Today we’re hosting a dinner party so I’m glad you are here because the guests of honor are awesome. All four of them have books releasing this month, and were kind enough to attend this potluck get-together at a pretty late hours. (Wink wink; thanks ladies!)
It’s been awhile since we’ve had a get-together like this one on Big Kids’ Table and who knows? It might be a sign of what’s to come in the new year. But right now, we have four talented authors with their own shiny new books and on top of that, some personal non-YA recommendations for you. I hope you get a kick out of these and find something to add to your TBR too.
Molli’s pick & pitch: I recently had the chance to read Becka Paula’s New Adult debut, EVERLY AFTER, which I thought was such an unconventional and brave romance. EVERLY AFTER is a tense, beautiful story about two damaged individuals who see the best in one another – and the versions of themselves they can become.
What’s new (dinner convo): When I’m not reading whatever I can get my hands on, I’m working on the sequel to my first book, AS YOU TURN AWAY. The sequel is called AS WE FALL TOGETHER and with luck, will be published in the spring of 2015!
Add ONE SONG AWAY to Goodreads | Visit Molli on the web + twitter
Lorriane’s pick: White Oleander by Janet Fitch
Her pitch: WHITE OLEANDER is an adult book with a young protagonist who ages from 12 to 20 during the course of the novel. It’s a raw, compelling, emotional tale about a girl who is the victim of her mother’s bad choices and struggles to make her way in the world. It’s also an excellent movie!
What’s new (dinner convo): My latest novel, INDEPENDENTLY WEALTHY, was published by St. Martin’s Press on December 2, so I’m currently very busy with a blog tour, etc.
Visit Lorraine on the web + twitter | My review of Independently Wealthy
Liz’s pick: Bloodsucking Fiends by Christopher Moore
Her pitch: This is not your average vampire book–it’s hilarious. Like all of Christopher Moore’s books, it turns your assumptions on their heads. If you love the fun, relatable voice of humorous YA writers like Josh Berk and Louise Rennison, you will never be disappointed by Chris Moore.
What’s new (Dinner convo): My 2nd YA book, TOP TEN CLUES YOU’RE CLUELESS comes out on December 9. Then my first New Adult book under my pen name Ellie Cahill, WHEN JOSS MET MATT, comes out on February 24, 2015! Other than that, I’ve got a couple of YA and NA projects in the works that I can’t talk about yet!
Liz Czukas on the web + on twitter | Magan’s review of TOP 10 CLUES
Alison’s pick: The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood
Her pitch: In any book, the most important thing to me is well-drawn characters, and the four protagonists of The Robber Bride seem so real that I’ve never thought of them as characters at all—I just think of them as people I know. There have been times I’ve been out shopping and thought, “Oh, Charis would like that,” before I remembered she’s not a real person. The plot is so well paced and intricately woven and ultimately quite suspenseful, and the way Atwood describes these four women loving and hurting and manipulating each other is incredibly masterful. I’ve read this book every few years since I was about sixteen, and it never fails to delight me.
What’s new (dinner convo): I have two books coming out in 2016! The first, Grandma Jo’s Guide to Prim and Proper Pilfering, is a middle grade about a girl who discovers that her grandmother’s bridge club is actually a heist ring. The second, Look Both Ways, is a YA about musical theater and two girls walking the very fine line between obsessive platonic friendship and romantic love.
Alison’s upcoming book FOR REAL releases on December 9. Big sisters on a reality TV show adventure!
Alison Cherry on the web + twitter
You were brilliant guests, Molli, Lorraine, Liz, and Alison! I hope you’ll be back soon!
Now it’s your turn! What great non-YA have you read lately?
(My current recommendations are The Rosie Project and Her Holiday Man!)
Independently Wealthy by Lorraine Z. Rosenthal ( web | tweet )
→ Book 1: New Money from Fall 2013
Publication Date: 12/2/2014
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Target audience: New adult/adult
Keywords: family secrets/mystery, romance, New York City
Format read: ARC provided by Publisher. (Thanks!)
Summary: Savannah is still finding her way in New York City: balancing a job, her boyfriend, and settling into life with her extended family. She hasn’t yet given up on what really took her biological father from her, and is determined to figure out the true story… with our without the help of her half-siblings.
I had a really good time reading New Money last fall, but this time around, I bonded with Savannah in a way I hadn’t before. She’s more settled in the city, working hard at her job (even though, let’s face it: with her allowance, she doesn’t need to), balancing a boyfriend and getting to know her newly acquired family better.
The drama from the first book has mostly disappeared and I say mostly because while the craziness in New Money seemed to creep up on her out of nowhere, this girl goes after it herself in this book — chasing down the answers of what really killed her media tycoon father. While we spend a majority of our time cabbing around Manhattan (the book opens with the Christmas season — so fitting and Rosenthal captures it so perfectly), Savannah also spends time in DC, worming herself into many uncomfortable situations to find out more and eventually returning to NYC with more than she bargained for.
This is the thing: even though Savannah handles her wealth and new lifestyle with such grace, she’s not above acting impulsively either. And maybe not always in the way you would think. Rosenthal has made a good habit of writing about strong, complicated women from the little sister in Queens (Other Words for Love) to this southern belle granted a fairy tale life with a few inconsistencies. The struggle to be independent, successful, and express love to the people in your life is what makes Savannah such an authentic character. We may not be wearing Gucci or living in an apartment that overlooks Central Park, but we worry about our hearts. We want to be good and do good by the people we care about.
Independently Wealthy mixes some ballsy detective work and delicious distractions with finding your place in relationships, your family, and a bustling city. As I inched to the last pages of the book, I already missed Savannah and wondered what she would be up to next. You know I want you to check out this series from the beginning, but I won’t tell if you cheat and skip to this one.
Add INDEPENDENTLY WEALTHY to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Buy on B&N
The lovely folks at St. Martin’s Press are offering 1 lucky winner a finished copy of Independently Wealthy. Open to U.S. readers only. Enter below & good luck!
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Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless by Liz Czukas (website | twitter)
Publication Date: December 9, 2014
Publisher: Harper Teen
Target Audience: Young Adult Fiction
Keywords: grocery store, Christmas Eve, theft, teenage diabetic
Format Read: ARC received from the Publisher. (Thank you!)
Summary: Chloe’s Christmas Eve is spent as a cashier in GoodFoods, the supermarket where she works, trying to work up the courage to talk to the boy she likes, learn something new about a co-worker, and desperately trying not to forget to bring home her mother’s ham.
We’re a little more laid back with our reviews this month, but there are exceptions to every rule, of course. Especially because Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless comes out in a few days and the entire book takes place on Christmas Eve. Oh, and did I mention I really, really enjoyed it?
Chloe is a categorizer, a list-maker, an observer. She’s just moved to her new town and she’d really like to make friends. The list she makes on Christmas Eve is as much a to-do as it is a challenge. She can’t forget her mother’s ham when her shift is over, but she’d also like to speak to the boy she’s been crushing on, Tyson, and learn something new about one of her GoodFoods grocery store co-workers, too. (Bonus points: Chloe is a fair-skinned, red-head and Tyson is a black guy. Yippie for some diversity!) Unpredictably, the donation money that GoodFoods has been collecting is stolen. Chloe and her teenage co-workers find themselves in grocery store lockdown in the break room because they’ve been targeted as suspects and the police have to arrive to begin an investigation.
It’s rare to read a book that takes place over the course of a single day; to make the story work and feel believable, the pacing has to be flawless. And Czukas really nailed it. I was swept up in the mundane duties of working in a grocery store (that I really found quite fascinating) — how each job operates, how good Chloe is as a checker but how terrible Micah is, and how they have a running list of the oddest shoppers ever. (I must admit I felt a little outted when I read about mom’s going in without makeup; uh, guilty as charged.) But aside from Chloe’s actual job, there’s this great mystery of what really happened to the thousands of dollars gone missing. Who really stole it?
Chloe wants to heroically solve the crime, but there’s also this nice minor story of her being a diabetic and what each day is like for her. (First time reading about a teenage diabetic!) There’s all of this tension and chaos because last minute shoppers have flooded GoodFoods, the money has been stolen, and Chloe’s unable to focus on taking care of herself and checking her insulin levels. Ultimately, the story has such a simple setting, but the timeline is intermingled with these great heart-to-heart moments, reality, and a nice helping of a wintery, icy setting to make you want to sip hot chocolate and curl up with this book from cover to cover.
Add Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless to Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Hiya, friends! 2014 has been such a great year, and, personally, my Twitter feed and TBR list would not have flourished like it did without the influence of Dahlia. As a debut writer and fantastic blogger, it’s been a pleasure to check out her work, read about her adventures in publishing, and know she is always available for a book recommendation!
We’re thrilled to have her on Rather Be Reading Blog chatting about her favorites in the world of new adult books, especially as she prepares for the December 9th release of Last Will & Testament! More info on her latest contribution to new adult can be found below but before that, make sure your wallets and TBR lists are handy!
Thanks for having me, Estelle & Magan! Anyone who knows me at allllll knows I pride myself on my book recs, but because I blog primarily about YA (at both YA Misfits and Barnes & Noble), I don’t get to talk about NA as much as I’d like. (Except, on Twitter, where I talk about everything I like all day, every day.) So I was really excited when Rather Be Reading Blog asked me to share my recs for my favorite NA novels of the year, especially because I think it’s been a pretty great one for the category.
So, without further ado, here are my 2014 NA faves:
Deeper by Robin York – I had never read a novel by Ruthie Knox before embarking on this one under her NA pen name, but I knew I had several friends who were die-hard fans. And now I totally see why. Deeper grabbed me from the very first chapter, with the main character’s misery and strength and fierceness and growth and candor and ugh, just everything. As I said to the friends I promptly encouraged to read it when I finished, it’s full of the same tropes as lots of other NA, but there’s something about the way York writes them that made me believe them for what felt like the very first time. I know the “revenge porn” theme isn’t for everyone, but I just found it relevant and well done and good lord can York write a sex scene.
The Year We Fell Down and Understatement of the Year by Sarina Bowen – My good friend Katie recommend Bowen’s books to me, and I promptly devoured all three Ivy Years books in one week. Much as I’ve been loving NA lately, it’s pretty sorely lacking in diversity, so the fact that the series features a romance between two disabled students (one temporarily, one permanently) and one between two guys is pretty freaking huge. These books are sweet fun, and I’ll definitely be buying the next installment on release day.
Make it Count by Megan Erickson – What was really notable to me this year was the amount of light NA I enjoyed. That was something I really hadn’t been finding in NA, so Megan Erickson’s books were a serious gold mine. They’re so much fun, the characters have so much personality, and I particularly loved this first one for featuring a main character with dyslexia.
Swimming to Tokyo by Brenda St John Brown – Oh man, this book. I don’t know what I thought I was getting with it, but it was such a pleasant breath of fresh air. One of the traits I prize absolutely first and foremost in a person is being non-judgmental, and it struck me as I was reading that that was exactly main character Zosia. I just respected her in a way that felt really cool. Add serious chemistry between her and Finn, real family background, and the Tokyo setting, and you have a book that not nearly enough people are reading.
Caged in Winter by Brighton Walsh – Hot. Hot hotness. Cade is a tattooed chef, Winter’s a BAMF, and together, they’re just hot. I’m such a sucker for both guys who cook and girls with an edge, so I really loved this pairing and their chemistry, and the secondary characters too. I’ve been following the teasers for the next book in this series, and holy hell yes, I will be buying that.
The International School series by Chanel Cleeton – This was originally a duology, and now there’s a third book—French Kissed—I haven’t yet read but absolutely will. I love the setting of the international school and the diversity of the cast, not just because it’s nice to actually see diversity, but because the cultures of the different characters are really utilized in the personalities of the characters and the school’s social structure.
The Star Thief by Jamie Grey – I am so not a sci-fi person, but this one by Jamie Grey was a lot of fun. Super sexy, cool heroine with a great voice—definitely a pleasant surprise for almost-strictly-contemp me.
And finally, speaking of spec-fic NA, I loved The Wicked We Have Done by Sarah Harian, as well as the subsequent “insanely hot lesbian novella” (extremely accurate description), Our Broken Sky. I loved the concept and the writing style; perfect for a book that sort of straddled the lines of horror, thriller, and dystopian. And given the serious dearth of f/f NA, that novella was very appreciated.
Those are some favorites, but there were a lot more I enjoyed this year, and a lot of authors—both listed here and not—I’ll be keeping an eye on in 2015 and beyond. I’m so excited to be joining their NA ranks now, and I hope you guys like Last Will and Testament as much as I loved these!
Thanks so much for stopping in, Dahlia!
More on Last Will & Testament (December 9, Smashwords): Lizzie Brandt was valedictorian of her high school class, but at Radleigh University, all she’s acing are partying and hooking up with the wrong guys. But all that changes when her parents are killed in a tragic accident, making her guardian to her two younger brothers. To keep them out of foster care, she’ll have to fix up her image, her life, and her GPA—fast. Too bad the only person on campus she can go to for help is her humorless, pedantic Byzantine History TA, Connor Lawson, who isn’t exactly Lizzie’s biggest fan.
But Connor surprises her. Not only is he a great tutor, but he’s also a pretty great babysitter. And chauffeur. And listener. And he understands exactly what it’s like to be on your own before you’re ready. Before long, Lizzie realizes having a responsible-adult type around has its perks… and that she’d like to do some rather irresponsible (but considerably adult) things with him as well. Good thing he’s not the kind of guy who’d ever reciprocate.
Until he does. Until they turn into far more than teacher and student. Until the relationship that helped put their lives back together threatens everything they both have left.
Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Buy on B&N | Follow Dahlia: Blog + Twitter
Dahlia is also the author of Behind the Scenes, and the upcoming, Under the Lights.
Tis the season to be jolly! Hi, friends! Today kicks off a fun month for Magan and I. We shake up our schedule like our favorite snowglobe and sprinkle in a ton of fun posts including ones like this — holiday themed! Woo. I cannot wait. We have a ton of great stuff for you (and on our other social media platforms) but what’s better after a long weekend than a fine romance with a bit jingle thrown in? We also have an amazing giveaway provided by Harlequin at
Tis the Season by Robyn Carr ( web | tweet )
Unlike other holiday romances I’ve read so far this year, Tis the Season is made up of 3 novellas — 2 of which are holiday themed and the other is a bonus set in the spring. Carr presents great stories about second chances; one taking place during Christmas and the other on New Year’s Eve. Newborn puppies are involved. Do I need to say more?
Even though the extra novella didn’t fit the theming of the book, it was an adorable story of a cunning mom who tries her hand at matchmaking her daughter and her handy guy. Turns out the two have a history they thought no one knew about. Whoops! The zany antics in this one made me smile.
For a quick read to get you into the Christmas spirit, Tis the Season means three times the kissing, the snowflakes, and small town charm.
Add TIS THE SEASON to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Buy on B&N
Maybe This Christmas by Sarah Morgan ( web | tweet )
I don’t ski, and I have no plan of ever skiing but a ski resort sounds like a place even I would like to hang out during the winter months — as long as I was drinking hot cocoa near a fire in very warm socks. Snow Crystal Resort has faced some challenges of late, and the O’Neill family hopes the season will not only bring good cheer but lots of business. Maybe making ex-professional skier Tyler and his best friend, Breanna, faces of the slopes will help, amongst other things. Tyler can’t imagine anything better than working side by side with his oldest friend, but Breanna is a little shaken up because she cannot control her feelings for him anymore.
Who doesn’t want best friends to fall in love during the holidays? Thanks to some interference from Breanna’s friends; she suddenly finds herself homeless with the only solution to take a room in Tyler’s house with his teenage daughter. It’s been so long since I read a romance novel about a single dad, and, oh my god, I loved Jess and how funny she was. She was always busting her dad’s chops and making him uncomfy with girl talk. Made me laugh out loud plenty of times.
Unbeknownst to Brenna, Tyler has been fighting his attraction to her for a long time too but he’s scared to ruin their solid friendship. After all they have been through, he fears getting serious with the one person he could always depend on to be there for him is just not the answer. Or is it? Morgan gives us a great slow burn romance against the backdrop of a bustling ski slope and some really great side characters. (I loved the French cook.)
I’m ashamed to say I bought one of Sarah’s books last winter and I have yet to read it, but you better believe, I’m moving it to the top of my pile.
Add MAYBE THIS CHRISTMAS to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Buy on B&N
The Christmas Wedding Ring by Susan Mallery ( web | tweet )
Nothing says the holidays like bumping into old friends, although… it’s not merely a coincidence when Molly sets out to find Dylan, her sister’s high school boyfriend she was always crushing. Way back when, he promised her an adventure when she needed one most and she hopes he’s ready to pay up. In a stroke of perfect timing, Dylan is ready to take a break from civilization too and agrees to accompany her out of town so they both can catch the breather they need.
Even though Molly keeps a few secrets under her belt, her and Dylan fall into an easy friendship sprinkled with moments of chemistry. Don’t be grossed out. She may have been too young for him when he was dating her sister, but their relationship is definitely a possibility now. A fact that scares both of them. But with Molly dealing with a lot of insecurity and Dylan worrying about his future, will they ever get it together?
As always, Mallery creates a sweet love story and deals so sensitively with a sub-plot line — I was totally impressed by how well-detailed it was. With sweet Christmas details and the drama you would expect from any romance novel, it was definitely worth the one-sitting read.
Add THE CHRISTMAS WEDDING RING to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Buy on B&N
The Mistletoe Melody by Jennifer Snow ( web | tweet )
I’m officially a Jennifer Snow fan. Country music, holidays, strong characters, and a great story = The Mistletoe Melody. Melody is a single mom raising her twins; her husband was killed a few years ago in a car accident caused by his best friend, Brad. After years of ditching his hometown during the holidays, Brad is back in town filming a special for a country music special and is still reeling from this tragedy head-on. Running into Melody is never easy because even though she was so in love with his best friend, they had always been close friends, and also worked together musically. Neither of them can forget about the accident.
Melody is a pretty private person and it’s not easy for her to ask for help, even when the bank is threatening to foreclose on her house. But even when Brad asks her to pen a song for him, she’s reluctant to say yes and starting dreaming some of her old dreams. Can she move on from the past and put her faith into her music and Brad? I love how devoted Melody was to making a great life for her sons, and how Snow folded in a sub-plot featuring the kids too. The romance was slow and sexy, and super well done for a book where a widow falls for her dead husband’s best friend and vice versa.
If you are looking for a book that is charming and sweet and almost-Christmas Carol-esque (especially from Brad’s point of view), The Mistletoe Melody is a must.
Add THE MISTLETOE MEDLEY to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Buy on B&N
The lovely & generous folks at Harlequin have an amazing prize for one of our readers: a pack of 5 holiday paperbacks, an eBook, and ornaments. Perfect for a cozy winter night of reading.
This giveaway is open to U.S. & Canadian residents. Go forth & win win win!
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All books supplied by publisher / author for honest review. (Thank you!)
It’s that time again. That little holiday smushed between the grinning pumpkins and twinkling lights — a little day dedicated to sharing our appreciation, taking time away from our daily stresses, and spending it with people who make us smile.
Before you go off to enjoy your holiday, we thought we would share a little bit about our own.
(Are you hungry yet??)
The past 3 or 4 years have brought a ton of change to the traditions I’ve loved since I was a kid. (Something I never imagined happening, sadly.) But I know I can expect an early morning wake-up call to catch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (no matter how late I get in the Wednesday before the holiday), a freshly made pie from my husband (before him, we had primarily store-bought baked goods), and a sweet potato dish I make without fail even if no one loves sweet potatoes except me. (It’s not a selfish thing; I promise. It’s more of a tribute to my grandma. We were the lone sweet potato lovers!)
Baby Estelle at Thanksgiving Way Back When.
I have to say after a long year of so many obligations making it hard to see each other, I’m looking forward to some uninterrupted time with the family. (And watching Santa usher in the holiday season I love so much. Cue the tears.)
Thanksgiving 2013. Photo by Husband.
These are my people (circa 2008); please excuse my questionable hair choices.
Every Thanksgiving, our schedule is completely different. Crazily so. Dustyn and I are so, so grateful to have our grandparents and parents to spend the holidays with. Luckily they all live within a 25-ish minute driving distance from one another. This means we spend a lot of time in the car, driving between houses, and eating three entirely different meals because FOOD. Full disclosure: the driving does stress me out. Making sure we’e divvied up the day equally and not cut anyone short means a lot to me.
But truthfully, I know this isn’t forever. So we do it. And we treasure it.
My two grandmothers and me at my college graduation lunch, 2008
In fact, this year will be a little different because there won’t be a big gathering with Dustyn’s grandparents. We’ll visit with them here in Austin at my brother-and-sister-in-law’s house before driving to their hometown to see my paternal grandparents. It seems like things are shifting a little bit and I’m nervous. Our grandparents have never seemed to age and time has sort of stood still, but this year…things are different.
My Grandpa is a die-hard Aggie. The fact that I graduated from UT is unfathomable to him.
HAPPY (early) THANKSGIVING!
What will you be doing? What are your family traditions?