Bachelorette Nation: Here are 15 romance books we’d give our roses to

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Nope, not Christmas or Thanksgiving — a new season of The Bachelorette is upon us! I am so ready to dive deep into Michelle Young’s journey for love, and it’s also the perfect excuse to break out some swoon-worthy romance books. Want to find the perfect read worthy of your rose? We’ve got you covered!

If the Shoe Fits by Julie Murphy

With a shiny new design degree but no job in sight, Cindy moves back in with her stepmother, the executive producer of the world’s biggest dating reality show. When a contestant on Before Midnight bows out at the last minute, Cindy is thrust into the spotlight. But being the first and only plus-size contestant on Before Midnight turns her into a viral sensation — and a body-positivity icon — overnight. To make it to the end, despite the fans, the haters, and a house full of fellow contestants she’s not sure she can trust, Cindy will have to take a leap of faith and hope her heels — and her heart — don’t break in the process.

The Charm Offensive by Allison Cochrun

Dev Deshpande has always believed in fairy tales. So it’s no wonder then that he’s spent his career crafting them on the long-running reality dating show Ever After. Dev always scripts the perfect love story for his contestants, even as his own love life crashes and burns. But then the show casts disgraced tech wunderkind Charlie Winshaw as its star. He doesn’t believe in true love, and only agreed to the show as a last-ditch effort to rehabilitate his image. As Dev fights to get Charlie to connect with the contestants, they begin to open up to each other, and Charlie realizes he has better chemistry with Dev than with any of his female co-stars. But even reality TV has a script, and in order to find to happily ever after, they’ll have to reconsider whose love story gets told.

Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert

Eve Brown is a certified hot mess. When her personal brand of chaos ruins an expensive wedding, her parents draw the line. It’s time for Eve to grow up and prove herself — even though she’s not entirely sure how. Jacob Wayne is in control. Always. The bed and breakfast owner’s on a mission to dominate the hospitality industry and he expects nothing less than perfection. So when a purple-haired tornado of a woman turns up out of the blue to interview for his open chef position, he tells her the brutal truth: not a chance in hell. Then she hits him with her car — supposedly by accident. Yeah, right. Now his arm is broken, his B&B is understaffed, and the dangerously unpredictable Eve is fluttering around, trying to help. Like Eve, the heat between them is impossible to ignore… and it’s melting Jacob’s frosty exterior.

One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London

Bea Schumacher is a devastatingly stylish plus-size fashion blogger who has amazing friends, a devoted family, legions of Insta followers — and a massively broken heart. Like the rest of America, Bea indulges in her weekly obsession: the hit reality show Main Squeeze.But Bea is sick and tired of the lack of body diversity on the show. Since when is being a size zero a prerequisite for getting engaged on television? Just when Bea has sworn off dating altogether, she gets a call from Main Squeeze, who wants her to be its next star, surrounded by men vying for her affections. Bea agrees, on one condition: Under no circumstances will she actually fall in love. But when the cameras start rolling, Bea realizes things are more complicated than she anticipated. Bea has to decide whether it might just be worth trusting these men — and herself — for a chance to live happily ever after.

Beard Science by Penny Reid

Make a deal with the devil and you might get what you want, but will it be what you need? Jennifer Sylvester wants one thing, and that one thing is NOT to be Tennessee’s reigning Banana Cake Queen. Ever the perpetual good girl and obedient daughter, Jennifer is buckling under the weight of her social media celebrity, her mother’s ambitions, and her father’s puritanical mandates. Jennifer is officially desperate. And desperate times call for Cletus Winston. Cletus Winston is a puzzle wrapped in a mystery covered in conundrum sauce, and now he’s in a pickle. Despite being convinced of his own omniscience, extortion by the exalted Banana Cake Queen of Green Valley has taken him completely by surprise. So… what’s a maniacal mastermind to do? Likely, the last thing you expect.

A World Between by Emily Hashimoto

In 2004, college students Eleanor Suzuki and Leena Shah meet in an elevator. Both girls are on the brink of adulthood, each full of possibility and big ideas, and they fall into a whirlwind romance. Years later, Eleanor and Leena collide on the streets of San Francisco. Although grown and changed and each separately partnered, the two find themselves, once again, irresistibly pulled back together. Narrated in sparkling prose, A World Between follows two strikingly different but interconnected women as they navigate family, female friendship, and their own fraught history.

My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren

Millie Morris has always been one of the guys. A UC Santa Barbara professor, she’s a female-serial-killer expert who’s quick with a deflection joke and terrible at getting personal. And she, just like her four best guy friends and fellow professors, is perma-single. So when a routine university function turns into a black tie gala, Mille and her circle make a pact that they’ll join an online dating service to find plus-ones for the event. While the guys are inundated with quality matches and potential dates, Millie’s first profile attempt garners nothing but dick pics and creepers. Enter “Catherine” — Millie’s fictional profile persona. Soon “Catherine” and Millie’s best friend Reid strike up a digital pen-pal-ship…but Millie can’t resist temptation in real life, either. Soon, she’ll have to face her worst fear — intimacy — or risk losing her best friend, forever.

Beach Read by Emily Henry

Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast. They’re polar opposites.The only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block. Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.

The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang

When violinist Anna Sun accidentally achieves career success with a viral YouTube video, she finds herself incapacitated and burned out from her attempts to replicate that moment. And when her longtime boyfriend announces he wants an open relationship before making a final commitment, a hurt and angry Anna decides that if he wants an open relationship, then she does, too. That’s where tattooed, motorcycle-riding Quan Diep comes in. But being with Quan is more than sex — he accepts Anna on an unconditional level that she herself has just started to understand. However, when tragedy strikes Anna’s family she takes on a role that she is ill-suited for, until the burden of expectations threatens to destroy her. Anna and Quan have to fight for their chance at love, but to do that, they also have to fight for themselves.

The Dating Playbook by Farah Rochon

When it comes to personal training, Taylor Powell kicks serious butt. Unfortunately, her bills are piling up, rent is due, and the money situation is dire. Taylor needs more than the support of her new best friends, Samiah and London. She needs a miracle. And Jamar Dixon might just be it. The oh-so-fine former footballer wants back into the NFL, and he wants Taylor to train him. There’s just one catch — no one can know what they’re doing. But when they’re accidentally outed as a couple, Taylor’s game plan is turned completely upside down. Is Jamar just playing to win . . . or is he playing for keeps?

The Roommate by Rosie Danan

Clara Wheaton is the consummate socialite: over-achieving, well-mannered, predictable. But when Clara’s childhood crush invites her to move cross-country, the offer is too tempting to resist. Unfortunately, it’s also too good to be true. After a bait-and-switch, Clara finds herself sharing a lease with a charming stranger. Josh might be a bit too perceptive for comfort, but there’s a good chance he and Clara could have survived sharing a summer sublet if she hadn’t looked him up on the Internet…His professional prowess inspires her to take tackling the stigma against female desire into her own hands. They may not agree on much, but Josh and Clara both believe women deserve better sex. What they decide to do about it will change both of their lives, and if they’re lucky, they’ll help everyone else get lucky too.

You Had Me At Hola by Alexis Daria

After a messy public breakup, soap opera darling Jasmine Lin Rodriguez finds her face splashed across the tabloids. When she returns to her hometown of NY to film the starring role in a bilingual rom-com, Jasmine figures her new “Leading Lady Plan” should be easy enough to follow — until a casting shake-up pairs her with telenovela hunk Ashton Suárez. After his last telenovela character was killed off, Ashton is worried his career is dead as well. With their careers on the line, Jasmine and Ashton agree to rehearse in private. But rehearsal leads to kissing, and kissing leads to a behind-the-scenes romance worthy of a soap opera. While their on-screen performance improves, the media spotlight on Jasmine soon threatens to destroy her new image and expose Ashton’s most closely guarded secret.

Recommended for You by Laura Silverman

Shoshanna Greenberg loves working at Once Upon, her favorite local bookstore. And with her moms fighting at home and her beloved car teetering on the brink of death, the store has become a welcome escape. When her boss announces a holiday bonus to the person who sells the most books, Shoshanna sees an opportunity to at least fix her car, if none of her other problems. The only person standing in her way? New hire Jake Kaplan. Jake is an affront to everything Shoshanna stands for. He doesn’t even read! But somehow his sales start to rival hers. As the competition intensifies, Jake and Shoshanna grow closer and realize they might be more on the same page than either expects…

The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa

A wedding planner left at the altar? Yeah, the irony isn’t lost on Carolina Santos, either. But despite that embarrassing blip from her past, Lina’s offered an opportunity that could change her life. There’s just one hitch… she has to collaborate with the best (make that worst) man from her own failed nuptials. Marketing expert Max Hartley is determined to make his mark with a coveted hotel client looking to expand its brand. Then he learns he’ll be working with his brother’s whip-smart, stunning ex-fiance. Max has been public enemy number one ever since he encouraged his brother to jilt the bride, and Lina’s ready to dish out a little payback of her own. Soon Lina and Max discover animosity may not be the only emotion creating sparks between them. Still, this star-crossed couple can never be more than temporary playmates because Lina isn’t interested in falling in love and Max refuses to play runner-up to his brother ever again…

It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey

Piper Bellinger is fashionable, influential, and her reputation as a wild child means the paparazzi are constantly on her heels. When her stepfather decides enough is enough, he cuts her off, sending Piper and her sister to learn some responsibility running their late father’s dive bar… in Washington. Piper hasn’t even been in Westport for five minutes when she meets big, bearded sea captain Brendan, who thinks she won’t last a week outside of Beverly Hills. She’s determined to show her stepfather — and the hot, grumpy local — that she’s more than a pretty face. Except it’s a small town and everywhere she turns, she bumps into Brendan. The two are polar opposites, but there’s an undeniable attraction simmering between them. And as she reconnects with her past and begins to feel at home in Westport, Piper starts to wonder if the cold, glamorous life she knew is what she truly wants. LA is calling her name, but Brendan — and this town full of memories — may have already caught her heart.

Books Forward BFFs October Influencer Newsletter

Check out the latest newsletter for our Books Forward Friends. This issue features highlights of our BFFs, fun titles available for review, and special opportunities for our friends.

Download the October 2021 newsletter here!

Semi-spooky reads if you’re a wuss like me

I just can’t do horror books — I have tried. Much like with scary movies, I spend so much time hiding my eyes that I end up missing very important plot points. But it’s the spooky season and if you’re like me, you’ll want to read something witchy and magical. If you’re looking for some books that won’t leave you shaking in fear, try one of these stories!

Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno

Georgina Fernweh waits impatiently for the tingle of magic in her fingers–magic that has touched every woman in her family. But with her eighteenth birthday looming at the end of this summer, Georgina fears her gift will never come. Over the course of her last summer on the island–a summer of storms, falling in love, and the mystery behind one rare three-hundred-year-old bird–Georgina will learn the truth about magic, in all its many forms.

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

When Tea accidentally resurrects her brother, Fox, from the dead, she learns she is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy means that she’s a bone witch, a title that makes her feared and ostracized by her community. But Tea finds solace and guidance with an older, wiser bone witch, who takes Tea and her brother to another land for training. In her new home, Tea puts all her energy into becoming an asha–one who can wield elemental magic. But dark forces are approaching quickly, and in the face of danger, Tea will have to overcome her obstacles…and make a powerful choice.

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. A high school math genius, he’s secretly fascinated with a series of children’s fantasy novels set in a magical land called Fillory, and real life is disappointing by comparison. When Quentin is unexpectedly admitted to an elite, secret college of magic, it looks like his wildest dreams have come true. But his newfound powers lead him down a rabbit hole of hedonism and disillusionment, and ultimately to the dark secret behind the story of Fillory. The land of his childhood fantasies turns out to be much darker and more dangerous than he ever could have imagined.

We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry

In the town of Danvers, Massachusetts, home of the original 1692 witch trials, the 1989 Danvers Falcons will do anything to make it to the state finals–even if it means tapping into some devilishly dark powers. Against a background of irresistible 1980s iconography, Quan Barry expertly weaves together the individual and collective progress of this enchanted team as they storm their way through an unforgettable season. Helmed by good-girl captain Abby Putnam (a descendant of the infamous Salem accuser Ann Putnam) and her co-captain Jen Fiorenza (whose bleached blond “Claw” sees and knows all), the Falcons prove to be wily, original, and bold, flaunting society’s stale notions of femininity. Through the crucible of team sport and, more importantly, friendship, this comic tour de female force chronicles Barry’s glorious cast of characters as they charge past every obstacle on the path to finding their glorious true selves.

Bad Witch Burning by Jessica Lewis

Katrell can talk to the dead. And she wishes it made more money. She’s been able to support her unemployed mother–and Mom’s deadbeat-boyfriend-of-the-week–so far, but it isn’t enough. Money’s still tight, and to complicate things, Katrell has started to draw attention. Not from this world–from beyond. And it comes with a warning: STOP or there will be consequences. Katrell is willing to call the ghosts on their bluff; she has no choice. What do ghosts know of having sleep for dinner? But when her next summoning accidentally raises someone from the dead, Katrell realizes that a live body is worth a lot more than a dead apparition. And, warning or not, she has no intention of letting this lucrative new business go. Only magic isn’t free, and dark forces are coming to collect. Now Katrell faces a choice: resign herself to poverty, or confront the darkness before it’s too late.

These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling

Hannah’s a witch, but not the kind you’re thinking of. She’s the real deal, an Elemental with the power to control fire, earth, water, and air. But even though she lives in Salem, Massachusetts, her magic is a secret she has to keep to herself. If she’s ever caught using it in front of a Reg (read: non-witch), she could lose it. For good. So, Hannah spends most of her time avoiding her ex-girlfriend (and fellow Elemental Witch) Veronica, hanging out with her best friend, and working at the Fly by Night Cauldron selling candles and crystals to tourists, goths, and local Wiccans. But dealing with her ex is the least of Hannah’s concerns when a terrifying blood ritual interrupts the end-of-school-year bonfire. Evidence of dark magic begins to appear all over Salem, and Hannah’s sure it’s the work of a deadly Blood Witch. The issue is, her coven is less than convinced, forcing Hannah to team up with the last person she wants to see: Veronica.

The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling

Nine years ago, Vivienne Jones nursed her broken heart like any young witch would: vodka, weepy music, bubble baths…and a curse on the horrible boyfriend. Sure, Vivi knows she shouldn’t use her magic this way, but with only an “orchard hayride” scented candle on hand, she isn’t worried it will cause him anything more than a bad hair day or two. That is until Rhys Penhallow, descendent of the town’s ancestors, breaker of hearts, and annoyingly just as gorgeous as he always was, returns to Graves Glen, Georgia. What should be a quick trip to recharge the town’s ley lines and make an appearance at the annual fall festival turns disastrously wrong. With one calamity after another striking Rhys, Vivi realizes her silly little Ex Hex may not have been so harmless after all. Suddenly, Graves Glen is under attack from murderous wind-up toys, a pissed off ghost, and a talking cat with some interesting things to say. Vivi and Rhys have to ignore their off the charts chemistry to work together to save the town and find a way to break the break-up curse before it’s too late.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope. Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

For more than two hundred years, the Owens women have been blamed for everything that has gone wrong in their Massachusetts town. Gillian and Sally have endured that fate as well: as children, the sisters were forever outsiders, taunted, talked about, pointed at. Their elderly aunts almost seemed to encourage the whispers of witchery, with their musty house and their exotic concoctions and their crowd of black cats. But all Gillian and Sally wanted was to escape. One will do so by marrying, the other by running away. But the bonds they share will bring them back — almost as if by magic.

The Witch Haven by Sasha Peyton Smith

In 1911 New York City, seventeen-year-old Frances Hallowell spends her days as a seamstress, mourning the mysterious death of her brother months prior. Everything changes when she’s attacked and a man ends up dead at her feet–her scissors in his neck, and she can’t explain how they got there. Before she can be condemned as a murderess, two cape-wearing nurses arrive to inform her she is deathly ill and ordered to report to Haxahaven Sanitarium. But Frances finds Haxahaven isn’t a sanitarium at all: it’s a school for witches. Within Haxahaven’s glittering walls, Frances finds the sisterhood she craves, but the headmistress warns Frances that magic is dangerous. Frances has no interest in the small, safe magic of her school, and is instead enchanted by Finn, a boy with magic himself who appears in her dreams and tells her he can teach her all she’s been craving to learn, lessons that may bring her closer to discovering what truly happened to her brother.

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Sunny Nwazue lives in Nigeria, but she was born in New York City. Her features are West African, but she’s albino. She’s a terrific athlete, but can’t go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits in. And then she discovers something amazing–she is a free agent with latent magical power. And she has a lot of catching up to do. Soon she’s part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But as she’s finding her footing, Sunny and her friends are asked by the magical authorities to help track down a career criminal who knows magic, too. Will their training be enough to help them combat a threat whose powers greatly outnumber theirs?

The Nature of Witches by Rachel Griffin

For centuries, witches have maintained the climate, but now their control is faltering as the atmosphere becomes more erratic; the storms, more destructive. All hope lies with Clara, a once-in-a-generation Everwitch whose magic is tied to every season. In Autumn, Clara wants nothing to do with her power. It’s wild and volatile, and the price of her magic–losing the ones she loves–is too high, despite the need to control the increasingly dangerous weather. In Winter, the world is on the precipice of disaster. Fires burn, storms rage, and Clara accepts that she’s the only one who can make a difference. In Spring, she falls for Sang, the witch training her. As her magic grows, so do her feelings, until she’s terrified Sang will be the next one she loses. In Summer, Clara must choose between her power and her happiness, her duty and the people she loves…before she loses Sang, her magic, and thrusts the world into chaos.

Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston

Amari Peters has never stopped believing her missing brother, Quinton, is alive. Not even when the police told her otherwise, or when she got in trouble for standing up to bullies who said he was gone for good. So when she finds a ticking briefcase in his closet, containing a nomination for a summer tryout at the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs, she’s certain the secretive organization holds the key to locating Quinton–if only she can wrap her head around the idea of magicians, fairies, aliens, and other supernatural creatures all being real. Now she must compete for a spot against kids who’ve known about magic their whole lives. No matter how hard she tries, Amari can’t seem to escape their intense doubt and scrutiny–especially once her supernaturally enhanced talent is deemed “illegal.” With an evil magician threatening the supernatural world, and her own classmates thinking she’s an enemy, Amari has never felt more alone. But if she doesn’t stick it out and pass the tryouts, she may never find out what happened to Quinton.

Coffee with Gilmore Girls character book pairings

Fall is here, the leaves are changing colors, the pumpkin spice latte is back at Starbucks… you know what that means: it’s time to rewatch Gilmore girls. Get that flannel and backwards baseball hat out of storage and live your best life!

To celebrate this momentous time of year, we’re featuring our favorite Stars Hollow residents paired with a good book and their ideal cup of coffee coffee coffee!

Lorelai Gilmore

Book: People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry 

Coffee Order: Black

Would you really expect any less? She doesn’t want to dilute the coffee with any cream or sugar, she just wants it as strong as possible. And naturally she would pair it with a fan favorite, because she wants all of the romcom feels.

Rory Gilmore

Book: Beautiful Country by Qian Julie Wang

Coffee Order: Vanilla latte with almond milk and an extra shot of espresso

Ok hear me out, I know she drank a LOT of black coffee in the series, but there WERE times where she ordered a little something different at the coffee cart: proof that people can change! I believe fully that Rory 2.0 from A Year in the Life has evolved to arguably the MOST basic of coffee orders with the vanilla latte, almond milk because again, basic, and the extra shot as a homage to her roots in caffeine. While her order is basic, her reading is anything but. Rory would only pick the most stunning of novels and memoirs to line her bookshelf. And, of course it has to be current: she’s already read everything else!

Emily Gilmore

Book: The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

Coffee: No coffee for the queen, just Abigail’s Blend black tea from the finest tea emporium, Elmwood Fine Teas. A splash of cream and sugar; no more than necessary, but just enough to be high maintenance. 

Just because it’s National Coffee Day does NOT mean everyone on this roster subscribes to coffee… and Emily Gilmore certainly does not. She is a class act that drinks out of vintage tea cups, and nothing less. She’s sophisticated, but also tries to stay current with literature, which leads her to reading a classic author like Ann Patchett. She even ordered a signed copy from Parnassus Books, Ann’s bookstore.

Richard Gilmore

Queue the tears. I refuse not to include the patriarch of the Gilmore family. Though he is no longer with us, I believe he’s somewhere drinking scotch and reading yet another classic, Proust perhaps? All the love to our fallen friend.

Luke Danes

Book: Arriving Today by Christopher Mims

We all know this guy isn’t drinking coffee, but you better believe he’s making his signature Luke’s coffee for his customers. No pumpkin spice, maple harvest blends here, folks. Taylor Doose already tried, and failed at that. It’s more likely that after hours, Luke is having nitwit juice (a beer) and reading a book about consumerism and online shopping, and likely is getting pretty heated about it.

Lane Kim

Book: The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell

Coffee: Red Eye (brewed coffee with a shot of espresso) 

In classic Lane fashion, she’s drinking all of the caffeine to keep her energy up for that gig with the band later tonight. And, of course, what pairs better with a coffee buzz than the haunting jitters you feel when reading Lisa Jewell thrillers?! Lane reads EVERY novel from Lisa Jewell, and is obsessed with the twists and turns in each one. 

Paris Geller

Book: Reading? Paris isn’t reading. She’s writing her own biography. Not autobiography, no, a biography that she plans to publish under a pen name.
Coffee: Triple espresso

Even in her early days at Yale, Paris loved starting her mornings with a triple espresso. You will never find her having anything different.

Sookie St. James

Book: Seven Days in June by Tia Williams

Coffee: FINALLY, our pumpkin spice latte QUEEN! And you KNOW she can make the best ones herself. They are likely a fall favorite at the Dragonfly for all but Michel, who can only have milk with the blue cap.

Sookie wants to read all the steamy romance while drinking her PSL, and who can blame her? She loves a Reese’s Book Club pick, and she loves anything spicy. She’s heard a LOT of great things about it, and couldn’t wait to go buy a copy at the bookstore from Andrew. 

Kirk

Book: No books, just the Stars Hollow Gazette. He’s got to stay up on the town.

Coffee: Decaf only. The whole town is in on it. Anywhere he goes, no matter what blend he orders, Kirk is only given decaf.

How does a book publicity firm decide which authors to represent?

Many writers dream of publishing a book, but few realize that publishing is just the first step in a dynamic journey of getting your book in front of–and loved by–readers. Our book publicity firm Books Forward has represented more than 700 amazing authors during our 20 plus years in business, and a question I hear frequently is “How do you decide which authors you represent?”.

We are so lucky to hear from incredible authors every day interested in using our services. While we wish we could help everyone (seriously, I’d love to help every writer fulfill their biggest book dreams!), we have to be selective about the authors we represent for a number of reasons. And with thousands of books launching daily in the U.S. alone, I want to share our selection process with writers so they can make the smartest, best choices before querying publicists for representation.

Our team at Books Forward choose the authors we represent by asking ourselves the following questions:

First and foremost, are we excited about the book? As avid readers ourselves, we love great books, and we read a lot of them! Our team has diverse reading tastes, so we embrace a variety of genres and content, but across the board we are looking for books that pull us in and keep us hooked.

Do we see specific ways to promote this book to its target audience, and help it stand out among the competition? We want to help our authors reach as wide an audience as possible, but we also want to help them reach their specific target audiences–aka the readers who gravitate towards (and are engaged enough to buy) this specific type of literature. The better we understand a book’s target audience, the better we are able to help get that book into the hands of fans.

Does our team have experience in this genre? Can we bring our A-level expertise to this project? We always want to bring our best to every project. We’ve worked with all kinds of authors in almost every genre, and our publicists and digital strategists each specialize in different areas. We always consider if we are a strong match for a campaign, and if we’re not, we may refer authors to another firm. We’re always transparent about the best options for them and their books!

Will the author be a partner in publicity? We bring a vast amount of work and expertise to every campaign; however, publicity is a partnership. We are looking for authors who will be available for interviews, open to writing guest articles, active on social media and willing to promote the book to their own networks. We want our books to succeed, and author participation is essential for establishing a brand and a loyal readership.

Will the author have awesome goals, but also realistic expectations? After more than two decades in the publishing industry, we have seen (and continue to see!) publishing evolve constantly. The industry is more competitive than ever, and we seek to partner with authors who understand that the promotional tactics that worked even just 1-3 years ago may no longer be as effective. Our best clients are those who are open to trying promotional strategies that are innovative and out-of-the-box, as well as tried-and-tested publicity tactics.

Is there a budget in place for publicity and marketing? If they are indie publishing, are they willing to work with a book-specific editor and designer to get the book into the best shape possible? While we always seek to find promotional solutions that work within an author’s specific budget, quality publishing and promotion requires both time and money. A book is, in many ways, a product–and cutting corners reduces the quality of the product, as well as its ability to reach its target market. We look for authors willing to invest time and resources to publish and promote their book, so that together we can give each title its best chance of success.

And lastly, does this book help move the world forward? Here at Books Forward, we want to represent books that elevate voices from a diverse group of authors, break barriers in the publishing industry and convey a story that will resonate with readers. We’ve been fortunate to work with so many authors who are doing just that–and we are thrilled and grateful to continue representing incredible, innovative authors for years to come.

I hope this helps you on your journey to publishing and planning promotion for your book!

This post originally appeared on https://www.teenink.com/ in July 2021.

Marissa DeCuir is the president and partner of Books Forward publicity and Books Fluent publishing. As a former journalist, she’s always looking for the best hooks to utilize in author publicity and book marketing and believes in taking a personal and strategic can-do approach to help authors reach their goals.

Making the most of a festival appearance as an author

Attending a festival or book event as an author can seem intimidating, especially if it’s your first time. But it can be so much fun, and hugely helpful to your writing career! As things (maybe) start to be in-person again, here are some tips to help you make the most of your time.

Before the event

  • Connect with previous attendees: ask them what they enjoyed last year and if they will be there again this year.
  • See if the event has a list of people who will be there this year, and reach out to anyone you’re excited to meet and tell them just that. Try to set up a time to meet for coffee or something similar.
  • After registering, see if there is a panel or discussion you can take part in. If you don’t see one, email the organizer to let them know what you can speak on — it can’t hurt to try!
  • Look at the schedule of events ahead of time to plan your days. You will likely not be able to do everything, so you want to maximize your time.
  • Check the social media hashtag for the event and engage with fellow attendees.

During the event

  • Have an elevator pitch for your book. You are likely to meet a lot of people and not spend a ton of time with each of them, so you need to be able to sell yourself quickly.
  • Bring lots of business cards, bookmarks, postcards or other swag that people will hang on to! Networking is likely to be one of the most valuable things you can do at a book event.
  • Get contact info from people you meet or speak with, when appropriate, so you can follow up with them later!
  • Support your fellow authors — buy their books, join their mailing lists and talk with them! They’ll likely want to support you as well.
  • Share photos and videos from the event on your social media – allowing your readers to follow along with you!

After the event

  • Follow up with anyone you met with, thanking them for their time and referencing something specific you spoke about if possible. Make sure to have a link to your website in your signature, and encourage them to reach out if they have any questions about your book.
  • Post recap photos to social media – and tag the appropriate people, publishers, etc. in them.

Eight bookish podcasts to check out on International Podcast Day!

Happy International Podcast Day! As readers, we don’t just read books — we also participate in tons of extracurricular activities involving books. We talk about books, join book clubs, look for great reviews, and writte as well.

One of the biggest ways we discuss books is through podcasts, and not only are there shows about specific books, but there are podcasts on books for your radar, book club podcasts, and even writing podcasts for authors. There’s a little bit for every reader and author on this list, so I hope you give one a listen.

All the Books at Book Riot

If you want to keep up with what’s new and cool in the bookish world, then All the Books from Book Riot is your go-to. With new episodes every week, the hosts share what’s new and trendy that’s being published. With expert recommendations, you’ll definitely keep abreast of what’s publishing at all times.

The Stacks Podcast

If you’re looking to join a book club without the stress of going to meetings, hearing expert author interviews, or discovering books you may not have heard before, then The Stacks Podcast may be the one for you. Offering everything you’d need to be as prolific a reader as you can be, the Stacks Podcast hosted by Traci Thomas has it all.

The Maris Review

If you’re a fan of listening to author interviews, then this is the podcast for you. Hosted by Maris Kreizman, the podcast features some incredible authors of today, includes exciting topics to discuss, and learning a little bit about the authors we all so love and adore.

Minorities in Publishing

Unlike the other podcasts on this list, Minorities in Publishing discusses the deeper and wider expanse of publishing. Specifically, it discusses the diversity (or lack thereof) in publishing, sharing interviews with publishing experts and authors and their experiences within the publishing industry.

Deadline City

Hosted by YA authors Zoraida Cordova and Dhonielle Clayton, get a look into the process of creating a book, expert author interviews, and learning what it’s like to be a popular writer! If you’re an author trying to get your book going, this podcast may give you the encouragement you need.

Beyond the Trope

If you’re a fan of SFF books, then this is the podcast for you. With interviews from today’s greatest SFF authors, you’ll not only find new books to read but completely unraptured by why these authors wrote these books. It’s a great way to dive deeper into the writing process, especially for those massive SFF worlds.

Black Chick Lit

If you’re looking for more diversity in your reading life, check out Black Chick Lit. This bi-monthly podcast covers not only books written by Black women, but also about Black women. Discussing some of the latest novels from BIPOC authors, these two intrepid hosts dive deep into the themes and stories that shape Black women’s narrative in modern literature.

Books and Boba

If you’re looking for a book club that focuses on the Asian American community and experience, look no further than to Books and Boba. With monthly book picks, author chats, and more, the hosts of Books and Boba covers all things coming out from Asian and Asian American authors. Find some great new reads, listen to some interesting author conversations and immerse yourself in the world of Asian American writing.

Ahoy! Books to read if you like pirate stories

From vampires to werewolves and beyond, if you love reading fantasy books, you’ve likely seen literary trends come and go. But one of my favorite tropes to read about are the slightly amoral pirates sailing the high seas. Luckily, pirates are making a comeback and there have been quite a few books to feature them recently. Here are some to celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day on Sept. 19. Check out these great stories if you are … in the same boat as me. Wink.

Daughter of the Pirate King by ​​Tricia Levenseller: Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map–the key to a legendary treasure trove–seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship. More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse: In the holy city of Tova, the winter solstice is usually a time for celebration and renewal, but this year it coincides with a solar eclipse, a rare celestial event proscribed by the Sun Priest as an unbalancing of the world. Meanwhile, a ship launches from a distant city bound for Tova and set to arrive on the solstice. The captain of the ship, Xiala, is a disgraced Teek whose song can calm the waters around her as easily as it can warp a man’s mind. Her ship carries one passenger. Described as harmless, the passenger, Serapio, is a young man, blind, scarred, and cloaked in destiny. As Xiala well knows, when a man is described as harmless, he usually ends up being a villain.

Fable by Adrienne Young: As the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home seventeen-year-old Fable has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father. But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems.

Pirate Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo: The last time New Orleans attorney Jean-Luc Valmont saw Maribel Cordoba, a Spanish nobleman’s daughter, she was an eleven-year-old orphan perched in the riggings of his privateering vessel proving herself as the best lookout on his crew. Until the day his infamy caught up with them all and innocent lives were lost. Unsure why he survived but vowing to make something of the chance he was given, Jean-Luc has buried his past life so deep that no living person will ever find it–until a very much alive and very grown up Maribel Cordoba arrives on his doorstep and threatens all he now holds dear.

The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall: The pirate Florian, born Flora, has always done whatever it takes to survive–including sailing under false flag on the Dove as a marauder, thief, and worse. Lady Evelyn Hasegawa, a highborn Imperial daughter, is on board as well–accompanied by her own casket. But Evelyn’s one-way voyage to an arranged marriage in the Floating Islands is interrupted when the captain and crew show their true colors and enslave their wealthy passengers. Both Florian and Evelyn have lived their lives by the rules, and whims, of others. But when they fall in love, they decide to take fate into their own hands–no matter the cost.

The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels by India Holton: Cecilia Bassingwaite is the ideal Victorian lady. She’s also a thief. Like the other members of the Wisteria Society crime sorority, she flies around England drinking tea, blackmailing friends, and acquiring treasure by interesting means. Sure, she has a dark and traumatic past and an overbearing aunt, but all things considered, it’s a pleasant existence. Until the men show up. Ned Lightbourne is a sometimes assassin who is smitten with Cecilia from the moment they meet. Unfortunately, that happens to be while he’s under direct orders to kill her. His employer, Captain Morvath, who possesses a gothic abbey bristling with cannons and an unbridled hate for the world, intends to rid England of all its presumptuous women, starting with the Wisteria Society. Ned has plans of his own. But both men have made one grave mistake. Never underestimate a woman.

Realm Breaker by Victoria Aveyard: Corayne lives at the end of the world. Year after year, she watches her pirate mother sail away to adventures she’ll never share with Corayne. So when a mysterious immortal and deadly assassin appear on Corayne’s doorstep telling her she is the last member of a dying bloodline, and the only one who can save the world, Corayne seizes the chance to have her own adventure. But the world is in graver danger than they ever imagined; Corayne and her rag-tag group of allies are alone in a world that is slowly coming apart at the seams with little but their fading hope to guide them. Now is not the age of heroes, but courage can bloom even in the darkest corners. And it just might be enough to save everything.

To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo: Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most–a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen and or remain a human forever. The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby–it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good–but can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

A Clash of Steel by C.B. Lee: The sun is setting on the golden age of piracy, and the legendary Dragon Fleet, the scourge of the South China Sea, is no more. Its ruthless leader, a woman known only as the Head of the Dragon, is now only a story, like the ones Xiang has grown up with all her life. She desperately wants to prove her worth, especially to her mother, a shrewd businesswoman who never seems to have enough time for Xiang. Her father is also only a story, dead at sea before Xiang was born. Her single memento of him is a pendant she always wears, a simple but plain piece of gold jewelry. But the pendant’s true nature is revealed when a mysterious girl named Anh steals it, only to return it to Xiang in exchange for her help in decoding the tiny map scroll hidden inside. The revelation that Xiang’s father sailed with the Dragon Fleet and tucked away this secret changes everything. Rumor has it that the legendary Head of the Dragon had one last treasure–the plunder of a thousand ports–that for decades has only been a myth, a fool’s journey. Xiang is convinced this map could lead to the fabled treasure. Captivated with the thrill of adventure, she joins Anh and her motley crew off in pursuit of the island. But the girls soon find that the sea–and especially those who sail it–are far more dangerous than the legends led them to believe.

Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb: Bingtown is a hub of exotic trade and home to a merchant nobility famed for its liveships–rare vessels carved from wizardwood, which ripens magically into sentient awareness. Now the fortunes of one of Bingtown’s oldest families rest on the newly awakened liveship Vivacia. For Althea Vestrit, the ship is her rightful legacy. For Althea’s young nephew, wrenched from his religious studies and forced to serve aboard the ship, the Vivacia is a life sentence. But the fate of the ship — and the Vestrits – -may ultimately lie in the hands of an outsider: the ruthless buccaneer captain Kennit, who plans to seize power over the Pirate Isles by capturing a liveship and bending it to his will.

18 Books for All Ages on National Grandparents Day

Happy Grandparents Day! Similarly to Mother’s/Father’s Day, Grandparents Day shares the love for our older generations. Spend it with your loved ones or perhaps you’ll give them a call! But what’s a better way to celebrate the day than sharing some great books to read together or on your own?

Since people of all ages celebrate their grandparents, we put together a comprehensive list of books featuring grandparents for everyone. Check out our list below!

Picture books:

The Hello Goodbye Window by Norton Juster and illustrated by Chris Raschka

The kitchen window at Nanna and Poppy’s house is, for one little girl, a magic gateway. Everything important happens near it, through it, or beyond it. The world for this little girl will soon grow larger and more complex, but never more enchanting or deeply felt. Her story is both a voyage of discovery and a celebration of the commonplace wonders that define childhood, expressed as a joyful fusion of text with evocative and exuberant art that garnered the highest honor in children’s book illustration in 2006.

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena and illustrated by Christian Robinson

Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don’t own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty–and fun–in their routine and the world around them. This energetic ride through a bustling city highlights the wonderful perspective only grandparent and grandchild can share, and comes to life through Matt de la Peña’s vibrant text and Christian Robinson’s radiant illustrations.

Our Favorite Day by Joowon Oh

Every morning Papa follows his normal routine. He drinks his tea, waters his plants, tidies up, and takes the bus into town. Papa enjoys his daily tasks, but there’s one day each week that is extra special. That’s the day he might visit the craft store, get two orders of dumplings to go, and possibly pick some flowers he sees along the path. With its spare text and wonderfully warm watercolor and cut-paper illustrations just begging to be pored over, Joowon Oh’s tale of the singular love between a grandfather and granddaughter will nestle within the heart of every reader.

Grandma’s Purse by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

When Grandma Mimi comes to visit, she always brings warm hugs, sweet treats…and her purse. You never know what she’ll have in there–fancy jewelry, tokens from around the world, or something special just for her granddaughter. It might look like a normal bag from the outside, but Mimi and her granddaughter know that it’s pure magic! In this adorable, energetic ode to visits from grandma, beloved picture book creator Vanessa Brantley Newton shows how an ordinary day can become extraordinary.

Middle grade books

Roll with It by Jamie Sumner 

Ellie’s a girl who tells it like it is. That surprises some people, who see a kid in a wheelchair and think she’s going to be all sunshine and cuddles. The thing is, Ellie has big dreams: She might be eating Stouffer’s for dinner, but one day she’s going to be a professional baker. If she’s not writing fan letters to her favorite celebrity chefs, she’s practicing recipes on her well-meaning, if overworked, mother. But when Ellie and her mom move so they can help take care of her ailing grandpa, Ellie has to start all over again in a new town at a new school. Except she’s not just the new kid–she’s the new kid in the wheelchair who lives in the trailer park on the wrong side of town. It all feels like one challenge too many, until Ellie starts to make her first-ever friends. Now she just has to convince her mom that this town might just be the best thing that ever happened to them!

Finding Junie Kim by Ellen Oh

Junie Kim just wants to fit in. So she keeps her head down and tries not to draw attention to herself. But when racist graffiti appears at her middle school, Junie must decide between staying silent or speaking out. Then Junie’s history teacher assigns a project and Junie decides to interview her grandparents, learning about their unbelievable experiences as kids during the Korean War. Junie comes to admire her grandma’s fierce determination to overcome impossible odds, and her grandpa’s unwavering compassion during wartime. And as racism becomes more pervasive at school, Junie taps into the strength of her ancestors and finds the courage to do what is right.

Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina

Merci Suarez knew that sixth grade would be different, but she had no idea just how different. For starters, as strong and thoughtful as Merci is, she has never been completely like the other kids at her private school in Florida, because she and her older brother, Roli, are scholarship students. They don’t have a big house or a fancy boat, and they have to do extra community service to make up for their free tuition. So when bossy Edna Santos sets her sights on the new boy who happens to be Merci’s school-assigned Sunshine Buddy, Merci becomes the target of Edna’s jealousy. Things aren’t going well at home, either: Merci’s grandfather and most trusted ally, Lolo, has been acting strangely lately — forgetting important things, falling from his bike, and getting angry over nothing. And Merci is left to her own worries, because no one in her family will tell her what’s going on. Winner of the 2019 Newbery Medal, this coming-of-age tale by New York Times best-selling author Meg Medina gets to the heart of the confusion and constant change that defines middle school — and the steadfast connection that defines family.

As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds

Genie’s summer is full of surprises. The first is that he and his big brother, Ernie, are leaving Brooklyn for the very first time to spend the summer with their grandparents all the way in Virginia–in the COUNTRY The second surprise comes when Genie figures out that their grandfather is blind. Thunderstruck, Genie peppers Grandpop with questions about how he hides it so well (besides wearing way cool Ray-Bans). How does he match his clothes? Know where to walk? Cook with a gas stove? Pour a glass of sweet tea without spilling it? Genie thinks Grandpop must be the bravest guy he’s ever known, but he starts to notice that his grandfather never leaves the house–as in NEVER. And when he finds the secret room that Grandpop is always disappearing into–a room so full of songbirds and plants that it’s almost as if it’s been pulled inside-out–he begins to wonder if his grandfather is really so brave after all. Then Ernie lets him down in the bravery department. It’s his fourteenth birthday, and, Grandpop says to become a man, you have to learn how to shoot a gun. Genie thinks that is AWESOME until he realizes Ernie has no interest in learning how to shoot. None. Nada. Dumbfounded by Ernie’s reluctance, Genie is left to wonder–is bravery and becoming a man only about proving something, or is it just as important to own up to what you won’t do?

A Thousand Questions by Saadia Faruqi

Mimi is not thrilled to be spending her summer in Karachi, Pakistan, with grandparents she’s never met. Secretly, she wishes to find her long-absent father, and plans to write to him in her beautiful new journal. The cook’s daughter, Sakina, still hasn’t told her parents that she’ll be accepted to school only if she can improve her English test score–but then, how could her family possibly afford to lose the money she earns working with her Abba in a rich family’s kitchen? Although the girls seem totally incompatible at first, as the summer goes on, Sakina and Mimi realize that they have plenty in common–and that they each need the other to get what they want most. This relatable and empathetic story about two friends coming to understand each other will resonate with readers who loved Other Words for Home and Front Desk.

YA books

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird. Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life. Alternating between real and magic, past and present, friendship and romance, hope and despair, The Astonishing Color of After is a stunning and heartbreaking novel about finding oneself through family history, art, grief, and love.

From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon

Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director? Dream come true. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy–a.k.a. Sahil’s twin brother? Dream come true x 2. When mystery man “N” begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil, finally ready to begin their happily-ever-after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil. Twinkle soon realizes that resistance is futile: The romance she’s got is not the one she’s scripted. But will it be enough? Told through the letters Twinkle writes to her favorite female filmmakers, From Twinkle, with Love navigates big truths about friendship, family, and the unexpected places love can find you.

Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s a Fractional Persian–half, his mom’s side–and his first-ever trip to Iran is about to change his life. Darius has never really fit in at home, and he’s sure things are going to be the same in Iran. His clinical depression doesn’t exactly help matters, and trying to explain his medication to his grandparents only makes things harder. Then Darius meets Sohrab, the boy next door, and everything changes. Soon, they’re spending their days together, playing soccer, eating faludeh, and talking for hours on a secret rooftop overlooking the city’s skyline. Sohrab calls him Darioush–the original Persian version of his name–and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab. Adib Khorram’s brilliant debut is for anyone who’s ever felt not good enough–then met a friend who makes them feel so much better than okay.

Faith: Taking Flight by Julie Murphy

Faith Herbert is a pretty regular teen. When she’s not hanging out with her two best friends, Matt and Ches, she’s volunteering at the local animal shelter or obsessing over the long-running teen drama The Grove. So far, her senior year has been spent trying to sort out her feelings for her maybe-crush Johnny and making plans to stay close to Grandma Lou after graduation. Of course, there’s also that small matter of recently discovering she can fly…. When the fictional world of The Grove crashes into Faith’s reality as the show relocates to her town, she can’t believe it when TV heroine Dakota Ash takes a romantic interest in her. But her fandom-fueled daydreams aren’t enough to distract Faith from the fact that first animals, then people, have begun to vanish from the town. Only Faith seems able to connect the dots to a new designer drug infiltrating her high school. But when her investigation puts the people she loves in danger, she will have to confront her hidden past and use her newfound gifts–risking everything to save her friends and beloved town.

Adult books

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman

Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy—as in standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-strangers crazy. She is also Elsa’s best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother’s stories, in the Land-of-Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas, where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal. When Elsa’s grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa’s greatest adventure begins. Her grandmother’s instructions lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and old crones but also to the truth about fairy tales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry is told with the same comic accuracy and beating heart as Fredrik Backman’s bestselling debut novel, A Man Called Ove. It is a story about life and death and one of the most important human rights: the right to be different.

The Mountains Sing by Nguyen Phan Que Mai

With the epic sweep of Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko or Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing and the lyrical beauty of Vaddey Ratner’s In the Shadow of the Banyan, The Mountains Sing tells an enveloping, multigenerational tale of the Trần family, set against the backdrop of the Việt Nam War. Trần Diệu Lan, who was born in 1920, was forced to flee her family farm with her six children during the Land Reform as the Communist government rose in the North. Years later in Hà Nội, her young granddaughter, Hương, comes of age as her parents and uncles head off down the Hồ Chí Minh Trail to fight in a conflict that tore apart not just her beloved country, but also her family. Vivid, gripping, and steeped in the language and traditions of Việt Nam, The Mountains Sing brings to life the human costs of this conflict from the point of view of the Vietnamese people themselves, while showing us the true power of kindness and hope. The Mountains Sing is celebrated Vietnamese poet Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai’s first novel in English.

The Switch by Beth O’Leary

When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some long-overdue rest. Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen. So they decide to try a two-month swap. Eileen will live in London and look for love. She’ll take Leena’s flat, and learn all about casual dating, swiping right, and city neighbors. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire: Eileen’s sweet cottage and garden, her idyllic, quiet village, and her little neighborhood projects.

But stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected. Will swapping lives help Eileen and Leena find themselves…and maybe even find true love? In Beth O’Leary’s The Switch, it’s never too late to change everything….or to find yourself.

The Inheritance of Orquidea Divina by Zoraida Cordova

The Montoyas are used to a life without explanations. They know better than to ask why the pantry never seems to run low or empty, or why their matriarch won’t ever leave their home in Four Rivers–even for graduations, weddings, or baptisms. But when Orquídea Divina invites them to her funeral and to collect their inheritance, they hope to learn the secrets that she has held onto so tightly their whole lives. Instead, Orquídea is transformed, leaving them with more questions than answers. Seven years later, her gifts have manifested in different ways for Marimar, Rey, and Tatinelly’s daughter, Rhiannon, granting them unexpected blessings. But soon, a hidden figure begins to tear through their family tree, picking them off one by one as it seeks to destroy Orquídea’s line. Determined to save what’s left of their family and uncover the truth behind their inheritance, the four descendants travel to Ecuador–to the place where Orquídea buried her secrets and broken promises and never looked back. Alternating between Orquídea’s past and her descendants’ present, The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina is an enchanting novel about what we knowingly and unknowingly inherit from our ancestors, the ties that bind, and reclaiming your power.

A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum

Palestine, 1990. Seventeen-year-old Isra prefers reading books to entertaining the suitors her father has chosen for her. Over the course of a week, the naïve and dreamy girl finds herself quickly betrothed and married, and is soon living in Brooklyn. There Isra struggles to adapt to the expectations of her oppressive mother-in-law Fareeda and strange new husband Adam, a pressure that intensifies as she begins to have children–four daughters instead of the sons Fareeda tells Isra she must bear. Brooklyn, 2008. Eighteen-year-old Deya, Isra’s oldest daughter, must meet with potential husbands at her grandmother Fareeda’s insistence, though her only desire is to go to college. Deya can’t help but wonder if her options would have been different had her parents survived the car crash that killed them when Deya was only eight. But her grandmother is firm on the matter: the only way to secure a worthy future for Deya is through marriage to the right man. But fate has a will of its own, and soon Deya will find herself on an unexpected path that leads her to shocking truths about her family–knowledge that will force her to question everything she thought she knew about her parents, the past, and her own future.

Ask an Expert: Interview with BookToker Azanta Thakur @AzantaReads on BookTok and BookTalk

Today on our Ask an Expert series, we’re excited to sit down with BookToker Azanta Thakur for a conversation on why TikTok is transforming publishing, and the future of readers and authors on social media. Azana is an avid reader and literary advocate who has created a substantial platform on TikTok (aka “BookTok”), with more than 17,000 TikTok followers on her account @azantareads, and more than 5,000 followers on Instagram. She is also the founder of BookTalk, a new digital conference that is connecting authors and readers like never before.

Learn more about Azanta, BookTok, and BookTalk below, and follow Azanta on social media:
TikTok: tiktok.com/@azantareads
Instagram: instagram.com/azantareads
BookTalk / instagram.com/booktalkevent

When did you first get involved in BookTok? Were you a Bookstagrammer prior to joining TikTok, and if so, what prompted you to branch out to BookTok?

I’ve been on Bookstagram since November of 2018 and joined BookTok in January of 2021 after landing on BookTok on my personal for you page. I had been avidly following BookTokers like @lluuuuuuu_ and @aymansbooks for a few weeks and after seeing how quickly people had connected over their shared love of books, I decided to make a couple of videos. I still consider Instagram my true main platform but because I have more followers on TikTok, I tend to focus more on my content on TikTok now.

Which genres / types of books do you enjoy reading the most?

I’ve been an avid YA fantasy reader for years and I don’t see myself growing out of that any time soon, especially with all the new fantasy books entering the market being inspired by different cultures. As a teenager, I read mostly western-inspired and Eurocentric fantasies because that’s what I had access to but now there are books like Witches Steeped in Gold and A Song of Wraiths and Ruin and the upcoming The Keeper of Night that span across the world. At the end of 2020, I started broaching Adult Fantasy as well as Adult Romance. I’m still working through my intimidation of adult fantasy books but these days, I find myself gravitating towards more romance books than fantasy. They’re fantastic to help work through reading slumps!

What types of BookTok content do you enjoy creating the most?

Although they’re far and few between, I love making my little skits. I love to incorporate hijab jokes in them because I just get a kick out of them and those videos are when I feel the most creative and although I’m not normally a very funny person, I find them hilarious. I’m a very big proponent of creating content that I myself would consume and one day, when I find some more time, I’m going to get back to making more of those minute-long skits!

What are some misconceptions that you’ve seen people have about BookTok / TikTok in general? What do you think people don’t understand about BookTok?

I think for some reason people think we get paid a ton of money to promote books. Sure, some of the bigger BookTokers do get paid, whether it’s via views or via contracts with publishers/sponsors, but it’s nothing like booktube/YouTube in general. Most of us don’t get paid at all, and if we do, it’s a small remuneration here and there. All the books I promote are ones that I truly love, enjoy, and recommend. Another misconception that I’ve seen a lot of people have lately is that BookTok is a harsh, critical place with constant drama. And while yes, there tends to be a lot of discourse surrounding constructive criticism, calling someone out (politely) to do better — especially when it’s related to race and diversity in publishing — is not drama. BookTok is not only a place to partake in the bookish community and celebrate our collective thirst over fictional characters but also a place full of educational opportunities!

What advice would you give to authors who are interested in joining TikTok to promote their books?

Interact with BookTokers/readers in your comments — people love it! Be sure to use trending audios and partake in trends if you want to promote your videos and turn on your Q&A for readers to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to reach out to larger BookTokers to introduce yourself if you’re a new author, as well!

What is BookTalk? How / why did you found BookTalk?

Thank you so much for asking! I founded BookTalk back in March of this year as a way to bring together the community we were creating on BookTok and Bookstagram by connecting authors, readers, and those in the publishing industry. I set out to create a weekend full of events and panels — think Yallwest, but smaller, virtual, and focused on debut/newer/authors from marginalized backgrounds. I reached out to several of my mutuals a few months ago, asking them to come on board and help with this massive project, and thus, BookTalk was born!

How did this year’s BookTalk conference go?

Honestly, BookTalk 2021 hit every single one of the goals we had set out to do. The night before we announced BookTalk in May, the Leads and I sat down together and defined our versions of success. We collectively agreed that we would be “successful” if we managed to introduce a new author and a new book to even just one reader and helped them connect with other readers. Over the course of the weekend, we received several messages from participants saying exactly that — how they were so excited to read these new books and how many friends they had made. We created a community for readers, by readers, and I could not be more proud of it.

Where do you see BookTalk going in the future?

There is so much potential with BookTalk and I hope to take it to the lengths I see in my visions for our organization. We will obviously continue our summer virtual event full of author panels and activities for participants and we hope to expand from one to two weekends for 2021. Beyond our event, we eventually have the goal of doing an in-person event in addition to our virtual one, as well continuing with events throughout the entire year to build hype for books. We will continue to bring BookTokers and Bookstagrammers onto our team so that we can create collective content for readers and we hope to introduce a book club, a podcast, and other platforms to promote authors on.