Pub Date: Beach/BBQ

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This blog has been pretty quiet of late. I actually went to write a whole bunch of posts for this week last Saturday, but my computer screen kept going black every few minutes which made it kind of tricky. Turns out the battery is dead and it only works while plugged in. Whomp whomp. BUT I’m so happy it share a Pub Date post today! Estelle had asked me to switch days with her last month so it feels like it’s been an eternity since I was up at bat.

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This month’s theme is one of my favorites: beach/BBQ. I love the beach and I love barbecues so I had a rough time making choices this month! For the beer I went with the Great South Bay Brewery’s Blood Orange Pale Ale. I tried this beer for the first time last year and really loved it. Even though citrus is technically a winter flavor this beer seems so summery to me. Back in March I was visiting a friend down in VA and she was telling me about a blood orange beer she and some friends had bought and how much she disliked it. I asked if it was the Great South Bay one (even though I doubted they had distribution down in VA), but it turned out to be the Bloodline by Flying Dog Brewery. Since she wasn’t a fan she wanted to me try one and I absolutely loved it! I actually think I loved it so much that when I had the Great South Bay’s blood orange beer this year I didn’t like it as much! Although I have to say I think this year’s batch is much less citrusy and much more wheaty/hoppy. The Great South Bay Brewery is especially appropriate for a beach theme because The Great South Bay is the body of water between Long Island and Fire Island, a major beach destination. And the ferry on the label is how people make their way over to Fire Island.

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For my beach book pick I went with Between Us and the Moon by Rebecca Maizel, a very beachy, but still interesting and thought-provoking story I read back towards the beginning of the summer. As far as I can tell the book itself has been kind of polarizing, I actually started off not liking it, but I ended up respecting the story, characters, and author quite a bit by the end. If you’re looking for light and fluffy this isn’t it, but if you’re looking for a summer story that takes place at the beach that has some substance than I definitely recommend Between Us and the Moon.

Make sure to check out my Pub Dates:
Brittany
Estelle
Andi

One Year Ago: Pub Date: Summer Beers
Two Years AgoBook Review: All I Need


Book Review: Maybe In Another Life

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Title: Maybe in Another Life
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Release Date: 07/07/15
Genre: Adult Contemporary
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 stars

I’m writing this review more than five months before it will be published* because that’s how excited I was to read Maybe in Another Life. I got it from Edelweiss and I pretty much immediately started it. I love Taylor Jenkins Reid. For real. The way that she perfectly captures what life is like in your late-20s and early-30s just blows my mind. I see myself and my friends in every single character and situation in her books.

That said I don’t really have a ton to say about Maybe In Another Life. Going into the book I had a lot of preconceived notions. I’ve seen the movie Sliding Doors many times and I’ve read many books where one the main character’s life splits into two concurrent stories that both shoot off of what happens when you make a small decision. I thought I knew what would happen when I started reading Maybe In Another Life, obviously not exactly, but I thought I knew the basic route the story would take, but I was proved wrong and I kind of love and hate that.

I love it because who wants to read something predictable? I love how Taylor Jenkins Reid took a fairly common idea for a story and made it into something all her own. I also loved the story and the characters. But I hated it because I can’t wrap the story up into a nice little box and think of it as done. I hate it because the way the story ended kind of makes me freak out about my own life.

I read this book and I’m writing this review at a strange time in my life. I got into one-and-a-half graduate schools so far, I’m number two on the waitlist for the half one, and I’m still waiting to hear from another. I don’t know where my life is going to take me and I’m trying not to freak out about it and just let things go and let the right path come to me, but this book has kind of freaked me out.

Almost 400 words in and I guess I should some something more substantial about the characters and the story. (I just really don’t want to ruin it because almost immediately the story went somewhere I didn’t expect.) Hannah is almost 30 years old (or as she says, “I prefer the term 29″) and she’s spent her life after college bouncing around the US, looking for a city to call home. She grew up in LA, but when she was in high school her parents and sister moved to London for her sister’s ballet career and Hannah stayed in LA to finish high school, living with her best friend’s family. Because of that she doesn’t really have anywhere to call home.

When the story starts she’s moving back to LA after living in New York and having just ended an affair with a married man. She moves back to LA not because it’s where she grew up, but because it’s where her best friend Gabby lives. Hannah moves in with Gabby and her husband and decides she needs a car, a job, and an apartment. She also had this idea that she might get back with her high school boyfriend, Ethan, since he was her first love and she kind of sees him as the one who got away. On her first night out in LA, Hannah and Gabby meet up with a bunch of high school friends, including Ethan, and at the end of the night Hannah has to decide whether to head out with Gabby and her husband or Ethan and in one version of the story she chooses Gabby and in one version of the story she chooses Ethan. And her life takes dramatically different turns that neither she nor I saw coming.

There are two things make that this story work. First, Hannah who is one of the most charming characters I’ve come across. In a certain way she’s frustrating because she was sleeping with a married man, she’s 29 years old with pretty much no direction, and she kind of leaves a lot of her life up to chance. But she’s also kind, sweet, and completely endearing. And the voice that Reid created for her was incredibly charming. She’s honest and self-aware, but also sarcastic and self-deprecating and makes bad decisions despite being a good, self-aware person. Basically she’s just really real.

The second real strength of Maybe in Another Life is the way Reid manages to tell both stories. There were times, especially towards the beginning of the split in stories, where I thought the story was a little too much Sliding Doors or some other book with this format, but the more I read the more I appreciated what Reid did. She didn’t so much weave the stories together, but they were related in a way that obviously took a lot of skill. Different things are revealed at different times in both stories and I was never sure what was going to figure into both and what wasn’t and for the things that did figure in both versions despite knowing what was going to happen it was so interesting to see the different way they were revealed. There were even small things that tied them together or were kind of nods at things going on in the other version of Hannah’s life.

Bottom Line: This wasn’t After I Do, my favorite of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books, but it’s still a very strong story that I highly recommend picking up. Maybe just due to where I am in my life it was a little more difficult for me to read and relate to, but I still enjoyed the characters and story that Reid told. If you are in your late-20s or early-30s or you want to know what life is like in your late-20s or early-30s in 2015 you need to pick up Reid’s books.

I received an electronic review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss (thank you!). All opinions are my own.

* I debated going back and reworking this review to make me sound less neurotic and crazy, but I actually like how it all came out. Looking back at this book several months after reading it, and being in a much more stable place in my life, I actually appreciate this story more than when I first read it. I still don’t love it like I did After I Do, but I really respect it and the overall concept is something I’ve thought about a lot in the last few months.

One Year Ago: Book Review: Boomerang
Two Years AgoGayle Forman Read Along: Sisters in Sanity: Week 3


June 2015: In Review

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Happy halfway through 2015! In less than two months I will be living in Minneapolis and in grad school orientation. Can you believe that? Because I really can’t. In June I am so, so happy to report I finished my biochemistry course (with a C+, but it counts so who cares?) and have been plugging away at my Food Science and Food Service classes. I am now a ServSafe food manager so if you are ever worried you’re not cooking your chicken to 165 degrees, stuffed meat to 155 degrees, or that your food equipment isn’t the right distance off the floor (4 inches) I can help you out with that. What else did June hold for me?

So happy to celebrate @rgoodale11 and her little bundle of joy today! Thanks for hosting @aerialfitnesshotyoga.

The owner of the studio where I workout, who is a friend, threw a baby shower for an instructor, who is also a friend and someone I went to high school with. It was a surprise, and she was truly surprised, and it was at a restaurant with a gorgeous view and the cupcakes were fitness themed (there’s a kettlebell, weights, yoga mat, and paddle board). I was also very pleased with my gift. Lots of books, some wooden weight toys, and a fun onsie. Sadly getting that paper poof bow thing from Target was the worst customer service experience of my life and it resulted in me swearing to never return to the Target closest to my house and Target sending me a $25 gift card.

I’ve also been obsessed with watermelon margaritas. I love my beer, but after two co-workers turned me on to Milagro tequila and we had watermelon margaritas at a restaurant I’ve been making my own at home with this watermelon, lime, ginger juice I discovered at Whole Foods.

And my garden. I harvested spinach, lettuce, and one zucchini this month. I have a few zucchini that are almost ready and some beets, too. I have the very little beginning of tomatoes and my pepper plants look good, too. The weather has been warm and sunny, but I think I need some hotter weather to really get things going. I’m just hoping I get to have some tomatoes and peppers before I head off to Minnesota.

Oh, and, most exciting news, I found somewhere to live in Minneapolis! I Skyped with a girl who seemed great and lived in an amazing apartment, but she went with someone else. I spent hours and hours on Craigslist and I was so defeated, but then one Monday I found two amazing places. I Facetimed with both of them one weekend and I loved them both, but I decided to go with the one I thought would be a better fit as a roommate, plus the place is cheaper. It’s, wait for it, $462.50/month! That’s $925 total. It’s a 2-bedroom, 1 bath apartment with a private backyard. Coming from NYC that price just dumbfounds me.

Song obsession of the month is Morning Joy by Sugar and the Hi Lows. It’s not on YouTube and apparently it’s on Soundcloud, but I can’t find it there so go here to listen to it. It’s amazing.

Things From the Internet That Caught My Eye
- I Spoke To Guys The Way They Speak To Girls On Tinder, And Here’s What Happened
– There Are No Hacks to a Meaningful Life
– The 100-year-old scientist who pushed the FDA to ban artificial trans fat
– How ‘Diet Gurus’ Hook Us With Religion Veiled In Science
– 10 Music Genres Perfectly Explained
A Manhattan Fortuneteller Cost Him Fortune After Fortune (pretty much the greatest story ever)
The case for starting sex education in kindergarten
How Successful People Work Less and Get More Done
– The 50 best burger joints in America
– Former Google exec says this word can damage your credibility
– Mind Your Own Damn Business: An Ode to Tact

On the Blog:

Reviews:

4 stars:
The Devil You Know by Trish Doller
Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout
P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

3 stars:
Between Us and the Moon by Rebeca Maziel
Joyride by Anna Banks

2 stars:
Charlie, Presumed Dead by Anne Hertzel

Top 10 Tuesday posts:
Books I’d Love to See as Movies/TV Shows
Most Anticipated Releases for the Rest of 2015
Books On My TBR for Summer 2015
Books I’ve Read So Far in 2015

Other:
Pub Date: Guest Post
Pub Date: American/Patriotic 

Things to Look Forward to in July:

Life:
– Quitting my job (holy hell!)
– More fresh garden veggies
– Meeting up with friends before I move
– Hanging out outside

Books:
Paperweight by Meg Haston
The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
A Million Miles Away by Lara Avery
Don’t Ever Change by M. Beth Bloom
Forever for a Year by B.T. Gottfred
Damage Done by Amanda Panitch
- The Other Daughter by Lauren Willig
Playing with Trouble by Chanel Cleeton
Pretending to be Erica by Michelle Painchaud
Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica
Once Upon a Marquess by Courtney Milan

Previous 2015 Monthly Recaps
- February
- March
April
May

One Year Ago: June 2014: In Review
Two Years AgoBook Review: Burning


Top 10 Tuesday: Books I’ve Read So Far In 2015

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Top 10 Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. You can see all the topics here.

Can you believe we’re halfway through 2015?? (Sidenote: on a bunch of blogs, I don’t think any book blogs, I saw posts at the beginning of June about how we’re halfway through 2015 and it made me so irrationally angry because at the beginning of June we are NOT halfway through 2015.) This has been a crazy six months for me and reading has not been a priority. I’ve read 65 books in 2015, which is nothing to sneeze at, but considering I read 198 in all of 2014 and 221 in all of 2013 I am pretty far off my normal pace. That said, I’ve still managed to read some amazing books!

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1. I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios: “The story and the characters are phenomenal and Heather Demetrios tackles really tough issues without it feeling like you’re reading an issue book. I’ll Meet You There is a book that perfectly captures rural American poverty and the realities of coming home from the war in Afghanistan and just for those two things I hope this is a book that people will read for years to come.”

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2. Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid: “…the voice that Reid created for her was incredibly charming. She’s honest and self-aware, but also sarcastic and self-deprecating and makes bad decisions despite being a good, self-aware person. Basically she’s just really real.” (Review will publish on Thursday!)

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3. The One That Got Away by Bethany Chase: “The questions the story raised about adult love and whether you need passion or security or what’s really the best option were spot-on and handled really impressively.”

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4. The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne: “The character of Kate is a dynamic, interesting, flawed protagonist who I couldn’t help by stand behind. Throne’s take on politics and what it’s like to be behind the scenes of a campaign were realistic and fascinating. A must-read book of 2015.”

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5. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas: “I am adding my praise to the chorus with the note that I don’t normally enjoy fairies or fantasy or even Sarah J. Maas and I fell in love with these characters and this story.”

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6. Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry: “Family is a very imporant part of the book overall and even though it’s a rather unconventional story, and like no story I’ve ever come across in YA literature, it was not only a fascinating family to read about, but a great model of caring about and being there for the people around you.”

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7. Thank You for Your Service by David Finkel: I never wrote a review for this book, but it is, and this isn’t hyperbole, the most powerful book I’ve ever read. Technically I listed to the audio book and maybe that’s why I found it so powerful, but I challenge you to read this book and not be swept up in the lives of the soldiers and their families. It was beyond heartbreaking but so, so important.

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8. The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski: I never wrote a review for this one, either. Reading a sequel is nervewracking, but Marie Rutkoski handled the continuation of Kestrel’s story beautifully. I was happy and sad and angry and ultimately dying to know what’s going to happen next.

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9. Where Sea Meets Sky by Karina Halle: “It’s also a steamy romance and a building of a friendship between two people, but for me the self-discovery and adventure was front and center here and Halle did a great job with that.”

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10. A Girl Undone by Catherine Linka: I just read this last weekend so no review yet, but after finishing it I was so made at myself that I put off reading it. A Girl Called Fearless made me feel so much that I was actually a little scared to see the completion of Avie’s story. But I loved this book, maybe more than the original. It felt better paced and overall just made me less nervous.

One Year AgoTop 10 Tuesday: Favorite Classic Books
Two Years AgoTop 10 Tuesday: Most Intimidating Books


Book Review: Between Us and the Moon

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Title: Between Us and the Moon
Author: Rebecca Maziel
Release Date: 06/30/15
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I started out not liking this book at all. I expected more of a fun summer romance and what I got was a story that I actually found a little disturbing. Not disturbing like truly disturbing, but more disturbing like I’m a lot older than these characters and I wanted to shake them and ask what they were doing.

Sarah’s family has always spent summers on Cape Code at her wealthy aunt’s house and while she’s excited to go this year, she’s also sad to leave her boyfriend, a boy who’s been her friend since childhood. Luckily, right at the beginning of the story, the boyfriend breaks up with her because she’s boring and predictable and never ventures out into the real world. Sarah is a scientist and a thinker and while at first she completely denies what her ex said, she eventually comes to see that he might have a point. Sarah’s older sister has always been the golden child, she’s beautiful and she’s a successful ballet dancer that’s starting at Julliard in the fall. When she leaves to do a ballet intensive in New York City for the summer Sarah decides to kind of steal her sister’s identity to put herself out there and see another side of life than her quiet science existence.

Enter Andrew a local Cape guy she meets right after her 16th birthday. Andrew is 20 years old which is a big age difference, but it’s an especially big age difference when Sarah acts so young. Sarah tells Andrew she’s 18 and starting MIT in the fall and Andrew never questions her. This is what I found disturbing about the story. Andrew is a good guy and in a lot of ways Sarah is mature beyond her years, but she’s pretty immature when it comes to guys and romance. I wanted to be invested in Andrew and Sarah’s romance, but it always felt like it couldn’t really go anywhere and that it was going to end badly.

As the story went on it became even worse because Andrew, again a really nice guy, really came to depend on Sarah. One of his best friends passed away last year and another friend is having a tough time with alcohol and Andrew is taking time off from college to try to sort things out. As much as I liked Sarah, and I did like her, Andrew is a guy I was seriously rooting for and I spent a lot of the story worried about.

However, as the story went on I came to really respect it. Yes, it was a disturbing and difficult situation, but it was a plausible setup. And Sarah did feel guilty for what she was doing, she also really liked Andrew and didn’t want to hurt him. Plus, this is truly a coming of age story for Sarah. At the beginning of the story she had all of these preconceived notions about who she was and who other people were and how they perceived her and as the story went on she challenged her own beliefs and took chances on other people. And she didn’t completely chance and morph into another person, she just grew.

Beyond the romance this is also an interesting family story. Sarah’s family has always babied her and beyond exploring a romantic relationship she’s becoming more of an adult to her family and testing boundaries there. Sarah has a wonderful relationship with her grandmother, who lives across the country, but who she talks to on the phone pretty frequently and she’s also close with her parents, especially her scientist dad. Her relationship with her sister is more complicated, and I wouldn’t call this a great sister book, but their relationship in the book did end in a very satisfying way.

Bottom Line: It took maybe half the book, but eventually Between Us and the Moon really grew on me and I really came to enjoy and respect what Rebecca Manziel did with the story. Sarah misrepresenting herself to Andrew and getting in a little over her head was difficult to read at times, but this is truly a coming of age story and in the end the payoff was work the awkwardness and growing pains.

I received an electronic review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley (thank you!). All opinions are my own.

One Year Ago: Book Review: On the Fence
Two Years AgoBook Review: On the Corner of Bitter and Sweet


Pub Date: American/Patriotic

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Didn’t I just do one of these? Yes, I did, but when the lovely Estelle asked me if I would switch weeks with her I couldn’t think of a reason why not (except that it was Wednesday night and the post needed to go up Friday morning and I had no beer or book picked and a big test to take Friday night) so I said I would.

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This month’s theme is American/Patriotic and to me, at this time of year, America is summer. I’m aware that other countries have summer and that America has more seasons than summer, but there’s something about the beach, barbecues, camping, sailing, swimming, and being out of school that just scream American summer to me. Which lead me to a summer beer which lead to me one of my favorite local breweries, Greenport Harbor which has just, the last few months (I think) started bottling their beer! The Greenport Harbor website says the Summer Ale is “A refreshingly delicious, moderately hopped golden ale brewed with a touch of orange blossom honey for a light, slightly sweet and floral finish.” When I first sipped it I wasn’t blown away, it was a little too mild for me, but the more I’ve had the more I like it. It’s a pretty light beer, but it does have an orange blossom honey flavor to it, although I wouldn’t call it sweet. I would definitely recommend it for a summer day.

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I actually almost picked the same book I did for last year’s Summer Pub Date as my book for this one. I was about to insert the image and then a little thought came into my mind that this seemed very familiar. Luckily I caught myself and decided instead to pick Nantucke Blue by Leila Howland. Not only does this story take place over the summer, it also takes place on Nantucket (duh) which is a very all-American place in my mind. Plus, major props to me for remembering this, there is a pivotal scene in the story that takes place on July 4th. And there are fireworks (literally and metaphorically).

Favorite summer beer, anyone? Or least favorite? I had the summer beer at the Southampton Publick House last week and it was like drinking Coors Light (ie. very bad).

Make sure to check our Brittany’s post from last week and Andi and Estelle’s posts in the next couple of weeks.

One Year Ago: Book Review: The Marked Men Series
Two Years AgoBook Review: The Fifth Wave


Book Review: Joyride

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Title: Joyride
Author: Anna Banks
Release Date: 06/02/15
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I picked up Joyride (which I literally us typed as “Joyread”) because I thought it would be a sweet romance with a serious side story about illegal immigration. And that wasn’t what it was at all. Which was ok because the illegal immigration story, which was very much of the focus of the book, ended up being pretty stellar and romance ended up not being stellar.

Let’s get the worst part of this book out of the way first. The story is about Carly, an American citizen and high school senior whose parents were deported back to Mexico a few years before and Arden, a white guy who is also a senior in high school who’s always been the cool football player and whose father is the sheriff of the town known for taking a hardline in immigration. I was not even a little bit a fan of the romance in this book and I blame 80% of that on the fact that the story was told in chapters alternating between Carly and Arden’s perspectives. Which I don’t love, but which was made so much worse by the fact that Carly’s were in the first-person POV and Arden’s were in the third-person POV. Carly’s POV was fine, but Arden’s third-person one somehow made him seem less like a real person and more like a cheesy idiot. I was probably never going to like the romance in this story, but the POVs made it so much worse.

And why wasn’t I going to love the romance? It just didn’t work. Carly is very focused on doing well in school and getting to go to college. She spends all of her time not in school or studying working to help her brother save money to sneak her parents and younger siblings back into the US. That is Carly’s entire life. She has no friends or boyfriends and has zero other interests. Arden, although we never really get to see it, we’re just told it, is the ultra-popular golden boy who, after a chance run in with Carly, takes an interest in her and recruits her to do these pranks with him (I’m not even going to go into the pranks because they were so stupid and unnecessary). And then his whole life is Carly. He has no other friends or previous girlfriends or anything. It was just so unbelievable.

Ok, enough of that. At this point you’re probably wondering what I actually liked about the story. I liked Carly and her situation, well I didn’t like her situation, but I thought it was an important story and one that was told beautifully. Carly is very much trying to do the right thing for her family, which she’s always been taught is the most important thing in life, while still being true to herself. She lives with her older brother who works several jobs and has no life to try to bring their parents back to the States. Carly not only expects a lot from herself, her family expects a lot from her and they don’t necessarily understand why she wants to do well in school and go to college. Carly’s pain and inner conflict really came through as did the injustice of her situation.

As a rule I don’t tend to enjoy menacing stories or storylines, but in this situation the storyline with the sinister guy Carly’s brother pays to smuggle their family back into the US worked. The guy was terrible and scary, but he was terrible and scary in a very real way that did a great job at highlighting how completely broken the immigration system in this country really is.

Bottom LineJoyride ending up being a lot more serious and a lot less fun than I expected. I didn’t think a story about illegal immigration would be a riot, but I did expect the romance and the prank aspect of the story to help lighten things up. But the romance and prank storylines both fell flat and I could have done without either of them. This book really shined when it dealt with the broken immigration system and how Carly handled the guilt and pressure around trying to reunite her family while living her own life. If you’re looking for a story about illegal immigration give this a read, but if you’re looking for a romance or high school story skip over this.

I received an eletronic review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley (thank you!). All opinions are my own.

One Year Ago: How Reading Ruined My Attention Span
Two Years AgoBook Review: Reboot


Book Review: Hello, I Love You

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Title: Hello, I Love You
Author: Katie M. Stout
Release Date: 06/09/15
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

There was something about Hello, I Love You that seemed so unique to me and had me so excited going in. I love when authors take a very common storyline (coming of age, cancer, dystopian world, etc.) and make it their own, but there’s also something refreshing about a original story with a less common concept. If you break down the different parts of this book it isn’t terrible unique, a girl going to boarding school in another country has been done, a wealthy family with secrets has been done, and the broody love interest has certainly been done, but still, Hello, I Love You seemed fresh.

A lot of what made the story seem new was the setting. Grace decides, pretty much on a whim, that she wants to spend her senior year abroad to escape scrutiny after her famous brother’s drug and alcohol issues came to light and she randomly picks Korea. She knows pretty much nothing about Korea, but that worked in my favor because I got to learn more about the country along with Grace. She attends a fairly westernized school where they speak English, but she spends a good amount of time in the town around the school and also takes trips to Seoul where more of the Korean culture comes through. Korea served as a great backdrop for the story, but it also was in the background which let the characters and their lives really shine through.

The biggest part of Korean culture featured in the story however is KPOP, the Korean pop music tour de force. Grace’s roommate, Sophie, is the sister of a very famous KPOP musician who is also at school with Grace and Sophie. Grace, who comes from a famous country music family in the US, knows nothing about KPOP. Hanging out with Jason and his bandmates teaches her a good amount about KPOP (although I personally would have liked to learn a little bit more about it in the book other than that the fans are pretty nuts and that the lyrics are pretty saccharine) and also lures her back into the music business, something she very much tried to distance herself from after her brother’s scandal.

I actually expected more of a romance in the story, but the relationship between Grace and Jason actually took a backseat for most of the story which was fine with me because I really liked Grace and following her evolution over the course of the story. Even though it might not seem like it at first it turns out that Grace is truly running away from her family and their issues. And for much of the story Grace is in pretty terrible denial about how her family is doing. It would have been easy to want to shake Grace and tell her to face up to things or get annoyed at her, but the way she was portrayed made it really difficult to be bothered by her.

Even though the romance wasn’t front and center I never fully embraced it. Jason was kind of a broody a-hole which is never my favorite type of leading man and maybe that’s what held me back from fully buying into the romance. There were scenes where Jason was sweet to Grace, but it was more of Grace saying he was sweet or wanting him to be sweet than Jason actually being sweet.

It’s going to sound lame, but the strongest aspect of this book for me is the pacing. The book spans the school year and it never felt rushed or drawn out and the transitions between chapters that were months and weeks apart were perfect. There could have been those horrible opening sentences that try to explain the last week/month/whatever of the characters lives or explain why we’ve skipped ahead in some ways, but those were luckily absent and the transitions were really seamless.

Bottom Line: Even though the romance didn’t thrill me and I would have liked a little more background on KPOP I still really enjoyed Hello, I Love You and I am excited to see what Katie M. Stout does next. The unique setting for a YA story was handled beautifully and Grace’s personality was multi-faceted and sympathetic. Plus the supporting characters were spot-on and their personalities really shone through.

I received an electronic review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley (thank you!). All opinions are my own. 

One Year Ago: Book Review: The Secret Side of Empty
Two Years AgoWaiting on Wednesday: Crash Into You & Gayle Foreman Read Along: Sisters in Sanity: Week 1


Top 10 Tuesday: Books On My TBR For Summer 2015

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Top 10 Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. You can see all the topics here.

The last few weeks of topics having to do with upcoming books are kind of killing me! I don’t like to repeat books too often on my Top 10 Tuesday lists, especially in consecutive weeks, but luckily there are lots of books out there that I’m excited to read. Like most of my season TBR lists this one is a combo of old and new.

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1. A Million Miles Away by Lara Avery: Part of me doesn’t want to read this book, but the other, larger, part of me is so intrigued by how it will all play out.

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2. Jesse’s Girl by Miranda Kenneally: I actually ended up reading this over the weekend (I made this list a few weeks ago), but it was very good and a great summer book.

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3. Chasing River by K.A. Tucker: K.A. Tucker’s books always end up sucking me in and I especially love the Burying Water series.

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4. Playing with Trouble by Chanel Cleeton: I was really impressed by the first book in the Capital Confessions series and I’m so glad I don’t have to wait long for another one!

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5. Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica: I ended up being on the fence about The Good Girl, but I’m still intrigued by this one and eager to see what Kubica does next.

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6. Loving Dallas (Neon Dreams #2) by Caisey Quinn: I was also on the fence about the first Neon Dreams book, but I do want to get a better look at Dallas and I feel like this one will be less angst-ridden.

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7. Even When You Lie to Me by Jessica Alcott: I’m always sucked in by these teacher/student love stories but then ultimately disappointed. Hopefully this one will be the one that breaks the mold.

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8. The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler: Even though I’ve really enjoyed all of the Sarah Ockler books I’ve read the excitement just hasn’t been there for me for this one, but I’m still going to make sure I give it a read this summer.

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9. Unbecoming by Rebecca Scherm: The reviews seem mixed but I’m still interested in this story of international crime and romance.

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10. Your Perfect Life by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke: I was kind of interested in this one last year, but after reading The Status of All Things I definitely want to give another book by these ladies a try.

One Year AgoTop 10 Tuesday: Books On My Summer TBR list (I read 5 of these)
Two Years AgoTop 10 Tuesday: Books at the Top of my Summer TBR List (I also read 5 of these)


Pub Date: Guest Post

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This month’s Pub Date “theme” is guest posts which means we’ve all selected a guest blogger to pick a beer and a book. I’ve selected my lovely friend Grace who, in addition to being my friend, is also a childrens book editor at FSG. Here is Grace (in a Powell’s tee shirt!) with beer.

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Grace and I met more than eight years ago when I became her roommate. We happily lived as roommates for over five years and in the process became good friends. Grace heroically edited my grad school essays (for which I still owe her beer/food/my first-born child) and is about 87% responsible for me getting into grad school (yay Grace!). We share mutual loves of books, The Dram Shop, sports, and, most importantly, beer. And with that I hand it over to Grace!

Hi all!

Thank you so much for having me—and a special thank-you to Maggie for inviting me. I’ve sipped and shared many awesome beers with her over the years, and our debates (umm discussions) over books have been some of my favorites.

By way of introduction, my name is Grace Kendall, and I’m an editor at Farrar, Straus, Giroux Books for Young Readers, which is an imprint of Macmillan. While the book I’m talking about today wasn’t published by us, it did win a Michael L. Printz Honor for excellence in young adult fiction, among many other accolades. While I read it for that reason alone, I’m recommending it today because I loved it.

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The Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley (Elephant Rock Books, 2014) is a gritty, beautiful, lyrical coming-of-age story set in the seaside town of Bray, Ireland. Maggie Lynch, a reluctant transplant from Chicago, is a Nirvana devotee at the pinnacle of the grunge era. Her mother has thrown herself into marriage with yet another questionable partner, who happens to be Irish. Thus, Maggie is pulled away from her American home, the charismatic uncle she loves, and all else familiar to the craggy island of Bray. Love, death, Catholic school, a European road-trip, and Kurt Cobain’s fated final concert ensue.

In addition to receiving the Printz Honor, The Carnival at Bray was named an ALA 2015 Top Ten Best Fiction Title for Young Adults, a Chicago Weekly Best Book, and a Kirkus Reviews Best Book. It was also a finalist for the William C. Morris Award and won the Helen Sheehan YA Book Prize of 2014. Here it is on Goodreads.

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I’ve decided to pair this novel with Casco Bay Brewing Company’s “Riptide”, which is an Irish Red Ale. The BeerAdvocate Brothers give it a “world-class” rating of 98, and I just really like it. So, admittedly, the Irish link is pretty obvious. But I chose it for several reasons. My family has a cottage on Casco Bay in Maine, where we go for long weekends in the summer. Maine’s coast is breathtaking: dangerous and beautiful. And many of the seaside scenes in The Carnival at Bray reminded me of the wild energy of the Maine Coast at night. The main character, Maggie, is always looking back across the ocean to Chicago, longing for her home. But as her life builds in Bray, the emotional pull back to America becomes muddled. This conflicted gaze—the pushing and pulling of desire—reminded me of the tides of the Atlantic Ocean and the Irish Sea. Maggie’s uncle also struggles with drugs and depression, so the word “riptide” felt eerily applicable on multiple levels.

There are also several important scenes that take place in a classic Irish pub. And while I think of this book as a fall/winter story, pubs often remind me of summer. A cool, dark haven to get away from the sun for a few hours. (To be honest, one might argue that a Maine summer is more like a Mid-Atlantic winter. So the metaphor still works! J ) And if you’re ever in Maine, there’s a good chance Casco Bay’s Riptide will be on tap.

SO, go out and grab a copy of Foley’s wonderful novel, and sit yourself down in the shade with a Riptide or brew of your choice. The heat of the summer sun will swiftly be swept away as you enter Maggie’s world and the wet, windy chill of Ireland’s coast. But the thrill of watching her story unfold—equal parts heartbreaking and hopeful—will stay with you long after your summer day has come to an end.

Thank you so much for playing along, Grace! And thank you for picking a book with a main character named Maggie (we know I love that). Everyone make sure to the books she’s edited including the super exciting upcoming Gertie’s Leap to Greatness (it’s middle grade, but I hear it’s amazing although no one’s sent me a copy yet (nudge, nudge)). And you can find her on Twitter where she shares her highly-entertaining observations and love of sports, among other things.

Make sure to check out my other Pub Dates this month:
Brittany
Estelle
Andi

One Year Ago: Book Review: Landry Park
Two Years Ago: Book Review: Thousand Words