Chirp, Chirp: I Stand with Cricket

I jumped back into the world of Nantucket Blue (and Red) this past week and when I finished, I was overcome with the fear that Cricket has flown under the radar as one of the more memorable young adult female main characters of the past two years. Granted, when I first met Cricket, she and I were going through similar situations but I always admired her tenacity and her loyalty – finding a way to Nantucket to support her best friend even when she wasn’t wanted.

Nantucket Blue and Nantucket Red by Leila Howland

I like the way Cricket sees the world – the one where best friends mean forever (each detailed memory engrained into who you are), where people need to stop pretending and dig themselves out of their ruts, and how making effort equates to fixing things. No other discussion needed. I see the world in a similar light, and it’s difficult and mind-blowing when others can’t fathom things that are so obvious to you.

Even though I don’t think she was actively dismissing her feelings about everything in her life (depressed mom, distant dad, best friend a stranger), Cricket shows us that you can’t avoid reality forever. Somehow, just somehow, it will suddenly stand in your way and you will just have to deal with it — whether this means confrontation or acceptance. Or maybe a little bit of both.

This is why growing up is this ongoing process. You really do have to pick your battles and even by the end of Nantucket Blue, we are not so sure where Cricket stands with anything. I don’t want to spoil anything for you but the character growth in Nantucket Red is some of the best I’ve ever read. No longer is Cricket fixated on what she was in the first book. Now she is going with the flow, testing the waters, and again, I couldn’t help but feel admiration for her and how she went about her life.

No one can tell us when to stop fighting for something. Lost love or lost friendship. Sometimes you do have to put yourself first. It’s not a selfish move. It’s what you have to do to survive, to make do, and maybe, just maybe, if you are patient, life will come full circle and you will be presented with a lovely gift – a second chance.

The struggles Cricket faced in Nantucket Red hit me in my sweet spot again (seriously, is Leila Howland reading the journal I have not been writing in?) because she fears moving forward, disappointing people, making the wrong decision, and oh, the pressure – to be good at everything, to be good to everyone, and figure out how all of that is going to make for a successful and happy life. How do people juggle it all? How does anyone manage to make a decision in the first place?

So Nantucket Red finds Cricket growing into her independence but still – don’t you worry – making mistakes, and these flaws are just what make her so real to me. She fucks up more than once, she questions her decisions and what people think of her, she wants to be liked and loved, and wants to be SURE about all the things we ALL want to be sure about.

And I appreciate all of those qualities in her. I think my biggest personal LIFE takeaway in the past three years is that I’d rather own my imperfections than be someone I’m not so it’s no surprise that I have a growing affection for characters in my reading life that are so nuanced. I’m not going to be a well-mannered, logical, always-has-her-shit-together person most of the time (seriously, I discovered dry cereal stuck to my pajamas this weekend) and I don’t want the characters I spend time with to fit in these perfect boxes either.

This post is not only about sharing Cricket with you but also a reminder to me – to be fearless, to be assertive, to do what I think is right even if it all turns out okay only half the time, and be a little less afraid to let go even at the most crucial of life moments.


Nantucket Blue + Nantucket Red were written by the lovely and talented Leila Howland. (Visit her new site!)

NB on Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | My review | Gift pack+ NR on Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

Stay Warm: Nantucket Blue Themed Gift Pack

I don’t know about you but when it’s 8 degrees outside and you have to wear about 12 layers to walk a few blocks, all you want is summer. (Sun, and all things hot…)  All I want to do is imagine cute clothes, ice cream cones, and long walks in the sunshine.  At least for now, we can all escape the winter doldrums with a good book. Am I right?

Let’s talk about Nantucket Blue. Debut writer Leila Howland blew me away with her tale of a Cricket’s unexpected summer spent in Nantucket after a best friend break up and huge changes back at home. From vibrant supporting characters to a whoa-whoa-whoa electric romantic interest and trying to figure out why her best friendship no longer exists, Nantucket Blue remains one of my top YA discoveries. And the setting! Nantucket. I promise you will feel warm and cozy in no time (and probably ready to book a plane ticket too).

While there’s no better way to channel summer then by picking up Nantucket Blue, how about we do a little shopping too? It was a blast to piece together this themed gift pack because nautical is one of my favorite themes in decor, clothing, whatever. If it’s nautical I probably love it. Hope you enjoy this glimpse into the book, as we await the warmer weather and, most importantly, the highly anticipated follow-up to Nantucket Blue: Nantucket Red.

Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland Themed Gift Pack

1. I think it’s obvious from most of this mood board that I’ve gone pretty nautical with my picks. I cannot help it! When I think of Nantucket, I think of boats and dressing neat and preppy. How cute is this scarf from the Gap?

2. Kate Spade has the cutest spring line right now featuring everything nautical. It was so hard for me to narrow it down but since Cricket spends most of her summer on the go… how could I not go with this over-sized pouch. You can use these for your electronic devices but lately I’ve been packing jewelry and important papers in them.

3. When I talked to Magan about this gift pack, she was like CRICKET SHOULD BRING SOMETHING TO NANTUCKET TO MAKE HER FEEL AT HOME. Okay, she didn’t scream it but I loved the idea. A pillow is easy to pack, and the saying is pretty indicative of most of Cricket’s moves in Nantucket Blue. (Paper Presentation)

4. Here’s another Magan inspired pick. When Fossil sent out an email about their newest line of watches, we were both drooling over this mint green one. And Cricket needs it. To make it to her stops over the summer — working at the hotel, interning, and catching time with her romantic interest.

5. I’m always looking for the best way to transport all my belongings for a short weekend away. Since Cricket is gone for most of the summer, I think this Kate Spade Saturday Weekender Bag is the way to go. The zippered shoe compartment is a great feature.

6. And last but certainly not least… this dress is inspired by one of my favorite moments in Nantucket Blue. And one I could totally relate to. It may not be an exact replica of what actually transpires (or ends up in Cricket’s closet) but it’s colorful, it’s youthful, and I think rightfully represents the happier parts of this very different kind of summer for our main character. (Guys, I was not kidding about the splurge. This dress is $348 from Anthropologie. A girl can dream…)


Don’t forget to pick up a copy of Nantucket Blue, too!

Stay cozy, friends!

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!

Estelle’s Shelve It for 6/23/2013: Books, Pals + Events, Oh My!

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


Why oh why do these summer weekends go so fast? I’ve had a great couple of days celebrating a friend’s birthday, seeing Monsters University (so cute!) and hanging out with a few fancy bloggers at Books of Wonder this afternoon! I was so thrilled to finally meet Leila Howland, author Nantucket Blue, too! She is such a gracious, sweet, adorable gal and I can’t wait to see where her career takes her. It’s been such a pleasure to follow her and her debut! (Ahem, go read it. Go.)

Here are a few pictures from today’s event at Books of Wonder!

Leila Howland Nantucket Blue with Bloggers 6232013 - 2

From left to right: Estelle, Leila, Rachel from Rachel Reads, Alexa from Alexa Loves Books, Betty from Book Rock Betty, and Gaby from Ella Bee Reads.

Leila Howland Nantucket Blue and Estelle from Rather Be Reading

Leila Howland Nantucket Blue with Bloggers 6232013 - 1

Um, each and every one of these ladies are AWESOME. Visit their blogs, tweet them, be their friends, and then drink beer (or wine) with them. You will not be sorry.

I also filmed one of these:

Books mentioned:

Burning by Elana K. Arnold (Rachel Reads review) thanks Elana!

Mason Jar Crafts by Lauren Elise Donaldson thanks Lauren!

>> Cottage Journal is Lauren’s blog!

The Secret Ingredient by Stewart Lewis thank Shanyn!

The Distance Between Us by Kasie West (July 2nd release)

Jessica Darling’s It List by Megan McCafferty (September 3rd release)


What you might have missed this week:

My eee! review of Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

Magan tells us about Jennifer Echols’ Dirty Little Secret

Sweet Summertime Reads: our beach bags for night and day!

My first review of a re-read: Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares


Help me with this book hangover, I beg you! Dangerous Girls ruined me! (But I am also so so glad that it did.) What have you read lately that absolutely blew you away? Tell me, tell me!

Thanks again for stopping in! Enjoy your week and as always, happy reading!