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Estelle: Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg

Openly Straight by Bill KonigsbergOpenly Straight by Bill Konigsberg ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: May 28, 2013
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic
Pages: 336
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: LGBT, boarding school, labels, friendship, lies
Format read: ARC paperback from TLA.

Summary: Rafe decides to spend his junior year on the East Coast at an all boys boarding school. What’s so crazy about that? Well, unlike his life in Boulder, he decides not to share with anyone that he is indeed gay in order to give him the chance to strip away all labels and give him the opportunity to be more than his sexual preference.

Openly Straight is a novel that encompassed so many of my favorite things: a flawed main character who felt a lot, supportive and enthusiastic parents, and heart-tugging friendship and romance. And best of all? It made me think.

Basically, I want to hug and squeeze this book until I can’t anymore.

Rafe is pretty lucky when he comes out to his parents. They are completely supportive; they barely blink an eyelash. The liberal town of Boulder, Colorado responds pretty much the same way. His teachers want his thoughts on the gay movement, he trains to give speeches to others about sexuality, and his family surprises him with an awesome coming out party. Life is pretty much hunky dory. We’ve all heard people’s hurtful experiences regarding coming out, so it’s kind of hard to believe that Rafe has anything to complain about, right?

Well. Wrong. He feels totally pigeonholed by his sexuality, and decides to go off to a boarding school on the East Coast in hopes of wiping the slate clean. He won’t exactly be back in the closet because he knows he’s gay… he just won’t really tell the peers in his all-boy school what his deal is.

The idea of going to a brand new place and being a whole new you is pretty tempting. Of course, part of it, especially in Rafe’s case, isn’t awesome because he is kind of lying in some instances. But in others, he’s finding out things about himself that he never knew. Like maybe the jock isn’t always “the jock” and maybe he can actually keep up with a bunch of guys playing football in the quad.

The challenges though… outweigh that lack of boundary Rafe feels. And as a reader, you are just waiting for everything to blow up in his face. His parents are confused by this “phase”, he’s making up stories about his closest girl friend, and this intimate friendship with Ben, a soft-spoken jock who loves to read and have deep conversations, is definitely in jeopardy, especially as he and Rafe continue to get closer. Is Ben gay? Are they just best friends? The lines are so blurred at times, that it was really hard for me to figure it out. The possibility of heartbreak is so palpable.

Konigsberg also included pieces from Rafe’s writing class — a great way for us to get this character’s back story but also to see him grow as a writer. (I adored the teacher’s comments so much because so many times what he was saying was criticism I have about what I’m reading: “show don’t tell!”) Mr. Scarborough also gives him room to think about his choices to be someone new at the school, and subtley offers some helpful perspective. He would definitely have been one of my favorite teachers too.

I feel absolutely so much love for this book that my heart is actually seizing up as I write this review. From Rafe’s refreshing narrating to watching him painstakingly make blunders and attempt to get himself out of them, Openly Straight unveils a different kind of journey towards self-discovery — one filled with laughs, love, late nights, and finding out how to balance all the parts that make you you.

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September 19, 2014 - 9:15 am

Pub Date: Fall Fest (Brews + a Book) - […] Narragansett Fest Lager = yum. I have never had a fall beer in a can (this is a new development) and I liked that even though this beer was heavier than I’ve been used to all summer, it was still on the light side. This beer is New England’s oldest beer and the official beer of the Red Sox  (I know this makes Andi happy) which segues perfectly into my book pick: Openly Straight (my review from last summer). […]

December 27, 2013 - 11:25 am

Estelle's End of the Year Survey (So Long 2013), Estelle - […] Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones How to Love by Katie Cotugno Criminal by Terra Elan McVoy Openly Straight by Bill Konisberg Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu […]

October 7, 2013 - 12:01 am

Openly Straight | Bill Konigsberg | Book Review - […] Be Reading – “I want to hug and squeeze this book until I can’t anymore.” Lost In A Great Book – “a fantastic read that speaks honestly” The Reading […]

September 15, 2013 - 4:30 pm

April Books & Wine - Well, I finally wrote my review and I just want to give you all the snaps for this review like how on Legally Blonde when someone gets something right, they get snaps. I agree with everything here — how you want to hug this book, how your heart seizes just thinking about it, Rafe’s flaws. Didn’t you love how much this book made you reflect and think? And just how honest it was. What a stinking great book and a stinking great review. Thanks so much for tweeting about Openly Straight and basically convincing me to read this book, quite unintentionally, I think. :-)

August 11, 2013 - 8:09 am

Alexa Y. - This book sounds utterly amazing. I love the sound of the story! It seems like this character is pretty great, and the story is fairly refreshing, if I’m being honest. Glad to see you enjoyed this one!

August 3, 2013 - 8:42 am

Ash @ Paranormal Indulgence - When I saw what you’d rated this one, I didn’t even bother waiting before I put this on a list of books I’m buying this month. I kinda suspected I WOULD want to read this but I’m so happy that I read review and feel no doubt about it. I’m positively positive I’m going to love this book. It screams “MY THING!” so I seriously cannot wait until I’m squeezing it myself.

July 31, 2013 - 5:48 pm

Amy @ bookgoonie - I think I’ll do just that. Buy it.

What a great topic…not wanting to be defined by your sexuality.

July 30, 2013 - 7:04 pm

Asheley Tart (@BookwormAsheley) - This is such an great idea for a book. I’ve never thought of anyone that has felt comfortable enough with coming out then feeling pigeonholed by their sexuality. I love that you love it so much because your enthusiasm is infectious. Great review, Estelle. (:

July 30, 2013 - 6:02 pm

April Books & Wine - I’ll leave a longer comment later when I am not skimming (I haven’t written my review yet and don’t want to be influenced) so I’ll just say that YES YES YES hugs and squeezes for Openly Straight!

July 29, 2013 - 7:38 pm

Bookworm1858 - I enjoyed this book a lot too even as I was cringing as Rafe spun yet another half-truth to hide his true self-I could not see it ending well and in my opinion, the ending was pretty sad (though the author sees it as pretty optimistic.)

July 29, 2013 - 3:55 pm

Hollie @ Music, Books and Tea - This book sounds awesome! I definitely need to get myself a copy of it, I love how it’s dealing with more than Rafe’s coming out story, and I can’t wait to see how the topic is tackled.

July 29, 2013 - 2:42 pm

Tara - Whoa — this book sounds incredible! The story seems very original and unlike anything I’ve read before.

July 29, 2013 - 12:31 pm

Sara (of The Page Sage) - I LOVED this book. Rafe’s flaws and the blurred lines are what make it so great. For a book that (based on its cover) looks pretty light, it really makes you think.

Lovely review! :)

July 29, 2013 - 11:33 am

molly @ wrapped up in books - Great review! I’m so excited for this one, but it has a long hold list at the library. I think it’s great that queer YA lit is moving beyond simply coming out stories and showing different aspects.

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Nailed It: August 2013 Book Releases + Pretty Colors

Every time, we throw one of these posts together… we can’t believe another month is come to a close. August 2013 Book Releases? So crazy how fast the summer is going. Hope you are enjoying all your books and painting your nails!

Last month, we changed things up and used Zoya colors to make some book cover palettes. We gave one of our colors away, and Jennifer won and picked an awesome red called Diana! She sent us a picture of her gorgeous manicure!

Zoya Diana from Nailed It Rather Be Reading Blog winner

Doesn’t it look fantastic?

Jumping back to this month, we’re back to the rainbow of Julep colors out there and hope you enjoy what we came up with this time around!

Estelle.

The Hero by Robyn Carr

Nailed It The Hero by Robyn Carr August 2013, part of Thunder Point series

This is actually the first “big kid” book I’ve picked to feature for Nailed It! The books in Robyn Carr’s Thunder Point series have such dreamy covers, and when I first spotted The Hero… I was just so taken with how gorgeous the colors were. It’s such a striking cover, and from all the rumors I’m hearing, it’s the best in the series so far. (Yes!!)

Unlike other romance novels I’ve read recently, Carr’s Thunder Point series jumps from various people in town rather than focusing on just one person’s story. I like this a lot because you can really invest yourself in the characters and don’t feel like you are missing too much when you move to another book. In The Hero, we have a new football coach, a young boy who just found out who is bio dad is, and a lot more hi-jinx. I can’t wait to get started.

As for the color palette, purple has always been one of my favorite colors + I just love the shades here. Perfect for the summer but also workable for the transition to the fall.

Alaina | Gabrielle | Alice

Magan.

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

cover love for counting by 7s by holly goldberg sloan

I haven’t read a book by Holly Goldberg Sloan yet, but I’d like to change that right now. I’ve heard amazing accolades sung for this particular book. “It should win awards” has been one of the best endorsements I’ve heard for it. That means a lot, right?

Plus, this cover is ridiculously awesome. I’m so in love with the color combination and the layout. If you walked into my house, you wouldn’t be surprised to find these colors accenting our home. I’m so drawn to them! I love the pops of color on the clean white background. And the typography? Nice, simple, understated. I sent this ARC to Estelle after I went to ALA and I can’t *wait* to hear what she thinks about it. This might be a pre-order book for me soon!

Lena | Jackie | Harper

So tell us what you think of our Nailed It selections for August!
What covers are you guys loving right now and what books are you anxious
to get your hands on this coming month?

August 11, 2013 - 8:07 am

Alexa Y. - I am in love with both of these colorful palettes! The purples of the cover of THE HERO really feel calming, while the bright colors of COUNTING BY 7S (which is pretty fabulous, by the way) are perfect for the last month of a US summer. Great choices!

July 29, 2013 - 12:33 pm

Candice @ The Grown-Up YA - I LOVE the colors for The Hero! Those look like my go-to fall colors! (that I actually wear year round) The other colors for Counting by 7s would be perfect for a beach trip…. :)

July 29, 2013 - 12:07 pm

Rachel - Every time you two do one of these posts I don’t think they can get any more perfect, but every time they do! I LOVE your choices for both of the covers. The choices for The Hero are so pretty! I don’t think I’ve ever worn purple polish, but I would totally wear one of those choices. And I love the colors for Counting By 7s. They match so well!

July 28, 2013 - 4:31 pm

Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook - I haven’t read either of these books, but I do love the colors in both of them. I love purple, too, Estelle, and I agree that cover really has that dreamy quality to it. I love the nailpolish you picked. It’s perfect, and it makes me want them.

And the colors for Counting by Sevens is awesome! I love that glitter nail polish, Harper. It’s perfect for an accent nail.

I just wish I were better at doing my own nails. :)

July 28, 2013 - 3:02 pm

Lisa (heylisarenee) - Yes hi there can we talk about how much I love this feature? You do such a good job pairing the colors with the covers and it makes my girlish heart all fluttery. GO YOU.

July 28, 2013 - 11:25 am

Annie - I love all the colors for The Hero, especially Alice! I haven’t heard of the book (or the series) prior to today but it sounds really interesting! I like the idea of shifting perspectives.

Wow, the colors Magan chose for Counting By 7’s match PERFECTLY. I love how you even managed to find a shimmery turquoise for the little fish.

July 28, 2013 - 10:59 am

Bookworm1858 - Not entirely sure what comes out in August but love the color combos here. I think Counting by 7s has an amazing selection and I would love to see a real-life manicure emulating this cover (any takers, Magan?)

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Estelle: Truly, Madly, Deadly by Hannah Jayne

Truly Madly Deadly by Hannah JayneTruly, Madly, Deadly by Hannah Jayne ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: July 2, 2013
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 262
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: Death, stalking, secrets
Format read: eBook from Publisher via NetGalley (Thanks!)

Summary: When Sawyer’s popular jock boyfriend dies in a car accident because of his drunk driving, she thinks the secrets of their relationship will be buried with him. But a mysterious note in her locker (“You’re welcome” attached to a newspaper clipping of her boyfriend’s accident) has her wondering what really happened that night… especially when other horrible things start happening right before her eyes.

When I picked up Truly, Madly, Deadly, I expected something along the lines of Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf — a book about a girl who survives a car accident that kills her boyfriend (who wasn’t really the nicest guy). I was completely glued to that book until the very end.

But Truly, Madly, Deadly only grazes what Shaw managed to do in Breaking Beautiful and I really missed that happening here. While main character Sawyer does wrestle with the truths of her relationship with Kevin, the novel focuses on the domino effect of bad events that occur after his car accident. All of these terrible things are somehow connected to Sawyer, are supplemented with a note or flowers, and are downright scary. Instead of going to the authorities, she fears all of these occurrences might be her fault and keeps it to herself.

I really felt for Sawyer throughout the book. Her boyfriend suddenly dies, she feels like she can’t trust anyone, her dad is preoccupied with work and his new baby with his new wife, and her mom lives on the opposite side of the country. The only two people who seem at all on her side are Chloe, her best friend from forever, and Cooper, the new guy in her life who is super sweet. But even so, she doesn’t divulge what is happening to anyone until everything spirals out of control and too many lives are at stake.

Personally, I felt very suspicious of every character I met in this book. (This is probably in direct relation to my reading of the amazingly horrifying Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas.) And while the ending semi-took me by surprise, I would have loved to have the book go on a tad longer instead of just dropping off and ending on a semi-joke. There was too much blood shed for a tone change like that. Plus, I’m not sure if Sawyer’s character made the kind of growth that I needed her to make.

A little bit more character development and plot tweaking could have really strengthened Truly, Madly, Deadly. Instead, I felt like I had just finished an addicting but not entirely fulfilling Lifetime movie of the week.

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February 18, 2014 - 9:01 am

See Jane Run by Hannah Jayne (YA Review) - […] the plus side, See Jane Run worked better for me than Jayne’s debut, Truly Madly Deadly. Why? This story line felt more relatable, and I must applaud an ending that comes out of left […]

August 11, 2013 - 8:03 am

Alexa Y. - Well, this doesn’t sound nearly as appealing as Dangerous Girls! I mean, I’m mildly curious about who did the deed. But I can’t seem to summon more that, honestly.

July 30, 2013 - 7:09 pm

Asheley Tart (@BookwormAsheley) - This is the second review that I’ve read that has said pretty much the same thing. I’m not entirely sure that I’ll read this one because books like this make me all cringy and twitchy, but what it seems like your reaction is kind of what others are feeling too. I love the cover.

July 27, 2013 - 9:38 pm

Sara (of The Page Sage) - I had been considering adding this one to my TBR pile, but the sound of that ending turns me off to this story. Although I might read Breaking Beautiful now because that sounds really good! :)

July 27, 2013 - 10:15 am

Bookworm1858 - I wish this was a more enthusiastic review as I actually bought this book instead of borrowing it from the library because I liked the sound of the concept so much. I will definitely still read it because I own it but I will lower my expectations.

July 26, 2013 - 5:59 pm

picturemereading - Too bad it wasn’t awesome! I love the description of the story!

July 26, 2013 - 2:37 pm

Jen @ Pop! Goes The Reader - I’ve read fairly mixed reviews about this book, although I would be lying if I said I wasn’t immediately intrigued by the book’s synopsis. I love the dark, twisted undercurrent of the story (The idea that perhaps the accident wasn’t that at all) and the fact that Sawyer is haunted by cryptic messages in the weeks following her boyfriend’s accident. Chilling! It’s a shame that this novel couldn’t quite seem to figure out what sort of story it wanted to be (i.e. Switching tone suddenly at the end of the novel) as had it remained a darker, grittier tale throughout I would be much more interested in reading it. As it is, I’m now left a little confused about its intention. Perhaps I’ll take a look at Breaking Beautiful instead…

July 26, 2013 - 12:07 pm

Annie - I actually didn’t connect much with Sawyer and I’m not sure if that’s because of the third-person narrative or simply because she was so underdeveloped. I didn’t know who she was and that made it challenging for me to really get into the book.

I thought the premise was really interesting though but at the end, when they revealed the killer (I knew it!), I was still left with a lot of questions like how did they do it? I think I needed more on the mystery front.

And I totally agree with you on the ending! That was super annoying for me as a reader. It just seemed so abrupt. ‘There was too much blood shed for a tone change like that.’ Ditto!

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Estelle: Three Little Words by Susan Mallery

Three Little Words by Susan MalleryThree Little Words by Susan Mallery ( web | tweet )
Part of the Fool’s Gold series.
Publication Date: July 30, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin
Pages: 360
Target audience: Adult; romance fans
Keywords: childhood love, opposites attract, post-military life, small towns
Format read: eBook received from Publisher via NetGalley! (Thanks!)

Summary: Isabel was heartbroken when her sister broke off her relationship with Ford and he ran off to join the military. At 14, she was utterly in love with him and while he was gone, sent him letters for years and years without any response. Years later, the two are reunited in their hometown (he’s living in her parent’s apartment) and he recruits her for a little help.

When I was 14, I was totally in love with this older boy (a family friend) and thinking back, I did some really cringe worthy things to get/not get his attention. (Does that make sense?) There was this one time I sent him a picture of me blowing him a kiss! For real. (I tried to unsend it but that function did not exist then.) Reading Isabel’s young letters to Ford in Three Little Words really transported me back to that very young me, hoping beyond hope that this amazing/almost off-limits guy felt the same way.

I absolutely love the “reunion” storyline in romance novels. People with a history, seeing each other again. Will old feelings come zipping back? Can they fall for each other despite the experience and years between them?

For Isabel and Ford, there isn’t much standing in their way. Just themselves. After years in the military, Ford just feels like he could never fall in love, and Isabel is reeling from a divorce that left her feeling like it was kind of her own fault. Back in Fool’s Gold to sell her family’s bridal shop and report back to New York to start a new fashion venture, she finds out that Ford will be occupying her family’s apartment a.k.a. living in her house. In the mean time, Ford is trying to adjust to being around people again, including his mother who is desperate for him to get married and start a family of his own.

This is where Isabel comes in. Ford asks her if she can be his pretend girlfriend for awhile so his mom will finally calm down. I’m sure you can see where this is all heading.

I’ve read a bunch of Fool’s Gold books since I started last year, and I can say with confidence that Three Little Words is my favorite. I loved how Ford teased Isabel about her letters, how Isabel wasn’t the most comfortable in her body and wasn’t an immediate sex goddess in bed, the bridal shop setting, and especially how all the ladies of Fool’s Gold came around to support her with friendship and drinks when she needed them most.

Three Little Words is sexy, sweet, and probably one of the more relatable books in this series. (There’s also a second romantic storyline between a tough lady and a very nice math teacher. Loved watching barriers come down for this one.) Plus football players are moving into town. Even more reason to check into Fool’s Gold if you ask me!

Did I mention this was probably the hottest Fool’s Gold book I ever read? Major heat wave, hot. Prepare yourself. Hydrate. You will need it.

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August 12, 2013 - 12:03 am

Melissa - I loved Fold and Isabel’s story. Denise was a hoot, but felt really bad for Ford & his brother. I can not wait for new books to come out!!

August 8, 2013 - 2:46 pm

Tanya C. - This was one of the best in the series! IMO it is a very close second to last summer’s All Summer Long. The scenes are funny, steamy and heartwarming. Another winner for Susan Mallery – LOVE HER! And there is a bonus romance within!

August 5, 2013 - 9:50 am

Maria - This book was wonderful and was a great way to finish this summer’s Fool’s Gold series! Isabel and Ford are just perfect together and I just love the chemistry between them!

August 4, 2013 - 8:25 pm

shannon ferguson - I loved three little words!!! Like another commenter said, loved it was a 2 for 1 romance lol

August 2, 2013 - 5:08 pm

Jackie Delude - It’s a another summer hit that sizzles by Susan Mallery!

Wow, talk about having a wonderful summer! Susan Mallery does it again with Three Little Words. How could you not love Ford Hendrix and Isabel Beebe? They have to be some of her best characters yet. Isabel was in love with Ford when she was just 14 years old and he was engaged to her sister. After things fell through with Isabel’s sister Ford leaves Fool’s Gold for the Navy and doesn’t return till many years later. You could say fate has brought them back into town at the same time and allows Isabel her chance at her first and only love. This book also gives you the story about Consuelo and Kent Hendrix with their story. What a wonderful book and a great way to end the summer!

July 31, 2013 - 1:08 pm

Lesley - I loved Three Little Words. This year’s Fool’s Gold trilogy has been the best!

July 30, 2013 - 7:11 pm

Asheley Tart (@BookwormAsheley) - HOORAY FOR THE HEAT WAVE. I love hot. I need to go back to Fool’s Gold for a little while. I’ve been dipping my feet in the adult contemps everywhere lately. Need to frolic on back to this place for a while. Yep.

July 30, 2013 - 10:29 am

julie barrett - I also read this and found it to be a hot steamy read. Just when I think I’ve read the best Susan puts out another book and it’s even hotter. If anybody needs a $1 off coupon for a paperback copy, let me know.

Julie

July 28, 2013 - 10:58 pm

Kortney - So glad that you loved the book. I totally found this book relatable too. I have to agree i liked how she incorporated Kent’s story into the book! Can’t wait to see what type of stories come with the football players coming to town!

July 28, 2013 - 10:42 pm

Dee - Great review!! Ford was such a likeable guy, sweet, sexy and caring!! The letters were such a great way to start the book off, as you seen Isobel transform from a young girl into a young woman. Doesn’t everybody keep their romance letters!?

July 28, 2013 - 9:08 pm

Shannon - I loved Susan Mallery’s Three little Words! Ford’s story was a great ending to the bodyguard’s trilogy. It is a must read for summer fun!

July 28, 2013 - 6:34 pm

Shari - I love all the Fool’s Gold books. Three Little Words comes out this coming Tuesday. This is the story of Isabel and Ford, plus an added romance of Kent and Consuelo. You will not be disappointed in this book. Loved it!

July 28, 2013 - 1:37 pm

Patsy T - Three Little Words is like a breath of fresh air. I love the simply getting to know each other again and fall in love. I love that not everyone is perfect. I really liked the 2 for 1 romance. You’ve just got to read it!

July 27, 2013 - 2:49 pm

Ash @ Paranormal Indulgence - THREE LITTLE WORDS is what started it all for me after all. As far as the Fool’s Gold series anyway. This one was just so adorable with a substantial amount of yumminess to it. I enjoyed seeing Isabel struggle with her feelings, her sexuality, her grief over her marriage, making her feel real. And FORD. I love the bad boy who doesn’t think he can ever fall in love line. And like you I love the “reunion” story lines as well. *fist-bumps* for Fool’s Gold solidarity. 😀

ALSO: “I tried to unsend it but that function did not exist then.”
It exists NOW?!? xD

July 25, 2013 - 3:16 pm

Alexa Y. - So, what you’re saying is… I need to read this book? Because yes, I will do that. I enjoy a good romance! Even though I’m technically more partial to historical as opposed to contemporary, this one sounds really, really good. Reunion stories are usually a hit with me!

July 25, 2013 - 2:14 pm

Daphne - I loved this one too. I loved how Ford was so easy going and laid back. I also loved how he could quote her letters to her. He was a sweetie. :) great review.

July 25, 2013 - 1:40 pm

Anna - Ooh I want to read this! Thanks for sharing :)

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Magan: Confessions of an Angry Girl by Louise Rozett

book review of Confessions of an Angry Girl

Confessions of an Angry Girl  by Louise Rozett (website | twitter)
Series: Confessions #1
Publication Date: August 28, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pages: 266
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: loss of a parent, first year of high school, comical and angry MC
Format read: Purchased digital version for my kindle.

Summary: Rose’s father died right before her freshman year of high school; she’d like nothing more than to wallow in her sadness, but somehow she keeps doing things that make her noticeable to the popular crowd (so not good).

Rose is pissed off. Her father died and he absolutely shouldn’t have. She’s entering her freshman year of high school and she’s overwhelmed with anger and frustration. Her therapist mom uses her “therapy voice” all the time and can’t be real about how she’s feeling. They don’t talk about her dad. At all. Her brother has flown the coop and gone to college, but conveniently, he’s finding ways of disconnecting from the family by dating a new girl and not coming home for family holidays. Popping up unexpectedly at school is Jamie Forta, the boy Rose has secretly (or maybe not so secretly) been crushing on from afar for years. Rose likes him. They kiss. Except they shouldn’t have. And maybe Jamie didn’t just decide to start hanging around Rose; maybe he was persuaded to?

Complicated doesn’t even begin to describe Rose’s freshman year. She’s trying to find her way and fly under the radar, but just can’t seem to get her footing. Her (non-existent) popularity further plummets when her honest, do-what’s-right-self makes her a target. Even though she wants nothing more than to be unseen, Rose just can’t seem to escape center stage. In many, many ways, Confessions of an Angry Girl reminded me of my good pal Ruby Oliver. In no way were the stories alike, but I think Ruby and Rose would have been quite the duo. Rose was full of spunkiness and blatant honesty. She made no apologies for being sad and needing to deal with her grief. Everything she said and felt was so real and honest to me, even if she (like Ruby) said some hilariously off-the-wall things that gave the impression she had no control over her mouth sometimes. Rose is a very imperfect girl who is simply trying to manage all the change that’s happening in her life.

Rose is trying, desperately, to deal with her grief, but she’s also afraid she’s going to forget her dad. She’s in the midst of losing touch with her best friend Tracy, who wants to make a name for herself in high school and is itching to be a cheerleader. (Rose is even more unsettled by Tracy’s constant contemplation over whether or not she should lose her virginity to her boyfriend, Matt. Personally, Rose thinks he’s a d-bag who just wants to sleep with her.) And then there’s her “relationship” with Jamie. She wants to be with him, but doesn’t understand what’s happening with Regina. Are they really together?

Confessions of an Angry Girl  was an unexpected delight — I breezed through the pages and connected instantaneously with Rose. She’s a little down on life (and sometimes herself), but she’s got a lot of insight and fight in her to push through all the bad. Even though Rose’s story stems from the loss of her father, I felt meeting her was very uplifting and delightful. The story does end on a bit of a cliffhanger, which I absolutely wasn’t certain was necessary, but I suppose you’ll have to wait and see what I thought about Confessions of an Almost Girlfriend soon. (I know — what a tease!)

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December 31, 2013 - 12:01 am

Rather Be Reading: Magan's Farewell to 2013 - […] work with the release of The Lucy Variations. Louise Rozett really captured my attention with her Confessions of an Angry Girl series, […]

July 31, 2013 - 8:00 am

Magan: Confessions of an Almost Girlfriend by by Louise Rozett, Magan - […] of an Almost Girlfriend by Louise Rozett Series: Confessions #2 (My review for Confessions of an Angry Girl.) Publication Date: July 25, 2013 Publisher: Harlequin Teen Pages: 288 Target audience: Young adult […]

July 30, 2013 - 7:14 pm

Asheley Tart (@BookwormAsheley) - Oh YAY!! I’m so glad you loved this book because I did too! I found it so much fun. I read it and reviewed it for another blog when it came out but never did for my own blog. I need to re-read and put it up on mine with the next book! Thanks for the reminder Magan! And man, that ending. Loved it.

July 27, 2013 - 2:45 pm

Ash @ Paranormal Indulgence - Judging by the titles in the series, I’d assumed that they were companion books in a series. I kind of love that it’s actually a good ol’ fashion series about one main character. What really got me was the unapologetic tone to Rose’s character that you mentioned. I love main characters like that! They do what they have to, say what’s true to who they are, and are completely unrepentant. That’s a sign of sassiness (a word?) I just can’t ignore 😀

Speaking of the Ruby Oliver series, I recently picked up the first book and now I’m itching to start that one as well!

July 24, 2013 - 10:12 pm

Racquel - I originally was not interested in this book when I first heard about it because I like YA about older characters, 17-18 year olds, seniors, graduating, characters around my age and such BUT that’s generally a bad habit of mine plus this book and the sequel seem like my kind of reads so I will get over my “no freshmen” thing and pick this up because it looks realistic and I already love from the reviews I’ve been reading.

July 24, 2013 - 12:22 pm

Alexa Y. - I love how this book, particularly its main character, sounds real, funny and hopeful. I might have overlooked this one before, but I definitely need to check it out for myself because you made it sound SO GOOD.

July 24, 2013 - 11:22 am

Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide - I really liked this one! Actually, I loved it. I was so surprised how serious it was and so many points seemed so realistic. Plus.. hellooooo. Jamie!
Sounds like I need to read Ruby Oliver!!!

July 24, 2013 - 10:12 am

Rachel - I’ve been considering reading this one literally since it was released. It sounded good, but at the same time I didn’t know if I wanted to read about a girl that was constantly angry. That being said, after reading your review her behavior makes A LOT more sense and I think I’m going to read this one!

July 24, 2013 - 9:47 am

Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook - I’ve been curious about this book (and it’s sequel) but I haven’t gotten around to reading them yet. I do love Ruby Oliver, though, so I should move this series up my TBR list.

July 24, 2013 - 9:10 am

Hazel - Awesome review, Magan! One mention of Ruby Oliver and you’ve already convinced me to read it. 😉 Aside from that, I think the plot’s interesting. Rose too. Putting this on my TBR! :)

July 24, 2013 - 8:55 am

Bookworm1858 - I love this series so much! I didn’t have very high expectations going in expecting another rote contemporary but was thrilled to get so much more especially the excellent character of Rose.

July 24, 2013 - 8:19 am

Amy @ bookgoonie - Ive been eyeing this series. Rose sounds very connectable and the story messy in a “real” sort of way.

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Sweet Summertime Reads: Morgan Matson’s Summer Essentials

Sweet Summertime Reads - Summer Beach Reads Feature with Fiction Folio and GReads!

A note from Magan: I’m beyond honored (thrilled, excited, ecstatic) that Morgan Matson is guest posting for Rather Be Reading today. Morgan is one of our very favorite authors who never fails to wow us with her incredible writing. We deeply loved Second Chance Summer and Amy and Roger’s Epic DetourThere’s no doubt that Morgan’s books are a pre-order/auto-buy for us. We asked her to take over Rather Be Reading today to share one of her masterful playlists with us and to let us know what her summer essentials and must-reads are.

Photo Courtesy of Morgan’s Instagram Feed (@morganmat): Jessi Kirby, left, and Morgan Matson, right

Summer is my absolute favorite season. There’s a reason my first two books – and the one I’m revising now – are all set during the summer.  To me, summer is worth looking forward to all year.  The days are long, it’s fine to eat ice cream at almost any hour of the day, and flip-flops (or, frankly, bare feet) become totally acceptable footwear.

There are certain things that I NEED to have in my summer, and come August, if I haven’t fulfilled these criteria, I might go a little manic in tracking them down.  My summer essentials:

1. Beach.

Photo Courtesy of Morgan’s Instagram (@morganmat): Her writing view from Jessi Kirby’s house.

I think you need to go to the beach at least once in a summer.  Even if you’re lucky enough to live in a place that’s warm and you can go to the beach year-round, there’s just something about the beach in the summer.  Make a day of it – half the fun of the beach is packing up the beach bag and snacks.  My essentials? Magazine, paperback, sunglasses, sunblock (I’m practically a vampire, and need crazy-high SPF), iPod, backup paperback, candy (preferably individually wrapped so that sand doesn’t compromise the whole enterprise).  I like staying at the beach until it gets cold and you have to put on a sweatshirt.  And if you can stay until it gets dark, is there anything better than stars above the water? I think not.

2. Mountains.

As much as I love the beach (and I DO – just ask Jessi Kirby, since I’m always showing up uninvited at her beach house and inviting myself for dinner) I grew up spending summers at a lake house in the mountains of Pennsylvania (which I might have, um, used as inspiration for a book:)).  So to me, it’s not summer without lots of trees and cicadas at night and too many mosquito bites.  To balance out the beach, you need s’mores over a fire and the smell of woodsmoke at night.

3. A blockbuster, a bag of popcorn, a diet coke.

I look forward to summer movies all year.  Nothing against small, nuanced, deeply felt, Oscar-bait movies, but I can’t WAIT for summer blockbusters.  I’m so happy when I’m in an air-conditioned theater, with salty, buttery popcorn, watching superheroes banter and punch each other. Bliss.

4. A great soundtrack.

You need that perfect summer playlist, the one that, when you come across it in your iTunes library in November, will remind you of a sunburn on your shoulders and driving with the windows down, the wind whipping your hair around.  I tend to make new playlists every two weeks, but I find my songs of the summer show up over multiple playlists.  And this is not the time to be a music snob! Sometimes the best summer songs are the poppy ones that just will not leave your head. They also don’t have to be current – one my favorite things is to discover and older song and repurpose it as one of your summer songs. [Find Morgan’s Playlist at the end of this post!]

5. Books!

Photo Courtesy of Morgan’s Instagram Feed (@morganmat): Morgan and the Giant Bunny at the Newport Public Library.

Summer is when I dig into that to-read pile that’s been gathering dust.  I also think summer is the perfect time to try out a book that might not be something you’d normally read.  Some of these aren’t new, but some books I’ve LOVED so far this summer: Fire With Fire (ARC), Eleanor & Park, The Moon & More, Golden, Nantucket Blue, Rules of Summer, Dark Places, The Interestings, Siege and Storm, and Shadow and Bone.

6. An adventure.

This is crucial! This can be whatever – but you have to have one.  If it’s taking a road trip with your BFF or getting lost on the way to the party with your crush (this might possibly be getting lost on purpose.  No judgment).  But you have to have that one (or two or three – hey, it’s summer) so that when it’s December, and someone says something about the summer, you’ll smile and refuse to answer when people ask you what you’re thinking about.

Have a most excellent summer!!

Xo

MM

Morgan’s Summer Playlist

Morgan graciously put together this amazing playlist for us.
If you’d like to listen to it in its entirety, join us by listening on Spotify.
Don’t have Spotify yet? No worries — find all the songs listed below.

1. Nightswimming/ REM
2. Fallen/ Imagine Dragons
3. Cruise/ Florida Georgia Line
4. Die Young/ Ke$ha
5. The Downeaster Alexa/ Billy Joel
6. Back and Forth/ Operator Please
7. Submarines/ The Lumineers
8. A Better Son/Daughter/ Rilo Kiley
9. Out on the Town/ fun.
10. Love Like Woe/ The Ready Set
11. Running Out of Moonlight/ Randy Houser
12. I Love It/ Icona Pop
13. Take Me Home Tonight/ Eddie Money
14. Entertainment/ Phoenix
15. Never Wanted Your Love/ She & Him
16. Get Lucky/ Daft Punk
17. Just Like Heaven/ The Cure
18. Forever/ Walter Meego
19. I Always Knew/ The Vaccines

[Because Spotify is silly and doesn’t have Fallen by Imagine Dragons, here it is on YouTube.]

Morgan, thank you so much for stopping by Rather Be Reading!
xo, M + E

August 27, 2013 - 12:00 am

Sweet Summertime Reads: Ginger Reflects - […] Be Reading’s Morgan Matson’s Summer Essentials: I feel like it’s not summer until you have the essentials & I completely agreed with all […]

July 25, 2013 - 1:35 pm

Jeff DeCoursey - Wow, Nightswimming, Downeaster Alexa, and anything by Imagine Dragons. Nice playlist! Summer has never been my favorite (I’m a fall guy), but maybe that’s because I grew up in Phoenix. Thanks for sharing your essentials — I’m adding Adventure to my list right now.

July 23, 2013 - 6:25 pm

Alisa Selene - I love summer films as well!

July 23, 2013 - 2:36 pm

Tara - I am absolutely loving this playlist! Thanks for sharing Magan and Morgan!

July 23, 2013 - 2:29 pm

elena - i’m glad morgan mentioned ice cream at least once in this post because it a summer, nay LIFE, essential! LOVE this post and p much agree with all these points. esp summer soundtrack. :)

July 23, 2013 - 1:35 pm

Melissa @ Writer Grrl Reads - OMG! I was soooooo excited to see that Morgan guest posted for you, and this blog post is seriously one of my favourites, like EVER. Although summer is not my favourite season (don’t hate me for that! I’m much more of a rainy day girl…me and heat don’t get along well) I still do agree with each and every one of Morgan’s must haves. We don’t get too much crazy hot weather, luckily, but any beach outing that I do undertake always includes a good book and a stocked iPod :)

July 23, 2013 - 12:48 pm

Alexa Y. - I’m pretty much in solid agreement with Morgan about the summer essentials, as I would like all of these things to be a part of each and every summer that I ever have. My favorite will have to be the part about adventures; summer seems like a time when ANYTHING is possible, and I like exploiting that!

July 23, 2013 - 11:28 am

Annie - I think MY summer essential this year is to reread Amy and Roger and read Second Chance Summer! It’ll be nice to make good use of all the time I’ll be spending indoors once the heat kicks in. I’m not good with the heat so I usually hide in my comfortable, cool house. I haven’t had any ‘summer adventures’ yet so I’ll add that to my To-Do list. And I love Morgan’s playlist! I’ve been listening to Cruise on repeat – it’s the perfect song to get you in that fun, summer-y mood! :)

July 23, 2013 - 10:58 am

Alice @ ThatKidInWonderland - I can’t believe I’m that awkward person who still hasn’t read any of Morgan Matson’s books! Ah there is something seriously wrong with me. I absolutely need to get my hands on her books asap. Eeeep!

Yes to all the above Summer essentials! I live in Australia and I actually didn’t get a chance to go to the beach last Summer and it left my feeling like my Summer was so unfulfilled. D: The beach is a necessity. For sure!

July 23, 2013 - 9:52 am

Asheley Tart (@BookwormAsheley) - First of all, I just bought Second Chance Summer like last week, I think and I’m really excited about getting into it as soon as I can. I’ve ONLY heard great things. And of course, I loved Jessi Kirby’s Golden, so these two are quite the pair and I’m loving seeing them here for this post. I have to absolutely agree with both the BEACH and the MOUNTAINS!! I’m SO VERY FORTUNATE to live in North Carolina where that is an easy possibility for me – I’m one that is near the coast, like many are, but there’s just something about being able to drive to either place at any time of the year pretty easily that is oh-so-special to me. I love this post, love this playlist, and I think MMatson pretty much nailed summer easily!

July 23, 2013 - 8:36 am

Hazel - Definitely agree with Morgan’s summer essentials! And her playlist is just downright AWESOMEEEE.

July 23, 2013 - 8:35 am

Ginger @ GReads! - I think I just fell in love with Morgan Matson all over again! Her summer essentials are THE BEST. Seriously. I agree with all them. Summer is my favorite time of the year, too. And I totally get how it’s meant to be a time spent making memories, so later in the year when those winter blues set it, you have something to remember back on and smile about. Ahhhh I love summer so, so much. Her playlist is kickass too! Thanks Magan for sharing this today for SSR :)

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