Open Road Summer: A Playlist + More Gushing

It’s kind of crazy when everyone in your timeline loves a book.

Like REALLY loves a book.

Normally, I would wait until later in the year to get to it. Wait for all the hubbub to die down. But with Magan texting me friendship quotes and after watching her vlog (a lot of times, I miss her), I knew I had to make it a priority. So on a weekend when I really needed to love a book, I brought Open Road Summer along. I expected to love the romantic interest a lot, sure, but I did not expect to fall head over heels for the friendship in this book. We should all be so lucky to know a connection like the one that Reagan and Dee share. It’s honest, it’s not always easy, but there is extreme loyalty — whether in action or silence — and they just get each other. It was the biggest highlight of Open Road Summer for me. (Seriously, all the quotes I wrote down were about Reagan and Dee and I just… cried so much during some of their scenes. I thought the book was incredibly powerful and well-done in so many ways.)

So it was an extra bonus that country music was everywhere in this book. While it wasn’t always this way, country is my favorite genre of music. It makes me feel full and happy, and I just love the way that the songs tell a story. It’s been about 10 years now (ahh) that country music has provided the soundtrack to many late writing nights, annoying commutes, brutal workouts, and even a few songs at my wedding. Not everyone in my life feels the same way about country, sadly, so I’m happy that I’ve met smart people like Cassie and Ellice throughout my book blogging who love it too! Since the three of us adored ORS so much, we teamed up to create a country soundtrack that reflects moments and feelings in the book.

Open Road Summer County Playlist

For me, I tried to focus on songs and musicians that don’t necessarily get a ton of play. (You know me with my “under the radar” everything.) And, truthfully, I thought soundtracking ORS would be so difficult or distracting but with so many emotions and great moments, it just felt like fun. Here are a few of my own contributions (and why I picked them):

“I Break Everything I Touch” by Jason Aldean: There’s a great song called “I Break Things” by Erika Jo but unfortunately it’s not available on Spotify.  But I think Jason and Erika’s songs describe exactly how Reagan was feeling in the beginning of ORS. She just couldn’t get anything to work out right.

“Famous in a Small Town” by Miranda Lambert: I used to love to sing this song in my car and I had to use it when thinking of how Dee’s life has changed since being a regular high school kid.

“Homemade Love” by Jessica Harp: Jessica Harp used to be in The Wreckers with Michelle Branch (oh my god, was that almost 10 years ago?!), and that’s how I got into her. It’s her only album but this song popped into my head as soon as I heard Dee and Jimmy’s backstory.

If you know country even a little bit, you could probably think of about twenty songs right off the bat to explain Reagan and Matt’s relationship. These were my top picks:

  • “Stop Drop + Roll” by Dan + Shay: their car ride.
  • “Cool Thing” by Rascal Flatts: just them meeting each other in the first place.
  • “There’s Where It Is” by Carrie Underwood: two people who did a lot of work to get to this point.

Jo Dee Messina’s “Was This My Life?” is so Matt’s life philosophy after what he’s faced in life. “Oh, we just get one ride around the sun / In this dream of time, it goes so fast.”

I think Ellice + Cassie will agree that the biggest challenge was finding a good friendship song. We need some female country singers to get on this! Perhaps the song to best fit Reagan and Dee’s friendship is “You Find Out Who Your Friends Are” by Tracey Lawrence.

When the water’s high / When the weather’s not so fair / When the well runs dry / Who’s gonna be there? /
You find out who your friends are.

On that note, that’s enough from me! Time for you to get listening!

We sincerely hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed putting it together! Be sure to head over to Cassie’s blog for a special guest + Ellice for more chatter about our playlist collaboration efforts! Hooray!

More on OPEN ROAD SUMMER: Magan’s vlog | on Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Befriended with Emery Lord

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.

↔

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!

A Literary Birthday Celebration (From What I Remember)

confetti

I’ve said it before and said it again, but one of my favorite things about blogging is meeting new people.

About a month or two ago, I started to chat with Cassie of Books with Cass, who like me is from New Jersey (although she still lives there) and has a birthday in February.

And can you believe that we are exactly a day apart? (In fact, she shares a birthday with one of my best friends and the reason I met Magan in the first place!)

During one of our daily chats, we decided to had to jump on this coincidence and write joint posts today! Basically, Cassie and I have chosen a favorite read that would inspire the best birthday celebration.

So, for me, we are heading to…

mexico

[ oh mexico. it sounds so simple i just got to go. a lil james taylor for ya ]

Last June, on a wonderful summer vacation with my husband, I read From What I Remember by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas. It was so much fun, such a surprise hit, and it’s most definitely on my list to re-read when the weather gets a little warmer on the east coast.

Basically, the class brainiac (Kylie) and big man on campus (Max) are forced to work together on a last minute school project and a bit of bad luck comes their way — causing them to embark on an unexpected road trip to MEXICO. Kylie is a serious person with lots of responsibilities and Max seems quite the opposite, pretending his life is easy breezy when he has a lot going on in the background. There’s EXCITEMENT. CHEMISTRY. FEAR. VARIOUS MOVIE QUOTES. AND DRINKING.

Despite the chaos, this is what I’m seeing:

From What I Remember Fiesta

Mix an awesome setting + a great dress + some frozen libations and I feel a party coming on.

Although, I will opt out of the hangover when it’s all finished. Thank you very much.

I really appreciate you taking the time to celebrate my birthday with me (a few days early), and I hope you’ll head over to Books with Cass to see what Cassie has in store for her own birthday extravaganza!

Happy Saturday!

Psst. If you haven’t checked out From What I Remember yet, the title is under $8 for the Kindle edition + the Nook too!