A Toast to Time & the Future

Dear friends and readers,

Happy December 1! I can’t believe it’s the last month of 2015. It feels like just yesterday that we were picking our favorite books of 2014 and getting all excited about the new work we’d be going gaga over in 2015. But here we are and what a year it’s been. So much of December feels like a time of reflection and to tie up loose ends so I thought it was best to post today about the future of Rather Be Reading.

In November, Magan and I hit the 4-year mark with RBR. Four years. I can’t believe it. When M and I started this project all those years ago, we barely knew each other and now we have shared big birthdays, family trips, life milestones, and so many ups and downs together. With this blog, our friendship has become so strong, so important to both of us — despite our distance. When you meet people from far away (which inevitably happens in online communities), it’s so easy to break away from one another (I mean, that’s easy in other relationships) because it takes such effort to stay in touch, bridging time between visits. The blog has always been a way to for us to touch base, our version of coffee dates, the group we belong to, the common interest that brought us together. It’s safe to say 4 years ago, M and I were both searching for something more in our lives and that’s part of the reason why RBR was born. It’s fulfilled so much for each of us: a creative outlet, a platform to express ourselves and share our stories, and a connection to other authors and other smart people in ways we never imagined.

It’s inevitable that four years brings a lot of change too. Think about the four years between freshman and senior year of high school, and then of college. It’s so crazy to think about. Sometimes you don’t even feel like the same person. So many factors have pushed and pulled you in different directions and sometimes the reason why you did something changes, sometimes the way you feel about it changes too.

Truth be told: Magan and I made a video about our feelings on blogging when she visited New York in early October. I was supposed to put it up, but I just couldn’t. So much of what we discussed I’ve said above. How you can love something so fiercely and how that love can change. Sometimes you just want to embark on something different, and in other instances, you just don’t have the time you used to. Without speaking too much for M, I think it’s a mix of both. But most importantly, it’s about being a team. We love working together so, very much but the time just isn’t there like it used to be.

So what am I saying exactly? Well, December will be the last month of updates on RBR. It’s a sad announcement to make, but sometimes things just reach a natural end and that’s where we are right now. (Don’t worry; at the end of the month, I’ll make sure you know where you can reach us both!)

We are so appreciative of your comments, your thoughts, your imaginations, and your friendship for the past few years. Thank you so much for listening to our stories, sharing your own, and also bringing so many beautiful, memorable books in our lives.

Here’s to a wonderful December full of kindness, thoughtfulness, and concluding this chapter on a high note.

xoxoMagan and Estelle in October 2015

Good morning (good day) to you and you and you

Hi, how are you?!

I’m trying something new over here this morning. (Actually, it’s Sunday night and I’m watching The Talking Dead and trying not to feel devastated.) So hello. Hope your weekend was excellent. I caught up with an old, amazing friend, stuffed myself with lovely biscuits and grilled cheese, actually sat down to watch a movie (Love & Mercy — so good), and made a beer & cheddar soup. (God, I had a lot of cheese this weekend.) I even FaceTimed with my mom — which is a rare feat because she works a lot.

Good Things Are Going to Happen

More positive thoughts at The Berry.

The big/shocking news: October is over in less than a week. What is happening with this year? I can’t even understand the speed in which it has been moving. I’m starting to get anxious like HAVE I DONE ENOUGH WITH MY YEAR or DO I HAVE ENOUGH TIME LEFT TO DO [FILL IN THE BLANK]? The half-full answer, of course, is YES TOTALLY and the half-empty answer is OMG AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO HASN’T STARTED CHRISTMAS SHOPPING? It’s fine, I’m good. I just want to be really present in enjoying the rest of the year. (Is this the yoga talking?)

So what am I reading? I just finished I Crawl Through It by A.S. King, which was energizing as a reader because the format and writing was so different. I love how King takes chances with her book and makes me say wtf a lot. Next up? I’m dying to jump into a romance but until I find one I feel like reading, I decided to check out Young Widows Club by Alexandra Coutts. Another unique concept (17-year old widow!?) with a more straightforward approach. The book hits shelves on November 10.

Library Haul October 25

Latest from the library: The Last Love Song by Tracy Daughtery; All American Boys by Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely; The Borrowers by Mary Norton.

What am I looking forward to this week? Hitting the half-way point with #30DaysofYoga — had a few hiccups this month but I’m sticking with it and loving it. A new episode of The Muppets on Tuesday — hooray! THE WORLD SERIES IS STARTING. I might not be an Mets fan but I think this series is going to be so, so juicy and great plus I have a thing for Mr. Met. (I’m not looking forward to the train situation in Queens on Friday though.) And… my husband might be getting his BAR EXAM results this week. Eek, I’m trying not think about it so pretend I didn’t say anything.

Here’s a little procrastination when you need it: I’ve been having SUCH trouble getting up in the mornings since the weather got cooler so I’m taking some advice from this Bustle article and using a song as my alarm. (Fingers crossed!) Cried on the subway listening to Death Sex & Money’s interview with an astronaut who lost his wife in the Columbia explosion. I can’t imagine my mom picking out my clothes for a week, but this Marie Claire editor let her mom dictate her style (even her hair!) and it makes for such a great read!

♥

Let’s have a productive week, shall we? Let’s not deny ourselves a caffeine boost or dark chocolate at 2pm, okay? – e

Love Ain’t Nothing But Love | Romance Picks

This week has dragged a bit, hasn’t it? I’m blaming it on the very warm weather we’ve been having. Nothing like some sticky weather to get you in the mood for a romance novel, am I right? Okay. Maybe that transition sucks, but here I am. It’s been a summer of love for me. My reading routine is generally all about romance as a palette cleanser, a dependable mood booster but I find myself craving them more than ever lately. (It’s true. I came home from seeing Magan last week, after finishing Bad News Cowboy by Maisey Yates on the plane and all I wanted to do was pick up another one.) Here’s to falling in love with love – ♥

The Beekeeper's Ball by Susan WiggsThe Beekeeper’s Ball by Susan Wiggs (Harlequin MIRA; 6/24/14) — I don’t read a TON of historical romance but I would like to think a series like Bella Vista Chronicles is the perfect entry into this book category. Isobel is in the midst of building a cooking school on the property of her childhood home when journalist/writer Cormac turns up to write the biography of Isobel’s grandfather, Magnus. While Isobel and Cormac’s story serve as one part of The Beekeeper’s Ball, Magnus’s memories from WWII (retold for that biography) fulfill the second as his colorful and heartbreaking past link past and present. I love the idea of a family learning about their history. With an enchanting setting and an emphasis on second chances, this book is definitely sweeter than honey. (As of right now, I don’t see any announcements for another book in this series but I hope there will be one. The Apple Orchard was great too.)

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

Never Too Late by Robyn CarrNever Too Late by Robyn Carr (Harlequin MIRA; 4/1/15) – Clare (a recent divorcee starting over), Maggie (currently in a rut within her marriage), and Sarah (the single sister in the shadows) are the main gals starring in this reboot of Never Too Late (originally published in 2006). When Clare ends up seriously hurt in a car accident, her “seize the moment” mentality intensifies and she finds herself dating, making amends with old friends, and diving into new work. Her bond is her sisters is key to moving forward, especially when life continues to be bumpy. Never Too Late suffers from feeling a bit old-fashioned and drags in some places but Clare’s story is well-supported with tales of her sisters trying to refresh their own lives as best they can.

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

Kiss Me by Susan MalleryKiss Me by Susan Mallery (Harlequin HQN; 6/30/15) — Admittedly, it was strange to read a Fool’s Gold love that doesn’t spend much time there but it was also refreshing and a reminder that FG is more about the kind community and not about the town. City girl, Phoebe, as a help to her best friend, agrees to attend an accidentally planned cattle drive in the wilderness with absolutely no experience. She finds herself in the company of brooding, quiet Zane and suddenly this whole trip has gotten a bit interesting. Zane is not easy to get to know and Phoebe is unable to hold back her quirks — talking to wild animals, making up funny stories, and pretty much being all kids of adorable. It’s been so long since Zane has had fun that it takes him some time to warm up to Phoebe, especially since this time in nature is meant to be a lesson for his ex-stepbrother, not alter his own life. You can always expect sexy and sweet with a sprinkling of lively supporting characters from  Mallery. Kiss Me was no exception.

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

Bad News Cowboy by Maisey YatesBad News Cowboy by Maisey Yates (Harlequin HQN; 7/28/15) — Every since I read Part Time Cowboy, I’ve found myself a little bit obsessed with Yates. You know it’s good when you’re practically drooling before you start a book. Kate has always been more into riding horses than falling for guys but it’s like one day she just turned around and Jack — best friend to both her brothers and someone who’s always treated her like a little sister — is looking pretty good. Pretty good enough to be very curious about. And Jack, for his part, never wanted to cross Kate’s brothers and certainly never thought he would be fantasizing about Kate. Hello, forbidden romance! Both Kate and Jack discover they not only have common histories (and insecurities) but insane, insane chemistry. I loved this too because Kate is a virgin but she’s not afraid to say what she wants, and watching as she became more confident with this side of herself was such a bonus. Best of all — nothing about Yates’ stories feels formulaic, and the gender roles that have certainly been exhausted in this genre don’t seem to exist — resulting in one refreshing romance novel. (Can we have more independent ladies in these books, please?) It was also, quite possibly, the sexiest.

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N


Thanks for stopping in! If you leave me a book recommendation below,
I promise you a fantastic day! 😉

Cousins Siblings Friends | Dive into Diversity

Happy Dive Into Diversity, you guys! So thrilled to have our friend Rachel from Hello, Chelly sharing a great story about her family — a story we’d love to see reflected in the books we are reading more often. Plus it fits in perfectly with Magan’s closer look at family varieties (reminder to check out her stepfamily post!). Feel free to leave comments below, and let us know what diverse reads you’ve been loving lately. xoxo – e & m
Dive Into Diversity Reading Challenge

When Estelle asked me to write about my cousins, she said she’s always thought the fact that my cousins are also some of my best friends was unique about my life. It’s true. I’m so used to thinking of them as the brothers and sisters I never had (I’m an only child) but they really are cousins, siblings and dearest friends all wrapped into one. And that’s something we have our parents to thank for. Since they all love to be together, we naturally learned from their example.

Rachel from Hello Chelly on Cousins as Best FriendsWhenever I talk about a cousin, chances are I’m referring to someone on my mom’s side of the family. My mom was the first person to make the move from the Philippines to New York (Queens to be exact!). So when she got married and had me, it was… just me. It took some time for her other siblings to come to the US so they were still in the Philippines starting their own families there. It wasn’t until her youngest brother moved to NYC too that I had a cousin to play with. My cousin John was born when I was five years old and I still remember making the trip to the hospital to see him for the first time. (There’s a picture of me sitting in my aunt’s room with a hospital gown on and eating cookies.) He was so cute! That is, until he started learning how to walk and talk and insisted on taking all my toys without asking. Suddenly being the only child never looked better. But as much as he annoyed me back then, I loved him was equally as fiercely.

And that’s kind of the way it was with all my cousins as we grew up. Butting heads but loving each other all the same.

The same uncle eventually had another son, who is still the baby of our cousins. Then we all moved to New Jersey and more of my mom’s siblings followed from the Philippines. One uncle, aunt and their two sons moved in with us for years. One was my age and we were instantly like two peas in a pod. The other was older than us, tried to boss me around and me having none of that set the tone for our relationship for a while. As for my female cousins… one was in California and whenever I saw her, I followed her around like a puppy. I adored her and everything she did seemed so cool to me. (In short, I drove her nuts.) My other older female cousin moved in with my family during my senior year of high school. I admit, I wasn’t sure what to make of her at first because I was so used to being the only girl among all the boys. But it wasn’t long before I realized how nice it was to have an older sister figure around.

Looking back, I can pinpoint when we all transitioned from being just cousins to cousins and friends. It’s the same time we started to transition from kids to adults. I remember the first weekend I came home from college and my older cousin was at the house waiting for me. You know, that older cousin who tried to boss me around as a child. I was so shocked but after that, we started talking more and hanging out with whenever I was home. With each of my cousins, we’d make plans whether it was the mall, movies or going to each other’s houses. And the older we got, out of those plans traditions were born.

We watched every Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter movie in theaters together. Every Christmas we do a Secret Santa exchange. We all have graduated from college and gotten our grown-up jobs. (Well except for the youngest but he’s getting there!) They were the ones who helped me move into my apartment. I’ve watched some of them get married, where we all were either bridesmaids or groomsmen. We’ve become godparents to each other’s kids. Even the distance doesn’t matter. I visited my cousin in California twice last year and she’s in my thoughts constantly.

Rachel from Hello Chelly on Cousins as Best Friends

I really can’t imagine my life any other way. I know this all sounds rare to most people but I can’t say enough how happy I am that this is my normal.

♦

I tried to think of books where cousins are also best friends and the only one I could come up with was Where The Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller. It’s one of my favorites and I love the friendship that blossoms between Callie and Kat. It’s not an easy road for them but they’re really there for each other as family and best friends.

But given that this is the only book I think of, clearly there needs to be more books like this! Can you think of any that I’m missing? We’d love to know! And be sure to check out Rebecca’s DID post on Reading Wishes.

It’s a Wrap | MAY We Remember You Kindly

I’m sitting in my living room curled up in a blanket (I’m not cold, I just like them) and whew, not believing another month has flown by. WE ARE ABOUT TO HIT THE HALF-YEAR MARK ALREADY. Doesn’t anyone else feel like they haven’t done enough this year yet? Time to get cracking on those resolutions, that’s for sure. M & I have had a pretty active month — my husband graduated from law school, she went on an epic Hawaiian trip to photograph a family wedding, Texas storms, NYC heat, and BEA of course. Here are some of our favorite pics:

A photo posted by Estelle (@thatsostelle) on

A photo posted by Magan (@magan) on

Shopping List Musts:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/photo/18478083-kissing-in-america

Magan: Kissing in America by Margo Robb / Estelle: Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center

What to Click:

On the Blog:

Monthly Features

Author Visits

Free Writing

Reviews | Buy It

Reviews | Worth It

♥

I love that our reads this month were SO fantastic. Has me looking even more forward to June, which is going to include some memorable book events, planning a possible reunion with M, and I’m sure a lot more surprises. Be sure to stick around! Oh — and let us know about your top reads of the month. We want to read them too!

Psst. Don’t forget — Dive Into Diversity check in (with special guest!) on June 9.

Rather Be Prom-ing

Looking back, I feel disdain for about a handful of high school memories but never about prom. Even though my boyfriend and I had just broken up and we decided to go to the dance as friends, it was still a total blast and one of my favorite memories ever. I survived self-tanner and missing the complimentary makeup appointment I won. (Truth: I got way lost. Some things never change.) I couldn’t have asked for a better date, and a better final weekend with my closest friends (in true Jersey fashion, we spent it down the shore).

Estelle Prom 2013

To get in the spirit — my mom informed me that our high school prom is occurring this weekend (lucky ducks! It’s Memorial Day weekend!) — I’m sharing a few prom-worthy reads AND a prom-tastic Spotify playlist to get you grooving on your next walk, while you’re sitting at your desk at work, or maybe for your own personal dance party. Thanks to those of you who sent in suggestions to our Twitter account and also told us a little bit about your prom! I love taking trips down memory lane with you.

♥

Your prom book list:

  • Prom & Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg: A modern retelling of the Jane Austen classic, Prom & Prejudice focuses on the pressures of getting to the actual dance. It was so light and fun, and inspired me to pick up my dog-earred copy of Pride & Prejudice ASAP.
  • Promposal by Rhonda Helms: Magan dubbed this book “worth it”. Here’s a short blurb from her: “Promposal reads easily and was a quick, enjoyable book. The story is about two genuine, innocent characters who want things to finally work out for them.”
  • We Can Work It Out by Elizabeth Eulberg: What is it with Eulberg and dances?! I love it! This book might not be about prom, per say, but it is about girlfriends hanging out, making time for one another, and having so much fun.
  • Ask Again Later by Liz Czukas: How about getting a glimpse into one girl’s prom — and two different journeys? This book was SO much fun, and relatively low drama for a book about a big dance that gets everyone a little obsessive.

♥

And now for some tunes:

A note: Write down the songs you remember to from prom because I guarantee 10-ish years later, you will not remember any of them. (I swear! I asked my best friends.) I even danced a lot! Second, you may notice some modern tunes mixed it. Well, these are songs we would love to dance to at prom NOW if we could. Happy listening!

If you feel like sharing, we’d love love love to hear about your prom. Did you go on a trip afterwards? Was there a theme? Did you go with a friend or was it your sweetheart? WE LOVE STORIES so feel free to tell us some.