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Estelle: The Homecoming by Robyn Carr

The Homecoming by Robyn CarrThe Homecoming by Robyn Carr web | tweet )
Part of Thunder Point series.
Publication Date: August 26, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Pages: 400
Target audience: Adult
Keywords: best friends, reunion, job changes, small communities, high school
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley! (Thanks!)

Summary: Seth returns to Thunder Point as the new Deputy Sheriff; he’s determined to keep the town he grew up in safe but his sights are also set on Iris, his old best friend. He’s not sure what happened to their friendship, but he wants to fix it, make it better, and then some.

I am a total sucker of best friends who fall in love with each other.

There’s a little catch in The Homecoming though. Iris is over and done with Seth. After years of secretly crushing on him when they were kids, one night changes all of it. Seth’s return to Thunder Point brings back painful memories for Iris, and Seth just doesn’t understand what happened between the two of them. He admits to being a stupid young kid but beyond that… he can’t figure out why Iris turned away from him.

Seth isn’t ready to give up on her though, and is determined to get to the bottom of all that high school drama. He wants a shot with her.

His “wooing” (as Seth puts it) is pretty adorable, especially when combined with the efforts of a colleague who also has feelings for Iris. (She’s one popular lady.) Carr has a lot of fun with this situation, forcing the three into some comical scenes and injecting some snappy dialogue. (Is Troy the subject of the next Thunder Point novel? I hope so.)

There was also the subplot that involved Iris’ work as a school counselor. I enjoyed seeing her in action, taking her own high school experience and making it better for others. When the faculty is worried one of the students is being abused at home, Iris is professional and diligent about getting to the bottom of it. I understood why Seth (and Troy) were so enamored with her. She was a good person who wanted to do right by people.

Again, Carr treated me to yet another sweet Thunder Point read. A handful of cameos from past characters, awesome backdrop (with adorable town traditions), and a great love story? You can’t go wrong. (Plus if you haven’t yet started this series, The Homecoming with a whole new crew is a great place to start!)

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Great news! The kind folks at Little Bird Publicity are providing one copy of The Homecoming to a reader in the United States. Good luck!

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September 5, 2014 - 11:23 am

Alexa S. - I adored The Homecoming! It was seriously just so cute to see Seth and Iris trying to work all these things out, and I’m totally a sucker for the best friends falling in love type of romance too.

August 30, 2014 - 6:10 pm

Daphne - ooh, this sounds right up my alley. i tried a robin carr book years ago & couldn’t get into it, but maybe it’s time to give her another chance. i, too, love a book about bffs who fall in love & unrequited crushes finally being requited :)

August 26, 2014 - 9:44 am

Ami - I kinda want to drop everything & read this right now BUT I’m finishing my own revisions. But going to goodreads right now to add this!!!!

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Estelle: Like No Other by Una LaMarche

Like No Other by Una LaMarcheLike No Other by Una LaMarche web | tweet )
Publication Date: July 24, 2014
Publisher: Penguin/Razorbill
Pages: 352
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: New York City, forbidden romance, diversity, family
Format read: Hardcover I purchased.

Summary: During a horrible storm in New York City, Devorah and Jaxon find themselves stuck within the confines of a broken elevator. In the every day world, Devorah and Jaxon would never be alone together. She’s a devout Hasidic Jew and he’s a West Indian black boy. But in the dark, in the unknown, they bond and their connections is forged. Will they risk everything they know for one another?

This is the thing about forbidden love. We root for it to work, iron out its creases and prosper so we can believe in the impossible too.

Even though Devorah and Jaxon’s connection is a bit instantaneous, I was immediately hooked by their intersecting stories, hoping they could get their happily ever after. In alternating chapters, we learn of Devorah’s devotion to her Hasidic upbringing and the immense love she feels for her family while we see Jaxon work his tail off to obtain the higher education his father never had, and goofing off with his friends. Despite living so closely to each other in a neighborhood in Brooklyn, Devorah and Jaxon are worlds apart until they meet in a hospital elevator during a storm.

Devorah is not allowed to be alone with a male who is not a family member but in this elevator she has no other choice to converse with Jaxon and it comes so easily. She’s straightforward and honest, and he’s a dorky kind of charming and sweet. Pretty quickly, the two realize they have found someone in one another they haven’t found before and, in the time ahead, are willing to risk quite a bit to see what this chance meeting could mean for the both of them.

While Devorah is known to be a goodie-two-shoes, she’s already begun to question her male-dominated religion, watching her older sister (who she always idolized) grow more and more submissive in her marriage to the overpowering Jacob. Unlike her sister, Devorah isn’t sure she wants to be a mother at 18 and dreams about the possibility of college instead. Why does everyone in her family have to live life the same way? Can happiness and acceptance be achieved if she chose another path?

You would think Like No Other was a thriller because I was on the edge of my couch, wondering what was going to happen to Devorah and Jaxon. I’ve been 16 before. I know there’s only so much that I could get away with before I got caught, and these two were pulling out the stops. It broke my heart but Jaxon so earnestly believed they could work through these differences, and make their families understand how real their feelings were for each other. It’s true that Jaxon may be one of my top YA male characters; he is just such a good guy and it’s not surprising either because his family, while strict, is supportive and wonderful. (His mother made me cry.)

In ways, Like No Other felt like a love letter to the diversity of New York City. There are so many of us from different backgrounds, religions, towns, and families constantly jumbled together on the busy streets or crowded subways, hitting the same coffee shops and working at the same office buildings. Most of the time we walk by each other without even acknowledging the other or truly learning about them. But we manage to coexist. Devorah and Jaxon are just two pieces of the puzzle, but I loved how Jaxon took the time to learn about her traditions and took them into account and I adored how much of their love blossomed all over New York City.

While I enjoyed reading Five Summers last year, Una LaMarche has catapulted herself into my “must buy” category with Like No Other. The intricacy of her research, the authentic look at young love, and testing her characters in a way that will make them braver, stronger human beings? It’s so impressive. Yes, young love is about romance and sex and chemistry but it’s also about self-discovery and LaMarche hits that nail on the head.

I rarely sit in one place and read in a book in a single day but I couldn’t get anything done until I finished this one. (Seriously, I was gasping, yelling, crying, and swooning!) Like No Other is one of those books that makes me proud to be a young adult lit fan.

“Too many choices tear us apart / I don’t want to live like that / Too many choices tear us apart /
I don’t want to love like that / I just want to touch your heart / May this confession be the start.”Aida

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August 29, 2014 - 2:09 pm

Alexa S. - Oh, hello there book that YOU (Estelle) talked me into buying with a single word! But really, after reading your review, I’m quite eager to read Like No Other. I do love that it has sort of a Romeo-and-Juliet feel to it, though obviously it’s completely different. And I’m curious to see how LaMarche portrays New York, and these characters and their differences.

August 25, 2014 - 10:43 pm

Jess - This books sounds great, I like it when a novel can have a great sense of setting. Awesome review.

August 25, 2014 - 11:44 am

Lucy - We read this for Diversity book club and all really enjoyed it. Glad to see your “buy it” rating! I just loved Jaxon too, and you’re right the book was tense and exciting at the end! And I so agree with you that the book is such a love letter to the diversity of NY. Makes me want to get back there soon.
What a lovely review, Estelle!

August 25, 2014 - 9:56 am

Jen @ Pop! Goes The Reader - And here you were, worried that you could never do this story justice. Estelle, this review is stunning. Seriously. You perfectly captured everything that made Like No Other one of the most powerful, memorable novels I’ve read this year. It’s funny – Ordinarily, the almost instantaneous feelings that arise between Jaxon and Devorah would have been cause for concern, but somehow LaMarche makes it work. Like you, I was on the edge of my seat throughout the entirety of the book, desperate for them to make it work, despite everything that worked to separate them. Jaxon’s wide-eyed optimism and beautiful positive spirit was infectious. As you mentioned, I particularly liked that New York City was almost another character in the narrative. How often do we pass others from entirely different cultures, religions and backgrounds on the street, never pausing to give any real thought to what their life entails? The diversity in this story never felt false or artificial and I appreciated being given a glimpse into a way of life that was completely foreign to me. In short? You hit the nail of the head with this one, E. A wonderful, wonderful review. Thank you for sharing it with us.

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Shelve It: August 24, 2014

weekly feature to share the books magan and estelle are adding to their bookshelves each week

Happy Sunday evening!

A good-ish hair day + a pile of books? Time for a Shelve It. (Especially when James was nice enough to go grocery shopping and let me record this only four times. haha) I’ve been sharing most of what I bought lately on our Instagram account so I settled on what I’ve been getting in the mail, and borrowed from others/library. Yay the library! I’m ashamed to say I did not go to the library at all in 2013. I finally got a chance to get my card a few weeks ago, and I plan on making good use of it for the rest of the year and beyond!:)

Sidenote: I’m eating cheese right now and it’s wonderful.

Hope you spent the weekend reading something awesome! Enjoy the video below:


In the mail:

Complete Nothing by Kieran Scott
Safe Keeping by Barbara Taylor Sissel (Thanks Harlequin!)
Independently Wealthy by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal
Madame Picasso by Anne Girard

From Elena at Novel Sounds (Thank you!):

Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle
Jessica Darling’s It List #2 by Megan McCafferty
The Start of You and Me by Emery Lord
Ashes to Ashes by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivan

From the library:

How My Summer Went Up in Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorksi
When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle
The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

On the blog:

Thanks so much for stopping in today! Happy happy happy reading!

August 29, 2014 - 1:41 pm

Alexa S. - HOORAY FOR THE START OF ME AND YOU! I definitely can’t wait to read that one, as you already know how much I loved Open Road Summer :)

August 26, 2014 - 1:49 pm

Tammy - I own Open Road Summer but haven’t read it, I guess I need to soon.

August 26, 2014 - 10:11 am

Leah - The SECOND you read Madame Picasso I want to hear all about it!! So I know next to nothing about art, but for some reason, historical art fiction (I probably just made that up, but we’ll go with it!) has my heart.
A recent one I read (that was only okay so I won’t push it too hard) was I Always Loved You. Still set in Paris, but this one focuses on Degas rather than Picasso.
Safe Keeping sounds like a book I would enjoy – thanks for putting it on my radar! The cover instantly made me think of Lisa Scottoline’s Save Me, but I’m thinking it’s just the red jacket.

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Pub Date: Fruit Beer 101

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Welcome to another spirited spin of Pub Date here at Rather Be Reading Blog!

So “back to school” might not mean what it used to back in the day, but I still have a soft spot for the season of new clothes, new pencils, and, hooray, the return of a crisp fall. Thanks to an idea from Maggie I originally wanted to pay homage to my first college in Long Island with some lovely local Southampton brews. But, go figure. I could not find any in the three stores near my apartment. So before I launch into my pick for today, let me recommend The Publick House in Southampton as an excellent place to stop by if you find yourself out east.

Instead, join me on a trip to the West Coast. Today’s beer comes from a 3-year old brewery in Southern California called Brouwerij West. What’s the brew? Dog Ate My Homework: a saison brewed with blackberries. (Isn’t that the best name? I couldn’t pass it up when I was looking for a Plan B.) The alcohol content is a little high at 7% so it is sold in a 1 pint/9.4 ounce bottle. I had enough for two glasses basically.

Let’s talk about fruity beers for a quick second.

A few weeks ago, Alexa and Elena came over for a craft night. It’s hard to pick a beer that delights all tastes, especially when not everyone is a seasoned beer drinker. In these situations, I tend to go for the fruit beers. The flavors taste more like juice or a cocktail, and I think the possibility of people liking it is that much higher. Before I started drinking beer, I didn’t know there were such familiar flavors available. It was a similar beer that made me braver to try more way back when.

Dog Ate My Homework was like a stronger juice, almost wine-like. Purple in color, a little foamy — it went down smoothly and I really enjoyed it. You could clearly taste the blackberries while the aroma was very grape juice-like. I liked that it was bubbly, felt all kinds of fancy.

And now a book…  The Queen of Kentucky by Alecia Whitaker!

Pub Date Back to School Edition Rather Be Reading Blog

I wanted a read that I loved (this one is underrated, IMO) and also:

  • spent a lot of time in high school (a.k.a. no summer stories)
  • had a very important dog character (the beer name!)

The Queen of Kentucky is the story of Ricki Jo, a 14-year old living in the south who is dedicated to breaking away from her old self and transforming into the new, improved, and popular Erika. If you ever struggled with insecurity and fitting in (that’s a joke; I have to believe all of us did), Alecia Whitaker hits all the excruciating, embarrassing circumstances you never wanted to relive. Ricki Jo learns a lot about loyalty, friendship, parents, and family in this book and I found it completely charming.

Those of you returning to school this year, good luck! Most importantly, don’t forget to take the time to destress! It’s imperative to your success. Really!

So until next time… cheers and happy reading!

Pub Date Lineup: The Book Addict’s Guide | Andi ABCs | Just A Couple More Pages

October 17, 2014 - 9:01 am

Pump-KING for Halloween | Pub Date (Books + Beer) - […] House Pumpkin Ale at my supermarket this week.  This is the brewery right near my first college (I’ve mentioned this before) and their pumpkin has the subtle flavors I enjoy so much: spice, pumpkin and vanilla extract. This […]

August 24, 2014 - 10:57 pm

Alexa S. - I loved that beer we had when we hung out for craft night! I do tend to like fruity beers, so I suppose if I were too experiment (which I am doing more now, I promise!), I would probably go for those first. As for the book, I’ve still not read this one, though I know you liked it. I have to remember to check it out sometime!

August 24, 2014 - 5:05 pm

August 24 Shelve It from Rather Be Reading Blog - […] Pub Date: My philosophy on Fruit Beer + a book/beer pairing! […]

August 22, 2014 - 9:30 am

Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide - I love it! This sounds yummy and I don’t know why but I have been SO into saisons these past few weeks. I agree — fruit beer is a great place to start non-beer drinkers because of the flavors that allude to juices or cocktails or wines and also it dampens the “beer flavor” for those who aren’t used to it. They’re not usually overly hoppy either, which I think is usually a turn-off to non-beer drinkers!
I haven’t read this one yet but it sounds good!! I love how it matches the beer too :) I’m always up for underrated books and trust your recs, of course!

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Estelle: Just Call My Name by H. Sloan

Just Call My Name by Holly Goldberg SloanJust Call My Name by Holly Goldberg Sloan ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: August 5, 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 352
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: fate, friendship, romance, parents
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley. (Thanks!)

Summary: After being kidnapped by their father, Sam is living in an apartment and going to school and Riddle is living with the Bells. But their imprisoned father is not done with them, and vows to put a halt to the “normalcy” they have finally been granted.

Holly Goldberg Sloan’s writing puts me in a trance. I feel calm and safe, even when the characters I am reading about may not be. She makes me believe that every little thing we do affects the bigger things, and that in the end, despite the tough stuff, we will be okay.

In her follow-up to the excellent I’ll Be There, Sloane reunites us with Sam and Riddle, two boys faced with a terrible childhood. Emily and the Bell Family, the kind and selfless family that has given these two a feeling of home. And I can’t forget Bobby who is now going by Robb, a peer who ends up in the middle of it all — sometimes a nuisance, but proving to be a blessing in more ways than one.

As much as I enjoyed hearing how life was for all of these characters and being introduced to a new one — Destiny — I wasn’t expecting this book to be so similar to the first. I kind of wish we were done with Sam and Riddle’s father and moved on to other challenges. Of course, Sam and Riddle’s situation with their dad has caused long-term effects and I would have liked them to deal with these emotions and repercussions more. Generally, more insight into Emily and Sam’s relationship, and more moments spent with the Bell’s would have made for a stronger story. Everything felt a bit too much on the surface for me, and I finished with so many questions and not enough answers.

Still, Sloan is a master at piecing together quirky characters, where the smallest appearance can equal major impact. Plus if you want to read about good vs. evil, and the journey toward a happy ending, all of Holly’s work falls into this category. Definitely check out I’ll Be There, Just Call My Name, and last year’s middle grade, Counting By 7s, for charming casts of characters you can’t help but root for.

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August 21, 2014 - 1:28 pm

Alexa S. - Even though I’ve taken it out of the library more than once, I have yet to read I’ll Be There. (I do love its cover though!) I did love Counting by 7s, so I have no doubt that I’ll like and root for the characters in the other 2 as well (when I do read them)!

August 21, 2014 - 11:42 am

Jen @Fefferbooks - Agree agree! But you knew that. :) Good reminder that I need to go put Counting by 7s on the library hold list, though!

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