The Big Kids’ Table: Adult Fiction/Non-Fic Picks (8/12)

I can’t believe summer is more than halfway over already. Any minute New York is going to be decking the halls with holiday decor. (I’m not kidding.) Let’s focus on the book, shall we? Here are a handful of upcoming adult releases I discovered in the pages of Publishers Weekly. They sound like winners to me! What do you think?

Close Enough to Touch by Victoria Dahl (Goodreads)
Genre: romance Publication Date: August 28th, 2012
hy I picked it: I believe Dahl is a friend of Jennifer Echols’ & there’s a cowboy. Enough said.
GR Description: Can a city girl make it in the wild, wild West? For makeup artist Grace Barrett, Hollywood is less the land of golden opportunity and more the land of difficult divas, cheating boyfriends and unemployment. So when her great-aunt offers her a free place to stay in Jackson Hole, Grace thinks she’ll spend a little time in the sticks to figure out her life, and then move somewhere exciting to live out her dreams. But it turns out that there are a few more thrills in this small town than Grace was expecting…. Cole Rawlins is a rugged Wyoming cowboy born and bred. Yet he can’t help but be drawn to the fascinating big-city girl who moves in across from him. As they discover a sizzling attraction, it’s Grace who finds herself surprised. Cole’s the only man who’s ever dared to get close enough to see through her tough facade. And his mysterious past only makes him sexier.

Hemingway’s Girl by Erika Rubick (Goodreads)
Genre: Historical Fiction Publication Date: September 4th, 2012
Why I picked it: Hemingway, literary genius, and setting: Key West. Perfection.
GR Description: In Depression-era Key West, Mariella Bennet, the daughter of an American fisherman and a Cuban woman, knows hunger. Her struggle to support her family following her father’s death leads her to a bar and bordello, where she bets on a risky boxing match…and attracts the interest of two men: world-famous writer, Ernest Hemingway, and Gavin Murray, one of the WWI veterans who are laboring to build the Overseas Highway.

Broadway Tails by Bill Beloni (Goodreads)
Genre: theater non-fiction Publication Date: September 4, 2012
What I picked it: This is such a cute premise & I love how animals found a better life as part of the theater.
GR Description: In this heartwarming book, he tells the true stories of “throw-away” animals who came back to work with some of entertainment’s biggest names, names like Bernadette Peters, Sarah Jessica Parker, Mike Nichols, the New York City Ballet, and many more. This updated edition includes an account of Berloni’s search for the newest Sandy to star with everyone’s favorite red-headed orphan.

Losing My Sister by Judy Goldman (Goodreads)
Genre: Memoir Publication Date: October 2, 2012
Why I picked it: Siblings and emotional overload. There’s nothing like a hard hitting memoir.
GR Description: Goldman’s was an idyllic childhood, charmed even, filled with parental love and sisterly confidences. Growing up in Rock Hill, South Carolina, Judy and her older sister, Brenda, did everything together. Though it was clear from an early age that their personalities were very different (Judy was the “sweet” one, Brenda, the “strong” one), they continued to be fairly inseparable into adulthood. But the love between sisters is complex. Though Judy and Brenda remained close, Goldman recalls struggling to break free of her prescribed role as the agreeable little sister and to assert herself even as she built her own life and started a family. The sisters’ relationship became further strained by the illnesses and deaths of their parents, and later, by the discovery that each had tumors in their breasts—Judy’s benign, Brenda’s malignant. The two sisters came back together shortly before the possibility of permanent loss became very real.

She Matters: A Life of Friendships by Susana Sonnenberg (Goodreads)
Genre: memoir
Publication Date: January 8, 2013
Why I picked it: Her Last Death, by Sonnenberg, was one of the most engaging (and devastating) memoirs I ever read. Can’t wait to pick up another book by her.
GR Description: Childhood friendships, friendships with older women, friendships that play out with the passion and intensity of love affairs, the friendships between new mothers–each has its own subtleties, its own lessons that Sonnenberg examines and understands with astounding acuity. Sonnenberg’s style is investigative and ruminative; the result is candid and fearlessly observed portraits of the nuances and complexities of friendships that become universally recognizable.

Estelle: Between You & Me by Marisa Calin

book cover for Between You & Me by Marisa CalinBetween You & Me by Marisa Calin ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: August 7, 2012
Publisher: Bloomsbury Kids
Pages: 240
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: LGBT, unrequited love, screenplay format, theater, teacher/student relationships, friendship
Format read: ARC from ALA.

Summary: Told in the form of a screenplay, Phyre is a 16-year old girl who dreams of being an actress. When the beginning of the school year brings a new drama teacher into her life, she is positively smitten and wonders what to make of these new feelings for a female. Meanwhile, most of Phyre’s time is spent with her best friend — only referred to as ‘you’ throughout the novel — until her ‘obsession’ with Mia causes her to ignore You’s constant and adoring presence.

I love when authors take creative chances. When they do it right, the book morphs into more of an experience than just some paper bound together in your purse.

Between You & Me is just that. Written in screenplay style, author Marisa Calin introduces us to Phyre, a 16-year old girl, who loves theater and her best friend – a best friend that garners no name, simply known as ‘You’, with no description whatsoever, just movements and words and perhaps a clothing description every now and then.

It may be disconcerting to be kept in the dark about a character who is very much the heart of this novel, but we do get to see You in Phyre’s eyes and get equally frustrated when You’s actions constitute more than friendship and her friend is utterly blind to it.

So this is the thing. We have no idea if You is a girl or a guy. To be completely honest, during my first read through, I thought You was a girl. Once I (begrudgingly) finished the book, I read the Publishers Weekly review where it was mentioned that it was not divulged if You was a girl or a guy. Did I get amped up or what. It was almost midnight and I literally could not sleep because I found that hard to believe.

It’s funny the tricks your mind plays on you when you are reading. Somehow you are filling in the blanks with words that weren’t even on the page. I could swear I read that You was wearing a dress at one point and instead, You was all dressed up. So I went back, two days later, and reread the entire book again. This time, I pictured You as a boy.

And my conclusion? The book certainly works from both angles. But it made me hyper aware of these categories that I place people in. Yellow shirt, crossed ankles, light enough to lift into a treehouse – oh that must definitely mean You is a girl. But does it? Unconsciously we form all of these stereotypes in our head and cleverly and intricately Calin reminds us to forget them, check them at the door. That is not what matters here.

It is the love. It is the playful, intimate friendship between these two characters. It is how You will come over in the middle of the night to paint Phyre’s room because the color is bothering her. You (as in us) don’t meet people like that every day. And despite You’s silent and sweet attempts to show her these blossoming feelings, Phyre is totally crushing on her new theater teacher – the passionate, smart, cute, and encouraging Mia. The way Phyre bumbles around Mia and chastises herself for saying moronic things in front of her is so spot-on. Don’t misunderstand, Mia is clearly the teacher here; she never eggs Phyre on but still she is absolutely enchanting. Calin brings to the forefront various descriptions of light when it comes to Mia and it is breathtakingly clear why Mia is so worth living in this bubble of fantasy, even when it means Phyre taking You for granted.

The script style is, as it should be, very bare bones but Calin weaves in Phyre’s (uncensored) thoughts within the stage direction but manages to keep them simple, succinct and straightforward. The pacing is quick but the moments remain, bleeding into scene after scene. The format is a challenging experiment, but Calin’s writing is genuine and impactful nevertheless. I probably could have highlighted the entire book.

As a theater fan, I love how Calin incorporated parts of a school play that, in ways, paralleled the moments between Phyre and You. I admired Phyre’s passion and dedication to her craft, and so many of the creative elements incorporated into the production. It might be hard to believe that so much emotion could be alive and kicking in a book that isn’t overflowing with monologues or description but it is so there. So many times I had to close the book because the feelings were overwhelming and oh-so familiar.

Between You & Me has easily become one of my top reads of 2012, whether we are talking strictly about 2012 releases or of all the books I’ve read so far. It’s challenging, it’s thought provoking, and an innovative way of looking at relationships and preconceived notions of love and happiness. It just is.

Goodreads | Pre-Order on Amazon

The Big Kids’ Table: Adult Fiction Picks (7/12)

Why, good afternoon, friends! Hope you are doing well! Just a few more hours before the weekend can begin! I know I’m looking forward to it! It seems like forever since I did one of these, but here I am back to give you a few adult fiction suggestions for your reading lists. This one is going to be a little bit different because I’m kicking things off with a bonus v-log!

The treasures I mentioned:

Jack 1939 by Francine Mathews (Goodreads) — July 5th release
What the Nanny Saw by Fiona Neill (Goodreads) — August 2nd release
City of Women by David Gillham (Goodreads) — August 7th release

Thanks to Lydia at Penguin for providing me with the above titles!

All Summer Long by Susan Mallery (RatherBeReadingblog.com)

All Summer Long by Susan Mallery (Goodreads) — July 31st release
Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Green  (Goodreads) — August 21st release

Have you cross the realm into adult fiction lately? Anything worth noting?

Estelle: Shelve It (5/13/2012)

weekly feature focusing on the books we bought, borrowed, and received from publishers

Ah! I’m so late! Hope you all had a great weekend! I have a special guest star in this video!

Netgalley

Friendship Bread by Darien Gee (5/1/2012) — Goodreads | Amazon
What I Didn’t Say by Keary Taylor (5/11/2012) — Goodreads | Amazon
Summer Nights by Susan Mallery (6/19/2012) — Goodreads | Amazon
Starring Me by Krista McGee (7/10/2012) — Goodreads | Amazon
Kissing Shakespeare by Pamela Mingle (8/14/2012) — Goodreads | Amazon
Intentions by Deborah Heiligmann (8/14/2012) — Goodreads | Amazon

Bought

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson — Goodreads | Amazon

Recents reads

Lovestruck Summer by Melissa C. Walker — Goodreads | Amazon
Dream Factory by Brad Barkley & Heather Hepler — Goodreads | Amazon

On the blog this week:

Was I enchanted by Enchanted by Alethea Kontis?
Some adult fiction books that caught my eye!
I don’t think you can tell just how much Magan loved Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson. 😉
A great meme by Broke & Bookish on favorite book quotes.
Ice cream, family, and some serious heartbreak were found in See You at Harry’s by Jo Knowles.