December Author Potluck | Big Kids’ Table

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

Today we’re hosting a dinner party so I’m glad you are here because the guests of honor are awesome. All four of them have books releasing this month, and were kind enough to attend this potluck get-together at a pretty late hours. (Wink wink; thanks ladies!)

It’s been awhile since we’ve had a get-together like this one on Big Kids’ Table and who knows? It might be a sign of what’s to come in the new year. But right now, we have four talented authors with their own shiny new books and on top of that, some personal non-YA recommendations for you. I hope you get a kick out of these and find something to add to your TBR too.

Happy Fridayyyy!

Molli Moran Recommends Non-YA Rather Be Reading Blog

Molli’s pick & pitch: I recently had the chance to read Becka Paula’s New Adult debut, EVERLY AFTER, which I thought was such an unconventional and brave romance. EVERLY AFTER is a tense, beautiful story about two damaged individuals who see the best in one another – and the versions of themselves they can become.
What’s new (dinner convo): When I’m not reading whatever I can get my hands on, I’m working on the sequel to my first book, AS YOU TURN AWAY. The sequel is called AS WE FALL TOGETHER and with luck, will be published in the spring of 2015!

Add ONE SONG AWAY to Goodreads | Visit Molli on the web + twitter

Lorraine Z Rosenthal Recommends Non-YA Rather Be Reading Blog

Lorriane’s pick: White Oleander by Janet Fitch
Her pitch: WHITE OLEANDER is an adult book with a young protagonist who ages from 12 to 20 during the course of the novel. It’s a raw, compelling, emotional tale about a girl who is the victim of her mother’s bad choices and struggles to make her way in the world. It’s also an excellent movie!
What’s new (dinner convo): My latest novel, INDEPENDENTLY WEALTHY, was published by St. Martin’s Press on December 2, so I’m currently very busy with a blog tour, etc.

Visit Lorraine on the web + twitter | My review of Independently Wealthy

Liz Czukas Recommends Non-YA Rather Be Reading Blog

Liz’s pick: Bloodsucking Fiends by Christopher Moore
Her pitch: This is not your average vampire book–it’s hilarious. Like all of Christopher Moore’s books, it turns your assumptions on their heads. If you love the fun, relatable voice of humorous YA writers like Josh Berk and Louise Rennison, you will never be disappointed by Chris Moore.
What’s new (Dinner convo): My 2nd YA book, TOP TEN CLUES YOU’RE CLUELESS comes out on December 9. Then my first New Adult book under my pen name Ellie Cahill, WHEN JOSS MET MATT, comes out on February 24, 2015! Other than that, I’ve got a couple of YA and NA projects in the works that I can’t talk about yet!

Liz Czukas on the web + on twitter | Magan’s review of TOP 10 CLUES

Alison Cherry Recommends Non-YA Rather Be Reading BlogAlison’s pick: The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood
Her pitch
: In any book, the most important thing to me is well-drawn characters, and the four protagonists of The Robber Bride seem so real that I’ve never thought of them as characters at all—I just think of them as people I know. There have been times I’ve been out shopping and thought, “Oh, Charis would like that,” before I remembered she’s not a real person. The plot is so well paced and intricately woven and ultimately quite suspenseful, and the way Atwood describes these four women loving and hurting and manipulating each other is incredibly masterful. I’ve read this book every few years since I was about sixteen, and it never fails to delight me.
What’s new (dinner convo): I have two books coming out in 2016! The first, Grandma Jo’s Guide to Prim and Proper Pilfering, is a middle grade about a girl who discovers that her grandmother’s bridge club is actually a heist ring. The second, Look Both Ways, is a YA about musical theater and two girls walking the very fine line between obsessive platonic friendship and romantic love.

Alison’s upcoming book FOR REAL releases on December 9. Big sisters on a reality TV show adventure!

Alison Cherry on the web + twitter

You were brilliant guests, Molli, Lorraine, Liz, and Alison! I hope you’ll be back soon!

Now it’s your turn! What great non-YA have you read lately?

(My current recommendations are The Rosie Project and Her Holiday Man!)

Independently Wealthy by Lorraine Z. Rosenthal | Review & Giveaway

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Independently Wealthy by Lorraine Zago RosenthalIndependently Wealthy by Lorraine Z. Rosenthal ( web | tweet )
→ Book 1: New Money from Fall 2013
Publication Date: 12/2/2014
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Pages: 336
Target audience: New adult/adult
Keywords: family secrets/mystery, romance, New York City
Format read: ARC provided by Publisher. (Thanks!)

Summary: Savannah is still finding her way in New York City: balancing a job, her boyfriend, and settling into life with her extended family. She hasn’t yet given up on what really took her biological father from her, and is determined to figure out the true story… with our without the help of her half-siblings.

I had a really good time reading New Money last fall, but this time around, I bonded with Savannah in a way I hadn’t before. She’s more settled in the city, working hard at her job (even though, let’s face it: with her allowance, she doesn’t need to), balancing a boyfriend and getting to know her newly acquired family better.

The drama from the first book has mostly disappeared and I say mostly because while the craziness in New Money seemed to creep up on her out of nowhere, this girl goes after it herself in this book — chasing down the answers of what really killed her media tycoon father. While we spend a majority of our time cabbing around Manhattan (the book opens with the Christmas season — so fitting and Rosenthal captures it so perfectly), Savannah also spends time in DC, worming herself into many uncomfortable situations to find out more and eventually returning to NYC with more than she bargained for.

This is the thing: even though Savannah handles her wealth and new lifestyle with such grace, she’s not above acting impulsively either. And maybe not always in the way you would think. Rosenthal has made a good habit of writing about strong, complicated women from the little sister in Queens (Other Words for Love) to this southern belle granted a fairy tale life with a few inconsistencies. The struggle to be independent, successful, and express love to the people in your life is what makes Savannah such an authentic character. We may not be wearing Gucci or living in an apartment that overlooks Central Park, but we worry about our hearts. We want to be good and do good by the people we care about.

Independently Wealthy mixes some ballsy detective work and delicious distractions with finding your place in relationships, your family, and a bustling city. As I inched to the last pages of the book, I already missed Savannah and wondered what she would be up to next. You know I want you to check out this series from the beginning, but I won’t tell if you cheat and skip to this one.

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

The lovely folks at St. Martin’s Press are offering 1 lucky winner a finished copy of Independently Wealthy. Open to U.S. readers only. Enter below & good luck!

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Shelve It: Estelle Talks End of Summer, Books + More

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

Hi! It’s Labor Day weekend, already! I changed my calendar to September! Where is this year going?

Hope all of you had some fun and/or relaxing plans for this weekend! We’ve been sort of just hanging around and it’s been so nice not have to rush off to do anything so yay for that!

I made a video today talking about the books I’ve gotten in the mail, bought lately, and also so fun other things like the holiday I am most looking forward to. Also is my head just crooked or is it my glasses? I really need to get these adjusted. I keep fixing my head and nothing works.

I should also say (another) happy birthday to Magan on here because she is one of the strongest, most selfless, funny, creative, and talented people I know. I’m so grateful to know her and work on this blog with her. But most of all, she is one of the best people in my life and I am so so appreciative of whatever strange fate-like thing made that happen. THANK YOU UNIVERSE.

Enough about me, on with the show:

Books in the mail:

Jessica Darling’s IT List by Megan McCafferty (September 3) — thanks Little Brown!
New Money by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal (September 10) — thanks St. Martin’s Press!
Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando (December 24) — thanks Elena!
The Boy on the Porch by Sharon Creech (September 3) — thanks LitLushes!

Books I bought:

After the Kiss by Terra Elan McVoy — thanks to Tigerlily Rachel’s Teen Week series!
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick


On the blog this week:

Fun facts about Magan + a surprise birthday giveaway!
Reviews of Fire with Fire, The Returned, Crown of Midnight, The Hero, and Counting by 7s.
Ginger told us all the fun and snazzy details of her summer.
You can win some of our top summer reads! Giveaway open to U.S. and Canada!


What’s up with you, friends? Come say hi!

book review of New Money by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

Blog Tour: New Money by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal (+ Q&A)

book review of New Money by Lorraine Zago RosenthalNew Money by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: September 10, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Pages: 336
Target audience: Adult/mature YA
Keywords: moving to NYC, family secrets/drama, money
Format read: ARC provided by Publisher. (Thank you!)
Other books I’ve reviewed by LZR: Other Words for Love

Summary: Savannah is a small town girl with big dreams of being a writer. A phone calls changes her life’s course when she finally discovers that her recently deceased father was a very rich man in NYC with his own media company. With no prospects in South Carolina, Savannah accepts her inheritance in NYC: a fancy apartment, a new job, and a new family — that wants nothing to do with her. Will her feet stay on the ground now that she has (kind of) reached the big time?

What 24-year-old does not dream of a secure job and an all-expenses paid living situation in NYC? With a very generous allowance? Savannah’s step up from life in South Carolina (struggling to make ends meet with her mom, not finding her dream job) sounds like a Cinderella story, until you factor in that the source of all this glitz and glamour is the deceased father she never knew about. Plus the family he had in New York — a sister, brother, and wife — are anything less than welcoming. In fact, they are downright villainous.

Rosenthal’s New Money provides one of those experiences where you hope the main character does not change because of her newfound journey on the wealthy side. But inevitably, she does. For better and for worse. She may be employed but she has to dodge many unpleasant bullets from her jealous “siblings”; she may finally understand what it’s like to have the opportunities her best friend, Tina, has but it doesn’t necessarily make them closer. Then there’s the cute bartender who makes her feel amazing (in more ways than one) and could also be the key to keeping her grounded. But preconceived notion of “two classes” mixing and other good-looking distractions cause some more trife.

Savannah is definitely a spitfire; there were so many times I admired her chutzpah but there were others where I desperately wanted to shake her and tell her to remember where she came from. (Oh, and keep your apartment clean, please.) I appreciated Rosenthal creating a character who makes so many mistakes; it definitely sped up the pace of the novel because I kept wondering if she could clean up her messes, would she stay in New York, and will she just get over herself already.

New Money is so much about that in-between time in your life when so much is undecided and having the guts to make a move even if it’s totally crazy and unprecedented. The author threw in so many “oh-man” curveballs that I was definitely talking to myself when I was reading it. (The drama is insane.) I loved seeing New York City through the eyes of a newbie, and Rosenthal truly succeeds with bringing depth to her supporting cast. Every single one of them was so well-developed; I felt like I knew them as well as I did Savannah.

I cannot wait to see the mayhem that unfolds in book 2.

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A Chat with LZR

author Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

Image Source: Lorraine’s Blog

1. NEW MONEY is billed as women’s fiction and New Adult. The main character is 24-years old and out of college, trying to figure out her future. I loved this focus. So many NA books are all about sex or a bad boy and this one is really about a young girl making her way. Have you read a lot of NA? What influenced you to go in this direction?

First of all—thank you so much! I’m glad you enjoyed NEW MONEY’s focus.

I always want to challenge myself and write different types of stories. I haven’t read a great deal of New Adult—which is a relatively new marketing category—but I do like the age range that it encompasses, as there are so many issues for characters to confront when they step into the adult world. The NA genre (as you stated) seems to be mostly sex/romance focused, and NEW MONEY isn’t—that is why it’s billed as Women’s Fiction with a New Adult protagonist. Savannah is in that NA age range—and there definitely is romance in the novel—but this is only part of the story. Savannah also deals with the typical issues of being a twenty-something: finding a job/career, adjusting to the workplace, being away from home/family, dealing with evolving friendships, and figuring out who she wants to become.

2. I absolutely loved your YA debut, OTHER WORDS FOR LOVE. It’s one of my favorite books. While it does deal with heartbreak, the book was more about these three generations of women (mom, sister, main character) making their way. What was the biggest difference in the transition of writing YA to writing adult fiction?

Thanks again for your kind words! You are right that although OTHER WORDS FOR LOVE is about the breakup of a teenage girl (Ari Mitchell)’s first intimate relationship, the story deals with so much more—Ari’s family dynamics, her depression, and her ultimate discovery of her self-worth. When I wrote OTHER WORDS FOR LOVE, I wasn’t strictly targeting a teen audience. I believed that both YA and adult readers could relate to the story—and based on the feedback I have received from readers of many ages, this is true. The adult characters in that novel—including (as you mentioned) Ari’s mother and twenty-three-year-old sister—play a major role in the novel and have their own back-stories. Some aspects of OTHER WORDS FOR LOVE are specific to the teen years, and others aren’t.

Because OTHER WORDS FOR LOVE is a mature YA novel, I didn’t find writing adult fiction to be particularly different; however, the major difference between the two novels is that OTHER WORDS FOR LOVE is rather literary in style—character-driven, often serious, and quite introspective. That story unfolds slowly, and a great deal of it deals with Ari’s deepest thoughts. Although NEW MONEY also has complex characters and emotional resonance, it is a more of a commercial work that is fast-moving and generally lighthearted. So the biggest transition was writing in a different style—but I really enjoyed it. I think it’s important for an author to be versatile and to constantly challenge herself.

3. Savannah definitely has a fiery personality. I adored that about her. But wow, did she make a lot of silly decisions. Are you worried readers might have trouble connecting with Savannah because she is so flawed? (Even if her moves are totally something we might do.)

When I create characters, I always give them positive and negative qualities—because all people have good and not-so-good personality traits. This is how fictitious characters become realistic and relatable. In NEW MONEY, Savannah is thrust into a situation that is amazingly fortunate but also very stressful, problematic, and even dangerous. She has to move from Charleston to Manhattan—where she has never been before—and is forced to interact with people who dislike her (through no fault of her own), constantly look down on her, and do everything they can to get rid of her. These people and their values are foreign to Savannah, so she struggles to understand them and to navigate their world. She has to fight to survive. She is out of her element and therefore doesn’t always know which way to turn or how to make the right decisions, but she genuinely means well. She is down-to-earth and kind at heart, and she is also quite compassionate and generous with her newfound wealth. Although readers perceive characters in their own unique way, I think that most will connect with Savannah. She is a good person who isn’t perfect, doing the best she can in a complicated situation. Additionally, although some of Savannah’s choices don’t work out well, they can be filed under the “it seemed like a good idea at the time” category. I think everyone can relate to that!

4. Have you spent a lot of time in Savannah’s hometown? What kind of research did you do for NEW MONEY?

I have visited Charleston, and I also researched its history, landmarks, culture, etc.  

5. Some of the supporting characters in NEW MONEY were truly villainous. I was yelling “oh man!” a lot while reading because I almost couldn’t believe how dirty they played. What was your inspiration for creating these characters so that they weren’t only devious but kind of showed a human side too?

I agree that many of the characters behave in a villainous way. Some are subtle about it, and others are quite blatant—especially Savannah’s half-siblings, Ned and Caroline. These characters deliberately come on strong as soon as they meet Savannah, because they are hoping to scare her away. Her newly-discovered existence has disrupted their lives, they believe she has cheated them out of what is rightfully theirs, and they want her to disappear. They are truly arrogant and condescending—which comes from a lifetime of privilege—but they crank up their superior attitudes to intimidate Savannah. There are, however, many things behind their façades—such as anger, disappointment, insecurity, sadness, and a lot of pain. This is their human side, which they want to hide from Savannah…but she eventually finds it.

While creating these characters, I viewed them in the same way I see all of my characters—as complex people with positive and negative traits. Like Ned and Caroline, other characters who are antagonistic toward Savannah also have reasons for their hostility. Sometimes Savannah has to look closely to find these reasons, but they are there! Even Fabian—the sleazy celebrity-gossip blogger—has a painful past that causes him to act the way he does. Like real people, these characters are the products of their experiences.  

6. Okay, I need the dirt. What can we expect in book 2 of this series? (Is it only going to be 2 books?) More of Savannah’s time in NYC? Focus on another character? I must know!

Currently, the series is just two books. Regarding the storyline for the sequel, I can’t reveal that top-secret information! But I can tell you that the second book will be filled with twists and turns just like the first.

Bonus: favorite snack while writing? Chocolate, of course!


Big thanks to Lorraine for taking the time to answer these questions.
Wishing you lots of luck with New Money!


Estelle’s Shelve It (Friday Edition): 5/31/2013

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

I CANNOT believe that tomorrow is June 1. Where oh where is this year going?

Hope you guys are keeping cool and gearing up for a fun weekend! It’s been so fun meeting book bloggers who are here in NYC for BEA. Like a complete whirlwind of a week actually. I’ll be so sad to see everyone go 🙁 Before I chat about some of the books I received during BEA events in the past few days (eee! I am excited about them), I did want to highlight a few others I’ve been hoarding first. Hence my v-log featuring new glasses and one of my favorite dresses.

Enjoy this Shelve It!!

(I hope my AC is not too loud.)

For review:

New Money by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal (releases 9/10/2013)
Skinny Bitch in Love by Kim Barnouin (releases 6/4/2013)
Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil


The Star Attraction by Alison Sweeney


(Thanks to Cassie from Books with Cass!)

Criminal by Terra Elan McVoy
Beautiful Ruins by Jessica Walter
How Zoe Made Her Dreams Come True by Sarah Strohmeyer


On the blog this week:

Review: cowboys and romance in Big Sky Summer by Linda Lael Miller
Review: the reality of reality TV in You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle
Review: bad girl, good guy in Dare You To by Katie McGarry
Memorial Day: two books you must read soon.

(Psst. I answered questions from Cassie of Books with Cass + Tara from Hobbitsies! Thanks ladies!)


Have a brilliant weekend!! Thanks for stopping in!