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The Time Has Come: A Chat with Carrie Arcos (+ Giveaway)

Happy Tuesday!

Last week in my Top 10 Tuesday post, I mentioned my 5-star reads of the year so far so I’m super thrilled to have Carrie Arcos on the blog today to chat about one of those 5-star reads (and a few other things, as well). THERE WILL COME A TIME hit bookshelves in April; it’s the story from the perspective of a teenager boy dealing with the tragic death of his twin sister. What struck me the most about this book was the balance. As much as we want to grieve when bad things happen, life continues outside our door, in our school, across the street and you just have to find a way to keep moving. I thought this was one of the truest depictions of all those complicated emotions.

Our chat covers writing a male narrator, diversity in young adult lit, pre-release jitters, and more. Sit back + enjoy!

Psst… Carrie was kind enough to offer up TWO signed copies of her book so you’ll find that giveaway at the end.

Carrie Arcos Interview There Will Come a Time

Carrie, I am so thrilled to chat with you on Rather Be Reading! There Comes a Time was an emotional read for me – I cried many times on the subway during my commute – but what I loved most was that even though the story was about Mark’s grief over losing his twin sister, present life was always knocking on his door. He couldn’t ignore it. What helped you to tap into Mark’s feelings about Grace?

Thank you so much for having me! And I’m glad you enjoyed Mark’s journey. I cried several times while writing certain scenes.

It’s funny because we think that we’re just pulling things out of the air sometimes when we write. We really have no idea how much our subconscious plays into it. I think my having lost a good friend to suicide a few months before I began Mark’s story for sure played a part in me having grief be a theme in the novel. At the time I didn’t realize that, but looking back I know it did.

I’m also really interested in sibling relationships. This could be because of my own experience of having brothers or maybe it’s because of my own children, I’m not sure.

For the twin dynamic, I did research and reflected on what it would be like to lose a twin. Many twins share an uncanny closeness, so I just tried to put myself in Mark’s shoes and walk a little ways with him.

The #DiversityinYA campaign has taken the internet by storm in the past couple of weeks, and I couldn’t help but think about Mark. On one hand, I think it’s great that I discovered Mark’s ethnicity once I picked up the book because his story is not defined by him being Filipino. But on the other, I wanted to shout from the rooftops CARRIE ARCOS IS FLYING UNDER THE RADAR WITH A POC MAIN CHARACTER! It’s awkward because you don’t want to exactly point it out because your book is so much more but I do think you deserve props. What was your reaction to the campaign?

I was totally behind it. I loved it. I should say, I love it, because it is still going. The site Diversity in YA had me do a guest post right before the campaign began, so I was thankful for that. But yeah, I do feel the book is flying a little under the radar at the moment.

The issue of lack of diversity is really thread through all aspects of storytelling in the US. Look at film and TV, adult books, it’s all about the same. It’s systematic and it’ll only change when values change.

I want to write stories that reflect the world I live in, the world my children live in.

I really loved your blog post about release day jitters. I think a lot of readers are under the impression that once you are published by a mega-publisher, you are super confident about your work and the reactions your readers will have to it. But, shock of all shocks, authors are humans too! (I feel like this is an US Weekly segment.) Was there any time during the writing process for There Will Come a Time that you felt frustrated and didn’t think things were working?

It’s funny because most of the time writing is such a solitary thing. You’re at a desk or sitting in a library or a coffee shop. You’re alone. But suddenly when the book is out, you’re also this public persona who needs to be a good public speaker, witty, charming, etc… But it’s all good. I get so nervous, but as soon as I’m in front of the mic, I’m on.

It took a while in the beginning stages of There Will Come a Time to figure out what the book was really about and who Mark was. I had a loose idea, but I couldn’t get it. Once I connected him to loss and a family member, it just clicked. I wrote the paragraph that comes at the end of ch 1 about grief and knew I had his voice.

What’s one thing you would like readers to get out of There Will Come a Time?

Just one? Hmm… Most of the time the only way to get through the horribly difficult times in life is through.

Like Grace, do you create little lists of things you want to accomplish? What’s one thing you want to make sure you do before the year is over?

Yes. I’m a total list girl. I don’t always write them down, but I have a mental list of things I want to accomplish each day.

Before the year is over, I’d like to sell my third book.:)This isn’t totally in my control, so we’ll see what happens.

I want to attend the school in your book. All the arts, all the time and I loved the big project that the characters were working on together. Mark has such a passion for music, and it helps him wade through the harder times. Do you have a similar release?

I so wanted to attend an arts high school too. I admit I was kind of like Jenny, Mark’s step mom, when she romanticizes what the experience must be like. After talking to kids who go to arts schools, it’s not completely like that. But what is there is the passion for sure.

Music is one of my passions. I’ve sung off and on, and that has been helpful. I’d also say writing  and reading are other ways I feel my way through the difficult times.

You were recently on a panel called “Young Adult Fiction: Outside Looking In” at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Was there a particular discussion during the panel that has stuck with you?

One of my friends came to the panel and afterwards was like, “I had no idea writing YA could be so much like therapy.” Ha! Our panel was a little on the heavy side. It was so great to be a part of such a great festival and meeting the other authors. I particularly enjoyed meeting Deb Caletti because she has a career that I aspire to.

Mark definitely seemed like a guy I would have been friends with in high school. Did you enjoy shifting to the male POV for this book? Who are some memorable male narrators in your reading life?

I loved writing Mark. At first I wondered if I could do it, get inside a male 17 yr old, but you know, teen guys are human like anyone else. And I’d also like to say they are all different. I really hate how the male teen gets stereotyped into a horny, sex crazed adolescent. I mean, sure I knew guys like that in HS, but not every guy is like that. And many guys are very sensitive and have a deep emotional core. They just may not be as verbal about it as girls.

Some memorable male narrators?

Arnold Spirit from The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Holden Caulfield in A Catcher in the Rye, and Christopher in The Curious Incident of the dog in the Night-Time.

Congrats on your writers residency opportunity in June! Do you already have something you are working on or are you going to start fresh? What are the benefits to locking yourself away with other writers? (Please take some pictures!)

Thank you so much. I’m incredibly excited to go to Hedgebrook on Whidbey Island. When I applied, I had to explain what I’d be working on, but that was a year ago. So…I’m deviating a little from the plan. I’m not completely sure what I’m working on yet. I have some ideas. Maybe I’ll work on a couple.

I’ve never taken this much time away by myself to work on my writing. Usually I’m juggling my other responsibilities as mom, wife, teacher, etc… So I am excited to see where it takes me as I confront my self.

I will for sure take pictures. But I won’t post them until after. I don’t even think they have internet!

So what’s next? New book? New appearances? Perhaps a trip to NYC? (Hint, hint!)

I wish I could come to NYC. I’m a native New Yorker, born in Albany. I have another YA contemporary that I don’t want to say too much about except that I hope I’ll be able to share this story with readers one day.

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat, Carrie!

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Don’t forget to enter to win a signed copy of THERE WILL COME A TIME.
Giveaway open to U.S. residents/must be 13 years old our up to center.

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June 23, 2014 - 9:16 pm

Sara - Beautiful Creatures!

June 22, 2014 - 4:00 am

Holly Thomas - Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs.

June 21, 2014 - 9:30 pm

bn100 - Rush too far by Abbi Glines

June 21, 2014 - 2:25 am

Amy Vuu - The Maze Runner is the only one i can think of lol

June 18, 2014 - 11:49 pm

Alexa S. - What a great interview with Carrie, Estelle! I’m definitely looking forward to reading There Will Come a Time even more now after hearing a little about it from Carrie herself. (Plus, it does help that you AND Rachel both loved it!)

June 18, 2014 - 11:24 am

Ashlie - I haven’t read a lot of books with male narrators but I enjoyed Tempest by Julie Cross. Also this book sounds really good and i can’t wait to read it.

June 17, 2014 - 9:20 pm

Jamie - This book sound really good and I can’t wait to pick this up!

June 17, 2014 - 5:18 pm

Tammy - Winger! A male narrator you won’t forget.

June 17, 2014 - 3:01 pm

Destiny - So excited to read this!

June 17, 2014 - 9:42 am

Danielle Nguyen - Will Grayson, Will Grayson is one of my favorites!

Estelle: Signed Skye Harper by Carol Lynch Williams

Signed Skye Harper by Carol Lynch WilliamsSigned, Skye Harper by Carol Lynch Williams ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: May 13, 2014
Publisher: Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster
Pages: 304
Target audience: Middle grade
Keywords: 1970s, moms/daughters, road trip, young love, Southern setting
Format read: ARC from Publisher via Edelweiss. (Thanks!)

Summary: Winston and her grandmother head out on a secret road trip to pick up Skye Harper (Winston’s mother) from Vegas and find themselves with a very interesting stowaway.

Fourteen and fifteen are some of the most awkward ages I remember from being a teenager. (Does that read as ancient as it sounds?) So it’s not surprise I totally related to Winston’s insecurities about her body, her dreams about succeeding, and secretly being in love with a boy she has always known but has suddenly been discovered by everyone else.

In the beginning of the book, Winston mentions how she comes from a family of “sighers” and I laughed at this because (as I’m sure my mom can attest to) I was pretty moody as a kid too. (Truth: I never thought I was quite as moody as my mom thought I was.) But when it’s summer, it’s super hot out, your boobs are noticeably big and in your way, and the boy you like doesn’t really talk to you? I get it. Add in a mother who left you for grander things on the West Coast and is suddenly sending letters that she needs to be picked up. She wants to be welcomed back home. That’s a lot for one summer!

One of the best parts of reading Signed, Skye Harper was this timeless feeling it evoked, so similar to all the Judy Blume books I loved when I was a kid and still love today. Even though the story is set in the 1970s, anyone could relate to a young girl on the cusp of womanhood, her close relationship with her grandma, and her observations about her family and people in her life. (Bonus: a cute, loyal dog and a one-legged rooster!)

And the boy.  Oh boy. Steve surprised me. I wanted him to be a sincere kid for Winston’s sake, of course, but he really surprised me. I was so upset when I realized Nanny and Winston would be leaving town for awhile and there would be no Steve, but he was a cunning one and ended up on the road, in the thick of things, with the two of them. There was definitely a nice chemistry between the two, and I got out of kick of watching them get closer through this experience.

I honestly can’t say enough great things about Signed, Skye Harper. Would Winston forgive her mother? Could Skye be able to ever be a mother to Winston? And what about Nanny’s feelings? The importance of these situations were balanced so nicely with delightful details (even a Nanny love story) and happy endings you wouldn’t have completely expected. Plus, I loved how Winston was so focused on being a competitive swimmer and how her love of Mark Spitz and his time at the Olympics was folded in.

Be ready to smile, swoon, and sympathize with Winston during this summer of discovery. I’m so glad I tagged along for the ride.

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June 17, 2014 - 9:26 pm

Alexa S. - Whenever you come out and write a book review like this one, I almost always instantly want to buy it. (I’m only resisting now because of a lack of funds at the moment!) But seriously, Signed Skye Harper sounds really great! I love that there’s a road trip, and a huge family aspect, and just a great story that captures that awkward age (that was definitely mine too)!

Estelle: #scandal by Sarah Ockler

Scandal by Sarah Ockler#scandal by Sarah Ockler tweet | web )
Publication Date: June 17, 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 368
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: social media, revenge, senior year, falling in love
Format read: ARC from Publisher via Edelweiss.

Summary: Senior prom: Lucy’s best friend is sick and asks her to take her place at the dance with her boyfriend, Cole. First issue? Lucy has had a crush on Cole forever. Second issue? Miss Demeanor (a mysterious overseer of debauchery at their high school) is looking for the top #scandal pics of the weekend and somehow she finds them. Pictures from Lucy’s lost phone that tell a very different story as to what happened that night. Everyone turns against Lucy, and she is suddenly hanging out with new people trying to right t

There’s always a risk when it comes to falling head over heels with an author’s book.

How on earth will their next publication top it? Right?

Before I even opened #scandal, my expectations were high because The Book of Broken Hearts is on my ultimate fav books list. Could Ockler do it again? I was hoping so.

Here’s the thing. #scandal has all the elements I like about her books. The romance, the challenging friendships, the integration of family life, even, sisterhood! But all together, this time, the book felt jumbled, disorganized, and was unsure if its own identity even until the very end.

Lucy goes to prom with her best friend’s boyfriend because she is sick. Lucy has been in love with Cole since she first met him but never told him how she felt and he started dating her best friend and that was fine. Until it’s the magic of prom! And he’s close to her and she’s dancing with him, and the tension is building. Right off the bat, I felt it. Jumping off the page, begging of attention. What would happen between Lucy and Cole? Was she imagining how he was looking at her? What was going on between him and Ellie?

I know, for me, the rest of the book fell flat because I was always waiting for another scene between Lucy and Cole. It’s interesting because Lucy’s sister has a big role in the story too and I think this is where I started having trouble with structure. If the book had created more of a parallel between Lucy and her sister at first, if they were the focus, the rest of the story would have worked better for me (especially the ending). But instead, readers got snippets here and there that popped up at the inopportune times as the story seesawed between this romance and the ramifications of social media gone wrong for a graduating high school class.

I love that the internet and social media is being integrated into books more and more. Ockler makes some good points. Social media should be used for good but instead there are so many instances where it isn’t. #scandal has a Gossip Girl-like personality in Miss Demeanor who reports all the gossip on Facebook and even posts pictures, and on the other hand a student-run group called (e)Vil is determined to get their peers off their cell phones and living life in the present. It’s like one extreme to another when everyone just needs to find a comfortable, respectable balance of both.

Readers are supposed to believe that Lucy likes to live behind a screen, shooting zombies with her computer friends, but since we jumped in at prom — where everything changes — I never really believed it. So her hanging out with this new crowd — e(V)il and Franklin, the school newspaper editor — was a big step for her because she never connected with them before. That’s all well in good, but it didn’t feel as momentous as it should have (especially if Lucy was known as this geeky homebody). On the bright side, I really enjoyed all of the scenes with Franklin. He grew to be a great friend to Lucy; he was sweet, honest, and had an accent (!!).

It’s difficult when a story has so much potential and jumps all over the place. I hated that I found myself wishing and hoping just to get to the end. It was such a different experience from reading The Book of Broken Hearts; I didn’t want it to end and I immediately re-read it. I need more than appealing characters and an intriguing premise to love a book. Structure, balance, and flow are just as important. Not all books are going to be winners, I know, but this one in particular made me feel a bit like a Debbie Downer.

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June 16, 2014 - 1:14 am

Alexa S. - I think it’s really interesting and great how the internet is becoming a bigger part of books too! It’s always fun to see an author’s take on it (and my favorite so far was Don’t Call Me Baby). Scandal does sound like it would have been an interesting read, and possible commentary on social media and how it affects the life of Lucy in this situation. But I do feel sad that it felt like the book was just a tangled mess of all these great elements you’ve mentioned!

June 15, 2014 - 5:27 pm

April Books & Wine - I started this on my Kindle but never really got around to finishing it or going beyond like 10%. Maybe I’ll finish it — but I will probably put #Scandal off because reviews seem to really not LOVE it.

Also, I totally get all Debbie Downer when an author I love isn’t writing up to what I expect.

June 14, 2014 - 1:11 pm

Ashley - We’ve already discussed this on twitter, I know, but I still agree. You summed up my feelings and I only read a portion of it before I got bored. *sigh*

June 13, 2014 - 7:19 pm

Alexa - Aw that is too bad that this didn’t work out. I like this author as well and probably would have read this one given enough time. Maybe I will just borrow it from the library to test it out.

Thanks for the great review!

June 13, 2014 - 3:24 pm

Sue - Thank you for the honest review.

June 13, 2014 - 11:25 am

Tiff @ Mostly YA Lit - Thanks so much for this review, Estelle – this was high on my to-buy list but I’m probably not going to buy now. I really appreciate that you were honest about the scattered structure and flow. I *am* very interested in the social media aspects of the book, so I might borrow it from the library. Great review!

June 12, 2014 - 10:01 pm

elena - hmm kind of curious about this book bc w my major, i bounce between SOCIAL MEDIA IS SO GREAT and GTFO THE INTERNET all the time!!! eek that it’s so jumpy though. i think my reaction would be like yours: waiting for another scene btwn lucy and cole bc i was already waiting reading your review!

June 12, 2014 - 9:46 pm

Ellice Y - Yet another book that we agree on 100% (like you, I wanted to like this one SO BADLY). You found the words to explain your feelings much better than I did… I really struggled with writing my review. #scandal is my first Sarah Ockler book, and I really wish it wasn’t. You once recommended The Book of Broken Hearts to me, and Ginger recommended Fixing Delilah, so I feel pretty certain that I will really like Ockler’s other books. However, #scandal just wasn’t for me. It fell so flat, and like you, I just wanted it to hurry up and end. I had recently read and loved Life by Committee by Corey Ann Haydu, and I think that was one of the main reasons that I disliked #scandal. I felt like the themes weren’t presented well, but I loved the similar themes in LBC, and its creativity immediately hooked me. I couldn’t stop comparing the two books since they both dealt with similar themes in the form of cyberbullying, so #scandal was at a disadvantage from the get-go with me. Sigh. I hope I have a better experience with The Book of Broken Hearts.

Great review, E!

June 12, 2014 - 12:37 pm

Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook - It is really hard when you have such high expectations for a book. It’s often so hard for those expectations to be met. I’m sorry this one was a let down. I haven’t read anything by Ockler, but I’m thinking I should. I won’t start with this one.

June 12, 2014 - 12:36 pm

Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life - While I still haven’t read The Book of Broken Hearts yet (but I will, and SOON!), I haven’t enjoyed this author’s other works, so I was looking forward to reading #scandal. However, the plot and narration seems so disjointed, and that’s definitely something I see as an issue in a book. It’s sad that there weren’t really more Lucy and Cole moments in the book, since the novel does seem to revolve around what happened between the two during their prom. I like that there’s attention placed on social media, because I can tell you from personal experience that social media is HUGE in high school these days. Yet, I’m not sure if that benefit alone would make me pick up this book.

Lovely review, Estelle! <3 I'll probably be leaving this book on the shelf, or borrowing it from the library if I do see it there.

June 12, 2014 - 9:59 am

Danielle @ Love at a First Page - Well this is a shame! The Book of Broken Hearts is one of my favorite books, and I had high expectations for #scandal. A lot of reviewers have echoed your thoughts – bits of swoon but the book is a bit of a mess. :/
I’ll still give this a try, but won’t expect as much. Great review!

June 12, 2014 - 9:52 am

Meg - Sounds like I should be starting with The Book of Broken Hearts!

June 12, 2014 - 9:30 am

Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide - I just finished yesterday and I agree. I was SO in love with TBOBH that I was hoping for something similar. I would have been okay with the different tone, I think, if all of those great things like you mentioned and that I wanted — friendships, swoony boys, family relationships, siblings — and things that were done SO well in TBOBH had been more developed. Those just really fell flat for me and the silly and Gossip Girl nature just took over for me. Bummer. Lovely review and very well said as always!!

Why in 5: 17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen

book cover for 17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen

17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen (twitter | website)
Publication Date: June 17, 2014
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages: 352
Target Audience: Young Adult
Keywords: best friendships, dating and kissing, depression
Format Read: ARC from Publisher via Netgalley. (Thank you!)

Summary: With a ton of responsibility weighing on her shoulders because of a depressing family situation, Claire turns to her best friend Megan for support. When new-boy Luke enters the picture, he threatens to rip Megan and Claire’s friendship apart by forcing the girls to choose friendship or love.

Note: 17 First Kisses is full of complicated, messy relationships, mistakes, and heartbreak. With so many thoughts running through my mind after finishing, I decided I needed to break this down Estelle-style and do a “Why in 5″ post.

1. The beauty of 17 First Kisses is that it’s focused on things that are so realistic and hones in on the complexity of relationships and life. Claire’s home life is less than desirable; her family went through a situation that was new to me in the YA world. It’s left her mother severely can’t-get-out-of-bed depressed and her father has also checked out and disengaged. Claire becomes the glue that holds everything together, but ultimately this means she’s the third parent in her family. That’s a lot of responsibility for her to carry.

2. Without the support of her best friend, Megan, Claire would be treading through her difficult home life all alone. Megan is the person Claire turns to when she needs someone to talk to. The friendships felt extremely authentic. (Even the supporting friendship between Megan and her childhood friend, Sam, who was a nice balance to the catty situations the girls sometimes wound up in. He was calm, steady, and level-headed throughout.) Megan and Claire both screw up. They’re both responsible for hurting one another. In terms of teenage decisions, I felt they were spot on — they’re sometimes too selfish and don’t think things through, but ultimately, I was pleased that their friendship always, always pulled them back together (even after the worst of situations). What two friends have never suffered from saying or doing something awful that hurt?

3. Speaking of hurt, let’s just cut right to the chase and talk about boy trouble. Luke enters the picture as someone new, charming, and automatically draws the attention of both Claire and Megan. His interests perfectly parallel Claire’s, but Megan is the striking, gorgeous, popular girl all the guys fawn over. Though the girls make a pact to stay away from him, he’s persuasive and… how could they stay away?

4. I admit that when I learned we were going to learn about all of Claire’s 17 kisses, it seemed like she’d done an awful lot of kissing. Allen, however, uses a great storytelling tactic and progressively pieces everything together with flashbacks to those middle school spin-the-bottle days. It just worked. Now, I’m not condoning that all of Claire’s kisses were worthwhile (ahem, the band members), but every flashback gives us the opportunity to learn more about Megan and Claire’s friendship, family life, and really gives us the full picture.

5. The ending wasn’t tied in a perfect bowThere’s room left for interpretation and growth and the more time I spend away from 17 First Kisses after finishing, I realize this is exactly what Claire needed. After all the drama and change that occurs throughout the course of the book, she needs some time to heal, become her own person, and not have everything figured out as she leaves for college.

Final thoughts: I’ve seen a few negative reviews for this book, but felt so intrigued by the story as I was reading it. Don’t be deterred by the sometimes messy friendship or the bad decisions the characters make. To me, they were realistic depictions of everyday life. Things aren’t always so perfect, and I was so glad to have felt differently than the reviews I read prior to beginning the book.

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June 17, 2014 - 1:06 pm

Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide - I feel like I’ve seen lots of middle of the road reviews and a few positive ones. Nothing really too negative! But they all seem to be for really different reasons. I’m still excited to pick this one up and see how I do with it!

June 16, 2014 - 12:52 am

Alexa S. - I really like it when books have characters facing complex, layered situations. Not everything in this world is perfect or ideal, and it takes courage to write a book that showcases the messiness and imperfection that exists in reality. I wasn’t too sure I wanted to read 17 First Kisses before, but your review has definitely intrigued me!

June 12, 2014 - 10:18 pm

Ellice Y - Magan, I’m SO happy that you have positive things to say about this book! Though I try not to base my decision to read a book solely on the ratings/reviews I see on Goodreads, I admit that I was a little bit disheartened by the ones that I’d been seeing for 17 First Kisses. It sounds like a book that I’m going to really like though. I love authentic friendships and family stories in books. And of course, everybody knows I love kissing books, and I assume by the title that the book won’t be lacking in that department? hehe. I guess it’s the fact that I’m older now, but I really enjoy stories that aren’t always tied up in a pretty little bow at the end. That’s real life! When I was a teenager, I would have thrown the book across the room because I always wanted a perfect ending and a happily ever after!

I enjoyed your “Why in 5″– I’m definitely going to read 17 First Kisses now :)

June 12, 2014 - 10:02 pm

Lisa is Busy Nerding - Oh good. I was hearing meh things about this. I’ll know what to expect better after this! Nicely done review.

June 11, 2014 - 7:29 pm

Amanda @ Vivalabooks - I had this book on my TBR list, but I kind of forgot about it until now. It’s sometimes frustrating to read books about teenagers who make stupid but realistic decisions, because we’d like to think that we’d make smarter decisions. Except as teenagers we’re constantly making stupid choices (I’ll admit to that) and I like when authors explore that. I’ll admit that I’ve put down a couple books due to a character’s annoying decisions, but it seems like Rachel Allen handles it nicely. Great review and thanks for putting this on my radar again!

June 11, 2014 - 1:18 pm

Nicole @ The Quiet Concert - This review is wonderful! If I wasn’t convinced before, I definitely am now! I love the idea of flashbacks to Claire’s 17 kisses and the strong focus on friendship and family/ Thanks for sharing!

Top 10 Tuesday: Best Reads of 2014 (So Far)

top ten tuesday hosted by the broke and the bookish

I had to participate this week because it’s like an experiment. Will these 10 books still be on my list in 6 months? Will they be bumped by something else amazing? It’s hard to say and I love the mystery. (Even if I am an impatient person.) I know I am so pumped to see what everyone else is listing today too so, as always, thanks so much to The Broke and Bookish for hosting.:)

the five stars

I have a post coming up about this subject (the PERFECT books) but for now, I’m sharing with you the three I read this year so far. I can’t imagine any books really topping them. SO I CHALLENGE YOU BOOKS. Can you possibly be better than these?

Halfway Mark Top Reads of 2014 The Five Stars

(1) Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

LA setting, a main character with the coolest job ever, a unique love story, a great friendship — I could go on. From the minute I started this book, I was totally sucked in and once I finished, I was ready to give Nina’s other book, The Disenchantments, a second chance. I think that says it’s all right there. The writing of this book is SO seamless. It deserves all the readers.

(2) Pointe by Brandy Colbert

I haven’t had an emotional reaction to a book like I had to this one in a long time. Theo is dealing with her best friend returning from a kidnapping, auditioning for dance schools, and surviving the rest of high school. What struck me so much about this book was Theo’s journey to find herself worthy of anything really and also how brilliantly paced her growth was unveiled through the writing. Small details, small epiphanies piecing the story together. It’s truly a masterpiece.

(3) There Will Come a Time by Carrie Arcos

A book about grief from the POV of a male narrator who has lost his twin sister in a car accident. (Interested in the Diversity in YA campaign? The main character and his family are Filipino.) There’s a bucket list, a girl best friend, a supportive family feeling out this tragedy together and apart, and a school project that really kept the book moving. I cried on the subway, I laughed, and I even swooned. Such heartfelt honesty = blew me away.

the ones that didn’t come out this year

Halfway Mark Top Reads of 2014 Not Released this Year

(4) Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick

I bought this one last year, and it was originally released in 2010. The main character was a bit hard to connect to in the beginning so much that I got a little nervous I wouldn’t finish but I’m glad I hung on. A story of kindness, tragedy, and moving forward with some of the most vivid personalities I’ve ever met in my books.

(5) Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos

I don’t like to compare books to one another much but if you enjoyed WINGER, I think you should try this one out. The character has a unique voice, dealing with depressing, first love, and family. Underneath the sadness there is a layer of comedy and I enjoyed that balance. (I actually lent this one to my mom when I finished.)

(6) Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

I was petrified to read this because I heard about how much of a tearjerker it is. Don’t get me wrong; it’s definitely a sad story but the main character is more spunky and quirky than I ever could have imagined. There are amazing little details, wonderful friendship blooming, and even that complicated relationship between sisters (and also the one parents have with each of their kids). Everyone was right about this book but I want to make sure I say more than YES IT’S SAD. It’s so much more than that.

the final four: why haven’t you read these yet?

Halfway Mark Top Reads of 2014 Why Haven

(7) Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

Everyone is going to have this one on their list, and I’m guessing it will have a lot to do with Reagan and Matt. I loved them together, I did but what really sold me was the honest relationship between Reagan and Lilah. Friendships like these don’t happen every day, especially after wading through all of this crap. But Emery has all the layers down and had me feeling so much. Hands down, one of the best gal friendship stories I’ve ever read.

(8) The One and Only by Emily Giffin

I’m just as surprised as you are. Really. This love story is so unconventional but if love football and complicated romances… Emily has a slam dunk with this one (after a few misses). She writes a lot of exposition in her books (just a reminder) and once I settled in, I read this (very large) book in less than 24 hours. The main character goes through quite a journey (friendship, family, career, love) and tries to deny her heart so many times in hopes of not hurting other people. This one is definitely worth your time. (I do suggest buying the eBook though because the hardcover is super heavy.)

(9) The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner

It’s important to remember the characters in this book are 15 years old. Because they act like 15-year-olds do. They don’t over-complicate what you might think but Frankie is still reeling from the drowning of her little brother and thinks she has found his soul in the new boy she is baby-sitting for the summer. His name is Frankie too, but you can call him Frankie Skye. This book is about the surprising people who come into our life and help us move forward.

(10) Life by Committee by Corey Ann Haydu

Online communities, body image, broken friendships, parents/kids, secrets, loneliness — there’s a little bit of all of this in LBC. Imagine you think you’ve found your safe place and you realize it’s not quite that safe after all. That’s exactly what happens to Tab when she “gives” a secret and is given a task from the online community she has joined. It doesn’t feel like bravery anymore when you are affecting the lives of the people you love.

bonus (can’t help myself)

Halfway Mark Top Reads of 2014 Bonus

** When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds: loyalty, family, friendship, Brooklyn. Packed a punch for a short book (and had me crying).

** The Things You Kiss Goodbye by Leslie Connor: first love, culture clash, finding yourself. Great characters, gorgeous writing.

♥   ♥   ♥

Oh gosh. That was so hard. I’m already thinking of 2 titles I’m missing.

Hope you’re convinced to add a few of these to your “must-read” list! Can’t wait to read everyone else’s picks!

Happy Tuesday!


June 17, 2014 - 9:01 am

The Time Has Come: A Chat with Carrie Arcos - […] week in my Top 10 Tuesday post, I mentioned my 5-star reads of the year so far so I’m super thrilled to have Carrie Arcos on […]

June 13, 2014 - 11:37 am

Vicky - There are a couple on here that I really want to read, such as Everything Leads To You and definitely Pointe! Also, Open Road Summer is definitely a book I want to purchase, so think I definitely will now!

June 12, 2014 - 10:33 pm

Ellice Y - THIS POST! ESTELLE! Reading this post has seriously turned a not-so-great day into a “YAY, BOOKS!” kind of day. I am SO excited about your list because it has so many titles that I haven’t read yet. I trust your (and Magan’s!) taste in books implicitly, so I’m currently adding lots of books to my shopping cart. Haha. I’ve only read 3 of these, Open Road Summer, Me Before You, and Life by Committee, and I loved them so much. I also have The Things You Kiss Goodbye on my Kindle to read very soon, so it just got bumped up to the top of the list. I brought the One and Only home from work because I saw on Goodreads that you really liked it (bahaha, that sounds creepy doesn’t it? I don’t stalk you, I promise!). I’ve read a couple of Giffin’s other books and was always disappointed, so I’m hoping this will be the one that wins me over.

This is my favorite TTT list of the week. Love it!

June 10, 2014 - 11:43 pm

Devyn - The cover of Everything Leads to You is gorgeous! Definitely adding that one (and the rest of this list) to my TBR :)

June 10, 2014 - 10:30 pm

Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook - I just got Everything Leads to You from the library today!!! I’m so excited to read it.

June 10, 2014 - 7:24 pm

Alexa S. - I have Pointe and There Will Come a Time in my pile of books to read (surprise, surprise, it’s ever growing) and I’m looking forward to them both! I’m also thrilled that you convinced me to read Life by Committee and Sorta Like a Rockstar. Plus, I loved Me Before You and Open Road Summer! Great selection of books :)

June 10, 2014 - 7:17 pm

tabithasbookblog - I’m really interested in Everything Leads to You! I haven’t read anything by this author before (which I’m hoping to fix soon), but I’ve never heard anything bad! And I can’t remember if Open Road Summer made it onto my list, but Lilah and Reagan’s friendship was my favorite thing about that book!

June 10, 2014 - 6:49 pm

Danielle @ Love at First Page - Ah, I haven’t read most of these, but I did really like There Will Come a Time (male pov = win). Open Road Summer has made a lot of blogger’s lists, and it makes me sad all over again how disappointed I was by it. :(
I will definitely be checking out these other books, though!

June 10, 2014 - 4:39 pm

Gaby @ Queen Ella Bee Reads - There are so many books here I’ve been on the fence about, but I trust you, lady, and so my TBR list grows and shifts…

June 10, 2014 - 3:02 pm

Kat - Adding several of these to my TBR list! How interesting that in so many of these TTT I’m reading today, there are mostly contemporary stories!

June 10, 2014 - 2:43 pm

Lisa is Busy Nerding - Y’all always have such a fresh mix of books on here. My TBR grows again!

June 10, 2014 - 11:53 am

Kim @ kimberlyfaye reads - Everything Leads to You, Pointe and There Will Come a Time are on my TBR. I’m looking forward to reading them, whenever I get around to it. :)


June 10, 2014 - 11:20 am

Stefani @ Caught Read Handed - You’re right: everyone has Open Road Summer on their list, except for me. It’s on my summer TBR list and I cannot wait to read it. I’m even more excited now that I’ve seen it on so many people’s lists. I also really want to read Everything Leads to You. I’ll have to check it out soon.
Great list!
Here’s my TTT!

June 10, 2014 - 11:05 am

Monica @ A Southern Girls Bookshelf - I loved The One & Only! I love any book that showcases my state [TX]. The best book from Emily Giffin…yet!

June 10, 2014 - 10:57 am

jill - Uh-oh, I am writing a review on The One and Only – -there was very little I liked about it :/ I definitely LOVED Me Before You, though, and Everything Leads to You is on my TBR list!

June 10, 2014 - 10:37 am

Ginger @ GReads! - I, too, thought it would be interesting to look back on this list come December and see which books still deserved the top ten slot. I have There Will Come a Time to read and seeing it as a five star read from you has made me very, very eager to read it sooner, rather than later. Yay!

June 10, 2014 - 10:01 am

Ideklinz - The Nina LaCour book is sitting on my shelf & can’t wait to read–and Me Before You is ready to go on my kindle…although I’m gonna need to really prep myself before I read it :*( pointe & Life By Committee are on my TBR list…ya kno, that ever growing list that never stops haha

June 10, 2014 - 9:18 am

Jennifer from YA Book Nerd - Great list – I loved Everything Leads Back to You.

June 10, 2014 - 9:16 am

Meg - I’m totally getting The One and Only ASAP — though you’re definitely right about Giffin’s recent misses, she’s still a must-read author for me — and I’m psyched about this one!

So many other great books here, none of which I’ve read! I see my wishlist growing exponentially . . .