I’m glad I’m not alone. Like Brittany, I am a happily married person who also thinks Valentine’s Day is the worst. I always felt like many of the boys I knew (not my husband) thought of it as some obligation and never much thought into it. Why did they have to? They could easily pick up a new plush animal or a card from the drugstore. Or my fav — roses. (Who am I? I really don’t like roses, friends. Again. Super generic.) ANYWAY. I love my husband and my pals and my beer and I can express that feeling anytime of the year. (And we should be!)
In the spirit of the upcoming “holiday” and because I love books and love you (!!), I’m chatting about Coney Island Brewing Company and their 1609 Amber Ale. This company has the best label art (vintage-y cool) and my grocery store has recently started selling their six packs. Bonus: they are semi-local. Named for the legendary destination in Brooklyn, their beer is actually brewed upstate.
The 1609 is dedicated to the year the land that would become Coney was discovered. It’s a light, refreshing taste (a little citrus, a little caramel) and nicely bubbly. When I was thinking it, my first thought was how it would be a nice first beer for those who are still discovering their tastes.
On to the book…
Sorta Like a Rock Star feels like a natural pick for Valentine’s Day, even if (ready for it) there is no romance in this book at all. It’s about a girl named Amber (get it?) who is always putting herself out there for other people from the cute ladies at the church choir to the folks at the nursing home, but is certainly not getting that kind of attention and affection from the person closest to her. It’s a truly wonderful book (with a side of tissues) about friendship and being kind to be kind, not because you are fulfilling a school assignment. Love is reciprocal and I never saw that better described in a book than it is in this one.
Amber’s heart is SO SO SO big. This is why she is my book valentine. (If you need more convincing, I wrote a little bit about the book last year.)
What’s your favorite book about love? Let me know in the comments!
Have a super weekend, and enjoy. Whether it’s with a brew, or not. (But if you do have brew suggestions, tell meee!)
Thanks for checking out this round of PUB DATE!
It’s early, I know. (Well, depending on where you are, of course, but I’m going to imagine you woke up at 8 a.m. to read this.) You are dressed in the outfit that makes you feel your best and headed to a party to celebrate yours truly and the big “omg I’m 30″ moment. Don’t worry. It’s less about me than it sounds. I just want to mingle and have fun cocktails. Maybe we can do a large book swap? No gifts, please. I’m happy just to make your acquaintance (or see you again, whatever the case may be) and introduce you to some of my fictional pals. (I’ll invite my parents and some real life friends too so this isn’t too weird. Promise.)
What are you waiting for? There’s guacamole! Mini tacos! A soft-serve ice cream machine! Rachel made her famous red velvet cupcakes! A room to cuddle with puppies and kittens. Dirty Dancing is playing in the background with no sound. (Who needs sound?! We all know the words! If you don’t, it’s not a good time to tell me.) Mickey Mouse might even show up! Don’t forget your phone but, please, let’s refrain from too much tweeting. Let’s forget to take too many pictures. I want to have THAT much fun.
A good host knows great party begins with people who all have some sliver of something in common and won’t be afraid to meet new people. Plus I have to guarantee a good time. Entertainment! Laughs! Stimulating conversation!
Case in point:
- First things first, I need Kitty Song (To All The Boys I Loved Before) to do my hair. She’s so talented for a nine-year old. Okay, fine, Lara Jean can come too. (Just kidding. I need the ENTIRE Song clan. Maybe they can make some cookies?)
- I have wanted Jordan from Catching Jordan to meet Sam every since I read Rites of Passage. Strong ladies unite!
- Guys, you might not know this. But the Super Bowl just happened and most especially after this one, I need to know what Jordan is thinking about it.
- How about some music? Gabe (Beautiful Music for Ugly Children) can spin the tunes. Maybe he’ll also want to talk about Katy Perry’s half-time performance.
- THEN we need dancing and I know Skylar from I’ll Meet You There has the moves and isn’t as shy as I am. (I also want to talk to her about her collages.)
- For my bachelorette party I dragged my friends to karaoke because I wanted to hear them sing. (No one wants to hear me sing.) But I want to hear Devan (The Reece Malcolm List) sing! Perform a bit? A little cabaret? I want to be able to say I had a future Broadway star at my party. (Maybe she can introduce me to Jeremy Jordan some day?)
- Hands down, I think Vivian and her best friend Harp will be the ones everyone wants to talk to. They are running from the Rapture (Vivian Apples at the End of the World)! They’re parents have disappeared. (I think Skylar will also relate to their best friendship.)
- Rumor has it Matt from The Boy in the Black Suit is a pretty awesome cook. (Homemade chocolate chip cookies.) But he also has an incredible heart, and it would be nice to “get to know” (I realize he’s not real) someone else in the city. I also need to give him a hug.
- Rafe from Openly Straight is so real to me, it’s like I’ve already met him. I have a hunch he would be hilarious at a party, and I sure want to hear what he is up to lately!
- Cricket, Jules, and Zac? (Nantucket Red) I don’t feel I need to explain this one because I know we would get each other and I need to know all the latest gossip. (This is where I ask/beg Leila Howland to write another one of these books.)
For no other reason, I would be happy to get all the dirt from these characters. I AM A GOSSIP HOUND. I will not blog about it, fictional birthday guests. I will not. I will just write it in my journal and look back on this night with so much fondness. (Sidenote: Will I allow +1s? Hell yes. I need to know everything I can about these happily-ever-afters.)
I can picture it now. I’m chatting. There’s champagne (and sparkling cider). My #pubdate ladies have supplied themed beers. Magan and I are once again united! We’re laughing, we’re twirling, we’re eating all the mini pies (the cherry is delicious), and it all goes by in a snap. But you know what? All the planning was worth it. It was one fun shindig.
Thanks for spending this birthday with me, friends! I can’t let you leave empty-handed though. I’m giving away two of the above books to reader in the U.S. or beyond. (Just not the moon, okay?) Click through below to enter and good luck! xoxo
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Perfect Girl by Michele Gorman [twitter • website]
Publication Date: October 14, 2014
Publisher: Notting Hill Press
Target Audience: Adult Fiction
Keywords: people pleasing, crappy boyfriends, controlling parents, shady jobs
Format Read: ARC from Publisher (Thank you!)
Summary: Carol is barely able to tread water or find time for herself because she’s constantly attending to everyone else’s needs before her own. Her mom passive aggressively manipulates her into doing what she wants, her best friend and sister don’t see how they’re abusing her, and her boyfriend is selfishly out to have his needs met before hers. What will it take for Carol to learn to say no and stand up for herself?
• • •
The Story: Carol is everyone’s go-to girl: She helps her sister plan her wedding, goes on blind dates for her best friend as a pre-screener (because her BFF has the absolute worst radar ever), books her parents vacations, finds her “adopted” sister a job, works countless hours at a job she loves with men who overlook her talents and demean her with constant sexual innuendos and inappropriate jokes, and has a boyfriend who is throwing all his efforts into his new job with little quality time to spare.
Phew. That’s a lot, right?
The Build-up: Can Carol possibly say NO to anything? How does she ever sleep? What happens when she breaks? When does she EVER have time for herself?
The Breaking Point: Things get so big and bad and messy and uncontrollable for Carol. She is the epitome of a people pleaser. (Anyone who thinks they are a people pleaser will relate and sympathize with this poor girl.) My heart raced and I legit thought I was going to have a panic attack as things all came to a head at once. (Of course. And really — any idea I had about how things could get worse…I was wrong. They got WAY worse.) There were a lot of moments where I found myself nodding my head as I related to this young woman. I highlighted a TON of passages.
Perfect Girl is my second novel by Gorman to read (The Curvy Girls Club was the first, but I’m reviewing them out of order). TCGC was a lot more sensual and sexy, but I found Perfect Girl to have a much more serious undertone that focused primarily on Carol’s journey to stop allowing other people to manipulate her. It was really nice to see that sex wasn’t a device used to hook Gorman’s readers; this really showed me she has a lot of diversity as an author because these two books were in no way formulaic or similar.
If you’re looking for something that feels genuine and authentic with a mid-twenties character who is trying to find her footing in the world, I definitely recommend Perfect Girl. It was really nice to relate to a character and think, “Huh. So not everyone has this growing up thing figured out.”
Add PERFECT GIRL to Goodreads • Amazon ($4.99 on the kindle) • Barnes & Noble
When I first picked when I Was Here by Gayle Forman (my review) a few weeks ago, I was pleasantly surprised to learn the main characters had graduated from high school with one of them attending a college away from home and the other going a completely different route. I realized that I’ve always been surprised when young adult characters are in college and it’s not because it doesn’t fit into the “criteria” for young adult books but because there are so few of them.
In writing this post, I found myself googling: What is young adult literature? (This is almost laughable since it’s the primary category I read so you would think I would know, but, technically, I find it hard to explain.) I really liked this explanation from Michael Cart on the ALA website:
The term “young adult literature” is inherently amorphous, for its constituent terms “young adult” and “literature” are dynamic, changing as culture and society — which provide their context — change.
…young adults are beings in evolution, in search of self and identity; beings who are constantly growing and changing, morphing from the condition of childhood to that of adulthood. That period of passage called “young adulthood” is a unique part of life, distinguished by unique needs that are – at minimum — physical, intellectual, emotional, and societal in nature.
Frankly, I can’t think of a greater period of evolution in your life than the unknown associated with life after throwing your caps in the air and waving goodbye to high school. For me, personally, the summer after graduation and the years that followed led to some of the best, most difficult, super strange moments in my life so it’s cathartic to see them on the page, relive them again with a bit more life experience under my belt and realize, well, hey, that sucked but I’m here and I’m okay.
So today I’m applauding the books that tough upon the messy complications of college, navigating a life with high school friends and the new ones you are going to make, and, perhaps, what happens if your life moves you in a different direction — one that isn’t filled with books and beer pong and sharing a room with a stranger.
(Our options are truly endless.)
The best part in creating this list is that a good majority of these titles have been floating under the radar. Nothing makes me more excited than giving them a bit more attention in sharing them with you. PLUS a nice chunk of these are 2015 releases, making it, I think, a pretty exciting year in YA lit. I hope you find a few to add to your own reading list, and think up a few that I can add to mine.
I Was Here by Gayle Forman
Amplified by Tara Kelly | Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally
Charmed Thirds by Megan McCafferty | Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Girls in Pants by Ann Brashares | How to Love by Katie Cotugno
I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios | Love, Lucy by April Lindner
Roomies by Tara Altebrando & Sara Zarr | Something Like Normal by Trish Doller
Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard | When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney
99 Days by Katie Cotugno
Thanks so much for stopping in today! I had a blast with this one.
(It’s very rare that a list like this contains so many of my favorite books. ♥)
I’m Glad I Did by Cynthia Weil ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: 1/27/2015
Publisher: Soho Press
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: historical fiction, 1960s, music business, racial issues
Format read: ARC paperback provided by Soho Press. (Thanks!)
Summary: The summer after high school graduation and her start at Columbia, JJ gets a job working for a small music publisher with the hope she can make her dreams of making music come true — with or without the support of her lawyer parents.
JJ Greene is kind of the black sheep in her uber successful family and not because she isn’t smart (she graduated from high school at 16 — two years early). Both her parents are lawyers and her older brother is following the same track. JJ has always been fascinated by the music business and writing her own songs for as long as she can remember. Instead of spending the summer filing at her mom’s law office, JJ gets a job working for a music publishing company where she’ll be doing admin but also have a chance to share her music with the owner.
It’s no surprise that JJ’s family shies away from the music biz; JJ’s mother is estranged from her own brother, also in music, but a no-good gambler who has been known to take the credit for other people’s work. Luckily, her family agrees to drop the law talk for the 3 months that JJ will be working for Good Music Publishing. If she can’t get one of her songs recorded during her time there, she promises to never bring up music again.
Her gig at Good Music Publishing is definitely an eyeopening one from her rekindled relationship with her Uncle Bernie (a secret from her mother), her late night jamming sessions with Dulcie, an ex-music star and current office cleaning woman, and her crush on the green-eyed boy she always seems in the elevator. For the first time ever, JJ is able to connect with people over music and not feel like she is silly for loving it so much. While her knowledge of the business grows, so do her own talents.
But a surprising wrench thrown into this feel-good book manifests into a whodunit subplot that I was not expecting. I didn’t mind it, and it kept me guessing (I almost guessed right) but it also made a few of the puzzle pieces click a bit too precisely into place for me. I’m Glad I Did certainly illuminated the rougher sides of musical success and didn’t steer away from the complexities of interracial relationships. While the book felt a bit on the younger side of young adult, I enjoyed my quick trip to 1963 New York City and following along as JJ experienced one memorable summer.
Bonus: I could easily picture I’m Glad I Did as a stage musical (think Hairspray meets Memphis!). Someone get on this!
Add I’M GLAD I DID to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Buy on B&N
How is it January 31st already? Are you thinking this too? Wow. One quick month to kick off 2015; that’s all we gotta say. Together we’re reeling from the post-sads after our epic it’s-been-over-a-year reunion in Disney World a few days ago but also looking forward to a big February.
DID WE MENTION WE GOT TO HANG OUT AND IT WENT TOO FAST? It went way too fast.
Anyway. As we dab all our tears…
We’ve always enjoyed the end-of-month posts at spots like Perpetual Page Turner, Hello, Chelly, Paper Riot, and The Book Addict’s Guide and since our “shelve its” aren’t as frequent as we would like, we’re joining in the fun this year. We can’t have you forgetting our favorite books now. We just can’t!
shopping list musts
Magan’s Picks: Love, Lucy by April Linder | All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Estelle’s Picks: The Boy in the Brown Suit by Jason Reynolds | 99 Days by Katie Cotugno (Preorder this one!)
what to click
summing it all up
Make It Last by Megan Erickson
Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle
Disneylanders by Kate Abbott
Love & Other Theories by Alex Bass
Perfect Couple by Jennifer Echols
Beneath Beautiful by Allison Rushby
I Was Here by Gayle Forman
Love on the Lifts by Jill Santopolo
Alex as Well by Alyssa Brugman (also a #DiversityDive title!)
Twisted Fate by Norah Olsen
Geek Girl by Holly Smale
The Marriage Charm by Linda Lael Miller (a giveaway with this one!)
To Have and To Discard
When You Relate to a Character You Dislike
What If I Could | #Tuck40th
Pub Date (Life By Committee and Reading Resolutions)
Little Kids Table: Magan’s Winter Favorites
What were some of your favorites in January? Let us know in the comments.
Here’s to a great month! ♥