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Real Life Friendship & Real Life Diversity | Dive Into Diversity

Dive Into Diversity Reading ChallengeI’ve had two of my best friends in my life since we were in Mrs. Grader’s kindergarten class — 25 years ago this year. Over the years, we were never consistantly inseparable (it’s difficult when you all go to different colleges and move to new cities) but for whatever cosmic reason, we take on the ebbs and flows of friendship in the best way we can. We may not have a lot of time together with no chorus to go to after school or dances to attend but we make the most of the free time we scrounge up.

It’s our differences that inspired me to write this post today. After reading at least 150 books a year in the last 3 years, I am confident when I say there are very rare fictional circumstances that mirror the town we lived in and the schools we attended. Sure, we all had two parents, one sibling, and grew up in the same town but I’m half Polish and half Spanish, Jen is Polish, and Nisha is Indian. Our high school prided itself on this diversity. It was a life lesson. It was a proposed subject for college essays. How did our high school environment prepare us for the future? We were lucky enough to be surrounded by different cultures and backgrounds, and not only that, we celebrated them with organized groups, presentations, and acceptance.

Estelle Friendship Dive Into Diversity

So I roped Nisha and Jen into answering some questions about our high school experience and our differences. They are such great sports, seriously. Here goes:

Looking back 10 YEARS (ahh), do you believe our high school was really a diverse environment and how has it helped you beyond that?

Nisha: I think as we got older, the schools did become more diverse. It was nice to be a part of this little melting pot. When I was younger, I didn’t realize it was okay to be different. The older I got and the more I saw, I realized that I didn’t have to be like everyone else. My family and culture was different and it worked. It helped prepare me for college. My little melting pot was nothing compared to that. Having experienced it earlier, it wasn’t as shocking or intimidating. It allowed me to just enjoy the experience and take it all in.

Jen: I def think our school was diverse. Our student body had the typical cheerleader types as well as academics including African American and a Latina. We had clubs for any type of group. I remember once going to Asian Studies Club with another friend. Diversity opens you up to the real world. Not everyone is going to look like you or have the same background and having experience with different people allows you be open to different views, open minded and more understanding of others. Less irrational fear and more acceptance.

Is there any situation you remember from grade school where you felt left out or the opposite, loud and proud, about your culture and sharing it with others?

Nisha: When you’re younger being any kind of different automatically makes you feel left out. It cannot be helped. All you want is acceptance at a young age. Grade school wasn’t as diverse so my idea of ‘normal’ was what I saw on TV. Shows like Full House and Step by Step were my normal. However, I didn’t look like them, my family didn’t do the same things as theirs and we didn’t even eat similar foods. When you tell someone you had rotli, shaak, dal bhaat for dinner and they look at you like you have three heads, you feel a bit intimidated. Unfortunately, this translated into being ashamed of my culture when I was younger.

Jen: I never felt left out. Once I wore my polish national outfit for Halloween at school and got a lot of compliments on it. Always thought it was cool that my parents grew up in another country. (Didn’t we do a project once on our cultural backgrounds? I seem to remember laminating placemats that had something to do with Poland. ha.)

I don’t see a lot of friendships like us in media (books, TV, etc.) Am I wrong? Are there any I’m missing? Why do you think there’s a lack of diverse friendships in this place?

Nisha: I don’t think you’re wrong which is unfortunate. I think it’s hard to find these kinds of relationships because people haven’t experienced it. It’s hard to write about something you don’t know or have dealt with. People generally stick to what they know when it comes to befriending people. They don’t allow themselves to go out and explore the options.

Jen: It seems to be more obvious with male relationships. Thinking of The Big Bang Theory that has an Indian and Jewish guy in the same mix. New Girl is pretty diverse. Jess and Ceecee are white girl and Indian girl and the guys include a Jewish guy and two African Americans. I guess Glee tries to be diverse but it always seems like a struggle to teach something before it turns to an actual friendship.

We Scream Ice Scream Rather Be Reading BlogSo what can we take from this? Not to pat any of us on the back, but we are all pretty open-minded people. We’ve all been interested in each other’s lives from the mundane to the most personal. We recognize people as people. Then I asked Nisha if she could remember any recent books with diverse characters in them? She was tired, so I’ll give her a break, but not one came to mind.

I guess it’s time that shocks me the most. In third grade, our teacher was very enthusiastic and focused on having her students understand each other. We hosted an international fair every year, city-wide, and we planned many events in school during the year. From a very early age, we were taught to be curious and accepting. That was almost 20 years ago, and still, I don’t see enough of these environments or relationships in the books I’m reading.

That being said, I can recommend three books that reflected my high school experience truthfully so far. Fingers crossed this list expands as the years go on.

The Boyfriend App by Katie Sise | How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr | Just One Year by Gayle Forman

Diverse Friendships from Rather Be Reading Blog

Now it’s your turn! Are your friendships well-represented in what you are reading? What would you like to see?

Be sure to check out Rebecca’s first post for DID — Taking the Good with the Bad!


It’s the first official month of Dive Into Diversity so don’t forget to check in with you diverse posts below. Rebecca, Magan, and I cannot wait to read them and check out your blogs! If you haven’t had a chance to join the DID reading challenge, feel free to visit the intro post and use #DiversityDive on Twitter & Instagram!




February 7, 2015 - 1:58 pm

Crystal - I am excited that there are so many people interested in diversifying their reading and encouraging more diversity in the publishing world. Thanks for hosting this great reading challenge!

January 26, 2015 - 9:09 am

Ann - I’ve been reading books that reflect diversity in spirituality for the past three weeks. Many of the ideas resonated with me, and I hope to be able to live a life as full and diverse as reflected in what I’ve read.

Having two daughters who were adopted from China makes me acutely aware of cultural diversity; and the importance of introducing and accepting a variety of beliefs and practices into our lives.

January 23, 2015 - 4:13 pm

Alexa S. - I loved reading this post, E! And your friends are totally good sports. It’s great to see that, for all of you, you easily embrace PEOPLE (as opposed to limiting yourselves because they’re “different”). Even though when I was in high school, I was mostly surrounded by fellow Filipinos, I’d like to think we were encouraged to be open-minded with all the different cultural projects (nationwide and worldwide) that we were givn to do. YAY FOR DIVERSITY!

January 21, 2015 - 12:00 am

Real Life Diversity (Or a Lack Thereof) | The Reading Shelf - […] This post was written for the first month of the Dive Into Diversity challenge – check out Estelle’s own post and other links! […]

January 13, 2015 - 8:11 pm

Brianna - I’m Jewish, but I don’t think my friendships are so diverse now that I’m an adult. My two closest friends are also Jewish and we have similar backgrounds. I tend to gravitate toward other Jewish people and I’m very strong in my faith. I do think we need more books with diverse characters, though, because the generation of kids growing up now probably don’t have friendships like you have. I know my former camp kids certainly don’t. They go to private Jewish schools and Jewish summer camp. That’s their bubble.

January 13, 2015 - 7:50 pm

Cassie (Happy Book Lovers) - You are wonderful :) I loved this post so much, and I love the focus on friendship. I grew up in the Midwest, and there was not a ton of diversity in my schools (any of them) at all. In fact, it was a big deal when a few black students showed up in our high school. But everyone was so friendly and embracing. It was like all the kids finally were so excited to accept the diversity, and our area just hadn’t seen it yet. My brother became good friends with one of the kids his age, and to this day still goes to visit him even though they go to different colleges. I think that’s the cool thing about young people and kids, too. They’re genuine, and they don’t care about backgrounds or social status or anything like that. They just have friendships. I’m so excited to be in a city with so many different people now! I’m loving it!

January 13, 2015 - 11:23 am

Nisha - I love it! You did such a great job! :)

January 13, 2015 - 8:29 am

Rebecca @ Reading Wishes - Also, I forget to mention in my tiredness: I love that you interviewed your friends and we got the hear from them! So great.

January 13, 2015 - 8:28 am

Rebecca @ Reading Wishes - I LOVE this post. I’m half Portuguese and my childhood friend is half Russian/half Italian and looking back at all the books I’ve read, I can’t remember seeing a friendship like ours represented. Until you mentioned it though, I didn’t notice the hole there was. It’s like, you become accustomed to it? I hope your list grows, too!

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Make It Last by Megan Erickson | Estelle Reviews

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Make It Last by Megan Erickson ( web | tweet | facebook )
Part of Bowler University new adult series.
Published January 6, 2015 from William Morrow Impulse
Pages: 384
Format read: ARC from Publisher via Edelweiss (Thank you!)
Last reviewed: Make It Right

Summary: Before figuring out next steps post-graduation, Cam returns home to take care of his mom only to be bombarded with strong memories from his past. Can he leave Paradise for New York or should he give a second chance a shot?

They say you can’t go home again, but sometimes you have to.

Cam finishes up his degree at Bowler University a semester and heads home to take care of his ailing mother. He’s avoiding his hometown of Paradise since he went away to school, but even the time away has not lessened how difficult it is to be there. Memories of his past with high school sweetheart, Tate Ellison, are everywhere and he’s surprised (and frustrated) to discover after all her big plans, she’s still working in the same diner and living at home.

Sure, there’s a possibility he can survive the summer in Paradise and head to New York City for his new job without dealing with Tate or all the bad feelings he still has over their break-up. But, kind readers, if this was the case we would not have a story and what a sweet, sexy story it is.

Unlike the rest of Megan Erickson’s BU series, Make It Last does not take place on a college campus. Instead, we’re thrown into that “in between” time when you feel awkward returning home after time away and aren’t so sure of the next steps in your life. Cam has always been a mystery to me throughout the series but I quickly fell for him. He’s thoughtful, loyal, responsible, and, um, extremely hot. (And tattooed.)

It’s never a good time to bump into an ex, especially one you pictured your entire future with. Cam was never a monk in college, but he also never found a girl worth spending more than a short period of time with. He doesn’t want to feel anything when he sees Tate again, but he can’t help but slip into this caregiver role when he finds out things haven’t been great for her. Even if she did totally betray him.

One thing: I rarely see a guy falling into this kind of situation. It seems so common for the girl to overlook someone’s faults and just try, try again. Or not even try. Reemerge as a presence in the life of someone who didn’t treat you well. So to see Cam wanting to be Tate’s friend, even if he’s not over what she did and can’t seem to forget how it felt to be with her, it was a nice change.

Erickson truly delivers in this story of second chances because it’s more about moving forward than trying to relive the past. Tate and Cam can’t deny they are different people know that they have been apart, but the commitment and the care they had for each other, though tested, still lives. Is it enough to make part 2 of their relationship an actual thing?

Honestly, there’s a lot standing in their way. Some very serious things and this little, well, twist that I did not see coming. (It’s so nice to be surprised in books.) Though Cam and Tate’s home situations mirror each other a bit too similarly, I loved the supporting characters that came along with it. Tate’s dad was laugh-out-loud funny, and I loved how Cam’s mom has an arc about her own feelings for Tate too.

This book is so incredibly different from Make It Count and Make It Right, that I could definitely see new readers jumping into the series and reading the third book as their first. You do meet up with the crew from the other two books a bit but it’s not enough to spoil the journey of their stories. I should warn you though: for once, I was glad it was so cold outside while I was reading this because a few of these scenes were so scorching hot.

It’s always such a treat to read a new book from Megan — the balance between character development with a healthy dose of sexy is so spot-on — and I’m pumped to see what she has up for us next!

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January 31, 2015 - 8:36 pm

It's a Wrap | January @ Rather Be Reading - […] Make It Last by Megan Erickson Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle Disneylanders by Kate Abbott […]

January 23, 2015 - 4:17 pm

Alexa S. - After you so kindly reminded me that Make It Last was out, I downloaded it and read it. It was so good! Fell hard for Cam, and loved seeing how his relationship with Tate progresses from start to finish. Seriously, Megan Erickson knows how to write a good story AND romance!

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Sha La La Life | Pub Date

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Happy new year, beer-y bookworms! My plan was to talk about new year’s resolutions so new beer? Well, not exactly. Maybe my 2015 life lesson should be about going with the flow more because that’s just what I did. My husband surprised me with a beer we had never had one day this week, even if it’s a type I’m quite familiar with.

I’m a caffeine-a-holic so I was thrilled to find out James had discovered some Schlafly Coffee Stout from the largest brewery in St. Louis at our local grocery store. What a find! I am not lying when I say I could not fall asleep the night I had some of this because it super pepped me up. This coffee stout is brewed with actual French coast coffee from St. Louis’s local roaster. This is GOOD stuff and I can’t wait to have some with my pizza tonight. Now for a book…

Schlafly Coffee Stout and Life By Committee by Corey Ann Haydu

Life By Committee by Corey Ann Haydu was one of my favorite reads from last year. Why am I pairing it with this coffee stout? Well, Tab, the main character in LBC is the child of two parents who own an adorable coffeehouse in the Vermont mountains called Tea Cozy. Corey made the place seem so real in the book (and delicious) that I would most certainly be hanging out there if it existed. (Damn you, fiction.) So we have the warm, comforting drinks but to fit in with the new year’s resolution portion of this Pub Date… we also have a character who has been ditched by her best friends for reasons she cannot control and finds herself drawn to an online community where she can post her secrets and be forced to act on them.

It’s not Tab’s smartest move so I guess this is a little reminder that we are all going to make some mistakes this year. As much as we want to make it the best ever, it’s inevitable. So it’s important to be brave and thoughtful and human and compassionate. LBC’s reading experience paired with the reactions that build due to this online community and its expectations are sure to produce some very interesting feelings and, this new year, I want you to be open to embracing those. It’s important as a reader and as a person who is coming in contact with different people and situations each and every day.

Be kind and listen. Bravery comes in many forms.

I’d love to hear about your own resolutions & any yummy drinks you’ve loved lately.

Be safe and be good!

PUB DATES: Andi | Maggie | Andi | Brittany

January 23, 2015 - 4:19 pm

Alexa S. - I love the last line of your post, E. So poignant + brilliantly put! Also, yes to wanting to hang out at Tea Cozy! It would make a brilliant space to spend some time if it were a real place. ;)

January 17, 2015 - 4:37 pm

Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide - I am REALLY excited to read Life By Committee! I’ve heard very good things (and mostly from you haha) and that beer sounds very, very yummy! I like your resolution too :)

January 13, 2015 - 11:04 pm

Melanie - “Bravery comes in many forms.”

So true. Being brave is something I want to pursue this year, though I’m still not sure what it will look like practically. I have many options. :)

January 12, 2015 - 9:49 pm

L.C. Spoering - Resolutions? I’m trying for the cliche gig of getting in shape, but working with my husband to finally make it to a 5k. I’m also planning (and currently succeeding!) at writing a certain amount a day, and meeting deadlines scheduled by myself and my publishing partner. It’s actually pretty exciting to have so many aims!

January 9, 2015 - 11:03 am

Brianna - I don’t drink and I’m not a beer lover anyway, but this one does sound good.

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To Have & To Discard

Clutter in EstelleI get into these crazy cleaning moods. The ones where I am stuck in the middle of a pile of whatever I’m cleaning and it’s really hard for me to move (and also find the motivation to clean it back up). Last Friday, I was in one of those moods. NEW YEAR MUST GET RID OF SHIT. Something like that. So I go through Playbills, event flyers, old greeting cards, and I weigh the importance of each and every one. Do I keep it if I didn’t have fun or if I don’t talk to the person anymore? Or is that the reason to keep it in the first place? See, I pride myself on keeping my memories honest. From the scrapbook with the old boyfriend that cheated on me to the itinerary from that kind of horrible trip I went on… I probably have all of it.

But when is enough enough?

So I make myself get rid of things. I even went and bought a fun new box from Staples to properly store the memories I wanted to keep safe. It feels good to cull once in awhile, really go through the things that I have and question whether I need it or not. Sure, I want to keep it all but do I need it?

I have this addictive collection problem. I blame my dad who collects every napkin and coaster from vacation, and currently has a museum of sports memorabilia in his basement. (It’s all very diligently organized and recorded. Trust me.) From clothes to books to lipsticks to shoes to pictures, it’s really hard to draw the line because I grow such attachments to things. Sometimes (again in another weird Estelle mood) I can’t sleep and wonder what I would grab if there was ever a fire in my apartment and I had to leave. My husband, my cat, my old stuffed raccoon who sits on my nightstand, and then… what?

(I worry about crazy things.)

Last January in the spirit of the new year and resolutions, I experimented with maintaining a list of what I was buying and bringing into our tiny apartment to keep myself honest. In March, it lost its appeal. Not because I was too embarrassed to write down how many shirts I bought that month but because, like a lot of resolutions, it fell to the wayside. I can sit here and tell you that I did not buy as many books in 2014 as I did in 2013. But still… it might have been too much. How do I know that? I’m hiding books under my chairs, behind my clothing rack, and in my hallway and — the most important reason — I haven’t read them all.

Blogging continues to be this interesting thing because — unlike Disney trips — books are less expensive. Sure, you say, I can spend 10 dollars on that and then not read it for a few months… a year… (much like my gym membership but hey, I’m walking up six flights everyday while our building installs a new elevator). We all talk about books so we can share our love of certain books and, in turn, people run out and buy the books. It’s a simple formula until you are so up to your eyeballs in books that you aren’t sure where you are going to put your Christmas tree and take a full day to shuffle it all around and make room. (I would like to applaud all bloggers for their amazing marketing skills.)

So what about this year?

Well, I’m not making lists this year and I’m not limiting myself, per se, but I am challenging myself to question if I need this certain thing right this moment or if it can wait. Maybe 2015 is all about patience for me and holding the special, meaningful things close. Even if that means waiting to build this library and being more careful about it. Going to the public library more, and not forgetting that friends can lend you books too. That maybe, like all things, personal libraries take time and care to build. That it’s not necessarily about the shiniest new kid on the block but the ones that have stuck with you the longest. And finding the perfect balance between the two.

January 23, 2015 - 4:46 pm

Alexa S. - I love your post, E! I’ve been thinking a lot about the things I’ve been bringing into the apartment too (mostly books and souvenirs of all sorts). While I do love having these things, I also think that there comes a point when you’re really more about quality versus quantity, necessary versus nice extra. It’s been an interesting time, particularly with our move, and I’m determined to try to curate the things I own a little more this year with quality and necessity in mind :)

January 13, 2015 - 11:17 pm

Alexa - I just went through a lot of my stuff over the past week and I now have a huge box of books to sell and donate. I also got rid of a bunch of stuff that I just didn’t need or wasn’t going to fit in my apartment. I think it is good to discard some things from time to time.
Plus as you said it does take time to build a library.

January 11, 2015 - 6:20 pm

Melissa @ Writer Grrl Reads - This is a great post! I, too, struggle with the number of unread books that I have sitting on my shelves and I’m also running out of space. I’m trying to cull my books, but I have a hard time parting with books that I haven’t read yet, even if I’m pretty sure I’ve lost interest. This year will definitely be the year that I cut down on the number of unread books on my shelves. I’m not putting myself on a book buying ban, per se, but I’ve decided that I will only buy a book if I read it right away. Part of my problem is that I buy books that I’m super excited to read, only to put them on my shelves where they begin to lose their luster. On two separate occasions in 2014, I ran to a bookstore, anxious for the next installment in a series that I was reading, and dove into it immediately. And, you know what? It was AWESOME. It brought me back to pre-blogging days when I used to do just that. Before my TBR was ridiculous and my shelves of unread books spilled over. It reminded me of a time when reading was just reading, rather than trying to buy all of the amazing books that I knew I would read ONE DAY, just not today. Just as you said, I’m going to be more mindful of what I purchase this year, and buy with the intention to enjoy it right away.

January 11, 2015 - 10:11 am

Charlotte @ Books and Baby etc. - I definitely agree with all of this. I used to be such a hoarder and it’s only in the last few years that I have been able to really get rid of things. Now I’m going the other way and I get annoyed by having too much stuff! I have really fallen in love with my library in the last few months. Reading a book for free and then taking it back so it doesn’t clutter up my flat really appeals to me. I am also thinking of culling my DVD collection in favour of Netflix!

I do still buy things but I only buy what I’m really excited about or what is a very good deal. Otherwise it just gets out of hand.

January 10, 2015 - 4:08 pm

Rachel (Confessions of a Book Geek) - I love this post – mostly because I do this all the time – the first paragraph or so was basically written about my life! In seriousness though, I LOVE a good clear out, I find things I forgot I had and I love the feeling of getting rid of the old to make way for the new – both in books and in everything else. Yes, sometimes I find it hard (I have clothes with tags on I bought two years ago… or more if we’re being really honest!) because I think something might come in handy someday – but I love the sense of freshness, newness and organisation that comes from a good clear out! R x

January 10, 2015 - 11:22 am

Leah - LOVE. THIS.

I’m definitely someone who holds onto things – I have an entire drawer full of holiday/birthday cards! I’ve had notebooks for years because, hey, maybe one day I’ll need a piece of paper! It’s nothing outrageous, but something I would love to change and get under control. You know what? I’d really love to start with my closet. I currently use the spare bedroom as my closet and, to be honest, I wear about 5 shirts out of the piles and racks and drawers full. My mom and sisters have always been fantastic about going through and weeding out things to drop off at Goodwill – I want to get on board! There are so many things I bought that I’ve seriously NEVER touched once I took them out of the bag.

Books are another huge thing for me and I’m happy to say I’ve been getting better at not buying! Last year I got rid of a ton and it felt AMAZING. I’d love to go through and pull out yucky reads or books I’m never going to read again.

January 10, 2015 - 1:03 am

Weekly Recap| Jan 4-10, 2015 | Oh, the Books! - […] Estelle talks about books to have and discard. […]

January 9, 2015 - 10:15 pm

Chrystal - OMG! I do the same thing. Haul it all out start organizing into piles and then overwhelmed or exhausted and don’t want to finish. LOL

I think I have to do the same things this year. I am NOT a hoarder, but I do have more than I need in a lot of areas: books, postcards, stationery items, momentos (yes even stuff from crappy exes), etc. It’s like I cling to items to keep the memories? Does that make sense?

I hope 2015 is a good year of organization for you as it is for me. It’s my overall life goal this year. :)

CHEERS!

January 8, 2015 - 3:34 pm

molly | wrapped up in books - This is a great post! Sometimes I see bloggers with massive hauls and I think, really? Where do you put them all? How will you ever read som any books? I mean, even if you read 300 books a year!

I’m pretty under control as far as my book buying and book hoarding is concerned when compared with the blogging community, but compared to a “regular” person, I still have so many — and so many unread! You’ve actually inspired me to write about my book buying and hoarding habits ;)

January 8, 2015 - 1:24 pm

Lisa @ Bookish Broads - “NEW YEAR MUST GET RID OF SHIT” – you spoke right to my heart.

Happy culling!

January 8, 2015 - 10:03 am

Madiha @ Symphony of Words - Oh, GOSH I can completely understand what you mean! I am SUCH a hoarder myself, and when I do get the occassional urge to clean up, I usually just end up ruffling through old things and sitting in front of my books, admiring them to no end.

Also, you guys have a BEAUTIFUL blog. New follower!

January 8, 2015 - 9:41 am

Meg - Oh, I can definitely relate to this! And I have no wisdom to share as the only solution to my book-hoarding problem (and, indeed, stuff-hoarding problem) was to move from our condo to a house last year. Then I could spread out my crap! Spread all the things! But I know that’s not really a solution… or not a viable one long-term, anyway. I applaud you for thinking about this and considering how to build your library over time with care and consideration! You can do it!

January 8, 2015 - 9:24 am

Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook - This is a great post, Estelle. When I first started reading, I bought books a lot. I couldn’t help myself. But before that, I truly didn’t buy them that much. I did sometimes, but usually I just got my books from the library. And granted, as a librarian, I know how to work the system the best to get the books I want quicker, but I have the same rules as all the library patrons. I can’t move myself up on the holds list.

But, like I said, the first year and a half I bought so many books. And I didn’t read that many. I also was a bit crazy with requesting books from Netgalley and Edelweiss. But since then I’ve really gotten myself under control, and it has been so nice. I’d say for at least the last sixth months, the only books I’ve purchased are when I go to book events, or if there is a book that I plan on reading right then. I have also controlled myself with requesting ARCs. I always ask myself “is this a book I will read before the release date?” Because if it isn’t, there is no point requesting it because I can just get it from the library.

I like the idea of building a library slowly. I think you want to keep the books that mean something special to you.

January 8, 2015 - 9:20 am

Morgan @ Gone with the Words - Oh this is totally me. Our extra closet is full of my stuff, which is mostly paper items (museum maps, greeting cards, all the magazine celeb pictures that used to hang on my walls, literally anything that I can attach a memory to) and things I’m convinced I might need/use someday. I’m very nostalgic by nature and tend to be a pack rat. Genetic on my mom’s side :P But I’ve also moved a lot, as a teen and an adult, and each time I get rid of more and more, which feels good. I know I can do even more but it seems impossible sometimes! I do the same cleaning pile thing too hehe. My book situation isn’t bad compared to a lot of peoples but my two shelves ARE full… so yeah. Need to be more intentional with purchases and with what paper items/random things I save :)

January 8, 2015 - 9:17 am

Ashley - I’m working on this also. I have a ton of…shit. But I know myself and I know I have to be in the mood to get rid of things. If I’m in the right mood, I have no emotional attachment and I can part with EVERYTHING. But if I’m in the wrong mood and trying to clean, I have an emotional attachment to everything and want to keep it forever.

So yes. I will try to find that balance with you. <3

January 8, 2015 - 9:10 am

Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide - YES. Everything about this post — just yes. I mean… my blog is called “The Book Addict’s Guide”. I HAVE A PROBLEM. I cannot stop buying books and I’m terrible at being a sucker for sales too. I keep holding on to books I THINK I might read and hold for the time being and I NEED TO STOP DOING THIS. I’m running out of space on my shelves. And you’ve seen my shelves.
I recently cleaned some things off my shelves. I got rid of some books — even though they were personalized — because as nice of a thought as it was, I REALLY don’t think I’d actually enjoy some of those books enough to keep.
I totally have this issue too. I’ve saved all of the notes and cards that people have sent me — not only notes that came from my fellow bloggers but Christmas cards and birthday cards and wedding cards. I have a stack full of things I mean to scrapbook but don’t have the time… so I TOTALLY understand the significance of wanting to keep all of those memories and the task it is to weigh them out.
This is something I hope to work on this year too! Let’s keep each other in check ;)

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Perfect Couple by Jennifer Echols | Magan Reviews

book cover for Perfect Couple by Jennifer Echols

Perfect Couple by Jennifer Echols [twitter website]
Publication Date: January 13, 2015
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 336
Target Audience: Mature Young Adult
Keywords: opposites attract, yearbook superlatives, sexual high school relationships
Format Read: ARC from Publisher (Thank you!)

Summary: Brody and Harper are chosen by their classmates as the “Perfect Couple That Never Was” for their high school yearbook superlative photo. Several failed attempts to take the photograph provide opportunities to escape their significant others to spend time together and leave them questioning why: Why their classmates chose them. Why they never got together before.

• • •

We’ve reviewed quite a lot of Jennifer Echols’ work here on Rather Be Reading. Her work has been something we’ve really enjoyed, but it’s something we’re both feeling a bit disconnected from lately. I decided I would give things another go with Perfect Couple, really hoping that whatever was missing from the previous books had been found again.

But I don’t really feel that way. The story lacked a believable timeline and was peppered with abrupt, out-of-nowhere sexual scenes as an attempt to make readers forget their reading woes. Decisions were made just as quickly and emotions changed with the wind. I felt jerked around and really, really wanted to enjoy Perfect Couple more because I did quite like Brody and Harper. Their story just had a few too many gaping holes to really tie everything together well.

Harper and Brody are chosen by their classmates as the school’s “Perfect Couple That Never Was” for the class yearbook. Brody is an all-star quarterback. Harper is more of the artistic type. He’s dating a gorgeous cheerleader, Grace, and she’s in a relationship with Kennedy, a jerk who demeans her and treats her like utter crap. (And is incredibly moody/PMS-y…all the time.) Both are left to wonder why their peers would have paired them together. What do they see that Brody and Harper may have overlooked?

Despite ties to their significant others, Harper and Brody find themselves drawn to one another. Often very inappropriately and with little regard to boundaries if you know what I’m saying. (If you’re not one for a cheating book, you may want to steer clear. Though I couldn’t stand Kennedy, my moral compass was screaming at their indiscretions.)  The thing is I DID root for Brody and Harper to be together; the whole opposites attract thing was very appealing. But maybe I’m a traditionalist and think that there’s a time and place for all things, and I just really wish they would have slowed down and handled things respectfully.

It’s quite possible I would have enjoyed Harper and Brody’s story more if there had been more of a slow build, if they really worked to get to know one another, and if the tension has simmered just a little more. Or maybe I didn’t connect because I have aged out of Echols’ work? I probably would have given them the stink eye more than once because their fleeting decisions made little sense to me and there was so much back-and-forth I want him, I don’t want him, I want him. The bandaid was ripped from my reading-skin a few too many times, leaving me feeling very unattached and without much left to adhere to afterward. My recommendation if you’re in the mood for a great, steamy Echols’ read is to revisit Such a Rush.

Have you ever felt like you’ve aged out of an author’s work, or
have you ever significantly changed your opinion of an author’s work?

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January 10, 2015 - 9:02 pm

Nicole @ The Quiet Concert - Hmm. I was interested in these Superlatives books but mostly because I heard they were fun, but this is the most detailed review I’ve read and now I’m not so sure. I don’t think I will like these characters or the jerky pace and flip flopping. Thanks for sharing, I have things to think about now!

January 8, 2015 - 12:11 pm

Magan - Lori, I’m so glad to see you agree. I haven’t always felt that way, but I think as they’re released SO quickly and back-to-back, maybe there’s just not enough attention to detail and for me, that’s really important. I like for the books I read to be extremely polished and hers really feel like so much is slipping through the cracks in order to meet deadlines.

January 8, 2015 - 12:00 pm

Lori - I’ve found that Echol’s books are either a huge hit or a huge miss for me. I have the first book in this series, but I haven’t had the urge to read it.Now I might just skip it altogether.

January 7, 2015 - 3:29 pm

Magan - Brianna, which book of hers did you read? I’m super curious to know now. I wasn’t wowed by Perfect Couple, no. I think it has a lot to do with not seeing much growth in Echols’ writing as much as there just being gaping holes in the storyline.

January 7, 2015 - 10:08 am

Brianna - I read one of her books last year and while I enjoyed it, I’ve never gone back to read anything else she’s written. It didn’t wow me, and it sounds like Perfect Couple didn’t wow you, either. I’m not a fan of high school students being put in adult situations.

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Love and Other Theories by Alexis Bass | Magan Reviews

Love and Other Theories by Alexis Bass

Love & Other Theories by Alexis Bass [twitter | website]
Publication Date: December 30, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 384
Target Audience: Mature Young Adult
Keywords: girls’ rules for dating, girl code, sex and teenagers, senior year of H.S.
Format Read: ARC from Publisher (A BIG thank you!)

Summary: Aubrey and her girlfriends think they have dating, relationships, and guys all figured out. There are certain dos and don’t that you must follow or else everything falls apart. But what if you’re following those rules and your relationships still crumble? Aubrey’s beliefs are put to a test when Nathan unexpectedly bursts into her life.

Δ

Rules: Aubrey and her three best friends live and breathe by them. They (think they) know precisely what makes guys want them because they don’t get super caught up in labels and being too needy like girlfriends do. They don’t fall in love and they let the guys think they’re always in control.

Aubrey’s been very dedicated to the rules; she has only a few more months to get through until she’s off to college. She’s focused and all things are going according to plan until Nathan transfers to her school from sunny San Diego. Aubrey is instantly attracted to him…so much so that they skip part of their first day of school together and spend it driving around and getting acquainted in the back seat of Nathan’s BMW. For both, this seems out-of-character; they both have goals and dreams and are headed to a top-notch college. As they continue to fool around, Nathan seems to want to classify their relationship, but Aubrey can’t refuse the rules so she pushes him away, thinking that’s what he really wants.

As a reader, I could tell that Nathan wasn’t one of those guys who just wanted to have sex and move on to the next girl. He was so genuine and good. (Mostly.) But I’ll be damned. Aubrey’s rules made it feel like I was watching two people struggle against a bungee chord — they kept pushing and fighting to be these people that they just weren’t. I was dreading the moment the chord snapped and sent them flying back to reality. (And oh, did it snap.)

The rules made life so overly complicated for Aubrey and her girlfriends. They felt appalling because the girls think they’re empowering women, but at the heart of it, each of them was repressing feelings and being used. They didn’t allow themselves to say how they really felt, didn’t give guys the opportunity to really get to know them, and didn’t take the chance that someone would want to listen to what they had to say. They neglected to realize that maybe, just maybe, there would be a guy out there who had the same interests as them and not all guys see every girl as a piece of ass.

Aubrey’s life was imbalanced as she fell for Nathan but tried to act like she didn’t care. Nathan misinterprets Aubrey’s aloof attitude, doesn’t push her to figure out what they both want, and makes some terrible decisions. She had big lessons to learn that belittling herself to attract a guy wouldn’t be the key to keeping him around, and it wouldn’t be beneficial for her well-being either. Did she really want to be with someone who never knew the real her?

I’m positive there are girls and women who need to read Love and Other Theories because they could benefit from Aubrey’s story. It was painful to see her struggle and the rules really infuriated me. But I also wondered: Where were her parents? Why weren’t they keeping closer tabs on her (sure, she’s a senior, but they were so incredibly distant)? Who was there to teach Aubrey that empowerment doesn’t equal martyring your wants and needs.

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January 23, 2015 - 4:50 pm

Alexa S. - Though I personally was too frustrated to finish this one, I do think Love and Other Theories is the type of read that will provoke a reaction and subsequent reflection. The concept itself is interesting and challenging, and I like that it had you posing questions in your review.

January 10, 2015 - 9:07 pm

Nicole @ The Quiet Concert - I don’t think this one is for me but I like how you mention that there are some women who could probably benefit from this story. But I think I’ll just be frustrated…

January 7, 2015 - 3:31 pm

Magan - Rebecca, I think it could be an eye-opener. Definitely. It’s always difficult to have characters who need to grow up a whole lot. And especially more difficult when they just don’t get as far as you’d like them to.

January 7, 2015 - 3:30 pm

Magan - Emma, with your focus on feminism, I would be SO curious to see what you have to say about this one. Read it, please?

January 6, 2015 - 3:32 pm

Emma @ Miss Print - Hmm. This sounds like an interesting read but also maybe a frustrating one. It also completely slipped under the radar for me so thanks for reviewing it and bringing it to my attention!

January 6, 2015 - 9:30 am

Rebecca @ Reading Wishes - This sounds like an interesting book (although kinda frustrating?) and it sounds like some girls might really benefit from it and open their eyes. I haven’t read many reviews for this, so thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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