Sweet Summertime Reads Wrap-Up: Ginger Reflects

Sweet Summertime Reads - Summer Beach Reads Feature with Fiction Folio and GReads!

Can you believe this is our last post for Sweet Summertime Reads? Thanks so much for following along with us since May! It’s been the best thing ever to bring you original and fun posts, and get you excited about summer, vacation, warm weather, and most importantly, summer reading!

Today we are so happy to have the pioneer of this series, Ginger, on our blog! I’m sure you know Ginger from GReads! Pretty girl, sometimes wears glasses? She’s passionate about her budding teaching career and a die-hard music fan? She devours, reviews, and loves young adult and romance novels?

See? We knew you loved her too!

Today she is stopping in to chat all about her summer highlights! Take it away, G….

Sweet Summertime Reads Ginger Reflects

favorite summer buys

♥ Nautical-inspired dress from Old Navy. This dress has been a staple in my summer wardrobe. I added a thin red belt & usually pair it with my gold sandals. It’s fun, flirty, and oh-so comfy!

♥ Guess aviator sunglasses. I am always wearing shades during the summer. I love these because they’re durable + stylish.

♥ Zebra-printed Toms. My first pair! They’re super comfy and I adore the fun print.

movie I can’t stop thinking about

I’ve always enjoyed watching documentaries, usually of the music variety, but this summer I got into some documentaries I found on Netflix.  One in particular I really enjoyed and found myself still thinking about long after I watched it was Craigslist Joe.

It’s about a young man who uses craigslist.com to survive day-to-day. He ventures out into Los Angeles with just the clothes on his back, along with his laptop and cell phone. He logs onto craigslist and peruses the ads, in search of a place to stay for the night, to catch a ride to another city or state, or just an outlet to meet people that could lead to other possibilities of adventure.

The purpose of his mission is to find out if the world we live in still has a sense of community.  In this day we’re all consumed by technology, never really knowing our neighbor.  So he’s using technology as a means to meet those neighbors and find out if community still exists among strangers.

The places he traveled to and the people he met were all inspiring and I was a little scared for him at times.  I was amazed by how many strangers were willing to open their homes to him, but humbled by the generous hearts who did.  He successfully survived off of craigslist for a month, traveled from California to New York, and back home again.  His adventure was very interesting to watch and I highly recommend this documentary to others.

favorite summer memory

For my last hurrah of the summer, I took a day trip to the beach with my sisters & nephews. The weather was perfect & the beach was, well as good as it gets for the Texas Gulf Coast. I have a close relationship with my sisters, so it’s nice when the four of us can get together. There are always tons of laughs & plenty to talk about.  As I’m growing older, I’m realizing how valuable my time with them is. These are the kinds of memories I want to hold on to forever.

places i vacationed this summer

♥  Lake LBJ with my family. We spent an extended weekend on the lake, cruising in my dad’s boat, grilling on the patio, and enjoying the sunshine. Definitely want to go back!

♥  Chicago to see my friends Tara & Anna. I love this city and I love these girls so much!  We had a great time hanging around their neighborhoods, book shopping, seeing the sites in the city, spending a day at the beach, and of course tons of yummy food & drinks.

favorite pic you took this summer

I have a knack for taking pics of sunrises and sunsets.  There’s something about the way the sky looks that always catches my eye.  This photo is one I took in Chicago, just as my plane had landed.

summertime link picks

♥ Rather Be Reading’s Morgan Matson’s Summer Essentials: I feel like it’s not summer until you have the essentials & I completely agreed with all of Morgan’s picks.  I loved this post because it captured the essence of what summertime brings — the beach, mountains, books + a great summer playlist!  Morgan Matson is a favorite author of mine and this woman definitely knows how to create both swoony & dramatic moments in her summery YA books.

♥ Fiction Folio’s My Dream Road Trip I love the possibility of new adventures during the summertime & what better way to escape reality for a bit than take a road trip!  Tara’s places she chose were perfect because for one, it starts in the Pacific Northwest — a favorite of mine — and of course ends in the beautiful city of Chicago. I would love to hit the road with all of these ladies for new adventures some day!

♥   ♥   ♥

Thanks for everything, Ginger!

And a surprise end of summer giveaway!

This summer we’ve been so lucky to read so many amazing books. We’ve each put together some of our favorites from our own bookshelves to gift to TWO lucky winners. All you have to do is enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Please note: you must be 13 years of age to enter and live in the U.S. or Canada. Tell us which prize pack you’re interested in winning in the comments section below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

♥   ♥   ♥

Be sure to head over to Tara’s blog for a little bit of us & Ginger‘s for a little bit of Tara!

(Are you confused yet?!) Thanks again for following us this summer!!

Sweet Summertime Reads: When You Were Here Gift Pack

Sweet Summertime Reads - Summer Beach Reads Feature with Fiction Folio and GReads!

Can you believe there’s only two weeks left of our Sweet Summertime Reads series with Ginger and Tara? It’s been such a fun summer of new ideas, summer loving, and it’s crazy that it’s about to come to a close. I’m going solo today with this post but it is totally inspired by Magan’s affection for When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney.

I’ve been trying to do a better job of balancing books for review, books I own, and most importantly, getting to books that Magan reviews and loves. Well, after buying When You Were Here on its release day, I finally read it last week and absolutely loved it. It was  so touching, so well written, and I loved the switch in setting from California to Tokyo.

After reading, I felt inspired to do our first themed gift pack post in a long time. There were so many fun details in Whitney’s book and I hope seeing them in a collection will inspire you to pick up this novel sooner rather than later. I’ve been on a reading roll lately, and When You Were Here was one of the standouts of the bunch.


When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney Themed Gift Pack: a few little things that make up the fun details of this YA novel from June 2013, part of Sweet Summertime reads.

Maki My Day Earrings: Traveling to Tokyo means eating a lot of raw fish. I think it’s pretty self-explanatory but Danny’s mom’s best friend (Kate, who is also his unofficial guardian) loves to collect plastic pieces of sushi. I think these earrings are just hilarious and so quirky.

Buddha Statue: There’s a certain level of spirituality to this story. As Danny discovers more about his mother’s way of dealing with her disease, he must seek his own peace and also finds out about more and more about hers. (It also made me think of TinyBuddha.com; do you follow this website? It’s super motivating and calming!)

Colorful socks: I love the supporting characters in When You Were Here especially Kana (the daughter of the landlord in  Tokyo). She becomes Danny’s friend and tour guide, and is such a vibrant character. I loved her outgoing personality (all of her clothes), how important Danny’s mom was to her, and how she was determined to make her own plans when high school was over. Their partnership was great to watch unfold. (ha! That’s a punny joke about socks… almost.)

Green tea:  The Japanese teahouse is one of Danny’s main destinations when he gets to Tokyo. He knows his mom spent a lot of time there, and he wants to know why. Did she think that the tea would cure her? Jasmine green tea is one of my favorites. It’s super relaxing and tastes nice on a cold morning.

Lilacs: When I was young, our neighbor used to have a lilac bush and I was obsessed with the smell. It’s still one of my favorites, and I’m not even a fan of flowers much. Danny’s mom LOVED lilacs. The smell, the look, everything and he is constantly reminded of her when he comes in contact with them.

Stationary: When I visited Magan in Texas, we talked a lot about how nice it is to receive a handwritten card from friends every now and then. It’s so true. Notes are very sentimental to Danny’s mom, and also help him to piece together what Danny wants to find out about his mom when he’s visiting Tokyo. (I also love PaperSource. This website is full of the cutest things.)

Dog Magnets: Talk about man’s best friend. Danny’s dog, Sandy Koulfax, is one of the best animal characters in a book I’ve ever read. It’s true. The connection between them was depicted so realistically, and I could just tell how much they loved each other. I could not put together this gift pack without mention good old Sandy K. (Who was a big help in finding ladies for Danny’s friends too.)


Be sure to add When You Were Here to your Goodreads account, check out Magan’s review, or go and buy it already. This book is perfect to read during the summer because it’s about those months after graduation and before Danny jumps into college — such an important time of self-discovery, especially as he mourns the loss of his mom. Whitney has written such a touching, genuine, and surprisingly fast-paced story with brilliant supporting characters and a lot of heart. (I read it in a day if that tells you anything.)

Thanks for following today + be sure to check out what Ginger and Tara are up to for Sweet Summertime Reads!

Sweet Summertime Reads - Summer Beach Reads Feature with Fiction Folio and GReads!

Sweet Summertime Reads: The Yearbook

Sweet Summertime Reads - Summer Beach Reads Feature with Fiction Folio and GReads!

Welcome back for another Sweet Summertime Reads post. As summer winds down, stores fill up with huge school supplies displays that make us yearn for the days we’d be doing our school shopping and prepping for our first days of school. So this week, Ginger, Tara, and the two of us are focusing on going back to school. Estelle and I thought we’d celebrate the new school year with some of our favorite books and aspects of going back to school.

making new friends.

winger by andrew smith and the reece malcolm list by amy spalding

Winger by Andrew Smith: Goodreads | Amazon | Magan’s Review
The Reece Malcolm List by Amy Spalding: Goodreads | Amazon | Estelle’s Review

M: In my tiny little town, there wasn’t a lot of people turnover. Friends from year to year pretty much stayed the same and since my school included Pre-K through 12th grade, there was no changing campuses and fretting over who I would meet. New people were scarce. Maybe that’s why I get nostalgic when I read about YA characters venturing into new schools. It seems like such an opportunity — a fresh start. However, it also seems frightening and kind of scary! I loved how Ryan Dean was taken completely out of his comfort zone by having to live with guys he had preconceived notions about. Definitely changed his perspective and life. Read Winger, y’all!

E: My town wasn’t really THAT tiny, and I don’t remember every starting a school year thinking “oh yay! I can’t wait to make new friends!” Probably because I just couldn’t wait to see my old ones. In high school it was a little different when we were able to choose our own electives (creative writing, journalism) and started to get paired up with different people in our class. (I graduated with 742.) I remember making some special friends in those classes just like Devan was trying to / starting to make with some of the theatre kids at her school.

new clothes.

going vintage by lindsey leavitt and queen of kentucky

Going Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt: Goodreads | Amazon | Magan’s Review
The Queen of Kentucky by Alecia Whitaker : Goodreads | Amazon

M: Clothes shopping was something that was a favorite, favorite part of my going back to school experience. I would plan out my outfits for weeks. We didn’t shop at the nicest stores or have tons of money to splurge on tons of new things, but I was really excited about the experience. I love, love, loved going with my mom. If only my taste was an ounce as awesome as Mallory’s in Going Vintage. I wasn’t nearly that brave or cool.

E: The best part of back to school was definitely buying new fall clothes, and then picking out what I would wear the first day back. So so exciting. (As I got older, I did stop wearing the dresses and tried to be cooler by wearing jeans.) Queen of Kentucky is such a great book in general because it deals with fitting in with a new group of kids but also maintaining who you are. Ricki Jo is a hilarious main character and she has some fun makeover moments that I loved experiencing with her!

after school activities + clubs.


Band Geek Love by Josie Bloss: Goodreads | Amazon
Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe by Shelley Coriell: Goodreads | Amazon | Magan’s Review | Themed Gift Pack

E: I’ve talked about it on here plenty of times, but I was a band geek. I was a majorette (twirled a baton) but I went to band camp, had practice after school every day, went to every single high school football game (home and away), and performed at other events too. It was like a full-time commitment, and I loved the friends that came along with it. But there was drama and a lot of romance and a lot of gossip, and Band Geek Love gets that so so right.

M: Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe made me really wish my school had it’s own little radio show. I desperately wished I could have been spending time with the mismatched crew after school trying to save the radio from being cut off. Despite not having that experience, I could visualize every moment of it.

sports + athletics.

dairy queen by Catherine Gilbert Merdoch and Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdoch: Goodreads | Amazon
Dare You To by Katie McGarry: Goodreads | Amazon | Estelle’s Review

M: Dairy Queen is my current audiobook read and oh. my. gosh am I loving it. DJ is so full of personality and my, oh, my does it make me want to do another rewatch of Friday Night Lights. The football rivalry runs so deep in DQ. DJ knows her stuff and definitely knows how to stand up for herself, even around pig-headed football players. This is one book that definitely had me more alert than listening to music as I drove to photograph a wedding.

E: I used to play softball in a league not related to school, but I did play with a few classmates and we always invited our teachers to come to our games. (Such suck ups, we were.) My high school “team” was really the marching band (see above and YES it is a sport) but when I’m reading books now of kids this age playing sports, I really wish I would have had the guts to play for the softball team. Ryan in Dare You To was an amazing baseball player and so motivated to make it big. I loved seeing that side of his character.

« »

Did you see the awesome kindergarten and high school photos Ginger shared in her back to school post?

Make sure you check out Tara’s blog later this week for her back to school post, too! Can’t wait to see what she comes up with!

Tell us what your favorite back-to-school book recommendations would be…

Sweet Summertime Reads - Summer Beach Reads Feature with Fiction Folio and GReads!

Sweet Summertime Reads: From Songs to Pages

Sweet Summertime Reads - Summer Beach Reads Feature with Fiction Folio and GReads!
It’s music week for us! If you stopped by Ginger’s post yesterday, you’ll see that she created a Sweet Summertime Reads playlist for this year! Hopefully you’ll find some fun new tracks to jam to during your own summer adventures.

So what’s our contribution this week? Well, you know we love stories. Duh, we have a book blog and read like it’s going out of style. Books teach us about people and make us feel so many different emotions; music is like that in a lot of ways. It may not be the singer’s story but it is someone’s. This is why we decided to pick a few tunes that we would think inspire some great stories we’d love to find on our bookshelves one day!

Hope you enjoy!


I Don’t Want This Night to End by Luke Bryan

I’m a self-proclaimed country music fan. I just love how the songs tell us a complete story. There’s so much to get our of the lyrics, and when they are good, so good, they can make you feel a little sexy. (I’m not alone in this; Rachel from Rachel Reads feels the same way.)

Now this particular song came out last year, but oh man. I still love it like it was just released five minutes ago. There’s something so intriguing about a guy and a girl spending one night hanging out together, not knowing what’s going to happen the next day. The freedom of the open road, learning about each other, and oh the mystery.

Favorite line: “I don’t know what road we’re on or where we’ve been/ From staring at you, girl / All I know is I don’t want this night to end.”

Related book: From What I Remember by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas

Unemployed Boyfriend by Everclear

An oldie but goodie that is close to my heart. One summer, my ex-boyfriend’s best friend burned me a bunch of CDs to take on my annual Florida road trip. Everclear’s Songs from an American Movie Volume 1 was one of them and it is still one of my favorite albums of all time.

Because the answering machine message frames the beginning and ending of the song… it always felt so cinematic to me. Like I could see these characters in my head. A boy watching a girl who is not in the best relationship. He’s the good guy for her but will she ever notice him? This actually seems like it would be more of a mature young adult book (especially with the lyrics) but it could so work.

Truth: When I used to listen to this song in high school, I wanted the nice guy to be mine. I really did.

Favorite line: “Yeah you can be with me / Yes I will treat you like a queen / I will go to all those chick flick movies / That I really don’t want to see.”


Last Kiss by Taylor Swift


So unlike Estelle, I haven’t always been the biggest country music fan. In fact, I protested Taylor Swift for years and years because I just couldn’t get into her music. But by golly, her catchy lyrics eventually won me over and slowly, oh so slowly, I’ve started listening to more and more country music. Yes, I do realize I’m the one from Texas and I should bleed country music, but alas, it’s an acquired taste for me.

But back to the song. This is really a melodramatic choice. It’s about the ending of a relationship and how you don’t really expect that to happen. Remembering the good times is bittersweet, but I love how there’s a positive spin here — two people may not be meant for each other, but you can still wish them well and hope the best for them. I love the implication that we can be changed forever by a relationship.

Favorite line: “I don’t know how to be something you miss / I never thought we’d have a last kiss / Never imagined we’d end like this / Your name, forever the name on my lips”

Radioactive by Imagine Dragons

My “Magan Needs a Save the World” book side would really love to read a book with the power that this song evokes. It’s about being in the midst of a crisis and starting a revolution — being prepared to kick some major ass and fight. I really think this could apply to so, so much — life crises or the end of the world. We have to believe anything is possible and be prepared to stand our ground and fight.

Favorite line: “I’m waking up, I feel it in my bones / Enough to make my systems blow / Welcome to the new age, to the new age”


Tell us what songs you want to become a book!
Listen to Ginger’s Sweet Summertime Reads Playlist.
Check out Tara’s music-inspired post on Thursday at Fiction Folio.
*Bonus: Listen to Cassie and Betty’s Summer Playlist and Road Trip Playlist.*

Sweet Summertime Reads: Morgan Matson’s Summer Essentials

Sweet Summertime Reads - Summer Beach Reads Feature with Fiction Folio and GReads!

A note from Magan: I’m beyond honored (thrilled, excited, ecstatic) that Morgan Matson is guest posting for Rather Be Reading today. Morgan is one of our very favorite authors who never fails to wow us with her incredible writing. We deeply loved Second Chance Summer and Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour. There’s no doubt that Morgan’s books are a pre-order/auto-buy for us. We asked her to take over Rather Be Reading today to share one of her masterful playlists with us and to let us know what her summer essentials and must-reads are.

Photo Courtesy of Morgan’s Instagram Feed (@morganmat): Jessi Kirby, left, and Morgan Matson, right


Summer is my absolute favorite season. There’s a reason my first two books – and the one I’m revising now – are all set during the summer.  To me, summer is worth looking forward to all year.  The days are long, it’s fine to eat ice cream at almost any hour of the day, and flip-flops (or, frankly, bare feet) become totally acceptable footwear.

There are certain things that I NEED to have in my summer, and come August, if I haven’t fulfilled these criteria, I might go a little manic in tracking them down.  My summer essentials:

1. Beach.

Photo Courtesy of Morgan’s Instagram (@morganmat): Her writing view from Jessi Kirby’s house.

I think you need to go to the beach at least once in a summer.  Even if you’re lucky enough to live in a place that’s warm and you can go to the beach year-round, there’s just something about the beach in the summer.  Make a day of it – half the fun of the beach is packing up the beach bag and snacks.  My essentials? Magazine, paperback, sunglasses, sunblock (I’m practically a vampire, and need crazy-high SPF), iPod, backup paperback, candy (preferably individually wrapped so that sand doesn’t compromise the whole enterprise).  I like staying at the beach until it gets cold and you have to put on a sweatshirt.  And if you can stay until it gets dark, is there anything better than stars above the water? I think not.

2. Mountains.

As much as I love the beach (and I DO – just ask Jessi Kirby, since I’m always showing up uninvited at her beach house and inviting myself for dinner) I grew up spending summers at a lake house in the mountains of Pennsylvania (which I might have, um, used as inspiration for a book 🙂 ).  So to me, it’s not summer without lots of trees and cicadas at night and too many mosquito bites.  To balance out the beach, you need s’mores over a fire and the smell of woodsmoke at night.

3. A blockbuster, a bag of popcorn, a diet coke.

I look forward to summer movies all year.  Nothing against small, nuanced, deeply felt, Oscar-bait movies, but I can’t WAIT for summer blockbusters.  I’m so happy when I’m in an air-conditioned theater, with salty, buttery popcorn, watching superheroes banter and punch each other. Bliss.

4. A great soundtrack.

You need that perfect summer playlist, the one that, when you come across it in your iTunes library in November, will remind you of a sunburn on your shoulders and driving with the windows down, the wind whipping your hair around.  I tend to make new playlists every two weeks, but I find my songs of the summer show up over multiple playlists.  And this is not the time to be a music snob! Sometimes the best summer songs are the poppy ones that just will not leave your head. They also don’t have to be current – one my favorite things is to discover and older song and repurpose it as one of your summer songs. [Find Morgan’s Playlist at the end of this post!]

5. Books!

Photo Courtesy of Morgan’s Instagram Feed (@morganmat): Morgan and the Giant Bunny at the Newport Public Library.

Summer is when I dig into that to-read pile that’s been gathering dust.  I also think summer is the perfect time to try out a book that might not be something you’d normally read.  Some of these aren’t new, but some books I’ve LOVED so far this summer: Fire With Fire (ARC), Eleanor & Park, The Moon & More, Golden, Nantucket Blue, Rules of Summer, Dark Places, The Interestings, Siege and Storm, and Shadow and Bone.

6. An adventure.

This is crucial! This can be whatever – but you have to have one.  If it’s taking a road trip with your BFF or getting lost on the way to the party with your crush (this might possibly be getting lost on purpose.  No judgment).  But you have to have that one (or two or three – hey, it’s summer) so that when it’s December, and someone says something about the summer, you’ll smile and refuse to answer when people ask you what you’re thinking about.

Have a most excellent summer!!




Morgan’s Summer Playlist

Morgan graciously put together this amazing playlist for us.
If you’d like to listen to it in its entirety, join us by listening on Spotify.
Don’t have Spotify yet? No worries — find all the songs listed below.

1. Nightswimming/ REM
2. Fallen/ Imagine Dragons
3. Cruise/ Florida Georgia Line
4. Die Young/ Ke$ha
5. The Downeaster Alexa/ Billy Joel
6. Back and Forth/ Operator Please
7. Submarines/ The Lumineers
8. A Better Son/Daughter/ Rilo Kiley
9. Out on the Town/ fun.
10. Love Like Woe/ The Ready Set
11. Running Out of Moonlight/ Randy Houser
12. I Love It/ Icona Pop
13. Take Me Home Tonight/ Eddie Money
14. Entertainment/ Phoenix
15. Never Wanted Your Love/ She & Him
16. Get Lucky/ Daft Punk
17. Just Like Heaven/ The Cure
18. Forever/ Walter Meego
19. I Always Knew/ The Vaccines

[Because Spotify is silly and doesn’t have Fallen by Imagine Dragons, here it is on YouTube.]



Morgan, thank you so much for stopping by Rather Be Reading!
xo, M + E

Sweet Summertime Reads - Summer Beach Reads Feature with Fiction Folio and GReads!

Sweet Summertime Reads | Oh, the Places We Would Go (in NY + TX)…

Sweet Summertime Reads - Summer Beach Reads Feature with Fiction Folio and GReads!

Welcome back for this week’s Sweet Summertime Reads post! This week we’re discussing road trips. Yesterday Ginger shared her desire to road trip along the California Pacific Coast Highway. (Sidenote: Five years ago, Magan called San Diego home and Ginger’s post made her extremely nostalgic. Friends, if you ever have the chance to drive with your windows down and meander along the PCH, please, please do so!) But back to business — for our road trips, we thought it would be fun to share a few places we’d want to take one another if we got to hang out together in our hometowns. Are you ready? Buckle your seat belt!


Well, you see. I grew up in a town of 350 people. Yes, as in that was the population. There were NO stop lights and a blinking intersection made its way town as I was making my exit. The nearest Wal-Mart was about a 30 minute drive away. As you can guess, there wasn’t a whole bunch to see there. I’m kind of cheating and taking Estelle (and you!) on a road trip through Austin, where I currently live. It’s way cooler. And there’s a ton more to do. (Also! Estelle will be visiting me in a few short weeks so some of these things might really be happening, y’all!) 

One of my favorite, favorite locations in Austin is Mount Bonnell. It’s a lookout point over Lake Austin. You have to climb tons of steps to reach the top, but the view is so worth it. On a clear day, you can look left (south) and see downtown Austin. Turn your head 180 degrees to the right and you can see the gorgeous lake curving around the city.

Oh, and you wanna know why this spot is a favorite of mine? It marks the beginning of my marriage to Dustyn. He proposed to me here one somewhat rainy November day almost TEN years ago. We climbed out to the farthest overhang and he feared for his life so he didn’t drop down on one knee (he doesn’t have the best balance), but he whispered sweet words to me and asked me to be his wife. *swoon*

mount bonnell - a place to visit in austin texas

Left Image from Austin Parks & Rec; Right Image from Austin Night Owl

Next up on our road trip would either be Hamilton Pool or Barton Springs Pool. It can be your choice, I promise. You see, we’re doing a summertime feature, so I’m assuming that you’re visiting in that time frame…and guys, it’s HOT here. We’ll need to cool off, especially after our climb up Mount Bonnell. Hamilton Pool (below, left) is absolutely gorgeous. Stunning really. It just seems like it’s carved right out of the earth. And Barton Springs Pool (below, right) — well, it’s about 68 degrees year-round, according to the Parks & Rec website. Sounds delightful, doesn’t it?

And our final stop for the day would most definitely have to involve some food, right? I think yes. We’re hypothetically going to have a long day of climbing and swimming (or getting a tan). We’re going to be hungry after all of that. AND, I can’t let Estelle or you guys come to Austin, Texas and not have some BBQ. Allow me to introduce you to one of my most favorite BBQ locations, The Salt Lick. There are a few locations around Austin, but I wouldn’t be a good host if I didn’t take you to the original out in Driftwood, TX. It’s located about 30 minutes outside of Austin, and has more seating (read: picnic tables) and BBQ than one could possibly imagine. Their food is absolutely delicious. In fact, my stomach is growling right now. Yum, yum.

the salt lick -- places to eat in austin texas

Image from Trip Advisor

So that wraps up my day trip through Austin, Texas. Whatdya think? When are you visiting? 😉


Greetings! I’m going to tell you something revolutionary: New York City is really hot during the summer. If someone (Magan, perhaps) asked me what time of year they should visit, I would probably suggest the fall or Christmastime. But alas, I will play tour guide for any of my pals when they come to visit. Here are a few of the stops I think that Magan (and you!) should put on your to-do list for your next Manhattan visit!

I’m going to start with the good stuff. Forget the romance in Serendipity. How about the friendship? I always loved that scene where Kate Beckinsale and Molly Shannon had dessert at the restaurant of the same name. Known for this delicious frrrozen hot chocolates and lovely vintage/eclectic decor, this little gem of an eatery is worth the long wait. (For those of you who are wondering, the actual real food a.k.a. not dessert is super delicious too.)

Since Magan is a photographer extraordinaire, I wanted to think of a place with some amazing views. I’ve never been to the High Line before. It’s an elevated park built on a freight line and it has an interesting mix of greenery and the concrete jungle that NYC is all about. During the summer, the park has some great events including STAR GAZING on Tuesday evenings. I asked Magan if she thought that was too romantic to include for a gal pal date but because she’s the best sport, she loved it. So not only did I think the High Line would be a great place for Magan to shoot, but we can also sit back and read on the lawn, or grab a cold drink or snack from the food trucks. So fun!

 Reading Tara Altebrando’s Dreamland Social Club last year convinced me Coney Island was a must-do. This trip (it’s about an hour out of Manhattan by subway) would have a bit of everything: Nathan’s hot dogs, a walk on the boardwalk, a dip in the ocean, and just a nice summer way to escape the city. Plus there are fireworks every Friday night during the summer. That sounds like the perfect ending to a beach day!


On Thursday, be sure to stop over at Fiction Folio to see where Tara is road trippin for Sweet Summertime Reads.

What are your favorite places to explore in your own hometown?