Happy March + A Book Chat

Oh, hey there!

Hello March, springtime, sunshine, and all of the best make-your-heart-happy books as you sunbathe. (Ideally, right?)

We hung out for a little while ‘in person’ to chat about THE HATING GAME by Sally Thorne – a book that should be high on your radar for reading as soon as possible. We discussed the love/hate relationship between Lucy and Josh, crazy work dynamics and ending up in a job you never intended to have, and naturally digressed into some girl chat about makeup and life.

We filmed this on a lazy Sunday afternoon and got cozy in our own homes with our computers – Estelle in her apartment in NY and Magan from the comfort of her living room! We lost track of time, rambled a lot at the end about some of our favorite things, but had so much fun getting in some friend time.

We hope that you’ll enjoy our first in-person book chat!

 

The Scoop:

 

Off-Topic Details:

 

Catch-Up:

  • Have you read THE HATING GAME? What did you think?
  • What are your favorite podcasts? We’re looking for more recommendations!
  • We’ve both adopted a ‘read and release’ policy with our books to pass them along to other book-lovers. Are you a re-reader or do you pass your books off to a friend?
  • Has anyone started a lending library? Any tips or advice for how Magan can start one?

It’s a Wrap • See Ya Next Year, March!

Well, another month bites the dust. Who’s prepared for April and taxes? (UGH.) Ahem, sorry – that’s what I’ve been focused on a lot the last two weeks. April is going to be full of sunshine and reading outside and lots and lots of vitamin D. (We hope.) Here are a few highlights of our March:

We had an awesome time participating in Cassie’s #15beautifuldays in March! Thanks so much for hosting this, Cassie, and we hope you guys enjoyed seeing a bit more of our lives outside of books on our Instagram.

A photo posted by Estelle (@thatsostelle) on

A photo posted by Magan (@magan) on

SHOPPING LIST MUSTS

March-Must-Read-Recommendations-from-Rather-Be-Reading

Estelle’s Picks: The Wrong Side of Right • A Mad, Wicked Folly

Magan’s Picks: Things We Know by Heart • The Start of Me and You

 WHAT TO CLICK

SUMMING IT ALL UP

Buy It:

Small Damages by Beth Kephart
Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Clark
Trust the Focus by Megan Erickson
The Winner’s Trilogy
In Some Other World, Maybe by Shari Goldhagen
Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby

Worth It:

The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord
Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes
Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz
One Wish by Robyn Carr

Borrow It:

Better Than Perfect by Melissa Kantor
When Joss Met Matt by Ellie Cahill
Dove Arising by Karen Bao

Free Writing:

Top Ten Books We Want to Re-Read
#YARunsA5K
The Beginning of Our Attachment (our Twitter/G-Chat beginnings)
Top Ten Books on Our Spring TBR List
Estelle and James’ Early Beginnings (inspired by The Start of Me and You)

Monthly Features:

Little Kids: Books About Feelings
Dive Into Diversity: They Work Hard for the Money
Pub Date: Can I Be So Blunt

DON’T FORGET!


What were some of your favorites in March? Let us know in the comments.

Here’s to amazing books, beautiful weather, and no terrible April Fool’s jokes being pulled on you today! 😉

It’s a Wrap • Sayanara February

I have NO idea how tomorrow is the beginning of March. HOW HOW HOW? February was full of lots of new adventures, several great books, really cold weather just about everywhere, and way too much time spent looking up YouTube videos.

Here’s a little recap of this February with our most popular Instagram posts. (Are you on Instagram? Find us @ReadingGals, @thatsostelle, and @magan; we’d love to get to know you better, too!)

A photo posted by Estelle (@thatsostelle) on

A photo posted by Magan (@magan) on

SHOPPING LIST MUSTS

 

February-Wrap-Up-Must-Have-Books

Magan’s Pick: Liar’s Inc.

Estelle’s Pick: Girl Before a Mirror

We both HIGHLY recommend: I’ll Meet You There

WHAT TO CLICK

SUMMING IT ALL UP

Buy It:

Girl Before a Mirror by Liza Palmer
The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand
We Can Work It Out by Elizabeth Eulberg
The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds
The Curvy Girls Club by Michele Gorman

Worth It:

Promposal by Rhonda Helms
Cut Me Free by J.R. Johannson
Perfect Girl by Michele Gorman

Borrow It:

My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga
I’m Glad I Did by Cynthia Weil

Skip It:

Since You’ve Been Gone by Mary Jennifer Payne

Free Writing:

A cover reveal for Tara Jenkins Reid’s Maybe In Another Life due July 7, 2015
An author chat with Stephen Metcalfe of The Tragic Age
A peek at Jennifer Snow’s Brookhollow series from Harlequin
Kieran Scott shared her love story in the spirit of Valentine’s Day
Estelle’s fictional birthday party (to celebrate her 30th!)
Beyond High School YA Books (for those who seek older characters)

Monthly Features:

#SoRatherBeYoung: Harriet the Spy and Number the Stars (and Hannah’s post too!)
Little Kids: books to show/tell your children how much you love them
Dive Into Diversity Discussion: Religion in YA
Pub Date: Sorta Like a Love Story

DON’T FORGET!


What were some of your favorites in February? Let us know in the comments.

Cheers to (hopefully) more sunshine and being one month closer to summer!

It’s a Wrap | Adios January

How is it January 31st already? Are you thinking this too? Wow. One quick month to kick off 2015; that’s all we gotta say. Together we’re reeling from the post-sads after our epic it’s-been-over-a-year reunion in Disney World a few days ago but also looking forward to a big February.

Ears? Check! Reunion? Double check. So excited to be a part of @magan’s first ever WDW trip.

A photo posted by Estelle (@thatsostelle) on

DID WE MENTION WE GOT TO HANG OUT AND IT WENT TOO FAST? It went way too fast.

Anyway. As we dab all our tears…

We’ve always enjoyed the end-of-month posts at spots like Perpetual Page Turner, Hello, Chelly, Paper Riot, and The Book Addict’s Guide and since our “shelve its” aren’t as frequent as we would like, we’re joining in the fun this year. We can’t have you forgetting our favorite books now. We just can’t!

shopping list musts

Rather Be Reading January Favorites

Magan’s Picks: Love, Lucy by April Linder | All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Estelle’s Picks: The Boy in the Brown Suit by Jason Reynolds | 99 Days by Katie Cotugno (Preorder this one!)

what to click

summing it all up

Buy It:

Make It Last by Megan Erickson
Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle
Disneylanders by Kate Abbott

Borrow It:

Love & Other Theories by Alex Bass
Perfect Couple by Jennifer Echols
Beneath Beautiful by Allison Rushby
I Was Here by Gayle Forman
Love on the Lifts by Jill Santopolo
Alex as Well by Alyssa Brugman (also a #DiversityDive title!)
Twisted Fate by Norah Olsen
Geek Girl by Holly Smale

Worth It:

The Marriage Charm by Linda Lael Miller (a giveaway with this one!)

Free Writing:

To Have and To Discard
When You Relate to a Character You Dislike
What If I Could | #Tuck40th

Monthly Features:

Pub Date (Life By Committee and Reading Resolutions)
Little Kids Table: Magan’s Winter Favorites

don’t forget!


What were some of your favorites in January? Let us know in the comments.

Here’s to a great month! ♥

Thankful Hearts

Friends,

It’s that time again. That little holiday smushed between the grinning pumpkins and twinkling lights — a little day dedicated to sharing our appreciation, taking time away from our daily stresses, and spending it with people who make us smile.

Before you go off to enjoy your holiday, we thought we would share a little bit about our own.

(Are you hungry yet??)

estelle.

The past 3 or 4 years have brought a ton of change to the traditions I’ve loved since I was a kid. (Something I never imagined happening, sadly.) But I know I can expect an early morning wake-up call to catch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (no matter how late I get in the Wednesday before the holiday), a freshly made pie from my husband (before him, we had primarily store-bought baked goods), and a sweet potato dish I make without fail even if no one loves sweet potatoes except me. (It’s not a selfish thing; I promise. It’s more of a tribute to my grandma. We were the lone sweet potato lovers!)

Baby Estelle at Thanksgiving Way Back When

Baby Estelle at Thanksgiving Way Back When.

I have to say after a long year of so many obligations making it hard to see each other, I’m looking forward to some uninterrupted time with the family. (And watching Santa usher in the holiday season I love so much. Cue the tears.)

Thanksgiving 2013. Photo by Husband.

Thanksgiving 2013. Photo by Husband.

magan.

Magan-and-Family

These are my people (circa 2008); please excuse my questionable hair choices.

Every Thanksgiving, our schedule is completely different. Crazily so. Dustyn and I are so, so grateful to have our grandparents and parents to spend the holidays with. Luckily they all live within a 25-ish minute driving distance from one another. This means we spend a lot of time in the car, driving between houses, and eating three entirely different meals because FOOD. Full disclosure: the driving does stress me out. Making sure we’e divvied up the day equally and not cut anyone short means a lot to me.

But truthfully, I know this isn’t forever. So we do it. And we treasure it.

Magan-and-Grandmothers

My two grandmothers and me at my college graduation lunch, 2008

In fact, this year will be a little different because there won’t be a big gathering with Dustyn’s grandparents. We’ll visit with them here in Austin at my brother-and-sister-in-law’s house before driving to their hometown to see my paternal grandparents. It seems like things are shifting a little bit and I’m nervous. Our grandparents have never seemed to age and time has sort of stood still, but this year…things are different.

My Grandpa is a die-hard Aggie. The fact that I graduated from UT is unfathomable to him.

My Grandpa is a die-hard Aggie. The fact that I graduated from UT is unfathomable to him.

♥

HAPPY (early) THANKSGIVING!

What will you be doing? What are your family traditions?

Book Report: Kiss Kill Vanish by Jessica Martinez

Well, hello! Welcome back for another Book Report! In the past, we’ve done lots of gushing as we’ve oohed and ahhed over books like ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER, but today’s discussion involves a few differing opinions on our overall opinion of KISS KILL VANISH by Jessica Martinez. Did we love it? Did we agree? How would we rate it? Read our joint review below to see what we thought! Please remember that we try to be as spoiler free as possible, but tread lightly.

Book Cover for Kiss KIll Vanish by Jessica Martinez

Kiss Kill Vanish by Jessica Martinez (website | twitter)
See Also Virtuosity and The Vow by Jessica Martinez
Publication Date: October 7, 2014
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 432
Target Audience: Young Adult Fiction
Keywords: runaway teenager, family secrets, young adult thriller
Format Read: We both received copies for review from the publisher. (Thank you!)

Summary (from Goodreads): Valentina Cruz no longer exists.

One moment, she was wrapped in Emilio’s arms, melting into his kiss. The next, she was witnessing the unthinkable: a murder in cold blood, ordered by her father and carried out by her boyfriend. When Emilio pulled the trigger, Valentina disappeared. She made a split-second decision to shed her identity and flee her life of privilege, leaving the glittering parties and sultry nightlife of Miami far behind.

She doesn’t know how to explain to herself what she saw. All she knows now is that nothing she believed about her family, her heart, or Emilio’s love, was real.

She can change her name and deny her past, but Valentina can’t run from the truth. The lines between right and wrong, and trust and betrayal, will be blurred beyond recognition as she untangles the deceptions of the two men she once loved and races to find her own truth.

Just in case you need a visual reminder of who we are:

– – – –

Magan Magan
Estelle Estelle

♥ ♥ ♥

 

Magan So today we’re talking about KISS KILL VANISH by Jessica Martinez. We’ve both read books of hers in the past we’ve really enjoyed (Virtuosity and The Vow), but I think it’s safe to say that we have slightly differing opinions on this one. In two sentences, tell me what you thought!
Estelle Kicking off with a toughie, huh? I think Kiss Kill Vanish was sexy, addicting, and heartbreaking. I also thought Martinez did such amazing things with story structure and dialogue; I was in awe. (I kind of cheated.)
Magan You sneak! Ok, so let’s maybe start off with the story structure because I felt SO intrigued in the beginning, that Valentina ran away from her family (not saying why!). I really admired her decision. But I lost a lot of faith in her as the book went on and I liked her less and less.
Estelle You should expand on that because I didn’t feel that way. (And I’ll explain why in the best way I can!)
Magan I thought it took a lot of strength to leave the comfortable life that she had. She was a girl who had absolutely everything, and she basically cast it all aside because she couldn’t support the truths that were revealed to her. I checked out a bit when she returned to settle things because her decisions felt very immature and she seemed to get in the way much more than she helped the situation. Her young age and naivety really became apparent to me. I think if maybe there was a bit more backstory in the beginning of the book, it would have made more sense to me why she needed to return and have closure. But her decision seemed more vengeful, especially the more she learned once she was there.
Estelle For me, the book started off very slowly and I had the opposite reaction. I thought her leaving seemed so unbelievable for a teenager. This book definitely was one where I had to suspend my disbelief or I wouldn’t have been able to get invested. I think she was a scared little girl who had nowhere to turn, and knew nothing about her history. As the story goes on, even the little she does know, gets turned on its head. I can’t pretend to know what I would do in that position.
Magan I do agree that the actual book starts off slowly.
Estelle Her character really played with my head because sometimes I pictured her so much older than she was, and other times, so much younger.
Magan I think that’s really interesting. I feel like it takes a lot of strength to walk away from something. I really enjoyed seeing her try to scrape by, especially when it was doing a job she hated. I really, really wanted to see her make solid friendships and stand on her own two feet. I think that’s really what might have been the biggest letdown for me. Where I expected the story to go isn’t what happened. Let me rephrase that — in a situation like hers, it takes strength and courage. I think it can be seen as cowardly if a person continually ditches everything they do and doesn’t ever commit to see something through, but in Valentina’s specific situation, I feel she demonstrated maturity.
Her sisters, for example, were atrocious.
Estelle I just had a thought. Maybe I’m reading into it too much but Miami vs. Canada, rich vs. poor, even the two brothers she comes across… the whole book feels like a contest between these halves. Good vs. evil. Truth vs. lie.
Magan Oh, for sure. There are SO many contrasts throughout the story.
Estelle When Valentina was in Canada, she tried to be plain Jane. But she really had no FINAL plan like what was she going to do… pose for portraits forever? Sure, her endgame was getting to Spain but in reality? It felt like she was at a total standstill. Like you, I did want her to make solid relationships but I felt like the possibility of that was so small because she would continue to be on the run.
Magan Yes! I think that’s where a bit of implausibility came into play. Ultimately, I feel like this is a Catch-22. Her returning home was the ONLY thing that really allowed her to break free. But it also was my least favorite part of the book because she made some poor decisions. (I think you feel otherwise here.)
Estelle Does a character making poor decisions affect the likability of the book for you? I’m curious about this.
Magan No, I actually just didn’t think a lot of things made sense here. I hated the main character in TEASE, but ultimately really enjoyed that book.
Estelle Do we put too much of ourselves in the characters we are reading? (I’m not even sure I would have run away.) Can we explain what didn’t make sense without telling secrets?
Magan I think a lot of things felt contrived for me. I don’t feel like I can say specifically because I don’t want to ruin the book, but things blew up and escalated so much and there were a few surprises that I didn’t anticipate, but one in particular about a character I didn’t really find believable.
Estelle I hope that paragraph piques the interest of every one of our readers because I read it and I’m like TELL ME I WANT TO KNOW WHAT WHAT. I’ve read a few other thrillers this year, and those experiences really shaped how I felt about this one. While I enjoyed them and I’m not sad I read them, I think Martinez really succeeded in places they didn’t.
Magan That makes a lot of sense to me. You have recent reads to compare it to. There were great surprises too. I really loved that there were times I just did NOT know what to think about a character. IS HE GOOD? Do I trust him?
Estelle YES EXACTLY. She kept surprising me, she made me fall in love with Miami when I should have hated it, and she made me suspicious of every single character we came in contact with. I don’t think many authors can make you laugh in the middle of some crazy tale like this one either. That’s why I keep bringing up the dialogue. It felt so pitch perfect and natural. That’s hard to do.
Magan I think the suspicion of the characters was a definite positive for me. Especially when it came to the brothers, I was curious, but also felt a little skeezy when I read about her posing for Lucien’s paintings (and they were so innocent).
Estelle Oh agree. It was so so creepy.
Magan I think this will for sure be a read that people will discuss. A lot of it will come down to how black and white you are when it comes to right and wrong. Do you agree?
Estelle Ah! I don’t know how to answer that. I do? I mean, it almost a little controversial. More than anything I appreciate a book that challenges me to think about why a character is doing something and sometimes why a character doesn’t think things through before they move forth with a decision.
Magan I feel like by asking you that question I had this little self-realization. I think I do tend to categorize things into neat little bubbles. I don’t like grey areas. And for me, the family situation was absolutely wrong. There is no question that I had very strong feelings about it. I think that might be why I didn’t understand her interferences. How could she do what she did when she too felt things were so wrong? That’s when things got messy for me. Am I making sense at all?
Estelle I’m reading those questions out loud to myself. Maybe she just went a little nuts? That’s all I got. I think it makes sense. I didn’t get it either. But maybe that goes back to what we were saying before about her being two different things. She acts adult but also childlike and she was sort of throwing a tantrum and taking control.
Magan I think that’s a really great way of putting it. Honestly. So many contradictions.
Estelle It’s uncomfortable for any reader, which is why (and I say this sadly) I know it won’t be for everyone. This is how I feel about Terra McVoy’s IN DEEP as well. (Two recs in one!)
Magan Woot woot! (Still need to read that one.) That’s the thing — even with my reservations about her decisions, I’m not disappointed I read it.
Estelle You’ve read a few other books by Jessica. Don’t you agree it’s so hard to compare them because they are totally different animals?
Magan Yes! I think I’ve just read this one and Virtuosity (haven’t read The Vow yet). In my experience, the common thread is that she likes to clash family members against one another. That’s where the drama stems from in both of those.
Estelle Also the contrasts in decision making and behavior, too. I was just rereading my review of The Vow and I said “is it immaturity or idealism” that makes these characters decide certain things.
Magan Mmmm. Very nice, E.
Estelle There are truly SO many ways to view a story, and I can’t say enough about being given that opportunity. So many times we are spoon-fed beliefs and reasons behind actions in books. Even though you and I didn’t feel the same about the book, I’m so exhilarated by our conversation and even more blown away. This is what reading and discussing these books are all about.
Magan I agree! I’ve really been looking forward to talking about this one, knowing we felt so differently. In the past, we’ve had very similar feelings on many of the books we’ve reviewed together. I love that I can see and understand how you felt, even if I didn’t relate in the same way.
Estelle Exactly! Any final thoughts on Kiss Kill Vanish? Buy, Borrow, Worth It or Skip for you?
Magan Oh, geez. I think it falls between Borrow and Worth It for me. It would make a great book club book — so many different responses to it, I’m sure!
Estelle One thing I wanted to point out was the diversity of the characters in the book. Martinez always seems to get swept under the rug when it comes to this even when she does it well! So yet again, loved the subtly there. As for my rating, definitely a buy it. First of all, the cover is beautiful and second, I have to read this one again because it seems like a book where you discovering something new each time you read it. (Sidenote: there’s a part with feet that grossed me out and almost made me cry. Had to mention it.)
Magan Oh, geez. Yep, that part wasn’t fun at all. I do think depending on what you’re going through at the time you read this, you might have differing opinions.
Estelle Totally. And if you think this might not be your cup of tea, I highly recommend The Vow (which just came out in paperback!).

♥

Add KISS KILL VANISH to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Buy from Barnes & Noble

Have you read Kiss Kill Vanish? What did you think? 

If you’re on the fence about KISS KILL VANISH, Barnes & Noble is having a sale! Click the link below to save a few dollars!
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