Discussion: Diversifying Reading vs Being a Diverse Reader

discussion

There’s been a lot of talk everywhere about diversity + the book/reading/book blogging communities… This post isn’t so much about diversity in the market so much as my personal reading tastes and how they’ve evolved to become more diverse than they used to be and the tricky business of stepping outside of my comfort zones.

My reading tastes used to be very narrow. First, I read Harry Potter. Then I re-read Harry Potter many, many, many times until my sister started recommending the books she was reading. Then I accepted a recommendation from my friend Alison and started reading Twilight which lead to reading those books and then re-reading those books. I read a bit of adult contemporary (almost all recommendations) and then I started picking up cozy mysteries and read mysteries almost exclusively. Then my friend Lisa recommended The Hunger Games and after falling in love with that series (and binge reading it), I finally started to seek out books on my own, which is how I found all of the amazing young adult fiction that I read today!

I feel like I’ve branched out with my reading a lot in just a few years and yet even still, I find myself falling back into my old comfort zones. I found a series and then stuck to it (Harry Potter, Twilight, The Hunger Games). Then an author and stuck to them (Meg Cabot, Sophie Kinsella). Then genres and stuck to them (adult contemporary, mysteries, dystopians). And now I think I’m the most diverse in my reading that I’ve been so far with all of the different genres I enjoy, but I’m still mainly stuck in YA and rarely branch out to adult or middle grade now (though I’ve made progress with that as well, lately). Although… I wouldn’t really say that’s an issue…

If you’re coming from a diversity aspect, sure. I’m not the most diverse reader out there. I could really dip into a lot more issues or perspectives or backgrounds, but I’ve always been a reader who has stuck to what I love and what I know I love. I’ve slowly branched out from only reading fantasy when it was Harry Potter to thoroughly enjoying fantasy and now it’s one of my favorite genres to read… But even when I first started reading fantasy, I thought I hated it.  I didn’t know where to start as far as fantasy was concerned so I was just trying things other people liked with no clue as to what I would enjoy. Sometimes it worked out amazingly (Graceling) and other times, I just couldn’t get into it (Lord of the Rings). It took a long time of picking books and trying them before I finally started to realize what kinds of things I appreciated in fantasy and what things I really didn’t have interest in, and really that’s the same with every genre.

As far as this post goes, I’m not talking about diversity meaning race or religion or sexual preference. I don’t really choose books based on any of those (unless it’s something like Christian fiction because I already know that’s something I don’t personally connect with). I’m talking about diversity in my reading meaning picking up different genres, male vs female POVs, trying to pick books based on what sounds interesting and not caring whether that means YA or Adult or MG. When I look at where I started as a reader and where I am now, I never could have predicted all of the different genres and subject matters and types of characters that I read — and yes, race and religion and sexual preference fall in with that too. I never really chose books with the express purpose of avoiding one thing or the other but I always fell back into my reading comfort zone. I do dip out of it from time to time, but I also like staying within that comfort zone because that’s when I find the books that I expect to love and in fact do fall in love with — because I know those are the books I will identify with the most. I don’t always have to identify with a book to fall in love with it, but that’s usually a really good way for me to get hooked so often times those are the books I seek out.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m making progress! I feel like I’ve come a long way already in the books that I pick out and the books I end up enjoying. Even within a genre or a topic that I expect to love, I find books that just don’t live up to my expectations. Other times I’ve picked up books I think I’d enjoy and find out that I really just don’t enjoy books set in a certain time period or a certain setting or characters who have certain personality traits. Some things vary from book to book and some things, I find out, really do end up falling under a generalization of things I do or don’t enjoy, but I’m able to make that generalization because I’ve tried so many books with those elements and truly don’t enjoy them.

While I’m trying to step out of my comfort zone, I think it’s important for me to edge out slowly… test the waters… pick something in between something I love and something that’s totally different. When I tried diving into fantasy, for example, I tried FULL OUT FANTASY with worlds and creatures and terminology and I was utterly overwhelmed, and I think that can be true with any reader. If you step too far outside of your comfort zone, it can easily be scary and overwhelming. So far, I’m enjoying expanding my reading tastes little by little and pulling those new and exciting topics or genres into my bubble of familiarity. Some people can make big leaps like that but that usually doesn’t work for me. I’m really enjoying growing as a reader at my own pace because that’s really what’s working so well. When I try to force things because other people are reading them or because they’re all the rage or because they’re a hot topic, sometimes I’m just not ready for that yet.

I think it’s important for readers to try new things and expand their reading horizons because it’s true — you don’t know what you’re missing out on if you don’t try — but also remember that you’re reading because you love to read. You’re doing what you love and it’s something that makes you feel passionate. It’s always okay to stick within your comfort zone when you want to/need to because those are the things that make you love what you love!

How do YOU define being a diverse reader? Do you think that pertains to stepping out of your comfort zone little by little as well having a variety of genres and topics to choose from?

Do you think you’ve developed your reading repertoire over the years and have expanded your reading horizons? Do you tend to just read what you love or take the plunge and dive into something totally different than what you usually read?

 

Book and a Beverage [65] – Dana from The Nerdy Journalist

Book and a Beverage

Welcome back to BOOK AND A BEVERAGE!

In case you don’t know the deal about Book and a Beverage, it’s a very simple yet fun feature: We read books, we drink beverages, we take pictures of them and then I share your photos and a little about you to the blogging world!

Give a big welcome to Dana from The Nerdy Journalist!

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Name & Blog Name: Dana @ The Nerdy Journalist
Tell us a little about your blog! I began thinking about starting a blog when I attended a session about blogging at a scholastic journalism convention (shout out to my fellow newspaper/yearbook/litmag peeps!). I originally shrugged off the idea because I couldn’t come up with a “blogging niche.” In Nov. 2013, I started The Nerdy Journalist as a journalistic experiment and a chance to share one of my favorite things in the world: books.
What’s been your favorite post you’ve written so far? (Link us up!) Last month, I did a photo shoot inspired by To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. 
Got anything special coming up we should know about?  I don’t really plan my posts far in advance. Reviews and discussions tend to pop up when the mood strikes me. I definitely want to do more photography posts in the future, but I’m having trouble finding models.

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Whatcha reading? The novel I’m reading right now is Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo, but I keep putting it aside so I can re-read Fullmetal Alchemist (not pictured) and watch the anime.
Where did it come from? (Library, purchased, publisher, etc) I borrowed Siege and Storm from my local library.
Any special reason you chose to feature this book? I’ve been hearing so many good things about the Grisha trilogy, so I decided to give it a shot. I had trouble putting Shadow and Bone down. As for Fullmetal Alchemist, I had a major manga phase during middle school and I’m getting back into it now. FMA is my favorite manga, and I’m pretty sure it always will be.
What’s important that we should know about this book? Would you recommend it? Honestly, I’ve only read two chapters of Siege and Storm so far. The first book is exciting and vivid. The Grisha trilogy is unlike any fantasy story I’ve read before. If you’ve never read manga before, I think you should give it a shot at least once. As previously stated, Fullmetal Alchemist is my favorite manga. There’s a lot of fantasy/steampunk elements in it, the storyline is suspenseful and action-packed, and the characters (both major and minor) are amazingly complex.

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Whatcha drinking? Peach flavored iced green tea
What’s your favorite thing to drink while reading? I do most of my reading in bed or in the car, so I usually only have water with me while reading. 
Favorite beverage of all time. Go! If it’s hot, homemade sparkling lemonade (with a heaping teaspoon of sugar). If it’s cold, peppermint mocha.

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What are your top three books you would recommend to other people? Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols — I love Jennifer Echols! Her books are always so edgy and fun. Such a Rush was the first one I read, and it’s my favorite. The Legend Trilogy by Marie Lu — I’m cheating a bit here, but the whole series is amazing. It’s one of those books that I picked up recently and wondered, “Where have you been all my life?!?” The final book, Champion, left me with such a terrible book hangover that I was making paperclip rings for days (if you’ve read the books, you understand this). My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick — The romance in this book is so swoony and adorable! 
What’s your proudest blogging/reading/writing moment? 
In December, I wrote a profile about a retiring art teacher for my school paper. I’ve known that teacher since I was in third grade, so I just HAD to be the one to write the story. I wanted to capture her “essence” in the paper. I wanted everyone to know how kind she is, how much she loves teaching. When the paper came out, one day before she retired, I personally delivered the papers to her room and watched her read it. She teared up and told me how thankful she was that I wrote her profile. I’ve never been more proud of any work I’ve done for the newspaper.
Anything else you’d like to share? I love chatting with fellow book nerds, so don’t be afraid to leave comments on my blog, tweet me, friend me on Goodreads, etc.! I’m pretty much always open for a conversation (unless I’m in class or at tennis practice).

Thanks, Dana!! LOVE your recommendations! I really enjoyed Such a Rush and Legend (still need to read the rest of the trilogy) and I’m hoping to start My Life Next Door soon! Thanks so much for being on Book and a Beverage!

I hope you enjoyed getting to know Dana! Connect with her at the links below!
Blog // Twitter // Goodreads // Facebook // Instagram // Tumblr

And don’t forget! You can participate in Book and a Beverage at any time! Got a book? Got a beverage? Just tweet or post your photo on Instagram using the hashtag #bookandabeverage and I’ll retweet or repost your photo!

#bookandabeverage

#scandal – Sarah Ockler

#scandal – Sarah OcklerTitle: #scandal by Sarah Ockler
Date Completed: June 11, 2014
Publishing Info: June 17, 2014 by Simon and Schuster
Source: ARC from Simon Teen -- Thank you!
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Goodreads // Buy from Amazon
Related Posts: The Selective Collective features The Book of Broken Hearts, The Book of Broken Hearts
    A private, high school senior gets an unwanted turn in the spotlight when a Facebook scandal goes viral after prom in this comedic, edgy novel from the author of The Book of Broken Hearts and Bittersweet.Lucy’s learned some important lessons from tabloid darling Jayla Heart’s all-too-public blunders: Avoid the spotlight, don’t feed the Internet trolls, and keep your secrets secret. The policy has served Lucy well all through high school, so when her best friend Ellie gets sick before prom and begs her to step in as Cole’s date, she accepts with a smile, silencing about ten different reservations. Like the one where she’d rather stay home shredding online zombies. And especially the one where she’s been secretly in love with Cole since the dawn of time. When Cole surprises her at the after-party with a kiss under the stars, it’s everything Lucy has ever dreamed of…and the biggest BFF dealbreaker ever. But before they get the chance to ’fess up to Ellie, Lucy’s own Facebook profile mysteriously explodes with compromising photos of her and Cole, along with tons of other students’ party indiscretions. Tagged. Liked. And furiously viral. By Monday morning, Lucy’s been branded a slut, a backstabber, and a narc mired in a tabloid-worthy scandal, just weeks before graduation. Lucy’s been battling undead masses online long enough to know that there’s only one way to survive a disaster of this magnitude: Stand up and fight. There’s just one snag—Cole. Turns out Lucy’s not the only one who’s been harboring unrequited love…

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As I’m sure many of you know, I was a HUGE fan of the first Sarah Ockler book I read, THE BOOK OF BROKEN HEARTS. I have to read any other ones besides that and #SCANDAL but I’ve heard good things about the rest! Obviously, when I went to start #SCANDAL, I had some pretty high expectations. I had heard from others who had already read it that it definitely was a different style than Sarah’s previous books and I tried to put myself in that mindset but… well… I failed.

#SCANDAL was VERY different for me as a reader. Not just in style but it didn’t even feel like I was reading the same author. All of the bare bones were there of the things that I loved in THE BOOK OF BROKEN HEARTS – a strong female character, a rocky but great family relationship to explore, a super swoony boy, and friendship trials/tribulations – but none of those elements really seemed to work or pan out for me in #SCANDAL. Almost all of them felt completely undeveloped and overshadowed by the plot and without that feeling of reality from the characters and their relationship, I was just lost in the drama of the book.

#SCANDAL had some, well, scandalous topics. Lucy finds herself the victim of a social media explosion after being photographed kissing her best friend’s boyfriend (now ex, although that wasn’t news to the school yet) and an innocent situation turned completely and untruthfully raunchy. I really appreciated a lot of the situations that Lucy had to deal with and I thought Sarah Ockler did a great job of showing how social media really does affect our daily lives, especially when it comes to the relationships we have with our peers. Things can easily be taken out of context or thrown out of proportion because of the passive-aggressiveness of social media and many people end up not confronting issues head on. I think Sarah Ockler did a really great job of exploring those angles and I loved all of the questions both characters and reader came up with throughout the course of the book.
What I didn’t enjoy was how most of the characters handled these situations. If Lucy is innocent (we know she is), why didn’t she stand up for herself more? I’m not a vocal person by any means and I don’t really push myself into situations or even speak up for myself at times, but if I was involved in a scandal that was entirely untrue, you BET I would be all over the place defending myself, tracking down the culprit who was spreading rumors about me, and trying to make things right. Lucy was portrayed to be this kickass, zombie and guts-loving, nose ring-wearing girl and I felt like she didn’t once have that sort of personality outside of her videogames. I’m not saying that stereotypical look + attitude combination exists all the time, but it was surprising to me that she would be bold with her looks and actions everywhere EXCEPT for handling this scandal and her friendships. I was just really disappointed with her character.

I really wasn’t sold on many of the relationships, sadly. We find out many different things about Lucy’s relationship with her sister, but they’re only briefly touched upon and then quickly resolved. The swoony aspect between Lucy and Cole are totally glossed over because of the situation surrounding them. They had some REALLY cute moments but there were just so few and far between. I was really disappointed with the friendships too. Everything just seemed so catty and superficial. I just felt like every relationship in the book really could have benefitted from a bit more development.
I really just wasn’t a fan of the overall feel of the book, to be perfect frank. I can appreciate keeping a lighter tone with such a heavy topic, but I would have liked to see it addressed a bit more seriously. Again, all the messages were there but I didn’t quite like their delivery. The whole vibe was just a bit TOO Gossip Girl meets Mean Girls and I think it got a little too silly for my tastes. I would have liked this to feel a lot more realistic instead of getting carried away with being fun.

I’m just so sad that this one didn’t really seem to work out at all for me. I was really hoping for another knockout after THE BOOK OF BROKEN HEARTS and I think that was really just a tough book to follow. The overall feel left me wanting so much more of the reality of each situation and everything just felt a little underwhelming.

THE VIEW FROM GOODREADS

“The View from Goodreads” is a new featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Lucy // Character Obsessions: Zombies, video games, Cole. 
Lucy, Lucy, Lucy. Why didn’t you stand up for yourself?!? That’s one thing I can’t understand. Why did no one encourage her to come forward and say or try to prove that all of these scandalous accusations were false? Why didn’t she WANT to? Who wants to be tortured and ridiculed like that? I mean, obviously she didn’t but that was just something that bothered me throughout the whole book. I also felt like she was so passive with her friendships as well. I really had just hoped for so much more from her.
Principal Zeff // Character Obsessions: Advice, cookies, Facebook.
WOW, this principal should be fired. Instead of solving problems and really taking matters into her own hands… She encourages Lucy to take the blame for her “actions”? Even though she knows she’s innocent of the accusations? And then comes up with BS activities to “help the students”. No. Just no. So unprofessional and just a terrible principal.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Issues. It was so interesting to really sit back and think about your social media presence as well as consequences for whatever you do, especially in a public setting. It’s terrible that people are actually treated that way, but unfortunately it’s something children and adults alike need to be aware of nowadays, especially with how easily things go viral on social media and the internet.
Left Me Wanting More: Gravity. I wanted things to be a bit more serious. Yes, the whole scandal did have its very serious consequences but I felt like the lighter tone of the book really just set a glaze over everything. Sugary, sweet fun. I think it should have been less cute, more serious. .

Addiction Rating
Skip it

I know others enjoyed it but I was just so disappointed in this one. I can’t really recommend it. If you want to try a Sarah Ockler book, I will forever recommend THE BOOK OF BROKEN HEARTS. I personally plan on reading others to try to cleanse my palate.

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(Click the cover to see my review!)

       Blaze   The Break-Up Artist

On the Fence – Kasie West

On the Fence – Kasie WestTitle: On the Fence by Kasie West
Date Completed: June 24, 2014
Publishing Info: July 1, 2014 by HarperCollins
Source: egalley auto-approved by the publisher via Edelweiss
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Goodreads // Buy from Amazon
Related Posts: Pivot Point, The Distance Between Us
She's a tomboy. He's the boy next door.With three older brothers, Charlotte Reynolds, aka Charlie, has always been more comfortable calling the shots on a basketball court than flirting with the opposite sex. So when her police officer dad demands she get a summer job to pay for the latest in a long line of speeding tickets, she's more than a little surprised to find herself working at a chichi boutique and going out with a boy who has never seen her tear it up in a pickup game. Charlie seeks late-night refuge in her backyard, talking out her problems with her neighbor and honorary fourth brother, Braden, sitting back-to-back against the fence that separates them. Braden may know her better than anyone. But there's a secret Charlie's keeping that even he hasn't figured out—she's fallen for him. Hard. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.

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Another fantastic book from Kasie West, chock full of family, wonderful characters, and a romance that will make your heart soar. I really loved THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US and major bonus points for seeing some of the characters from that book pop up in ON THE FENCE! I didn’t really realize that these books were sort of companions but I just adore character crossovers so that was so much fun to see!

One of the reasons I loved ON THE FENCE so much was the wonderful collection of characters that Kasie West always has in her stories. I still need to read SPLIT SECOND but I can say with confidence that from PIVOT POINT and THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US, I’ve seen her character development grow with each book. Each new work I read provides characters that just feel incredibly real and I made such a personal connection with Charlie. I was definitely more of a tomboy growing up — my sister was more of the sports nut (and still is) but we played sports, all of the neighborhood kids were boys, and I never really got too much into makeup and accessories and clothes. (I’m still not haha!) I wasn’t as much of a tomboy as Charlie is, but I definitely saw those pieces of myself in her and I really got to connect with her on that level. The neighborhood pick-up games really reminded me of my own childhood and it made me miss the days of playing baseball in the street and hanging out with the guys. I also really loved how Charlie felt like a genuine tomboy. No part of that really ever felt forced to me. She was in her element playing sports and hanging out with the guys and so completely out of her element when it came to the girly things.

I also just love the family dynamic in all of Kasie West’s books. Even though she’s missing her mother, Charlie has an amazing family with her father and her brothers, including like-a-brother who happens to be next-door neighbor Braden. She has a great support and although they give her crap about guys and about girly things, deep down Charlie knows that she always has that family support system whenever she needs it. I don’t know why but I love older brother/younger sister relationships. I always wanted an older brother (which obviously when I realized that’s what I wanted it was way too late for that haha) because I just love the protectiveness that occurs in these relationships between brothers and sisters and for some reason I just think it’s so sweet and it really endears me to the brother. (Although I’m guessing if you did in fact have an older brother, this may get annoying. The grass is always greener, right?) Anyway, I just really loved the relationship that Charlie had with her brothers and I LOVED how her relationship with Braden slowly evolved from him being like a brother and one of the guys to realizing that there were more feelings for him there than she knew.

The romance was ADORABLE. The best-friend-turned-boyfriend trope is one of my favorites because I just love the friendship basis for these relationships. There’s already a deep connection and it’s scary but so exciting to start moving that relationship towards something you both realize is there but are afraid to change. The relationship that evolves from Charlie and Braden’s friendship was just adorable and I loved every second of watching that relationship grow. I loved their banter and watching them tip toe towards expressing their feelings to each other, figuring out what was crossing this line or that.

Clearly you can tell I just adored ON THE FENCE. I immediately pre-ordered the book as soon as I finished my egalley because this was one of those books I needed to hug and then put on my shelf to display proudly. I highly recommend it for a cute contemporary romance!

THE VIEW FROM GOODREADS

“The View from Goodreads” is a new featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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I had started reading during BEA but decided to come back to it later when I was more in the mood! :)

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Charlie // Character Obsessions: Playing sports, watching sports, family, her new job.
I saw so much of myself in Charlie. I wasn’t as much of a tomboy as she was but I definitely considered myself “one of the guys” back in the day and I was always up for a competition, frequently to prove that I could hang with the guys. I really liked watching her grow up throughout this novel! It was so wonderful to see how her character changed and developed.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Tomboys. I love books with a good tomboy — they’re not always done well and sometimes things feel forced or a little bit too exaggerated but I felt like Kasie West got this just right and it was so enjoyable to read Charlie’s story as a tomboy!
Left Me Wanting More: Backstory on Charlie’s mom. Clearly something is up with the mom situation since Charlie starts off the story by having nightmares about her mother’s death. I think that was the only part of the story that didn’t 100% hook me because I didn’t feel like it was really necessary? But that’s really just picking at the little things!

Addiction Rating
Buy it!

This book was so cute. If you enjoy adorable contemporary romances, I have no hesitation telling you to buy this one! I think it’s totally worth the purchase because you’ll probably want to hug it too.

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(Click the cover to see my review!)

   anna and the French kiss Stephanie perkins   better off friends Elizabeth eulberg

Summer Showcase: Cute Contemporaries

summer showcase cute contemporary books

This summer I wanted to share with you a collection of posts to feature a few books that I just absolutely have to recommend to you for fantastic summer reads a well as books I plan on reading this summer myself! Summertime is a fantastic time of year for so many different kinds of books. I don’t know how many people out there are mood readers or even “season readers” but I feel like summer is the great time for epic books, cute contemps, and emotional roller coasters — basically any book you can totally and completely get lost in. Enter: feature.

Missed the first edition of Summer Showcase? Check out which blockbuster books I’m recommending for this summer (and reading myself) here!
Summer Showcase: Blockbusters

THE CUTE CONTEMPORARIES

One of my favorite types of books to read in the summer are the cute contemporaries. I just LOVE a cute, summery, light read in the summertime. They’re just perfect for kicking back and relaxing, reading on the beach, chilling on the porch, or just letting your mind relax with something cute and cozy!

There’s just something about contemporary books that scream summer and I just love all the light and fluffy and/or cute and/or swoony reads paired with warm weather and cold drinks!

Open Road Summer

Open Road Summer – Emery Lord

OPEN ROAD SUMMER is the perfect summer read. I mean HELLOOOO it has the word “summer” in the title! But seriously, folks. I read this one a few months ago and I am still swooning over it. I read it, fell in love, and then immediately ordered my hardcover copy because I NEEDED this book to stay on my shelves. I already want to do a re-read. That’s how much I loved it!
What you need to know about this book is that it’s about teenage country & pop superstar Lilah Montgomery and the story spans the course of the summer during her concert tour (hence the title) but the book isn’t actually Lilah’s story. Yes, that’s a very big part of it, but OPEN ROAD SUMMER is very much Reagan’s story. Reagan and Dee (short for Delilah — Dee to her friends, Lilah to her fans) have been best friends for years and after a very rough patch in her life, Reagan spends the summer with Dee on her multi-city concert tour. It’s a story about redemption, friendship, love, and finding oneself. OPEN ROAD SUMMER is one of my top recommendations for summer reads because this book really has it all!

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Anna and the French Kiss – Stephanie Perkins

Now is the perfect time to read ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS if you haven’t already with companion novel ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER coming out in August! I read ANNA a couple years ago and instantly fell in love. I really related to Anna in so many ways and she also happens to fall in love with one of my favorite book crushes of all time, Etienne St. Clair. ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS takes place at a boarding school in France and not knowing much about France (and not being a Francophile like so many of my friends), I was scared I’d get lost in French culture and references… but it was just the opposite. I ended up learning a lot and quickly fell into step with Anna who also knew absolutely zip about France before she was shipped off there.
ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS is adorable, enjoyable, and one of my favorites. Read it or start a re-read this summer! Now is the time!

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Meant To Be – Lauren Morrill

MEANT TO BE actually takes place over spring break, but I think it’s a wonderful light read for summer as well. I felt like it was very reminiscent of ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS when I first read it which was all positive for me! I really connected with Julia who was a total book nerd and someone who always felt like things would fall into place, especially when it came to her love life. I loved Julia’s story of figuring out that sometimes you need to work at the best things in life to make them happen and that life can be a great balance of both Fate and choice. The romance is cute and so much fun to watch develop and MEANT TO BE also has some really funny lines and slapstick comedy which I don’t always enjoy but Lauren Morrill did it just perfectly!

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The Summer I Became A Nerd – Leah Rae Miller

THE SUMMER I BECAME A NERD is one of the most underrated cute contemporaries that I’ve read. It’s not a bigger title and it’s from a smaller publisher so I really feel like this one really slipped under people’s radars but I absolutely loved it! The book is an almost Cinderella story in reverse… Instead of a transformation from geek to chic, we get the story of Maddie, a closet geek who slowly starts to turn from popular cheerleader into the nerd she really is. I thought the book was so much fun and it has a great nerdy-hot love interest!

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On the Fence — Kasie West

ON THE FENCE was just plain adorable. Kasie West is a contemporary mastermind and this book did not disappoint me whatsoever. I loved reading about tomboy Charlie (short for Charlotte) and her day-to-day life growing up in a house full of men. The book was just plain fun and I loved the best-friend-to-boyfriend romance (I always do) between Charlie and her neighbor Braden, who’s practically a part of the family. ON THE FENCE is light, adorable, and just plain fun!

MY SUMMER 2014 CUTE CONTEMPORARY READS

      

MY LIFE NEXT DOOR by Huntley Fitzpatrick

I KNOW. How have I not read this yet?! I’ve heard nothing but good things from everyone and I just haven’t had the time to sit down and really enjoy it. I’m constantly working my way through ARCs and review copies that my backlist copies tend to get pushed to the side but I REALLY want to read MY LIFE NEXT DOOR sometime this summer! It’s been on my list for years and it just needs to happen!

A LITTLE SOMETHING DIFFERENT by Sandy Hall

A LITTLE SOMETHING DIFFERENT is one of my review copy reads but I’m also really excited to get to it! I’ve been hearing nothing but good things about it and just how stinkin’ cute it is. I’m really excited to pick this one up for summer and just kick back and relax with an adorable book.

How about you? Do you love cute contemporaries for summer? Which ones are climbing to the top of your recommendations lists this year?

Grisha Novellas: The Demon in the Wood (#0.1) & Little Knife (#2.6) – Leigh Bardugo

Title: The Demon in the Wood by Leigh Bardugo
Completed: June 22, 2014
Source: Part of the B&N special edition RUIN AND RISING
Genre: Fantasy (YA)
Find it Online: Goodreads // Barnes & Noble
Related Posts: The Witch of Duva (#0.5) // Shadow and Bone (#1) // Re-Read Review: Shadow and Bone //
The Taylor (#1.5) // Siege and Storm (#2) // The Too-Clever Fox (#2.5)

  “Limited collector’s edition of the final book features an exclusive Darkling prequel story!
Before he became the Darkling, he was just a lonely boy of extraordinary power. Get a look into the past that forged a brutal and brilliant leader. “

Review1

THE DEMON IN THE WOOD was one of the short stories I was most anticipating. While I love Leigh Bardugo’s Ravkan folk tales, I’m sure we were all dying to know more about The Darkling!

I think the thing I loved the most about this short story was of course, more information about The Darkling, but also seeing that point in his life where things really started to turn for the worst… We find out quite a few things in the epic conclusion that is RUIN AND RISING, but this delves a little bit more into the story of how he became the way he is and I love that it makes me a little bit more sympathetic to him. All evil villains have to have a reason WHY they’re evil, right?

I really loved the character interaction. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I heard that it was a Darkling short story and I felt like the characters featured and what we learned about them was just perfect. I also really enjoyed getting to know more about the origin of the First Army and the order of the Grisha. We know it was something that The Darkling started but didn’t know how the Grisha ended up where they are.

As always, I want more because I just can’t get enough of this world but this short story provided answers and rounded out characters even more than they were. All-around enjoyable and entertaining!


Title: The Little Knife by Leigh Bardugo
Completed: June 26, 2014
Source: Read for free on Tor.com!
Genre: Fantasy (YA)
Find it Online: Goodreads // Tor
Related Posts: The Witch of Duva (#0.5) // Shadow and Bone (#1) // Re-Read Review: Shadow and Bone //
The Taylor (#1.5) // Siege and Storm (#2) // The Too-Clever Fox (#2.5)

     “In this third Ravkan folk tale from Leigh Bardugo, a beautiful girl finds that what her father wants for her and what she wants for herself are two different things.
It is a companion story to the third book of the Grisha Trilogy, Ruin and Rising, and the stories “The Witch of Duva” and “The Too-Clever Fox.”
 

Review1LITTLE KNIFE, I think, is my favorite Ravkan folk tale yet. I just loved how it felt like a short fairy tale or a fable and every time I read one of these, I just cannot praise Leigh Bardugo enough for her world building skills. Each tale shows a little history of Ravka and also seem to tie back into the most recent book and I always feel like each one makes Ravka seem more like a real place. These short stories just make it exist.

The Ravkan folk tales don’t allow as much in terms of character development but I feel like you can pluck out lessons here and there that directly correlate to a scene or a situation in the books. A character has learned that lesson or reference that folk lore or been to that place — it really just ties everything back together into one solid world.

If you haven’t read any of these shorts or folk tales, I highly recommend them if you’re a big Grisha fan!

Pub Date [1] – Summer

Hi, all! Welcome to a brand-new feature called PUB DATE! A while back, I was toying with the idea of making a specific feature just to pair up beers with books. In fact, this was how Book and a Beverage was born but I knew if I wanted it to be a regular feature, I couldn’t just limit it to beers so I adapted Book and a Beverage for everyone of all ages and drink preferences… but even over a year later, I still had the desire to make a feature just to feature beers + books! After talking it out with some of my fellow beer lovers, I knew I couldn’t do it myself Estelle from Rather Be Reading, Andi from Andi’s ABCs, and Maggie from Just a Couple More Pages and I all teamed up to bring you PUB DATE!

Each week, one of us will be featuring a beer and a book of our choice, each with a different theme for that month! For our first theme, it’s only fitting that we start with SUMMER! Summer is a great time for beer (okay, any season is a great time for beer) so it should be pretty easy to come up with some fantastic pairings!

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I got a little fancy this week. On our way home from work, Shane and I stopped at a liquor store that seemed like it had a lot of good craft beers. WHOA, was that an understatement! They had a LOT of beer selections which was really great! I’m always up for trying new beers and I got a little carried away with picking fancy beers this week and I ended up with Mischief from The Bruery (Placentia, CA). It’s a Belgian Strong Pale Ale and upon first opening the bottle, it smelled super hoppy but doesn’t really have an incredibly strong hop taste like IPAs do. It’s definitely present but I’d say the Belgian taste is a bit more prominent and I’m gonna go ahead and say the strong part for me was the alcohol content. HOO BOY, this beer comes in at 8.50% ABV. It doesn’t have too much of an alcoholic taste (the last fancy beer I tried TASTED like alcohol) and when I first tried it, I actually felt like it was a taste that I hadn’t tasted before! I really enjoyed this combination of flavors and it was a strong beer but very delicious!

The beer was called Mischief so naturally I had to choose a book with a mischievous character and who better to fill that role than Jason Lippencott from Lauren Morrill’s MEANT TO BE. When I read MEANT TO BE back in 2012, I immediately fell in love with it. I really enjoyed Julia’s character and how much I related to her nerdy side but I also really loved her interactions with Jason. Jason is ALL mischief. And I loved it. He’s the class clown and full of slap stick comedy so who better to choose for a mischievous theme?

Tying it all back into summer, I think BOTH of these are wonderful for summer time! The beer is light and crisp despite the higher alcohol content and ultimately refreshing. MEANT TO BE is a great summer read too! I love fun and light contemporary books for summer reads (even though technically MEANT TO BE takes place over spring break and not summer). I think this is a great pairing for a light and refreshing summer!

Review: MEANT TO BE by Lauren Morrill


Thanks for joining us for the launch of Pub Date! Don’t forget — each week, one of us will be pairing a book with a beer and next week, Estelle will be picking her pairing of book & brew for summer! Hope you enjoy this new feature! We can’t wait to hear what you think!

This Week’s Beers

Not a big beer drinker? Maybe Mischief was a bit ambitious to start with! Here’s a list of the other beers I’ve had this week and my current thoughts if you’re looking for a good summer beer! 

  • SKINNY DIP from New Belgium. American Blonde Ale // 4.20% ABV. Skinny Dip is a revival beer which has been incorporated into this year’s Folly Packs for New Belgium’s summer sampler cases. I really enjoy it! It’s light, crisp, and a really nice beer for summer. Great hops flavor but really not overpowering.
  • COORS LIGHT SUMMER BREW from Coors Brewing Company. Fruit Beer // 3.90% ABV. I know Andi hated Coor’s Light Summer Brew but I found it surprisingly not terribly offensive! I really enjoy fruit beers and although I much prefer Leinekugel’s for a shandy or a citrus beer, I though this one was just okay.
  • SNAPSHOT from New Belgium. American Pale Wheat Ale // 5.00% ABV. I generally love everything from New Belgium and Snapshot is a nice, easy drinker if you’re looking for a nice pale ale. It’s not too hoppy but it does have that nice pale ale taste. Nothing too overwhelming.
  • 80-ACRE HOPPY WHEAT BEER from Boulevard Brewing Co. American Pale Wheat Ale // 5.50% ABV. 80-Acre is surprisingly fantastic. We actually picked this one up because we saw a Boulevard truck on our way to work and wanted to try it. We found out in the liquor store that many Boulevard beers have really high ratings and after drinking 80-Acre, I can easily see why! The name says hoppy but it’s the perfect balance of hops and wheat flavors and they blend together really nicely! It’s such an easy drinker and I really, really enjoyed it.

** Beer styles and alcohol content from Beer Advocate **

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