Selective Collective: Secret Santa Gift Exchange 2014


It’s no secret that I ADORE my blogging besties from The Selective Collective, And while we’ve taken a mini-break from reviewing books together (because everyone is swamped with life and, you know, reading), we still chatter pretty much endlessly and we have these majorly epic e-mail chains (where we actually talk about things other than books. What?). I’ve still never met one of these girls in person–yet–but they are a big part of my day. So it makes sense that we’d continue our Secret Santa Gift Exchange.

As in years past, I was supremely spoiled by my Secret Santa this year.

Now, please excuse the quality of the pics. It was evening, we’d just gotten home from Disneyland, and it was a little dim in my dining room where I opened my gifts. But it’s not like I could wait for better lighting, hello. There were presents waiting.

Look at this gorgeous stack of presents I probably don't deserve but am so excited to receive anyway.

Look at this gorgeous stack of presents I probably don’t deserve but am so excited to receive anyway.


Unwrapping. Oh, the anticipation!

My hands aren’t actually that cute and tiny. There was a nine year-old elf who was anxious to help. Ever notice that? How kids want to unwrap all presents, even if they aren’t for them.

Charm bracelet

Charm bracelet

Behold. We stood in awe of the amazing Harry Potter charm bracelet before us. It is so cute! With a Hogwarts acceptance letter charm, a Hedwig, a castle, a several more. I have worn it almost every day since opening this package.

Book pages with an R for my last name, Sigh.

Book pages with an R for my last name. Insta-love.

Look at this ornament! I’ve already texted pictures of my home to show my Secret Santa how perfectly this matches with our decor. In fact, this is on my tree now, but after all of the other ornaments are put away this will get a place of honor in a shadow box on the wall. Because I am in love.

Lavedar polish with a bluish tint

Lavendar polish with a bluish tint

A deeper, more cobalt blue polish

A deeper, more cobalt blue polish


The pictures do not do these colors justice. I love both of them. They are something I’d choose for myself in a heartbeat (and I love nail polish!). The one on the left is on my fingers as I type.

Someday My Prince Will Come

Someday My Prince Will Come

A book! And this one sounds so cute. It’s all about a girl who is obsessed with marrying a prince (she’s also in love with all things related to England, so she is my people). I’ve already started it and it’s adorable.

Sighs. Swoons. And more sighs.

Sighs. Swoons. And more sighs.

You guys, I love this book. I can’t wait to read it again (I’ve been saying I need a hard copy because I originally borrowed it from the library).

My favorite gift of all

My favorite gift of all

I love all of my gifts, but this was my favorite. I had an absolute freakout meltdown when I saw these cute Princess Diaries quote coasters that were hand-decorated with me (and my fake boyfriend, Michael Moscovitz) in mind. I’m not joking when I say I CRIED.


Real tears as my family looked on in an odd display of amusement and confusion.

Because my friends know me so well. They know that, crazy as it sounds, The Princess Diaries is a huge deal to me. It is my favorite series of all time (with Harry Potter as a close second). I re-read these books endlessly and I love Mia Thermopolis and Michael Moscovitz like they’re real. Um, especially Michael.

Here’s a close-up look at each one:

coaster 4

“Because friends like that are more precious than all the tiaras in the world.”

coaster 2

“I wonder what it’s like to live in Tinaville. I get the feeling it’s very shiny there.”

coaster 3

” The fact is, I love him. He’s the boy I want. And one day he’ll be mine.”

And my favorite Princess Diaries quote of all…

coaster 1

“Mia, I’m not sorry. And I’ll wait. Love, Michael”


My secret santa was Candice from The Grown Up YA.

Candice, thank you for the time and thought you put into my gifts. You are such a sweet, dear friend and it means so much to me that you did all of this, and that you truly, truly know me.

Now, I’m not sure if I’m supposed to tell whose name I drew this year, but I have to because it’s kind of funny. This year, I pulled the name of Kristina from Gone Pecan. The reason this is funny is because last year Kristina drew my name  (and spoiled me, of course!) and last year I drew Candice’s name.

In any case, I know it sounds corny, but these friends–Candice, Kristina & Daphne, Sandie & Diana, and Brittany— mean so much to me. They have been a lovely reward to being a blogging book-worm. They are the real gift.

Merry Christmas!


Casting Call: A Little Something Different

Welcome to The Selective Collective, the feature where my blogging pals and I choose a new book and discuss every element, from page to page, start to finish.

Our book this month is  A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall. This is the first release from a new imprint, Swoon Reads.

A Little Something Different

The creative writing teacher, the delivery guy, the local Starbucks baristas, his best friend, her roommate, and the squirrel in the park all have one thing in common—they believe that Gabe and Lea should get together. Lea and Gabe are in the same creative writing class. They get the same pop culture references, order the same Chinese food, and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is reserved, Gabe has issues, and despite their initial mutual crush, it looks like they are never going to work things out.  But somehow even when nothing is going on, something is happening between them, and everyone can see it. Their creative writing teacher pushes them together. The baristas at Starbucks watch their relationship like a TV show. Their bus driver tells his wife about them. The waitress at the diner automatically seats them together. Even the squirrel who lives on the college green believes in their relationship.

Surely Gabe and Lea will figure out that they are meant to be together… (Goodreads)

This month I have the pleasure of hosting the Casting Call. This book is slightly different in that it’s is written from multiple POVs. I’m going to touch on the two lovers in question, as well as a couple of others who stood out to me.


Jamie Chung as Lea

Jamie chungChung is too old to be Lea and yet this is how I pictured her. Pretty and innocent looking (in this picture!). Lea is a difficult character to get to know. She’s somewhat consumed with whether or not she and Gabe should be together as well, but I found out very little about her. She has friends she enjoys and her Creative Writing class, but I don’t feel I know her well.


Steven R. McQueen as Gabe


Steven R. McQueenGabe is shy. He has some issues he’s grappling with that aren’t quite clear until further in the book. For some people I think it makes him seem weird. For others, he’s that mysterious loner dude. I think Lea sees that he’s a good guy. She’s obviously attracted to him, but he’s so quiet and insecure that she often mistakes that for a lack of interest in her.


Sharon Stone as Inga

Sharon StoneInga is Gabe and Lea’s Creative Writing Professor. She’s described as having short, spiky blonde hair and she wears hipster glasses. Stone may be a bit older than Inga is in the book. The thing is, Inga is somewhat obsessed with getting Gabe and Lea together. It’s more than a passing “look how cute they’d be” kind of fascination. She admits to her wife, Pam, that she wants them together (in fact, she picks a couple every semester and works on it) and she tells Pam about the little things she oh so casually does to encourage Gabe and Lea to be together. Frankly, it’s unprofessional and creepy and if there’s one thing I think Sharon Stone can pull off it’s crazy sort of creepy.


SquirrelSo, there’s this squirrel who spends his time searching for wherever it is he’s hidden his stash of nuts. And he see Lea and Gabe and it seems ever obvious to him that they should be together. I think there is a cuteness factor here that will certainly attract people. For others…make of it what you will.



BenchThere is a bench on campus where Lea and/or Gabe and their friends usually sit. Bench remarks inwardly about them and yes, even he knows Gabe and Lea are destined for true love. Bench, along with everyone else who sees Gabe and Lea together, feels the feels for them.


Please be sure to visit my amazing blogging partners and check out their features today.

The Book Addict’s Guide- ALSD Playlist

Gone Pecan-Author Interview & Giveaway

The Grown Up YA-Freebie

Teen Lit Rocks-Roundtable Discussion


Many thanks to Swoon Reads, a division of Macmillian, who sent us all copies of A Little Something Different.

Selective Collective: Interview with Kasie West

Welcome to The Selective Collective, the feature where my blogging pals and I choose a new book and discuss every element, from page to page, start to finish.

Our book this month is  On the Fence by Kasie West.

On the Fence

She’s a tomboy. He’s the boy next door…

Charlie Reynolds can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn’t know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at a chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world. To cope with the stress of her new reality, Charlie takes to spending nights chatting with her neighbor Braden through the fence between their yards. As she grows to depend on their nightly Fence Chats, she realizes she’s got a bigger problem than speeding tickets-she’s falling for Braden. 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. (Goodreads)

This book is adorable. I couldn’t put it down. So many great characters, such a sweet romance, and a strong protagonist–it had everything.

This month, I have the distinct pleasure of interviewing the fabulous lady who created it all, Kasie West:

YA Crush:  I loved On The Fence, especially Charlie and Braden’s late night meetings by the fence. In your opinion, what is it that makes falling in love with the boy next door seems so perfect?

KW: He’s right next door! There’s just something romantic about that. Knowing you could walk right outside and run into him. Or walk out in the middle of the night and have a chat at the fence. The chance of running into him at all times is high and this makes a perfect set up for falling in love.

YA Crush: Charlie is a beautiful, intelligent girl who happens to love playing (and watching) full contact sports. Even better, she’s good at it. At times it seems as though she has to choose between being a typical girly girl or the girl who can quote baseball stats and play tackle football. Do you think this is a problem many girls face?

KW: I think in general people have gotten better about accepting all types of personalities. But yes, I do still think that sometimes there’s this idea that if you know too much about sports, you’re not a normal (whatever that means) girl. I think sometimes we put ideas in other people’s heads too. So maybe they’re not thinking that, but we think they’re thinking that and that can be just as damaging sometimes to how we choose to portray ourselves.

YA Crush: Family in central to this story, both with Charlie’s brothers and father and in the memories she has of her mother. Without revealing too much detail, do you think Charlie would have been better off knowing the truth about her family from the beginning, or was her family doing the right thing in trying to protect her?

KW: Well, they tried to tell her the truth earlier in her life and it didn’t go well. But yes, I think she could’ve handled the truth much earlier than she figured it out. She’s a strong girl and I think it’s always better to know, even if knowing can be hard.

YA Crush:  I would love to hear your dream casting ideas for Charlie and Braden (and any other the other characters).

KW: I’m very horrible at visualizing my characters as I write them. I never have a “cast” in mind. Then when people ask me the question, I have to go scouring the internet for people I think might fit. So let’s see, maybe Stephen R McQueen for Braden and for Charlie Catalina Sandino Moreno.

Steven R. McQueen (OMG I LOVE The Vampire Diaries!)

Catalina Sandino Moreno

Catalina Sandino Moreno



YA Crush: What is the writing process like for you? Are you inspired by real people and events from your life? Do you come up with an idea and run with it, or do you work through it in your mind for a few weeks or months first?

KW: It’s different for each book. Sometimes I’ll think of a character first and develop a plot around that person. Occasionally I’ll see a setting and think that it would be the perfect place for a book. And a few times I’ve thought of the plot first. Whichever way it comes to me though, I always let it simmer in my mind for at least a few weeks before I dive into the idea.

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us, Kasie!

Special thanks to Harper Teen, who graciously provided e-galleys of On the Fence, to all of the members of The Selective Collective.

Please be sure to visit my amazing blogging partners and check out their features today.

The Book Addict’s Guide- Charlie & Braden’s Date

Gone Pecan-Author-Roundtable Discussion

The Grown Up YA- Review

Teen Lit Rocks- Page to Screen



Harper Teen is giving away a copy of On the Fence to one of our lucky readers. Just leave a comment telling us if you’re a “girly girl”, a sports girl, or both. The winner will be chosen using Randomizer. This contest is open until 9PM PST 8/4/14. US residents only.





Selective Collective: #scandal

Welcome to The Selective Collective, the feature where my blogging pals and I choose a new book and discuss every element, from page to page, start to finish.

Our book this month is #scandal by Sarah Ockler. Trust me when I say that we were beyond excited to get this book.


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 the one where she hates playing dress-up. 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 deal-breaker ever. Despite Cole’s lingering sweetness, Lucy knows they’ll have to ’fess up to Ellie. But before they get the chance, Lucy’s own Facebook profile mysteriously explodes with compromising pics 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 there’s only one way to survive a disaster of this magnitude: Stand up and fight. Game plan? Uncover and expose the Facebook hacker, win back her best friend’s trust, and graduate with a clean slate.

There’s just one snag—Cole. Turns out Lucy’s not the only one who’s been harboring unrequited love… (Goodreads)

This month I have the pleasure of writing the review of #scandal.

The Story:

When Lucy’s best friend, Ellie, gets a nasty flu on prom night, Lucy fills in as date to Cole, Ellie’s perfectly sweet boyfriend..the one Lucy’s been crushing on since, oh, forever. Despite the fact that Lucy would rather be home playing video games, she goes out of loyalty to her best friend. And that’s her first mistake.

The problem is that Lucy actually has a nice time with Cole. And when they go to an after-party at his house, he kisses her. As much as Lucy likes Cole, she feels terrible. She panics, running inside the house and in doing so, forgets her phone on the deck. Someone, and we aren’t sure who, uses that phone to upload incriminating photos of Lucy and Cole, and various party goers living it up, to Lucy’s Facebook page. Needless to say, the internet explodes and all hell breaks loose. Not only does Ellie now know about Lucy and Cole’s scandalous kiss, the whole school thinks she’s simultaneously a boyfriend stealer and the girl who is publicly shaming kids for their wild behavior at the party.  Lucy is tortured, bullied, and harassed endlessly for a crime she didn’t really commit (ok, well, except for the kiss, which she fesses up to).

Lucy’s last few weeks of high school are becoming her worst nightmare as posts and texts and blogs maligning her rage on. She has no choice but to  enlist the help of her friends—those still speaking to her—to figure out who the real culprit is and to hopefully clear her name.

My Thoughts:

I liked this book. It was a quick, easy read with a main character and a story that grabbed me from the first pages. For me, this was a different style than the other Ockler books I’ve read (Twenty Boy Summer and The Book of Broken Hearts). While it had a timely message, overall it felt lighter.

Lucy is a strong heroine. I have to admit, if I’d been facing some of the issues she was, I probably would have begged to go on home studies, but Lucy not only pushed through it, she fought back in various ways. Sometimes it was bending to the principal, sometimes it was defending herself, and sometimes it was in showing that the culprits were not going to destroy her—but she did not at any time give up. I really admired this about her. She had an interesting support group as well. Cole was cute and it was fun to see their history and to watch them try to build a future despite all of the drama. Ellie, the BFF, was understandably hurt, but I really appreciated the fact that Ockler never used her as a pawn in the bullying. She was a nice girl who didn’t resort to the tricks her classmates did.

The biggest plus for me, outside of Ockler’s obvious strengths as a writer, was how believable the issues were. #scandal raises interesting questions about our responsibility with social media, how the things you say online matter, and that behind those Facebook posts real people are impacted. Further, she shows the big and small ways people, kids especially, bully and harass each other, how people need to not only think before they speak, but think before they post.

I took issue with a couple of things. First, while Lucy and Cole were caught cheating, Lucy bears the brunt of the shame and ridicule. It’s your typical slut-shaming situation (and Lucy is in no way a “slut”). I’m not sure if that was a direct message on the part of the author or if it was conveyed that way because we were really focused mainly on Lucy’s story, but it stood out to me. Also, the high school principal initially gets involved, coming down on Lucy as the ring leader of the Facebook posts. Of course, it all looks bad and it seems very much like Lucy is to blame, so I understand that perspective. But later, when it is obvious that Lucy is being tormented, the principal does nothing. I had a hard time buying that.

All in all, I liked this book. In fact, I think it will be an interesting read a few years down the road as technology and social media sites evolve. For now, it’s a great picture of life as we know it.

Crush Intensity: 4/5

Please be sure to visit my amazing blogging partners and check out their features today.

The Book Addict’s Guide- Roundtable Q&A

Gone Pecan-Page to Screen

The Grown Up YA- Author Profile & Giveaway

Teen Lit Rocks- #scandal and Unrequited Love

Many thanks to Simon& Schuster for sending us all review copies of #scandal.





The Winner’s Curse

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Winner's CurseAs a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart. (Goodreads)


The Story:

Kestrel is the daughter of a powerful general in an empire that’s been built on the backs of the slaves from whom they’ve stolen homes, lives, and freedom.  She’s been given a choice to marry or become a soldier–something her father desires–and Kestrel wants neither.

At a salve auction Kestrel purchases Arin, a young man defiant of her culture, bitter at what he and his people have lost at the hands of those who enslave him.  Yet Kestrel and Arin form an unlikely bond; they become friends (and it’s scandalous because many people assume they’re lovers). What Kestrel doesn’t know is that Arin was placed in her home with direct intention.  He’s more than she ever expected and he has great secrets that could destroy the only world she’s ever known, and tear apart the delicate trust they’ve built.

My Thoughts:

I know so many people LOVE this book. And there is so much I liked about it, but it was a very, very slow start. It took me so long to connect with Kestrel and Arin, and even longer to believe in their bond. In fact, I’m not sure I ever truly bought that element of the story. There was a real shortage of romance in this story (which is okay, except that I’m supposed to believe that at some point they fall in love. What I saw was that they fell in like. I saw that they had a preference for one another.

On the other hand, the set up of the Valorian society and its oppression of the Hernani people is beautifully plotted. It is such a richly told element of the story. The conflicts, the tension, the demands both of society and Kestrel and Arin’s loyalties (loosely used term), which often puts them at odds with their own people, helps push the story forward. The last third of the book was very good and while I wasn’t totally in love, I would definitely like to see where to story goes from here.

Crush Intensity: 3.75/5


Thank you to Farrar Strauss Giroux for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Selective Collective: We Were Liars Roundtable Discussion

Welcome to The Selective Collective, the feature where my blogging pals and I choose a new book and discuss every element, from page to page, start to finish.

Our book this month is We Were Liars by the utterly awesome E. Lockhart.

We were Liars

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart. 

Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE. (Goodreads)

I LOVED this book. It’s very different for Lockhart, who normally makes me laugh and fist pump and want to give everyone around me a high five, but it was very good. Painfully so.

This month I have the distinct pleasure of hosting the roundtable discussion with my other SC friends.  In order to avoid any spoilers, we’re keeping it light and clear of any huge plot points.


1. We Were Liars is the story of Cadence “Cady” Sinclair and the summers she spends with her cousins, grandparents, and others, on the family’s private island. Her cousins, Johnny, Mirren, and Gat are her best friends, though they don’t spend real time together outside of the island. Have you ever had a relationship like that, someone who was close to you but who wasn’t truly a part of your everyday life?

As a blogger, I’m not physically close to most of my blogger friends, but we develop a close friendship and I have a really great friendship with so many of my blogger friends! That’s a bit different though, because they really ARE a part of my everyday life! 
Unfortunately, I’m at that point in my life where I have friends from my childhood and from high school that are still a big part of my past but I don’t really talk to them on a regular basis. It’s nice though, because every time we do get together, we can pick up right where we left off! Things may have changed, but our friendship is always still the same. (Brittany, The Book Addict’s Guide)
Well, obvs!  😛  First Daphne, my co-blogger.  Though we know each other from YEARS ago and still see each other from time to time we don’t really get together but chat constantly.  I text her more than anyone outside of my sister.  After her I’d say the rest of my SC gals – who I do text as well though not as often as Daph.  That is one of the great things about the blogging community, books may have brought us together but we truly care about each other and check in. (Kristina, Gone Pecan)
I have a friend from college who moved to NYC after graduation. We’ve seen each other maybe twice since then, which was about 7 years ago (for her… I graduated a year before she did). However, we talk daily. And not just for a few minutes, but pretty much all day long on gchat. While she’s not in my life physically, she’s one of the first people I go to with anything. I honestly believe we’ve gotten closer since we’ve been apart. (Candice, The Grown Up YA)

2. Summers on the island seemed to be spent going from house to house with the different cousins and aunts. Have you ever had a family vacation tradition, someplace you traveled to every summer, or something you did every summer like clockwork?

I always used to envy those kids who would go to a vacation house or camp every summer. I was never that kid. We’d make a trip to Palm Springs each year (which I loved, but just so you know, Palm Springs is a place you don’t want to be in July since it’s eleven thousand degrees on your average day). Now, as my kids grow, we try to create some summer traditions for them outside of the normal beach days and  movie outings. We take a camping trip every summer with our very dear friends and their young children. The spot varies, but hey, it’s real camping with tents and s’mores and campfires. No electronics or big luxuries in the great outdoors! On the home front we do dorky things like Christmas in July (Christmas movies and homemade cookie decorating all day around July 25) and Talk With An English Accent day.  We usually squeeze in a road trip each summer, too and our family looks forward to that.  (Tee @YA Crush)

3. So much of this novel is about the twisted, trouble life of an excessively wealthy family. Do you think the money itself was the problem, that life would have been simpler for them without it, or do you think the issue lies with the family itself and the way Grandfather led them?

I think the money contributed because they couldn’t have had the lifestyle without the money.  There relationships with each other would have been different because without the excessive wealth, they probably wouldn’t spend every summer together like they do.  I think the money had a great influence on the grandfather as well and his power over the money gave him power over the rest of the family, so yes, money was the problem in this case.  I was disgusted by the way the parents (adults) used the kids to try to ingratiate themselves with the grandparents.  ( Daphne, Gone Pecan)


I think it’s about 50/50. Money can very definitely often lead to problems, even in the best functioning families. You can definitely see a lot of typical money issues in the Sinclair family: greed, jealousy, pettiness, anger, hurt, revenge. Money can easily bring out the very worst in people. That being said, I think a lot of the Sinclairs’ problems stemmed from who they are. The grandfather might have started a lot of the issues with his own thirst for money and power, but I think each of the daughters formed their own issues separately from their upbringing. Each of their hurt and disappointments led to their own jealous behaviors and sparked quite a lot of animosity between the family. (Candice, The Grown Up YA)

4. If you inherited an insane amount of money what would you do?

If I inherited an insane amount of money, first of all, I would probably faint dead away because there’s no way it could be true. However, the next thing I would do is pack my bags and head to Italy to try to find myself a nice little casa in the Italian countryside, maybe with a vineyard, but definitely with a cook, someone’s grandmother.  Once that was accomplished, I would pay for my entire extended family to take a vacation at Disney World.  When that’s over, I’d take a nice relaxing vacation with my husband & kids in Fiji.  I just realized my dreams all include going places, not necessarily buying things.  Following that, I would probably buy things for my new Italian villa and buy all the Coach leather purses my new bedroom-sized closet could hold. (Daphne, Gone Pecan)

If I inherited money, I would do one thing first and foremost. TRAVEL. I would skive off work (is that a British word? I think I may only know it from Harry Potter) and just TRAVEL. Europe. Alaska. Hawaii. The rest of the US. Tropical vacations. That’s my dream! After wasting money on trips, I would definitely fix up my house a little bit more and do general home improvements… And you know… Help pay for the wedding! (Brittany, The Book Addict’s Guide)
Where do I start?  I’d start smart.  First, I’d buy myself a house.  Nothing massive but some cute, with a bit of land so I wouldn’t have neighbors too close.  Then I’d pay off any bills, car notes, credit cards, etc.  Next up, immediate family.  I’d help them out as best I could.  After that?  All bets are off!  I’d definitely do some traveling, maybe buy a vacation home somewhere? (Kristina, Gone Pecan)

5. Cady, Johnny, Mirren, and Gat refer to themselves as The Liars. This speaks volumes about what they observed within their own family. Without spoilers, what do you think they meant by that name?

While the four call themselves Liars, I think it’s funny how broad that title stretches. I think it mostly means that they were lying to themselves about who they are. Sure, the whole family puts on a front for society: wealthy, well-to-do, Democrat family who is hap hap happy. But I think they go a step further and put that front on for themselves, telling themselves that they are a happy family and that “they’re Sinclairs” as if that means something important. They are lying to themselves about who they are and who they aren’t. And that’s all I’m going to say because it’s about to get real spoilery up in here. (Candice, The Grown Up YA)


I think that on the outside the Sinclairs appear to have a life people dream about. They have summer homes–that’s plural–on a private island with servants and loads money, so much that they don’t event think about it. They’re so wealthy that each daughter has her own home on the island. This is in addition to the main house, where Grandpa lives. And it’s in addition to the lush lives they live in their gorgeous homes off the island. They NAMED their houses. Only exceedingly wealthy (or British) people do this. But Cady, Mirren, Johnny, and Gat aren’t blind. They see through the picture-perfect image. They see the crack in the family bond, the troubles with money and the inner turmoil of a family run by a slightly oppressive patriarch. So that beautiful life everyone thinks they live? It’s just like yours or mine. In fact, it’s not even as good as that. It’s filled with lies. It’s troubled, it’s complicated, and the money only makes it worse.  I have to say, I think their name, The Liars, suits them. (Tee, YA Crush)


Please be sure to visit my amazing blogging partners and check out their features today.

The Book Addict’s Guide- Author Q&A and Giveaway

Gone Pecan-Author-The Long Con

The Grown Up YA- Page to Screen

Teen Lit Rocks- Review


Many thanks to Random House, who sent us all copies of We Were Liars.



Selective Collective: The Chapel Wars

Welcome to The Selective Collective, the feature where my blogging pals and I choose a new book and discuss every element, from page to page, start to finish.

Our book this month is The Chapel Wars by Lindsey Leavitt. We SC girls love Ms. Leavitt, and it’s no surprise that this book was as fun as Lindsey’s others.

The Chapel Wars

Sixteen-year-old Holly wants to remember her Grandpa forever, but she’d rather forget what he left her in his will: his wedding chapel on the Las Vegas strip. Whatever happened to gold watches, savings bonds, or some normal inheritance?

And then there’s Grandpa’s letter. Not only is she running the business with her recently divorced parents, but she needs to make some serious money–fast. Grandpa also insists Holly reach out to Dax, the grandson of her family’s mortal enemy and owner of the cheesy chapel next door. No matter how cute Dax is, Holly needs to stay focused: on her group of guy friends, her disjointed family, work, school and… Dax. No wait, not Dax.

Holly’s chapel represents everything she’s ever loved in her past. Dax might be everything she could ever love in the future. But as for right now, there’s a wedding chapel to save. (Goodreads)

This book is absolutely adorable. One of the sweetest elements is the close relationship Holly has with her dearly departed grandfather. While we only get to know him through flashbacks and through the letters and instructions he’s left, Grandpa is a major force in the family, and he’s the strongest influence on Holly. Their relationship is one of trust and tenderness, and Holly’s love for him propels her forward in her attempt to achieve the near-impossible odds her grandpa hoped she’d be able to beat.

This sparked a conversation among our blogs about books with special grandparent relationships. Here’s what we came up with:


Going VintageGoing Vintage by Lindsey Leavitt– Mallory makes a decision to live life as though it was 1962, her grandmother’s heyday (you know, the sixties. Back when life was so simple). One of the great things here is the understanding it brings Mallory about who her grandmother is, what she truly went through. They’re able to see just how alike (and how different) they are.

The Sky is EverywhereThe Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson– Lennie is being raised by her grandmother, one of the kookiest women in town. Their family is a beautiful blend of oddballs, passionate and quirky, full of grief and pain as they grapple with the untimely death of Lennie’s older sister, Bailey, and the constant absence of the girls’ ever-wandering mother.

The Princess DiariesThe Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot– Yep, I went there. Grandmere is not your stereotypical grandmother. She does not bake cookies for Mia and tell her how much she wuvs her little sweetie. She’s a chain-smoking, side-car drinking, elitist who has tattooed eyeliner and curses in French. She’s been given the task of teaching Mia how to be royal once the truth of her heritage comes out, and the lessons are pure torture. But there’s an element of sweetness to their encounters, humor balanced with Grandmere’s strict demands, and it all makes their relationship solid. They actually have some quite touching moments.

What I thought Was trueWhat I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick– Gwen’s grandfather lives in a tiny home with her and her mother, little brother, and cousin. He’s always mooning over his long-dead wife, offering Gwen advice, knowing when to speak and when to be silent, but it’s very clear that her grandfather has many beautiful lessons to share, and a sort of unconditional love Gwen isn’t always accustomed to receiving.

If I StayIf I Stay by Gayle Forman– After the death of Mia’s parents it’s clear that her grandma and grandpa will be her caretakers, if she chooses to live. There are lovely flashbacks of vivid yet simple moments, especially ones with Mia’s grandfather, and there is the most heart wrenching scene where her grandfather is sitting at her hospital bedside giving her permission to let go if she must. You will cry a thousand ugly tears, but you’ll believe in that bond with all your heart.

Time Between UsTime Between Us/Time After Time by Tamara Ireland Stone- These books have an especially interesting element because Bennett is a time traveler. Years earlier, when Bennett was little, his mother and grandmother had a terrible falling out. The family never saw her again because she died, leaving Bennett’s mom to live with the regret of that grudge. But Bennett is able to find Grandma Maggie. He visits her in the 90’s where she is alive and well. She has no idea it’s her grandson (who in her real life is a tiny baby living in San Francisco). It speaks volumes about Bennett that he wants to spend time with Maggie in any way possible and that he wants to love her and be loved by her, even if it’s under a different identity than his own.

Confession of the Sullivan SistersConfessions of The Sullivan Sisters by Natalie Standiford–  This is the story of the insanely wealthy Sullivan family, headed by their grandmother, someone who is a bit like Grandmere from TPD. She’s smart and conniving and when she tells her family she’s soon to die and is cutting the family out of her will because one of them has deeply offended her, all three granddaughters are convinced it’s them. It’s a very cute, funny story about an extremely quirky, messed up family.


Please be sure to visit my amazing blogging partners and check out their features today.

The Book Addict’s Guide- Page to Screen

Gone Pecan-Author-Review

The Grown Up YA- Roundtable Discussion

Teen Lit Rocks- Author Interview & Giveaway


Many thanks to Bloomsbury who sent us all copies of The Chapel Wars.



Selective Collective: The Winner’s Curse

Welcome to The Selective Collective, the feature where my blogging pals and I choose a new book and discuss every element, from page to page, start to finish.

Our book this month is The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski.

Winner's CurseAs a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart. (Goodreads)

This month, I have the pleasure of working on The Casting Call feature (which I love).  This is a fun segment because I always get the help of my amazing blogging pals, hear their ideas (and use them), most notably, my movie guru pal Sandie, from Teen Lit Rocks.

Here are our choices:


Sophie Turner at HBO's "Game Of Thrones" Season 3 Seattle PremieSophie Turner, also known as Sansa Stark from the epically awesome Game of Thrones series, would be a perfect Kestrel. She is soft and lovely enough to suit Kestrel’s feminine, compassionate, qualities, but fierce enough to be the girl who loves without question and who is unwilling to bend to the demands that society–and her father–has placed upon her.



You may recognize Matt Manter from various movie and television roles. He’s currently playing Roman on the CW’s Star-Crossed. Lanter would be a good Arin, fitting his build and overall description of the slave purchased by Kestrel. Arin is not quite what he seems–rough and brawny, and willing to play a role of deception–but there are layers to him, and there are things about Kestrel that surprise him.


Claire Holt

I love Claire Holt from The Vampire Diaries and its spinoff, The Originals. I think she’d be a fabulous Jess, the best friend and confidant to our lady Kestrel.


Austin Butler

 Rounding it out is Austin Butler of The Carrie Diaries as Ronan, brother to Jess, and exceptional flirt to Kestrel. He’s the guy you think Kestrel would probably choose to marry if she were the type of girl to follow the rules proper society has in place.


Please be sure to visit my amazing blogging partners and check out their features today.

The Book Addict’s Guide- Review

Gone Pecan-Author- Interview & Giveaway

The Grown Up YA- Freebie

Teen Lit Rocks- Roundtable Discussion

Finally, thank you to Farrar Straus Giroux for providing each SC member with a copy of The Winner’s Curse.


Selective Collective: Interview with Elizabeth Eulberg (and Giveaway!)

Welcome to The Selective Collective, the feature where my blogging pals and I choose a new book and discuss every element, from page to page, start to finish.

Our book this month is Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg and–look out–I got to interview Elizabeth (who I was already seriously fangirling over and now officially love even more).

Better off friends
For Macallan and Levi, it was friends at first sight. Everyone says guys and girls can’t be just friends, but these two are. They hang out after school, share tons of inside jokes, their families are super close, and Levi even starts dating one of Macallan’s friends. They are platonic and happy that way.

Eventually they realize they’re best friends — which wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t keep getting in each other’s way. Guys won’t ask Macallan out because they think she’s with Levi, and Levi spends too much time joking around with Macallan, and maybe not enough time with his date. They can’t help but wonder . . . are they more than friends or are they better off without making it even more complicated? (Goodreads)

Now, without further delay, here is my interview with Elizabeth Eulberg (Eeeeeee!)

YA Crush:  I loved, adored, wanted to climb inside of, Better Off Friends. Books  about best friends who fall in love tend to be a big favorite with the girls from The Selective Collective. Was there any real-life inspiration to the story?

EE: Thanks! Better Off Friends is all fiction (although I like to tease one of
my guy friends that it’s how I really feel about him–although that’s so
not true. Ew! He’s like my brother!). Better Off Friends was the first
time the “seed” of the story didn’t come from me. My editor, David
Levithan, was having a conversation with one of his colleagues, Erin
Black, about stories they are looking for. Erin was the one who said she
wanted a YA version of “When Harry Met Sally…” When David told me about this, I called dibs. But that was all I went on. Everything else came from me.

YA Crush:  I really loved both of the families in this book, more specifically, I loved Macallan’s relationship with her uncle, and her attachment to Levi’s mom. Looking back, do you think Macallan and Levi would have become so close–despite their shared love of Buggy and Floyd–if their families hadn’t bonded the way they did?

EE: Not at all! The family dynamic happened when I tried to figure out what would make these two characters form such a close bond. While “Buggy and Floyd” gave them a spark, I needed something to ignite their relationship deeper. I was on a plane when I was trying to figure out why Macallan would be so attached to Levi’s family, and then it suddenly hit me: her mother has died. She really latches on to Levi’s mother since she doesn’t have a mom of her own. As for Macallan’s uncle, he is based on my uncle. When I wanted to round her family out, I called my dad and asked if it would be okay for me to base a character on my uncle Peter. Peter is
beloved in my hometown, he has a job (where he is often employee of the
month), drives a car, and leads a pretty normal life. Like Macallan, I
didn’t realize Peter was mentally handicapped until someone told me. I
think my uncle is a really extraordinary person. I wanted to show that,
but for it to not be an “issue.” My dad read the book and told me that I
did my uncle justice and he thanked me for it. It’s the greatest praise
any book of mine has ever, or will ever, receive.

YA Crush: Speaking of Buggy and Floyd, what books or TV shows or pop culture things, if any, are you a crazy fangirl for?

EE: More like what AREN’T I crazy fangirl for? I guess first and foremost: THE BEATLES. I’m an insane music fan. I go to a ton of concerts. I’m currently obsessed with CHRVCHES, Haim, Lorde, and Kodaline. As for TV shows: I’m FREAKING OUT for the new season of 24. That’s my favorite TV show of all time. I once saw Kiefer Sutherland in a bar and couldn’t contain myself. I had to tell him that I named Ryan Bauer in The Lonely Hearts Club after Jack Bauer. And Jack and Chloe in Take A Bow after 24’s Jack and Chloe. He kissed me on the cheek AND bought me a drink! (That will go down as one of my best days ever!) It’s nearly impossible for me to pick books because I love so many (and have lots of author friends so this can get me in trouble), but I totally geeked out over The Hunger Games. And I will readily admit that I Google “Henry Cavill shirtless” A LOT. I am only human!

I know, right?

I know, right?

Yeah, I couldn’t resist. That was all for Elizabeth, obviously. I did NOT want to peruse those pictures. Nope. No way.

YA Crush:  What’s the writing process like for you? Do you have an idea and begin to write immediately? Do you think about it for a period of time and plan it out slowly? Is there music or chocolate involved? Or is every experience a bit

EE: I spend a lot of time marinating an idea in my head. I thought about
Better Off Friends (the characters and plot) for nearly a year before I
sat down to write it. I usually know what I want to work on next while I’m
writing a book. I never take notes during this period, I solely think
about it a lot. Then when I’m ready, I do a brain dump in a notebook. BOF
was the first book I used index cards to map out. I knew certain scenarios
that I wanted to happen. So I made a column for the different years it
would take place (since the book spans five years). I also used colored
pens so I knew which part I wanted each character to tell. Then I write a
very loose outline for my publisher. Once I get the okay, I take it
chapter by chapter. I make notes, then sit down and write. Music is ALWAYS involved and cupcakes are rewards if I need motivation.

YA Crush: Where do you imagine you’d be if you were not a writer?

EE: I’d probably still be a publicist if I wasn’t a full-time writer. I really
loved working in publicity, but I was burning out. I’m so fortunate I had
writing to fall back on (HA!). If I could do ANYTHING, it would be a rock
star. Obvs.

YA Crush:  I am a huge Beatles fan too (best band ever!). Who’s your favorite Beatle? I’m a George girl (I mean, “Here Comes the Sun”, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, and every hilarious line he had in A Hard Day’s Night? No contest).

EE: Nice! I love that you’re a George girl. This is how I always answer this
question: Paul is my favorite if I had to choose, but I have a HUGE soft
spot for George. He is an underrated songwriter (Here Comes the Sun and
Something are two of my favorite Beatles songs) and guitar player. He had
to compete with the Lennon/McCartney juggernaut, but even Sir Paul likes
to tell the story that Frank Sinatra once came up to him and said,
“Something is my favorite Lennon/McCartney song,” to which Paul replied, “Mine, too.” I love that! Sir Paul always preforms “Something” in concert and I tear up every single time I hear it.

YA Crush: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me!

EE: Thanks so much for having me!

The Giveaway:

Trust me when I say you will fall in love with this book. I would read it again and again. And today you may be in luck because Scholastic is giving away one copy to a lucky reader!

Just make a comment below telling me which Elizabeth Eulberg book is your favorite (or, if you haven’t read one, tell why you want to read one). The contest will officially close on Wednesday, February 26th at 9:00PM PST. The winner will be chosen at random (I just want to read your answers!). This is open to US residents only.

The Selective Collective:

Please be sure to visit my amazing blogging partners and check out their features today.

The Book Addict’s Guide- Boy Friend vs. Boyfriend

Gone Pecan- Roundtable Discussion

The Grown Up YA- Review

Teen Lit Rocks- Casting Call

Finally, thank you to Scholastic for providing each SC member with a review copy and one lucky winner with a finished copy.

The Selective Collective: Being Sloane Jacobs

SCnewbannerWelcome to The Selective Collective. Together with our friends at The Book Addict’s Guide, Gone Pecan, The Grown Up YA and Teen Lit Rocks, we’ll be exploring a new release in its entirety, from review to author spotlight, to a roundtable chat, among other fun things.

This week we’re discussing Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill. You may remember that we had the opportunity to read (in fall in love with) Lauren’s debut novel, Meant to Be, last year. This month I have the pleasure of writing the review her her latest book.

Untitled-1Meet Sloane Emily Jacobs: a seriously stressed-out figure-skater from Washington, D.C., who choked during junior nationals and isn’t sure she’s ready for a comeback. What she does know is that she’d give anything to escape the mass of misery that is her life.

Now meet Sloane Devon Jacobs, a spunky ice hockey player from Philly who’s been suspended from her team for too many aggressive hip checks. Her punishment? Hockey camp, now, when she’s playing the worst she’s ever played. If she messes up? Her life will be over.

When the two Sloanes meet by chance in Montreal and decide to trade places for the summer, each girl thinks she’s the lucky one: no strangers to judge or laugh at Sloane Emily, no scouts expecting Sloane Devon to be a hero. But it didn’t occur to Sloane E. that while avoiding sequins and axels she might meet a hockey hottie—and Sloane D. never expected to run into a familiar (and very good-looking) face from home. It’s not long before the Sloanes discover that convincing people you’re someone else might be more difficult than being yourself. (Goodreads)

The Story:

We have two main characters, Sloane Emily, the ice skater from a privileged political family, and Sloane Devon, the hockey player from Philly who has some slight anger management issues. Both girls are dealing with family turmoil, both girls are under immense pressure that’s causing them to crack and leading them to struggle with the sports they love to compete at.  And both girls, as luck would have it, end up in Montreal for the summer.

Sloane Emily is in town to attend a prestigious figure-skating camp. Her family has sent her there to help her recover from a major choke at junior nationals. In some ways it’s also an escape from her dad and an awful truth Sloane Emily just happened to stumble upon. Sloane Devon has been suspended by her hockey coach for one too many fights. He manages to get her into a hockey camp for the summer where she has to prove herself and earn a second chance. She hates being away from home, being away from her team, but life has been too difficult to bear since her mom checked into rehab for her heavy drinking, leaving Sloane and her dad alone.

After a  mix up at their hotel, the girls meet and formulate a plan to switch places for the summer, each one thinking the other has a far easier life.  Through the identity-swapping experience they make some friends (and enemies), flirt with a couple of cute boys, and each attempt to take on a new sport. And they learn that the grass isn’t always greener, life isn’t always easier, on the other side.

My Thoughts:

This was a cute, fun book. I like Morrill’s style, which is funny and heartwarming without being too heavy on the romance or the serious stuff. She captures the struggles and the beauty of being young and free in a foreign city with new friends, crushes and challenges. I  loved the alternating perspectives of each girl. Each Sloane has a unique voice and I felt Morrill did an excellent job of making each girl stand out individually. They were both strong-willed and likeable, brave in a way I don’t think I could ever be. And Morrill  did a great job of showing that they struggled to pick up their new sport, rather than having them swoop in to victory immediately. I do wish they’d had a more common name, if only to make their chance encounter seem more plausible, but it was very easy to get past that.  I would have loved to have seen a little more of the family dynamic (maybe in flashbacks) without getting too heavy. The problems the girls were struggling with were interesting to  me and they weighed so heavily on each Sloane. I think more detail would have only made that element more powerful.

Crush Intensity: 3.75/5 All in all, I thought this was an easy, enjoyable read.

Thanks for stopping by this week! Be sure to check out my blogging partners as they further explore Being Sloane Jacobs:

The Book Addict’s Guide- Roundtable Discussion

Gone Pecan- Page to Screen

The Grown Up YA-Author Interview & Giveaway

Teen Lit Rocks- Identity Swapping

Sincere thanks to Random House for sending each member of The Selective Collective review copies of Being Sloane Jacobs.