Our Spring TBR List • Top Ten Tuesday

top ten tuesday hosted by the broke and the bookish

Hello, again, friends! We’re participating in the Broke and Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday this week where we’re discussing the books that are at the top of our to-read lists this spring. Estelle’s list includes a couple of library books she just took out and some review books, while mine includes the next five books on my review schedule (because I have become a little more regimented with my reading so I don’t miss deadlines and release dates). Here’s our collaborative list:

list of upcoming young adult book releases, books checked out from library

All the Rage • Things We Know by Heart • A Court of Thorns and Roses
Every Last Promise • Finding Paris • My Best Everything
LOL • Making Pretty • Scarlet Undercover
The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley

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What are you looking forward to reading this spring?
What are you most excited about on our TBR?

Thanks for joining in! Don’t forget to check out more Top Ten Tuesday lists linked up at The Broke and Bookish!

Top Ten Tuesday: Tough Subject Books

I’m pretty drawn to tough subject books. I scoured my Goodreads lists and narrowed it down to these FIFTEEN tough subject books instead of ten. (Bonus reads!) Obviously I didn’t follow the rules very well. Some of these were harder than others, but they all have aspects of them that really open your eyes to some difficult-to-discuss topics. If you have recommendations for me, I’d love to know what you suggest I add to my TBR.

I broke these down into a few topics and added brief notes for why they were difficult. No spoilers included. All links go to either a review on Rather Be Reading or Goodreads so you can check out the summaries.

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BULLYING:

young adult books about bullying recommendation

  1. Rites of Passage — bullying, sexism, hazing
  2. Tease — teen suicide, bullying
  3. If I Lie — knowing the secret truth about characters, bullying, ass-hat father
  4. Some Girls Are — bullying. bullying. bullying. stupid high school.

 

CIRCUMSTANCES & RELATIONSHIPS:

young adult books with difficult topics, circumstances, and uncomfortable relationships

  1. The Tragedy Paper — albino character, seclusion, longing after an unavailable girl
  2. Ketchup Clouds — written to a prisoner, hidden identity of main character
  3. The Lucy Variations — uncomfortable relationship with an adult, parents dictating every move
  4. When You Were Here — loss of a parent, misuse of prescription pills, loss of sense of self
  5. Small Town Sinners — discovering one’s own religious beliefs apart from what parents have taught you to believe
  6. Room — being held hostage, abuse, kidnap, written from the POV of a 5 year old

 

SEX / ABUSE / PREGNANCY:

young adult books about sex, mental and sexual abuse, and pregnancy

  1. Where the Stars Still Shine — mental/emotional abuse MC suffered from mother’s instability
  2. Please Ignore Vera Dietz – implicit sexual fetish, death of a friend, crumbling friendship
  3. Me, Him, Them, & It — teen pregnancy + working through the decision to keep, abort, or give up the baby for adoption
  4. Uses for Boys — language + actual way it was written, but also sexually explicit, borderline uncomfortable for me — sex isn’t described as overly poetic and is raw and often very in-your-face
  5. Live Through This — sexual abuse by a relative, mental instability of the MC who questions right from wrong

 

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Which of these books was most difficult for you to read?
What tough subject book recommendations do you have for me?

Top Ten Tuesday: Let’s Talk 2014 Resolutions

top ten tuesday hosted by the broke and the bookish

Hey-lo! It’s Tuesday and time to talk about New Year’s Resolutions! Do you do this every year, do you follow them, do they change? Well thanks to Broke and Bookish’s meme this week we are spilling the good stuff. We can’t wait to hear what all of you are hoping for and striving to accomplish in the next 12 months!

Estelle:

  1. Take a break from electronics. I am obsessed with my phone and my computer and it just needs to end. Ya know, life happens when you are staring at a screen and I want to discipline myself better when it comes to all of those things. This also leads to managing my time better so I can keep up with my writing, my side projects, and such. But it also means focusing on hobbies I haven’t been able to give much attention to like crafting and baking. (I think I cheated and put a whole lot of resolutions in 1.) If anyone has suggestions about this, please help me. (My husband and I thank you.)
  2. Finally get my money situation under control. This has been the first full year of James going to school and me working. And it wasn’t until a few months ago that something snapped in my head and I realized just how difficult this was going to be. In the past few months, I’m significantly cut down on shopping (for clothes and for books) and also tried to manage when I was going out with my friends and when James and I would be going out. Things seem to be slowly but surely looking up and I want to have at least a tiny savings to show for it by the end of the year. (This will be the year I finally learn, right?)
  3. Read in a different way. Whether it be picking up books from my shelves, re-reading, reading a non-fiction book at the same time, I need to make use of the books I already own and read what I want. Again, toward the end of last year if I didn’t like something I stopped reading and found what I did like. Life is too precious to stick with something you don’t like. And there are so many amazing, touching books out there. I want to find those. (This also leads to me writing reviews for books where I actually have something to say. What’s the point otherwise?)
  4. Nurture friendships. I need to stop focusing on the negative and focus on those who are there for me during the bad AND the boring times. (I am going to sing Frozen’s “Let It Go” to remind myself of this.)
  5. I don’t know what to title this last one, but I keep picturing myself a year from now and I just want to know that I tried new things, connected with new people, my friendships are on track, my marriage is getting stronger and stronger, and that I just enjoyed myself. Whether that’s finally hanging up new pictures of us in our apartment, getting a new coffee table, traveling to Boston for the first time in forever, or moving forward in other ways … I’m not sure but I’m ready and I’m pumped! (I’m also already counting down the days until Christmas. I’m a sad sad person, I know.)

Magan:

  1. Develop a System for Choosing What to Read Next: Very often I find myself questioning what to read next. I stare at my shelves and just have no idea what to grab because seeing everything is … overwhelming. One of my go-to things-to-do is to search through my Goodreads to-read list and select one of the best rated books. I’d say that often works in my favor and I end up reading a book I love, but this can lead to a) me buying a book I don’t already own or b) being disappointed because there was so much book hype and I didn’t agree with the ratings. I need to find a better way of choosing what to read next. Any suggestions? My one idea is to make a list as I see something on my shelves and think “I should read that soon.”
  2. I Need to Learn to Say I Need More “Me” Time: Estelle can confirm this, but Dustyn and I are always, always on the go. ALWAYS. It feels like there’s rarely time to sit and be lazy or enjoy quiet time. We’re busy people who love to spend time with our families and friends. That’s not something I’m upset about; I love spending time with people. But, guys… I’m worn out. And no, that’s not just the pregnancy talking. I mentioned in my Q&A with Estelle that I’d like to be more welcoming and have people over more often. Maybe these two concepts can work together? We stay at home more, AND have people come visit us.
  3. Stop Spending Money: I have a shopping problem. I’m quite addicted to Pick Your Plum and Jane these days. I’m a sucker for a good sale. Dustyn and I made a list of house things we’d like to fix up or accomplish over the next year or so. I should apply that to myself as well and make a list of things I’d like to buy eventually or suggest to Dustyn when he asks what I’d like for my birthday. I did a much better job with this in 2013 than in previous years, but there’s still so much room for improvement here.
  4. Embrace Snail Mail: Something I started *trying* to implement at the end of 2013 was mailing out random cards to friends that were on my heart. I didn’t do it much, but I really want to continue dropping notes in the mail this year. Over the last year, I’ve been very fortunate to have received several extremely thoughtful notes from friends when I was having very down days. I’ve kept them and have them sitting in a special place as a reminder that there are people out there rooting and praying for me. That was a huge, huge lesson for me as it can feel like so much of our lives is based on competition — for example: who has more comments or visitors, who has a more clever idea and receives more recognition, etc., etc., etc. That, my friends, is draining. I’d rather focus on raising someone up, even if they’re “competition” per se, and encourage them to keep going.
  5. Be Realistic About My Reading Goal for 2014: And last but not least, I have to be honest and say that I have no idea what to expect of myself for how many books to aim to read. None whatsoever. I’m going to be a new mom. I’m potentially going to see my foster daughter returned to her biological family. I’m going to be working through a lot of change. I suppose more than anything, I should be saying that I will allow myself to work through that change and not put so much pressure on myself to be so composed through all of it. I’m going to be elated and I’m going to cry tears (of joy and sorrow). I’m not going to expect myself to pick up a book if that’s just not what I can do that day. But I do resolve to keep reading as books have potentially been some of my best friends through some of my roughest times.

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What’s on your agenda for 2014?

Top Ten Books We Wouldn’t Mind Santa Bringing Us

Happy Almost-Christmas, friends! Today we’re participating in The Broke and the Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday feature by sharing TEN books we wouldn’t mind Santa bringing us. (*hint, hint* *wink, wink*, husbands!) Do you have books on your wish lists this year? Let us know what they are and which of ours you’re hoping for, too!

Top Ten Gifts We Hope to Get for Christmas

Top image from Botanical Paperworks — Check out the site for beautiful ideas and cute printable gift tags!

Estelle’s Picks – all of E’s picks have received seals of approval by other bloggers!

Magan’s Picks — all of M’s picks are books she can’t believe she hasn’t read yet (eep!)

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Tell us what books you hope are under YOUR tree this year!

TTT: Our New Favorite Must-Read Authors

Welcome back for a new Top Ten Tuesday post! Today, the awesome ladies at The Broke and the Bookish are asking which authors were new-to-us this year. That doesn’t have to be limited to newly published authors, but it could be someone we’ve had on our radar for a long while and finally picked up their book. We’re tag-teaming for this post since we both fell in love with some pretty amazing authors this year!

♥

Magan:

Amy Spalding: Author of Ink is Thicker Than Water and The Reece Malcolm List

new author amy spalding

Amy explores really unique family situations with extremely in-depth character development. I adore how her character’s lives are so well-rounded and not focused on just one specific aspect with everything else left to question.

Andrew Smith: Author of Winger

andrew smith author

Have you guys noticed that I’ve recommended this book for just about every list we’ve created since I read Winger? I’m not kidding. It’s fantastic. I want ALL of Andrew’s books now.

Leila Sales: Author of This Song Will Save Your Life

recommendation for leila sales

I love books that really dive into finding your place and growing to accept who you are, even if you’re different than everyone else. This book is the epitome of that and though I didn’t always relate to Elise, I loved her journey.

Rainbow Rowell: Author of Fangirl and Eleanor & Park

recommendation for books by rainbow rowell

Full disclosure: Rainbow is an auto-buy. My husband has to accept that any books by her will be immediately pre-ordered. No questions asked.

Leila Howland: Author of Nantucket Blue

book recommendations for leila howland

As someone who has gone through some weird friendship mishaps, I felt Leila nailed the frustration and unease over a friendship disbanding. But then then there’s also the amazing setting and sexy love interest, too. 😉

Estelle:

For the record, Magan STOLE a few of my picks from me. HOW DARE SHE DO THIS? I absolutely loved Leila Howland, Andrew Smith, and Amy Spalding’s work this year too!

Elana K. Arnold: Author of Burning

Burning by Elana K. Arnold

With so many YA books out there, it’s hard to stand out but Arnold succeeded with Burning: two teenagers, who grew up in totally different environments (one in a soon-to-be extinct mine town and the other with a family of modern gypsies) and are trying to come into their own. Unique circumstances but genuine and true feelings at the core. I need to read the rest of Elana’s backlist.

Rachel Shukert: Author of Starstruck

Starstruck by Rachel Shukert

Historical young adult books make me nervous but Shukert has researched Hollywood of the 30s so well I felt like I was really there. It’s glamorous, it’s daunting, and each of the ladies in this story have to deal with a certain amount of roadblocks and expectations. Such a well-rounded story, and I can’t wait for the next installment. (Plus Shukert used to write recaps of SMASH for New York Magazine and she is hilarious.)

Bill Konigsberg: Author of Openly Straight

Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg

Konigsberg has delivered some of the most memorable characters I have ever read — Rafe, oh Rafe, I want you to be my best friend. He’s trying to figure himself out, making mistakes left and right, but he has so much heart. Openly Straight is one of my favorite books this year (maybe ever) and made me a Konigsberg fan for life.

Corey Ann Haydu: Author of OCD Love Story

OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu

It can’t be easy to write a character who thinks she is the “normal” one when really she is just as much of a work in progress as the rest of her therapy group. OCD Love Story made me feel so uncomfortable, but only in the best way. I was totally channeling Bea, and whew, was it a journey. Can’t wait for Haydu’s Life in Committee (spring release) and you know what? She’s the best tweeter too!

Tamara Ireland Stone: Author of Time Between Us series

Time Between Us series by Tamara Ireland Stone

Why oh why did I wait so long to read these? I haven’t reviewed them on the blog but Ireland’s time travel rules, the romance, the families, and all the love of music? It’s so so wonderful and incredibly addicting.

[ Bonus ] Katie Cotugno: Author of How to Love

How to Love by Katie Cotugno

From page 1, I was completely invested and enthralled in Sawyer and Reena’s story. I stayed up all night to read it, and I still can’t pinpoint what exactly it was about this book. Here’s a guess: gorgeous, well-paced writing, the mystery of second chances, and a great balance of friends, family, and obtaining those out-of-reach dreams.

♥

Who were your standout authors this year?
Who should we be looking forward to reading books by in 2014?

top ten tuesday hosted by the broke and the bookish

Top Ten Tuesday: Five and Five Favorites

top ten tuesday hosted by the broke and the bookish

Oh hi! It’s Top Ten Tuesday Day thanks to the geniuses at Broke and Bookish! Today we’re teaming up to share with you the top reads we’ve experienced so far this year — no easy task! At all! It’s just so hard to choose when you fall in love with so many things for different reasons but we’re going to try very hard to get you excited about these titles today!

estelle.

Estelle's Top Five Favorites of 2013 So Far with a Bonus

1. Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas (July 16 release): To call this book a page turner is just about the understatement of the year. A spring break turned murder and conviction totally changes the dynamic of this group of friends. The story is told from Anna’s perspective as she awaits her trail in the brutal death of her best friend. So sinister, so twisty, surprisingly sexy, and well-done. I finished this two weeks ago and still can’t stop thinking about it.

2. Starstruck by Rachel Shukert: One of the most literary, multi-dimensional young adult books I’ve read ever. Rachel takes us back to 1930s Hollywood and focuses on the lives of three very different young ladies. The secrets behind the glamour, the unexpected friendship, the romance, and politics all play a part. This is the first in a three-book series and I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next. (Esp. with the WTF ending.)

3. Criminal by Terra Elan McVoy: So (strangely?) proud when an author I love takes a risk with her work and blows me away. McVoy says bye bye to high school bands and summer camps and wraps us up in a story of a love so full of devotion, it spells disaster for Nikki. She ends up in jail when the love of her life gets her involved in a murder. Secrets, growth, frustration make up this succinctly written masterpiece. You will not be able to put it down.

4. Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland: A beautiful setting with a not so happy story attached to it. Cricket has no idea what is going on with her best friend, Jules, and why she has suddenly turned her back on her. Hoping to somehow fix whatever it is, Cricket follows her to Nantucket, gets a job at a neighboring in, and falls in love with the most surprising person. This book is so honest when it comes to conflicting feelings of friendship and I think that’s why I love it so much.

5. Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham: A big kids book to round out the list… Frannie is in her late 20s and still trying to figure out what to do with her life. She has a few months left in her own goal to make it as an actress, and when a mistake lands her an agent… she thinks it might actually be happening. This book talks about the path least taken, the one where you go out for your passions and don’t follow the crowd. I loved that so much and was rooting for Frannie the whole time. (This is also the first book in a series.)

Surprise pick: Fingerprints of You by Kristen-Paige Madonia: All my picks above are 2013 releases, and Fingerprints of You came out last year and it’s one of those… “why did I wait so long to read this?” picks. Lemon is pregnant and decides to go with her best friend to California to find out more about the dad she never knew. Madonia has written a fast-paced, gorgeous book with an awesome best friendship, a difficult mother, and amazing discoveries.

magan.

best young adult books of 2013 so far

1. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell: Without a doubt, this is one of my favorite 2013 books. I never wanted it to end. I felt so emotionally invested in the story because Rainbow’s writing is so spot-on. She made me feel emotional over the simplest of things (the hand-holding scene had my heart beating so fast!). I am positive Rainbow Rowell is an auto-buy for me from here on out.

2. I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella: I just finished this one this past weekend and really, really enjoyed it! Sophie Kinsella has been kind of hit or miss for me. The main character in the Shopaholic books really grated on my nerves (would she never learn her lesson?). BUT — I found Poppy to be funny and intelligent and I laughed out loud so much my husband wanted to know what was going on.

3. Winger by Andrew Smith: There’s nothing about Winger that I didn’t absolutely love. I wish I could experience it over and over and over again for the very first time because I want to swim in Andrew Smith’s words. I loved the main character, Ryan Dean, more than I can possibly express in words. (Got any other awesome male POV young adult book recs for me?)

4. manicpixiedreamgirl by Tom Leveen: Surprise! Another male POV book! I loved Zero last year by Leveen and really fell more in love with his work after reading manicpixiedreamgirl because he made the complex love scenario so understandable — even if you haven’t been in the exact situation, I think it’s still relateable. Leveen’s writing is just … killer.

5. Golden by Jessi Kirby: My review of Golden was practically one big gush fest, but that’s because Jessi so, so deserves a standing ovation for this one. I’ve enjoyed her stories in the past, but when I finished the last page of Golden, I felt like I was suffering through a break-up I just didn’t want to end. (This is probably why I own three copies of the book…)

Mom pick: I don’t really want to infuse Rather Be Reading with lots of kids stuff, but let me be honest for a second and say I read a bazillion kids books every day to our foster daughter. Some of them are so repetitive and boring (to me, an adult, but great for kids development, of course). My favorite, hands down, has been Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin because it’s comical and intelligent. And! The illustrations are impeccable.

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Looking forward to seeing everyone else’s picks! It’s going to be a good week!