Hey, hey! We’re both here this lovely Sunday with vlogs for you in this week’s Shelve It! We’re going to be celebrating our two year anniversary this week and we wanted to say hello, catch up, and remind you of something fun we have coming up this Tuesday! We’ll be doing a Twitter chat from our joint account @ReadingGals on 11/5 at 9pm EST. You can follow along and/or chat with us by using the hashtag #RBRbash. Please join in! We can’t wait to have some fun and talk all things book (and non-book) related with you guys!
Until then, here is a vlog from each of us. Estelle got some super awesome deals on books and Magan chimes in with her Allegiant hesitations, a book she didn’t finish, and more!
Books Estelle bought:
Time After Time by Tamara Ireland Stone
Just One Day by Gayle Forman (paperback!)
Playing Dirty by Jennifer Echols
Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan
Tangerine by Edward Bloor
Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters by Natalie Standiford
The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs
Charmed Thirds by Megan McCafferty
Prom & Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg
Freshman Year & other Unnatural Disasters by Meredith Zeitlin
The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson gifted to me by the lovely Melissa from Writer Grrl Reads. Thank you thank you!
Books Magan bought:
Allegiant by Veronica Roth
He’s Gone by Deb Caletti
The Distance Between Us by Kasie West
Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas
Fingerprints of You by Kristen-Paige Madonia
Also recently gifted: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn from Hannah of So Obsessed With. Thank you, sweet lady!
What Happened on Rather Be Reading This Week:
A review of The Vow by Jessica Martinez
A Big Kids’ Table Featuring YA Authors Suggesting Adult Reads
A Beginner’s Guidebook to Austin via Lovestruck Summer by Melissa Walker
A review of Reality Boy by A.S. King
A review of Playing Dirty by Jennifer Echols
Thanks for watching our vlogs in this week’s Shelve It!
Have a fantastic week and join us on 11/5 for our twitter chat at 9pm EST!
The Vow by Jessica Martinez ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: October 15, 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: immigration, best friends, family
Format read: ARC from Publisher via Edelweiss. (Thanks!)
Summary: When Mo’s father loses his job, he decides the best decision is to move the family back to Jordan. But over-achieving Mo is not ready to leave his school during his senior year, his home, or his friends – especially his best friend Annie. When Annie decides the two should secretly get married to keep Mo in the country, they fail to consider how this decision affects their friendship, their families, and their futures.
How far would you go to help your nearest and dearest friend?
Honestly, when Annie and Mo decide that getting married is the best way to keep him in the United States, I thought they were a little loony. Impulsive. Like maybe there were a few other avenues they two could have taken? Especially with Annie on the cusp of a new relationship with Reed at work, the fact that Mo and Annie’s parents do not like the other, and let’s not forget the consequences of being found out. They could be fined and go to jail; Mo could never return to the United States again.
But when Mo’s mom agrees to consent to the marriage, the two make the decision super quickly. Mr. and Mrs., at seventeen and eighteen.
How, oh how will they make this work?
The Vow may be 400+ pages but Martinez makes the time fly by. Chapters alternate between Mo and Annie’s perspectives, the end of each chapter linking to the next chapter’s beginning. (Such a lovely stylistic touch, even when it flourishes in unexpected ways.) There is such an urgency behind the story as it progresses; as the situation that Annie and Mo throw themselves into becomes harder and harder to handle because in order for them to make their marriage look believable, they have to lie to pretty much everyone in their lives and act like a married couple.
This is the thing. Mo and Annie are truly best friends. One of them doesn’t have secret feelings for the other. They both came into each other’s lives when they needed someone the most. With Annie’s sister’s death and Mo being a total outcast in a new country, they just latch on together and their dependence and loyalty to each other becomes the strongest thing in each other’s lives. This friendship is so rare in young adult (and real life, when you think about it) and I loved how Martinez was able to pinpoint their differences but also make us understand why these two needed each other so badly.
But is all the sacrifice worth it? Is it immaturity or idealism that makes Mo and Annie believe that this “secret” can remain a secret, and also not create a domino effect in other aspects of their lives?
I’ve read Virtuosity by Martinez and I really enjoyed it, but The Vow completely blew me away. The conflicts, the tough choices, memorable supporting characters (including the hard-to-forget, Reed), and this unbelievable friendship — there is absolutely so much at stake in this story and I had no idea how it would all end. Definitely a book that deserves a spot on my top shelf.
Add to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Buy on B&N
Happy Halloween, book lovers! Nothing too spooky going on around these parts, but I am so enthused to share this month’s Big Kids’ Table with you! (I’m down to the wire… on the last day of the month, but the wait is worth it, I swear!) Thanks to some brainstorming sessions with Cassie I decided to reach out to a few of my favorite young adult/NA writers and find out what grown up books they would recommend! Not only were the participants totally game but their final picks were as eclectic as their own books and that made me even more excited to share this feature with you!
Without further ado…
author of Dreamland Social Club, The Best Night of Your Pathetic Life, and the upcoming Roomies (with Sara Zarr)
Big Kids’ Pick: One of the most breathtaking and heartbreaking books I’ve read about the adolescent experience is an “adult” book called “Wonder When You’ll Miss Me” by Amanda Davis. I read it in one day and at the end of the day I felt a sort of horrible sense of mourning that I hadn’t written it. I recommend it for older teen readers who like dark reads.
It will come as no surprise to readers of my novel Dreamland Social Club that I am fascinated with circuses and carnivals and the like, and “Wonder When You’ll Miss Me” sets the bar way high in terms of “running away with the circus” stories. It’s about 16-year-old Faith Duckle, who has been the victim of a brutal assault that caused her to attempt suicide. She loses a lot of weight while hospitalized but when she gets out nobody seems to notice how different she looks…except for the ghost of her former fat girl self who follows her around, taunting her. With no place to fit in, Faith joins up with a traveling circus, reinvents herself as Annabelle Cabinet, and finds a place among the misfits there while plotting revenge on her attacker and also trying to break free of the ghost of her former self.
The prose is electrifying, the story emotionally wrenching. And the reading experience made additionally bittersweet because the author, so very young when she published the book, died in a plane crash on her DIY book tour.
What’s next for Tara? As for what I’m up to these days, right now I’m gearing up to promote “Soundproof Your Life,” my story in One Teen Story magazine. And of course Roomies, which I wrote with Sara Zarr, comes out in December. My middle-grade debut, The Battle of Darcy Lane, follows soon after that in May. Busy times! In between doing website updates and Q&As and thinking about what to wear to book events I’m working on a new YA novel that is a sort of no-holds-barred thriller. It is not yet ready for prime time but hopefully I’ll share it with the world soon!
[ Follow Tara | My review of Dreamland Social Club | Add Wonder When You'll Miss Me to Goodreads ]
author of Stir Me Up, October eBook release from Harlequin Teen
Big Kids’ Pick: The first book I’d recommend to anyone is Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. This novel, Hemingway’s first and widely considered his finest, follows the story of Jake Barnes, a man rendered impotent by an injury he sustained in World War I. The story is, at one level, about a group of American and British expatriates who travel from the cafes of Paris to a festival and bullfight in Pamplona. But it is also about Jake’s unrequited love for the beautiful, unattainable and promiscuous Lady Brett Ashley. The story is powerful, and the characters are unforgettable. The lean writing style has been an inspiration for generations of writers, most definitely including myself. My favorite book of all time.
What’s next for Sabrina? Find out in her recent podcast appearance on Meet Us at the Diner.
[ Follow Sabrina | My review of Stir Me Up | Add The Sun Also Rises to Goodreads]
author of Moonglass, In Honor, and this year’s Golden
Big Kids’ Pick: My “grown up” book recommendation is Deb Caletti’s debut adult novel, HE’S GONE. I love her YA novels, so I was really curious to see what she would do in the adult realm, and what she did was brilliant! The way she weaves the history of the main character and her husband together with the mystery of his disappearance is so gracefully done and kept me turning the pages long past my bedtime!
What’s next for Jessi? My next book, which will be out Summer 2015, is still in the draft stage, but what I can say is that it’s definitely more of a romance than I’ve written thus far, it has to do with the heart, in all of its definitions, and my theme song that’s been on repeat the entire time I’ve been writing it is Taylor Swift’s “Treacherous.”
[ Follow Jessi | Magan's review of Golden | Add He's Gone to Goodreads ]
author of Out of Pocket and this year’s Openly Straight
Big Kids’ Pick: Book: Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin — When I was a teenager, I felt incredibly alone. I came out as gay as a teen, and it made me feel separated from my family. I picked up Tales of the City one day perusing a bookstore, and it changed my life. The makeshift family that comes together at 28 Barbary Lane felt like it became my family. They were straight and gay and old and young and they were accepted by each other. They were licking their wounds and having sweet and funny and dramatic adventures, and I was licking my wounds and doing the same. To this day, when I feel alone, I pick up that book and I don’t feel that way anymore. If you haven’t read this series yet, you need to buy the first book this very minute and start reading.
What’s next for Bill: Currently, I’m working on my third novel, The Porcupine of Truth. It’s an exciting departure for me, in that there’s a bit of a mystery at its core. It’s about two teens – a boy and a girl – who are thrown together and embark on a cross-country journey to solve a 30-year-old family mystery. Along the way, everything they’ve ever understood about family and friendship and the universe is tested. That may sound unlike my other books, but it is very much a Konigsberg novel in that it involves characters who feel isolated finding each other and finding ways to connect to others. It’s also funny, so if you enjoyed the humor in Openly Straight, you’ll like this one, too.
[ Follow Bill | My review of Openly Straight | Add Tales of the City to Goodreads ]
Big thanks to Tara, Sabrina, Jessi, and Bill for being so awesome! I’m so looking forward to picking up
these book recommendations and your new work!
What about you? Reading anything outside of young adult lately?
Back in August, Estelle visited Austin (!!!). On her flight, she re-read Melissa Walker’s Lovestruck Summer, which she’s raved to me about so, so much (and as she did in her review). Seeing as it’s set in my city, Austin, TX, I knew I needed to read it, too. Plus I just adore Melissa’s writing. While Estelle was in flight, I joined her in reading so that we could explore Austin through Melissa’s lens. With the digital release of Lovestruck Summer, we decided to tour Austin just as Quinn would have as she interned there for the summer.
First, you are probably wondering what Lovestruck Summer is all about, right? Quinn is a super music fanatic who bamboozles her way into a killer internship at a small music label in Austin for the summer. The job is not exactly what she envisioned and neither is living with her super girlie cousin and cross-dressing dog. The rugged cowboy college student next door, Russ, is totally determined to get Quinn off the couch and off to explore the finer parts of Austin.
So buckle your seatbelts! Estelle and I are taking you on a tour of Austin today! We’ll be chatting about the book, sharing photographs from around the city that we took together of specific landmarks or favorite hot-spots, and some of our favorite quotes to encourage you to download Lovestruck Summer ASAP!
NOTE: This guy isn’t specifically mentioned in Lovestruck Summer, but he’s iconic around the University of Texas campus. Bevo (the UT Longhorn mascot) stands proudly in the parking lot near the Co-Op, the university bookstore, greeting all that come and go.
“Penny is the newly elected president of a powerful University of Texas sorority–The UT Tri-Pi’s. I half thought she was kidding about the sorority thing, but when we walk into the condo, I realize that she is dead serious. Above the faux marble mantle, there are metallic purple letters that say Pi Pi Pi. Atop every surface in the living room–from end tables to windowsills–are framed photos showcasing the electric smiles of groups of girls in rainbow-colored dresses with cookie-cutter guys at their sides.”
Walker, Melissa (2009-05-05). Lovestruck Summer (p. 11). . Kindle Edition.
NOTE: So this isn’t exactly the Tri-Pi house Quinn’s cousin Penny was the President of, but it seemed fitting when we walked past it off-campus.
“I found out that the guy with the weird high voice is Daniel Johnston, a native son of Texas who inspired musicians like Kurt Cobain in the early 90s. Daniel’s an artist, too, and I even bought a t-shirt with a design he drew of a little alien frog who’s saying, “Hi how are you?” It’s kind of an Austin thing, the girl at the store told me.”
Walker, Melissa (2009-05-05). Lovestruck Summer (pp. 76-77). . Kindle Edition.
NOTE: this wall is at the intersection of 21st and Guadalupe near the UT campus.
“When I reach campus, my water’s almost gone. I find a drinking fountain and re-fill it before I spread out on the first big stretch of grass I find. Under a tree. I can’t risk getting sun, and I’ve never been into tanning. Besides, did I mention it’s a thousand degrees outside? It is. There are lots of students around, but I’m sure the crowds are much bigger during the year. Summer is always the best season in a college town, when the student population thins out a little.”
Walker, Melissa (2009-05-05). Lovestruck Summer (p. 44). . Kindle Edition.
NOTE: I, M, attended UT and as I was reading, I imagined this would be the area Quinn escaped to. This area of campus is referred to as the Six-Pack and during the school year, it’s covered with students in between classes who are either sleeping or studying. Oh, and yes, it definitely felt like 1000 degrees on the day we were there. SO HOT.
“On Friday night, I have plans to meet Jade and Sebastian at Dirty’s. I go to Jade’s house first to pick her up–she doesn’t live too far from The Drag, which is this main strip near campus, and it’s definitely my turn to drive.”
Walker, Melissa (2009-05-05). Lovestruck Summer (p. 122). . Kindle Edition.
NOTE: The Drag is a stretch of Guadalupe St. by campus that is packed with hole-in-the-wall restaurants, coffee shops, the University Co-Op, tons of graffitied walls, and students constantly moving about. We walked down a large stretch and may or may not have stopped into Urban Outfitters to shop for a little while (and cool off in their AC).
“When Russ parks the truck in the parking lot of the Four Seasons Hotel , I give him a skeptical eye. He grabs an old umbrella out of the back cab, confusing me further. The sky is crystal clear.”
Walker, Melissa (2009-05-05). Lovestruck Summer (pp. 117-118). . Kindle Edition.
“So there are probably a million bats under that bridge right now.”
“You mean like flying minions of Dracula?” I ask. “That kind of bat?”
“I wouldn’t bring vampires into this,” says Russ. “But yes, that kind of bat.”
“I’m intrigued,” I admit. “Go on.”
“Well, at sunset, they all come out to look for food ,” he says. “They stream over the water and fill the sky with black wings. It’s incredible! It’s like this giant cloud of creatures hovering over you.”
Walker, Melissa (2009-05-05). Lovestruck Summer (pp. 118-119). . Kindle Edition.
“Even without the bats flying, this time around day’s end is stunning. There is a brief golden moment that seem like it comes straight out of a cinematographer’s filmic dream–the sparkling glow on the water, the bright green of the grass under the rose-hued sky. And Russ’s hair with a shimmer of sundown in it. It’s like a song.”
Walker, Melissa (2009-05-05). Lovestruck Summer (p. 121). . Kindle Edition.
NOTE: This guy was sitting on a little dock overlooking Lady Bird Lake, headphones plugged into his ears, and singing at the top of his lungs (extremely off-key). We couldn’t help but pause and discuss his lack of humility and how fitting it was that he was so into his music…especially considering how musically focused Lovestruck Summer is. He was just begging to be photographed, really.
NOTE: We walked down near the Four Seasons hotel where Russ and Quinn would have stood to watch the bats, but another great view is from the Congress Bridge. These people were lined up along the bridge and were able to watch the bats exit the bridge right under their feet.
Estelle: Austin is one of my favorite places to visit. Not only is the atmosphere awesome and the people are so incredibly nice but two of my best friends live there! (You know one of them.) Before I met up with Magan during my trip, my friend took me tubing in a river. (Another moment included in Melissa’s book.) I highly recommend it, even if you look a little funny trying to hop into your tube. It was so relaxing and a nice way to drink sangria with friends.
There were a few times we kept bumping into 3 girls on tubes and finally just gave up and started talking to them. Such lovely people who were very excited about me visiting and started listed “must-dos” of Austin. I felt like a broken record because EVERYTHING they mentioned was in Melissa’s Lovestuck Summer. I already felt in the know. So this book can definitely be a beacon for anyone visiting this super cool place for the first time, or even a checklist for what you want to accomplish on future trips. I felt super connected to Quinn. (And even lent my copy of Melissa’s book to my other Austin best friend.)
Magan: So, so much of Lovestruck Summer felt incredibly authentic. I kept a running list while I was reading of locations I was familiar with that I wanted to take Estelle. There were, unfortunately, a few that we weren’t able to hit up (like the beautiful San Jose Hotel on South Congress), but I think it’s kind of nice that we have a few places to look forward to going together. Maybe next time we’ll plan a little better and it won’t be August and we won’t be sweating our way through the trip!
Aside from all the amazing landmarks mentioned in this awesome book, the music scene is incredibly inspiring. I wanted to get out of the house and listen to more music. I wanted to look up every band that was mentioned (even if some of them were made up). I’m not really sure why I didn’t read Lovestruck Summer sooner. Absolutely, absolutely put it on your to-read list. Or if you’re feeling wild, take a moment to download it for your Kindle. It’s only $3.99 and well worth the price!
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