Welcome welcome welcome to an absolutely fun week at Rather Be Reading Blog! We’ll be hosting an entire Hollywood Week, inspired by the Starstruck young adult series by Rachel Shukert. Hollywood in the 1930s, three strong (yet flawed) ladies trying to make their marks in showbiz, and all the road blocks that get into their way. With the recent release of Love Me, book two in the series, we’ve decided to take a break from our “regular programming” and bring you a week of original features, guest posts, and more!
To kick off this week’s feature, here is a Hollywood-inspired Nailed It featuring two books that share the ups and downs of “glamorous” celebrity life. Thanks so much for stopping in! (And enjoy the Oscars tonight!!)
Avery | Alice | Mona
With spring (hopefully) arriving soon, I am loving this color palette. Pink, purple, and a great gray (to match the cover character’s eyes). I wish I had found the perfect blond to go with this lady’s locks but unfortunately I couldn’t. (Isn’t it great how there are so many shades in the hair detail, btw?) Since this book series inspired this Hollywood Week, I won’t tell you how good it is again (okay, I will… it’s super good) and I love how the gal on this particular cover looks so hopeful. Hollywood is a little tougher than she thought it was going to be.
Sheila | Jet | Lena | Catrina
Compositionally, I think the cover for Reality Boy is so visually appealing. It catches my eye every single time I stare at my bookshelves. (I really, really need to read this soon – especially after Estelle’s awesome review.) These days, “Hollywood” is composed of so, so many reality TV stars: musicians, housewives, waitresses, etc. You name it, there’s a television show for it. Though I hang my head in shame, I find myself watching these ridiculous (read: brainless) shows as much as the rest of America. (Especially when Mamma needs a little drama to keep her awake during baby girl’s 3 A.M. feeding. Can I get an amen?) Though my choice doesn’t focus as much on the glamorous side of Hollywood, I think it’s super fitting for what’s trending right now. And the color palette? I’m still not entirely sure about yellow on my own nails, but sign me up for all the other colors, please.
What color are you coveting this spring?
(big thanks to rachel from hello chelly for the amazing banner for this series!)
How often do you research authors you read and liked a long time ago? For me, not so much. Unless I happen to see a familiar name, I don’t actively seek them out. But after two authors who I once loved so fiercely made their way on my radar again, I decided to take a look back and see what was new with some of my old favorites.
Today is a “double the pleasure” sort of post. On one hand, you are getting a highly recommended backlist title and on the other, a newer or upcoming book that might strike your fancy. I hope you enjoy the list as much as I enjoyed putting it together!
Book I Loved: Rise & Shine | New Title: Still Life With Bread Crumbs (1/2014)
I actually lent Rise & Shine to Magan many moons ago. It’s a strong story about family, sisters, different paths and it really resonated with me. (I have no idea why I picked it up at first. Paperback table?) I haven’t read a Quindlen since but her newest is about a photographer who hits tough times and escapes her life in NYC for a quieter one in a cabin. Sign me up!
Book I Loved: What Remains (memoir) | New Title: The Widow’s Guide to Sex and Dating (2/2014)
I remember reading What Remains waiting in line for a musical at Disney’s Animal Kingdom one summer. I had sweat rolling down my back and tears rolling down my cheeks. It was a moment. What Remains is Carole’s memoir about her marriage soon to be cut short by cancer, and her friendship with JFK Jr. and Carolyn Bessette. (Carole’s husband was JFK’s cousin.) It’s a beautiful book about endearing unexpected tragedy in a short period of time, and it’s stayed with me all of these years. (Tip: the eBook is under 10 dollars — go buy it!) This year, Carole released her fiction debut: The Widow’s Guide to Sex and Dating. It sounds semi-autobiographical but I’m interested to see what she can do in this genre. (And someone compared her to Joan Didion, who is my writing idol! Big deal.)
Karen Joy Fowler
Book I Loved: The Jane Austen Book Club | New Title: We Are All Completely Besides Ourselves (pb 2/2014)
I am so surprised over how low the ratings are for JABC on Goodreads. So incredibly low. It’s been a long time since I read it, sure. But it’s a paperback that I’ve kept in my collection even after I’ve culled time and time again. I loved the characters and their relationships. (Plus who doesn’t like a book club!) Fowler’s newest release actually came out in 2013 but the paperback is out in stores as of February, and the reviews were solid! Sounds like an interesting family dynamic that I need to experience for myself. (I should probably reschedule a re-read for JABC too.)
Book I Loved: The Gap Year | New Title: Above the East China Sea (May 2014)
First, The Gap Year is one of the first books I reviewe on RBR. It holds a dear place in my heart and I’m sad I’ve sort of forgotten it because I was over the moon when I first read it. (It’s since come out in paperback and I love the cover.) Mother daughter relationships in books never get old for me. But oh gosh, I love that Bird is taking on a semi-historical fiction set during World War II for her next book. I cannot wait to read this one. It sounds intense, and I do like stories that alternate between present day and the past.
[ BONUS PICK ]
New Title: The Good Luck of Right Now
The truth is I own 3 (three!) books by Matthew and I haven’t read any of them yet. Two YAs (Sort of Like a Rock Star and Forgive Me Leonard Peacock) and also Silver Linings Playbook (I saw the movie twice; does that count?). I am the worst. This is why I go on book buying bans. His new novel came out two weeks ago and it was a very nice birthday present from a friend. Quick is a writing machine, isn’t he? Synopsis? A guy loses his mom, discovers she had been writing to Richard Gere, and as he sets off on a “new life” he continues to write to him as well. Sounds quirky, right? I need to get a move on with Matthew’s books!
Have you read anything non-YA lately? Leave your suggestions below! And thanks for stopping in today!
It’s true that you never know where you are going to meet the love of your life. Or in this case, one of your best friends. Three years ago, this week Magan was on her way to “work” at a wedding in Austin and Estelle was putting on a mint green dress to watch one of her best friends walk down the aisle. It sounds like the beginning of a strange love story, doesn’t it? So unsuspected that a comment about books would lead to many Twitter chats, Facebook friendship, and the nugget of an idea to start what would become Rather Be Reading.
Having too much fun at Urban Outfitters in 2013.
Over the course of these three years, we’ve helped/coached/cheered each other through some pretty major life moments. We thought it would only be fitting to celebrate our friendiversary by acknowledging and celebrating some of our favorite bookish friendships. (Note to authors: we want more of these!)
Past Perfect, in general, is full of some of the most honest characters I’ve ever met and this is probably my number one quality in a friend. Because, you know what, it is not easy to say how you feel all the time. So to see it in Fiona and Chelsea, especially when Chelsea is having such trouble getting over a breakup — I think it said a lot about how confident they were in their friendship and how much they trusted each other. They weren’t afraid to hurt each other’s feelings, and knew it wasn’t helpful just to say what the other wanted to hear. These are the pivotal moments where friendships grow stronger. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate being able to be myself around Magan, and knowing that she always has my best interest at heart.
And then there is Maggie and Roux. Their upbringing couldn’t be any more different but they also have so much in common. (Kind of loners at the beginning of this series.) But you know, they totally have each other’s backs. No matter what. Even when things get super hard and don’t make any sense. I especially love how Maggie’s family adopts Roux as one of their own — no questions asked. (I’ve hijacked some Blasig family vacas and they always make me feel so welcome.) I love how much fun they have together despite all the drama, and they just make me smile. (Minus the whole saving the world part, I feel this same way about M. We laugh so much when we are together, and I miss that as soon as our visits end.)
If you’ve read either of my two book selections, maybe you’re tilting your head to the side wondering why I chose these. Throughout the course of the last year, especially, I’ve really been overwhelmed with love and support by my friends. Estelle specifically. I’ve gone through some of the most emotional and trying times of my life and admittedly this has caused me to withdraw a bit from life to focus on the chaos. What I loved most about Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller was how Kat, Callie’s cousin and self-imposed BFF, pursued Callie. Callie was a very distant girl who didn’t easily make connections because of how disruptive her lifestyle had been with her mother — never laying down roots. But Kat was adamant about getting to know Callie and wanting to be part of her life. Throughout this year, when I was having super tough days and didn’t particularly want to work through my emotions, Estelle has done the same thing for me — she’s been there. She’s been a rock and she’s allowed me to work through all my crazy and helped me sort through what’s going on so I’m not trudging through it alone.
As for my second choice, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell … how can you NOT love Cath and Reagan’s friendship? I loved their oddball pairing — they’re college roommates not by their own choosing, but the forcefulness of the situation provides the opportunity for these two girls to get to know one another. You could say that essentially this is a lot like Estelle and I. We didn’t know we were going to meet. The situation we were both in that day provided the opportunity and it’s led to a beautiful, lifelong friendship. I’m certain Cath and Reagan would keep in touch forever… don’t you think?
We’d love to hear about home of your favorite friendships in YA. (Female or not.)
And be sure to check out Ellice’s amazing post over at Paper Riot on Top 10 Friendships in Fiction.
Now go hug your best friend! xo
The Chance by Robyn Carr ( web | tweet )
Part of the Thunder Point series.
Publication Date: February 25, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Target audience: Adult
Keywords: father/daughters, romance, small towns
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley. (Thanks!)
Last book I reviewed by Carr: The Hero
Summary: After getting to know Thunder Point in a professional capacity, Laine decides to rehabilitate from her injury and make a temporary home there. When she meets Eric, another Thunder Point newbie, she finds yet another reason to make her new town a permanent fixture. But when her estranged father shows up on her front stoop and she’s antsy with her career, will she be heading back to the East Coast? And what about Eric? New character, Al, is introduced and begins romancing man-crazy real estate agent, Ray Anne, and one of Eric’s high school workers, Justin, has problems at home.
Thunder Point is a town of second chances. Even though Laine and Eric think they have nothing in common when they first get together, I do think this is what brings them together. Laine is coming off a huge assignment with the FBI and Eric just opened a car shop in Thunder Point to be closer to his teenage daughter. I loved how Laine took the lead because tough guy Eric was a little too shy, and how, together, they were the perfect balance of sexy and settled.
It’s true that Carr didn’t waste any time getting these two together. The Chance‘s storyline went beyond romance, and began to focus on the sudden appearance of Laine’s estranged father from Boston and the other guys in Eric’s car shop. (Of course, we did get to catch up with some past favorites from the Thunder Point series, too. Though, not as much as I thought.) This change in course was a little unexpected. I’ll be honest. I would have liked to see Laine bond with Eric’s daughter, and at some point, Eric to meet Laine’s family but instead the couple faced a lot of time apart as Laine saw to her dad and a subplot featuring a teenage boy in Eric’s shop took centerstage.
The second half of The Chance chugged along considerably slower than the first, partly because I didn’t think there would be such a heavy emphasis on Laine and her dad. I did like how Laine’s character made family so important, and appreciated her struggle with doing what was right for her parent and what was right for herself. It’s a tough position to be in (especially because her dad’s acceptance was so important to her), and I was curious to see what she was going to decide in the end. Would Thunder Point and Eric be her final destination? I really wasn’t too sure. (But I did have a hunch. Happily ever after, and all that good stuff.)
While Carr’s latest felt a a tad willy-nilly compared to the other installments, it was still comforting to be welcomed back into this town, visit with old friends (especially the man-crazy real estate agent, Ray Anne), and get to know some new ones (high schooler Justin and his determination to take care of his family). I’ve already marked my calendar for The Promise, book 5 in the series, out in July. I can’t wait to know a certain doctor a little bit better…
Add to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Buy on B&N
If you want to know more about the Thunder Point series and The Chance, keep reading below for a Q&A with series creator, Robyn Carr, provided by Little Bird Publicity.
Q: When you first created Thunder Point and started writing novels based there, did you have upcoming characters—like Laine and Eric from The Chance—in mind, or have they been developed since you created the town? How has the series evolved since the first three books came out last year?
A: The really fun part about a long running series like this as that the characters appear as they’re needed and they evolve. When I first introduced Eric in The Newcomer, I wasn’t sure he’d have more of a story coming. When I started to think he was memorable enough for his own story and romance, I wasn’t sure whom he’d meet that he’d fall for. When I introduced Laine in The Hero, I thought she might be just crossing the stage—but then I saw her meeting Eric and it all seemed to come together.
Other characters have been there since the beginning of the series and have been calling out to me for their own story, like Dr. Scott Grant. Bless his heart—he has been ready for a special woman for a long time now.
Q: Do you have a favorite place in Thunder Point? If it was a real town, where would you spend most of your time?
A: If I lived in Thunder Point, I think I’d be at the diner every day. That seems to be where most people run into each other. It’s a great place for a coffee break or breakfast—Stu, the owner and cook, doesn’t screw up breakfast too badly. And another great place to have a glass of wine or a nice dinner is the nicest restaurant in town, Cliffhanger’s in the marina. And finally Cooper’s beach bar is the best place to view a sunset—he has tables on the deck and when the sun sets over those big, black haystack rocks, it’s amazing.
Q: What is the underlying message you want women to take away from The Chance? Not to be too corny, but what does chance have to do with it? And do you really believe in second chances?
A: Eric and Laine are completely ill-suited for each other. Not only do they come from vastly different backgrounds, like completely different things, but he’s an ex-con and she’s an FBI agent! And yet when they’re together, the chemistry is overpowering. Even though all good sense says they should not pursue a romantic future, sometimes you have to go with your gut instinct and take a chance on the least likely match. Do I believe in second chances? Oh, yes. And third, fourth, fifth and so on. Things seem to work out just as they should. I love the quote from the movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, “Everything will be all right in the end. If it is not yet all right, it is not yet the end.”
Q: What would you tell someone who is coming to Thunder Point for the first time? What do you want them to know about the town before they jump into The Chance? Because after all, even though this is a series, the brilliant thing is that you don’t have to read them in order. You really can just jump in and fall in love with any book.
A: Thunder Point is a small coastal town in Oregon. Many of the residents have been there all their lives, some have been there at least several years and some are finding new lives there. The things they all seem to have in common is they’re not afraid of hard work, they take pleasure in the most simple yet wonderful things life has to offer, they are committed to helping each other when help is needed and they value their friendships. Most of the town could use sprucing up but the landscape is breathtaking with the big rocks in the bay, long beach and protected bay. The storms that come in from the Pacific and gather in the bay provide as much entertainment as any action adventure movie. Thunder Point is almost crime free and has a safe, secure feeling to it. It’s a perfect place to raise children, recover from a broken heart or start over.
Yay! Welcome to Susan Mallery Appreciation Day, celebrating the romance writer who got me back into the romance genre a little over two years ago! I’m happy to spread the love and share a review of her latest, Evening Stars. (Spoiler alert: it’s really good.) To Susan, thanks for all the fun and I look forward to more sweet and sexy moments in your books!
Evening Stars by Susan Mallery ( web | tweet )
Part of the Blackberry Island series. (For reference I did not read Book 2.)
Release Date: February 25, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Target audience: Adult romance
Keywords: sisters, mother/daughters, old romance, moving forward
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley. (Thanks!)
Summary: At thirty, Nina is tired of having to take control of everything like her Peter Pan syndrome mother and her younger sister, Averil, who she is always fighting with. When Averil returns to Blackberry Island for an undisclosed amount of time, escaping a life that should make her happy but doesn’t for some reason, everything starts to hit the fan. Add in two mysterious men from Nina’s last, an antique store hanging by a thread, and an unexpected treasure and this family is forced to make some decisions about their futures and their connection to one another.
You have to be the queen of your own life.
This is a theme in Evening Stars, and I loved it. While Mallery’s latest does give a reader a great fill of romance, this book is really about different generations of women in one family owning their mistakes, taking responsibility for their futures, and finding the confidence to stand by their decisions and accept happiness.
The truth is it can be downright annoying for the people in your life and for yourself when you just cannot make a decision. Why are you unhappy in your career or your marriage? Why can’t you reevaluate the roles with the people in your family and just lean on each other? When people are stuck in this purgatory of indecision, there are a lot of repetitive excuses, actions, and conversations until someone decides to take the plunge and move forward. Nina, Averil, and their mother, Bonnie, ping pong between past and future a lot during Evening Stars but it only helps them to breakdown their weaknesses and discover what it is that they need.
Nina and her family own an antique store on Blackberry Island, and it was one of my favorite settings in the book. I get so caught up in places in books that need a little TLC and it was great to read about the progress of the store once they made a new hire, and even after a certain, unassuming painting makes a big splash. This painting catapults Nina and her family into unexpected conflict and it was a great catalyst, as it brought many truths to light.
Evening Stars does switch POV between Nina and Averil, who is taking a break from her marriage and trying decide what she needs to make her life feel more fulfilled. Her and Nina fight like cats and dogs because they continue to go back to the big sister / little sister dynamic and fail to really grasp on to some kind of friendship. It was interesting to see them work through this, and this is what I like about the Blackberry Island books over the Fool’s Gold series — we get a better glimpse into familial relationships and fuller pictures of the characters.
In addition to all the above, Nina is balancing a romance with a surprising guy from her past (he’s super suave and charming) and the return of her first love, who totally broke her her heart. It’s rare to see this kind of pseudo-love triangle (I say this because it was very calm and not like she was actively going between the two. It was more emotional.) in a novel like this and I was very curious how Mallery would wrap it up. (Unsurprisingly, there was one guy I was rooting for the whole time.)
Evening Stars was definitely full of high drama but it was well-balanced by a cute puppy, relatable insecurities, that awesome antique store, and the adorable community of Blackberry Island.
Add to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Buy on B&N
The lovely folks at Harlequin are providing a copy of Evening Stars to a U.S. or Canadian resident! Be sure to enter below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway