ve been meaning to read a book by Tana French for some time, and I really need to get around to it. And the other books sound amazing too! I should really find a balance between YA books and adult books when reading. haha Great post! :D

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Why in 5: The Prince of Venice Beach by Blake Nelson

book cover for the prince of venice beach by blake nelson

The Prince of Venice Beach by Blake Nelson (twitter | website)
Publication Date: June 3, 2014
PublisherLittle Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 240 Target Audience: Young Adult
Keywords: homeless teenager, private detective, teens on the run
Format Read: ARC from Publisher (Thank you!)

Summary: Cali fled to California after running away from his foster home. He lives a quiet life, trying to stay out of trouble and not get sent back home before he turns 18. He has a lot of connections that lead cops and other detectives to hire him on the side to find missing people.

Howdy, friends! Looking for a book that’s flown a little under the radar? I’m here with a “Why in 5″ to tell you about The Prince of Venice Beach.

  1. Not a ton of books written from the male POV catch my attention. I’m not sure if that’s because there simply aren’t a lot out there, but they’re so refreshing. Like when I read Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, I was captivated by the unique, gruff voice of the main character, Cali. He’s a runaway who fled the foster care system and relocated to Venice Beach, California. He sleeps in a treehouse, lives minimally, and is off the grid so no one can force him to return to his bad living situation. (My heart for foster care just ached that things could be so bad for a teenager that running away and living with practically nothing would be the better option. That’s not the main focus of this book, but I just needed to point that out.)
  2. Cali’s interests are attention-grabbing, but his protective nature is what really makes him likable. He enjoys playing basketball with a God-loving man named Jojo who will (and does) give someone else in greater need the shoes off his own feet. Jojo could very easily be an NBA player if his life circumstances were different. Cali takes a young runaway, Strawberry, under his wing and tries to keep tabs on her because she seems so fragile and naive. He befriends an awkwardly smart girl, Ailis, who he knows has more-than-friendship feelings for him, but he wants to make sure she’s not alone because her home situation is frightening.
  3. Cali is approached by a man to help investigate the whereabouts of someone he’s looking for. Cali is “in the know” and decides he wants to become a private investigator. He excels at trailing and locating people, but when someone he helps find disappears completely, he becomes conflicted. He’s not given specific information about why he’s finding everyone; he puts up a guard and tries to determine if he’s doing the right thing.
  4. Uncertain of himself, Cali is asked yet again to find someone, a young, rich girl named Reese, who has taken off. His internal conflict intensifies when he finds her and she explains why she’s on the run; her father is providing a completely different story. Which is true? This could mean a life of freedom for Reese or extreme circumstances if he believes her father. Wrapped up in the middle of the tangled web, Cali finds himself unsure of what to do.
  5. Cali’s story is unique because his perspective and life-outlook is so different than anything else I’ve read. The story slowly builds to become something much darker and deeper than I expected. The Prince of Venice Beach touches on a lot of great discussion topics: Can Cali fight to make something of himself? Is a good-paying job worth the risk if it means doing something you don’t believe is right? What happens when someone you care about gets wrapped up in the chaos?

Definitely pick up The Prince of Venice Beach if you’re looking for something a little off the beaten path than your usual YA contemporary reads. Cali’s a character worth taking a chance on.rather be reading borrow from the library icon

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

August 11, 2014 - 3:58 pm

Magan - Jess, it was DEFINITELY under the radar. Haven’t seen much about it. If you give it a shot, I hope you enjoy it! Thanks for stopping by. :)

August 11, 2014 - 3:58 pm

Magan - Thanks, Alexa! It was a really unique story that took me out my comfort zone in a great way. It was so refreshing to read something a little different and from a completely different perspective. :)

August 7, 2014 - 8:54 pm

Jess - I’m always a fan of male povs and this book is on the short side so I will have to check it out. This one was certainly under the radar

August 6, 2014 - 8:00 am

The Prince of Venice Beach Themed Gift-Pack - […] 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 […]

July 30, 2014 - 12:32 pm

Alexa S. - I do have a soft spot for contemporaries that are about characters in unusual circumstances. Cali sounds like a great guy, even with all he’s had to deal with, and I’d definitely like to know his story! That’s probably why I liked this review so much — you made me curious about him, and his story, and what happens.

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