Big Kids’ Table: YA/NA Authors Chat “Grown Up” Books

big kids' table - adult fiction feature on rather be reading

Happy Halloween, book lovers! Nothing too spooky going on around these parts, but I am so enthused to share this month’s Big Kids’ Table with you! (I’m down to the wire… on the last day of the month, but the wait is worth it, I swear!) Thanks to some brainstorming sessions with Cassie I decided to reach out to a few of my favorite young adult/NA writers and find out what grown up books they would recommend! Not only were the participants totally game but their final picks were as eclectic as their own books and that made me even more excited to share this feature with you!

Without further ado…

Tara Altebrando Author of Roomies Recommends Literature

author of Dreamland Social Club, The Best Night of Your Pathetic Life, and the upcoming Roomies (with Sara Zarr)

Big Kids’ Pick: One of the most breathtaking and heartbreaking books I’ve read about the adolescent experience is an “adult” book called “Wonder When You’ll Miss Me” by Amanda Davis. I read it in one day and at the end of the day I felt a sort of horrible sense of mourning that I hadn’t written it. I recommend it for older teen readers who like dark reads.

It will come as no surprise to readers of my novel Dreamland Social Club that I am fascinated with circuses and carnivals and the like, and “Wonder When You’ll Miss Me” sets the bar way high in terms of “running away with the circus” stories. It’s about 16-year-old Faith Duckle, who has been the victim of a brutal assault that caused her to attempt suicide. She loses a lot of weight while hospitalized but when she gets out nobody seems to notice how different she looks…except for the ghost of her former fat girl self who follows her around, taunting her. With no place to fit in, Faith joins up with a traveling circus, reinvents herself as Annabelle Cabinet, and finds a place among the misfits there while plotting revenge on her attacker and also trying to break free of the ghost of her former self.

The prose is electrifying, the story emotionally wrenching. And the reading experience made additionally bittersweet because the author, so very young when she published the book, died in a plane crash on her DIY book tour.

What’s next for Tara? As for what I’m up to these days, right now I’m gearing up to promote “Soundproof Your Life,” my story in One Teen Story magazine. And of course Roomies, which I wrote with Sara Zarr, comes out in December. My middle-grade debut, The Battle of Darcy Lane, follows soon after that in May. Busy times! In between doing website updates and Q&As and thinking about what to wear to book events I’m working on a new YA novel that is a sort of no-holds-barred thriller. It is not yet ready for prime time but hopefully I’ll share it with the world soon!

[ Follow Tara | My review of Dreamland Social Club | Add Wonder When You’ll Miss Me to Goodreads ]

Sabrina Elkins Author of Stir Me Up Recommends Adult Litauthor of Stir Me Up, October eBook release from Harlequin Teen

Big Kids’ Pick: The first book I’d recommend to anyone is Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. This novel, Hemingway’s first and widely considered his finest, follows the story of Jake Barnes, a man rendered impotent by an injury he sustained in World War I. The story is, at one level, about a group of American and British expatriates who travel from the cafes of Paris to a festival and bullfight in Pamplona. But it is also about Jake’s unrequited love for the beautiful, unattainable and promiscuous Lady Brett Ashley. The story is powerful, and the characters are unforgettable. The lean writing style has been an inspiration for generations of writers, most definitely including myself. My favorite book of all time.

What’s next for Sabrina? Find out in her recent podcast appearance on Meet Us at the Diner.

[ Follow Sabrina | My review of Stir Me Up | Add The Sun Also Rises to Goodreads]

Jessi Kirby Author of Golden Recommends Adult Litauthor of Moonglass, In Honor, and this year’s Golden

Big Kids’ Pick: My “grown up” book recommendation is Deb Caletti’s debut adult novel, HE’S GONE.  I love her YA novels, so I was really curious to see what she would do in the adult realm, and what she did was brilliant! The way she weaves the history of the main character and her husband together with the mystery of his disappearance is so gracefully done and kept me turning the pages long past my bedtime!

What’s next for Jessi? My next book, which will be out Summer 2015, is still in the draft stage, but what I can say is that it’s definitely more of a romance than I’ve written thus far, it has to do with the heart, in all of its definitions, and my theme song that’s been on repeat the entire time I’ve been writing it is Taylor Swift’s “Treacherous.”

[ Follow Jessi | Magan’s review of Golden | Add He’s Gone to Goodreads ]

Bill Konigsberg Author of Openly Straight Recommends Literature

author of Out of Pocket and this year’s Openly Straight

Big Kids’ Pick: Book: Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin — When I was a teenager, I felt incredibly alone. I came out as gay as a teen, and it made me feel separated from my family. I picked up Tales of the City one day perusing a bookstore, and it changed my life. The makeshift family that comes together at 28 Barbary Lane felt like it became my family. They were straight and gay and old and young and they were accepted by each other. They were licking their wounds and having sweet and funny and dramatic adventures, and I was licking my wounds and doing the same. To this day, when I feel alone, I pick up that book and I don’t feel that way anymore. If you haven’t read this series yet, you need to buy the first book this very minute and start reading.

What’s next for Bill: Currently, I’m working on my third novel, The Porcupine of Truth. It’s an exciting departure for me, in that there’s a bit of a mystery at its core. It’s about two teens – a boy and a girl – who are thrown together and embark on a cross-country journey to solve a 30-year-old family mystery. Along the way, everything they’ve ever understood about family and friendship and the universe is tested. That may sound unlike my other books, but it is very much a Konigsberg novel in that it involves characters who feel isolated finding each other and finding ways to connect to others. It’s also funny, so if you enjoyed the humor in Openly Straight, you’ll like this one, too.

[ Follow Bill | My review of Openly Straight | Add Tales of the City to Goodreads ]

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Big thanks to Tara, Sabrina, Jessi, and Bill for being so awesome! I’m so looking forward to picking up
these book recommendations and your new work!

What about you? Reading anything outside of young adult lately?

Big Kids’ Table: Switching It Up with Non-Fiction

big kids' table - adult fiction feature on rather be reading

Greetings, friends! You made it to Friday and (believe it or not) the final Friday of September. Hasn’t this year just sped by? I can’t even keep track of the days lately. It’s all a blur.

I hope that you are out there reading some fantastic books right now, and maybe, quite maybe, picking up a grown up book. Part of my reading resolution to myself this year was to branch out more. I didn’t just want to read young adult books. Reading is about learning about new things and new people, and I wanted to make sure I was making a conscious effort to do just that.

So today we are going to talk a little bit about non-fiction.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying a BIOGRAPHY. Shocker, I know. It’s been so long since I’ve read one, and I feared it so much. What if it was boring? What if I just wasn’t getting the point? You know, the natural fears we have when we embark on something new. Lucky for me, I was reading Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones. Jim Henson was the creator of the Muppets and he helped created Sesame Street. The bio tells an honest story of a creative, hardworking man who never ran out of ideas but instead died way too early. (He was only in his 50s.)

Jim Henson The Biography by Brian Jay Jones

For those of you who aren’t Muppets fans, I hope you’ll keep reading but Jim faced a stigma that certain grown up young adult readers seem to face all the time. That self-consciousness that we are adults reading little kid stories. Jim wanted to create an art through puppetry that reached adults AND children. But he hit several roadblocks because critics and audiences couldn’t always look past the fact that puppets were just for kids.

“Good, solid entertainment is funny for young and old,” he patiently told one reporter. “There is a tendency to think of children’s entertainment versus adult entertainment. It’s possible to have an identical level for both.” Still he admitted it was difficult to convince adults that puppetry wasn’t just kids’ stuff. “People don’t tend to like [puppets],” Jim said. “They turn off alt the idea, but that’s because puppets are generally not well done.” (page 178 of Jim Henson: the Biography ARC.)

I couldn’t get over how much his struggle compared to our tastes in books or even our tastes in other hobbies. (For me, loving Walt Disney World as a travel destination fit too.)

As much as I enjoy fiction and being wrapped up in a character’s story, there’s something to be said about journeying through someone’s life and hearing from the people who loved them, the trials they faced, and the accomplishments that set forth their legacy. It’s also quite fun to have a few facts up your sleeve. Think of what a hit you would be a dinner parties!

Here are a few other non-fiction books, I’m hoping to cross off my list soon:

  • Mrs. Lincoln: A Life by Catherine Clinton — I’m sad to admit that I’ve owned this book for more than 3 years now (thanks to my lovely coworker) and haven’t read it yet. I’m a huge fan of the Presidents and I love American history. The prologue to this book is so intriguing, and I can picture myself in a warm, woolly sweater reading this while it’s snowing outside.
  • Everything was Possible: The Birth of the Musical Follies — I bought this book about two years ago after seeing Follies on Broadway. This musical is very special to me. I spent a lot of time at my first college, the summer they put it on and the story itself reminds me so much of my school closing. I’m a huge musical theater fan and I want to know the backstory!
  • Slimed: an Oral History of Nickelodean’s Golden Age — I’m actually going to an event for this book tonight. (Marc Summers from Double Dare is going to be there!) When I was a kid, I loved SNICK so much. I stayed up every Saturday to watch it and made sure I always had the lights out for “Are you Afraid of the Dark?” I’m also a pop culture junkie so I’m looking forward to checking out this “history” book.

Just for kicks, here are three I’ve already loved + adored:

  • Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett: I read this book for a memoir class and ended up loving it so much, I kept it. It’s about Ann Patchett’s friendship with a gal she meets in college, and soon-to-be fellow writer. I loved this book because I felt Ann portrayed the struggles of wanting to be a REAL writer so well, and of course, the girls together are heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time.
  • What Remains by Carole Radziwill: This one is kind of a tearjerker but it’s remained a steady recommendation from me for years. Carole was best friends with Carolyn Bessette, who was married to JFK Jr. This book details their friendship, the tragic passing of the pair, and also the cancer that will take Carole’s husband.
  • Slouching Toward Bethlehem by Joan Didion:  This book is near and dear to my heart — a collection of short stories by a fantastic journalist who writes about writing, home, and pop culture. Definitely something I would suggest to the budding writer or a fan of travel writing.

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For me, non-fiction is a way to make way for my other passions. I never want to be just about fiction books or just about young adult. There are so many different genres out there to discover, and fun facts and stories to learn about living and breathing people. It’s important to make space in your reading wish lists for these too.

Now it’s your turn! Have you been reading non-fiction? What subjects do you want to learn more about? I’d love some suggestions and just to hear from you about embracing other genres and true stories!

Happy reading, all!

The Big Kids’ Table: So Obsessed With Adult Books

big kids' table - adult fiction feature on rather be reading

Hi friends! How are you doing on this lovely August Friday? Truth be told, I’ve been struggling with how to make Big Kids’ Table exciting and refreshing for you. I have been really conquering the adult reads this year (much like I wanted to last year) and I’m still not sure what makes you tick, what will make you take a break from a young adult and explore the library for something new. So for the rest of the year, Big Kids’ Table is going to continue to experiment with content. As always, I would love your feedback and your thoughts. Feel free to email me too! I’d love to chat. Anytime, anywhere.

Now to the good stuff. I was really inspired by a random tweet from Hannah at So Obsessed With a few weeks ago when she said she went into a bookstore and bought two adult books on a whim so I sent her an email and I’m like: how do you decide what adult books to buy? So in response the awesome Hannah wrote this:

Before blogging, I almost exclusively read adult fiction and non-fiction. I had no idea that adult books were more expensive until I started blogging. Suddenly, I was picking up YA books right and left… and marveling at the lower price tag. Despite the price, I still can’t stop buying adult books. Here’s how I decide what books to buy and how I discovered a few of my recent purchases:

1. Find What I Want.

Most of the blogs I read primarily review YA books, but I’ve discovered a number of bloggers who highlight awesome adult books that often get added to my TBR. I also keep an eye out for features like this one to help me find adult books that bloggers I already trust recommend!

To find new releases, I stalk Literary Inklings’ Notable New Releases posts every Tuesday. I also make sure to check out the “Movers & Shakers” list on Goodreads each month to see if anything catches my eye.

Finally, I keep an eye out for book recommendations in magazines (like Entertainment Weekly), on the Goodreads Recommendations tab, at the book section in Target and by getting sucked into the “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” black hole on Amazon.

And, you know, there’s always old-fashioned bookstore browsing!

2. Read A Sample.

Because adult books are more expensive, I’m less likely to just buy one on impulse. I usually try to read a sample – whether on my e-reader, at the bookstore or by trying to get it from the library.

I almost always check the Goodreads rating, too. If a book has a rating lower than 3.5, I typically try to get it from the library. The only exception is if it’s an author I’ve previously read and loved. I don’t always agree with the Goodreads masses, but I do find that it gives me a pretty good indication of whether or not I ought to buy the book. I’ll also check to see if any of my friends or fellow bloggers have already read and reviewed it! 

3. Take The Plunge!

From there, it’s time to take those books to the counter and checkout! The main reason I don’t have a hard time paying for an adult book is that they typically take me longer to read. I can read most YA books in a day, including longer ones if I have the whole afternoon free. Since adult books often have more pages and a smaller font, it’s not hard for me to justify paying more for it. I’ll likely spend more time in its pages, so I’m prepared to spend a little more money on it.

Here are three adult books I bought recently – how I discovered them and why I wanted to bring them home:

The Ashford Affair by Lauren Willig: I haven’t read anything by Willig before, but this cover caught my eye on Amazon one day. I put it on my wishlist so I wouldn’t forget it, and I’ve been keeping an eye out for it in stores ever since. From a pretty cover to being my favorite genre, this one definitely seemed like a “me” book. I finally found it, sat down to read a few pages and didn’t want to stop!

The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway: I was approved to read this one on NetGalley, but I wasn’t able to get to it in time. A blogger I trust gave it a high rating and hearty recommendation, so I checked it out from the library last month and read 50 pages before returning it so I could buy a copy instead. Yes, sometimes I’ll buy a book I could read for free.

 One Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams: I spotted this book for the first time in Estelle’s Big Kids’ Table post for June. Once it was on my watch list, I couldn’t stop spotting it everywhere! On display at the bookstore, highlighted as a great summer read in a few magazines… I felt like it was everywhere I looked! So, I finally caved and purchased this while on vacation.

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Big hugs to Hannah for taking the time to pen this awesome post! I’m so excited about her suggestions. Be sure to check out her blog + her amazing new Consider the Classics feature! So now you tell me, how do you decide to buy adult books and what have you been reading from the “big kid” realm lately? We are all anxious for your suggestions!

Thanks again for stopping in!

The Big Kids’ Table: HACKED by Gone Pecan

big kids' table - adult fiction feature on rather be reading

We have an emergency situation on our hands!

I innocently clicked into this post like I do every single month and SOMEONE WROTE IT FOR ME ALREADY.

What is going on here?!

Honestly, DAPHNE wasn’t really too careful about disguising herself. She even included a description of herself. AND A PICTURE. So if you see this gal, be sure to let me know. I’m still working on the consequences for this offense… but just know it will be very, very mean.

Daphne From Gone Pecan Takes Over the Table

But ya know since she took the time to write her own Big Kids’ Table… what the heck? I’m going to put my feet up, sip my beer (it’s nighttime when I’m writing this, don’t worry), and let good ol’ Daphne take the reins.

♦

Hey!

I am a 30-something southern wife, mom, reader, procrastinator, student. I like books with kissing. On our blog, Gone Pecan, Kristina & I mostly review YA & romantic fiction. I like books with regular, flawed people, cute stories, and happy endings.  I also really love a good, long series, preferably set in Small Town, America.

One of my favorite books last year was Emily Giffin’s Where We Belong.

Where We Belong by Emily Giffin

I love all of Giffin’s books, but this one is probably my favorite (I know, this is shocking since her book Something Borrowed is probably the book I recommend most). Where We Belong is about a 30-something woman who is confronted by the daughter she gave up as a teenager and with the choices that followed.

This book definitely could have been marketed to YA readers.  We get the perspective of both these characters, Marian, the mother, and Kirby, the daughter.  My favorite part of the book was the flashbacks of Marian as a teenager, her life before, during, and after her surprising relationship with Conrad, Kirby’s father.  Kirby’s side of the story was very intriguing as well and could have worked as a book on its own.  But both of these disparate stories came together with these fleshed out, real women who are still learning about life and themselves.  It left me hopeful and happy at the end, which is the feeling I chase after with the books I’m reading.

These are some of the books I’m looking forward to in the next few months:

Love Overdue by Pamela Morsi

Love Overdue by Pamela Morsi | Release Date: August 27 | Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Summary from Goodreads: Buttoned-up book lover DJ is all sensible shoes, drab skirts and studious glasses. After an ill-advised spring-break-fueled fling left her mortified, she’s committed to her prim and proper look. When she’s hired by a rural library in middle-of-nowhere Kansas, she finally has the lifestyle to match-and she can’t wait to get her admin on. But it’s clear from day one that the small-town library is more interested in circulating rumors than books.

DJ has to organize her unloved library, win over oddball employees and avoid her flamboyant landlady’s attempts to set her up with the town pharmacist. Especially that last part-because it turns out handsome Scott Sanderson is her old vacation fling! She is not sure whether to be relieved or offended when he doesn’t seem to recognize her. But with every meeting, DJ finds herself secretly wondering what it would be like to take off her glasses, unpin her bun and reveal the inner vixen she’s been hiding from everyone-including herself.

Why I want to read this: Well, let’s see:  small town, librarian, a MC who seems to be socially awkward? I’M SO THERE. This looks completely cute & funny.


The Perfect Match by Kristan HigginsThe Perfect Match
by Kristan Higgins (Blue Heron #2) | Release Date: October 29 | Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Summary by Goodreads: What if the perfect match is a perfect surprise? Honor Holland has just been unceremoniously rejected by her lifelong crush. And now—a mere three weeks later—Mr. Perfect is engaged to her best friend. But resilient, reliable Honor is going to pick herself up, dust herself off and get back out there…or she would if dating in Manningsport, New York, population 715, wasn’t easier said than done. 

Charming, handsome British professor Tom Barlow just wants to do right by his unofficial stepson, Charlie, but his visa is about to expire. Now Tom must either get a green card or leave the States—and leave Charlie behind. In a moment of impulsiveness, Honor agrees to help Tom with a marriage of convenience—and make her ex jealous in the process. But juggling a fiancé, hiding out from her former best friend and managing her job at the family vineyard isn’t easy. And as sparks start to fly between Honor and Tom, they might discover that their pretend relationship is far too perfect to be anything but true love.

Why I want to read this: I have read everything Kristan Higgins has written and I’m always anxiously awaiting her next book.  Plus, I really liked the first book in this series and I’m looking forward to getting back to Manningsport.

Surrender to Sultry by Macy BeckettSurrender to Sultry by Macy Beckett (Sultry Springs #3) | Release Date: August 6 | Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Summary from Goodreads: Leah McMahon is back in Sultry Springs, Texas to help her dad recover from surgery. But there’s a new sheriff in town and he’s none other than Colton Bea, the wild-as-weeds boy who stole her heart a decade earlier. Colt’s a changed man now, and the feelings between these high school sweethearts are stronger than ever. But Leah’s got a secret so devastating that he may never forgive her. Can she find a way to earn absolution and build a future with the sultry man she’s loved half her life?

Why I want to read this: Sultry Springs is a fun place to live, lots of hot, sexy, southern men who just need the love of a good woman.  Colton is particularly fascinating to me after reading the two previous books in the series and I want him to have a happy ending.

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I hope you give these books a try, though they may be different than what you’re used to reading! You know what they say, sometimes it’s healthy to sometimes go outside our comfort zone!

Thanks, Estelle & Magan, for letting me have this opportunity.

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Ahem. Letting her have this opportunity? SHE STOLE IT!

Okay, I’m kidding. I may have asked Daphne to step in today. But does that really matter than there are new books to read?

Happy reading + be sure to let us know what’s on your grown up TBR lately!

P.S. Thanks to Daphne for being a great sport throughout this process! Be sure to follow her on Twitter too!

The Big Kids’ Table: Summer is the Word

big kids' table - adult fiction feature on rather be reading

Hiya! I can’t believe I’m doing another one of these so soon, and also halfway through the year with my adult suggestions. It’s funny. During BEA week, many people would ask what kind of blog we run and I realize that for me, adult fiction is my “palette cleanser” whether it’s picking up something more serious or something a bit fluffier. It really does work!

Before we dive into some new big kids books, Elena from Novel Sounds stops by this month with her own recommendation:

novel sounds

Why she picked it up?: THE COVER.
What’s it about: Set in the 80s, it’s June’s coming of age story dealing with grief over her uncle’s death from AIDS. She befriends Toby, a man who seems to know a lot about her uncle and embarks on an unexpected friendship with him.
Three words to describe: A warm embrace
Last few awesome reads: Crown of Midnight by Sarah Maas, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz, Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

thanks to elena for putting together the graphic for me!

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I like to keep things fresh around here so I tried something new yet again when I went to the bookstore this week. I browsed the New Fiction tables for books with SUMMER in the title. The weather has been so August-like in NYC, the AC is up and running like crazy at work, and our Sweet Summertime Reads series has kicked off again so I’m in the summer mode + that means SUMMER BOOKS.

Let me know what you think of these beauties:

Big Kids Table Fiction Books with Summer in the Title

Summer Breeze by Nancy Thayer (Release Date: June 5, 2012) > a summer in New England
All the Summer Girls by Meg Donahue (Release Date: May 21, 2013) > New Jersey beach town!
The Wonder Bread Summer by Jessica Anya Blau (Release Date: May 28, 2013) > 1980s Los Angeles
A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams (Release Date: May 30, 2013) > 1930s Rhode Island

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As always, I would love to hear what is accompanying you to the park these days, what books you are stuffing in your beach bag, and maybe ones that you’ve eyed at the bookstore!

Thanks for stopping by today + happy BIG KID reading!

The Big Kids’ Table: Bookstore Table Picks

big kids' table - adult fiction feature on rather be reading

HELLO!

It’s that time again… the moment when we drop our young adult books and pick up something GROWN UP. One of my most successful practices of finding new books is stalking the NEW FICTION table at the bookstore. Everything is paperback (cheaper or maybe enough to buy two?) and there is always so much to look at.

This month, I did just that. I stalked. I found. I conquered! Here are just a few of the titles I think you might want to check out. It was really hard for me to leave the store without buying every single one of these.

But first, I’m going to let the suspense build a second.

Cassie from Books with Cass is here to recommend a big kid book of her own. This gal is enthusiastic, sweet, supportive, and a lot of fun to talk to. She’s also from Jersey, loves to organize book read-a-thons, and also does a darn good job at creating playlists to go with books! Plus she works at Barnes and Noble so I have it on pretty good authority she comes into contact with the NEW FICTION table all the time.

Name of book: Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight
Big Kids Table Blogger Choice Books With Cass
 Why she picked it up?: Honestly?  It was an impulse purchase based on reading the flap ;).  It just sounded like a must-read.
What’s it about:  Supposedly a girl commits suicide, but then her mother gets a note saying that “Amelia [her daughter] didn’t jump” and the story continues with efforts to figure out what was really going on in Amelia’s life.  We get flashbacks to when she was alive, and also to present day when the Amelia investigation is ongoing.
Three words to describe: Suspenseful, Intense, Captivating
Last few awesome reads: Golden by Jessi Kirby [my god this was amazing!], The Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston, and Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland!

Add Reconstructing Amelia to your Goodreads!

Suspense over! Promising paperbacks for your enjoyment:

Big Kids Table Fiction Picks from New Fiction Table at Bookstore (Rather Be Reading Blog)

The Witch of Little Italy by Suzanne Palmieri: Bronx setting + magical family
The World Without You
by Joshua Henkin: family mourning a son + Iraq War + marriage challenges
The Paradise Guest House
by Ellen Sussman (Sarah Pekkanen, author of The Best of Us blurbed this one.)
Why Can’t I Be You
by Allie Larkin: trying out someone else’s life
A Map of Tulsa
by Benjamin Lytal: late 90s + kid home from college + on the open road
Wisdom of Hair by Kim Boykin: escaping old new + making a new one as a beautician

Not only are all of these covers gorgeous, but I am so intrigued by all of their stories.

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As always, I’d love any reading suggestions you have! Stay tuned next month for something new + exciting at The Big Kids’ Table!

Happy reading + happy bookstore shopping!