Magan: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord, A Vlog Review

Howdy, y’all! Man it feels so incredibly wonderful to type these words. It feels so good to be here talking books. And yes, quite literally below, I talk books in my vlog. I’m really wanting to mix things up a bit and as I’m just on an altogether different schedule with a newborn, vlogs seem like the best solution for me right now. My hope is that it’s a) not boring for you and b) fun to watch. I really want your feedback about what you think so if you’ve got some, leave it below in the comments. Okay? Alright, let’s get started!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77jdtxAvM6E

Book Review for Open Road Summer by Emery LordHighlights of Open Road Summer by Emery Lord:

  • Incredible friendships — something I want to see much, much more of in the books I read. I get kind of bogged down by the drama sometimes. Reagan and Dee are friendship gurus.
  • Mucho, mucho hotness in the form of Matt Finch. He’ll make you swoon. And laugh. And want to know him in real life.
  • A girl who is incredibly relatable because she’s made some stupid mistakes. Who hasn’t done something they regret? * cue the crickets*
  • ORS made me feel just about every emotion and made me miss my BFF, Estelle, somethin’ fierce.

A few quotes, as promised:

“He’s kind of beautiful, in an understated, comfortable-looking-way — the kind of guy who doesn’t mind seeing a rom-com with you and gives you his hoodie when you’re cold.”

“We’re saying a lot within the silence: We can’t and I know and But I want to and Me too. The effort of restraint burns in my chest — a physical ache from holding back.”

“Laughter feels like our flotation device — it won’t pull us out of the storm, but it might carry us through, if we can just hang on.”

“If we could capture feelings like we capture pictures, none of us would ever leave our rooms. It would be so tempting to inhabit the good moments over and over again. But I don’t want to be the kind of person who lives backwardly, who memorializes moments before she’s finished living in them.”

And a shameless photo to introduce you, officially, to my daughter Everett:

I spend a lot, lot, lot of time holding this little lady. How could I NOT? Sometimes when I’m really craving some reading time, I rock her and read my book aloud to her. She did, in fact, hear a good chunk of Open Road Summer. I hereby vow to turn this girl into a book-lover. Or try my darnedest. 😉

Everett

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series review for The Ruby Oliver Series by E Lockhart

Magan: The Ruby Oliver Series by E. Lockhart

series review for The Ruby Oliver Series by E Lockhart

The Boyfriend List: 15 Guys, 11 Shrink Appointments, 4 Ceramic Frogs and Me, Ruby Oliver
The Boy Book: A Study of Habits and Behaviors, Plus Techniques for Taming Them
The Treasure Map of Boys: Noel, Jackson, Finn, Hutch, Gideon—and me, Ruby Oliver
Real Live Boyfriends: Yes. Boyfriends, Plural. If My Life Weren’t Complicated, I Wouldn’t Be Ruby Oliver

The Ruby Oliver Series by E. Lockhart
Publication Dates
: 9/26/2006 | 4/22/2008 | 7/28/2009 | 12/28/2010
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Pages: 229 | 208 | 248 | 225
Target audience: Young Adult
Keywords: high school, friendship drama, seeing a therapist, dating relationships
Format read: First three borrowed from my library, the fourth purchased for my kindle.
Summary: Ruby Oliver is just a normal girl with two best friends — until she begins having panic attacks and has to see a therapist because her boy life is out of control and her best friends are no longer speaking to her.

Things I Know About Ruby Oliver and Why You Should Read This Series:

  1. Ruby is a little bit (okay, maybe a lot) crazy. She is boy crazy. She doesn’t interact with people well because she is so self-conscious and feels like she’s doing and saying the wrong things all the time. She blurts out whatever comes to mind and doesn’t think before she speaks. (This makes for some great laugh out loud moments while reading.)
  2. Ruby just doesn’t understand boys. She wants to date them, but is pretty judgey and particular about them. She gets herself in awkward situations and The Boyfriend List portrays how it seems like she’s had lots of crushes on boys and really gotten around, but that’s just not the truth. When she finally does get a boyfriend (hello, Jackson!) — things are anything but easy. Especially when…
  3. Ruby’s best friends aren’t super trustworthy. Her BFF Kim? Yeah, she kind of gets in the way and steals Ruby’s boyfriend. And you know what? She turns things around and makes Ruby seem like the bad person. So what happens to poor Ruby? She has panic attacks because school starts to suck so bad when all of her friends turn on her. And that leads to…
  4. Ruby begins to see a therapist. She doesn’t really know what to talk about and she’s a bit ADD in her thought process, jumping (leaping) from one topic to the next, but her therapy sessions are quite entertaining (especially as she begins to understand herself a bit more and doesn’t want to listen to what she knows needs to happen). She begins to realize that she’s got way more than just boy issues. For instance…
  5. Ruby’s parents are also crazy. Her mom is extremely self-involved and is always experimenting with some new diet. She dapples in Ruby’s life in the worst possible ways, and while she thinks she’s being helpful, she’s really not. Her dad is really into plants and has a greenhouse and Ruby’s just not into that, but does connect with him more. (It’s really easier if Ruby just avoids her mom because their relationship is just… complicated.)
  6. Ruby’s seclusion leads her to make a new friend. Or two. Noah and Megan are two people Ruby doesn’t ever socialize with much, but while she’s got no one else to talk to because her life is crap, she is kind of forced to get to know these two better. Turns out Noah’s got a lot of attractive qualities and Megan’s not the person Ruby pegged her to be (funny how that happens, right?).
  7. Ruby is relateable, funny, sarcastic, self-depricating, pure, and original. There’s really been no other character for me that has rivaled Ruby Oliver. I could have breezed through all four books in one day because I just ate them up. After waiting (months) for the last book from my library, I finally broke down and purchased it for my kindle because I just had to know how Ruby’s story ended. Each book dictates a year of Ruby’s high school life, beginning freshman year.
  8. You’ll only grow to love Ruby more throughout the series. Sure when Rub is a freshman and she’s going through all the stupid things she’s done, you might shake your head and say, “SILLY GIRL!” But, she grows up, she gets wiser, and becomes more comfortable in her own skin. She becomes a bit more daring and bold. (If that’s possible — she has some guts, I tell ya.) The more I read, the more I wanted to continue to read.

If you want a fun series that you’ll breeze through quickly and laugh out loud multiple times while reading, Ruby Oliver is your girl. These books made me remember all those times when I didn’t know what I said wrong that made my friends upset with me. It made me laugh at how naive I was when it came to boys, and how monumental every emotion seemed to be back in high school. You’ll remember what those times were like for you, but from Ruby Oliver’s  humorous perspective.

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The Boyfriend List (Goodreads | Amazon)
The Boy Book (Goodreads | Amazon)
Treasure Map of Boys (Goodreads | Amazon)
Real Live Boyfriends (Goodreads | Amazon)

Book Cover for Trinkets by Kirsten Smith

Magan: Trinkets by Kirsten Smith

Book Cover for Trinkets by Kirsten SmithTrinkets by Kirsten Smith <website • twitter>
Publication Date: March 12, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pages: 288
Target audience: Young Adult
Keywords: shoplifting, unlikely friendships, cheating parent, alcoholic mother
Format read: ARC received via NetGalley (Thank you!)

Summary: Moe, Tabitha and Elodie are three girls very unlikely to ever form a friendship — that is, until they meet in a Shopaholics Anonymous meeting and bond over their one similarity: they’re all thieves.

 

Elodie, Moe, and Tabitha have one thing in common.

They’re shoplifters.

Aside from this (ginormous) fact, their lives couldn’t be more different. Elodie lives with her father and step-mother (whom she can’t stand) in Portland, where they’ve just relocated after her father’s remarriage and her mother’s death. She’s the new girl no one knows with one friend she doesn’t have much in common with. Moe and her older brother, Marc, live with their aunt who gained custody of them after their parents died when she was seven. Moe dyes her hair cherry-red and hangs out with a bunch of druggies. And then there’s Tabitha — the legendary popular girl who dates the boy everyone fawns over. But underneath her perfect exterior, she’s going crazy that her dad has endless affairs and how everyone (her mother, her friends, everyone) is always faking their way through life.

How do these three very different girls connect with one another? Through Shopaholics Anonymous.

Because they’re in such vulnerable positions and have to open up about their lives in SA, they let down their guards and speak truthfully and openly with one another about their home lives. (This is a big deal since none of their “BFFs” know any of this personal information.) While SA is supposed to lead them to understand why they want to steal and how to stop doing it, they band together and try to make the best steal after each meeting. Most weeks, after they’ve compared their loot, they spend time hanging out (in inconspicuous places where classmates won’t notice them together).

Tabitha, Elodie, and Moe’s stories are knitted together from each of their points of view. Elodie writes in verse, while Moe jots her entries down in a journal-like format, and Tabitha’s are more structured and formal. The different POVs move the story forward at a quick, enjoyable pace that makes the timing and new friendships seem plausible and realistic. One of the highlights is seeing three very outwardly different girls bond together, especially since many of their interior struggles are so much the same, each having faced abandonment or loss in some way.

The struggle is finding a way out of the cycle of their routine bad behavior. How do you stop doing something that fills the gap in your life? That makes you feel better? That gives you a high like nothing else? And what happens to this unlikely trio’s friendship when the twelve week program has come to an end?

Trinkets handles some pretty serious subject matter (death of a parent, a demanding boyfriend, remarriage, and scandalous affairs) in a manner that didn’t feel overwhelming, heavy, or overly dramatic. Smith maintained a light-hearted feel by placing the emphasis on friendship and letting the heavier issues play more of a secondary role. A huge takeaway for me was realizing that we all have “bad stuff” going on in our lives, but we can choose how we move forward and deal with those situations.

So the question is: does their unlikely friendship help these girls move past the negative circumstances in their lives or do they continue to be lured into thievery to seek attention? Guess you’ll just have to read it for yourself to find out!

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Estelle: The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg

The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg
Publication Date: December 29, 2009
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: 290
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: Breakups, girlfriends, Beatles, cheating
Format read: Borrowed from the library.

Summary: When Penny Lane is betrayed and disappointed by the only guy who has had her heart, she decides to take a stand against all of this bad treatment and start The Lonely Hearts Club (based on the song by the Beatles) and stop dating until high school is over. When the club starts to accrue members and its only set of rules, the whole idea becomes something Penny could have never imagined. But soon she starts to wonder how realistic her “non-dating” rule is when someone catches her eye. Maybe not every guy is as bad as she thought…

For any girl who has been forced to reevaluate her feelings for a guy based on their nonsensical and asshole-ish behavior, this is the book for you. (Hello every girl in the world.) After Penny makes a horrifying discovery about her childhood love, she decides not to sit around and wallow but to do something about it and forms The Lonely Hearts Club. (She and her family are HUGE Beatles fans.) She vows to remain single for the rest of high school and focus on herself, and after a bit of time she is no longer a club of one.

I instantly clicked with Penny Lane. I’m actually not sure if I’ve connected with a character quite so quickly but I easily related to her being head over heels for a guy she’s known since she was young, a guy that has caused her to fantasize so much about their happily ever after that no one seems to come close. I was also disappointed by that same guy. Not in the way Penny was but it hurt like hell. (And continued to for a long time after.) I loved her go-get-em spirit and the way she took a bad situation and turned it into something bigger. In fact, there were many moments in this book where I wished I had started the same kind of group.

I was also reminded of Kody Keplinger’s book, Shut Out. Girls forming unexpected friendships when they band together for the same cause. But Eulberg took the club and the characters to new heights. They were dimensional, so far from cliche and their mission felt relatable. I could SEE girls in my high school (unlike in Shut Out) concocting this crazy plan. And it was crazy. It’s apparent once the rules are set in stone and their group gains notoriety that something’s going to blow up and go wrong. But that was a lesson these girls needed to learn for themselves. They were hurt and created something with zero flexibility to stop that hurt from happening again. They needed to get to the point where they were ready and willing to take a chance in a new relationship.

Because *newsflash* despite the duds, there were nice guys out there.

Penny is enthusiastic, strong, and brave, and I think she discovered a lot about herself once she establishes TLHC. She is able to reconnect with her ex-best friend, who had become one of those girls we hate — so into her boyfriend she loses her identity and drops her old friends. I say BRAVO to Eulberg for including this character. Because this trap that Diane fell into is JUST SO COMMON (hey, I did it too) so I’m happy to see awareness brought to this kind of issue. Diane actually turned into one of my favorite characters. While it’s important to understand a main character, I love with an author takes the time to create supporting characters who are able to leave an important impact on the reader as well. Eulberg did this many times over.

There were also a multitude of great guy characters in this book (the villainous and the good). Undoubtedly, Ryan, the ex-boyfriend of Diane and one of Penny’s good friends, is swoon worthy and epic amongst potential love interests. I don’t want to give too much away but I loved how Eulberg was able to introduce Ryan and each time it felt like a bread crumb leading to a more significant occasion.

I could probably gush about this book forever. I thought it was a true depiction of high school with characters who were so like the ones I spent my school years with. In fact, I had a huge yearning to go back to those days of planning and getting ready for dances with my girlfriends. Those were just the best times and I think The Lonely Hearts Club captured what is so important and amazing about the friendships of women. They require forgiveness, flexibility, understanding, and most of all, support.

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