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Estelle: Rules of Summer by Joanna Philbin

Rules of Summer by Joanna PhilbinRules of Summer by Joanna Philbin ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Poppy/Little Brown
Pages: 352
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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August 11, 2014 - 9:00 am

Since Last Summer by Joanna Phibin (YA Review) - […] Last Summer by Joanna Philbin ( web | tweet ) See review of Rules of Summer. Publication Date: June 3, 2014 Publisher: Little, Brown Pages: 304 Target audience: Young adult […]

June 9, 2013 - 12:01 am

Estelle's Shelve It: 6/8/2013 (Books Bought + Books Found) - […] in Real Life by Jennifer Castle Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney Rules of Summer by Joanna […]

May 29, 2013 - 11:28 am

Alexa Y. - This sounds like a potentially great summer read! I do like the fact that there’s romance for BOTH girls and not just one of them. And also the fact that there’s friendship, and summer adventures to be had. Plus, the setting seems so magical and realistic and within my reach (for real)!

May 20, 2013 - 5:27 pm

Rachel - WHY have I not heard of this one yet? I mean seriously. This book sounds perfect for me. First off, boys. We all know how I feel about that topic. Second, summer. I love summer. And also I already love Rory and Isobel so basically it’s probably going to be love at first read when this one’s released. Lovely review, as always :)

May 17, 2013 - 6:33 am

Lori - This sounds like such a good summer read! I’m adding it to my TBR right now.

May 16, 2013 - 10:47 am

Tara - This sounds like the PERFECT book to read for the Summer Series :) But I have to read Nantucket Blue first…

May 16, 2013 - 2:10 am

Wendy - This sounds like a great summer read! Great review — adding to my TBR!

May 15, 2013 - 3:44 pm

Maggie @ Just a Couple More Pages - You went to Southampton College? It must be crazy to have your college close when you’re there, I can’t even imagine.

I grew up in Westhampton so I knew the college and I know the area well and I’m excited to read this. Part of me always hates books/movies/TV shows that have to do with the Hamptons because I feel like they’re so far removed from me and my friends’ experiences, but this one seems like I might really like it. Especially if it’s Nantucket Blue 2 (I really like how that rhymes…).

May 15, 2013 - 1:34 pm

Liz (Along for the Read) - Sounds like a fun summer read. I always notice Joanna Philbin’s books at the store but never was too interested in them, this sounds much more my style though. Definitely adding it to the TBR

May 15, 2013 - 1:23 pm

elena - love the last line about hearing the ocean in your head! such a visceral reaction. i love discovering books that have places you know too. it’s not often but funny thing is john green wrote about indiana + florida. anyway i’m glad that these girls are friends…(sort of? i’m not sure) and yay for cute boys! wonderful review.

May 15, 2013 - 10:02 am

Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide - Oooh this one sounds great! I laughed out loud because I was like, “Wow, this sounds a lot like Nantucket Blue, which I loved!” And then you said the same thing :) Must put it on my TBR list!! Great review!

May 15, 2013 - 9:30 am

Alicia - I know that feeling of having books set in places you know!! For me, I get excited even if the book just mentions my favourite band, or food or ANYTHING that makes me feel part of the story. Rules of Summer looks really good– you’ve officially piqued my curiousity about Rory and Isobel’s family secrets 😉

Alicia @ Summer Next Top Story

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Estelle’s Top 10 Tuesday: The Hard Stuff (In Books)

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!

1. Acceptance

Books about Tough Stuff like Acceptance

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.

2. Divorce

Books about Tough Stuff like Divorce

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.

3. Bullying

Books about Tough Stuff like Bullying

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

Books about Tough Stuff like Helplessnes with it comes to sick parents

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

Books about Tough Stuff like 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

Books about Tough Stuff like 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

Books about Tough Stuff like 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

Books about Tough Stuff like Events we cannot control

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).

9. Truth

Books about Tough Stuff like Truth

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

Books about Tough stuff like 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!

May 20, 2013 - 9:02 pm

Hannah @ So Obsessed With - Oh, I love that you included “following your heart” as a tough subject! It’s not one that I’d immediately think of, but it’s really fitting. It also helps that I LOVED both books included with that number :)

May 16, 2013 - 1:25 pm

Lauren - What a wonderful list – I haven’t read any of these before, but now I’ve got some more books to add to my never-ending to-read list!

May 15, 2013 - 4:49 pm

Molli - I really want to read both Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, and The Miseducation of Cameron Post. I considered buying the latter, and just haven’t. I love your take on this list, Estelle, because you’ve given so many wide examples.

Have a nice day, ladies!

May 14, 2013 - 11:22 pm

Sash - As you know, I loved Dreamland Social Club. Jane really came into herself through learning about her mother and that’s something tough to do and yet, totally relateable.

May 14, 2013 - 8:35 pm

Maggie @ Just a Couple More Pages - Yay, I’m glad you did a TTT post this week! Lots of books I’ve enjoyed on your list. After reading Going Vintage I decided I need to read more by Lindsay Leavitt, now I just need to get on that. Great list!

My TTT list

May 14, 2013 - 7:23 pm

Tara - I’m a big fan of your categories :) I’ve only read a handful of the books you featured but I’m really intrigued by the books under Acceptance and Truth.

May 14, 2013 - 2:14 pm

Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook - Great list, Estelle. I had a really touch time thinking of ten (and in fact only thought of nine). Although I totally should have included Eleanor & Park! I am kicking myself for that one slipping my mind.

I’m very curious about Someday, Someday, Maybe

May 14, 2013 - 1:45 pm

Lucy - I have to say you have just awesome taste in books. Several of these I’ve read and loved like E&P, Where You Are, Sean Griswold, and Just One Day. So I know I need to check out the other books on your list. Criminal sounds fantastic.

May 14, 2013 - 12:55 pm

Alexa Y. - I love what you did with this post E! The issues/tough stuff you chose to point out are great, and the book suggestions are spot on. Great list!

May 14, 2013 - 12:02 pm

Cecelia - I *loved* SEAN GRISWOLD’S HEAD, and I’m so glad that I’ve seen it on multiple lists today. I haven’t checked out any of your other picks, but I can see that I need to. Thanks for sharing!

If you’d like, you can check out my list here.

May 14, 2013 - 9:38 am

Eve @ Every Flavour Books - Wow, these are great topics you thought of. I’ve only read The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight but I’m definitely adding the rest to my TBR if they’re not already there. Tough subjects are hard to read about but I love books that deal with them because they really make us think. Awesome list!

May 14, 2013 - 9:12 am

Kate @ Ex Libris - Oh, MAN. What an awesome list. I see some of my all-time favorites on here and some that I didn’t know about, so thank you for that. I’m so glad that you mentioned Nantucket Blue because I really loved that book. It was very well done.

May 14, 2013 - 8:47 am

Ginger @ GReads! - This is done really well, Estelle. I like how you grouped them. I definitely agree with you about TBoBH since I just recently read it. I considered adding it to my list today, but had already picked my 10 lol.

May 14, 2013 - 8:41 am

Laura @ the Booksmartie - The last two sound so good! I already own Just One Day and thought I’d read it in July, but now I’m thinking I might have to squeeze it in next week – it sounds way to good to wait any longer :)

May 14, 2013 - 5:43 am

Lori - I love, love, love your list! There’s still a few on here that I need to read. Cam Post is one of my favorites!

May 14, 2013 - 4:31 am

Bekka @ Pretty Deadly Reviews - Sooo many of these titles are on my TBR right now. I love that you included the dangers of technology. Not a lot of people would consider that a tough subject, but I definitely think it’s relevant in today’s world. Also, I LOVED Bumped & Thumped. Awesome picks!

Pretty Deadly Reviews

May 14, 2013 - 1:13 am

Rebecca - I didn’t even think to include divorce in this topic, but it definitely goes there. I have a hard time reading stuff about bullying, but I really loved Eleanor and Park. Nice post!

May 14, 2013 - 12:38 am

Tabitha S. - Ohhh, I love how you took a different spin on the topic this week! Divorce is definitely a hard one to read about, but it’s something that almost everyone has to deal with in life – so when an author does a good job of portraying it, it’s amazing.

Great list!!

May 14, 2013 - 12:30 am

marissa | Rae Gun Ramblings - I haven’t read any of these but they all sound so good
My Top Ten

May 14, 2013 - 12:12 am

elena - i LOVE how you divided these! ugh i totally agree w you re: bullying. i’ve seen some japanese tv/film on it and it’s awful. it makes me really really sad. i thiiink i have in cold blood somewhere. i need to read it! i really loved the last way you divided in particular because it hits close to home for everyone. i’m so excited to read lauren’s book!

fantastic list, e! xoxo

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Magan: The Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston

book cover The Rules for Disappearing by Ashley ElstonThe Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston
Publication Date
: May 14, 2013
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Pages: 320
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!

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May 14, 2013 - 1:36 pm

Wendy - I haven’t read a thriller in awhile and haven’t read anything with the main character in Witness protection! Love your review and definitely going to check this out! Added to goodreads already. =)

May 13, 2013 - 6:51 pm

Bookworm1858 - There were some creepy reveals in this book-I predicted a couple of things but was mostly on the edge of my seat during the end!

May 13, 2013 - 4:30 pm

Alexa Y. - The main reason I want to read this book is because of the Witness Protection Program being a part of the story! I don’t think I’ve ever read anything that features a character who’s a part of it, so I’m sure that will be interesting to read about. It sounds like a great story!

May 13, 2013 - 12:54 pm

Sarah @ Storybound Girl - Ooooh! Glad you liked it! I know what you mean about the summary grabbing you… I pre-ordered it as soon as I found out it was about witness protection. Can’t wait to read!

May 13, 2013 - 9:01 am

Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide - YES, there were some seriously creepy moments in this book! I’m glad I was reading it in the backseat of my parents’ car because I knew that I was safe HAHA.
I really enjoyed how serious the book actually was and that it wasn’t played off as a lighter side. It was nice to read a true mystery/thriller.
I like the ending… But I didn’t. I’m glad there IS a second book so it didn’t just end like that with no closure, but I’m not 100% sure where that story line is going! Guess we’ll have to wait for book two!!

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Blog Tour Kick Off for GOLDEN by Jessi Kirby + A Giveaway

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.

jessi kirby author photo and golden cover

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.

Julianna Farnetti.

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

May 17, 2013 - 6:05 pm

Savannah - I couldn’t be any more excited to read this book!

May 17, 2013 - 1:11 am

Lisa - I loved this book so much. It’s TOTALLY worth the read.

May 15, 2013 - 8:50 pm

alicia marie - That was a great excerpt! I can’t wait to read this : )

May 14, 2013 - 9:56 am

Heather C. - Everything about this book screams “read me”!! The excerpt was fantastic =)

May 13, 2013 - 7:30 pm

Len D. - This is the first time I’ve heard of this book! Added to my tbr pile; looking forward to reading this!:)

May 13, 2013 - 5:03 pm

Alexa Y. - I just wanted to drop in and say that I am GIDDY and HAPPY and TOTALLY IN LOVE with Golden. It’s one of my favorites for this year!

May 13, 2013 - 4:44 pm

Christina K. - LOVE Jessi Kirby because of her awesome characters and plot and writing:))

This is an amazing excerpt:)


May 13, 2013 - 11:21 am

Joy - Such a beautiful book!

May 13, 2013 - 9:49 am

Mundie Moms - Thank you for kicking off the tour!!

May 13, 2013 - 1:01 am

Wendy - I can’t wait to read this book! The excerpt has me hooked already!

May 12, 2013 - 6:17 pm

Vivien - I am so bloody excited to read this book. I adored Moonglass. All the reviews have been stellar so far!!

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Magan’s May 12, 2013 Shelve It

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

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).

Happy watching!

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):

shelve it - rainbow rowell and jennifer brown

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (!!!!) — September 10, 2013 — Goodreads | Amazon
Thousand Words by Jennifer Brown — May 21, 2013 — Goodreads | Amazon

Recently Purchased:

suzanne young books

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!

May 13, 2013 - 5:13 pm

Alexa Y. - Magan, you look beautiful, as always! And it’s nice to see your face in a video again. I am glad you’re enjoying the time spent with your baby girl and D!

TLA sounds like it was lots of fun, and most of the books you got are ones that I’m very curious about. Hope you enjoy them!

May 13, 2013 - 1:49 pm

Ashley - I need to remind myself to be like this when I’m at ALA. Grab what I want and have time for, but don’t be greedy.

May 12, 2013 - 9:39 am

Bookworm1858 - Yay-I got Fangirl too and I cannot wait to dive in and start reading it!

May 12, 2013 - 9:35 am

Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf - Great books! I have heard nothing but wonderful things about The Program…I’ve added it to my wishlist! Hope you love it! have a great week!

My Added to the Bookshelf post!

♥ Melissa @ Melissa’s Eclectic Bookshelf

May 12, 2013 - 6:46 am

Mel@thedailyprophecy - The Program sounds awesome! :) And the cover from Fangirl is cute. Happy reading!


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Estelle: Levitating Las Vegas by Jennifer Echols

Levitating Las Vegas by Jennifer EcholsLevitating Las Vegas by Jennifer Echols ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: May 6, 2013
Publisher: Pocket Books / Simon + Schuster
Pages: 300
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!

Rather Be Reading Skip It Icon

Goodreads | Amazon

September 16, 2013 - 12:01 am

Levitating Las Vegas | Jennifer Echols | DNF Review - […] Clear Eyes, Full Shelves – “largely failed to to deliver.” Katie’s Book Blog – “The writing was mediocre at best” Rather Be Reading – “the plot felt a bit discombobulated” […]

May 14, 2013 - 6:35 pm

Amanda @ Late Nights with Good Books - I’m not a huge fan of paranormal romance myself, but I do appreciate a good work of speculative fiction. Perhaps Jennifer Echols was just a bit out of her element here? I mean, it sounds like what she does best in her contemporary novels (the romance) is where you found this novel to really shine. I haven’t read anything by her myself, but, after reading your review, I think I’ll definitely look instead to trying one of her contemporaries instead.

May 13, 2013 - 11:14 am

Tara - Sigh. You know my thoughts on this one. I really wish I could have finished it but am looking forward to Dirty Little Secret and everything else she writes.

May 9, 2013 - 10:37 pm

Maggie @ Just a Couple More Pages - When I read the description of this book I just think “why are there so many things happening?” I love Jennifer Echols SO MUCH, but her adult stuff just doesn’t work for me. I did read an egalley of Dirty Little Secret and it’s pretty much everything I love all at once. I practically died from happiness the entire time.

May 9, 2013 - 5:36 pm

elena - Aw, I’m sorry this didn’t work out for you! I know it’s a bummer when you don’t like a fav author’s book. The dialogue sounds like it would be annoying. It’s jarring when characters seemingly don’t act their age and huh over a character always wearing bathing suit tops. Thanks for your honest review!

May 9, 2013 - 5:24 pm

Daphne - i was kinda iffy with the description, but held out hope because it’s JE, but I think I will skip it. There are better JE books out there that I haven’t read yet, so I’ll just read those instead.

May 9, 2013 - 4:40 pm

Allison (Allure of Books) - yeah, I’ve been hesitant about picking this one up. The plot sounds a little too bizarre for me! I am a Jennifer Echols fan though, so I’m sure I’ll pick it up eventually. At least I’ll have fairly low expectations going in!

May 9, 2013 - 3:30 pm

April Books & Wine - This makes me sooooo sad. Boo. BOOOOOO.

I am really looking forward to this one, but oh well, at least Dirty Little Secret was great and I still have Such A Rush and Going Too Far and Major Crush to look forward to.


I think I need to read this soon, so that way I don’t review it during Jennifer Echols week if it’s not great.

May 9, 2013 - 12:18 pm

Alexa Y. - It makes me a bit sad to hear that this book seems to have missed the mark! I’m a JE newbie, as you know, but I’ve enjoyed the two books I’ve read by her (both young adult). I’m always wary of paranormal these days, so I think I’ll pass on this one for now. Sad it didn’t end up being as good as you’d hoped!

May 9, 2013 - 10:16 am

Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide - Ohhh that’s a bummer. I was really curious by the concept of this one… Sadly just not what I was hoping it would be, apparently!

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