we're magan + estelle -- two girls who live miles apart, but connect daily over our love for books. we share thoughtful + honest reviews of the books we read, but enjoy talking about our crazy lives and other interests, too (style! diy! zac efron!). join us!
Nothing says summer like SHOPPING. Especially when you are us.
So today we decided to pair both reading and shopping for a fun little feature. This year, better than most, we have kind of done a nice job of making sure we read the books the other can’t stop raving about. (Yes, we are patting ourselves on the back a little bit.) It’s nice for a change! To celebrate that milestone, we are each talking about books we want to read this summer based on the praise of the other!
estelle on “winger” by andrew smith:
I searched high and low for this book… I couldn’t find it at my nearby Barnes & Noble but luckily, found it in Books of Wonder one weekend. Love the cover, love the plot (male POV, romance, rugby!), and especially love that it helped Magan get out of her own reading slump. She called it “well-written and addictive“. That’s just the kind of book I need in my hands right now.
As for the shopping aspect of things, I absolutely adore the colors on this front cover. Blue and red are patriotic, sure, BUT they are also super nautical so I’m drooling over these two options. Wouldn’t the blue look great with a pair of yellow wedges? And the red with a nice pair of beige flats? I love skirts in the summer.
Please excuse me for making Rather Be Reading a bit risque today. Oops? (Totally kidding.) Since Estelle wrote her Dangerous Girls review, in which she discussed how it’s a fantastic thriller that she wanted to speed-read through, I have NEEDED IT in my hands. (Can July 16th hurry up and be here already?) The cover is a mix of mystery + light-hearted beachy-goodness. I told Estelle I got the impression that the characters would be a bit more scantily clad than what I would probably be. (It’s normal to wear a fully body swimsuit, right? Again, kidding.) She concurred that I was on the right track.
So, I went on a Victoria’s Secret shopping splurge. (Model’s bodies not included.) The swimsuit is girly and flirty, but also sexy. The cover-up has kind of a double meaning. See what I did there? 😉
Oh hi! It’s Top Ten Tuesday Day thanks to the geniuses at Broke and Bookish! Today we’re teaming up to share with you the top reads we’ve experienced so far this year — no easy task! At all! It’s just so hard to choose when you fall in love with so many things for different reasons but we’re going to try very hard to get you excited about these titles today!
1. Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas (July 16 release): To call this book a page turner is just about the understatement of the year. A spring break turned murder and conviction totally changes the dynamic of this group of friends. The story is told from Anna’s perspective as she awaits her trail in the brutal death of her best friend. So sinister, so twisty, surprisingly sexy, and well-done. I finished this two weeks ago and still can’t stop thinking about it.
2. Starstruck by Rachel Shukert: One of the most literary, multi-dimensional young adult books I’ve read ever. Rachel takes us back to 1930s Hollywood and focuses on the lives of three very different young ladies. The secrets behind the glamour, the unexpected friendship, the romance, and politics all play a part. This is the first in a three-book series and I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next. (Esp. with the WTF ending.)
3. Criminal by Terra Elan McVoy: So (strangely?) proud when an author I love takes a risk with her work and blows me away. McVoy says bye bye to high school bands and summer camps and wraps us up in a story of a love so full of devotion, it spells disaster for Nikki. She ends up in jail when the love of her life gets her involved in a murder. Secrets, growth, frustration make up this succinctly written masterpiece. You will not be able to put it down.
4. Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland: A beautiful setting with a not so happy story attached to it. Cricket has no idea what is going on with her best friend, Jules, and why she has suddenly turned her back on her. Hoping to somehow fix whatever it is, Cricket follows her to Nantucket, gets a job at a neighboring in, and falls in love with the most surprising person. This book is so honest when it comes to conflicting feelings of friendship and I think that’s why I love it so much.
5. Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham: A big kids book to round out the list… Frannie is in her late 20s and still trying to figure out what to do with her life. She has a few months left in her own goal to make it as an actress, and when a mistake lands her an agent… she thinks it might actually be happening. This book talks about the path least taken, the one where you go out for your passions and don’t follow the crowd. I loved that so much and was rooting for Frannie the whole time. (This is also the first book in a series.)
Surprise pick: Fingerprints of You by Kristen-Paige Madonia: All my picks above are 2013 releases, and Fingerprints of You came out last year and it’s one of those… “why did I wait so long to read this?” picks. Lemon is pregnant and decides to go with her best friend to California to find out more about the dad she never knew. Madonia has written a fast-paced, gorgeous book with an awesome best friendship, a difficult mother, and amazing discoveries.
1. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell: Without a doubt, this is one of my favorite 2013 books. I never wanted it to end. I felt so emotionally invested in the story because Rainbow’s writing is so spot-on. She made me feel emotional over the simplest of things (the hand-holding scene had my heart beating so fast!). I am positive Rainbow Rowell is an auto-buy for me from here on out.
2. I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella: I just finished this one this past weekend and really, really enjoyed it! Sophie Kinsella has been kind of hit or miss for me. The main character in the Shopaholic books really grated on my nerves (would she never learn her lesson?). BUT — I found Poppy to be funny and intelligent and I laughed out loud so much my husband wanted to know what was going on.
3. Winger by Andrew Smith: There’s nothing about Winger that I didn’t absolutely love. I wish I could experience it over and over and over again for the very first time because I want to swim in Andrew Smith’s words. I loved the main character, Ryan Dean, more than I can possibly express in words. (Got any other awesome male POV young adult book recs for me?)
4. manicpixiedreamgirl by Tom Leveen: Surprise! Another male POV book! I loved Zero last year by Leveen and really fell more in love with his work after reading manicpixiedreamgirl because he made the complex love scenario so understandable — even if you haven’t been in the exact situation, I think it’s still relateable. Leveen’s writing is just … killer.
5. Golden by Jessi Kirby: My review of Golden was practically one big gush fest, but that’s because Jessi so, so deserves a standing ovation for this one. I’ve enjoyed her stories in the past, but when I finished the last page of Golden, I felt like I was suffering through a break-up I just didn’t want to end. (This is probably why I own three copies of the book…)
Mom pick: I don’t really want to infuse Rather Be Reading with lots of kids stuff, but let me be honest for a second and say I read a bazillion kids books every day to our foster daughter. Some of them are so repetitive and boring (to me, an adult, but great for kids development, of course). My favorite, hands down, has been Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin because it’s comical and intelligent. And! The illustrations are impeccable.
Looking forward to seeing everyone else’s picks! It’s going to be a good week!
The Newcomer by Robyn Carr ( web | tweet ) Part of Thunder Point Series. Publication Date: June 25, 2013 Publisher: Harlequin Pages: 368 Target audience: Adult romance Keywords: small town, exes, heartbreak, extended families Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley. (Thanks also to Little Bird Publicity!)
Summary: So much happening in Thunder Point: Sarah has a secret about her job that could affect her brother, Landon, who is about to start his senior year in a good school (finally!). Mac’s ex-wife is back in town after 10 years since she abandoned their children. Gina’s daughter, Ashley, is dealing with heartbreak after a surprise breakup with her college boyfriend. Double the romance, secrets, and friendship!
When I reviewed The Wanderer back in March, I figured the multiple storylines served as an introduction to the series and that once Book 2 came out, Carr would follow the typical romance novel format and dedicate each book to one character. Instead The Newcomer followed its predecessor by jumping between the lives of those we met in Book 1. And you know what? I liked this a whole lot. Not only was it a bit more seamless in this book but, as a reader, you are able to grow more attached to the characters and that’s never a bad thing.
So now I can tell you what I loved so much about The Newcomer. There are a good amount of intertwining storylines but the standout for me was Ashley, a teenager dealing with an awful breakup with her college boyfriend. She’s totally blindsided because he was always so devoted and the series of events that followed were heartbreakingly authentic. I wanted to simultaneously punch her ex in the face, and hug her until it stopped hurting. One thing about Carr: she does not shy away from incorporating teens in her books. This is so refreshing, and a great reason for YA fans to try her out.
For all the drama (crazy exes, convict fathers, sexting), there is so much to enjoy about the Thunder Point gang (coolest hottest sex scene EVER, proposals, sweet surprises). By the second chapter, I felt like I was already hanging out with some old friends of mine. Can’t wait for book 3! (I quite literally can’t; I was screaming NOT YET! when I finished.)
Why oh why do these summer weekends go so fast? I’ve had a great couple of days celebrating a friend’s birthday, seeing Monsters University (so cute!) and hanging out with a few fancy bloggers at Books of Wonder this afternoon! I was so thrilled to finally meet Leila Howland, author Nantucket Blue, too! She is such a gracious, sweet, adorable gal and I can’t wait to see where her career takes her. It’s been such a pleasure to follow her and her debut! (Ahem, go read it. Go.)
Here are a few pictures from today’s event at Books of Wonder!
Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas ( web | tweet ) Publication Date: July 16, 2013 Publisher: Simon Pulse Pages: 400 Target audience: Mature young adult Keywords: spring break, friendships, murder Format read: ARC from Publisher via Edelweiss (Thanks!)
Summary: Spring break for a group of friends turns deadly when one of their own ends up brutally murdered and another charged in the crime.
Full disclosure about me: I’ve been known to get wrapped up in those big headline crimes and when I first read the synopsis about mayhem in Aruba, Natalee Holloway popped into my head. (Teenager who went missing on a school trip to Aruba in 2005.) What about a character in the book stuck in a different country facing murder charges? Instant reminder of the recently published and freed Amanda Knox. (Charged with the murder of her roommate in Italy in 2009.) But Haas manages to make Dangerous Girls completely her own because while this storysometimes alludes to these particular crimes, it makes more a statement about the 24-hour news cycle and how media paints the victim and the accused. And just like I’d been with certain cases, I was completely alert and engrossed with untangling this vacation-turned-tragedy.
Anna and Elise are uber best friends on vacation with their group (including Anna’s boyfriend, Tate) in gorgeous Aruba. They are prepped for a week of partying, the sun, the surf, and just leaving all their worries in Boston behind. But in the opening chapter, we know their hopes for their paradise vacation are all but a pipe dream. Elise is missing, and when they are on the phone alerting the authorities, another in the group discovers her brutally murdered in her bedroom.
It’s obvious that the Aruban authorities don’t have much experience dealing with a crime of this caliber, and zero in on Anna and Tate as their prime suspects. But Tate comes from an affluent family and sneakily escapes his convictions while Anna is left to await trial. Rethinking every minute of her life since she first met Elise in school, going over every second of their time in Aruba, and wondering if she will ever be home again.
Haas effectively alternates chapters between the present and the past. The story grows more intense because the further you read the more detail you get, those small little details that could uncover what really happened to Elise. I was probably convinced I had figured out the whole thing about five times, even declaring so outloud. But then I kept reading, doubt crept in, and I realized I didn’t know much at all.
That, folks, is the sign of a fantastic thriller.
I had to exercise EXTREME self-control when it came to my reading because I wanted to just plow through the whole thing, skip over paragraphs that I thought could lead to some answer sooner. I actually had to stop myself many times and I’m glad I did. The moments of reprieve, the slow burn made it THAT much better.
Listen, I read Dangerous Girls in less than a day. Elise and Anna’s dependent friendship, the cruelty of Elise’s murder, Anna’s relationship with Tate, the loyalty between their circle of friends, this all encompassing sensuality, and the uncertain future for Anna? I had to get to the bottom of it. All I can say is the ending blew me away so much I was yelling four-letter words at the book, and frantically scrolling back to make sure I had read it right.
But I had, and whoa, Haas sure got me.
Dangerous Girls is one wild, twisty ride; the details felt so real that my first reaction was to Google the heck out of this crime when I was done reading because I had to know more. Only, there was no murder to research. Instead, it’s purely a piece of fiction, so addicting and so dark that I can only call it an experience.
Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols ( web | tweet ) Publication Date: July 16, 2013 Publisher: MTV Books Pages: 288 Target audience: Mature Young Adult Keywords: country music, Nashville, family drama, hot guitar player Format read: ARC received from the publisher. (Thank you!)
Summary: After a year of breaking all her parent’s rules, Bailey is living with her grandfather. Though she’s not allowed to play her fiddle or even consider joining a band, her grandfather helps her get a job playing in a tribute band… where she meets the mysterious Sam.
If your interest is even slightly piqued by any of the below, I strongly suggest you purchase Jennifer Echols’ newest upcoming release, Dirty Little Secret. Just look at all that’s in store for you…
♥ Steamy scenes.
♥ Hot love interest.
♥ Strong-willed main character.
♥ A little bit of country music in the great city of Nashville, TN.
♥ A big helping of family drama.
After Bailey’s younger sister is signed to a mega-record label, her parents focus all their attention on making Julie’s career a success. This means removing Bailey from the music scene (even though the sisters used to be a duo, playing shows together all the time) so no one catches wind of the ripped-apart-sisters-storyline that could ruin Julie’s career before it’s begun. Bailey, over the course of a year, morphs into a girl that’s only an inkling of who she used to be. She chops her long, blonde locks into an asymmetrical cut and dyes her hair black; she begins dressing sexier and edgier than ever before. Bailey wants to be badass.
When her sister leaves to go on tour, Bailey is asked to move in with her grandfather. Though she’s been forbidden to play her fiddle or participate in any shows, her grandfather pulls some strings and lands her a job where she plays in tribute bands at the mall. Some days she plays with Elvis Presley, others with Dolly Parton. The day she plays with the Johnny Cash band, she’s challenged by the guitar-playing-boy who pushes her to play harder and better. The boy named Sam who she thinks she’s met before. The boy who invites her to play with his band… and for some reason, even though Bailey should, she just can’t turn down.
Oh, holy smokes, you guys. Bailey and Sam’s connection was on fire. These two, from the moment they met, were flirty and sarcastic. It did take me a minute to accept how quickly their relationship developed, but I’d consider that a minor bump in the road. (And I was only concerned because WHOA BUDDY was there a steamy, steamy scene pretty early on and I felt so protective of Bailey.) Sam’s charismatic and quite a charmer, but he also has a story that made me cock my head to the side and squint my eyes at the pages because I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure him out.
Sam’s suspicious storyline, plus Bailey’s family drama that was slowly unfolding, and the way these two seemed to magnetically be connected completely absorbed me. Another minor hesitation was that when the climax of the story arrived, I felt like Echols could have explored the resolution a little bit more. It felt a little like, “OH CRAP! THINGS ARE ABOUT TO GO DOWN.” … *fade to black* … All is better now. I fully believe Echols has the ability to dive into those tough situations and provide an example of how these messy moments can be resolved, but it just didn’t happen here as much as I wanted.
Despite my hesitancy with areas of the story, I believe Jennifer did a lovely job with the Bailey and Sam’s story. And heck, she even got me listening to country music. (I would have said pre-Dirty Little Secret that this was darn near impossible.)