Big Kids’ Table: A 2013 Overview

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

The LAST Big Kids’ Table of the year? What?! Unfortunately I did miss last month but I hope you’ll forgive me with today’s post. It’s been so much fun to stretch the possibilites of this feature throughou the year: getting other bloggers involved (Rachel, Hannah, Ginger, Asheley, Cassie, and Elena), completely hacked by Daphne at Gone Pecan, and probably one of my favorite posts of the year: some of my top YA authors recommending their own big kid picks!

I can’t thank everyone who was game to help me out enough… especially Cassie, Hannah, and Asheley for always being enthusiastic about this feature and always refreshing my own affection for it! Yay!

So today TODAY is the day I make the final push for some great big kid books I devoured this year!

most surprising.

Lies You Wanted to Hear by James Whitfield Thomson + The Mourning Hours by Paula Treick DeBoard

Big Kids Table Most Surprising Reads 2013

These are two super different books (divorce/marriage and family/possible crime) but I became so unexpectedly obsessed with each that I read them both in close to a day. (Different days, of course.) Both are intense, heavier reads that are paced so cleverly and keep you interested until the very end.

a recommendation that was right on the money.

Nowhere But Home by Liza Palmer

book cover of Nowhere But Home by Liza Palmer

I’ve never given into Cassie‘s book pushing before like I did with this one. Well-developed characters, real feelings, and a ton of charm are all encompassed in this little book (that I think a lot of our moms and best friends who are not total YA people would enjoy too). Did I mention the southern setting, a sister named Merry, high school football, and the best sounding food ever? There’s just so much to enjoy here and I’m so glad I took the time to seek it out (it was sold out at my B&N) and read it ASAP.

holy moly five stars.

11/22/63 by Stephen King

Big Kids Table Five Star Read 2013

I didn’t review this one; I’m not sure why. It’s a really long book, a total commitment but so worth it. I wanted to read it because I’m pretty obsessed with anything Kennedy but King made this book so much more. Time travel, the butterfly affect, falling in love, and how figuring out what is right takes a lot of tries. I was so emotionally moved by this book, completely re-energized about the history surrounding Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald, and totally IN this world of time travel and its many many rules.

oh la la romance.

The Perfect Match by Kristan Higgins + Three Little Words by Susan Mallery + I Only Have Eyes for You by Bella Andre

Big Kids Table Top Romance Reads 2013

After reading a tremendous amount of romance this year, it was not easy to narrow down this list. Just a quick FYI: the last two options are super sexy, super racy. And just SO fun. I really liked both the stories. (They both have heroines who have had crushes for a long, long time.) And The Perfect Match? Great combo of comedy and romance. I can’t say enough positive things about it. A lot of the times the characters in romance novels aren’t super memorable, but I felt differently about those in The Perfect Match.

feels like the first time.

Forever Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid + Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham

Big Kids Table Best Debuts 2013

Two debuts that made my TBR a very very happy place. Both main characters in each of these books are in their late 20s (strange coincidence) but one is dealing with the sudden death of her very new husband, and the other? Career aspirations, and wondering if she will ever make it in the big city. If anyone had either of these books under the Christmas tree, they would be very very lucky people. Beautiful writing, charming characters.

man and muppets

Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones

Jim Henson The Biography by Brian Jay Jones

One of the absolute best non-fiction books I’ve ever read. I know, I know. I’m a huge Muppet fan but I truly believe people interested in the arts, pop culture, Disney fans would sincerely be touched and get a kick out of what a workaholic Henson was, how his creative mind NEVER stopped working, and the origins of so many characters we hold near and dear.

here’s to the future and you.

Big Kids Table What I Want to Read Next 2013

Claudia Silver to the Rescue by Kathy Ebel + The Opposite of Love by Julie Buxbaum + Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

Ah the hefty reading list. A burden a lot of us bring on ourselves. But that’s why we are here. A support system and the inevitable list of more books I want to make sure I get to next year. (Am I already jinxing myself?) I own the first two and I’ve heard such fantastic things about the third… must make these happen ASAP.

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Thanks again for all of your support with this feature! I so appreciate it and
I’m looking forward to trying out some new things in 2014!

Now dish: what adult book fits in any of the above categories for YOU?

Estelle: The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja MillayThe Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay ( twitter )
Publication Date: June 4, 2013 (in paperback)
Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 448
Target audience: Mature young adult/adult
Keywords: recovery, trauma, high school seniors
Format read: ARC from NetGalley! (Thanks!)

Summary: The Sea of Tranquility connects two people who are living in their own voids of loneliness: Nastya, a girl who escapes to her aunt’s house and a new high school just to blend it and get through the day without being asked about her past and Josh, an emancipated high school senior who, by terrible twists of fate, has been left to fend for himself. When Nastya and Josh form an unexpected and unconventional friendship, the two are forced to remember and deal in ways they have avoided for a long time.

Katja Millay is a very talented, thorough writer. You can tell she has taken great lengths to fully understand the depths of her two characters, and even does this without jipping the secondary characters either (Drew and his mom are awesome).

We begin with two broken people, and piece by piece, come to discover why they are the way they are. Why does Nastya run all hours of the night? Why is she okay with dressing like an emo whore? Why does Josh find such solace in woodworking? And why does everyone at school treat him so differently? It’s rather unlikely that these two characters would find much in common but somehow they do, even if it takes a little work to get there. And then a little more work after that.

Nothing comes easy in The Sea of Tranquility. For me, it took three false starts before I could get into the flow, and even then, I found myself working through the book very slowly. Until there was this beautiful, delicious bubble of Josh and Nastya forming this languid bond of domesticity that I could not get enough of. A certain aspect of Nastya’s character really helped create this intimate chemistry between the two, and I so loved what they did for one another.

Unfortunately, the story veered off track into more of a dramatic realm when more and more tragedy piled up on the character’s plates, as well as a happenstance moment that occurs all too perfectly later in the book. Even Nastya’s voice didn’t always fit her dark thoughts or her actions, and felt a bit romanticized. Don’t get me wrong — Millay created an intriguing story with interesting characters but there was just so much jammed on the page that it had me questioning its believability instead of feeling more for the characters.

Still there is something about this title that is so addicting. Whether it’s how kind of great Josh is or Nastya’s playful but steady friendship with their shared best friend, Drew. Then there’s the mystery (what event led to Nastya’s current behavior), which leads to the ultimate question: can two people who have faced such hardships overcome and begin again?

It’s a rocky road from start to finish, but I’m ultimately glad The Sea of Tranquility put Millay on my radar.

rather be reading borrow from the library icon

Goodreads | Buy on Amazon

Sidenote: I believe this book is being marketed as “new adult” for more mature themes (drugs, sexuality, violence) but I am more confused by this designation than I was before. All the main characters in this novel are seniors in high school, and I’ve read various books where there has been equal amount of drugs, sexuality, and violence. (Daisy Whitney’s The Mockingbirds for example.) So what makes this story in particular NA exactly?

The Big Kids’ Table: Double Dipping

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

Oh hello there! I’ve got something new for you this month… yet again. I hope you don’t mind all the experiments, but I am trying my damnedest to get some of you interested in some adult fiction. A majority of my reads lately have been for the “big kids” and it’s been a nice change of pace for me. (Although, truth be told, I can’t wait to get my hands on another YA!)

But before I get to that, here’s out latest Big Kids’ Table blogger recommendation from Asheley of Into the Hall of Books — a fellow beer lover, queen of comments and well-thought out reviews:

Big Kids Table Blogger Choice Into the Hall of Books

Heart Like Mine by Amy Hatvany
Why she picked it up? I loved the cover with the bright red sweater against the beautiful blue sky. I wanted to know who was wearing that sweater, why she is looking away from us, and what is going through her thoughts. I just had to know.
What’s it about: Grace is thrilled to be newly engaged to Victor! She has never felt the urge to become a mother herself but is happy to see his children on weekends as he has shared custody with his ex-wife, Kelli. When Kelli dies unexpectedly and Grace becomes a full-time parent, her emotions begin to stir: Can she be a good parent? Does she even want to? Adding to the stress of the situation, unexpected details arise surrounding Kelli’s death. The story is told by Grace and 13-year-old daughter Ava with flashbacks by Kelli.
Three words to describe: Emotional, honest, and hopeful.
Last few awesome reads: Delirium by Lauren Oliver; Shadow and Bone & Seige and Storm by Leigh Bardugo; Sever by Lauren DeStefano.
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With the recent release of YA queen Jennifer Echols’ first adult book (Star Crossed), I was thinking about other writers I’ve read who have also ventured into the adult world or vice versa. (You can check out two great artcles about it here and here.) So today I’m going to share with you a few picks from authors who jump genres. I hope you’ll find something to enjoy and even leave some suggestions in the comment section!
Ann Brashares - Sisterhood and The Last Summer
Notes: I’ve read all of Ann’s books, and enjoy them for their nostalgia factor. Plus, they get better as they go along. I read The Last Summer (of You and Me) a few years ago, and really enjoyed it. (Much more than My Name is Memory which confused me to no end, and also was poorly executed.) I was just thinking it’s been awhile since we heard some bookish news about Ann. Wonder what she will be working on next…
Nicholas Sparks
Nicholas Sparks - The Last Song and The Wedding
Notes: Most of you know (and hate) Nicholas Sparks because of his tendency to write tragic romances. (I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: I’m right there with you. But they are just so addicting.) I honestly think The Last Song is his best work. Ignore the Miley Cyrus movie because that was just NOT written well, but the book really sucked me into the environment and was about mending the relationship between a daughter and her father. Strong stuff. As far as adult, I think The Wedding is an underdog that needs more attention. (It’s not as tragic a story, I swear.)
Judy Blume
YA: Forever | Adult: Summer Sisters
Judy Blume - Forever and Summer Sisters
Notes: Judy is the queen of all things, and while I love her YA, Summer Sisters has been one of my favorite books for over a decade now. Last Christmas, I gifted it to Magan and she reviewed it and liked it too. (See? Proof!) Summer Sisters spans many years in a friendship (including high school and college) and the feelings are so real (and, at times, so dramatic) — it’s certainly a must read.
Matthew Quick
Matthew Quick - Sorta Like a Rock Star and The Silver Linings Playbook
Notes: Okay, so I haven’t read any of Matthew’s books BUT I did see and love Silver Linings Playbook and heard great things about the book it was based on. Matthew’s YA has high ratings on Goodreads (plus it was nominated for a ton of awards), and he’s also releasing another one in August  of 2013. This option is more about taking a chance, and I plan on finding both of these titles during my next trip to the library.
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And that’s it for March! Anyone reading anything grown up and great?