None of the Regular Rules by Erin Downing ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: November 18, 2012
Pages: 181 pages
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: senior year, family secrets, friendship, bucket list
Format read: ARC provided by the author. (Thank you!)
Summary: When Sophie inherits her deceased Aunt Suzy’s car, she finds a ten-year old list of her aunt’s in the glove compartment — filled with little goals to accomplish: steal a motorcycle, kiss a crush, get a tattoo or piercing… Bored with how things have gone lately and ready to make the most out of their year before college, Sophie and her best friends decide to take on Suzy’s list as their own and make things happen.
Two words: Johnny Rush.
I just had to get that out of my system. Even though romance isn’t the main premise of None of the Regular Rules, Johnny is kind of a memorable character. He’s Sophie’s next door neighbor, her long-time crush, and he has a girlfriend. But because he opts out of college when all his friends are off to start their freshman year, he’s hanging around a lot and falls into a friendship with Sophie.
Man, the tension is so thick. Johnny pops up everywhere, and you can tell they like each other, and it’s oh-so painful because he has a girlfriend, and, shock of all shocks, he is a complete stand-up guy. (You’ll have to figure out why yourself.) Despite the swoony stuff, I really liked how supportive he was of Sophie letting her hair down and doing things that scared her.
The big takeaway from None of the Regular Rules is the utter pressure of senior year. Aunt Suzy’s list serves as a great way to ensure time spent with Sophie and her two best friends, Ella and Grace. I loved their friendship so much; they were comfortable being honest with each other (even when it hurt) and made the effort to ensure they have ample hang out time. They are so game to conquer Suzy’s list, but it’s the complete sandstorm of senior year — the fear of the unknown, boys, crazy changes — that starts to chip away at their relationships with one another. It’s been a long time since I read a book where actual friends were fighting with each other, and this particular situation felt entirely authentic.
Family dynamics are also tested because Aunt Suzy’s name has become pretty taboo around Sophie’s household. After her death, no one talked about her anymore and Sophie never understood why. Adopting the list and going on these adventures makes her feel closer to her aunt, and when certain truths come to the surface, they hit that much harder. For all the steps Sophie has taken to being spontaneous and acting outside of her comfort zone, there’s a point where she ends up totally retracting and losing focus on what’s important.
None of the Regular Rules is a super fast-paced read that will keep you entertained until the very end. Sure, the storyline is a little thin at times and there are some uber-dramatic moments but I liked how not every character chose the same path post-high school, Sophie building the courage to confront her protective parents, and the mix of impatience and fear that comes with moving on from high school to college.
And there’s Johnny Rush. Did I mention that?
Goodreads | Amazon
Happy Tuesday pals!
Today I’m celebrating the two-week mark before Jennifer E. Smith’s new book This is What Happy Looks Like comes out! (If you didn’t catch my review from last week, here ya go.) In the book, Ellie and Graham meet online when Graham sends an email and it lands in her inbox by accident. Thus starts the adorable and sweet back and forth between the two. They tell each other a lot, but never share their names and Graham doesn’t disclose the fact that he is a teenage heartthrob. Eee! It’s like a dream come true for teenagers, right? To make some connection with a celebrity they absolutely adore?
While I’m not sure things like stardom impress Ellie, I was totally that girl who had a ton of Bop and Twist and Teen People magazine posters hanging all over my room. (I had an entire collage of them in my closet.) Even now, I still like to crush on those darling celebrity guys and my husband makes fun of me. (I can’t help it.) So because I have no shame, I thought I would share a few of my past crushes.
Like which celebrity would I want to accidentally fall into an email relationship with? Here ya go:
I was an absolutely huge New Kids on the Block fan when I was a kid. My first concert was seeing them when I was 5 years old. I collected every newspaper article, every piece of memorabilia, and even had the comforter/sheet set. Oh, and a Barbie doll! The doll had Jordan’s braid down the back. You know, I have to say… I had pretty awesome taste because Jordan is still looking pretty rad these days. (A thought a few hours later: Jordan was quite feminine looking, don’t you think?)
One of my best friends loved Jonathan Taylor Thomas and I loved Devon Sawa. (This is who we have stayed friends forever.) Casper, Now + Then, Little Giants — man oh man he was a cutie. When we played MASH in grade school, I was always hope hoping that the fates would have us cross paths. (Nice to see he still has a career now, right?)
Way back when, I had the top Joshua Jackson fan site on the webs. Seriously. (It was called Joshua Jackson Paradise… sigh. I wish I didn’t pick that name.) I loved Mighty Ducks but I didn’t completely fall for him until Dawson’s Creek — the funny sidekick? Sign me up! I always thought he was the cutest and wanted him to get the girl… or just come and find me. There was a time when I used to know the name of his dogs, and basically every movie he had coming out. (Too bad I was never a Fringe fan… but I am rooting for the Dawson’s Creek reunion!)
This was around college time… I wasn’t THAT old for Jesse. But when I heard him singing a cover of “Second Star from the Right” as I diligently worked at the Disney Store — I was hooked. Did anyone watch Summerland on the CW a few years ago? He was so freaking cute. And I loved his voice! If you want to catch one of his movies, be sure to check out Keith. It’s really great.
Oh this obsession is alive and well, my friends. He was on Summerland too actually but it wasn’t until High School Musical that I started to fall down the rabbit hole. He was adorable, he could dance, and he could sing (kind of? because they mixed his vocals with someone else for the first movie). For the record, he sings his own stuff in 2 + 3 (which I cried over in the movie theater). Okay, so he may be totally ripped and have gorgeous eyes but I honestly think he’s acting is really great. Have you seen Charlie St. Cloud? Prepare your tissue box but he’s very very good in it. I’m looking forward to what he does next. (Sidenote: I’m still not over him and Vanessa Hudgens breaking up.)
If you have gotten this far, you may notice I have a thing for guys who can sing and act and look pretty? Well Jeremy Jordan is the full package. If you don’t know him, he’s a Broadway guy — he recently originated the role of Jack Kelly in the Newsies musical. I had the opportunity to go to the dress rehearsal of the pre-Broadway tryout + the first note, the first time I heard his voice… I was like WHO THE HELL IS THAT? (Seriously. If you ask the people I was with… it was all I could talk about.) I was a fan right at that moment, went on to buy tickets to a show I never thought I wanted to see (Bonnie + Clyde) and I’ve been following his career ever since. Right now, he’s playing Jimmy on Smash (sad sad Smash) and is going to be starring in The Last Five Years movie with Anna Kendrick. I’m so psyched about how his career is blowing up… (I’m also a little possessive because I’d like to keep him to myself.) FYI all links in this paragraph are of Jeremy singing. You are welcome.
Okay, give me the dirt. What boys did you love or are you currently loving?
And also, what are you waiting for? Pre-order Jennifer’s new book, This is What Happy Looks Like, for a tale of romance, family secrets, and all the possibilities of summer.
Sean Griswold’s Head by Lindsey Leavitt <website • twitter>
Publication Date: March 1, 2011
Target audience: Young Adult
Keywords: Multiple Sclerosis, sick parent, focus project, counseling
Format read: Purchased the paperback after Lori recommended I read this book.
Summary: After Payton finds out her father has Multiple Sclerosis and stops speaking to her family for keeping the secret from her (for 6 months!) she finds herself in counseling sessions. Her assignment is to find a focus object to help her sort through all of her feelings.
Oh, the days of alphabetical order. I was always at the very end of the line because my maiden name started with a Z. But Payton finds herself in the middle of the alphabet (as a G), and always has to sit behind Sean Griswold in biology class. He has a big head and sometimes it’s a bit distracting when Payton’s trying to take notes and see the board.
It (yep, his head) becomes her focus object when she begins sessions with the school counselor. The focus object is supposed to help her sort through all of her feelings and emotions about her family neglecting to tell her about her dad’s Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis. She just happened to walk into her parent’s bedroom while her mother was administering a shot for her dad. Payton shuts them out — she quits basketball (the sport she and her dad loved to bond over) and stops speaking to them entirely.
Naturally, her mom intervenes. Yippie?
This counselor is super strange and her methodology a bit unorthodox. She tells Payton to find a focus object (thinking it would be something simple and inanimate) to journal about. But of course in her act of defiance, Payton chooses Sean’s big head. She and her best friend Jac, who happens to be quite obsessed with the male population, manipulate their way into Sean’s life by stalking him and finding ways to intercept him in hallways. A series of lists, graphs, pie charts, and Sean factoids ensues.
The problem with this focus project is Payton falls for Sean.
He introduces her to bike riding (of the competitive sort) and gives her something to put all her energy into that she used to exhaust during basketball practices and games. She is able to open up to him about all the complexities of her family situation, and instead of being scared away, he reacts in the kindest, most sincere way. (Nope, not telling you what’s involved — read the book!)
Lindsey Leavitt did a phenomenal job tapping into the mindset of a younger high school student — one who is very mature, but also has a lot to learn about life. There’s a lovely balance of friendship, family, and first love. And just as Estelle mentioned in her review of None of the Regular Rules, it was so refreshing to see two girls who are such close friends sort through some difficulties. Oftentimes, friendships in YA seem to be either/or — either they’re perfect or the best friends seem so mismatched and uncharacteristically paired. When it came to Jac and Payton — they’re definitely opposites in just about every way, but they’re very self-aware and (typically) know how to use their strengths to help the other through a tough time.
I know most of you are probably excited about the strong family element, but maybe a little shied away because I mentioned a sick parent. Please note that you shouldn’t be afraid. Sure, I’m kind of a sucker for a good melancholy story, but Leavitt maintained a carefree tone. She certainly didn’t shy away from sharing Payton’s feelings and emotions, but she treated Payton like the strong, brave girl she is without dwelling on the sadness.
Maybe if you’re new to Lindsey Leavitt’s work like I was, you should check out Sean Griswold’s Head and then follow up with Going Vintage — they’re both strong contemporary stories about very real, original girls trying to find their way through the chaos of high school.
Goodreads | Amazon (only $1.59 for the kindle!)
Happy Sunday friends! It’s St. Patrick’s Day… have you had green beer today? We aren’t much for celebrating the holiday but that’s okay… it’s been a nice productive weekend and I’m enjoying a River Horse American Amber Ale instead of something green.
It’s been kind of a slow week in the book collecting world for me. If you remember, I’ve taken an oath not to buy books until the end of the month. But I’m thinking it might continue a little bit past that because I’ve been eyeing my bookshelves and the new / unread book pile is still a bit too overwhelming.
But the good news is… I’m going on a trip next week and have already thrown my trusty books into a bag and I will hopefully make a small dent in that very scary pile of books I have spent money on but forgotten about. In other exciting news, … the New York Teen Author Festival kicks off tomorrow (March 18) and I’m psyched! If any of you are there, please say hi!
Anyway, there were still some very nice goodies in my mailbox this week:
Anna from Anna Reads sent me her copy of The Trouble with Flirting by Claire LaZebrik!
And Quinn from Quinn’s Book Nook surprised me with this cute notebook, bookmark, and four-leaf clover kit to say thanks for me sending her a book. How sweet was that? I am IN LOVE with this notebook.
Thanks Quinn + Anna!
In case you missed it, here’s what happened at RBR in the past few days:
Attention, Attention: Audrey, Wait!
A review of First Comes Love by Katie Kacvinsky
A review of The Ruby Oliver Series by E. Lockhart
A PMS Survival Kit from Magan
A review of This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
Reading anything awesome? Please share! Thanks for stopping in this week!
Hello, friends! Attention, Attention! is back with a little twist (and the first time I, Magan, am writing one)! This feature is for when we read books the other has already reviewed on the blog and we just need to fangirl about it a little bit more because you just need to read it.
So this time around, I’m sharing a book that Estelle has read, but not reviewed on Rather Be Reading. Since Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway was released in 2008 I thought instead of doing a full review it would be more fun to break things down and share some quotes.
Hardback cover, left, and paperback cover, right.
Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway
Audrey is in a lame relationship, but has a supportive best friend.
Audrey dates Evan (ahem, a musician) who is just… lame. He’s self-centered and doesn’t care about anyone but himself. Sure they have decent make-out sessions, but aside from that, there’s not a lot there. And really, he’s so focused on his band, but it’s not really going anywhere (Audrey thinks). I loved this conversation between Victoria, Audrey’s best friend, and Audrey (please note that my quotes are copied from Goodreads):
Audrey: “I told him that my cat was on fire and he didn’t even hear me! On fire, Victoria! And he didn’t care!”
Victoria: “Aud, that is so fucking twisted that I don’t even know where to start.”
Audrey: “Okay, I know, but it had to be drastic.”
Victoria: “That’s not drastic, that’s sadistic. You’ve got your –tics mixed up.”
Audrey: “Will you please focus on the issue at hand? Evan doesn’t listen to what I’m saying!”
Victoria “And this is news?”
Audrey: “Should I break up with him?”
Victoria “Do you want to break up with him?”
Audrey: “I don’t know. Distract me from feeling miserable.”
Victoria “Umm… ummm… I got new shoes.”
Victoria “Wanna come over and try them on?”
Audrey: “I’ll be there in ten minutes.”
When Evan and Audrey break up, he writes a song that sort of becomes…famous.
Audrey, Wait is the title of the song Evan writes when she breaks up with him. His no-good band blows up and suddenly Audrey is thrown into the spotlight, has people stalking her and asking for her autograph, and she gets random calls for interviews with magazines and newspapers. Audrey is irritated this is happening, but Victoria is trying to take advantage of the situation. After one of Audrey’s interviews gets published, Victoria leaves this message on Audrey’s home answering machine:
“WHY ARE YOU NOT ANSWERING YOUR PHONE?!? OH MY GOD, DID YOU SEE THE ARTICLE? I AM FREAKING OUT, WHY ARE YOU NOT ANSWERING YOUR PHONE?!? Please call me, I’m starting to act like Tizzy around here. It’s getting ugly. Oh, hi, Mr. and Mrs. Cuttler, in case you get this first. Everything’s fine, I’m just trying to get ahold of Audrey. Okay, bye. AUDREY, CALL ME BEFORE I HAVE TO RESORT TO SKYWRITING.” – Victoria
Victoria proposes that the best way for Audrey to get over the Evan situation is for her to move on.
With an endless supply of (crazy) ideas, Victoria stands by Audrey’s side as things go from crazy to obnoxious. One suggestion she has along the way is for Audrey to move on and date other people. (Because somehow the media won’t go crazy over that?) Of course Evan is a tool so there has to be another boy interest, right?
Victoria: “What about James?”
Audrey: “James? James, the guy I work with? James who takes ice cream scooping more seriously than anyone should? James who almost had a nervous breakdown when the chocolate and rainbow sprinkles accidentally got mixed together? That James?”
Victoria: “He has a good work ethic. And he’s cute.”
Audrey: “Hello, I’m not thirty. I don’t want a good work ethic yet. I just want someone who can form complete sentences.”
Other major bonus factors about Audrey, Wait:
+ Audrey’s parents play a very big role in her life. She’s an only child and they’re super close. They have a very hands off approach to parenting in the sense that they’re lenient and let Audrey make mistakes, but ultimately, they’re there when they need to be and do a pretty amazing job of guiding her without being pushy or overbearing.
+ Music is a really big deal. Tons and tons of musical references. In fact, here’s an Audrey, Wait! playlist for you (not made by me though).
+ Benway did a lovely job with all the relationships — dating and friendships. There’s a very real understanding of a relationship that goes through ups and downs as well as two friends who don’t always understand each other. It felt very natural and not contrived or ridiculous in any way.
+ Even though Audrey’s caught up in the drama, she has a lot to learn. Sure, Audrey lands in the spotlight by happenstance, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t a flawed character who makes some mistakes and has to grow a bit. (And she’s quite funny along the way — tons of great LOL moments.)
Goodreads | Amazon-
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That wraps up my first Attention, Attention! I hope you’ll consider buying Audrey, Wait! or finding it at your local library. If you’ve read it, tell me what you loved most and maybe share a book or two that’s a bit older I should most certainly read!