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On a Personal Note: Estelle + the Stage

If I threw together some kind of performance resume, my experience pretty much peaked in elementary school. After participating in choir, dance classes, and school plays (I once played Mary and felt so nauseous the entire time, I held baby Jesus by his foot), I realized I just wasn’t that… good. I liked to read (and play softball!) for god’s sakes!

But it didn’t mean I didn’t appreciate other people who could sing and dance and entertain a crowd.

Fast forward a bunch of years and I am now a person who would rather spend money to see a play or a musical, than go to a concert or see a movie in the theaters. If you had asked me in high school if this would be true, I probably would have laughed in your face. I didn’t think I would be the girl who searches Spotify (not that that existed yet) for a Stephen Sondheim musical mentioned in a book just because I knew it would supplement my reading experience.

So while I will never be a Devan (an awesome singer, actress, and dancer), part of my enjoyment of The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding was seeing theater references in the text. Like Devan and her friends, I can be a bit of a theatre geek… even if I’m more of a bystander than a participator. For these characters, though, it seems like this part of them was apparent since birth. That wasn’t exactly the case for me, and I couldn’t help but remember how and why I started loving theatre so much.

I thought, who knows, maybe someone will feel the same way.

high school.

Even though I lived within 10 miles of New York City and Broadway’s big lights, I didn’t go to my first official Broadway show until a marching band trip was organized. Even so, it (Blast!) was less of a show with a story than a series of musical selections with awesome movement.

A few months later though, right after 9/11, my friends and I went to New York City to see Rent. (I know, I know. Of COURSE we saw Rent.) It was pretty much a life-changing moment, and an experience that will stay with me forever. You can’t sit next to someone’s mom and watch “Contact” on stage without remembering that forever.

This was about the time I started to obsess over Adam Pascal (who was mentioned in The Reece Malcolm List). He was an original cast remember in Rent (I didn’t get to see him in it) but before I went to college, I did have the opportunity to see him live and in person in Aida. (Later, I even dated someone who looks a whole lot like him… so strange.)

Despite the fact that my friends and I were still singing Rent songs until we threw our caps in the air… my theater bug really hit in…


Part of it may be because I dated a guilty boyfriend who bought me VERY expensive seats to shows but more than likely it’s because I ditched math my first semester and took a Theatre 101 course. With the scariest yet most inspiring professor on the planet. I didn’t know anything. Anything. (I even got made fun of for taking notes.) This professor also introduced me to Stephen Sondheim for the first time and, funnily enough, my now-husband/then-rival assigned me to cover the fall musical Company for the campus newspaper.

Guys, Sondheim is tough and I legit had no idea what was happening.

In between semesters, though, my professor organized a 3-day trip in NYC where we would see five shows in 3 days and this… well, this pretty much changed my life. By this point, I was following Playbill.com like my life depended on it and my anticipation of seeing Wicked for the first time (with Idina Menzel and Kristen Chenoweth) was built to such heights, I basically cried during the entire show.


Estelle in her College Dorm

My sister visiting my dorm room my sophomore year. Check out the posters behind me.

When I had to switch schools after my sophomore year (my original college closed because it was in debt… sigh), I was like LET’S GO TO NEW YORK CITY and start learning about the foundations of theatre! But my school was too cool for that and only offered experimental theater classes… so I dropped those and tried to do my own thing. One of my favorite experiences was sitting all night with two of my friends from high school outside of the Rent theatre on its 10th anniversary. I interviewed people online and wrote an article about it for a journalism class.

(I also got zero sleep for class and took my sister to see another show for her birthday the following night. Insane.)

Also: major sadness. I did not like the Rent movie. It was really… a heartbreak.


People think it’s dangerous to work in NYC. But probably for other reasons than I’m about to tell you. My poor little wallet. One of my best girlfriends and I would see shows probably twice a month. (She was crazier because she would drive up from South Jersey to accompany me.) But let me tell you: In the Heights (totally worth it) and paying a billion dollars to watch Adam Pascal sing “Maria” (from West Side Story).

I did wean myself off shows while I was planning a wedding and moving into a house (it was tough) and then fell back into it. I somehow managed to stay silent during a Stephen Sondheim talk last winter. I saw Once the Musical with Magan when she visited last March and loved it so much that I took my sister to see it a few days later. (I cried my eyes out both times.) My husband and I played lotto (where they pick out a few names before a certain time, and you pay cheaply for tickets) in the spring and saw Newsies (Jeremy Jordan! who is now on Smash) and Peter and the Starcatcher.

Fun fact: I take partial credit for discovering Jeremy Jordan because I got to see him at the dress rehearsal for the pre-Broadway tryout of Newsies in New Jersey and I kept saying “WHO IS THAT GUY?”. Swoon. (Then I bought tickets to see him in Bonnie and Clyde when I had zero interest in the show. Um, I fell in love with that show. Such amazing music and so underrated.)

A major highlight from last year was the tour of the New Amsterdam Theatre in NYC:

Estelle and James on Broadway

The closest I will ever get to a real Broadway stage.

One of the things I miss the most from my walks to work (now that I take a subway from Queens) is seeing the new marquees getting set up and watching them set up equipment in the theaters. And while I don’t miss much from our old stomping grounds, I do miss reviewing local shows around our neighborhood because, gee, in the depths of Long Island, there is some crazy talent waiting to be discovered and it was such a joy to see it happen.

I’m also too old to be obsessed with High School Musical, but I still am. (Another Reece reference.)

But to return to grown up land, my husband and I did use lyrics from “Being Alive” from that pesky show from early in my college career: Company. (This popped up in Reece too.)

Somebody, hold me too close,
Somebody, hurt me too deep,
Somebody, sit in my chair
And ruin my sleep
And make me aware
Of being alive

And just like all of that, theatre has somehow become a huge part of my life. And not because I have any aspiration of standing up on a stage. I love to be reeled into a show by someone’s voice or their moves. I love the stories that come to life, night after night, an audience never seeing the same performance twice. It’s art, alive and flourishing, and it inspires me so much.

You have no idea how at peace I felt reading The Reece Malcolm List, sipping some coffee, and playing a Sondheim musical in the background. It was true perfection.

Now before you leave me today, I did make a Spotify playlist featuring songs mentioned in The Reece Malcolm List, in addition to a few other bonus tracks I thought you might want to hear. (Don’t be scared to try this out… I tried to pick mostly mainstream tracks so those not used to listening to musicals might like it too.)

And for you other theatre nerds out there, here are a some other YA picks that might fit the bill:

June 27, 2013 - 1:05 am

Book and a Beverage [7] – Estelle from Rather Be Reading | The Book Addict's Guide - […] like crossing my personal life with my reading and it was fun to share that in this post about my love of theater. Got anything special coming up we should know about? Well, right now are participating in year 2 […]

April 14, 2013 - 9:02 am

Be Ready for BEA: Under the Broadway Lights - […] (A few weeks ago, I chatted about that obsession here.) […]

February 26, 2013 - 2:49 pm

Alexa Y. - E, this may be my very post you’ve written for RBR EVER. Part of it is because I’m a fellow theater geek, albeit it’s gotten quieter since I’ve started saving up for my wedding. But seriously – I love the theater. I love the feeling I get seeing people perform, and I love the amazing stories and music that musicals have to offer fans.

I think it’s wonderful that you shared how you got into theater in this post! We’re actually a lot alike, since I got into theater (really got into it anyway) in college :)

Also, ADAM PASCAL. *swoons*

February 22, 2013 - 3:55 pm

Estelle - Allison, we will be sure to make plans to meet up when you come to BEA. I’m so glad you are hoping to see a show when you are in town. Hopefully the spring will bring something great to the stages! Memphis is great and JJ is like my dream come true, and my husband knows he is my pretend boyfriend. haha. Thank you so much for stopping by to comment. Truly made my morning! :)

February 22, 2013 - 3:54 pm

Estelle - Kristin,

I, too, saw Rent with Adam and Anthony (twice?) and it was ah-mazing. Even though they are kind of aged out of the roles now, I still love what their energy and talent bring to the role… not to mention their history with the show in the first place. Thank you so much for your amazing compliments. It really made my day to read them and M + I are so thrilled that you enjoy the blog. It’s a pleasure to hear from you! GO RENT!

February 22, 2013 - 3:51 pm

Estelle - Asheley, you must let me know if you need any suggestions / help with your Bway endeavors during BEA. If you are in the city, there are a ton of ways to do things on the cheap and still experience a good show! :) Thanks for stopping by to read!

February 22, 2013 - 3:50 pm

Estelle - M, YES. James is into theater but more plays than musicals. Every once in awhile, I can get him to see something if it’s not entirely TOO girlie. But yes, the song we used in our vows is important to us and really fits so I’m glad we were able to incorporate that!

February 22, 2013 - 3:50 pm

Estelle - “Bet on it” – Zac Efron.

February 22, 2013 - 3:49 pm

Estelle - Cynthia, so glad to hear your daughter is into musical things! She will LOVE LOVE LOVE Drama, I am sure. I hope she has watched High School Musical because those are pretty much the best! :)

February 22, 2013 - 3:45 pm

Estelle - Bookworm, Light my Candle is such a romantic/sexy song. haha. I’m so glad you ended you falling in love with Rent too. I do think you’ll enjoy RML for sure!

February 22, 2013 - 3:43 pm

Estelle - Anneqah, thanks so much for your kind words! I do hope you get to see Wicked when it comes to town. I definitely think it’s a show that everyone should see. :)

February 22, 2013 - 3:39 pm

Estelle - Rachel, La Vie Boheme is so so so hard to do. Every now and then, though, I’ll remember one of the lines and have it stuck in my head forever. So glad you are an Aida fan as well… that show has such an interesting story. I was always so intrigued by it, and of course, the music is ah-amazing! Go Elton John!

February 22, 2013 - 3:37 pm

Estelle - Brittany, Wicked is the best birthday gift ever! I’m so glad you got to experience it with your sister. I always thought it would be a great show to see with your best friend or your sis. Thanks for stopping by and commenting… it really means a lot to me!

February 22, 2013 - 3:36 pm

Estelle - Ginger, I think we talked about this but I went to London when I was in high school and saw a show… didn’t even feel like a huge deal and I’m mad at myself for not paying more of attention. But maybe now that you say that… it might have been the casual environment and the other spectactors. I definitely think your music and my theater interests are very similar! They are such a nice release.

February 22, 2013 - 3:34 pm

Estelle - Anna, I love your jazz hands + so glad we share this interest! :) Come in NYC soon!

February 22, 2013 - 12:49 am

Allison L - Estelle!

I can’t tell you how happy I am to see this post. It really does make me so happy to see someone who loves Broadway like me. I was involved in the musical program when I was in high school as a stage crew member and eventual stage manager. I have so many good memories from that time in my life!

I’m so glad you mentioned Rent. It is one of my favorite shows, and I was lucky enough to see it on tour in 2009 with Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp. So amazing! I also saw Wicked when it was on tour as well, and cried just like you. I can only imagine what it was like to see it with the original cast. The first show I saw on Broadway was Les Miserables (back in middle school as part of a field trip). I’ve also seen Memphis (LOVED) and Newsies (Mmm. Jeremy Jordan.) on Broadway both of which I loved. I’m hoping to be able to catch another show when I come back to the city for BEA! ;)

February 21, 2013 - 10:04 pm

Estelle's Shelve It >> 2/21/2013 - […] On a Personal Note: Estelle + the Stage (my Broadway obsession!) The Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg: a review Our Joint Shelve It / Some DC pictures! Blaze by Laurie Compton: a review The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding: a review Here Comes Trouble by Erin Kern: a review […]

February 21, 2013 - 2:46 pm

Kristin - Estelle,

Ok..I cannot tell you how excited I am that I have found another who gets the whole RENT and Adam Pascal obsession! I just about screamed when I read your post..because I couldn’t believe how much you sounded like me. Woot! I also saw Adam Pascal in ‘Aida’..and I had the luck of seeing him (and meeting him) and Anthony Rapp when they did the last RENT tour. He is an amazing man (as you know), and I am so happy that someone else just gets me!

I also wanted to say..I love yours and Magan’s blog so much. It gives me so much joy, and sometimes it really makes me want to meet the two of you. Hopefully someday, at an extraordinary book conference!



February 19, 2013 - 11:05 am

Asheley Tart (@BookwormAsheley) - Oh my goodness, Estelle! I absolutely love this blog post! I have to admit that I don’t know a single person you mention and I’ve not seen Broadway, although I’m hoping to catch one maybe when I’m up for BEA. (That’ll be my first time in NYC too so, um, yeah I’m a little wide-eyed at all of the stuff I’m excited/hoping to be seeing and doing.)

This is such a fun way to get to know you better! Love it.

February 18, 2013 - 8:03 pm

VeganYANerds - This is such a great post, E! We used to go to shows when we were little (the ones I remember are Annie, Oliver, Phantom of the Opera) but I haven’t been to one in years. It’s lovely that you were able to incorporate your love of theatre into your wedding and that it brought you and your man together!

February 18, 2013 - 2:43 pm

Tara - I’ve loved sharing your passion for theater via our gchats the last few months :) While I’m not as into theater as you are, it’s awesome to discover new things I might not have seen before solely because I have you as a great friend. (PS: we still need to have our chat about High School Musical)

February 18, 2013 - 1:24 pm

Cynthia - Love these posts Estelle.. always love to get to know the real person behind the blog. I’m not a huge Broadway fan, mainly because I never had the experience but I do like watching musicals, I know they’re not always the same or even come close to it. My daughter though has become a fanatic of all things musical, so I think I’m going to get her DRAMA, I’m sure she’ll enjoy it and relate to it since she’s in middle school and is in theatre arts and choir. Love this post! =D

February 16, 2013 - 12:20 pm

Bookworm1858 - I remember in high school when my friend waltzed into homeroom and made me listen to “Light My Candle” to my bewilderment-imagine hearing that song with zero context! Then I started getting into Broadway and falling in love with Rent (and other shows) on its own. I really really really need to pick up The Reece Malcolm List!

February 15, 2013 - 8:45 pm

Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life - So last year, I had an extra elective space in my schedule, so I just randomly took Theater Tech, where we learned about different musicals and the production aspect behind musicals and theater in general. And after reading this post, it makes me realize how much I want to go see a musical! Your journey with musicals and such was so fascinating to read, Estelle. Living where I do, I have some access to theaters where I can see a musical, and I plan to go to my first sometime soon, hopefully (and apparently Wicked is going to be put on, and I just may have to go see that one…)

Fabulous post! <3 <3

February 15, 2013 - 3:43 pm

Rachel - I LOVED musical theatre in highschool! I never performed in any shows because I was too shy, but I say all of my school’s shows and listened to soundtracks like it was my job. My favorites were Aida, Wicked, and Rent. My bestfriend and I totally had a thing for Rent in middle school as well. We memorized La Vie Boheme and sang it in class every day. I’m sure our teachers loved us for that one lol.

This makes me even more excited to read The Reece Malcom List. I love when books have a theatre/musical influence in them. I don’t know if you’ve read Dramarama by E. Lockhart or not, but I loved it! It takes place at a summer arts camp and definitely has a musical influence in it.

February 15, 2013 - 10:45 am

Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide - Oh, YAY! I love to see other choir/musical/theater nerds! <3 I was a HUGE choir nerd in high school and sadly it slowly faded in college because I had to focus on my major (which didn't do me any good in real life anyway haha) but my love still burns for music & musicals!
I pretty much cried through Wicked too – I saw it when it came to Chicago a few years ago and my sister took me for my birthday. One of the best gifts I've gotten!
I just started The Reece Malcolm list and I'm excited to get further into all the choir references! And thanks for sharing other books that share a similar theme! I had no idea :)

February 15, 2013 - 10:32 am

Ginger @ GReads! - Oh Estelle, I really enjoyed reading your love affair with theater. I now think of you whenever I see something related to Broadway, or musicals. When my parents lived in London I had the opportunity to see quite a few shows on stage. They were so different there. People went to the theater to see live shows as we do here about seeing movies in the movie theater. It’s casual and spare of the moment. We’d hit up the half price booth early in the day and decide which shows to see. I am so grateful for having that opportunity and those wonderful memories.

I think theater for you is a lot like music is for me. I will never sing a note, or play a guitar, but I have such a huge appreciation for those that can. Witnessing a live performance is something that transforms me. When it’s amazing, it’s an experience I’ll never forget. I love that we both have that in common.

February 15, 2013 - 10:22 am

Anna - As someone who — as you know — spends most of her days working on all things BROAAAAAAAAAAAAAAADWAY (I say it in my Oprah voice with jazz hands) I can certainly relate to this! <3

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Estelle: Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg

Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth EulbergRevenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: March 1, 2013
Publisher: Point
Pages: 265
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: divorced parents, siblings, beauty pageants
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley (Thanks!)

Summary: With her younger sister constantly competing in beauty pagaents, high schooler Lexi is used to being in the shadows. She’s Mac’s seamstress, her mom’s gopher, and, always always, the girl with the great personality. She’s losing patience as she watches her mom’s health decline, the bills pile up, and how the guy she has always crushed on will never see her as more than a friend. When one of her best friends challenges her to spend a little more time on her appearance and come out of her shell, will Lexi enjoy life in the limelight too?

My awesome baby-sitting skills have become sort of a running joke in my family. My sister even mentioned them in her maid of honor speech at my wedding. My name is Estelle and I used to tie my sister to a chair in front of the television. For the record, it wasn’t because she was a snot to me. She just would not sit still. And hey, she turned out okay? So really, this was not traumatic at all.

A few pages into Elizabeth Eulberg’s new book and let me tell you, my sister was a saint compared to Mac. While my sister and I are five years apart, Lexi and Mac have a staggering 9 years between them and their upbringing couldn’t be more different. Even though Lexi’s parents fought a ton, she was brought up with two parents. Upon Mac’s arrival, Dad peaces out and Mom decides to bond with her youngest by signing her up for beauty pageants. And, hence, Mac the brat is born.

So not only is Lexi reeling from her parent’s divorce (still), she is forced into assisting with all the details of Mac’s pageants too. It’s not often that we have a character who is cast in the shadow of her younger sibling, and I liked this change. The age gap between the two is so apparent, especially when Lexi sees that their mom is spending ALL their money on this obsession (even after Mac can’t win back their entry fee many times). But Lexi’s mom doesn’t want to hear it. I was appalled (APPALLED) by how she dismissed Lexi’s worries and continually accused her of being jealous of Mac.

Luckily, Lexi has some great best friends to turn to. (The kind of friends that always make me miss high school.) Cam and Benny are very supportive, awesome people and I love that Benny convinces Lexi to show the world what she is made of. They both challenge each other to dive into something new: Benny is going to ask out a boy he likes (he’s gay but not completely “out”) and Lexi is going to primp and polish her appearance and see herself as beautiful for once.

In some ways, this plan soars and, in others, it backfires. Mac sees Lexi as competition, and becomes even more of a whiny brat (if possible). But, on the other hand, Lexi starts to be more social with her peers and even gets to go on her first date with the adorable Taylor. (Even though she can’t stop thinking about Logan, who has a girlfriend and never looks at her like that.) While I know a makeover is not the answer to esteem issues, I do like the way it helped Lexi build her confidence and figure out how she wanted to present herself to the world.

But, at the heart of this book are some deep, intense family issues and I applaud Eulberg for giving a lot more depth to her storylines and characters this time around. (This was one of my reservations with Take a Bow.) Lexi and Mac’s mom was so resistant to her daughters’ pleas to change their life for the better. Their mom was severely obese, and goes to some disgusting lows to keep the appearance of their “beauty pageant” life going. In the end, though, this storyline seemed to suffer with a quick ending and not enough resolution. I’m not sure their mom was capable of being a good mom. She was emotionally and physically unhealthy, unwilling to see her family for what it really was, and used the pageants as a distraction from reality. I finished the book still worrying about the well-being of both girls. (Especially for Mac, who wasn’t lucky enough to have college to escape to.)

While The Lonely Hearts Club still holds my heart as far as Eulberg’s work goes, I was really pleased to see growth in both plot and characterization in Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality. The author brings up some great points when it comes to appearance and the strength it takes to be honest (especially when others don’t want to hear it). While Lexi has a few more opportunities than the average person to tell it like it is in a public forum, I respected her for her patience, honesty, logic, and willingness to try new things.

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May 23, 2013 - 12:00 am

Revenge Of The Girl With The Great Personality | Elizabeth Eulberg Review - […] Chick Loves Lit – “was really off the mark for me.” Alexa Loves Books – “I found myself speeding through the pages until I reached the end.” Rather Be Reading – “I applaud Eulberg for giving a lot more depth to her storylines and characters this time around.” […]

March 2, 2013 - 11:15 pm

New Release Book Review: ‘Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality’ by Elizabeth Eulberg | Ink and Page - […] Reviews: Goodreads Confessions of a Fangirl (@AmyO122) Rather Be Reading […]

February 26, 2013 - 1:56 pm

Alexa Y. - I’m really very curious about this book! Like you, I LOVED The Lonely Hearts Club and was okay with Take a Bow. It’s exciting to hear that she’s developed her characters more in this one, and the story sounds like it could be potentially fantastic to me. Hopefully, I end up enjoying it!

February 22, 2013 - 2:35 am

Rather Be Reading: March 2013 Young Adult Book Releases - […] | Amazon | Estelle’s Review […]

February 19, 2013 - 11:14 am

Asheley Tart (@BookwormAsheley) - Oooh, I haven’t read any of Eulberg’s work yet but this is a really great review because it makes me interested in this book where I haven’t read anything about it yet. I’ve heard about Eulberg around, though, and people seem to really like her books. It’s really interesting that this book focuses on the main character being in the shadow of a younger sibling – I think you’re right, this isn’t very prevalent out there and could be interesting. I think it is interesting that Eulberg is tackling the ‘pageant’ thing too since that is such a big thing going on with the reality TV and that stereotypical pageant mom – it certainly sounds like she carried it over into this character, although I can’t make a completely accurate assumption since I haven’t read the book. I don’t know, this seems like it would be an interesting book to read. Thanks for putting it on my radar!

February 18, 2013 - 8:08 pm

VeganYANerds - It’s a good time for this book what with Toddlers and Tiaras being so popular. I can just imagine how awful the mother is (she sounds like some of the ones on the show) and I already feel for Lexi.

Also, I love that you used to tie your sister up!

February 18, 2013 - 12:46 am

Kailia @ Reading the Best of the Best - Ah Estelle, you’re kind of (well, really) awesome! I guess I can be thankful my big sis didn’t tie me to my chair lol. Also, I’m glad Eulberg gave “a lot more depth to her storylines and characters this time around. (This was one of my reservations with Take a Bow.)” Also, I LOVE The Lonely Hearts Club to pieces!

February 15, 2013 - 8:50 pm

Renae @ Respiring Thoughts - When a review mentions character depth and family issues, I’m almost always sold on that book. I love those topics! And it’s really great that authors are listening to what readers are saying and including those elements more often into their novels. I agree with you that a makeover is only denying the real problem behind lack of self-esteem, but I think this sounds really cute and fun, and as long as the author does address Lexi’s confidence issues in time (and it sounds like she does), then I don’t see why I wouldn’t enjoy this book.

February 14, 2013 - 12:15 pm

kit - I like the sound of this book – I always enjoy seeing sibling relationships depicted in YA (whether positive or negative, as it seems to be in this case!). I’ll definitely be looking out for this one – great review!

February 14, 2013 - 10:31 am

Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook - I really want to read this one. I liked The Lonely Hearts Club and Prom and Prejudice. I haven’t read Take a Bow yet. I’ve really been into contemps lately. I hope I get approved for it on Netgalley!

February 14, 2013 - 10:08 am

Ginger @ GReads! - I plan to read this one soon. One of the reasons I like Eulberg’s writing so much is because she focuses a lot on what GOOD friendships should be like in high school. I really respect that. Glad to see it’s mentioned again in this novel.

February 14, 2013 - 9:25 am

Bookworm1858 - I’m really excited to check this book out-Take a Bow was a miss for me but I loved Eulberg’s other two books and I hope this one is great for me. I feel like Eulberg especially does friendships well and this seems to hold true here.

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Our Joint Shelve It and DC Trip Re-Cap

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

As you guys are probably aware, Estelle + I were together this past weekend in Washington, DC. We had such a great time hanging out and discussing books, life, and seeing as much of the city as we could together. Never before have we been able to do a Shelve It (or any other vlog for that matter) together. We each brought along a few books to swap in person so we sat down for a while together and recorded the vlog below. Warning: we laugh a lot and are pretty giddy to just be hanging out. Some of you may have already watched the vlog because we tweeted it and shared it on Facebook, but our hang out isn’t official until it was shared on the blog, right?

Books Mentioned: 

+ The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler from Simon & Schuster — Jude’s father is sick. She spends the summer with him repairing his old 1961 motorcycle that causes his eyes to light up and for Jude to hope this will fix him. The only catch is they need a Vargas brother’s help repairing the bike — and Jude’s older sisters made her take a blood oath she’d stay away from all Vargas boys.

+ Golden by Jessi Kirby from Simon & Schuster — Parker has always done what she’s been told and never taken a risk. When the journal of a girl who died ten years ago lands in her lap, Parker uncharacteristically takes it and begins to read Julianna’s entries. P becomes fascinated with what happened to her and tries to solve the puzzle of what really happened to Julianna and Shane.

+ Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith — Estelle skipped everything on her reading list to begin this one last week. Before she even finished the book, she pre-ordered a finished copy for herself. It’s going down as one of her 2013 favorites so far, and I am so looking forward to reading it. I’ve heard nothing but good things so far, and E compares it to books written by Australian authors.

+ The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spading — Estelle reviewed this awesome book on the blog yesterday, singing its praises! Tara of Fiction Folio sent E a finished copy for her birthday and E is graciously lending it to me. Yippie! I love a book that dives into family issues and I’m excited E felt this book was so authentic.

<<< DC Re-cap >>>

magan and estelle together in washington, dc

Estelle woke up super duper early to fly to DC from NYC (4:30AM — I’m not sure my clock knows those numbers exist). I was already in DC with my husband, Dustyn, his parents, and my mom. We were there just to visit and tour the city. My mom and I had never been and while I’m not the biggest history buff, I really wanted to see some of our country’s most fascinating historical landmarks. It worked out perfectly that I got to see E this past weekend because for the first time I was able to give her the birthday present I brought along in person! 

Even though JetBlue tried to keep us apart with delays and hydraulics problems, E made it to the city! We jumped right into the site-seeing and went to the Newseum, a really awesome new museum that takes you through some important milestones in our history. Our favorite parts were the Pulitzer Prize photography area where the walls were covered in photos and they were playing a film with some of the photographers discussing why they took the photographs. (I cried. Some of these photos were so gut-wrenching.) They also have a 9/11 area with the twisted antenna on display from one of the towers and a short film of interviews with the news teams who bravely covered the news that day. It still doesn’t seem real — that this happened, ya know?

After the Newseum, we hung out at the house we were renting and made plans to have dinner with the adorable Sasha of Sash & Em. Guys, we love this girl. LOVE HER. She’s adorable and sweet and we love discussing books with her. Two and a half hours just flew by and we were so, so sad to part ways.

rather be reading meet up with sasha of sash and em

When we got home, we made the silly Shelve It vlog you saw above + had an awesome time with Ginger at GReads! in a Google+ hangout. So fun to relax and laugh and talk books with one of our favorite ladies. We were having some silly technical difficulties and G+ wouldn’t let us talk to our friend Elena at Novel Sounds. That was a major bummer, but we’re determined it will happen in the near future.

The next morning was really bittersweet as we had breakfast together at the cutest little restaurant/book store there ever was: Busboys and Poets. We really just couldn’t get over how ideal this place was — delicious food, amazing atmosphere, and a great book section where we found a very eclectic YA section. It was made for us!

photographs from busboys and poets in washington dc

We had to (very, very sadly) go our separate ways after breakfast. E took the train back to NYC and I continued to tour the city with the family. We sent countless pouty texts to one another about how sad we were. Guys, it feels like a break-up when we have to leave each other. Ugh.

There are lots more photos of us together, but since I just got home, I haven’t taken them off my camera yet (all of the above were shot with our phones). Those are coming soon, I promise.

Our little weekend hangout is over, but ahhh, it was the best weekend. Very much looking forward to our next reunion, which is hopefully much sooner than our last one in NYC (see our dinner with Alexa video here and read the NYC re-cap here).

February 26, 2013 - 12:59 pm

Alexa Y. - YOU GUYS ARE SO ADORABLE! <3 I love your joint Shelve It, and I'm so glad you guys got to hang out in person in one of my favorite cities in the US (and where I was born!) – Washington DC. It's awesome you got to see Sash (who I miss!) and hang out with Ginger on G+ (which I wish I could have done too!).

Okay, can we please all get together soon??

February 21, 2013 - 9:54 pm

Estelle's Shelve It >> 2/21/2013 - […] obsession!) The Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg: a review Our Joint Shelve It / Some DC pictures! Blaze by Laurie Compton: a review The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding: a review Here Comes […]

February 21, 2013 - 12:10 pm

Magan - TARA! YES, pleaaaaaaaseeee!

February 21, 2013 - 12:05 pm

Magan - Oh Mands! I love your new shelf for your trip! I think that’s a fantastic idea! Then you can remember to purchase books and not be frantic over what you want when you’re in a store! If you get to go to DC — definitely go to Busboys and Poets. E and I just love, love, loved it! :) I loved doing this vlog with Estelle, too. Wish we could do them like this ALL THE TIME!

February 21, 2013 - 11:59 am

Magan - Asheley — THANKS! And YES, YES, YES to Golden. I finished it on my plane ride home from DC and dang! DANG. I’m so proud of Jessi Kirby. She did just a beautiful job with the story and I saw so much growth in her as an author. Just such a great story! <3

February 21, 2013 - 11:51 am

Magan - Hahah — thanks, Melissa! :) Can I just say how amazing you are for being a brand new momma and finding time to come leave us sweet comments? You’re the BEST!

February 19, 2013 - 5:49 pm

Melissa @ Writer Grrl Reads - ACK! A joint Shelve-It! I LOVE it! You two are so freakin’ adorable … I loved every moment of the entire vlog =)

February 19, 2013 - 11:21 am

Asheley Tart (@BookwormAsheley) - i just love it when you guys do videos because i love to hear you talk!


February 18, 2013 - 8:22 pm

VeganYANerds - I have to add that OMG that book store cafe has vegan options so now I want to go even more!

And, YES to missing Sash!! We need more tweets/posts from her and Em!

February 18, 2013 - 8:21 pm

VeganYANerds - You guys!!! This is my favourite vlog, ever! It’s so nice that you got to spend time together and that museum sounds so sad… I’m wondering if I could fit DC in before I leave, I might have to!

And thanks to this post I have started a ‘buy while in USA’ shelf on Goodreads so I remember to buy myself a copy of The Book of Broken Hearts and Golden – I cannot wait to go book shopping.

February 18, 2013 - 2:38 pm

Tara - You guys are too stinking adorable!! I need to meet you two IRL soon… like, VERY SOON!!

February 14, 2013 - 4:13 pm

Magan - G, I think you were laughing at me taking a picture. I told you to SMILE! :) BAHAHA. So glad we got to chat with you! xoxo Love you!
Jamie, yes, yes — we wish we could have chatted with you too! NEXT TIME!

February 14, 2013 - 4:02 pm

Magan - ELENA! Of course we would mention you. We were so, so sad that things weren’t working. That was my very first G+ hangout and ugh, I don’t know what the problem was. :( Also, a Disney trip together sounds like so much fun. I’m not sure how E is friends with me, considering I’ve never been to WDW! ;)

February 14, 2013 - 11:26 am

elena - i was like THEY BETTER MENTION ME!!!!!!!! and you did so we can still be friends. :)

i really wished our gchat worked out too, wahhh. it would have been great to ‘meet’ you, magan! here is my pre-typed comment i made when i was watching your video for the first time via twitter:

omg your books this week! i’m super excited for all these books!! the book of broken hearts, forbidden boy next door romance oooh~ and golden!! i’ve heard good things about it. i’m excited for wild awake and hearing estelle describe it as an aussie-like read makes me even MORE excited. you both look so happy!!!

one day we will go to disney together and it will be the most magical. xo

February 14, 2013 - 12:07 am

Bookworm1858 - What a nice time-I’m so glad I found your blog because I love what you’re doing :)

February 13, 2013 - 4:03 pm

Ginger @ GReads! - I still don’t know what is happening with my face in that pic.. obviously you guys had me laughing at SOMETHING! haha So glad y’all chatted me up while you were together in DC :) love you girls!

February 13, 2013 - 12:32 pm

Jamie - You guys are the cutest!! Wish I could have chatted with you guys !! So jealous of the Sarah ockler and jessi Kirby goodness!!

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Magan: Blaze (or Love in the Time of …) by Laurie Crompton

book cover for Blaze by Laurie Boyle Crompton

Blaze (or Love in the Time of Supervillains) by Laurie Boyle Crompton (web | tweet)
Publication Date: February 1, 2013
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 309
Target audience: Young Adult
Keywords: superheroes, sexting, comic books, divorced parents
Format read: ARC from NetGalley (Thank you!)

Summary: Blaze retaliates against the boy, Mark, who uses her for sex by drawing and publishing a comic about their brief entanglement. Mark leaks a photo of Blaze in lingerie that ruins her reputation and causes her classmates to bully her.

Once upon a time, I was mere high school freshman. I had a crush on an older boy (Travis). My brother played pee-wee football on a team with Travis’ younger brother (whose name I cannot remember — odd, I know). I attended every practice and football game I could once this good-looking boy with perfect pearly white teeth, dimples, and a great laugh was introduced into my life. We talked. We flirted.

Fantasies looped through my mind about this gorgeous boy becoming my boyfriend. I thought about how I’d tell my friends when we started dating, what it would be like to kiss him, and my parents would tease me about my sudden interest in football.

Guys, I asked this boy to a dance. (Unfortunately, he was going with someone else by the time I struck up the nerve to ask. Can you say devastated? This was probably the first and last bold boy-move I ever made.)

Travis consumed my life…much like Blaze’s fascination with her younger brother’s soccer coach, Mark, who is a classmate of hers. Blaze is the offical chauffeur to and from practices and games for her brother and his best friends. Her mom is incredibly busy working long hours since their father skipped town to chase after a career as an actor. For a teenager, Blaze carries a ton of responsibility and often doubles as a secondary mother-figure. She doesn’t really mind sitting at the games because she works on her comics and admires Mark from behind her mirrored sunglasses.

She, too, makes up fantasies about this boy and wonders what it would be like to date him. (Reading this snapped me back to all my Travis fantasy days and oddly enough, I ran into his mother in the grocery store.) Blaze’s daydreams tended to be a bit more crude and sexually-charged than mine ever were — at one point pondering what Mark’s boy parts were like as she sees him running across the field. While I thought she would be a relatable character for me, there were a handful of these times that I really couldn’t connect with her. She is most definitely not a girly-girl — her interests lie in geeking out over superheroes and comics, both by creating/drawing her own and being a connoisseur of all things Marvel. She’s a bit nerdy and has a small social sphere.

When Blaze catches Mark’s attention, her obsession reaches a whole new level. She mentally inflates their relationship to be more than it is and things progress rapidly. Without so much as a real date, Blaze finds herself in the back of her minivan with Mark. (Which is where I must mention I was extremely put-off. While I know unprotected sex happens, I feel Crompton could have used this platform to address Mark’s “reputation” and the possibility of pregnancy and STDs when he is coaxing Blaze into having sex without a condom. Blaze was more concerned with him fondling her boobs.)

After their minivan tango, Mark refuses to reply to her texts, IMs, and barely makes eye contact with her. Blaze is forced to realize she’s been used, just as she’d been warned by her little brother. She seeks revenge by publishing a comic in which she outs Mark the Shark. In reply, Mark leaks a photo that goes viral of Blaze in barely-there pink lingerie. The story shifted gears here. There was bullying and how the kids at school were responding to the photo, a side story about her father, a spontaneous road trip, Blaze’s two best friends who were pretty crappy after the photo went public, and a new boy at the comic book store. There was so much to wrap up in such a short amount of time.

Ultimately, Blaze handled the whole bullying situation with a lot of grace; she said some things at the end that made me really proud. But, I needed more resolution with Mark and the viral photograph when unnecessary emphasis was placed on her father. Throughout the story, there were definite times I found Blaze’s character refreshing and she made me laugh out loud, but overall I wish there had been a bit more balance that undoubtedly would have made me feel more invested in her well-being and all the intermingled story lines.

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<<< Extra, Extra>>>

For those of you who may love comics, you’ll be excited to see some original artwork by Anne Cain within the pages of Blaze!  Below is a gorgeous example of some of the Blazing Goddess sketches you’ll see!

blaze by laurie boyle crompton - blazing godess sketches

© 2012 Anne Cain

Thank you to Sourcebooks for sharing Anne’s amazing sketches with us!

September 22, 2014 - 9:00 am

Estelle: Adrenaline Crush by Laurie Boyle Crompton, Estelle - […] Add to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Buy on B&N | Magan’s review of Blazed by Laurie Crompton […]

February 26, 2013 - 12:33 pm

Alexa Y. - This book sounds interesting enough, and I do like that she loves comics (since that’s very rare in the books I read). However, I feel truly uncomfortable with the whole sex situation, especially because I totally do not believe having unprotected sex should be left unaddressed.

February 21, 2013 - 12:20 pm

Magan - Kailia — I think the most frustrating part was that there was never any mention of repercussions. Like, there’s a momentary mention of something later, and then NO BIG DEAL. If she’s going to be so blatant about all of the sexual things, I wished that Crompton would have gone further with it. Talk about STDs or pregnancy and take it further. Make a point instead of just letting it hang. I’m not so upset about the unprotected sex as it just seemed unnecessary because nothing ever came of it. Does that make sense?

February 21, 2013 - 11:58 am

Magan - Asheley, you’re very right. Very little in the repercussions department for Mark. I think that’s a great way to think about books – would I want my kids to read this? And no, I don’t think this would be a very good example for them. Mark was disgraceful and Blaze wasn’t the best role model. :(

February 19, 2013 - 11:30 am

Asheley Tart (@BookwormAsheley) - I’ve been seeing reviews similar to this out and about. I just won a copy of this book so I’ll probably highlight it on the blog during contemporary month but I have to admit that I have some reservations going into it. That sex scene, for one. And I’ve read that there aren’t very many repurcussions or punishments (?) for Mark the Shark for his behavior, which I find kind of not okay. Not sure I would want my girls picking up a book that deals with such big, scary, real issues in a sloppy way. (I don’t mean to judge harshly, but I do have kids and sometimes it affects how I read some of these issues books, ya know?)

Great honest review, Magan. Love it.

February 18, 2013 - 12:36 am

Kailia @ Reading the Best of the Best - As a teenager who sees this happen WAY too many times (I’ve heard plenty of times from pregnant girls at school that they didn’t think one time of unprotected sex could result in pregnancy), I have to admit: I’m glad it made you uncomfortable. Maybe that was the authors purpose? I feel like instead of hiding it or making it more…PG 13, it was reality. While I can understand the whole rushed part-which is a shame- I can understand Blaze. I’ve met way to many girls like her. It is sad. Great review Megan!

February 14, 2013 - 4:16 pm

Magan - Sharon — yes, I think maybe going into it with realistic expectations will make the reading experience better. I can’t wait to see what you thought of it.
Bookworm, I agree – the brother was a great, great character. Probably my favorite, to be honest! :)
Ginger — it definitely could have used some fine-tuning and simplification. And I definitely feel someone should have done some editing on that sex scene.

February 14, 2013 - 4:13 pm

Magan - Renae – yes, most definitely rushed at the end. It had so, so much potential, but the more I think about it, the more disappointed I am. :(

February 14, 2013 - 4:03 pm

Magan - Lori — I did relate to her in the beginning, but then we kind of lost touch after that. :-/

February 14, 2013 - 6:27 am

Lori - I’ve heard some really good things about this book. Blaze sounds like a great character. I love that you could relate to her situation so well!

February 13, 2013 - 9:05 pm

Renae @ Respiring Thoughts - This almost reminds me of a Disney Channel movie that I saw when I was a kid—Read It and Weep, which was about a girl who’s comic strip about her alterego taking down school bullies leaked. (Or at least, I think that’s what it was about—it’s been YEARS.) Anyway, I think this sounds like an interesting take on teen bullying. It’s a shame, though, that it wasn’t handled quite as well as it could have been, and that the ending bits were rushed and cramped together more than you’d have liked, Magan.

February 13, 2013 - 9:56 am

Sharon @ The Book Barbies - I just saw this book the other day while walking through Barnes & Noble (for fun rather than work, for once), and it looked fun! I love the cover. Alas, after reading this review, I have realized that this story isn’t nearly as appealing to me as it may have seemed from the cover blurb. I may still pick it up eventually, but I will have more realistic expectations for what to expect. Thanks for the honest review.

February 13, 2013 - 9:20 am

Bookworm1858 - Yes, I was definitely disappointed about the unprotected sex scene, especially in this day and age. I really liked the brother though and thanks for sharing your somewhat similar experience with a crush.

February 13, 2013 - 8:41 am

Ginger @ GReads! - Hmm I have issues with books that portray unprotected sex as not a big deal (or no deal at all)– especially when the target audience is teens. I get that this happens, but it still doesn’t make it ok. This books sounds like it had a lot going on. Not sure I’d be a fan of so much, ya know? Thanks for the honest review Magan.

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Estelle: The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding

The Reece Malcolm List by Amy SpaldingThe Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: February 5, 2013
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Pages: 352
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: California, family, theatre, moving, starting over
Format read: ARC from NetGalley via Publisher (thanks!)

Summary: When Devan’s father dies in a car accident, she is shipped off to Los Angeles to live with Reece Malcolm, the mother she never knew and the best-selling author that she has carefully collected facts about over time.  Getting used to living with her mom is one thing, there’s also fitting into her new performing arts high school (she’s a singer and actress), making new friends, and crushing on a guy that continues to puzzle her.

Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a better book to be released on my birthday.

A main character who is an extreme theater geek (I was dying over all the references from classic Broadway to Troy Bolton a.k.a. Zac Efron), and a story that did an amazing job of balancing the lighthearted moments with the more serious ones?


Devan grew up in a house with a father who didn’t understand her interests or really talk to her and a stepmother who wouldn’t give her the time of day. When she discovered her mom was bestselling author, Reece Malcolm, she began compiling a list of facts about the woman who said very little to the media. So when Devan’s dad dies suddenly and she is sent off to live with Reece in Los Angeles, she’s not exactly sure what to expect. Can things really be  worse than the way they were before?

But she does know what she wants. She wants a warm mother who is going to wrap her in her arms and hold her, let her cry about her dad, and apologize as much as she can about never contacting her once in her sixteen years. Instead, Devan gets someone very standoffish, who clearly knows nothing about kids, and who is not going to easily indulge why she’s been so absent or what exactly happened between her and her father all those years ago.

Reece may make fun of Devan and openly admit that it weirds her out how much her boyfriend (Brad) wants to do “family things” with her yet she, no questions asked, gets Reece an audition at a great performing arts high school, takes her on shopping sprees (Devan loves fashion), and is pretty laidback when Devan starts to make plans with new friends. I really liked how atypical their relationship was. Because, gee, there is nothing normal about their situation or their relationship, and I’m glad no one was putting on airs about what their shared DNA should mean.

So on top of this new shiny (and frustrating) home life, Devan is also thrown into a new school. She’s mega-talented and takes this talent really seriously, and while not everyone is very supportive at first, Devan does get folded into a circle of friends (who have layered storylines as well) pretty immediately. (So unlike her last school.) I really liked her weighing how suddenly she should trust new people and let them in. She still had so,  much to figure out in her personal life… it wasn’t like she could just confide in anyone immediately. Even with boy situations, the author makes nothing black and white and that was so entirely REAL high school for me.

Amy Spalding writes The Reece Malcolm List in an incredibly intelligent way with flawed characters, intricate details, and a true love for theater. At 16, Devan may not have known everything about life — in fact, she often wavered between incredulous actions and wise observations about the world. Life isn’t always the happy song that musicals portray, not everything falls perfectly into place. And it takes time for people to let their guard down and to understand who they truly are. It’s like this ongoing journey, even for an adult like Reece who is hard to love and hard to get close to.

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November 20, 2013 - 8:01 am

Young Adult Book Review: Ink is Thicker Than Water by Amy Spalding - […] is Thicker Than Water by Amy Spalding (website | twitter) Books Read by This Author: The Reece Malcolm List (Estelle’s Review) Publication Date: December 3, 2013 Publisher: Entangled: Teen Pages: 320 Target Audience: Young […]

August 13, 2013 - 9:03 am

Sweet Summertime Reads: The Yearbook, Magan - […] Winger by Andrew Smith: Goodreads | Amazon | Magan’s Review The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding: Goodreads | Amazon | Estelle’s Review […]

February 26, 2013 - 12:11 pm

Alexa Y. - I’m already sold on this book, based simply on the fact that (a) it’s about a girl who’s a performer and (b) it’s set in a performing arts school and (c) theater references! Seriously, this sounds like the type of book I’d enjoy too, and I’m glad you liked it so much!

February 19, 2013 - 12:18 pm

Tabitha S. - I already wanted to read this book, but TROY BOLTON references? HA… Umm this is at the top of my “must buy list” as of right now.

But no seriously, I really want to read this one for the unique/mother daughter relationship. And the main character loves fashion? UH. This sounds like the perfect book for me.

Fantastic review!!

February 15, 2013 - 9:01 am

On a Personal Note: Estelle + the Stage (The Reece Malcolm List) - […] while I will never be a Devan (an awesome singer, actress, and dancer), part of my enjoyment of The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding was seeing theater references in the text. Like Devan and her friends, I can be a bit of a theatre […]

February 14, 2013 - 6:41 am

Lori - I haven’t given this one much thought until now. It sounds so great! The mother daughter relationship sounds so fascinating. Fabulous review, Estelle!

February 13, 2013 - 12:25 pm

Rather Be Reading: Our Joint Shelve It and DC Trip Re-Cap - […] The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spading — Estelle reviewed this awesome book on the blog yesterday, singing its praises! Tara of Fiction Folio sent E a finished copy for her […]

February 13, 2013 - 12:44 am

Bookworm1858 - Everything I hear about this book just makes me more excited-I’m not a performer but I love musical theater and crave books with such references.

February 12, 2013 - 3:01 pm

Jess @ Gone with the Words - I’ve been seeing so much love for this book lately! I found it all so unexpected! Just came out of nowhere. I’ll have to add this to my TBR list. :) Awesome review, Estelle!

February 12, 2013 - 1:19 pm

elena - I want to read this book for the relationship between mother + daughter, it sounds so interesting to me. Also yay for a main character who loves fashuns. You make me excited to read this!

February 12, 2013 - 11:18 am

Carla - and you said that I said it better than you! I come over all full of swag and you knocked it out of the park you big fibber!

you are so right though, I loved the flawed characters because it just made the book feel all the little bit more authentic. I especially loved how reece wasn’t the perfect adult; she was just as flawed as the teenagers. totally endearing. lovely jubley review.

February 12, 2013 - 9:43 am

Rachel - This book sounds so good! When I first heard about it I thought it sounded like something I’d maybe be interested in, but I didn’t give it much thought. I like atypical family relationships because that’s something I relate to. Plus, I’m always on the lookout for fresh contemporary. Great review!

February 12, 2013 - 9:34 am

Cynthia - This sounds like it would be an emotional coming of age story, but I’m glad the author does add some lighthearted moments too. Can’t believe I hadn’t heard anything about this one until now, it sounds wonderful. Will definitely add it to my list. Thanks for the review Estelle!

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Estelle: Here Comes Trouble by Erin Kern

Here Comes Trouble by Erin KernHere Comes Trouble by Erin Kern ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: January 8, 2013
Publisher: Forever Yours (Part of Hachette/Grand Central Publishing)
Pages: 243
Target audience: adult
Keywords: romance, Wyoming, restaurant, art, old friends
Format read: ARC via Publisher on NetGalley. (Thanks!)

Summary: After a difficult childhood and bad luck coming from all directions, Lacy doesn’t make it easy for anyone to break down her walls. Not even Chase, the guy she has known since she was a kid and has always had a crush on. When more drama knocks on both their doors, Chase and Lacy take their friendship to the next level. Can they keep it casual or will they finally let their guards down?

I can’t be the only one who has ever picked up a book because there’s a cowboy on the cover. Right?

Well, Chase is just as gorgeous as I thought he was going to be (wait until you hear about his tattoos) but is also a pretty nice guy, even if he likes to “bed many woman” (as the book reminded me many times). He is the general manager of his family-owned restaurant where Lacy, our leading lady, also works. Lacy, who has known Chase since they were kids and is not his type at all. But, gee, does he love to banter with her.

Lacy has had a laundry list of drama in her life: her mother abandoned her, her dad has spent more time in jail than raising her, her loving (yet fiscally irresponsible) grandfather died from lung cancer, and she lost her art scholarship because she was working so hard to survive… she didn’t keep up her GPA. A job jumper, she’s actually worked at McDermott’s for the past two years while trying to figure out exactly what she wants to do with her life.

When another shoe drops in the form of a sister she never knew she had… she’s just about ready to lose it.

Enter Chase who offers her support and then some. Like some (many!) hot times that made it a little hard for me to get up from my cute seat at the coffee shop and walk back to work. My knees were shaking a bit.

I was a little apprehensive at how quickly Chase and Lacy formed an “arrangement” with one another, and I feared that would slow down the rest of the novel for me. (“How will she keep this interesting?!” I wondered to myself.) But Kern does concentrate a ton on Lacy’s personal life and also a small mystery taking place at Chase’s restaurant. A miniscule moment (that just seems to emphasize Lacy’s own insecurities) changes the course of the book, and the push + pull between Chase and Lacy from earlier is reinstated into some terrific tension.

Here Comes Trouble was the perfect book to cleanse my palette after a string of young adult reading. Sure, there’s a lot going on but Kern did an impressive job of not overlapping too much at once and putting a stop to certain storylines at appropriate times. It’s a quick read that is sure to leave you more than a little bit flustered.

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February 25, 2013 - 5:01 pm

Alexa Y. - That cover just drew me in from the start – and the story sounds pretty fantastic. I’m loving the fact that the two MCs have known each other since childhood too!

February 12, 2013 - 8:52 am

Ginger @ GReads! - Yes! Thanks to you, Estelle, I had added this one to my TBR. It sounds like the perfect adult contemp I need in between my YA’s ;)

February 12, 2013 - 4:00 am

amber - This sounds like it is right up my ally. I love romance books so I’m sure to love this one.

February 11, 2013 - 7:45 pm

Jess @ Gone with the Words - Eeeep! First, to answer your question, yes, I want to buy all the books with cowboys on the the covers because, HELLO!! Hot! Secondly! YAY!! So glad this one is “Worth It”!! I’m totally going to buy it.

February 11, 2013 - 4:09 pm

VeganYANerds - I’m not usually attracted to cowboys but I’m a convert since reading Lovestruck Summer and meeting Russ ;)

This sounds like the sort of romance book I’d enjoy – great review, Estelle!

February 11, 2013 - 2:03 pm

Anna - Who DOESN’T love cowboys?

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