There’s only one time I’ve spent Fourth of July somewhere other than home or at the park, watching the fireworks on a blanket. It was a few weeks after I got engaged, we were on a short vacation with my now husband’s parents, and we built a fire on the beach and watched the fireworks from the sand. It was pretty incredible.
I’m hoping that we can do something like that again someday: just the two of us. I don’t know if it’s the fireworks, or the holiday falling smack dab in the middle of the summer, but I think Fourth of July can be a totally romantic and sweet holiday.
This leads me to a scene in Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland. Ginger shared two great scenes from Endless Summer by Jennifer Echols and Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson yesterday, and here I am with mine. When we first decided to share snippets from our favorite FOJ scenes, this was the first one that popped into my head.
What’s a little forbidden romance, stolen champagne, and a boat ride? Nothing short of spectacular, that’s for sure.
“Hey, you said champagne. Does this mean you’ve gotten over your French girl?”
“Maybe,” he said smiling. I lean back, elbows on the edge, and looked up. The sun had set, but it wasn’t dark yet. The sky was purple. Above us, a half-moon tipped. We rowed past the homes that lined the harbor; past the squares of lighted interiors; past people sitting on verandas, drinking and laughing. Voices floated out to us on waves, turned to wisps, drifted away. The oars slapped the dark water, slid under and emerged, tilted and weeping as they skimmed the surface. I dropped an arm, let my fingers trace the water. I felt like I could’ve stayed in the back of that boat all summer and been happy.
“So, you see that McMansion with all the lights on?” Zack asked, taking both oars in one hand as he turned and pointed to a house on a distant cliff.
“Yeah.” It was a huge place with hundred windows.
“Okay, now, you see the one next to it, with only one light on? That’s where we’re headed. It’s the best spot to see the fireworks.” He turned to face me again, rowing with effortless strength and confidence. Maybe this was where he got his soccer-player body. The thought made me shiver.
“We’re not going to get lost at sea, are we?”
“Not unless you want to.” Zack smiled. There was the feeling again. The warmth. The fluttering. The heart buzz. I focused on rowing. A few fireworks shot off from a distance beach. Little gold ones.
Howland does such a great job describing this scene. I feel like I can see the whole thing in my head, and I want to be there so badly. Maybe as Cricket hanging out with Zack or maybe just as me, the freedom of the ocean under my boat and sharing a peaceful summer moment with my husband.
I tend to refrain from calling Nantucket Blue the perfect summer read because I feel that implies that it’s fluffy and maybe a little light in plot. Instead, Nantucket Blue is the perfect beach read because Howland makes you feel like Nantucket is right at your finger tips: the beach, the people, the small town. It’s all there. And the story, while it does deal with a lot of growing pains also has a lot of the good stuff: mending a heart with first love, understanding your parents, and accepting who you are. Definitely a favorite read of the year for me.
Happy Fourth, friends! Hope it’s magical and filled with a good book! (Wink, wink.)
My review of NB | Add to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon
P.S. NB fans, did you know there will be a second book out next summer? Get excited!
Two of a Kind by Susan Mallery ( web | tweet )
Part of the Fool’s Gold series.
Publication Date: June 25, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Target audience: Adult
Keywords: romance, new jobs, surprises
Format read: eBook from Publisher via NetGalley (Thanks!)
Summary: Felicia and Gideon had one night together many moons ago. And Felicia has never forgotten it. When the two reunite in Fool’s Gold, much has changed: Felicia is making her home there, recruited for a huge job linked to the town’s traditions and Gideon is still reeling from his capture and torturing. He can’t promise Felicia much but when she asks him a favor, he’s glad they have each other’s back because life isn’t done surprising the two.
The Fool’s Gold series continues to suck me in!
What you need to know about Felicia: She is so book smart and so sheltered that she talks in such technicalities and sounds like a walking textbook. Even when it comes to sex. While I sometimes felt embarrassed for her, this quality also made her genuinely honest and straightforward. (Fun fact: instead of putting leaves or hearts on top of lattes she wants to make pi symbols. Does that not explain everything?)
What you need to know about Gideon: He’s reeling from post-tramautic stress disorder after being held captive for two years and watching his fellow captives die one by one. Known as the sexy voice behind Fool’s Gold’s radio station, he tends to keep people at a distance and doesn’t want to ever get emotionally involved.
So what’s their deal?: After a wild night together years ago, Felicia still finds that Gideon is the only guy she thinks about being with. Especially now that she feels ready to settle down and have a family. Meeting again in Fool’s Gold is such a perfect coincidence and their chemistry is still red hot, but Gideon isn’t looking for forever and tells her so. Instead Gideon agrees to help Felicia out: she’s never been on a date, doesn’t understand what it’s like, and she wants him to guide her. Will Gideon’s mind be changed? Will Felicia fall for him completely?
Two of a Kind starts out a little slow but I think that has to do with getting used to how Felicia communicates with people. She’s been forced to be a loner most of her life, found comfort in her studies, and sounds a little like a robot. But lucky for her she has many great girlfriends and Gideon to teach her how to be “normal”. (Something she so desperately wants to feel.) Her new job — organizing the town’s many themed festivals — throws her out of her comfort zone, gets her in touch with the Fool’s Gold community, and makes her feel at home (despite her insecurites).
But in her personal life, things are heating up up up with Gideon. (Two words: the deck.) As much as she tries to, she can’t control her feelings for him and as a reader you wonder when Gideon is going to just let go and see what happens with her. It is one sexy ride filled with a twist that brings its own little charms into the story. I really liked how Felicia and Gideon’s lives mirrored one another even if their circumstances were substantially different; they are both so used to depending on themselves that they weren’t so confident in their feelings and teaming up with someone else.
Two of a Kind is sweet, sexy, and fun just like a romance novel should be but it also has some great girlfriend moments, matchmaking little kids, and a sincere town mayor that really does have eyes behind her head. And in true Mallery style, she makes some new character introductions that made me even more enthused to pick up the next couple of books.
The obsession grows…
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Hi there! Thanks for stopping by the blog for another Nailed It!
We’ve decided to mix things up a bit and introduce you nail-polish lovers to another brand we really adore, Zoya. Their color selection is fantastic and the polish is long-lasting. We’ve actually texted one another before that the polish was holding up so well, but we were ready for a color change before it even started chipping. So without further ado, here are two books we’re anxiously looking forward to in July.
The Distance Between Us by Kasie West
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It took me so long to pick a book to feature in this month’s NAILED IT. As always, there are so many pretty covers but I love this one a ton. The sun in the background, the color of her dress, the subtle plaid of his shirt. So great. I’m almost done with THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US and I am really liking it. The colors are kind of fall-ish but I could definitely see them popping during the summer too. It’s like the romantic part of summer — at dusk and holding hands!
Ginger | Gretchen | Stella
Truly, Madly, Deadly by Hannah Jayne
Add to Goodreads | Purchase on Amazon | Read Tara at Fiction Folio’s Review
I have to be honest and admit that there are so, so many stinkin’ books I’m looking forward to in July that I picked this one based purely on what I’ve been wanting to do with my nails lately. Dark nail polish has been a popular thing, but I feel it kind of phases out a bit during the summertime. I’ve seen so so so many girls rocking the dark nail polish with lovely coral or mint outfits lately. I absolutely love it! I personally want to push my summery colors aside to try this out. So why don’t you guys step away from the beachy reads and bright polishes to give this dark, mystery thriller a go with me?
Raven | Diana | Trixie
And because we are feeling generous today:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
What Happened on the Blog This Week:
Right of Way by Lauren Barnholdt ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: July 9, 2013
Publisher: Simon Teen
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: family secrets, divorce, love/hate relationship, road trip
Format read: eBook from Publisher via Edelweiss! (Thanks!)
Summary: After a whirlwind romance and breakup, Peyton and Jace are not excited to see each other at an upcoming family function. But when Peyton’s plan of running away ends up with her stranded in Florida and no way to get to her destination, Jace is the only one who can help her.
I can’t help it. Ever since Pacey and Joey, I’ve been a fan of sparring couples.
The chemistry! The tension!
While Right of Way definitely succeeded in those two qualities when it came to Peyton and Jace, the story was just too much of a mirror of the earlier Two-Way Street and seemed a bit under developed. Peyton feels utterly betrayed by her mother and needs to get away so she uses the family wedding in Florida as a jumping off point for a summer of freedom with her best friend, Brooklyn. Unfortunately, Brooklyn’s mom finds out about their plans, grounds Brooklyn, and leaves Peyton stranded in Florida with no way to get home. (After a disaster of a night with her ex, Jace, too.) Despite Jace’s disappointment in Peyton’s past actions he can’t resist her when she needs his help. (Even if he’s going to act like he could care less.)
Cue the road trip!
Even though their circumstances were different than Courtney and Jordan’s from Two-Way Street (these characters make plenty of cameos in this book), it just felt too much of the same story. I would have loved to see Peyton’s best friend have more of a role in the story, for them to actually end up in North Carolina, and then Jace somehow appear? It would have felt like a different kind of road trip because the amount of pages I read, the amount of stories I was taking in, didn’t even seem to match up with the distance they were driving. (This is coming from a girl who has driven 17 hours straight to Florida.)
Despite my reservations, the book still managed to be fast-paced and addicting. Barnholdt really knows how to stretch out the mysterious parts of her books, and that kept me going. Plus, I found myself really liking Jace over Peyton (something that also happened to me in TWS) and some of the supporting characters were funny. Unfortunately, though, the end snuck up on me and I finished the book with a “that’s it?!” I liked Peyton and Jace together but I’m not sure they managed to outgrow their immature, and impulsive natures enough to make this relationship work. Most importantly, the pressing family issues that spurred Peyton’s original scheme were not given any kind of resolution and I felt there really needed to be one — good or bad.
If you are looking for some great opposites attract road trip stories, I strongly suggest you put Two-Way Street and Ex-Mas by Kate Brian at the top of your list.
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The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen ( web| tweet )
Publication Date: July 16, 2013
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Target audience: Young Adult
Keywords: making college plans, family struggles, love triangle
Format read: ARC from Publisher (Thank you!)
Previous books reviewed by author: Along for the Ride, Lock and Key, This Lullaby (E), This Lullaby (M)
Summary: Post-graduation, Emaline finds herself struggling with what to do with her life. Does she attend the Ivy League school her biological father thinks she ought to attend or does she go to the state school where her boyfriend Luke will be?
I’m going to mix things up a little bit for this review because I have so, so many thoughts about The Moon and More.
+ The family dynamic is really strong from the details of Emaline’s biological father’s lack of responsibility to her stepdad’s strong involvement in her life and the craziness that is the family realty business. Her sisters, Amber and Margo, are polar opposites but are awesome minor characters that really added character depth to the story. Oh, and there’s also Beji, Emaline’s half-brother, who is ten years old and idolizes his older sister; he’s also extremely analytical and quite brilliant at solving problems.
+ Emaline was a very strong main character. She’s a smart, level-headed character that’s very driven (to an extent). Confusion creeps into her life when she begins to question what she wants to do with her life. Her biological father and the new city boy in town, Theo, want Emaline to expect more for herself, but she doesn’t want to grow out of Colby by going to some fancy school that will separate her from her family and lead her to have tons of debt.
+ Revisiting Colby was a delight, even though I felt I should have remembered more details than I did from Along for the Ride than I did. Maybe a re-read of that would have gotten me in the right frame of mind and I would have felt even more connected to the story.
– I really struggled with the timeline and sequence of events. There were areas that felt really bumpy to me and I felt they could have used a bit more finessing. (Disclaimer: I did read an ARC for The Moon and More so some things could have been changed in the final print version.)
– The language. One thing I’ve noticed about Dessen’s writing is that no matter the character, she uses the same dialect and phrasing for every. single. one of her characters. Every one. I almost started circling the repetitious parts so I could visually see if I had a plausible reason to be upset. In the end, I realized (sadly) that if someone had read The Moon and More to me in a monotoned voice with zero inflection or character changes, there would have been moments I would not have noticed who was speaking because the characters were indistinguishable.
– The length. The sequence of events in the beginning occur pretty rapidly. BAM BAM BAM — Emaline breaks up with her boyfriend Luke and begins dating Theo. And then things began to creep along for me. While I love following characters around and having a sense of what their real lives are like, there was just a bit too much of that for me. So much that it made the rest of the story drag and the end resolution felt a bit rushed and anticlimactic.
– While I mentioned how much I loved the inclusion of all the family members, I felt there were maybe too many characters to focus on here. There’s a whole storyline about a local artist, the crazy woman who is trying to film a documentary about him, Emaline’s best friend Morris (who I never really got), and so on. This was definitely a story that focused primarily on Emaline’s life and moving forward, but some things (like the kind of love-triangle) weighed the story down.
My book-loving-heart was so full of hope going in to The Moon and More, but I wish I felt a bit more satisfied after finishing it. In the future, I hope Dessen pushes herself to emphasize the important elements of the story, maintain focus, and to become a more diverse writer by breaking the mold and creating unique characters and language.
Goodreads | Amazon
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.
Dish It Haute (Red) | Sailor Swift Skirt (Blue)
magan on “dangerous girls” by abigail haas:
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? 😉
Lace Ruffle Bandeau Swimsuit | Off-the-Shoulder Dress
Don’t forget to check out Trish Doller’s fun facts about Florida on Ginger’s blog, GReads!
And make sure to hit up Tara’s blog, Fiction Folio, later this week for more Sweet Summertime Reads fun!