we're magan + estelle -- two girls who live miles apart, but connect daily over our love for books. we share thoughtful + honest reviews of the books we read, but enjoy talking about our crazy lives and other interests, too (style! diy! zac efron!). join us!
I’m pretty sure I did a Shelve It last year on Super Bowl Sunday (which fell on my birthday…) Oh my absolute favorite day in the world. Things are so tremendously different this year: new city, new place to live, an iPhone, my husband’s team is not actually playing tonight, and the half time show that will actually BE sexy. (I do hope Beyonce sings “Bootilicious”… it’s an old favorite.)
Anyway, one thing that remains constant around here are THE BOOKS. Hope you enjoy hearing about these! SORRY! It’s really long but I make a lot of hand gestures and my cat sort of says hi?
I’ve said it before and said it again, but one of my favorite things about blogging is meeting new people.
About a month or two ago, I started to chat with Cassie of Books with Cass, who like me is from New Jersey (although she still lives there) and has a birthday in February.
And can you believe that we are exactly a day apart? (In fact, she shares a birthday with one of my best friends and the reason I met Magan in the first place!)
During one of our daily chats, we decided to had to jump on this coincidence and write joint posts today! Basically, Cassie and I have chosen a favorite read that would inspire the best birthday celebration.
So, for me, we are heading to…
[ oh mexico. it sounds so simple i just got to go. a lil james taylor for ya ]
Last June, on a wonderful summer vacation with my husband, I read From What I Remember by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas. It was so much fun, such a surprise hit, and it’s most definitely on my list to re-read when the weather gets a little warmer on the east coast.
Basically, the class brainiac (Kylie) and big man on campus (Max) are forced to work together on a last minute school project and a bit of bad luck comes their way — causing them to embark on an unexpected road trip to MEXICO. Kylie is a serious person with lots of responsibilities and Max seems quite the opposite, pretending his life is easy breezy when he has a lot going on in the background. There’s EXCITEMENT. CHEMISTRY. FEAR. VARIOUS MOVIE QUOTES. AND DRINKING.
Although, I will opt out of the hangover when it’s all finished. Thank you very much.
I really appreciate you taking the time to celebrate my birthday with me (a few days early), and I hope you’ll head over to Books with Cass to see what Cassie has in store for her own birthday extravaganza!
Hello again! Remember this feature? Well, it’s making its 2013 debut! And today I must talk to you about:
welcome, caller, this is chloe.
To this day, I still remember reading Magan’s review of this debut novel from last April. (That’s saying something because I’ve read quite a few.) She was so unbelievably upbeat about the book, and I couldn’t wait to run out and read it myself. Months and months later, I am kicking myself for not making it a priority sooner.
Because my partner was so right. Chloe is “quirky and funny” even though she has a ton to deal with.
Her best friends have ditched her, and her senior project (which was supposed to be about soap operas) has been changed by the new counselor at her school, and now she is going to be working at the school radio station that is about to be closed down. (Doesn’t it remind you of that Saved by the Bell episode?) Chloe’s grandma, her closest relative, is dealing with with symptoms of Parkinson’s and she’s constantly in the middle of disagreements between her mom and grandma.
Author Shelly Coriell does an exceptional job of showing just how relationships can grow and change with time — from the perspective of family and friends. (Especially when it’s really no one’s fault.) But despite everything, Chloe is a girl you want on your side. She’s loyal and sweet and hilarious. She’s also so optimistic; I found myself wishing I tapped into my Chloe side a little bit each day.
There’s some oh-la-la romance (but not too much of it) and a lot of fun moments when Chloe is diving into her work for the radio station and embarking on some new opportunities. The book is incredibly well-paced, had me smiling from ear to ear, and I was really sad when it was all over. We all know that’s a sign of a great read! (Plus Chloe loves vintage shoes and Mexican food — love it!)
Not the actual costume, a stinky ankle-length tube of compressed foam with scratchy shoulder straps. No, I loved the physical act of being a burrito—more precisely, of getting people to notice me—and I was good at it.”
her love for shoes:
“So where did my passions lie? Easy. My friends. Family. Dos Hermanas. Soap operas. Shoes. Definitely shoes. Preferably of the vintage variety.”
“Unique. I liked that. Unique things stood out, they made a statement, like vintage shoes.”
“You’re a warped soul, Chloe.” He didn’t laugh, but that half smile curved his mouth. Mission accomplished.
Some swoon (and more shoe love!)
“But that’s okay. Tonight I have eggs and cheese on toast and”—he tipped the sandwich toward me—“a pretty girl with a big heart on her sleeve.
That big heart did a big jump. With a laugh I lifted my right foot and waggled it to the side. “And great shoes. You can’t forget the great shoes.”
Her wacky friendship with Clem:
“What?” Clem thwacked her ear, vaudeville style. “What did you say?”
I let out a sound that was part groan, part laugh. “Clementine Radmore is one hundred percent, unequivocally right. Do you want me to get on the air and issue a royal proclamation?”
Star Crossed by Jennifer Echols ( web | tweet ) Publication Date: February 26, 2013 Publisher: Pocket Books (Simon + Schuster) Pages: 384 Target audience: Adult Keywords: Vegas, PR, celebrities, enemies Format read: ARC sent to me from S+S! (Thank you!!)
Summary: Wendy Mann has a lot riding on her current work assignment in Las Vegas. She’s working PR for an out of control celebrity, hanging on to her job by a thread, and forced to converse with her (deliciously hot) college nemesis Daniel, who works at a competing firm. When the two begrudgingly team up for the sake of their clients and their careers, things between them progress in a way no one would have predicted.
Jennifer Echols is like an old reliable friend when it comes to toe-curling chemistry and addicting storylines. (Cases in point: Such a Rush + Going Too Far.) And in her adult debut, Star Crossed, she has the opportunity to take all of that whoa-action and nearly heart-stopping tension and take it a step farther. In fact, a few delicious leaps farther.
Despite a slow start (involving confusing placement of NYC landmarks), Star Crossed featured all the details I love about Jennifer’s writing: humor, hotness, DRAMA, and fun. Wendy, our leading lady, is not only sexy but she is smart, ambitious, feisty, and funny. (There was so many moments where I chuckled at her thoughts.) Daniel is equally good-looking but also classy, successful, and he feels a strong loyalty to his family (the reason why he remains in a job he doesn’t love). The best part about these two is that they share a history. College competitors! But unbeknownst to Wendy, Daniel has always crushed on her when she was just trying to crush him. (Kind of reminds of how I felt about my husband in college.)
There’s nothing sexier than two people who are attracted to each other but their relationship is so off-limits. From the moment Wendy and Daniel collide in Vegas, the story moves full speed ahead and I had to stop myself from skipping pages to find out when they would share a scene next. Working at enemy PR agencies but representing a toxic ex-couple that just needs to stay out of trouble for a small amount of days, they decide their best bet is to work together… very closely.
The whole question of whether or not they can trust each other also fuels their chemistry. Big time.
Vegas serves at the perfect backdrop for all the mayhem supplied by Wendy and Daniel’s clients, two celebrities I was continually trying to place in our own pop culture world. (Loreli, singer/actress/friend to the papparazzi, so reminded me of a down and out Britney Spears.) It’s fun and glitzy but also has this dark undercurrent that works well with a mysterious plotline. Now this particular thread in the story wasn’t my favorite. In fact, it felt a little too predictable, too swarmy, and too Lifetime movie. But it worked for what it was (beware: things get creeptastic) and certainly moved things along and pushed our couple together.
I could say more, a lot more, but I’m going to end with a tid-bit that should say it all: I ignored by husband for 3 hours straight because I was so wrapped up in Wendy and Daniel. (I had promised I’d read for only an hour.) I did not, let me repeat, did not even take a moment to change out of my work clothes. (This is a huge deal.)
Star Crossed is a top example of a romance novel that actually takes into consideration the importance of story without primarily focusing on the hot and heavy. Seriously, Jen Echols knows what’s she’s doing. And I can’t wait to get more of it.
Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer Publication Date: February 5, 2013 Publisher: Feiwel and Friends Pages: 464 Target audience: Young Adult Keywords: dystopia, fairy tale retelling, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood Format read: ARC from Macmillan at ALA Annual (Thank you!) Previously Reviewed: Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer
Summary: Cinder needs to figure out how to break out of prison after causing a scene at Prince Kai’s ball. Halfway around the world, Scarlet’s grandmother disappears and she’s introduced to Wolf — the only person who says he can help her.
[Please note there will be spoilers for Cinder. If you haven't read it yet, don't read beyond this point!]
Cinder was classified as A Book Magan Should Have Read Sooner. Much sooner. Thankfully upon finishing, I was able to dive right in to Scarlet. (Recommendation: Reading these back-to-back was flawless so if it’s been a while for you, do a refresher so you can remember all the details).
We meet Scarlet right away — her grandmother is missing. Law enforcement doesn’t believe she’s been kidnapped. They close her case because they want to believe that her grandmother chose to leave. They allude to suicide, but Scarlet knows better. Things seem super sketchy, right?
If you’re nervous about what happens to your favorite Cinder characters and you need answers + more Prince Kai, never fear. Cinder is still locked in prison and she’s just found out she’s Princess Selene. She desperately needs to escape before she’s taken back to Luna. The only way out is to ask another prisoner, Thorne, for help. Unbeknownst to Cinder, Thorne becomes her sidekick. He is comical, quirky, and despite being a nuisance 99% of the time, he proves he’s quite useful when he needs to be.
Ultimately, Cinder and Scarlet’s stories begin to interweave and this is where Marissa Meyer blows your mind. At times, the pacing seemed a bit slower than Cinder was, but I was still very engaged as a reader. I wanted to how/when/where Scarlet and Cinder’s stories would intersect. Kai was more of a peripheral character for me (I always, always want more Kai); he’s confused about Cinder. Did she use her glamour to persuade him to trust her? Did she manipulate him? He’s frustrated that Queen Levana has forced him to make abrupt decisions. Ay, yi, yi — Queen Levana — detestable woman!
What remains to be one of Meyer’s most striking storytelling tactics is how she alludes to details and lets her readers in on secrets before the characters have fully come to realize them. She continues to give clues that we can use to figure out what’s going to happen next, but I must say… Wolf confused the heck outta me. Scarlet is a Little Red Riding Hood retelling so naturally, I refreshed my memory because I wanted to know what to expect of Wolf. I didn’t want to fall in love with a character I was only supposed to hate! But oh, no! Meyer took my heart on a roller coaster ride and while I had a few suspicions about him from the very beginning, I still didn’t know whether or not to love him. He was dark and mysterious, carrying around lots of baggage. (If you like brooding boys, brace yourselves, girls!)
Scarlet was very much a — Who do I trust? / What’s happening in this world? / How does this piece together? / Where do things go from here? book. I feel like I have a grasp of what Meyer intends to do in the grand scheme of things, but I cannot wait to see what she does with the characters we’ll be introduced to. Believe me, guys, Scarlet is awesome. Remember how you felt about Cinder? Multiply that awesomeness by a million.