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Just Wanna Have Fun | Jesse’s Girl by Miranda Kenneally

What can I say about the Hundred Oaks series? When Catching Jordan first released, my love for YA was gradually building and it holds a special place in my heart. With six of her books tucked in my bookshelf, I’ve come to depend on Kenneally for a strong female leads, sweet and sexy romance, and […]

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July 30, 2015 - 1:59 am

Lucy - I’ve only read one book in this series so I was very happy to see this awesome feature and giveaway! This book sounds like another fantastic installment. The music, 80s references, humor, and friendship/family elements appeal to me.

July 29, 2015 - 12:33 am

Kailia Sage - I’ve only read 2 books in the series but I really enjoyed them! Honestly, I don’t like country music but I’ll read a book about country singers anyway!

July 28, 2015 - 8:12 pm

Alexa S. - I loved Jesse’s Girl! As always, it’s charming + clever, and has such a sweet romance. I definitely enjoyed reading about Maya and Jesse and their magical day together – and what happens after that day 😉

Religion in YA Books • Dive Into Diversity

Each Sunday, I found myself driving down the back roads of our small town with my grandparents, headed to our tiny Catholic church. I was baptized there and participated as a reader, attended Sunday school, and in high school was confirmed, too. I didn’t really know anything other than Catholicism until my sophomore year in […]

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March 11, 2015 - 11:12 am

Magan - Crystal, that’s awesome! Thank you so much for sharing those book recommendations! I really appreciate it! :)

March 6, 2015 - 6:34 pm

Crystal - I found A Time to Dance to be a wonderful exploration of religion and spirituality. I reviewed it here http://richincolor.com/2014/07/review-a-time-to-dance/. Also, the new book Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein has more about religion than I expected. There is a contrast between the Ethiopian church (orthodox) and the Friends (Quakers) that the main characters have been part of in the past.

February 23, 2015 - 11:32 am

Magan - Jamie, thanks SO much for sharing your story and the great recommendations. I haven’t read either of the books you’ve mentioned so I’ll be adding them to my TBR right now. I’m so glad you shared! xoxox

February 23, 2015 - 11:31 am

Magan - Elizabeth, you know what — you’re so right. I definitely haven’t read a lot of books with Jehovah’s Witness. THANK YOU for letting us know about Brown Girl Dreaming! I enjoy how trilogies can explore religion by really making up their own as well. I think it’s a good way to get people thinking about things without being so explicit.

February 23, 2015 - 11:23 am

Magan - Katie, I SO hope you check out the books! And I’m so thankful for your recommendation too. Going to head to Goodreads to check it out! I just don’t understand why there aren’t a ton of religious exploration books out there. I know a lot of teens are questioning this. It felt like SUCH a big deal to me in high school.

February 16, 2015 - 10:03 pm

Katie @ Bookish Illuminations - Magan,

I love this post! This is exactly the kind of discussion I love–religion and spirituality in literature, especially children’s and YA. I agree with you–there isn’t as much religion in YA as I think there should be, and I hope that publishing trend changes in the near future.

I haven’t read any of these books you mentioned, but knowing that they focus on characters struggling with questions of faith and religion makes me me want to check them out. I think being curious about these issues is healthy and reflects a more authentic spirituality.

I would so welcome more YA novels that reflected characters expressing their spirituality/religion or struggling with those big questions in life that we often associate with religion and spirituality.

I always try to tease out any spiritual dimensions I find in the books I review–in a very broad sense–but it’s rare that I find books engaging with religion and spirituality in a more specific way. One book that comes to mind with a clear spiritual dimension and that does engage with religion in a refreshing way is The Orphans of Race Point by Patry Francis. It’s not YA, but I think YA readers who are mature could read it.

February 15, 2015 - 12:20 am

Alexa S. - Honestly, I love reading about characters who have strong ideals or struggles with religion. It’s a quest that every individual goes through on their own at some point, trying to make sense of things and decide what to believe in. The books you’ve included, particularly Kenneally’s novels, are great examples of books that tackle religion in a way that feels organic, thoughtful and interesting. Would be awesome to read more books featuring all sorts of religion!

February 10, 2015 - 3:46 pm

Elizabeth - This is only fresh on my mind because I just finished Brown Girl Dreaming last night, but she talks a bit about growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness, which is something that I have not ever read about anywhere. It was an experience I appreciated reading about, even though I’m not particularly religious myself. I also enjoyed the role of religion in a couple of fantasy trilogies I’ve read– The Girl of Fire and Thorns series and His Fair Assassin series both features fairly pious main characters, though those religions were fictional ones. But on the whole, religion or spirituality are not very prominent in the books I read.

February 10, 2015 - 3:38 pm

Jamie - I grew up only going to church on Christmas and Easter and sometimes to sunday school with my neighbors and VBS in the summer. Then in 8th grade I started going to youth group at a baptist church with a friend (because of a boy and all the boys certainly made me keep going haha). I stayed and got really involved and then made the decision to go to a Christian college. Between my mom passing away and just my experience AT that college I walked away more confused than ever. So I love seeing religion explored in a way that isn’t like Christian fiction or trying to convert someone. Like truly I feel like wrestling with what you believe in or don’t believe in is a huge part of one’s life experience. Especially in the face of death when you really look at like “hey what do I believe in…will I see them again? Is there nothing after death??” I mean, I get panicky at night STILL wrestling with these things.

So yeah I really love seeing it! And not just Christianity. I love seeing all faiths though obviously Christianity is what I’m most familiar with and can relate to.

I recently read No Parking In The End Times and I thought it dealt with wrestling with your faith really well. The girl believes in God and grew up in the church and then her dad gets involved with this cult-like end time group and through this experience she really reevaluates her beliefs and struggles with if she believes in God at all. It was really thought-provoking though I think if people don’t like reading about people who have faith and are wrestling with it probably won’t enjoy it.

I also read Like No Other by Una LaMarche and that was SUCH a good book and the main character was a Hasidic Jew and I loved how it looked at her religion and her culture and how an event really made her question things!

February 10, 2015 - 1:35 pm

Magan - Valeria, every question you posed in your comment is EXAXTLY what I was thinking here. You are spot on. I really feel like I’m missing out on culturizing myself by not seeing this in my reading. It makes the books less unique, I think, and all of the characters a greater melting pot. I want to learn and grow and be pushed to encounter differences. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

February 10, 2015 - 1:30 pm

Magan - Thank you, Andi! I haven’t read that one by Terra, but fully intend to ass it to my TBR list! Thanks so much for contributing!

February 10, 2015 - 1:29 pm

Magan - Thanks for your comment, Jen! I agree – in mainstream YA I’m not seeing a lot of exploration of other faiths. I don’t temd to read actual targeted Christian fiction from a store like Lifeway. I guess I’m pretty surprised that religion is really skipped over in our young adult books. Even if it’s not the primary focus, couldn’t it play a minor role? I haven’t read those books you listed but I am so intrigued! Thanks for sharing!

February 10, 2015 - 1:25 pm

Magan - Bruna, that’s my point – I’m not seeing a lot of those other cultures and religions well-represented at all. I do understand your point of this not being in every book because some people just really don’t want to read about it. Out of curiosity, have you read any books with any religion aspects you’ve found did a good job incorporating it as part of the discussion without it being the sole focus?

February 10, 2015 - 1:20 pm

Magan - Rachel, you’re so right about HOW TO LOVE. I has forgotten that. Subtle, yes, but still a part of the story. Coming from a catholic background, I fully understood how she would have felt being pregnant and her parents reactions. The story would have felt less complete without that i think. Also, thanks for the sweet comment. I’m really glad you found this interesting!

February 10, 2015 - 1:18 pm

Magan - It really seems to be lacking, Brianna. You bring up a great point about the Holocaust. I haven’t read a book focusing on that time with a religious aspect either.

February 10, 2015 - 11:56 am

Brianna - I can’t think of a single book off the top of my head, YA or otherwise, where religion plays a prominent role (other than memoir). Even Holocaust literature doesn’t really talk about the religious aspects of those peoples’ lives.

February 10, 2015 - 11:55 am

Rachel @ Hello, Chelly - Magan, I love that you wrote about this! I was at a similar crossroads during college (I was brought up Catholic but some of my relatives belonged to a Baptist church). I agree this topic isn’t explored enough in books but I would like to see more of it. One book that did come to mind is HOW TO LOVE by Katie Cotugno. Religion/Catholicism plays a role but a subtle one. But I always find myself thinking of it when I look back on that book (which happens to be one of my all-time favorites). Great post!

February 10, 2015 - 11:30 am

Bruna - Interesting discussion. Religion is not something I see a lot in the books I read, and to be honest, I don’t think is something I would normally seek out. I have struggles with what I actually do believe in and I am already so surrounded by people in real life wanting to push their religions on me that I feel that books are a way to scape that. If is something completely different from my culture, like Islam or other non-Western religions I might be interested; or discussions on atheism or agnosticism. But as far catholicism goes, I just rather do without it.

February 10, 2015 - 10:28 am

Jen Ellision - I wish I had some from other faiths to add, but the only books I can think of that explore faith are of a Christian slant.

I read it a while ago and I believe it’s Christian fiction YA, but if I recall the Lisa Tawn Bergren’s River of Time series had some good exploration on faith… not heavy-handed at all, which has been my problem with some Christian fiction. Plus the series is adorable time travel historical romance YA.

Jackson Pearce’s Purity may have had a little exploration too, but I seem to recall it being more about the character’s relationship with her dad than church…

February 10, 2015 - 9:54 am

Andi - I loved reading Small Town Sinner. I was so intrigued by that kind of subject. One that I read that I really enjoyed was Pure by Terra Élan McVoy. Really interesting look at teens with purity rings, waiting until marriage to have sex and what happens when someone goes against that or you yourself thinks about going against it.

Great post Magan.

February 10, 2015 - 9:20 am

Valeria @ A Touch of Book Madness - I love that you raised these questions. I have to agree with you. Other than Christian fiction which, as the genre suggests, deals with a lot of religious issues, I don’t see it anywhere in YA. I would love to see it reflected, and much like you be able to learn about other beliefs and cultures. People tend to focus on other diversity issues, but religion always seems to be pushed aside. Why is that?

You’re Invited: A Fictional Birthday Party

Greetings, friends! It’s early, I know. (Well, depending on where you are, of course, but I’m going to imagine you woke up at 8 a.m. to read this.) You are dressed in the outfit that makes you feel your best and headed to a party to celebrate yours truly and the big “omg I’m 30” […]

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February 15, 2015 - 12:14 am

Alexa S. - Best birthday party ever, E! Loved your post and loved hearing about why these characters would be at your festivities. It sounds like we all will have a festive night 😉

February 13, 2015 - 12:07 pm

Sue Holmes - Yay!! Thank you so much :) I can’t believe I won. jumping up and down with excitement!!
I have just emailed you.
Thank you!!

February 12, 2015 - 9:25 pm

Ann - Dot from Ketchup Clouds! She’s so fun!

February 11, 2015 - 6:00 pm

Kimberly V - Happy Birthday! I almost hate to admit it, but I would have to invite Edward from Twilight. That is the series that introduced me to the young adult genre.

February 11, 2015 - 10:35 am

Nadia - I’d invite Will Herondale so I can make out with him. Woops.

February 11, 2015 - 9:32 am

Amy Deatherage - I’d like Jordan from Catching Jordan to hangout with my daughter & talk about sports & college. I need some help keeping things in perspective. And she needs someone to talk to that understands her stress.

February 10, 2015 - 4:09 pm

Daiane - This is a very special event because it’s the first fictional party I have ever attended! Can we just take a moment and squeal that Skylar from ” I’ll meet you there” is actually here. Omg! This definitely made the birthday party a wholeee lot better!

February 9, 2015 - 11:53 am

Yun-a - I’d love to invite the Song family as well (although I guess that makes it 4, not 1). My mom could even get non-salty bossam!

February 8, 2015 - 5:46 pm

Ashley - I was initially going to say Levi from Fangirl because he has such a sunny personality, but then I remembered REAGAN from Fangirl. I think we would get along famously!

February 7, 2015 - 5:14 pm

Michelle Lee - I would definitely invite Lara Jean because she and I would get along well and eat kimchi together! haha thank you for this amazing chance! :)

February 7, 2015 - 2:00 pm

Crystal - I love the idea of such a party. I would totally go. :)

February 7, 2015 - 11:56 am

Jessica D - I would love it if Jordan came to my party! She would dominate at any backyard games we’d play if it were an outdoor party…that would make things so much more fun! Great post :)

February 7, 2015 - 9:25 am

Lorena - I would love to invite Gabe!!!

February 7, 2015 - 2:56 am

Sue Holmes - What a clever post idea! Its my birthday this month and now I’m dreaming up my own party! Who to invite… Eleanor and Park will be at the top of my list along with Karou from Daughter of Smoke and Bone and The Mad Hatter.
Thank you for including us (from beyond), I promise it’s not the moon – just South Africa!

February 7, 2015 - 1:43 am

Holly J - Oh gosh, who would I invite? Okay, for starters definitely Nikolai from The Grisha. He’s hilarious and fun and would know how to throw a good party. I’d also love to chill with the crew from Anna, Lola, and Isla. They’re all pretty awesome and laidback. Oh, and to top it off, let’s get the cast of The Infernal Devices series to come too.

Happy Birthday!! :)

February 6, 2015 - 4:56 pm

Sa Lopes - Ah. This is soo cute! Happy Birthday! And I hope you got all the gossip you could get out of these characters!

February 6, 2015 - 11:24 am

Cynthia @ Afterwritten - HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY!!! This is such a wonderful and creative post, wow! This sounds like the best birthday party ever. I recently read Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White and I love all the characters in that book so much (apart from the villain, who is far too terrifyingly villainous), we would have the best party ever together.

February 6, 2015 - 12:47 am

Toni - I forgot to delete the ‘belated’ word on my comment, sorry!

February 6, 2015 - 12:41 am

Toni - Happy birthday!(belated) One character I would like to invite to my party? Hmm.Definitely Magnus Bane! He knows how to throw cool and sparkly parties!

February 6, 2015 - 12:23 am

Dianne - Happy birthday, Estelle! I realize no one might know her but I’ll invite Isis Blake from Lovely Vicious. I think it’s a little indie gem and I love her so much. She’s sassy and sarcastic and smart(mouthed) and I want to bond with her. <3 Ack, I feel so lame with my answer.

February 5, 2015 - 6:36 pm

Summer - Happy Birthday! This was such a fun post to read. There are so many characters that I adore, it’s hard to choose. Maybe I’d go with a character from one of the few chick lit novels I read last year, The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane. Her name is Nean, she’s scrappy and sarcastic and she made me laugh, so I figure she’d liven up a party.

February 5, 2015 - 1:10 pm

Nattie N - Since my birthday is coming up soon too, I think I would have to chose Izzy Lightwood from The Mortal Instruments. I mean, she could tell me what to wear and do my hair and I would absolutely love to get to know her C: Although Magnus Bane wouldn’t be a bad choice either…

Happy Birthday darling! I hope you have/had a wonderful day filled with love and presents and BOOKS :3 If that was your birthday party, there would be 100% chance of me gatecrashing c:

February 5, 2015 - 12:54 pm

Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook - Aww, Happy birthday, Estelle! I love this post, and your party. I would have a great time.

If I could invite one fictional character – oh my gosh, it’s so hard to decide. I think I would Lizzie Bennet from The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet because I want to hear all her snarky comments. And also, maybe she will bring Darcy, and Jane and Lydia and that would be AMAZING! Oh and Charlotte! I want her to bring Charlotte, too.

February 5, 2015 - 12:33 pm

Ashley @ The Caffeinated Booknerd - As I’m reading I’ll Meet You There Now, I’d have to agree with Skylar. I’d invite her in a heartbeat. Thanks for the giveaway!

February 5, 2015 - 11:05 am

vicky - I’d so love to invite Rose Hathaway

February 5, 2015 - 10:43 am

Tiff @ Mostly YA Lit - Happy birthday, loveliest of Estelles!

One of the first things I thought of after the SuperBowl was “I wonder how Jordan feels about this – also Henry!”

I’m also dying to talk to both Sky and Josh. I want to hug them both.

This would be the best birthday party ever – and not just because of the guests, but because you are beautiful and awesome. Hope you have an amazing day.

February 5, 2015 - 10:32 am

heather - I would have to have Ron Weasley & my birthday party because he would be so fun!

February 5, 2015 - 8:20 am

Lisa @ Bookish Broads - I am SO at this party! And not JUST for the guac, but that certainly is a big selling point.

Happy Birthday, gorgeous!

On a Personal Note: A “Brave” Reminder

“I might be a little scared.” “That’s awesome.” “No, it’s not,” I said. “Yes, it is, because you can only be brave if you’re scared.” – from The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson ↔ Last week, I flew through The Impossible Knife of Memory (why did it take me so long to […]

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October 20, 2014 - 7:54 pm

Liz - I really enjoy this post, and I hope your new job is off to a great start. I’m sure you’re doing great. I personally have only read ME BEFORE YOU of all of these, but now I know what to have in mind when I want something along these lines. To me, JUST ONE DAY and JUST ONE YEAR are kind of about bravery, too. I can’t wait to see more of your recommendations along this same line!

September 10, 2014 - 2:31 pm

Cassie @ Happy Book Lovers - Now I’ve got a list for when I jump into something new!

You are going to be awesome at your new job, and like you, I’m always nervous and always worrying, but once it happens, change is good. I think it keeps things interesting and fresh. And it’s awesome that books are inspirational! I mean, yes, as bookworms, we all know this, but I think sometimes we forget.

I’m saving this list for when I move, I’m officially planning to relocate to NYC soon! Exciting and terrifying! :)

September 7, 2014 - 12:43 pm

Mawa Mahima - Yes, first days are always dreadful…but thanks for the list Estelle! Good luck on your new job too :)
Luckily my first day back went pretty well, I mean when you’re pretty well versed at the art of the first day, then you tend to not get too worked up on the actual day. Needless to say, I was a nervous mess the night before (and I still don’t know why). It all turns out alright of course. :)

September 5, 2014 - 11:38 am

Alexa S. - Being brave is something that I have to choose to do constantly. I’ve come a long, long way from the days when I was an introvert, scared of my own shadow, and unwilling to take risks, especially if I felt like I would mess it up or everything would go wrong. I know you’re going to embrace your bravery and do an amazing job at your new job, complete with learning + mistakes along the way. YOU GOT THIS, E!

Also, your book suggestions are totally spot on. I can’t wait to read the latter two – There Will Come a Time + Like No Other – soon!

September 3, 2014 - 9:48 pm

Ginger @ GReads! - As someone who has just taken a giant leap into something new, I found this blog post to be very inspirational. So thank you for that. I agree that being nervous shows you care. At 33 years old, I STILL get those Sunday night jitters. But I also know in the end, everything will be okay. I’ve learned to take this leap with my eyes wide open. Ask as many questions as I can, to not be afraid of making a mistake, and soak up this experience as much as possible.

Estelle, I hope the new frontier has been wonderful so far. You’ve been on my mind! Here’s to new beginnings & the journey ahead, xo.

September 2, 2014 - 1:36 pm

Meg - Thinking of you on your first day at the new job! Totally agree that you’re nervous because you really do care and want everything to work out well, which is very normal. Like you, I once stayed up into the wee hours unable to shut my mind off before a first day of school, a big test, a new job . . . but I’m sure only great things are afoot. Love this list, too! Lots of new-to-me titles I’ll have to look up.

September 2, 2014 - 12:57 pm

Jen @Fefferbooks - I adore this list! I feel like really, no one else knows what the heck they’re doing, either. Some of us just fake it really well. 😉 We’re all a little scared, sometimes, and all a little clueless. But sometimes, we all really rock. Have a great first day! Be awesome!!

September 2, 2014 - 10:25 am

Brianna - Good luck at the new job! I love Laurie Halse Anderson, so I’ll have to look for this one. I like to believe I’m brave, but the reality is there’s a terrified person on the inside who is dealing with some tough stuff and doesn’t know what’s going to happen.

Shelve It: New Books / New Friends / Giveaway

I wonder if I’ll ever NOT be amazed by how fast time is flying. It’s practically been a month since I’ve done one of these, and when I was getting my books together — I was pleasantly surprised how few i’ve bought in the last few weeks. Go me? Don’t get me wrong; so many […]

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July 28, 2014 - 8:44 pm

Alexa S. - I think you got some pretty excellent things book-wise, if you ask me! I still want a copy of Jojo Moyes’ books :) Happy reading!

July 27, 2014 - 4:54 pm

tabithasbookblog - Breathe, Annie, Breathe was so good! It ended up being one of my favorites in the Hundred Oaks series, so I’m interested in hearing what your thoughts are. (or have you already read it)?

And then Blazed looks really good! I’m going to look into it.

July 27, 2014 - 2:59 pm

Brianna - I’m a new reader to your blog. I can’t wait to check out your reviews!

It’s Here: Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally

Christmas has come early at Rather Be Reading! We are really excited to present you with the cover of Miranda Kenneally’s upcoming novel: Breathe, Annie, Breathe. We have been huge fans of Miranda’s work since the release of Catching Jordan: she writes about brave young women with different backgrounds, beliefs, goals, and dreams. We love […]

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January 28, 2014 - 7:14 am

Judith - I’m kind of sad they changed the cover for this one and I haven’t even read this series yet! But like Alexa said, I adore that it’s illustrated. Illustrated covers are often my favorites. Everyone and their mother makes me want to read this series, so I probably should, right? It sounds adorable.

January 6, 2014 - 6:58 pm

Alexa S. - This book cover is so very different from the others! I do like the fact that it looks illustrated though, and I can’t wait to read it :)

December 23, 2013 - 9:20 pm

Lisa - I love this!

December 23, 2013 - 1:12 pm

Maggie @ Just a Couple More Pages - I am so shocked that they’re branching out with the look of this one. I like it, but it still seems so crazy!

December 23, 2013 - 12:25 pm

Lucy @ The Reading Date - Love the cover! Such a different vibe than the other books in the series. Speaking of which, I need to binge read the Hundred Oaks series soon, especially since y’all love it so much.