Young Adult Books For Book Club

by Ashley Owens

Happy almost Friday fellow bookworms! I am following through on a promise to make a blog post a series… can you believe?!

In a recent post, I discussed some Adult Fiction recommendations for book clubs. Today I’d like to continue the book club recommendations by telling you about some YA books I think would be great picks for a book club!
The great thing about YA is that it’s often more accessible and readable for people because the main characters are younger. This is really important in book clubs, because not everyone reads avidly, so it’s a great way to get someone back into the “flow” of reading, or pique their interest in books & book clubs for the first time ever.


Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Seanz

There’s no way I was going to make a list of great ya books and not include this one – it’s literally my favorite ya book of all-time… I read it once a year.
Precious cinnamon rolls Aristotle Mendoza and Dante Quintana are both high-school-aged Mexican-American boys who aren’t very good at making friends. Then they find each other at the community pool one summer, and as they come of age together they also develop a beautiful relationship.
Both of these boys are absolutely precious and their story is GORGEOUS. They both have this tendency to think the worst of themselves and be inside their own heads too much, though Ari to a greater extent. There’s so much to parse out and discuss about their family relationships, the discovery of their identities, culture, and the feelings they have. Seriously, I get emotional every time I read this book and find something new to love about this it.

The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley

It’s queer. It’s a retelling of Beowulf. It’s got themes of feminism. It was clearly written for me specifically.

This novel has wells upon wells of interesting plot points, character choices, and social commentary to draw on for a book club discussion. It will keep you guessing and interested, and I guarantee everyone will be asking each other about their interpretations of the book’s series of events. It’s a wild ride of a book, and one written unlike most other ya novels out there. If you choose this book for your book club, please talk about the author’s use of language, because it is exquisite!

Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Shocking – a Gayle Forman book on another YA list of mine! I will never forget my experience reading this book; I literally cried when I finished it because I was sad it was over and knew I’d never read another like it. It changed my life.
While the title of this book suggest it’s about one day only, the main character’s story actually takes place over the course of a whole year. After meeting Willem in France and spending an adventurous day together, Allison goes home to the US and finds herself dissatisfied with her life and herself. She embarks on a serious journey of change and self-discovery, and it’s honestly inspiring.
I wasn’t in a book club at the time I read this, but I found myself wanting to talk about the topics this book brought up with anyone I could. It really made me think about finding “value” in life and how/when we know we’re in love, and so many other deep thoughts & feelings. These kinds of topics lend themselves super well to a book club.

Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake

This book is me; it is my heart and soul. It’s like the author was speaking to/thinking of me directly as she wrote the story.
It’s a hard-hitting YA book about a girl whose brother rapes her best friend, leaving her to face some difficult realities, made all the more difficult by the fact that she is a survivor of sexual assault herself. It has queer representation in it, which is outstanding. And the writing itself is thoughtful but doesn’t shy away from the difficult. There’s so much empathy and care in the story, it’s absolutely breathtaking. I 100% recommend everyone read it, even if you don’t read it for book club specifically.

They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera

Really any Adam Silvera book could be on this list. Just know that if you choose to pick one of his books up, you absolutely will cry during your reading of it.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

I do believe this book has been on the NY Times bestseller list for over a year and a half now… which has to be a record.
This is such an important book, and handles the topic of the Black Lives Matters movement with intelligence, care, and passion. It’s also an accessible reading experience that remains honest, because the author can speak about it with honesty and from a place of experience.
It’s well written and makes for some deep conversation. Deep and important.

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes

It would appear that this book has flown completely under the radar; I have no idea why more people aren’t reading it!
In this novel, Minnow Bly is arrested for attempted murder after escaping from a religious cult. Oh, and she has no hands.
This is an absolutely original and riveting story. It’s surprisingly large, but doesn’t read that way. Seeing things through Minnow’s point of view really forces readers to be sympathetic and open. Her journey and the way she learns about what the world is really like is absolutely fascinating.


Check out more by Sparky here: http://wp.sparkylovesbooks.com/

New Book Releases :: September 10th, 2019

by Sean Frankel

These are all the new releases for September 10th! #titletuesday

We are super excited about the brand new Margaret Atwood book! Can’t wait to dive in to it!


The New Releases
A Treason of Thorns by Laura E Weymouth – YA
Akin by Emma Donaghue – Lit. Fiction
As the Light Fades by Catherine West – Fiction
At Death’s Door by Sherrilyn Kenyon – Paranormal Romance
Boundless by R A Salvatore – Fantasy
Claiming Sarah by Susan Stoker – Romance
Frankly in Love by David Yoon – YA
Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir – Sci Fi
Gun Island by Amitav Ghosh – Lit. Fiction
Killer Instinct by James Patterson – Thriller
Life Is Short and Then You Die by Kelly Armstrong – YA
Lost and Found by Orson Scott Card – YA
Strands of Truth by Colleen Coble – Romance
The Ascent by Edward Brody – Fantasy
The Bitterest Pill by Robert B. Parker – Thriller
The Deception by Kat Martin – Romance
The Divers’ Game by Jesse Ball – Sci Fi
The Dog Who Lost His Bark by Eoin Colfer – Kids
The Fifth Column by Andrew Gross – Thriller
The Institute by Stephen King – Horror
The Last Train to London by Meg Waite Clayton – Historical
The Minor Third by Neil Patrick Harris – Kids
The Nanny by Gilly MacMillan – Mystery
The Nobodies by Liza Palmer – Fiction
The Second Chance Supper Club by Nicole Meier – Fiction
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow – Fantasy
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood – Sci Fi
The Titanic Secret by Clive Cussler – Thriller
The Vanished Bride by Bella Ellis – Historical Mystery
Where the Light Enters by Sarah Donati – Historical

Adult Fiction Books for Book Clubs

by Ashley Owens

Hello all… It’s been a minute since I’ve posted, but summer will do that to you! Life has been full of weekend trips, family events, spending time with partners & friends, and also a very taxing 6-week work training. To say that I’m tired would be an understatement!

One of the constants in my busy schedule (besides changing diapers) is my bookclub. Every month some of my very closest friends gather and drink (more drinking than talking about books, if I’m being honest) and it is such a nice gathering and that always fills up my little bookworm heart with goodness. I’m not the only one who chooses the books though – every member sends me 2 suggestions, and I draw randomly from a bowl to pick what we will be reading! When possible, I try to make a drink, food, or dessert that is themed to the book choice, because I’m a nerd like that.

Given how obsessed I am with books, I thought I would share some recommendations for book club picks in case you ever want to start your own club! I’m going to make this a short “series” of blog posts on here, and today I’m going to focus on adult fiction literature.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

It feels fitting that the first book on my list is one I’ve actually read for book club specifically. “Evelyn Hugo” is pretty much all over the book world right now, and rightly so. It’s easily my favorite read of the year, and instantly after reading it I knew it was in my all-time favorites list.

This book tells the story of Evelyn Hugo; an Elizabeth Taylor type old-time Hollywood actress who was very famous and full of rumors. Set in alternating timelines, the first being present day with Evelyn telling her story

to an aspiring journalist and the other back in time to the actual events she’s revealing, her story has so many layers and surprises to it and is absolutely fascinating.

In my experience, our club held one of its best and longest discussions on this book over any others. There were so many ways to feel about Evelyn and those around her, her choices, and her story.


Beartown by Fredrick Backman

This one is also in my favorite books of this year! It left me speechless and went places I was absolutely not expecting.

This novel centers around the tiny, rural town of Beartown in Canada; a town that would not survive without Hockey. But when a horrible act is committed, the town is divided and chooses sides. There are more points of view in this book than I can count, which completely fits the story given that it’s point is to really investigate the nature of the individuals of the town, and therefore the town as a whole.

I think this would make a great book club pick because while yes it centers around a controversy, it forces people to think about their true nature and maybe face some uncomfortable questions.


On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan

This was also a recent pick for my book club! Which I was over the moon about because Ian McEwan is hands down one of my all-time favorite authors.


Honestly, this book is so unique and I’m unlikely to forget it anytime soon. The entire thing technically takes place in the course of maybe 4 hours (if that), and centers on a very much newleywed couple as they spend their first night together post-wedding. But because of a series of flashbacks to give context, everything is really fleshed out despite being short.

Most people in my club were happy it was short, and thought the length was the right fit for the story. It lends itself super easily to discussions for bookclub, not just around the structure of the novel (novella?), but on the implications of every little detail given.


Cleopatra’s Daughter by Michelle Moran

With all of the interest that readers seem to have lately in retellings or re-imaginings of myths & fairy tales, you would think more people would know about this book. But I don’t know a single other person who has read it!

The title says it all honestly – this book is about the life of Cleopatra’s daughter, Cleopatra Selene, immediately after her mother commits suicide and she is taken to Rome by Caesar.

I went into this with literally no expectations –

I listened to it on audiobook because it was available at my library and I have a deep interest in Ancient History – and ended up being completely enamored with and invested in it. I found myself making excuses to be in the car more often to listen to it! I learned so very much as a result of it, too.

So little is known about Cleopatra and her family, that I think anyone who reads this can’t help but learn a lot as well. The sharing of things learned would make for a good book club discussion, as well as some discussions around Cleopatra II, since she was at such a formative age when her life was turned on its head.


Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

Yes yes, the movie adaptation of this book is being released soon. But do yourself a favor and read it before you see it, okay?

This one is kind of hard to describe: told from the point of view of her daughter, Bee (as well as random other emails, postcards, newspaper articles, etc.), this book is about the circumstances surrounding Bernadette Fox’s disappearance.

It’s hilarious, crazy, kind of mysterious, and so completely original…

there would seriously be so much to talk about for a book club… even just about Bernadette herself, who is so eccentric! The book definitely matches the personality of both Bee & Bernadette.


Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

I will keep this one simple, because Margaret Atwood is obviously a master at her craft: this is a retelling of the Shakespeare play The Tempest, and is absolutely a feat of creativity, attention to detail, and writing.


Moloka’i by Alan Brennert

Prepare yourself if you choose to read this one; it’s heavy. Both because it’s so freaking long and the actual content.

A part of history often not talked about in schools, Moloka’i is about the life of Rachel, a Hawaiian born in the early 1900’s who contracts lepracy and is sent to the leper colony of Moloka’i. The book is about her entire life, from when she is sent away, all the way to her last days. Seriously, it’s not an upper.

If your book club doesn’t mind a longer read, this is totally worth it, though

It’s chalk-full of history, questions of morality and mortality, and the exploration of culture and identity.


Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

The last book on this list that I actually read for book club! And I read a signed copy of it that I got when I went to a conference for the store I used to work at, so this book club meeting meant a lot to me when it happened!

It doesn’t sound like much at first – a novel that takes places in Iceland about the last woman to be hung to death – but there is SO MUCH to unpack in this story. It’s fascinating and intricate and so freaking well-written! The author was only like 22 when she wrote it, which I find completely inspiring.


The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

When it comes to Adult Historical Fiction about WWII, most people would suggest either “The Nightingale” or “All the Light We Cannot See.” I’m here to tell you that there are SO MANY OTHER OPTIONS. Yes those 2 books are stunning, but I’d like to highlight a lesser-known one.

In my opinion, this is Jodi Picoult’s best novel. Her writing is much more sophisticated in it and the story itself is thoughtful and different for her. It’s just so impressive, and actually kinda long!

“The Storyteller” follows the journey of a very meek young lady named Sage, who is asked by a beloved elderly man if she will kill him. When she asks why, he confesses that he was a Nazi and deserves to confess and die.
Needless to say, this story is thought-provoking and gripping, and definitely lends itself well to a book club.


Check out her website here: http://wp.sparkylovesbooks.com/

New Book Releases :: August 13th, 2019

by Sean Frankel

We have a whole lot of amazing books that got released today! #titletuesday


Below are some of the choices we think our community of readers will love!



The New Releases;
Ash & Ambition by Ari Marmell – Fantasy
Bad Apple by Elle Kennedy – Romance
Blood Truth by J R Ward – Romance
Bound by Aleatha Romig – Paranormal Romance
Bright Star by Erin Swan – Young Adult Fantasy
Contraband by Stuart Woods – Mystery Thriller
Earth: Giants, Golems, & Gargoyles by Rhonda Parrish – Fantasy
For Whom the Ball Rolls (Dog Man) by Dav Pilkey – Kids Graphic Novel
I Heart Oklahoma! by Roy Scranton – Fiction
Inland by Tea Obreht – Lit. Fiction
Land of Last Chances by Joan Cohen – Fiction
Once a Land Girl by Angela Huth – Lit. Fiction
Playing For Keeps by Kendall Ryan – Romance
Seven Letters of Love by Sinead Moriarty – Lit. Fiction
Shrouded Loyalties by Reese Hogan – Sci Fi
State of Lies by Siri Mitchell – Paranormal Romance
Stay by Bobbie Pyron – Children’s Fiction
The Accidentals by Minrose Gwin – Lit. Fiction
The Bitterroots by C J Box – Western Thriller
The Catholic School by Edorado Albinati – Lit. Fiction
The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall – Fiction
The Doll Factory by Elizabeth MacNeal – Mystery
The Fire Blossom – Sarah Lark – Romance
The Hidden Things by Jamie Mason – Mystery
The Last Good Guy by T Jefferson Parker – Thriller
The Last Hope by Krista and Becca Ritchie – Young Adult
The Mage-Fire War by L E Modesitt Jr. – Fantasy
The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa – Sci Fi
The Oysterville Sewing Circle by Susan Wiggs – Romance
The Perfect Son by Lauren North – Mystery
The Russia Account by Stephen Coonts – Thriller
The Spirit Binds by DK Holmberg – Fantasy
The Swallows by Lisa Lutz – Mystery
The Warning by James Patterson – Thriller
The Winemaker’s Wife by Kristin Harmel – Mystery
Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center – Fiction
Thirteen by Eddie Cavanagh – Mystery
Truly Mine by Kennedy Fox – Romance
Witch King by Nick Harrow – Fantasy


What we put on our TBR

We saw some fantastic books be released today and we want to share what we are putting on our TBR…

seven letters of love by sinead moriarty

This book is going to be a heart-wrencher that will help you empty your tissue box. It showers the reader with realities that occur everyday that turn someones life upside down. But the golden question asked… How does a family live without its heart?


Witch King by Nick Harrow

A vile plague grows rampant in the the story of a young shaman. He goes on a quest to purge this infection from the lands and with his trusty club must succeed or see to the demise of of the land as he knows it. A story of heroism that features a headstrong protagonist with crazy amounts of action, which; amounts to every fantasy readers dream.


New Book Releases August 6th, 2019

by Sean Frankel


These are the popular new releases August 6th, 2019. #titletuesday

Make sure to share with us what your favorite new releases are!

What we are reading right off the bat is “Dare Me Tonight” by Carly Phillips, “The Birthday Girl” by Melissa De La Cruz, and “House of Salt and Sorrows” by Erin A. Craig.



The New Releases;
A Crash of Fate by Zoraida Córdova – Sci-Fi 
A Dangerous Man by Robert Crais – Mystery
A Dress for the Wicked by Autumn Krause – Young Adult
A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying by Kelley Armstrong – Children’s Fiction
All the Water in the World by Karen Raney – General Fiction
Caging Skies by Christine Leunens – Lit. Fiction
Careful What You Wish For by Hallie Ephron – Mystery
City of Windows by Robert Pobi – Mystery
Cry Pilot by Joel Dane – Sci Fi
Dare Me Tonight by Carly Phillips – Romance
Devlin by Barbara Freethy – Romance
Here There Are Monsters by Amelinda Berube – Young Adult
Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton – General Fiction
House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A Craig – Young Adult
Hunter’s Moon by Phillip Caputo – Lit. Fiction
I Know Everything by Matthew Farrell – Mystery
I’m Not Dying with You Tonight by Gilly Segal – Young Adult
Keeping Lucy by T Greenwood – Lit. Fiction
Life and Other Inconveniences by Kristin Higgins – General Fiction
One Year Home by Marie Force – Romance 
Outfox by Sandra Brown – Romantic Suspense
Say You Still Love Me by K A Tucker – Romance
Sea Witch Rising by Sarah Henning – Young Adult
The Birthday Girl by Meliessa De La Cruz – Mystery
The Dragon Republic by R F Kuang – Fantasy
The Gossamer Mage by Julie E. Czernada 
The Inn by Candice Fox and James Patterson – Mystery
The Perfect Wife by J P Delaney – Mystery
The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai – Romance
The S.Q.U.A.D. by Melissa De La Cruz – Children’s Fiction
The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware – Mystery
The Women of the Copper Country by Mary Doria Russel – Mystery
Vow of Thieves by Mary E Pearson – Young Adult
We Are All Good People Here by Susan Rebecca White – Lit. Fiction
Witchy Kingdom by D J Butlet – Fantasy

Road Trip Reading Recommendations

By Ashley Owens

‘Tis the season to go traveling!

Guess who finally took a vacation! That’s right – my partner, our little one, and I went up to the Washington mountains in the Pacific Northwest for over a week! We went to the beach, did some book shopping, hit a couple of breweries, went hiking multiple times, and also just relaxed & did nothing in the family house! My daughter discovered her love of the beach, and macaroni & cheese. It was a beautiful time.

Because I’m a bookworm, and also because I’m hecka extra, I packed 6 books AND my kindle. We drove up to Washington from California – a 12 hour drive in total – but split it over 2 days and stayed in Oregon on our way there and back. So I feel like I was totally justified in bringing all of those books! That’s a lot of time in the car! And that doesn’t even include all of our smaller trips when we were actually in Washington. Plus I’m a mood reader, so I like to have many options available to me while I’m away to make sure I have a good time while I’m reading.

This got me thinking though, about which books may be more conducive to road trip reading. So without further ado, here are some road trip reading recommendations!

Penryn and the End of Days series by Susan Ee

I have definitive proof that this trilogy is very much readable on a road trip; my best friend read ALL 3 BOOKS when we were driving home from Washington to California (yes, I clearly make this trip a lot). They’re short, gripping, full of action, all-consuming, and clearly totally addicting. And lots of the plot takes place on the road… albeit walking & hiking through a post-apocalyptic world, but still!

This series follows Penryn Young, a 17-year-old San Franciscan, as she tries to navigate the world that has suddenly come apart around her as a result of fallen angels feuding with each other. She’s a badass heroine, who also happens to be a super loyal older sister and falls (reluctantly) for one of the afore-mention fallen angels, named Raffe.

Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

This is another book that I can vouch for it’s road trip readability, as I read it on a road trip to Lake Tahoe in May! 2 months later and I am literally still thinking about this book every damn day. It’s a super cute, fun, quick read that still manages to hit you in the feels. The main characters talk like real people – something I feel like never happens in YA or NA books – which makes it relatable as heck. I laughed, I cried, what a time I had.

This book is about Alex and Henry, the first son of the US and the Prince of England respectively, in a sort of alternate reality where a female is the President of America. That’s right – it’s gay! (are you shocked) It features one of my all-time favorite tropes: the hate-to-love romance.

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Is it cheating to include a book about a road trip in this list? Even if it is, I don’t care because this book is the only road trip book I have ever actually liked.

This book is both cute and sad at times. It’s one of those Young Adult books that actually has substantive writing and characters. I liked the ways I got to know Amy and Roger, Roger in particular is so crush-worthy to me. The story’s pacing is one you can completely fall into and follow along with well. Amy is a very thoughtful character and that shows in the writing, but there are also these super adorable little “road trip” themed moments specifically that make this great for a car ride: playlists, grocery shopping lists, car games, etc.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

I would actually recommend this audiobook specifically for a road trip. The narrator is superb, and the silliness & adventure of the book comes across as this adventure story being told to you by a story-teller. It’s got everything; pirates, queer characters, science, robberies, smut. It’s amazing.

The Percy Jackson & the Olympians, The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan

Or really any of his books. They’re fantastic and like a slightly older Harry Potter but full of Greek mythology. Like, it’s my favorite series of all time, so I don’t know how else to sell you on them, but I guarantee you will be hooked.

Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger

Why are these books not more well-known?! They are a riot! And they have history and fantasy and steampunk and steamy times. They make for some amazing stories to get engrossed in and laugh out loud at, and just have a great time with it while stuck in the car.

My Lady Jane by Cythnia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows

Very similarly to “Gentleman’s Guide,” this book is surprisingly hilarious. I would also recommend this as an audiobook too! The absurdity of this book and the funny lines will keep you entertained on your road trip!

Blood For Blood trilogy by Catherine Doyle

This is the most addictive series I have ever read, without question. It’s basically Romeo & Juliet but with the Italian mafia in Chicago in modern days. Like, these books are ridiculously dramatic, and I LIVE for it. I guarantee you that you will not want to do anything but be consumed with these books when you read them! The love triangle alone is enough to engross you.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

So the first appealing thing about this book is that it’s short – so no matter how long your car ride is, you can probably finish it within the trip. Secondly, it’s FULL of plot twists… so to say that you will be hooked is an understatement And thirdly, just holy cow is this a page turner!


To find more blogs and articles from Ashley Owens visit her website;
http://wp.sparkylovesbooks.com/