quotes Elisquared likes


"Saying 'I notice you're a nerd' is like saying, 'Hey, I notice that you'd rather be intelligent than be stupid, that you'd rather be thoughtful than be vapid, that you believe that there are things that matter more than the arrest record of Lindsay Lohan. Why is that?' In fact, it seems to me that most contemporary insults are pretty lame. Even 'lame' is kind of lame. Saying 'You're lame' is like saying 'You walk with a limp.' Yeah, whatever, so does 50 Cent, and he's done all right for himself."— John Green

1.10.2020

BLOG TOUR --- Lucky Caller by Emma Mills [Review + Giveaway]




Title: Lucky Caller
Authors(s): Emma Mills
Publication Date: January 14, 2020
Edition: Hardcover, ebook; 336 pgs
Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
Source: Rockstar Book Tours
Buy: Amazon - Kindle - Barnes & Noble  - iBooks - Kobo The Book Depository 
Disclaimer: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.





Tour Schedule


Week One:
1/6/2020 - Mary Had a Little Book Blog - Review 
1/6/2020 - onemused - Review 
1/7/2020 - Do You Dog-ear? - Review 
1/7/2020 - BookHounds YA - Interview 
1/8/2020 - Kait Plus Books - Review 
1/8/2020 - Nerdophiless - Review 
1/9/2020 - Not In Jersey - Review 
1/9/2020 - She Just Loves Books - Review 
1/10/2020 - Lifestyle of Me - Review 
1/10/2020 - Eli to the nth - Review 

Week Two:
1/13/2020 - Smada's Book Smack - Review 
1/13/2020 - Wonder Struck - Review 
1/14/2020 - Fictitiouswonderland - Review 
1/14/2020 - A Dream Within A Dream - Guest Post 
1/15/2020 - The Heart of a Book Blogger - Review 
1/15/2020 - Fire and Ice - Review 
1/16/2020 - DJREADSBOOKS - Review 
1/16/2020 - A Bookish Dream - Review 
1/17/2020 - Rants and Raves of a Bibliophile - Review 
1/17/2020 - Two Chicks on Books - Interview


The Summary


With the warmth, wit, intimate friendships, and heart-melting romance she brings to all her books, Emma Mills crafts a story about believing in yourself, owning your mistakes, and trusting in human connection in Lucky Caller.

When Nina decides to take a radio broadcasting class her senior year, she expects it to be a walk in the park. Instead, it’s a complete disaster.


The members of Nina's haphazardly formed radio team have approximately nothing in common. And to maximize the awkwardness her group includes Jamie, a childhood friend she'd hoped to basically avoid for the rest of her life.


The show is a mess, internet rumors threaten to bring the wrath of two fandoms down on their heads, and to top it all off Nina's family is on the brink of some major upheaval.


Everything feels like it's spiraling out of control―but maybe control is overrated?


PRAISE FOR LUCKY CALLER


"A well-crafted, bittersweet comedy of errors filled with realistically flawed characters and taut, witty dialogue." - Publishers Weekly Starred Review

My Review

Another adorable tale crafted by one of the fast becoming, quintessential YA contemporary authors, Emma Mills hits it out of the park with her love story full of broadcast radio, make believe games, and the journey to find out where you fit.

This book, like all of Mills' books, was perfectly engrossing.  Mills' witty dialogue, both internal and external, suck you into the story immediately (check out the excerpt below).  The writing feels like it's being utter by actual teenagers, rather than ones you find on tv.  The exchanges are quick or measured, as needed, the pace found when you're relaxing with your best friend or in the most-awkward-kill-me-now situations.  I love when I can hear the characters in my head while reading, coming alive as I follow along.

Each of Mills' characters stood on their own, and were all different enough to be memorable within a larger cast.  Nina and Jaime were adorable, and a little hopeless/hapless, but fully real.  Frustrating misunderstandings and delightful acts of bravery make this dynamic one you are immediately invested in.  Jaime is one of those male characters that is so sweet it makes you say "Oh book boyfriend!", and Nina is for sure bestie material with her sly comments and relatable human garbage aura (paraphrasing here --- Nina is too hard on herself).

I always love my contemporary with a side of family, and Nina's family delivers that wonderfully.  While not the main focus, they are all there to shape and support Nina as she journey's through some interesting times in the last semester of her senior year.  Her oldest sister, Rose, is in the midst of her first year of college, while the youngest sister, Sidney, is breaking through into 8th grade stardom.  Each sister is on her own path to "self-discovery", which may sound hokey, but that's why the young adult years are deemed a coming of age period; pivotal life events happen, from something tiny to something huge.  

The setting for the book is actually really interesting, and something I didn't think would work.  Nina is taking a broadcast radio elective as something easy and fun for her last semester.  Radio isn't something that's highly talked about in present society; most people listen to Spotify or podcasts nowadays, so you rarely hear about radio stations.  But I didn't feel like the setting was dated.  The class instructor does mention that the skills could be utilized for a podcast, but I think what really clinched it not feeling out of place was the sense of community the radio class brought.  The school has it's own radio station, so these are fellow students broadcasting out into the world and tuning in for the shows.  This format also gives Mills the opportunity to show personality to her characters without it being a list of "facts about me".  It also sets up a comedy of errors that you have to read to believe.  It's hilarious, and the culmination is just so satisfying.

I've only touch on some of the things I loved about this book, but I think this quote really sums up my feelings on it: "We were an ongoing moment---one I hoped I would never see the end of."  Life is a series of ongoing moments, some people come in and others go out, but you keep moving forward.  And that is what makes Nina's story your story.


Final Rating



Excerpt



IT WAS CHRISTMAS, AND DAN was in the middle of proposing to my mom when there was a knock at the door.

All five of us looked that way—me, Mom, Dan, my sisters Rose and Sidney, all of our heads swiveled en masse like something from one of those Golden Age musicals that Sid made us watch sometimes. Like we were a “five six seven eight” away from breaking into a tap number.

“Is this…?” Mom looked a little confused when I glanced back her way. Confused but happy—she still looked really happy.

“No.” Dan frowned from where he was standing in the middle of our apartment’s living room/dining room combo. My mom was in one of the chairs by the window, which we had pushed to the side to accommodate our little artificial tree. “Not … part of it.”

Mom let out a laugh, her hand flying up to her face. “Uh-oh.”

The knock sounded again, gentle but insistent.

“Should I—” Rose went to stand.

“Nina’s closer,” Sidney pointed out.

“Yes, Nina, please.” Mom grinned at Dan. He looked flustered but grinned back anyway.

I stood and went to the door.

Until this moment, nothing about the engagement had come as a surprise. The truth was, Dan had—albeit awkwardly—asked for “permission” from Rose, Sidney, and me a few days prior. It was oddly endearing, putting aside the notion of my mom somehow belonging to us and needing our approval to remarry.

Though Mom, too, had asked for our permission in a way, without formally asking for it, even before Dan had. She had taken us to Lincoln Square, the breakfast place near our apartment building, to celebrate the start of Christmas vacation and had cut her pancakes into increasingly small pieces, fiddled around with her napkin for a while, and eventually said, apropos of nothing:

“Dan and I are thinking.”

“Wow, I had no idea you guys had achieved telepathic communication,” Rose had replied, because Dan wasn’t out with us at the time, and also because, despite it being exactly the kind of thing that any one of us would say, as the oldest, Rose often got there first.

“Dan and I are thinking—” Mom repeated, really hitting the word to imply that the rest of the thought would be coming momentarily, “—about our future together. About all of our futures together. And we were thinking—we’ve been talking—about…” Historically, Mom would get more and more measured the more uncertain she was of how to approach something. By this point, each word was treated to its own sentence: “The. Idea. Of. Us. Getting. Married.”

Sidney looked up from her southwest scramble. “Married?”

“Yes.”

“Like, in a church?”

“Probably not.”

“Like, white dress, something borrowed, the Dantist is our stepdad now?”

“You know how I feel about that nickname.”

“There’s nothing mean about it,” Rose said. “It’s a portmanteau. His name is Dan, and he’s a dentist. If anything, it’s efficient.”

“Why does Dan have to be defined by his career?”

“Why does his career have to fit so seamlessly with his name?” was my contribution.

“Nina.”

“Mom.”

She sighed. Picked up her fork and speared one of the minuscule pancake pieces. Rose’s phone was on the table, and it vibrated once, and then again, in the silence. A freshman in college, Rose’s semester had ended a week earlier than mine and Sidney’s, and she had gotten a flurry of texts from high school friends over the last few days, people coming back into town for break. She looked like she wanted to reach for the phone, but she didn’t. Mom had a forks up, phones down policy. The fact that it was even on the table was a direct violation, but I think Mom must’ve been too distracted to really care. Now I knew why.

“How do we feel?” she said eventually.

“Sleepy,” Sidney replied.

Mom looked toward the ceiling. “How do we feel about Dan and me?”

“Oh, that,” Sidney said, and then grinned at me. At thirteen, she was the baby of the family. We let her get away with too much.

“We feel…” Rose paused. She could be measured like Mom sometimes. “Okay. Right?” She looked from me to Sidney. “We feel okay? About Mom and the”—Mom opened her mouth to speak—“Dan making it official?”

The Dantist, or Dr. Dan Hubler, DDS, was twelve years older than Mom. He always wore khakis. He made his own almond milk. He and my mom had met online just over a year ago.

It wasn’t the first time she’d dated since our parents split up—it had been almost ten years since they divorced. But it was the first time that it seemed like … something substantial, I guess. It was the first time that she seemed settled, and not in a bad way. Just in a way where she never acted any different around Dan than she did around us. She still seemed completely herself with him—still laughed as loud, still got just as exasperated sometimes.

Rose looked pointedly at me and Sidney when we didn’t answer, and Sidney bobbed her head and said, “Sure, I guess,” around a mouthful of eggs and bell peppers. I didn’t respond. Just divided a piece of pancake in half with my fork and then halved it again. I guess I came by it naturally.

Truthfully, I wasn’t exactly sure how I felt. I knew that Mom would be happy. I knew that I liked Dan well enough. But it had seemed abstract there in the booth at Lincoln Square, and even still when Dan had asked us afterward. Like something hypothetical.

But now here we were, in the middle of the afternoon on Christmas. Mom had found the box that “Santa” snuck under the tree after lunch, and it was right in the middle of happening—of becoming something entirely … thetical—when I swung open our front door to see who had unknowingly interrupted the start of this very real engagement.

It turned out to be Mrs. Russell, an older lady who lived a couple floors down. She used to babysit us after school when we were younger. Her grandson, Jamie, was in my class at school, and he lived with her and Mr. Russell.

She was holding a loaf of something wrapped in red cellophane with a silver bow stuck on top, and she smiled at me, eyes crinkling at the edges behind plastic lilac-colored frames.

“Hello, Nina! Merry Christmas!”

“Hi…” Saying Mrs. Russell out loud felt weird. We used to call her Gram like Jamie did when we were kids, Grammy when we were even younger. “Merry Christmas.”

“Our mom’s getting engaged!” Sidney called.

“Oh my!” Mrs. Russell said. “Congratulations!”

“Technically, it’s still in progress,” Sidney added.

“I’m sorry?”

Mom jumped up and joined us at the door just as Mr. Russell appeared next to Gram in the hallway, leaning on Jamie’s arm.

My heart rate ratcheted up a little.

“Eleanor, Paul, Jamie, hi. Merry Christmas!” Mom said, and Mrs. Russell’s eyes widened, clocking the box in Mom’s hand.

“We are so sorry to interrupt—” she began, but Mom shook her head, and behind her, Dan said:

“Please, join us. This is the kind of thing that’s even better among friends,” though I wasn’t sure if he had ever even met the Russells before.

“We couldn’t intrude—” Mrs. Russell said, and there was a fair bit of back-and-forth before we all cleared out of the doorway and the Russells finally entered, Gram still looking apologetic, Mr. Russell (Papa, I thought absently) and Jamie shuffling in behind. Dan greeted Mrs. Russell, clasped hands with Mr. Russell and Jamie, and ushered everyone to sit, offering coffee or cider or hot chocolate or champagne.

“We don’t have—” Mom started to say, but Dan winked, and when everyone was situated, he turned to my mom and said, “Michelle.”

Mom’s eyes shone. “Daniel.”

“About … what I was saying before…”

“Yes,” Mom said. “Yes. Obviously.”

Mrs. Russell burst into applause, and we all joined in while Mom moved in to kiss Dan.

“Jamie, take a picture,” Mrs. Russell said, and Jamie pulled a phone out of his back pocket. “In front of the tree!” she added, and I recalled all at once her gentle forcefulness. Camouflaged in a cheerful demeanor was Gram’s iron will. “Arms around each other!”

Jamie took some pictures of Dan and Mom posing in front of the tree while the rest of us looked on like we were the crew of a Christmas catalog shoot. Afterward, Mom went to cut up the zucchini bread that Mrs. Russell had brought, and make a platter with some Christmas cookies. Dan and Mr. Russell started talking, which left Rose and me on the couch, Sidney on the floor looking through a new book, and Jamie hovering awkwardly nearby, still holding his phone.

I could see part of his screen from where I sat. He was thumbing back through the pictures he had just taken, my mom and Dan in nearly identical shots, faces pressed close, smiling wide. Past those pictures were a few of what must have been Jamie’s Christmas morning with Gram and Papa. He paused on one of Papa with an array of shiny plastic bows stuck to the front of his sweater.

Rose cleared her throat in a way that wouldn’t draw Jamie’s attention but that I knew from seventeen years as Rose’s sister was meant specifically for me. In confirmation, she looked from Jamie to me and back again, widening her eyes as if to make a point.

I blinked at her like I didn’t understand. She blinked back like she knew exactly what I was doing. I turned away from her exasperated face, glancing in Jamie’s direction again.

He had always been cute in a goofy sort of way, with brown eyes that could be by turns serious enough to make you feel guilty about whatever ridiculous childhood scheme you had tried to rope him into, or mischievous enough to get you into the scheme in the first place. His face had always communicated his feelings all too plainly—we used to call it the Jamietron, like a Jumbotron at a basketball game or something.

It was hard to read him now. He looked taller than the last time I had seen him, though the red-and-white-striped sweater he was currently wearing was approximately three sizes too big. The sleeves trailed way past his fingers. It still had the tag on the collar.

“New sweater, James?” Rose asked eventually. I guess she had given up on me.

Jamie looked up from his phone with something like surprise. “Oh. Yeah. How’d you know?”

“You got, uh—” Rose gestured to the back of her neck.

Jamie reached up and felt the tag, chagrin flashing across his face—there was the Jamietron of old. He gave the tag a yank, crumpling it and shoving it in his pocket. “Gram got it for me. I’m … supposed to grow into it.”

“Did she also give you a vat of radioactive waste? ’Cause that might help things along,” Sidney said. I nudged her with my foot, but Jamie just huffed a laugh, and then it was quiet again among the four of us.

“How’s … stuff?” he said eventually, looking at Rose. She was always the default.

“Stuff is good,” Rose replied.

He shifted a bit closer to where we were sitting. He really did seem taller. And broader, maybe? I would go down to the gym with Rose to use the ellipticals sometimes, but I never saw him down there.

“Still working at Bagels?” Rose said with a smile.

Bagels was a shop in the big strip mall by the Target uptown, sandwiched between a UPS store and a kids’ clothing store. It technically had a real name—The Bagel Company or something like that—but the sign hanging above the place simply said BAGELS in bright red letters. So we just called it Bagels and left it at that. You had to say it like there was an exclamation point after it, though, like jazz hands were implied: BAGELS!

“I am,” Jamie said.

Sidney looked up from her book. “Can you get us free bagels?”

“They usually sell out, but I could bring you a bag of leftovers sometime if they have any. It helps if you like pumpernickel or jalapeño though because those are usually the only kinds left.”

Sidney wrinkled her nose.

Jamie looked back at Rose. “So … Do you like college so far?”

She shrugged noncommittally.

“How about eighth grade?” he asked Sidney.

“No one likes eighth grade,” Sidney replied.

One corner of Jamie’s mouth ticked up. “That’s fair.”

“How about you?” Rose said. “One more semester, and then you guys are done. Got big plans? Anything fun coming up?”

“Not really.” He shifted from one foot to the other for a moment, and then: “Oh—I’m, uh, taking that radio class.”

“Oh! So is Nina.”

He glanced at me. “Yeah?”

“Yeah,” I said. Meridian North High School’s radio broadcasting class was open only to seniors and was reportedly one of the most fun electives you could take.

“Cool.” A pause. “Hey, you’ll probably be great at it. You know, because of your dad and stuff.”

My dad hosted a breakfast radio show in San Diego—Conrad and Co., KPMR 100.2, mornings from six to ten thirty.

“I mean, I don’t think it’s … genetic or anything,” I said.

Jamie bobbed his head, smiled tightly. “True.”

Silence.

Mom crossed into the living room with the cookie platter, and Rose hopped up to join her as she placed it on the dining room table.

“Sorry,” Jamie said after a moment. “For just showing up in the middle of … an important thing.” He grimaced a little. “I told Gram we shouldn’t bother you guys, but…” He trailed off.

“It’s not like it was a surprise,” I said. “I mean. You were a surprise. You guys. Coming here. But we basically knew already about…” I waved a hand.

“Good.” He nodded. “That’s good.”

It would never not be awkward around Jamie. The trick was to spend as little time with him as possible. So when Rose came back with cookies, I got up to get some too. He didn’t follow.
Copyright © 2020 by Emma Mills

About the Author

Emma Mills is the author of First & Then, This Adventure Ends, Foolish Hearts, Famous in a Small Town, and Lucky Caller. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri, and has recently completed a PhD in cell biology.








Giveaway

3 winners will win a finished copy of LUCKY CALLER, US Only.

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