Give Me Your All & Nothing Else | Romance Short List

I borrowed the title of this post from a Selena Gomez song (Hands to Myself). I’ve been obsessed with new releases from her and Demi Lovato lately. They are both sexy and confident and strong, and both new albums reflect that. I’m not sure how natural of a segway this is into ROMANCE NOVELS but I’m going to pretend it was seamless. I finished a heavy-ish book the other night (I Crawl Through It by A.S. King) and I already felt my brain begging me to jump into a romance next. I’m still sorting through what’s next but before then I wanted to make sure I talked about a few of the others I’ve read recently. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a big fan of the romance roundups.

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Hold Me by Susan MalleryHold Me by Susan Mallery (Harlequin HQN/April 28, 2015): It’s always a comfort to head back to Fool’s Gold and the most memorable part of diving into Hold Me was the sister relationship forming between Destiny and her half-sister, Starr. Being that Destiny had an unstable upbringing, she doesn’t have much confidence in her “parenting” skills as her sister’s guardian for the summer and I liked watching them figure each other yet. It can’t be easy for someone like Destiny who is so used to jumping from one job to the next to help someone she barely knows feel settled. Despite the sister storyline, we have Destiny and and Kipling — a guy who is ready to settle in Fool’s Gold for good and even opens a bar for “the men”. (Um, this lead to some very, very funny scenes.) Their relationship was very unconventional as far as Mallery’s usually go and while I definitely enjoyed it, a little more growth and built would have made their pairing more solid for me. Always worth checking out what Mallery is up to. I can’t wait for the Christmas book!!

Add HOLD ME to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon or B&N

Taking the Heat by Veronica DahlTaking the Heat by Victoria Dahl (Harlequin HQN/July 28, 2015): In my eyes, Dahl can do no wrong. In Taking the Heat, she pairs a hunky male librarian and an advice columnist (confident on the outside and the opposite inside) together. I loved reading about Veronica answering notes from those who needed help, and how Gabe’s gig at the library was so much about improving the tech aspects of the place. From the tiniest details, Dahl concentrates so much on the backstories of her characters, making everything that much more enjoyable to read and even sexier when this couple starts to get closer. I always know to expect major sizzle in every single book she writes. Taking the Heat was no exception. And not only are the two characters trying to navigate their feelings for each other, both are in a position where they need to find the strength to stand up to their parents about where they want their life to go. So relatable, and so so great.

Add TAKING THE HEAT to Goodreads | Buy on B&N or Amazon

Willow Brook Road by Sherryl WoodsWillow Brook Road by Sherryl Woods (Harlequin MIRA/ September 29, 2015): My first book from Sherryl Woods, and while the romance aspect was great, I adored the family dynamics and main character Carrie’s motivation to find her life’s passion and go for it. Woods takes the small town gossip to a whole new level with the huge O’Brien family (who practically runs the town) and new guy Sam Winslow cannot escape their matchmaking or their friendly (really!) advice. The author also touches on pregnancy difficulties and adoption in another plotline. I liked having this parallel of a marriage facing difficulties and we read about Sam and Carrie getting closer. Willow Brook Road may favor sweet over sexy but it was certainly fun to read.

Add WILLOW BROOK ROAD to Goodreads | Buy on B&N or Amazon


Help! I’d love some romance recommendations for you guys. What should I add to my list next?

 

Big Kids’ Table: 2014 Reflections

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Another year almost done. Are they all going to go as fast as this one? I sure hope not because I think part of my brain is still hanging out in the spring. Ha! It’s been another interesting year of Big Kids’ Table feature. Unlike many other blog features I see, I still haven’t been able to get my rhythm done with this one. No two posts are ever the same, and while I should be proud of that, sometimes it makes me feel like this feature was never full realized.

But, hey, I’m recommending readers non-YA books, right? So part of it is working. In fact, there are a few posts I totally loved this year…

And now, a rundown of the most memorable non-YA books I’ve gobbled up this year… hopefully in time for your holiday shopping:

What took me so long?

Big Kids Table 2014 Overview What Took Me So Long

The world told me and I listened. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion and Me Before You by Jojo Moyes = total wins. Emotional but also with such humor folded in. DON’T FORGET THE HUMOR.

Let’s fall in love.

It’s not a reading year if there isn’t romance. Am I right? What do I need to recommend a romance from the highest mountain? Chemistry, a great story, and some fantastic dialogue. Hope you’ll give these a whirl!

Big Kids Table 2014 Overview Romance Novels

Looking for Trouble by Victoria Dahl | A Passionate Love Affair with a Perfect Stranger by Lucy Robinson | Her Holiday Man by Stacey Shannon

Sah-prise!

Big Kids' Table Most Surprising of 2014

Two VERY different titles that were almost a shock to my own reading system. The Good Girl by Mary Kubica, a fantastic debut, about a woman who is kidnapped.  The story is told from alternate POVs and positively creepy, emotional and yet understandable. And then to change things up completely, Charlie’s Glass Slippers: a makeover, career confidence, and romance drama. Guys, this book might be long but it is so so much fun. (The cover is pretty sweet too!)

No one hit wonder.

After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Forever Interrupted still tops my list as one of the most realistic, perfect books for someone in their mid-20s. Her follow-up about a young couple that decides to separate and not speak for a year was full of so many moments that made me thinking about how we can easily start to take people for granted in our lives, and also easily fall into habit and lose something so valuable. I can’t recommend Taylor’s work enough.

Runner-up: The Fragile World by Paula Treick DeBoard: a family torn apart after a tragedy and revenge.

A recommendation that hit the spot.

Steal the North by Heather Bergstrom

Steal the North freaking knocked my socks off. For regular YA readers, this is the perfect pick for crossover because the main character is a teen going through a ton of changes with family, boys, and herself. The writing is beyond spectacular. Big thanks to Leah at The Pretty Good Gatsby for putting it on my radar.

Runner up: Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. I’m not one to usually pick up historical romances but I’m glad I read this one. It’s so emotional and well-done. (A review at So Obsessed Blog to get you inspired to read Burial Rites!)

The in-betweeners.

Yep. I’m adding some New Adult picks in this time. Guys, they were great and you have to read them. If you are worried about being overwhelmed by the sex, don’t me… these are all a combination of super sexy and well-developed.

Big Kids Table New Adult Book Recommendations 2014

Make It Count by Megan Erickson | Last Will and Testament by Dahlia Adler | Unraveled by Jen Frederick

A hopeful wish.

Well, being that I didn’t read any of the books I thought I would in 2014 per this post, I’m going to try again with better results. I swear! At the end of next year, I will most certainly be patting myself on the back for following through on this very short list. Right? Right?! I need you all to cheer me on.

Big Kids Table 2014 Overview What to Read in 2015

 Girl Before Mirror by Liza Palmer | A Little Princess by Frances H. Burnett | My Father’s Wives by Mike Greenberg


A quick announcement: I’m changing up Big Kids’ Table again in 2015 (I hinted to it slightly in last month’s post) and if you want to share your non-YA recs in this capacity, I would love to hear from you. Email me anytime: estelle AT ratherbereadingblog DOT com. I swear it will be oodles of fun, and I’d love to have you.

Until the next Big Kids’ Table, happy holidays, happy reading, and enjoy the rest of the year.

And remember: don’t be afraid to read outside of your genre. 🙂

Estelle: Until We Touch by Susan Mallery

Until We Touch by Susan MalleryUntil We Touch by Susan Mallery ( web | tweet )
Part of the Fool’s Gold Series.
Publication Date: June 24, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin
Pages: 384
Target audience: Adult
Keywords: PR company, small town, best friends, romance
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley. (Thanks!)

Summary: When Larissa relocated to Fool’s Gold from Los Angeles, it was for her job as a personal assistant/ company masseuse at an up and coming PR agency. She hangs out, lives near, and works with her best friends. When her mom plants the seed that she is in love with her boss a.k.a. best friend, she denies it to everyone, especially herself … until she can’t anymore.

If the day is just too humid and you are in a grumpy mood, I suggest picking up a Fool’s Gold book. It’s a scientific fact that it raises your spirits!

Truthfully, Until We Touch isn’t my favorite Fool’s Gold book. It was far too repetitive with some of the details and I thought our main man, Jack, had to step up his penance game at the end of the book. (This is the first time I’ve seen a hero in one of these books act like a total asshole. Fact.) But, despite that, I definitely enjoyed getting caught up in all the happenings in the town (a new football program at a nearby college!) and reuniting with some of the characters I’ve met in past books.

And there’s nothing like two best friends not realizing they have the hots for each other when they, indeed, have the hots for each other.

Larissa is a gal who is generous with her time and her ability to help people, and I had to laugh out loud at so many of the causes she roped Jack into just because she could not say no. (An owl, people! An owl.) Even though, Jack makes it known he’s not an emotional guy (tragic past) he can’t help but give into her. She finds the cause, and he fronts the money (or the space). These two have an interesting dynamic, and proclamations of love were a bit anti-climatic but I still found their “courtship” super sweet and sexy and fueled by other surprises.

I can’t pick up a Fool’s Gold book without daydreaming about moving to a similar town. Sure, it’s small and there’s a ton of meddling but everyone looks out for each other and it always seems the possibilities for happiness (career, friendship, love) are aplenty.

Until We Touch plucked me from my unhappy place and welcomed me into a MUCH better one.

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Add to Goodreads | Buy on B&N | Buy on Amazon

Shelve It: New Books / New Friends / Giveaway

weekly feature to share the books magan and estelle are adding to their bookshelves each week

I wonder if I’ll ever NOT be amazed by how fast time is flying. It’s practically been a month since I’ve done one of these, and when I was getting my books together — I was pleasantly surprised how few i’ve bought in the last few weeks. Go me? Don’t get me wrong; so many great books are coming out but i’m so behind on reading what I own i’ve been making a conscious effort to do that. So this is what’s been happening…

What I bought:

Rather Be Reading Shelve It

Like No Other by Una LaMarche
Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally
One Plus One by Jojo Moyes
Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Fun goodies in the mail:

Rather Be Reading Blog Shelve iT

From Harlequin: The Oleander Sisters by Elaine Hussey
From Quinn @ Quinn’s Book Nook: Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
From Melissa @ Rolling with the Magic: Beer and Food by Mark Dredge

THANK YOU ALL!

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Speaking of BEER, this week debuted my contribution to PUB DATE — a new feature I’ll be working on with a few fantastic bloggers and beer lovers. My sister made the banner and i am feeling way proud of her! So if you are curious about beer or just want another way to find a book recommendation, be sure to stop in!

In other blog news, Magan and I are so excited to share in the launch of THE PAGE GIRLS — a new online magazine dedicated to books, friendship, and cocktails. Seriously, could this new venture be any more perfect for us? I think not. So to spread the love, the gals of The Page Girls have donated some lovely blog-themed coasters and an eBook of a winner’s choice. If you’re a fan of finding super fun mail in your box, I recommend you enter this giveaway!

Page Girl Coasters 2

Here’s a little bit more info:

About The Page Girls | The Page Girls (www.thepagegirls.com) is a new online mag with an emphasis on books, cocktails, and female friendships. Each week, they publish a themed issue containing short stories, book reviews, personal and funny essays, videos, cocktail recipes, and more. Some sample issues include The Craziest Thing I Did For Love and LYLAS (Love You Like a Sister).

Sign up for The Page Girls’ weekly newsletter to get notified about new issues, and be sure to follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

Ebook giveaway (Winner chooses 1 title):

An Imaginary House by the Sea by Cecily Gates (Contemporary Romance)
HDU by India Lee (New Adult)
Normal is the Watchword by Jasmine Tru (YA Thriller)
Here for the Cake by Emily Poule (Rom-Com)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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In case you missed it:

  • I want you to consider buying AFTER I DO (contemporary fiction) + BLAZED (dark contemporary YA).
  • Magan wants you to borrow EXILE (a YA book for music fans).

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How’s your summer been? Let us know + don’t forget to enter The Page Girls giveaway!

We hope you have a great week full of sunshine, books, and maybe a donut? Yum!

Shelve It: A Pre-July 4th V-Log

weekly feature to share the books magan and estelle are adding to their bookshelves each week

Hello! I know, two weeks in a row of Shelve It? What?!? I find it motivates me more when I do these + it’s been forever since I’ve done a v-log. (Don’t ask me about Instagram videos though… I am a wreck at those. How how how do you say anything in just a few seconds? M is my hero.) Anyway…

Good weekend, so far? I can’t believe it’s Sunday evening. I did so much walking yesterday, did a little reading, and I’m excited to settle in for the evening and also share what’s been hitting my mailbox this week. Some very exciting details that are making me wish for a reading vacation. Do those exist?

Before you check out the v-log, we wanted to wish Rachel (you may know her from Hello Chelly) a very very very happy birthday! She’s one of the sweetest, loveliest people in the world! Yay Rachel! xo

Bought:

Summer of Yesterday by Gina Triana
The Summer of Firsts and Lasts by Terra Elan McVoy
Behind the Scenes by Dahlia Adler

From Atria Books:

After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Out 7/1)
The Price of Inheritance by Karin Tanabe (Out 8/5)
Charlie Glass’s Slippers by Holly McQueen (Out 8/5)
For Once in My Life by Marianne Kavanagh

From Harlequin:

The Beekeeper’s Ball by Susan Wiggs
The Good Girl by Mary Kubica (Out 7/29)

From Scholastic/Chicken House:

Breaking Butterflies by M. Anjelais (Out 8/26)

From Random House/Crowne:

Brunette Ambition by Lea Michele

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On the blog this week:

The Promise by Robyn Carr: lovely small town + sweet romance!
A favorite of 2014: My Best Friend, Maybe by Caela Carter
Wildflower by Alecia Whitaker: Nashville, country music, families, oh my!
Fan Art by Sarah Tregay — not exactly what I was hoping for.
A collaborative country music OPEN ROAD SUMMER playlist for your enjoyment!

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Thanks so much for checking out my Shelve It v-log today! I actually did that one in 2 tries! Woo hoo!

So now it’s your turn. There’s ONE question you can answer from my vlog and now here’s another: what did you buy this week??

Big Kids Table: More than Just Romance

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

Welcome! How is it the last day of April already? Didn’t I just take my Christmas decorations down? I’m flabbergasted by how fast this year is flying so far. But the end of the month does mean BIG KIDS’ TABLE and I do love working on this feature. Big thanks to those of you who gave me positive feedback on last month’s Receipt Recommendations; I will hopefully be doing another one sometime in the future. (But I really must take a break from buying book so sit tight.)

Today, though, today I am focusing on Harlequin. Yep. You read that right. Now raise your hand if you hear Harlequin and think of romances. It’s okay. No one will throw tomatoes or hardcovers at you, I promise! Because, for a long time, I didn’t know there was more to Harlequin than romance either. Don’t get me wrong — I love Harlequin romance writers like Kristan Higgins and Susan Mallery but last year I was psyched to discover writers like Jason Mott (The Returned) and Paula Treick DeBoard (The Mourning Hours) — a supernatural and thriller, respectively — from the MIRA imprint.

So this year, I’m anxiously looking forward to the non-romance titles being released from Harlequin in hopes I have similar reading luck! Here are a few that have caught my eye…

Where Earth Meets Water by Pia Padunke (paperback release date: April 29, 2014)

Where the Earth Meets Water

Karom Seth should have been in the Twin Towers on the morning of 9/11, and on the Indian shores in 2004, when the tsunami swept his entire family into the ocean. Whether it’s a curse or a blessing, Karom can’t be sure, but his absence from these disasters has left him with crushing guilt—and a belief that fate has singled him out for invincibility.

Karom’s affliction consumes everyone around him, from his best friend, Lloyd, to his girlfriend, Gita, who hopes that a trip to India will help him find peace. It is in Delhi that he meets Gita’s grandmother, Kamini—a quirky but wise woman with secrets of her own. At first Karom dismisses Kamini, but little does he realize that she will ultimately lead him to the clarity he’s been looking for. 

Estelle notes: It’s so rare for me to read a book that includes a trip to India. (My mind always moves toward The Namesake, which I loved.) Definitely want to check out another.

Empire Girls by Suzanne Hayes + Loretta Nyhan (release date: May 14, 2014)

Empire Girls

Ivy and Rose Adams may be sisters, but they’re nothing alike. Rose, the eldest, is the responsible one, while Ivy is spirited and brazen. After the unexpected death of their father, the women are left to reconcile the estate, when they make a shocking discovery: not only has their father left them in financial ruin, but he has also bequeathed their beloved family house to a brother they never knew existed. With only a photograph to guide the way, Ivy and Rose embark to New York City, determined to find this mysterious man and reclaim what is rightfully theirs.

Once in New York, temptations abound at every turn, and soon the sisters are drawn into the glitzy underbelly of Manhattan, where they must overcome their differences and learn to trust each other if they’re going to survive in the big city and find their brother. Filled with unforgettable characters and charm, Empire Girls is a love letter to 1920s New York, and a captivating story of the unspoken bond between sisters.

Estelle notes: NEW YORK + THE 1920s? Sign me up.

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica (release date: July 29, 2014)

The Good Girl

Born to a prominent Chicago judge and his stifled socialite wife, Mia Dennett moves against the grain as a young inner-city art teacher. One night, Mia enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn’t show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. With his smooth moves and modest wit, at first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia’s life. 

Colin’s job was to abduct Mia as part of a wild extortion plot and deliver her to his employers. But the plan takes an unexpected turn when Colin suddenly decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota, evading the police and his deadly superiors. Mia’s mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman will stop at nothing to find them, but no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family’s world to shatter. 

Estelle Notes: Thrillerrrrr. If this book is anything like The Mourning Hours, I will be reading it under my desk at work. (Um, no. Just kidding. I did not do that. Okay fine… I did but it was a Friday afternoon in the summer!)

And, two of my most anticipated this year, bring us right back to the beginning of this post. Jason Mott is releasing a new book in September called The Wonder of All Things:

The Wonder of All Things

On an ordinary day, at an air show like that in any small town across the country, a plane crashes into a crowd of spectators, killing and injuring dozens. But when the dust clears, a thirteen-year-old girl named Ava is found huddled beneath a pocket of rubble with her best friend, Wash. He is injured and bleeding, and when Ava places her hands over him, his wounds miraculously disappear.

Ava has a unique gift: she can heal others of their physical ailments. Until the air show tragedy, her gift was a secret. But now the whole world knows, and suddenly Ava is thrust into the spotlight. People from all over the globe begin flocking to her small town, looking for healing and eager to glimpse the wonder of a miracle. But Ava’s unusual ability comes at a great cost—her own health—and as she grows weaker with each healing, Ava begins searching for an escape. Wash agrees to help Ava, but little does she know he has his own secret he’s been harboring, and soon Ava finds herself having to decide just how much she’s willing to sacrifice in order to save the one she loves most.

And so does Paula Treick DeBoard with The Fragile World (October 2014):

The Fragile World

The Kaufmans have always considered themselves a normal, happy family. Curtis is a physics teacher at a local high school. His wife, Kathleen, restores furniture for upscale boutiques. Daniel is away at college on a prestigious music scholarship, and twelve-year-old Olivia is a happy-go-lucky kid whose biggest concern is passing her next math test.

And then comes the middle-of-the-night phone call that changes everything.Daniel has been killed in what the police are calling a freak accident, and the remaining Kaufmans are left to flounder in their grief. The anguish of Daniel’s death is isolating, and it’s not long before this once perfect family find themselves falling apart. As time passes and the wound refuses to heal, Curtis becomes obsessed with the idea of revenge, a growing mania that leads him to pack up his life and his anxious teenage daughter and set out on a collision course to right a wrong.

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So there ya go — five new books for the price of one post. Hope there’s something here that floats your boat!
As you can probably tell my boat is pretty much forever floating. 😉

Happy reading!

P.S. If you read any non-YA titles this month, definitely let me know! It’s only fair 😉