Tea & Book Chat: Hello, Sunshine by Leila Howland

Personal Thoughts:  As soon as I heard that Leila Howland, author of one of my absolute favorite summer contemporary series, (Nantucket Blue / Nantucket Red) would be returning to writing YA after publishing several middle grade novels, I was ecstatic!  Hello, Sunshine immediately jumped to the top of my TBR / wish list without even needing to know any type of description.  While Hello, Sunshine did end up being a really fun and unconventional read, it didn’t edge Nantucket out for the top spot in my heart.  Anyone who is looking to become an actor is enthralled with the whole process will definitely be addicted to this story!

Plot Summary:  After Becca Harrington gets rejected from every college she applies to, she makes a deal with her mother and moves to LA to try to become an actress.  The deal is that after one gap year, ideally gaining industry experience, Becca must reapply for college and enter in the following Fall semester.  When Becca gets to LA, things are far more difficult than she expected but fortunately, she befriends two other Hollywood hopefuls in her building and they all support each other while they try to navigate the entertainment industry.

Critique:  Hello, Sunshine is a really fun read.  It follows Becca Harrington who takes a much different path than most eighteen year old’s and it was a pleasure to see someone’s unconventional choices play out in a way that proves that there is more than one right way to do things.  Becca is an inspirational character.  No matter how hard things became for her during her journey, she always maintained a positive attitude.  Even as she hits roadblock after roadblock, her first instinct is never to give up and instead to always to find a way around it.  I also love that Becca is a list maker.  The reader gets to see her list of LA goals which she continuously revisits and revises as she works toward becoming an actress.  Reading about Becca learning to become an independent adult is also a topic that I’m sure we can all or will all relate to in our lives at some point.  When you move away from home for the first time, you don’t think about the little things that are suddenly your responsibility or the bigger things like furnishing an apartment (like in Becca’s case).  I also really enjoyed Becca’s friendship with Marisol and Raj, two other Hollywood hopefuls living in the same apartment building.  They all come to rely on each other in different ways and I especially appreciate how supportive Marisol and Becca always are of each other.  It would be so easy to write about two females competing for auditions to land a big role but instead, we get to see a lovely and healthy friendship.  If I had one complaint, it’s that Raj and Marisol seem to have not had much of their own stories going on until they drop everything to take Becca under their wing.  Romance is far from the focus of this story (although it does sneak in there at some points) and it was refreshing to read about Becca achieving her goals independently.  Also notable are the quirky side characters, the shenanigans Becca gets herself into while searching for work and her sweet mother who just wants the best for her daughter.

Do I Recommend?:  I do!  As I stated, Hello, Sunshine is a fun unconventional novel that looks at the road that many do not take.  This novel is definitely a great beach read for anyone looking for something different!

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Kristin

Book Look OOTD: Nantucket Red by Leila Howland

Ever since I read the Nantucket duology by Leila Howland I’ve wished that I could visit Nantucket for a summer.  While I don’t miss being in school, I do truly miss having a two plus month summer vacation each year.  Since I tend to mostly read YA novels, I feel even more envious of those with a long break just about every time I pick up a book.  Why I didn’t become an English teacher with summers off is beyond me.  Anyway, Nantucket Red is the second book in the duology and I think this series, more than any, really encompasses ~summer~  I love the main character Cricket and I would do just about anything for a third book because I often daydream about what she’s doing now.  When I saw this ModCloth dress, it immediately reminded me of something I could wear to walk the boardwalk so I paired it with my mermaid necklace, chambray headband and sunflower sandals to give it an extra bit of that summer something and make it Nantucket-worthy.  If you haven’t read any of Lelia’s lovely series, you can check out my review for the first bookNantucket Blue, and see if it’s something you’d be interested in.

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Outfit Details: Dress (ModCloth)  |  Shoes (Kate Spade – Similar

Necklace (Eclectic Eccentricity)  |  Sunglasses (Ray-ban)  |  Headband (Forever 21 – Similar)

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Tea & Book Chat: Nantucket Red by Leila Howland (Nantucket #2)

**Warning! If you haven’t read Nantucket Blue which is the first book in the duology by Leila Howland, there will be spoilers ahead.  You can read my review of the first book instead if you haven’t started the series yet!**

It took me WAY too long to read the conclusion to Leila Howland’s Nantucket Blue series after having loved the first book as much as I did but it wasn’t completely my fault!  If I had been able to find my copy of Nantucket Red I would’ve read it sooner but despite labeling all of the 20+ boxes of books I packed, it was nowhere to be found until I went through every last box on a mission to find it (of course it was at the bottom on the last box).  I didn’t realize how much I needed more Cricket, Zack and Jules in my reading life until I dove back in and let me tell you, it was a blissful experience.

The second book picks up at the beginning of the school year after Cricket and Zack decide that the long distance thing is not for them.  Instead, they choose to “pause” their relationship while they figure things out but after an unfortunate phone call which Zack misinterprets, he ends up dating the awful girl Parker who Jules had ditched Cricket for in Nantucket Blue.  While it was so great to see Jules and Cricket back as besties, it hurt my heart every time I would read about Zack with Parker.  Cricket is such a driven and exceptional teen and I love being in her head.  I wish Leila Howland would write more stories with these characters because I honestly love them and I want them to succeed in everything they do.  Even though we got a fantastic epilogue, I could see so much more happening for them.

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In Nantucket Red, Leila Howland expanded upon everything I loved about Nantucket Blue.  Being back in the familiar Nantucket setting felt like spending my own second summer there on the beach surrounded by preppy people in pastel colors.  While last summer dealt with handling difficult emotions and finding love, this summer was much more of a personal journey for Cricket.  She’s all set with her Ivy league college plans but after finding a special list, she begins to question what it is she truly desires and what path she needs to take in the future.

Final Thoughts: Nantucket Red is the delightful conclusion to Leila Howland’s Nantucket Blue series.  If you’re looking for an engaging beach read Nantucket Blue and Nantucket Red would be the first books I would suggest.  My only complaint is that there aren’t anymore Nantucket books to read because I’m head over heels for this little summer paradise as well as the main characters.

Rating 6

Cricket Thompson’s lifetime of overachieving has paid off: she’s headed to Brown University in the fall, with a spot on the lacrosse team and a scholarship that covers almost everything. Who knew living in the dorm cost money? An Ivy League education seems to mean living at home for the next four years.

When Cricket is offered the chance to earn enough cash to afford a real college experience, she heads back to Nantucket for the summer. But the faraway island challenges Cricket in ways she hadn’t anticipated. It’s hard to focus on earning money for next year, when she finds her world opening up in entirely new ways-to art, to travel, and, most unexpectedly, to a future completely different from the one she has been working toward her whole life. A friendship blossoms with Ben, the gorgeous surfer and bartender who encourages Cricket to be free, even as she smarts at the pain of seeing Zack, her first love, falling for her worst enemy.

But one night, when Cricket finally lets herself break all her own rules, she realizes she may have ruined her carefully constructed future with one impulsive decision. Cricket must dig deep to fight for her future, discovering that success isn’t just about reaching goals, but also about listening to what she’s been trying to ignore-her own heart. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland (Nantucket #1)

In sticking with my craving for contemporary summer reads, I decided to pick up Nantucket Blue and Nantucket Red by Leila Howland on a recent shopping trip to The Strand with Sara.  I hadn’t ever heard of the books until I read about the main character Cricket on Brittany’s blog, The Book Addict’s Guide.  The cover basically screams beach read so as soon as I saw it I knew I needed it.  I have not yet read the second book, but I am planning on doing so VERY soon.  Nantucket Blue is about a pair of best friends, Cricket and Jules, and their plan for the best summer ever in a tiny New England town called Nantucket.  Jules vacations on Nantucket every summer but Cricket has never been able to share the same experience until Jules invites her to spend the summer with her family.  Everything about Nantucket is so romanticized by Cricket before she arrives but things don’t go exactly as planned.

After a tragic event occurs, there is a LOT of tension between Cricket and her best friend Jules and it threatens to ruin their perfect summer.  I loved that the majority of Cricket’s actions are driven by her friendship to Jules even when Jules is not treating her the way a friend should.  It’s actually a really mature way for a teen to act and react to their circumstances which is why I grew so fond of Cricket.  I’m very interested in seeing how Cricket and Jules’ relationship plays out in the second book.  It’s really challenging not to be spoilery in this section so I’m just going to end this paragraph right here!

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I also just adored the romance aspect of Nantucket Blue.  Not only between Cricket and her beau, but also the romance of Nantucket itself.  It seems like such a wonderful place to vacation!  I could almost taste the croissants and coffee while I walked down the blocks of overpriced shops a short distance from the beach.  I breezed through Nantucket Blue in just over a day because of how enjoyable the characters are and how dreamy the scene is painted by Howland.  I really cannot wait to dive into the following book and find out what’s going on in everyone’s lives!

Final Thoughts:  Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland is the perfect contemporary beach read.  I read through the story very quickly because I couldn’t get enough of the characters or the setting on the beautiful island of Nantucket.  Cricket is a mature teen and it is a pleasure to spend time in her head while she works out everything that’s been thrown at her during the summer.

3

For Cricket Thompson, a summer like this one will change everything. A summer spent on Nantucket with her best friend, Jules Clayton, and the indomitable Clayton family. A summer when she’ll make the almost unattainable Jay Logan hers. A summer to surpass all dreams.

Some of this turns out to be true. Some of it doesn’t.

When Jules and her family suffer a devastating tragedy that forces the girls apart, Jules becomes a stranger whom Cricket wonders whether she ever really knew. And instead of lying on the beach working on her caramel-colored tan, Cricket is making beds and cleaning bathrooms to support herself in paradise for the summer.

But it’s the things Cricket hadn’t counted on–most of all, falling hard for someone who should be completely off-limits–that turn her dreams into an exhilarating, bittersweet reality.

A beautiful future is within her grasp, and Cricket must find the grace to embrace it. If she does, her life could be the perfect shade of Nantucket blue. (via Goodreads)

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