Tag Archives: Friendships

Underneath Everything – Marcy Beller Paul

Underneath Everything – Marcy Beller PaulTitle: Underneath Everything by Marcy Beller Paul
Publishing Info: October 27, 2015 by HarperCollins
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery/Thriller, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: September 10, 2015

Mattie shouldn’t be at the bonfire. She should be finding new maps for her collection, hanging out with Kris, and steering clear of almost everyone else, especially Jolene. After all, Mattie and Kris dropped off the social scene the summer after sophomore year for a reason.
But now Mattie is a senior, and she’s sick of missing things. So here she is.
And there’s Jolene: Beautiful. Captivating. Just like the stories she wove. Mattie would know; she used to star in them. She and Jolene were best friends. Mattie has the scar on her palm to prove it, and Jolene has everything else, including Hudson.
But when Mattie runs into Hudson and gets a glimpse of what could have been, she decides to take it all back: the boyfriend, the friends, the life she was supposed to live. Problem is, Mattie can’t figure out where Jolene ends and she begins.
Because there’s something Mattie hasn’t told anyone—she walked away from Jolene over a year ago, but she never really left.
Poignant and provocative, Marcy Beller Paul’s debut novel tells the story of an intoxicating—and toxic—relationship that blurs the boundary between reality and fantasy, love and loyalty, friendship and obsession.


As soon as I heard that UNDERNEATH EVERYTHING had a Thirteen feel, I knew I had to read it ASAP. There’s just something about toxic friendships that’s so interesting and gripping – I think maybe because we’ve all been there to some degree, even if not quite as extreme.

The rumor about the Thirteen vibe was true for me! I definitely saw pieces of the book that reminded me of the movie but I will admit that I was hoping for a bit more. UNDERNEATH EVERYTHING was absolutely a good representation of how seemingly good friendships are actually quite harmful but I guess I was just hoping to see a few more shocking things in there. It wasn’t pretty, but it didn’t have quite as many “omg moments” as I expected. It was enjoyable, though, because UNDERNEATH EVERYTHING shows maybe a bit more of a realistic and commonplace side of a toxic friendship and although I still haven’t quite experienced anything to that degree, I’m sure many of us will see pieces of our own friendships in the book which is even scarier.

UNDERNEATH EVERYTHING was a very quick read for me. I actually finished it in a day! I was quickly sucked into Mattie’s world and I wanted to know everything about her crazy friendship with Jolene. I think maybe I’ve read a few too many books because as messed up as their friendship was, I could kind of see things from Jolene’s side. I don’t think she was right in any way but once I got to know her story, I started to understand more why she turned out the way she did. It was very unpleasant and a bit scary but also very interesting.

The book had its highs and lows for me and I wished the pacing had been a bit more consistent. I actually think my interpretation of the pace came because of an expectation so while I found it to be a bit slow at times, I’m sure other people won’t have an issue with it. I was looking for more heart-pounding confessions and emulations but there was also a lot of character development too. While I always appreciate character development, I do think I wasn’t as crazy about those scenes because I was hoping for more thriller in the book than contemporary and personal reflection.

UNDERNEATH EVERYTHING was an exciting read and even though I read it in a day, it was partially my determination to finish… I hoped for a BIT more of a pull to keep flipping those pages. It didn’t quite “wow” me but I think it’s a very interesting read and I hope others will think so too! I know I definitely want to read more books like this.


“The View from Goodreads” is a 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!

underneath everything gr updates


Mattie // Character Obsessions: Friendships, laying low, reputation, love life.
I never quite got on board with Mattie… I think it’s hard for me to connect to characters who have a bit of a weaker personality, but it was also necessary for the book. Introvert and quiet does not necessarily mean weak-minded so it’s those characters that don’t seem to have a strong will that are hard for me. I wanted to like her but just didn’t quite make it there.
Jolene // Character Obsessions: Friendships, control, the wild side .
I think I had hoped for a bit more crazy from Jolene but it was actually really interesting to see that line blur between too far and normal teenage behavior. It’s like, how much is too much? How much is pushing it beyond the point of just being a teenager and exploring personal and interpersonal boundaries? I appreciated her back story and thought it was interesting to include instead of just being like, “Here’s the controlling friend.”


Kept Me Hooked On: Toxic Friendships. I don’t think I’ve read too many books with toxic friendships but I totally want to, especially after reading this book!
Left Me Wanting More: Thrilling moments. I appreciate that it was a bit more realistic and a bit contemporary but I was sort of hoping for it to be even more er… messed up. I think I had Thirteen stuck in my head which is just a very shocking movie so I was angling towards more of those “whoa” moments.

Addiction Rating
Read it

This was really interesting! If you’re looking for a nice blend of contemporary, a struggle with friendships, and a dash of thriller, UNDERNEATH EVERYTHING is a solid choice!



(Click the cover to see my review!)


Blog Tour: Proof of Forever | Guest Post + Giveaway!


Welcome to the blog tour for
   PROOF OF FOREVER by Lexa Hillyer!

Today I’m on the blog tour for PROOF OF FOREVER with a guest post from author Lexa Hillyer! A big thanks to the ladies of Fiction Fare and Swoony Boys Podcast for having me be a part of the tour!

I was really excited for PROOF OF FOREVER before I picked it up and it proved to be light and meaningful all at the same time. If you’re not familiar with the book, it’s a little bit contemporary, a little bit sci-fi! The book details the stories of four girls who once used to be a very tight-knit group of friends but over the past couple of years, they’ve drifted far, far apart. PROOF OF FOREVER gives the girls a second chance to mend those friendships when the four girls get zapped back in time to camp life two years previously. I won’t say too much else about the book, but the concept of this broken group of friends inspired the guest post for Lexa Hillyer!


 Which do you think is harder: friendship break-ups or boyfriend break-ups?

I think friends are more important than boyfriends in the grand scheme of things—precisely because friends are more likely to weather all the storms with you, and you need those roots, that consistency, to ground you and remind you who you are. Love is a space where, especially when we’re young, we sometimes are at risk of losing ourselves.

And also, women live longer than men, so your longest romance will likely be with your female friends who still want to hang out drinking tea and gossiping loudly into your hearing aid when you’re all wrinkled and old.

As for break-ups, well I’ve never actually had one of those horrible sudden friend break-ups you hear about or read about in frenemy books. (Well, except for in first grade, when I went up to my friend Nicole on the playground and she said, to my face, “Sorry Lexa but I don’t want to be friends with you anymore. I’m friends with Ally now.” Ouch! I was mortified, but I quickly realized I didn’t really want to be friends with Nicole that much anymore either.) For the most part, true friendships, at least in my experience, have simply faded over time. Like a plant, they need to be watered regularly and tended to, otherwise they droop. But that said, they can also be rekindled. Sometimes all it takes is one good hang-out and you’re back to being as close as ever. Sometimes it takes longer to warm up again, or you readjust your expectations of the friendship, but still, there’s that connection, and you can recognize it, you can feel it.

Friendships can be forever, fading at times but then coming back when you need them most, like those “immortal jellyfish” that, instead of dying, regenerate in times of duress.

Romantic break-ups on the other hand were always way harder on me. They always seemed so sudden and harsh and messy and sniffly. Once, a guy dumped me right in front of the LOVE sculpture on 55th street and 6th avenue. I sat on the sculpture between the V and the E, trying not to cry. Another boyfriend broke up with me on Valentine’s Day—after giving me a Valentine’s Day present. It was horrible, and I was so upset I got pneumonia! (I did keep the present though—it was actually a pretty nice set of champagne glasses. And at the time, champagne was probably the only thing that got me through that break-up.)

Unlike friendships, sometimes when it’s over it’s really over. I remember one ex with whom it was so painful for me to stay friendly afterward, that I had to delete his number from my phone and stop following him on all social media in order to get over it. And in fact, I still don’t follow him. Even to this day, I still feel weird and sad about it. Then again, romances where it’s not really over after the break-up can be even worse, because it leaves lots of confused lingering unanswered questions and feelings. We keep chasing the dream of what the relationship could have been, instead of realizing the truth, which is that if it really could have been so great, it would have been.

So my advice is:

If you’re going through a friend break-up: let it lie for awhile. If you’re meant to be friends again, you definitely will be. And it won’t be as hard as you think.

If you’re going through a romantic break-up: let it die. Accept that if it was meant to be, it would have BEEN. Maybe you (or he/she) just weren’t ready… but the only way you’ll ever be ready is by dating other people and discovering more about who you are and what works for you in a relationship.

A big, big thank you to Lexa Hillyer! Those are some wise words and I really agree! They’re sort of difficult in their own way but I think friends are easier to drift back to and boyfriend break-ups are much more permanent.
Thanks, Lexa! I really loved reading your thoughts on this! Hope all the readers did too! 🙂

And don’t miss the rest of the blog tour!


There is also a tour-wide giveaway! One lucky winner will win a copy of PROOF OF FOREVER! All you need to do is enter the Rafflecopter form below to enter!
Winner must be 13 years of age or older to win. US residents only, please.

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Blog Tour: The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord | On Friendships


Welcome to the blog tour for

Firstly, many many thanks to Bloomsbury for putting on this blog tour and asking me to be a part of it! I became a HUGE Emery Lord fan last year when I first read OPEN ROAD SUMMER and upon finishing THE START OF ME AND YOU, I knew that fellow fans’ love would only grow.

For my stop on the tour today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the friendships featured in Emery Lord’s books. OPEN ROAD SUMMER brought us Reagan and Dee, two best friends who had everyone reeling about the powerful bond between a girl and her BFF.  THE START OF ME AND YOU is no exception to the strength of friendships but I love that it features a few different kinds of friend groups throughout the book.

Reading an author’s sophomore novel is always a scary thing for me. I knew I was in good hands with Emery Lord but with having the only book out by her so far, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, so naturally I was looking for similarities to OPEN ROAD SUMMER. The great thing is that three major themes exist in both books (and I have a feeling this great trend will continue): a girl who’s trying to figure out her future and change her life, a romance, and almost even more prominent than the romance, a life-long friendship. THE START OF ME AND YOU is the story of the start of me and you emery lordPaige who reaches a breaking point in her life. She notices that she’s struggling after her boyfriend’s death and feels like it’s finally time to start moving on with her life but doesn’t exactly know how to start. Her determination to find happiness again is her own decision but her friendships play instrumental roles in helping her achieve this goal and find a proper balance in her life again.

“In friendship we are all debtors. We all owe each other for a thousand small kindnesses, for little moments of grace in the chaos.”

I really enjoyed that the friendships were very different in THE START OF ME AND YOU than they were in OPEN ROAD SUMMER and yet they were just as powerful. Paige has a close group of three best girl friends. Her friendship with each one of them is unique and as a group, they become even stronger. Paige also attempts to get to know her current crush Ryan better throughout the book and one of her goals is to finally make that kiss between the two of them happen. As she’s trying to set herself up with Ryan, she actually starts to form a true friendship with him (and of course his cousin Max, who you will get to know ALL about in the book!) and *gasp* Paige’s group of girl friends and Ryan’s group of guy friends COMBINE. I honestly think this was one of the best friendships I have read in a book because the ease at which the two friend groups merged just felt so natural and reminded me of my own groups in high school. I had my best gal pals and we had friends who were also guys. We spent time apart but we also spent a lot of time together and although in the book a romance develops, crushes are formed, and advances are turned down, there was so much time with guys and girls just being friends and it was SO refreshing. This is definitely something I’ve been missing for a long time!

This was actually something I loved about OPEN ROAD SUMMER. Yes, a romance does spark between Reagan and Matt and there is a bit of complication based on what’s implied with Matt and Dee but there never is a love triangle and the feelings between Matt and Dee are nothing but platonic. Friendships and relationships can be messy but I really loved which messy points Emery Lord chooses to include. Her main characters are girls with flaws who are just trying to get a hold on their life and humans are just imperfect so naturally there will be confusion, hurt, jealousy, and misunderstandings but every relationship felt so unique — in both books — and the drama doesn’t feel melodramatic because the relationships are just so relatable. I love how these friendships really made me reflect on my own and the people in my life. I noticed that I was contemplating different things than what I had in OPEN ROAD SUMMER, too. Each character brought out a different side of the book and a different side of me and I loved being able to recognize that as I read.

“Nothing, not even sadness could be greater than the sum of us.”

Emery Lord is just a pro at sharing natural friendships with her readers. They never feel forced, they always feel strong, and that level of personal connection outside of a romance really helps me as a reader connect with the characters and the book even more. I really feel like I’m peering into someone’s actual life and forget I’m reading a book. I hope for many, many more books with excellent friendships from Emery Lord and I have a feeling we will see just that in the future!

Want to learn more about Emery Lord and THE START OF ME AND YOU? We’ve got the hook-up below!

Emery LordEmery Lord is the author of Open Road Summer. She lives in a pink row house in Cincinnati, with a husband, two rescue dogs, and a closet full of impractical shoes. Open Road Summer is her first novel. Visit her online at www.emerylord.com and on Twitter @emerylord.

// Want more about the books?

Goodreads // Amazon // Review
Goodreads // Amazon // Review

// And don’t miss the rest of the blog tour!


Bloomsbury is graciously providing a copy of THE START OF ME AND YOU for giveaway too! The winner will receive a hardcover copy of the book. US entries only, please. Must be 13 years of ago or older to win.

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