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Sweet Summertime Reads: Fourth of July in Nantucket Blue

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

There’s only one time I’ve spent Fourth of July somewhere other than home or at the park, watching the fireworks on a blanket. It was a few weeks after I got engaged, we were on a short vacation with my now husband’s parents, and we built a fire on the beach and watched the fireworks from the sand. It was pretty incredible.

Rather Be Reading Blog Fireworks at Montauk

I’m hoping that we can do something like that again someday: just the two of us. I don’t know if it’s the fireworks, or the holiday falling smack dab in the middle of the summer, but I think Fourth of July can be a totally romantic and sweet holiday.

This leads me to a scene in Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland. Ginger shared two great scenes from Endless Summer by Jennifer Echols and Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson yesterday, and here I am with mine. When we first decided to share snippets from our favorite FOJ scenes, this was the first one that popped into my head.

What’s a little forbidden romance, stolen champagne, and a boat ride? Nothing short of spectacular, that’s for sure.

“Hey, you said champagne. Does this mean you’ve gotten over your French girl?”

“Maybe,” he said smiling. I lean back, elbows on the edge, and looked up. The sun had set, but it wasn’t dark yet. The sky was purple. Above us, a half-moon tipped. We rowed past the homes that lined the harbor; past the squares of lighted interiors; past people sitting on verandas, drinking and laughing. Voices floated out to us on waves, turned to wisps, drifted away. The oars slapped the dark water, slid under and emerged, tilted and weeping as they skimmed the surface. I dropped an arm, let my fingers trace the water. I felt like I could’ve stayed in the back of that boat all summer and been happy.

“So, you see that McMansion with all the lights on?” Zack asked, taking both oars in one hand as he turned and pointed to a house on a distant cliff.

“Yeah.” It was a huge place with hundred windows.

“Okay, now, you see the one next to it, with only one light on? That’s where we’re headed. It’s the best spot to see the fireworks.” He turned to face me again, rowing with effortless strength and confidence. Maybe this was where he got his soccer-player body. The thought made me shiver.

And later…

“We’re not going to get lost at sea, are we?”

“Not unless you want to.” Zack smiled. There was the feeling again. The warmth. The fluttering. The heart buzz. I focused on rowing. A few fireworks shot off from a distance beach. Little gold ones.

Howland does such a great job describing this scene. I feel like I can see the whole thing in my head, and I want to be there so badly. Maybe as Cricket hanging out with Zack or maybe just as me, the freedom of the ocean under my boat and sharing a peaceful summer moment with my husband.

I tend to refrain from calling Nantucket Blue the perfect summer read because I feel that implies that it’s fluffy and maybe a little light in plot. Instead, Nantucket Blue is the perfect beach read because Howland makes you feel like Nantucket is right at your finger tips: the beach, the people, the small town. It’s all there. And the story, while it does deal with a lot of growing pains also has a lot of the good stuff: mending a heart with first love, understanding your parents, and accepting who you are. Definitely a favorite read of the year for me.

Happy Fourth, friends! Hope it’s magical and filled with a good book! (Wink, wink.)

Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland

My review of NB | Add to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon

P.S. NB fans, did you know there will be a second book out next summer? Get excited!

July 4, 2013 - 1:02 am

Sweet Summertime Reads: Fourth of July Romance | Fiction Folio - […] shared excerpts from Endless Summer and Second Chance Summer Estelle featured a scene from Nantucket Blue Magan shared a first date scene from Fifteenth […]

July 3, 2013 - 8:00 am

Sweet Summertime Reads: A Fourth of July First Date - […] Read Estelle’s Excerpt from Nantucket Blue […]

July 2, 2013 - 6:34 pm

Tara - Girl, you had me at stolen champagne :)

July 2, 2013 - 3:17 pm

Emma @ Hopeful Happiness - I completely agree with you about the fourth of July. I think it’s the fireworks that make it so romantic! I loved that scene in NB and I love when they make it to their destination. That little old lady had some oomph! haha

I’m beyond excited that there will be a second book! I for one have not had enough of Cricket’s adventures!

July 2, 2013 - 1:38 pm

Alexa Y. - I loved this scene! It’s really cute, and it’s the kind of Fourth of July I would like to have myself :)

July 2, 2013 - 12:37 pm

Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide - BUTTERFLIES.
I love that scene. And this book. YAYYYY

July 2, 2013 - 11:22 am

Ginger @ GReads! - I really liked this scene in NB :) gosh I loved the setting for this story so, so much. She did a phenomenal job of placing you inside the story — I mean, I’ve never even been to Nantucket, yet I felt like I could picture it all so well.

Your 4th of July spent on the beach with a bonfire while fireworks went off in the distance sounds DIVINE. I think the 4th can be romantic, too :) I mean HELLO! look at the books we chose, hehe.

July 2, 2013 - 11:08 am

Hazel - I still haven’t read Nantucket Blue but I really want to. I’m still debating whether to stick to an ebook or get an actual copy. Would the latter be worth it? :)

July 2, 2013 - 10:05 am

Asheley Tart (@BookwormAsheley) - Okay, see this post makes this book sound really great PLUS I love the cover. I think I messed myself up because I read a couple of reviews of it early on in which the readers didn’t like the book for reasons I can’t even remember. But you mention beach read, forbidden romance – these things I LOVE. So doggone it, I want to read it now. Thanks, E!

July 2, 2013 - 9:14 am

Bookworm1858 - There’s going to be a second book? I don’t usually like sequels to contemporaries but if this will help mend the relationship between Cricket and Jude, I would be very happy!

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Estelle: Two of a Kind by Susan Mallery

Two of a Kind by Susan Mallery: FoolTwo of a Kind by Susan Mallery ( web | tweet )
Part of the Fool’s Gold series.
Publication Date: June 25, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Pages: 379
Target audience: Adult
Keywords: romance, new jobs, surprises
Format read: eBook from Publisher via NetGalley (Thanks!)

Summary: Felicia and Gideon had one night together many moons ago. And Felicia has never forgotten it. When the two reunite in Fool’s Gold, much has changed: Felicia is making her home there, recruited for a huge job linked to the town’s traditions and Gideon is still reeling from his capture and torturing. He can’t promise Felicia much but when she asks him a favor, he’s glad they have each other’s back because life isn’t done surprising the two.

The Fool’s Gold series continues to suck me in!

What you need to know about Felicia: She is so book smart and so sheltered that she talks in such technicalities and sounds like a walking textbook. Even when it comes to sex. While I sometimes felt embarrassed for her, this quality also made her genuinely honest and straightforward. (Fun fact: instead of putting leaves or hearts on top of lattes she wants to make pi symbols. Does that not explain everything?)

What you need to know about Gideon: He’s reeling from post-tramautic stress disorder after being held captive for two years and watching his fellow captives die one by one. Known as the sexy voice behind Fool’s Gold’s radio station, he tends to keep people at a distance and doesn’t want to ever get emotionally involved.

So what’s their deal?: After a wild night together years ago, Felicia still finds that Gideon is the only guy she thinks about being with. Especially now that she feels ready to settle down and have a family. Meeting again in Fool’s Gold is such a perfect coincidence and their chemistry is still red hot, but Gideon isn’t looking for forever and tells her so. Instead Gideon agrees to help Felicia out: she’s never been on a date, doesn’t understand what it’s like, and she wants him to guide her. Will Gideon’s mind be changed? Will Felicia fall for him completely?

Two of a Kind starts out a little slow but I think that has to do with getting used to how Felicia communicates with people. She’s been forced to be a loner most of her life, found comfort in her studies, and sounds a little like a robot. But lucky for her she has many great girlfriends and Gideon to teach her how to be “normal”. (Something she so desperately wants to feel.) Her new job — organizing the town’s many themed festivals — throws her out of her comfort zone, gets her in touch with the Fool’s Gold community, and makes her feel at home (despite her insecurites).

But in her personal life, things are heating up up up with Gideon. (Two words: the deck.) As much as she tries to, she can’t control her feelings for him and as a reader you wonder when Gideon is going to just let go and see what happens with her. It is one sexy ride filled with a twist that brings its own little charms into the story. I really liked how Felicia and Gideon’s lives mirrored one another even if their circumstances were substantially different; they are both so used to depending on themselves that they weren’t so confident in their feelings and teaming up with someone else.

Two of a Kind is sweet, sexy, and fun just like a romance novel should be but it also has some great girlfriend moments, matchmaking little kids, and a sincere town mayor that really does have eyes behind her head. And in true Mallery style, she makes some new character introductions that made me even more enthused to pick up the next couple of books.

The obsession grows…

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July 3, 2013 - 10:12 pm

Kortney - I agree with every book that Susan comes out with in this series it just keeps me hooked and wanting to read the next one. I am so glad that she has a christmas one and a cookbook coming out this fall too!!

July 3, 2013 - 6:59 pm

Shari - Loved the story Of Felicia and Gideon. A few twists and turns that I did not expect makes a for fun read. These Fool’s Gold books just keep getting better and better.

July 3, 2013 - 9:50 am

Allyson Brann - I loved this book! This is my favorite yet! I loved Gideon and Felicia, they were such a great couple!

July 3, 2013 - 7:01 am

The Book Momster - I loved this book! My favorite of the series so far and I can’t wait for Three Little Words. I’m giddy for Gideon!

July 2, 2013 - 11:23 pm

Patsy - Once again I am in love with Fools Gold. Susan has an awesome gift! With each story she builds the community while keeping the story unique. I love Gideon and Felicia. If I’m completely honest mostly Felicia, she is so painfully honest I adore her. My favorite to date.

July 2, 2013 - 8:31 pm

Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook - I’m intrigued. I’m kind of a sucker for books with an awkward main character. I also like that in TV shows (Monk, The Big Bang Theory). I have to check this one out.

July 2, 2013 - 10:10 am

Asheley Tart (@BookwormAsheley) - I think out of all of the adult contemp romances that I’ve been reading, the one Susan Mallery may be my favorite so far? I’m thinking, anyway. I have these three newer ones and at first I was thinking OH ASH YOU’RE SUCH A STICKLER ABOUT THESE THINGS!! YOU SHOULD STICK TO THE ORDER. But now I think I’m just skipping and going to the One, Two, Three. (I’m also LOVING the Thunder Point.) You and your recs, lady. Haha, “the obsession grows…” Love it.

July 2, 2013 - 1:19 am

Jen @ Pop! Goes The Reader - First of all, I just want to say a very big ‘thank you!’ because thanks to Rather Be Reading, I’ve begun reading Susan Mallery’s Fool’s Gold series from the beginning and I’m really enjoying it so far. All your reviews finally convinced me to give the series a chance and I am so thankful for that! This book sounds like it’s right up my alley and I’m really looking forward to reading it. The premise sounds a little like Sarah MacLean’s ‘One Good Earl Deserves a Lover’, which is another book I’m eagerly looking forward to reading. I’ve always loved the ‘tutorial’ trope where one socially awkward person is gently tutored by the more sophisticated of the two. It’s definitely a personal favourite of mine. This was a really great review, Estelle!

July 1, 2013 - 9:44 pm

Dee - Felicia is my ‘new’ favorite Fool’s Gold character!! Susan Mallery wrote the best dialogue for Felicia, her clincal, textbook conversations with the other characters was so hilarious! Great review.

July 1, 2013 - 3:07 pm

elena - “sounds a little like a robot” I’M SOLD!! love stories about v awkward girls and people who teach the ways of the ~world~. this probably speaks more about me than I’m comf to admit.

July 1, 2013 - 2:12 pm

Alexa Y. - I love romance novels! They’re like the PERFECT sort of summer read. I’ve yet to start the Fool’s Gold series, but this book sounds SO CUTE. I love that Felicia seems pretty awkward – that always makes a character even easier to relate to for me!

July 1, 2013 - 9:38 am

Daphne - I just posted my review today, too. I loved this book! great review

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Nailed It: Upcoming July Releases

Hi there! Thanks for stopping by the blog for another Nailed It!

We’ve decided to mix things up a bit and introduce you nail-polish lovers to another brand we really adore, Zoya. Their color selection is fantastic and the polish is long-lasting. We’ve actually texted one another before that the polish was holding up so well, but we were ready for a color change before it even started chipping. So without further ado, here are two books we’re anxiously looking forward to in July.


The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

Add to Goodreads | Purchase on Amazon

It took me so long to pick a book to feature in this month’s NAILED IT. As always, there are so many pretty covers but I love this one a ton. The sun in the background, the color of her dress, the subtle plaid of his shirt. So great. I’m almost done with THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US and I am really liking it. The colors are kind of fall-ish but I could definitely see them popping during the summer too. It’s like the romantic part of summer — at dusk and holding hands!

The Distance Between Us Nailed It Zoya Colors Rather Be Rreading

Ginger | Gretchen | Stella

Magan >>

Truly, Madly, Deadly by Hannah Jayne

Add to Goodreads | Purchase on Amazon | Read Tara at Fiction Folio’s Review

I have to be honest and admit that there are so, so many stinkin’ books I’m looking forward to in July that I picked this one based purely on what I’ve been wanting to do with my nails lately. Dark nail polish has been a popular thing, but I feel it kind of phases out a bit during the summertime. I’ve seen so so so many girls rocking the dark nail polish with lovely coral or mint outfits lately. I absolutely love it! I personally want to push my summery colors aside to try this out. So why don’t you guys step away from the beachy reads and bright polishes to give this dark, mystery thriller a go with me?

nail polish colors to match the Truly, Madly, Deadly by Hannah Jayne book cover

Raven | Diana | Trixie

And because we are feeling generous today:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What Happened on the Blog This Week:

July 28, 2013 - 10:27 am

Nailed It: August 2013 Book Releases + Pretty Colors! - […] 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! […]

July 15, 2013 - 9:00 am

YA Review: The Distance Between Us by Kasie West - […] Add to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Nailed IT featuring TDBU […]

July 7, 2013 - 10:27 pm

Jennifer Dysart - Loving Gretchen, it’s so wearable for any occasion!

July 7, 2013 - 6:35 pm

Candice @ The Grown-Up YA - LOVE the Gretchen color! All three colors for The Distance Between Us (one of the books I’m DYING to read) are beautiful, but that one just seems like a great neutral color for year round!

July 7, 2013 - 6:08 pm

Joli @ Actin' Up with Books - Oooh, I would love Trixie.

July 6, 2013 - 7:34 pm

Ashley @ Ashley Loves Books - I’m drawn towards Diana, but more than 50% of my polish collection are reds! (And I have a large polish collection, trust me haha) I don’t actually wear orange, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE wearing it on my nails so I love Ginger! Trixie is on my wishlist for the Halloween months, somehow I think it would fit super well during then.

July 5, 2013 - 11:30 pm

Dee'z Dazzling Designs - All the colors are beautiful but I’d have to say Ginger is my favorite.

July 5, 2013 - 8:49 pm

Rebecca @ Reading Wishes - I already commented but forgot to say while I love them all, Trixie and Stella are my favourites 😉

July 5, 2013 - 10:42 am

Cecelia - It’s close between Trixie and Gretchen (they’re very different!), but I think Trixie wins today. I’m feeling sparkly.

July 2, 2013 - 9:33 pm

Angela - Am very interested in either Trixie or Raven, lol. I just got into nail polish and love that there is such a big community with so much creativity going on!! Am slowly building my collection 😀 So many colors, brands and the perfect accent choice!

July 2, 2013 - 5:17 pm

Daphne - i like raven the best and i really wanna read both those books :)

July 2, 2013 - 3:00 pm

Rachel - Great pairings once again. Looooveeee the ones for The Distance Between Us. In general, I LOVE Trixie. I love flashy nail polishes because I think they look great with black and I wear LOTS of black in the winter. And the summer. Silver is just totally my thing. I also like Ginger, but I probably wouldn’t ever wear it because orange and I don’t mix. It’s pretty to look at, though!

July 2, 2013 - 1:56 pm

Claira - I’m loving Gretchen and Diana!

July 2, 2013 - 11:35 am

Gina - Trixie is TO DIE FOR! I hope I win! 😀

July 2, 2013 - 11:32 am

Juliana - I love Diana!

July 2, 2013 - 10:13 am

Courtney @ The Lit Girl - I love the three colors for Truly Madly Deeply! Beautiful picks!

July 1, 2013 - 5:35 pm

Dash - I love the reds Diana or Stella.

July 1, 2013 - 3:19 pm

Tammy - I always love a great basic nude.

July 1, 2013 - 2:04 pm

Summer - I only noticed afterwards that this was for U.S. only, so please ignore my entry.

July 1, 2013 - 1:47 pm

Summer - I so love the idea of matching your nails with the book you’re reading, super cute and creative. I’ve been very into oranges and corals, and anything in that range lately so I think Ginger would be my favorite.

July 1, 2013 - 1:36 pm

elena - Love these covers and colors!! I hope my library gets The Distance Between Us and now I’m inspired to paint my nails. :)

July 1, 2013 - 11:37 am

Judith - How have I never seen this feature before?! I loooove it! I buy way too much nailpolish, so I adore everything that has to do with that. Both of these combinations are so pretty, though the second one is definitely more for me. Love the fierce colors! I’ll be looking forward to more of these posts (and probably scrolling back through others :).

July 1, 2013 - 10:54 am

Alexa Y. - Am I allowed to say that I love all these colors a whole lot? They’re basically all the colors I would ever want to put on my nails lol. But let’s see, my favorites are GINGER and TRIXIE. What can I say – I’m a sucker for shiny things!

July 1, 2013 - 10:36 am

Tara - I love ALL of those colors! I think my fave might be Diana–it’s just very summery and pretty. Thanks for including my review of TMD :)

July 1, 2013 - 6:22 am

Ashton - I really want all of the nail polishes and books. I especially like Gretchen. It’s a nice color for everyday.

July 1, 2013 - 2:11 am

DannyBookworm - What a super duper cute idea!°!! Love this and the polishes look so awesome and pretty :)

July 1, 2013 - 2:00 am

Rebecca @ Reading Wishes - Looking forward to both of theses releases, especially TDBU since I read Pivot Point last week and loved it! I love these polishes and thought I have the bad habit of biting my nails, it’s something I want to work on because I do LOVE to paint my nails and yes to a vegan nail polish, woot! I’m not vegan but I”m vegetarian and I only like to buy cruelty free products so I’d love to try Zoya. Amazing post, guys!

July 1, 2013 - 12:17 am

Bookworm1858 - Great picks-I love seeing what covers you choose and what colors to represent them. My favorite is Diana!

June 30, 2013 - 10:25 pm

Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life - Gah, I seriously LOVE these posts!! I love love love both match ups. The color Trixie is SO pretty, it’s like metallic! Ginger also looks a bit metallic, which is just gorgeous. And Stella is such a pretty color all around. <3

Awesome, thanks for sharing, you two!!

June 30, 2013 - 8:55 pm

tabithasbookblog - I love that you guys are nail polish fanatics as well!! My collection is getting out of hand, but there are just So many colors to try! And brands, and shades of colors, and different finishes. AH. I really like nail polish.

Anyways – I think I’d choose either Gretchen or Trixie – I like my nail polish to stand out because I wear mostly neutrals.

And now – i’ve given you my life story. Thanks for the giveaway!

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Estelle: Right of Way by Lauren Barnholdt

Right of Way by Lauren BarnholdtRight of Way by Lauren Barnholdt ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: July 9, 2013
Publisher: Simon Teen
Pages: 320
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: family secrets, divorce, love/hate relationship, road trip
Format read: eBook from Publisher via Edelweiss! (Thanks!)

Summary: After a whirlwind romance and breakup, Peyton and Jace are not excited to see each other at an upcoming family function. But when Peyton’s plan of running away ends up with her stranded in Florida and no way to get to her destination, Jace is the only one who can help her.

I can’t help it. Ever since Pacey and Joey, I’ve been a fan of sparring couples.

The chemistry! The tension!

While Right of Way definitely succeeded in those two qualities when it came to Peyton and Jace, the story was just too much of a mirror of the earlier Two-Way Street and seemed a bit under developed. Peyton feels utterly betrayed by her mother and needs to get away so she uses the family wedding in Florida as a jumping off point for a summer of freedom with her best friend, Brooklyn. Unfortunately, Brooklyn’s mom finds out about their plans, grounds Brooklyn, and leaves Peyton stranded in Florida with no way to get home. (After a disaster of a night with her ex, Jace, too.) Despite Jace’s disappointment in Peyton’s past actions he can’t resist her when she needs his help. (Even if he’s going to act like he could care less.)

Cue the road trip!

Even though their circumstances were different than Courtney and Jordan’s from Two-Way Street (these characters make plenty of cameos in this book), it just felt too much of the same story. I would have loved to see Peyton’s best friend have more of a role in the story, for them to actually end up in North Carolina, and then Jace somehow appear? It would have felt like a different kind of road trip because the amount of pages I read, the amount of stories I was taking in, didn’t even seem to match up with the distance they were driving. (This is coming from a girl who has driven 17 hours straight to Florida.)

Despite my reservations, the book still managed to be fast-paced and addicting. Barnholdt really knows how to stretch out the mysterious parts of her books, and that kept me going. Plus, I found myself really liking Jace over Peyton (something that also happened to me in TWS) and some of the supporting characters were funny. Unfortunately, though, the end snuck up on me and I finished the book with a “that’s it?!” I liked Peyton and Jace together but I’m not sure they managed to outgrow their immature, and impulsive natures enough to make this relationship work. Most importantly, the pressing family issues that spurred Peyton’s original scheme were not given any kind of resolution and I felt there really needed to be one — good or bad.

If you are looking for some great opposites attract road trip stories, I strongly suggest you put Two-Way Street and Ex-Mas by Kate Brian at the top of your list.

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July 2, 2013 - 10:16 am

Asheley Tart (@BookwormAsheley) - Aaah, so this is one that I’ve been wondering about but it seemed like I read somewhere that this was a sequel or a companion or something, so I didn’t pursue it. And you sorta/kinda validate that for me. I’ve actually also never read anything by this author but Ginger was kind enough to send me The Thing About The Truth so I’m thinking that I’ll probably read that one when I’m feeling the itch to check her out. Love this review because my little eyes caught the words “North Carolina” in there, which means nothing at all. <3

June 30, 2013 - 8:40 pm

Nailed It: Upcoming July Releases - […] A review of Right of Way by Lauren Barnholdt […]

June 30, 2013 - 5:08 pm

molly @ wrapped up in books - This doesn’t sound like one I’ll pick up, but I appreciate the review because I know a lot of readers I can recommend it to!

June 28, 2013 - 5:16 pm

Molli - Hmmmm, Lauren is one of those authors I’ve been meaning to read for some time and haven’t. I’m going to add one of her earlier books, but it’ll just depend on if I find one for sale or something as to which I actually end up reading first.

Man, I hate it when a book just stinks, especially when you’re hoping to like another book from an author you’ve enjoyed in the past. It sounds like the author could have done more to differentiate this one from Two Way Street.

June 27, 2013 - 11:06 pm

Taylor @ Reading is the Thing - I read and enjoyed Two-Way Street, but I was definitely worried about how similarly Right of Way would end up. I’m sorry to see that it was just too much the same for your tastes. I haven’t read Ex-Mas yet though, so maybe I’ll give that one a shot (probably closer to Christmas!) to satisfy my craving for two exes on a road trip! Great review!

June 27, 2013 - 5:36 pm

Sharon @ The Book Barbies - Sad that you didn’t like this one. :/ I love Pacey and Joey, too, but I don’t always love the sparring couples. It’s a fine line for me, between awesome banter and awkward/hurtful fighting.

I still need to read Two Way Street, though!

June 27, 2013 - 4:43 pm

Jen @ Pop! Goes The Reader - I’m happy to hear I wasn’t the only one who was forever affected by the wonder that was Pacey and Joey! Between them and Logan and Veronica, witty banter and arguments are essentially a prerequisite for a truly great couple that I’ll root for. All joking aside, I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy Right of Way, although I can’t say I’m particularly surprised. I’ve seen a series of tepid reviews for this sequel recently and the overarching opinion seems to be that it simply didn’t need to be written. It sounds like it re-hashes the same issues as the first novel, Two-Way Street (Which I haven’t read but hear is great!) without adding anything new to the narrative. It’s unfortunate given how popular Barnholdt’s other novel was as I think it has left a bad taste in more than a few reader’s mouths. There are few things I enjoy more than a road trip story, but I think this is one that I’ll have to pass on.

June 27, 2013 - 3:41 pm

Alexa Y. - I haven’t read the first one, but even so, both books sound very similar based on their summaries! I am quite a sucker for a road trip book though, so I might eventually have to check one of these two books out for fun.

June 27, 2013 - 2:00 pm

Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life - Aww, I’m sorry that this didn’t really work out for you Estelle! It sucks that it was SO close to the first book of this companion/series, which I would definitely found annoying. A lot of this also seems unrealistic as well. Like, how could everything get resolved so quickly? Plus, not even everything gets resolved, which is a huge bummer. :/

I’m sorry this didn’t impress you Estelle! Thanks for such an honest and lovely review, though. <3

June 27, 2013 - 11:54 am

Ginger @ GReads! - Sadly, I couldn’t finish this one. I had high hopes since I was a fan of Two-way Street, but this one just didn’t deliver in the same way. I was really turned off by Peyton’s character. The rich spoiled girl routine has been done a lot in YA. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it just annoys me. In this story, it definitely annoyed me.

June 27, 2013 - 11:53 am

Rachel - I have been waiting for this review since you told me you finished it. I had VERY different feelings, but I think I’ve figured out why. First off, I didn’t read the other book, so I felt like I was reading something new. I read the plot summary for that one and they sounds EXACTLY the same, so I would definitely not read that one. That obviously makes a huge difference since I had nothing to compare it to. The other reason why I think our opinions differed is that I looked at this as more of a character exploration and a look into communication (or the lack of), rather than expecting anything to actually happen. I thought it was interesting to see how I’m not the only one that has a difficult time communicating my feelings, but over time Jace and Peyton worked through it and they worked through their issues together. I also loved the ending, but that’s because I love endings that are wide open for me to imagine whatever I want.

June 27, 2013 - 9:36 am

Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide - Yeahhhh I’ve heard some similar things about this book :( How sad! I do like road trip books and I love all that tension! But it seems like this one is just a bit lacking. Sad!!

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Magan: The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

negative book review of the moon and more by sarah dessenThe Moon and More by Sarah Dessen ( web| tweet )
Publication Date: July 16, 2013
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Pages: 435
Target audience: Young Adult
Keywords: making college plans, family struggles, love triangle
Format read: ARC from Publisher (Thank you!)
Previous books reviewed by author: Along for the Ride, Lock and Key, This Lullaby (E), This Lullaby (M)

Summary: Post-graduation, Emaline finds herself struggling with what to do with her life. Does she attend the Ivy League school her biological father thinks she ought to attend or does she go to the state school where her boyfriend Luke will be?

I’m going to mix things up a little bit for this review because I have so, so many thoughts about The Moon and More. 


+ The family dynamic is really strong from the details of Emaline’s biological father’s lack of responsibility to her stepdad’s strong involvement in her life and the craziness that is the family realty business. Her sisters, Amber and Margo, are polar opposites but are awesome minor characters that really added character depth to the story. Oh, and there’s also Beji, Emaline’s half-brother, who is ten years old and idolizes his older sister; he’s also extremely analytical and quite brilliant at solving problems.

+ Emaline was a very strong main character. She’s a smart, level-headed character that’s very driven (to an extent). Confusion creeps into her life when she begins to question what she wants to do with her life. Her biological father and the new city boy in town, Theo, want Emaline to expect more for herself, but she doesn’t want to grow out of Colby by going to some fancy school that will separate her from her family and lead her to have tons of debt.

+ Revisiting Colby was a delight, even though I felt I should have remembered more details than I did from Along for the Ride than I did. Maybe a re-read of that would have gotten me in the right frame of mind and I would have felt even more connected to the story.


– I really struggled with the timeline and sequence of events. There were areas that felt really bumpy to me and I felt they could have used a bit more finessing. (Disclaimer: I did read an ARC for The Moon and More so some things could have been changed in the final print version.)

– The language. One thing I’ve noticed about Dessen’s writing is that no matter the character, she uses the same dialect and phrasing for every. single. one of her characters. Every one. I almost started circling the repetitious parts so I could visually see if I had a plausible reason to be upset. In the end, I realized (sadly) that if someone had read The Moon and More to me in a monotoned voice with zero inflection or character changes, there would have been moments I would not have noticed who was speaking because the characters were indistinguishable.

– The length. The sequence of events in the beginning occur pretty rapidly. BAM BAM BAM — Emaline breaks up with her boyfriend Luke and begins dating Theo. And then things began to creep along for me. While I love following characters around and having a sense of what their real lives are like, there was just a bit too much of that for me. So much that it made the rest of the story drag and the end resolution felt a bit rushed and anticlimactic.

– While I mentioned how much I loved the inclusion of all the family members, I felt there were maybe too many characters to focus on here. There’s a whole storyline about a local artist, the crazy woman who is trying to film a documentary about him, Emaline’s best friend Morris (who I never really got), and so on. This was definitely a story that focused primarily on Emaline’s life and moving forward, but some things (like the kind of love-triangle) weighed the story down.

My book-loving-heart was so full of hope going in to The Moon and More, but I wish I felt a bit more satisfied after finishing it. In the future, I hope Dessen pushes herself to emphasize the important elements of the story, maintain focus, and to become a more diverse writer by breaking the mold and creating unique characters and language.

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November 7, 2013 - 1:16 am

Allison: The Moon and More | Sarah Dessen | Book Review - […] Rather Be Reading: “My book-loving-heart was so full of hope going in to The Moon and More, but I wish I felt a bit mor…” […]

July 2, 2013 - 10:24 am

Courtney @ The Lit Girl - Oh no! I’ve seen a ton of reviews of people who were excited for The Moon and More and were let down. I used to LOVE Sarah Dessen as a teen (I haven’t read any of her work since then) and I’m nervous to read this one because I haven’t seen a stellar review of it yet!

July 2, 2013 - 10:20 am

Asheley Tart (@BookwormAsheley) - It’s a pretty widely known/growing fact that I’m afraid of Sarah Dessen which is sad since she is an NC author and I like to support my peeps. I’ve only read two of her books and both of them were pretty tough for different reasons. HOWEVER, I got brave just yesterday, in fact, and put Along For the Ride on hold at my library. Now, that aside, I see that you mention that this book takes place in Colby?? (I know nothing about this book.) Fun fact: Colby is actually patterned after Emerald Isle, NC. I was just there a few days ago. My go-to beach, not too from me. That’s kind of fun, right? (:

July 2, 2013 - 3:54 am

Trixie - SUPER DISAPPOINTED. Just skimmed through the last chapters, from chapter 15. The big reveal of the father was, well, so cliché and predictable. I didn’t feel any attachment to any characters, she didn’t build them well enough. Plot was unbelievably slow and crawling! What a waste of time. If the characters in her books were to play musical chairs, I wouldn’t be surprised. Her stories follow the same plot line, characters of the same mold. Along For the Ride Is her best one.

June 30, 2013 - 4:44 pm

Lucy - I just started listening to the audiobook of this yesterday and like it pretty well so far. It’s classic Dessen but I can see your point that maybe she should shake up the formula a little bit. I’m not too fond of Morris either. Not looking forward to the love triangle!
Still need to catch up on Dessen’s other books like This Lullaby, though I loved Along for the Ride and like the shout-outs in the Moon and More.

June 27, 2013 - 9:37 am

Leah @ The Pretty Good Gatsby - Oh wow.. I’m a total Dessen newbie and have ONLY hear the highest of praise for her books. I was looking forward to starting with this one, but now I’m wondering if one of her older books might be better.

That’s such a disappointment about the language. Distinct voices are a MUST for any novel, but especially when one is filled to the brim with characters. Hopefully the finished copy had been revised a bit.

I’m sorry you were 100% thrilled with this one, Magan! I’m still interested in giving Dessen a shot, but I’ll probably go for Just Listen or Along for the Ride instead.

June 27, 2013 - 7:32 am

Ash @ Paranormal Indulgence - Oh, I sooo hope that I have a better reaction to this one. But Sarah Dessen’s books can be hit and miss with me. My great loves are The Truth About Forever, Along for the Ride, and maybe Lock and Key, which I think is the consensus and there’s probably a reason for that. Probably having to do with the some of the disappointing factors you mentioned about this one…

June 26, 2013 - 11:00 pm

Alise - Love the way that you divided up your review! Overall sounds like Dessen is running out of unique material. I have started to notice some of her plots are pretty similar to each other. I think I will take your advice and borrow it :)

Alise @ Readers In Wonderland

June 26, 2013 - 9:14 pm

tabithasbookblog - I feel the same way about this book – well.. pretty much the same way! I really enjoyed Emaline as a character and I loved the dynamic of family/friends, but it felt like there was too much at times. I also didn’t feel the same connection to the beach town of Colby as I did in past books, but I did like seeing characters from Along for the Ride.

Great review!

June 26, 2013 - 5:25 pm

Alexa Y. - I do like Sarah Dessen! But my rule is never to read her books one after another. I’ve been looking forward to The Moon and More for a while, so I’ll definitely still be checking this out. But I’m sorry to hear it didn’t quite meet your expectations :(

June 26, 2013 - 4:03 pm

Ginger @ GReads! - I felt a bit let down by this one, too. I struggled through the majority of it & REALLY wanted to love it because man some of her previous novels really blew me away. Since I read Along for the Ride (and proclaim it to be my favorite of her’s now) just last year, revisiting Colby was a huge plus for me. I felt myself enjoying more of the secondary characters, rather than Emaline. Which isn’t totally unusual, because Dessen’s secondary characters is what she’s known for – in my opinion. But in previous novels, as much as I’ve enjoyed them, I still felt tied back to the MC. However in this one, I never felt that pull. Also – was completely turned off by Theo and that whole scenario. It just didn’t fit, anywhere. I found myself rushing through scenes that involved him because I disliked it that much – which in turn caused me to dislike Emaline a bit.

Ok wow. I had a lot to say, ha.

(side note for Magan: Gone Gone Gone is playing as I type this! Ha!)

June 26, 2013 - 2:24 pm

Jamie - Really thoughtful review, Magan! I felt like I could really get a sense for the good and the bad of this one. I have only read a couple of Sarah Dessen’s novels so I’ll probably end up giving this one a chance this summer but I feel like some of the things you mentioned (too many characters and indistinguishable characters..I’ve totally had that happen while reading) will be an issue for me too. BUT the story sounds pretty darn good so we will see!

But at least if I read this one maybe I can go back and read all the ones I missed that people have raved about. Might be a better plan in the end! Which of her is your fave?

June 26, 2013 - 1:10 pm

jen @ Pop! Goes The Reader - I’m sorry that this book turned out to be a bit of a disappointment :( I’ve never read one of the Sarah Dessen’s novels before but would like to remedy that this summer. I think I’ll read one of her earlier novels like Just Listen instead as people seem to have a very strong fondness for her older work. I can certainly see what you mean about the language though – Even ardent fans of Dessen’s seem to like her work precisely because it’s predictable and familiar. While this can certainly be perceived as a positive attribute, I would imagine it might also become a little repetitive and frustrating after awhile.

June 26, 2013 - 9:02 am

Bookworm1858 - This book was a bit of a disappointment for me too-can’t remember thinking about the phrasing of Dessen’s characters as I mostly just appreciate their eloquence but I think I know what you mean.

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Sweet Summertime Reads: The Nautical and The Sexy

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

Nothing says summer like SHOPPING. Especially when you are us.

So today we decided to pair both reading and shopping for a fun little feature. This year, better than most, we have kind of done a nice job of making sure we read the books the other can’t stop raving about. (Yes, we are patting ourselves on the back a little bit.) It’s nice for a change! To celebrate that milestone, we are each talking about books we want to read this summer based on the praise of the other!

estelle on “winger” by andrew smith:

I searched high and low for this book… I couldn’t find it at my nearby Barnes & Noble but luckily, found it in Books of Wonder one weekend. Love the cover, love the plot (male POV, romance, rugby!), and especially love that it helped Magan get out of her own reading slump. She called it “well-written and addictive“. That’s just the kind of book I need in my hands right now.

As for the shopping aspect of things, I absolutely adore the colors on this front cover. Blue and red are patriotic, sure, BUT they are also super nautical so I’m drooling over these two options. Wouldn’t the blue look great with a pair of yellow wedges? And the red with a nice pair of beige flats? I love skirts in the summer.

Winger by Andrew Smith with Matching Skirts for the Ladies, Part of the Sweet Summertime Reads series

Dish It Haute (Red) | Sailor Swift Skirt (Blue)

magan on “dangerous girls” by abigail haas:

Please excuse me for making Rather Be Reading a bit risque today. Oops? (Totally kidding.) Since Estelle wrote her Dangerous Girls review, in which she discussed how it’s a fantastic thriller that she wanted to speed-read through, I have NEEDED IT in my hands. (Can July 16th hurry up and be here already?) The cover is a mix of mystery + light-hearted beachy-goodness. I told Estelle I got the impression that the characters would be a bit more scantily clad than what I would probably be. (It’s normal to wear a fully body swimsuit, right? Again, kidding.) She concurred that I was on the right track.

So, I went on a Victoria’s Secret shopping splurge. (Model’s bodies not included.) The swimsuit is girly and flirty, but also sexy. The cover-up has kind of a double meaning. See what I did there? 😉

dangerous girls book inspired beach wear

Lace Ruffle Bandeau Swimsuit | Off-the-Shoulder Dress

Don’t forget to check out Trish Doller’s fun facts about Florida on Ginger’s blog, GReads!
And make sure to hit up Tara’s blog, Fiction Folio, later this week for more Sweet Summertime Reads fun!

June 26, 2013 - 5:23 pm

Alexa Y. - You guys are making it VERY difficult indeed for me to keep my shopping ban! The items in this post – the skirts, bikini + dress – are SUPER cute. And I’m excited to read both these books!

June 26, 2013 - 5:37 am

VeganYANerds - Loving the skirts and the bikini! Estelle – so glad you got Winger!

June 25, 2013 - 7:07 pm

Cee @ The Novel Hermit - Eek! Such fabulous choices. I am in love with the red skirt.

You convinced me to read “Winger.” 😀

June 25, 2013 - 12:47 pm

Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life - Ahh, this is such an adorable feature! I love how you two are focusing on reading books that the other loved- so cute! The outfits you two chose are so adorable as well. I’m loving the read and blue look, Estelle, and Magan, that cover-up’s color is SO cute. Probably my favorite shade of blue (if you couldn’t tell from my blog, haha). 😉 Lovely picks, you two! <3

-Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life

June 25, 2013 - 11:17 am

Candice @ The Grown-Up YA - I WANT THOSE SKIRTS!!! They would look so good for my work wardrobe. :)

Also… I’m gonna go with Brittany. No way the bikini would work for me. The cover up though? Yes please! Love that color!

June 25, 2013 - 11:01 am

Tara - Those skirts are adorbs! And boy do I wish I had the body to pull off that bathing suit…

June 25, 2013 - 11:00 am

Rachel - If I didn’t love shopping so much I’d hire you two to shop for me. First off, I love what you chose for Winger, Estelle. I don’t know anything about the book but it does fit well with the cover! And also 90% of my clothing is either red, white, or blue, so I think your choices are perfect. Magan, your choices for Dangerous Girls are perfect as well. I haven’t read it yet either (but I want too!), but I definitely pictured the same kind of clothing. That swimsuit is SO CUTE. I don’t know if I’d ever actually wear a white bikini (I prefer black or pink), but I do like to admire them from afar.

June 25, 2013 - 10:59 am

Jamie - I want to read both of these so bad!! Perfect pairings, too!

June 25, 2013 - 9:47 am

Sharon @ The Book Barbies - These are such cute choices! That nautical skirt is ADORABLE. And I love that swimsuit! Not at all practical – it’d be down around my waste in no time if I actually got in the water, LOL – but very pretty nonetheless.

June 25, 2013 - 9:37 am

Cassie - OMFG. STOP IT JUST STOP. This is so creative and adorable and I effing LOVE IT.

June 25, 2013 - 9:32 am

Ginger @ GReads! - This is so cute! Love this post idea :) I really, really love skirts in the summertime. They are definitely a part of my wardrobe right now. I wish I had a bikini body, haha so it’s full body swimsuits for me! Ha!

June 25, 2013 - 9:27 am

Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide - Those nautical skirts are CUTE. Love them.
Uhh, darn, no model body included? haha. Yeah, I can’t pull off a bikini like that but I love the cover up! :)

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