Rules of Summer by Joanna Philbin ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Poppy/Little Brown
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: Summer, Long Island, first love, upper class vs. middle class
Format read: ARC provided by Publisher via NetGalley (Thanks!)
Summary: Rory is thrilled to be leaving New Jersey and her dependent mother for a summer in the Hamptons — even if she will be working for a family without pay. (But there is free board!) When Rory arrives, she finds out that the family’s daughter, Isobel, is also her age but based on her behavior is pretty positive they won’t be friends. Isobel, on the other hand, has just come back from school in California, isn’t feeling her country club friends anymore, and feels even more out of place in her house. But things take a turn for the better when she bumps into Mike…
One thing that I absolutely love about reading is discovering books set in places you know. Right away, I felt bonded to Rules of Summer because of buzzwords like Montauk Highway, Hamptons, and even Stony Brook. I spent my freshman and sophomore year of college out in Southampton, and even though my school was in debt and closed (true story), the Hamptons are such a special place to me. (Like where I went on a first date with my husband.)
Summer is all about that escape. Rory has an opportunity to hang out in the Hamptons; sure she is working but the “away from her mother and all her drama” makes the free board and no pay worth it. For Isobel Rule, she’s back in the fray, returning to a family she never felt a part of, and friends she suddenly finds totally superficial. Her solace is all about the surf. These two girls come from totally different worlds but are forced together when Rory is recruited to give Isobel driving lessons.
I have to applaud Philbin here because she doesn’t prolong the whole “these girls have it out for each other” thing we see in a lot of books. While they really have no reason to be friends, there’s no reason for them not to be either. I’m glad we got the positive side of the coin here because Isobel needs a voice of reason and someone on her side and Rory really needs to let loose and enjoy herself for once. The girls are able to give each other those things, and, just in time, because…
BOYS. There are two of them. And they are very cute. (In fact, I like to call this book Nantucket Blue x 2 because we get to see two girls fall in love for the first time in Rules of Summer.) Isobel meets Mike when she gets caught in the surf, and oh did it remind me of the anxiety and excitement of falling so hard, you are practically sinking. She is so used to playing a game with guys that when she finally feels serious about someone, she’s not too sure how to act. (Especially since he’s older and a lot more experienced.) Their chemistry is so gosh-darn pulsating that I think it took away from Rory’s own forbidden romance a bit. While still sweet and fun, hers felt a bit rushed and not as thoroughly explored. (Notice how I didn’t tell you who Rory’s mystery guy is.)
So what’s at stake in Rules of Summer? A ton. Family secrets come rushing out, Rory is not exactly truthful with Isobel about her love life, and is Isobel’s relationship forever? Let’s not forget Mrs. Rule either — this lady may look sweet and kind but she “rules” a.k.a. dominates with an iron fist. What does this mean for both Isobel and Rory?
Even though the end shows up a little too abruptly and some big moments aren’t given the attention they deserve, Rules of Summer had me practically hearing the roar of the ocean in my backyard and truly invested in the lives of these two girls. And the good news? There’s a sequel in the works! I’m so looking forward to that!
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Greetings, friends! Truth? I’ve loved so many of the past Top 10 Tuesday memes but I have been unable to come up with 10 items to list for most of them. TODAY I WILL DO IT.
I definitely don’t shy away from tough subjects in books. They are intense, emotionally-stirring, and, when done well, help you to understand the plights of different types of people.
I hope you’ll discover a few new titles in my list today!
Thanks again to Broke and Bookish for supplying this awesome meme! Don’t forget to check in over there too!
Beautiful Music for Ugly Children and The Miseducation of Cameron Post are two beautifully written books that not only deal with gaining acceptance from others, but also finding it for themselves. Beautiful Music was one of my top reads last year; Gabe is a vivacious character who just came out as transgender to his parents. The Miseducation of Cameron Post is about a girl who thinks she caused her parents death because she kissed a girl; her aunt soon sends her to a school to get reformed.
This isn’t something I’ve gone through myself, but I’ve seen it happen to my friends and I’m always interested in how an author will interpret it. I thought Jennifer E. Smith’s The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight did a nice job of showing how a girl comes to terms with her dad living a brand new life. The newly released Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland depicted a character who avoided the repercussions of divorce in her family until her world blew up all around her. Both very honest accounts.
Nothing fires me up more than a mean person. I know these stories are important to tell because this is happening all over the world to so many people but damn, does it rile me up. Case in point: Camp by Elaine Wolf a great setting filled with some of the most heinous characters I’ve ever come in contact with. (I couldn’t put that one down.) While Eleanor and Park is definite a sweet first romance kind of book, Eleanor goes through a lot at her school and doesn’t know who or where to turn.
4. Helplessness associated with a sick parent
The fears associated with this subject really rock me to the core. Two recent examples in my reading are The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler and Sean Griswold’s Head by Lindsay Leavitt; they are completely different books filled with very different circumstances but still the worry, the frustration are very much the same.
5. Murder and consequences
I can’t stop singing the praises of Terra Elan McVoy’s Criminal but here I am again. It’s a story filled with so much “gray” as a character is made a true “partner-in-crime” and must make some tough choices regarding her only friend, the love of her life, and her own future. I haven’t reviewed it here but Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood is one of my favorite books of old time. He wrote a book about a murder of a Kansas Family, interviews the killers and the rest of the town, and does his own full investigation. It’s so very interesting and addicting.
6. The power of technology
This really irks me because hello, we are communicating on the internet right now! I use Twitter and Instagram and checking both of these things (and more) takes up so much of my daily life. I love when use of technology is even more exaggerated in books because it makes me reflect on how much I put out there, and how I just need to unplug sometimes. Do check out: Bumped series by Megan McCafferty and The Julian Game by Adele Griffin.
7. Falling for the “wrong” person
There are many ways you can look at this category. Sometimes it’s a terrible thing, and sometimes it’s the best terrible thing to ever happen to someone. Here are two (non-cheating examples): J.H. Trumble’s Where You Are and Natalie Standiford’s How to Say Goodbye in Robot.
8. Not having control in this great big world
Sometimes there are just bigger things that we cannot stop from handling. A terrorist attack, or a war. Two extremely well-done books, that will forever be highly recommended by me are Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan (9/11) and Endangered by Eliot Schrefer (violence in Africa).
Today I’m thinking in terms of our parents, and realizing that our parents have their own histories and their own feelings and lives. Sometimes uncovering these mysteries is great for us, and other times… not so much. You Have Seven Messages by Stewart Lewis is written so beautifully, about a girl who listens to voicemails left on her deceased mother’s phone and uncovers the truth surrounding her final days. Then there is Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrando, an Estelle favorite, who learns about her mother’s childhood when she moves into a house on Coney Island.
10. Following your heart
Big decisions, our decisions may not always have the popular vote but sometimes, we just have to take that leap. It might be a job, a relationship, a friendship; you might have to make some tough decisions or happy ones. Lauren Graham’s Someday, Someday, Maybe made me think of careers and following through on your passions, while Gayle Forman’s Just One Day was about examining friendships, relationships with parents, and even ourselves.
Thanks for stopping in today’s TTT! Can’t wait to hear everyone else’s picks!
The Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston
Publication Date: May 14, 2013
Target audience: Young Adult
Keywords: witness protection program, secrecy, multiple identities, mystery thriller
Format read: ARC via NetGalley from Publisher. (Thanks!)
Summary: Meg Jones’ family is in the Witness Protection program. Meg isn’t her real name; it’s the sixth identity she’s had to assume as they’re relocated to Louisiana. She’s not sure why they’re in the program, but she’s determined to find out. And this time she’s not making any connections that will hurt to leave behind when they’re relocated the next time.
You know those books that grab your attention when you read the summary because you think, “Wow! I’ve never read anything about that topic before” therefore, you must, must read the book because it’s new and exciting? That’s how I felt about The Rules for Disappearing. Meg Jones (nope, not her real name) and her family are in the Witness Protection program. In less than a year, she’s been moved six different times and assumed six different identities. Her newest relocation has landed them in a small town in Louisiana. She has to pretend she moved there from Arkansas (though she doesn’t know a thing about it) and she’s forced to chop off her long, blonde hair, give it a bad dye job, and wear brown contacts that hide her blue eyes.
Meg doesn’t have the slightest idea WHY her family is in the program; she only sees how it’s affecting everyone. Her mom, once a casual drinker, is now a full-fledged alcoholic. Her dad refuses to acknowledge her mom’s drunkenness while her little sister, Mary, is slowly withering away, only a ghost of her happy-go-lucky self remaining. Meanwhile Meg is creating boundaries for her new placement — no making friends, no joining clubs or extracurricular activities, no boyfriends — nothing that will cause her heartbreak when their inevitable next-move spontaneously occurs. (Witness Protection gives them zero warning; they just show up and remove them immediately.) Meg is also beginning to feel a little skittish — she can’t help but glance over her shoulder because she’s afraid someone’s following her. Is it her imagination or is her family in severe danger?
When I began The Rules for Disappearing, I possibly expected something that was a lighter take on being in the program — how Meg adapted to each move and what it was like moving constantly. I really enjoyed the depth Elston explored — the fear of being stripped away, the unknowns, the distrust, the loss of knowing who you are, and all the chaos and confusion. All of this added up to a really well-written read that sometimes had me sitting on pins and needles, anxious for the next break in the story. For a good while, Meg has absolutely no idea why her family is on the run. What are they hiding from? She guesses her father did something to monopolize their life, but she’s just not sure. With each and every bit of information she learns, the story gets just a little bit creepier.
There were times I definitely felt like I shouldn’t have been reading The Rules for Disappearing at night. I swear thriller music was playing in my head — the dunna dunna dunna tune was on loop while I crazily tried to solve the mystery of what they were running from and how to get her family out of the situation they were in. Some scenes were downright eerie, I tell ya — the kind where the hair on the back of your neck stands on end. Major kudos to Elston for never allowing me to anticipate when the next big reveal was coming. I loved that everything wasn’t easily solved when the story was at its climax either. (YIPPIE for not making the resolution easily fixable!)
Full disclosure? One thing I do find myself lingering on is the ending. I mostly like how things wrapped up, but there’s just something about the ending that has me questioning whether or not I missed a big clue in there. I almost have this need to reread the story so I can determine whether or not I’m okay with the conclusion. I’m not quite sure if it was done this way because Elston has plans to continue the story or if it she wanted us to close the book with goosebumps still on our arms, a little freaked out. (I do see on Goodreads there is a Rules for Disappearing #2 in the works, but I don’t know if that’s a continuation of the same story/idea.) Regardless, my end-of-the-story hesitation doesn’t take away from the thrill ride that was The Rules of Disappearing. I still definitely, definitely believe those of you who are interested in being slightly creeped out should consider picking this one up!
Goodreads | Amazon
Howdy, friends! Today we are so, so THRILLED to be kicking off the blog tour for Jessi Kirby’s GOLDEN. You may remember me fawning over this amazing new book by Jessi, but just in case you need a refresher, here’s my Golden review. I’m so, so excited to get to share an excerpt with you.
About Golden by Jessi Kirby:
Published by: Simon & Schuster
To Be Released on: May 14th, 2013
Purchase it from: Simon & Schuster | IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Add it to Goodreads
Seventeen-year-old Parker Frost has never taken the road less traveled. Valedictorian and quintessential good girl, she’s about to graduate high school without ever having kissed her crush or broken the rules. So when fate drops a clue in her lap—one that might be the key to unraveling a town mystery—she decides to take a chance.
Julianna Farnetti and Shane Cruz are remembered as the golden couple of Summit Lakes High—perfect in every way, meant to be together forever. But Julianna’s journal tells a different story—one of doubts about Shane and a forbidden romance with an older, artistic guy. These are the secrets that were swept away with her the night that Shane’s jeep plunged into an icy river, leaving behind a grieving town and no bodies to bury.
Reading Julianna’s journal gives Parker the courage to start to really live—and it also gives her reasons to question what really happened the night of the accident. Armed with clues from the past, Parker enlists the help of her best friend, Kat, and Trevor, her longtime crush, to track down some leads. The mystery ends up taking Parker places that she never could have imagined. And she soon finds that taking the road less traveled makes all the difference.
(— Summary borrowed from Goodreads)
Excerpt from Golden:
The name on the next envelope snaps me back like a rubber band. I stare. Breathe. Stare some more.
I look around, chilled. That can’t be right. But it’s right there in front of me, written in black ink with big loopy pen strokes just as gorgeous as she was. My first impulse is to see if anyone else saw. The clock ticks away the seconds on the wall. In one row of stacks are a couple of younger girls whispering and trying to look like they’re looking for books to check out. Ms. Moore’s keeping tabs on them from behind her computer, and the library TA, a tragically nerdy boy named Jake, shoves a book back onto the shelf then straightens out the ones around it for the millionth time. None of them look at me, but I’m nervous all of a sudden because right now it feels like I’m holding in my hands something I shouldn’t be. Like I’ve just brushed my fingers over a ghost. And by all accounts and definitions, I have.
Every town has its stories. Stories that have been told so many times by so many different people they’ve worked themselves into the collective consciousness as truth. Julianna Farnetti is one of Summit Lakes’. Shane Cruz is the other. And theirs–it’s a story of perfection lost on an icy road. They were one of those golden couples, the kind everyone adores and envies at the same time. Meant to be together forever. Teenage dream realized.
And both of them are frozen in time on a billboard at the edge of town for everyone to see. From behind a thick layer of plexiglass that’s replaced every few years, they smile their senior portrait smiles like they don’t know people have stopped looking for them. Somewhere along the line, the words on the billboard changed from MISSING to IN LOVING MEMORY OF, and I can remember thinking how sad that was, but it was bound to happen. Their parents buried empty coffins.
And still, we have the plaque in the gym, with a picture of Shane and Julianna together, his graduation gown arms wrapped tight around her shoulders and her cap crooked on top of her curly blond hair, both of them laughing like life was about to begin. His family started the scholarship in their name. Hers left town. And still, after ten years, they smile those frozen smiles that never age. Trapped behind the glass and the stories we’ve come up with for what happened to them.
I glance down again, read the name to be sure. Here in my hand is Julianna Farnetti’s senior journal. Pages she wrote before all of that, when the world was still at her perfect fingertips. When Mr. Kinney told her to capture herself in words she could read later.
(— Excerpt shared from pages 13-15 of Golden)
About Jessi Kirby:
Jessi Kirby is a former English teacher and librarian. She lives in Orange County, CA with her husband and two kids, where she writes stories and runs the beach every day. Well, almost every day.
Find out more about GOLDEN here.
Follow Jessi via her Website | Twitter | Facebook | GoodReads
(— About shared from Jessi’s Goodreads Author Page)
Win a copy of Golden:
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Add GOLDEN to your to-read list on Goodreads
Pre-order GOLDEN on Amazon
Read my rave review + check out our nail polish picks for GOLDEN
Check out Mundie Moms for more GOLDEN blog tour information
Surprise, surprise! I’m back with a vlog for this week’s Shelve It! It’s been a while, huh? I know — I’m sorry about that. There seems to rarely be quiet time to do a vlog with our baby girl happily crawling around everywhere. (But seriously — what a joy it is to have her!) I attended TLA a few weeks ago with my great friends Jess, Ginger, Lena, and Sarah. I was very intentional about selecting only books I am 100% interested in and did not want to walk away from the conference feeling greedy. What I’m showing you is what I got (aside from a few books Estelle will share with you that I got signed for her).
For Review from TLA:
Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols — July 16, 2013 — Goodreads | Amazon
Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young — August 27, 2013 — Goodreads | Amazon
You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle — June 4, 2013 — Goodreads | Amazon
When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney — June 4, 2013 — Goodreads | Amazon
Starry Nights by Daisy Whitney — September 3, 2013 — Goodreads | Amazon
Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller — September 24, 2013 — Goodreads | Amazon
To Be Perfectly Honest: A Novel Based on an Untrue Story by Sonya Sones — August 27, 2013 — Goodreads | Amazon
Dead Ends by Erin Jade Lange — September 3, 2013 — Goodreads | Amazon
Jumped In by Patrick Flores-Scott — August 27, 2013 — Goodreads | Amazon
Fault Line by Christa Desir — November 12, 2013 — Goodreads | Amazon
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick — August 13, 2013 — Goodreads | Amazon
The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen — June 4, 2013 — Goodreads | Amazon
For Review (e-books):
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (!!!!) — September 10, 2013 — Goodreads | Amazon
Thousand Words by Jennifer Brown — May 21, 2013 — Goodreads | Amazon
The Program by Suzanne Young — April 30, 2013 — Goodreads | Amazon
What Happened on the Blog:
Have an awesome weekend! What books did you guys get?
Thanks for checking out this week’s Shelve It!
Levitating Las Vegas by Jennifer Echols ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: May 6, 2013
Publisher: Pocket Books / Simon + Schuster
Target audience: Adult / mature young adult
Keywords: paranormal, Vegas, mind reading, levitation, conspiracy
Format read: ARC via Edelweiss from Publisher. (Thanks!)
Summary: For the past 7 years, Holly and Elijah have believed they had mental disorders and have been forced to take medication and keep secret about their conditions. Because of it, they forfeited dating one another (they had no idea each had the disorder) and have lived sheltered lives under the surveillance of a Las Vegas casino. When Holly and Elijah’s prescriptions run out, Elijah believes he can save them both by kidnapping Holly and finding the factory. In the mean time, the attraction between the two is undeniable and a war is breaking out in their casino.
Hands down, Jennifer Echols is the one of the best when it comes to writing tension between two characters. In young adult books like Such a Rush and Going Too Far, as well as her adult debut Star Crossed, she is at her best.
Unfortunately (fortunately), the chemistry between main characters Holly and Elijah was the only thing that kept me hanging on in Levitating Las Vegas. It’s almost the perfect kind of love story — two characters who have known each other forever and are forced apart by complications they can’t even explain to one another. What’s also interesting is that they remained in each other’s lives from a distance: both worked at the casino (Elijah was a carpenter and Holly was a showgirl assistant in her dad’s magic show) and even graduated college together.
It’s not until the necessary medication for their respective “mental disorders” runs out that they start crossing a lot closer paths. Of course, the whole thing is being orchestrated by casino security/Holly’s closet friend, Kaylee, (but they don’t know this) so it’s not as happening as organically as the two think.
Oh my, the drama! Abusive boyfriends, lying parents, mind changers, etc.
I’m not a paranormal reader. In fact, the only reason I picked this up is for Jennifer Echol’s name alone, and despite my inexperience, the plot felt a bit discombulated and could have used a bit more organization. Even when I thought I was finally catching on, the last few chapters blew up in my face and I got the feeling Levitating Las Vegas was more of an action packed novel/good vs. evil than a romantic paranormal.
More balance, attention to the dialogue (Holly and Elijah alternated between sounding older than 21 and younger than 21 at times), and more understanding of the powers associated by these two (shouldn’t he be able to read her mind ALL the time?) would have made this a smoother, more enjoyable read. As a genre, I would imagine that paranormal is a lot harder to write because you have to make the unbelievable feel believable in every day life — at least somehow and that was truly lacking here. (So were Holly’s clothes… she was always wearing a bathing suit top!)
If you are looking to read some Jennifer Echols (and you should!), I urge you to read Such as Rush or Star Crossed. And I’m certainly looking forward to her next young adult book, Dirty Little Secret, this summer!
Goodreads | Amazon