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If You Like New Adult Books

New Adult Definition

The above is my own definition for the New Adult genre.  In 2009 St. Martin’s Press announced it would be acquiring books for a “New Adult” line and held a submission contest but  by 2011, SMP had not yet delivered on the promised new line despite interest expressed by readers online.  Georgia McBride, author (Praefatio) and founder of #YALitChat and publisher at Month9Books, hosted the submission contest and shared that two submissions – The Girl of Thorn and Fire by Rae Carson and The Treachery of Beautiful Things by Ruth Frances Long — went on to be published by other publishers.  Ms. McBride told me:

New Adult is a fabulous idea in theory, and authors seem to be excited about it. But in a world where bookstores shelf by category, to them, it is either  Adult or Young Adult. Some booksellers even call their YA section “teen.” And when you have a character who is over a certain age (19 seems to be the age most consider the start of New Adult), it is received as Adult. In some cases, the designation by publishers causes more confusion than not.

Let’s face it, YA is associated with teens, and at 19, most no longer consider themselves teens. So, it would support the theory of placing these “New Adult” titles in the Adult section. However, with the prevalence of eBook content, it would seem that the powers that be could easily create a New Adult category if they really wanted to.

When I first heard of New Adult I wasn’t convinced it would interest me a great deal.

After I read Katie McGarry’s Pushing the Limits which featured high school seniors on the cusp of adulthood, I realized I wanted to read more about the characters in that transitional phase of their life, primarily because the issues that the characters dealt with were relatable to me, even as an older adult. Finding more books like this was a challenge so I put out a call on Twitter for college aged protagonists.

Author Julie Cross (The Tempest) recommended Easy by Tammara Webber (reviewed here). Last Sunday, self published book Easy by Tammara Webber was 29  on the NYT combined ebook list. Easy is a genre defining book. In other words if you are wondering what New Adult is about, Easy can help you understand.  After reading Easy, I went on a New Adult glom burning through Webber’s backlist and branching out to titles Something Like Normal by Trish Doller and Where She Went by Gayle Forman.

New Adult books feature characters with slightly older teens or in their very early twenties. They are more commercially accessible coming of age stories, ones that take a look to life beyond school. They are learning who they are and how they are going to respond to adult challenges. Moreover, and this is important to me, they are fairly independent.

Over the last few months, I’ve read several New Adult books. I’ve been recommending them and adult readers here at Dear Author have been enjoying them. I am seeing more and more readers ask for New Adult books. With the help of Julie Cross, we have compiled a list of New Adult books that we’ve either read and recommend or that come recommended by others.

College-aged YA

  • Tempest by Julie Cross (sci-fi/thriller – first person male MC POV)
  • Easy by Tammara Webber (contemporary book set in college – first person female MC POV) [Review]
  • Something Like Normal by Trish Doller (contemporary featuring deployed soldier returned on leave – first person male MC POV) [Review]
  • The Ivy by Lauren Kunze and Rina Onur (contemporary set in Harvard – third person POV but read reviews first)
  • Bass Ackwards and Belly Up by Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain (contemporary – four female MC POVs in the third person)
  • Where She Went by Gayle Forman (contemporary – first person male rock star POV who ruminates about the girl he lost but still loves.)
  • We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han (contemporary – first person female MC POV, love triangle)
  • Rock Me by Cherrie Lynn (contemporary erotic romance featuring a grad student, third person with both characters POV) [Review]
  • Sheltered by Charlotte Stein (contemporary erotic romance told in first person female POV) [Review]

Just Graduated YA

  • Midsummer’s Nightmare by Kody Keplinger (contemporary – first person female MC POV) [Review]
  • Reunited by Hilary Graham (contemporary – third person female characters POV)
  • Wanderlove by Kristin Hubbard (contemporary – first person female MC POV)
  • The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour (contemporary – first person male MC POV)
  • Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen (contemporary – first person female POV dealing with her father’s death) [Review]
  • Two-Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt (contemporary – alternating POV)
  • Good For You by Tammara Webber (contemporary – alternating first person POV)  [Review]
  • Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry (contemporary – alternating first person POV)
  • Gone Too Far by Jennifer Echols (contemporary – first person female MC POV, romance with a young (19) police officer)
  • Sophie and Carter by Chelsea Fine (contemporary – alternating first person POV) [Review]

Have others to recommend to us? Intrigued or put off by the New Adult concept?  Let us know.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

49 Comments

  1. Ann Kristin
    Jul 24, 2012 @ 04:14:12

    Great list, I can feel my TBR-list growing.

    There’s also Diana Peterfreund’s Secret Society Girl-series, which is set in a ivy league college during the main character’s senior year.

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  2. Ros
    Jul 24, 2012 @ 04:17:25

    Put off by it, mostly, like the last couple of seasons of Dawson’s Creek. I just get fed up of all the angsting over things that really aren’t all that important and want to tell them to grow up already. I also have a hard time believing in HEA’s that start at 19.

    But I haven’t read the Tammara Webber and I’ve heard good things about it, so maybe I’ll give it a go and see if it wins me over.

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  3. Victoria Smith
    Jul 24, 2012 @ 06:06:00

    I love it. I write it and I read it. In fact, myself and 6 of my fellow writer friends started a blog to promote New Adult fiction called NA Alley (http://naalley.blogspot.com/) We recently were contacted by a new adult author and twitter user to start #NALitChat on twitter and that debuts this week on Thursday at 9 PM Est. On NA Alley, we have had a lot of readers contact us about how excited they are for this new category. And I’m astounded by how many NA authors there are out that come to us. I discovered new adult last year when I started writing my college sci-fi romance and I used to think I was alone. Well, far from it and I’m so glad we’re starting to see more of this line out there :D

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  4. Patricia Eimer
    Jul 24, 2012 @ 06:10:19

    Great list, I’ll have to try some of these out.

    ReplyReply

  5. Trish
    Jul 24, 2012 @ 08:26:58

    C K Kelly Martin has just written one called ‘Come See About Me’. It’s pretty fantastic. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13599561-come-see-about-me

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  6. Maegan
    Jul 24, 2012 @ 08:30:44

    I haven’t read too many New Adult books that aren’t already included on the list above, but I just finished Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park and I really, really liked it. There’s a big reveal later in the book that I caught onto almost immediately, but that didn’t really lessen my overall enjoyment of the story and the characters. Plus, I think the author can write humor really well and I laughed throughout the whole thing. I loved Easy by Tammara Webber and thought that Good for You was pretty good too, but of the Between the Lines trilogy, Where You Are is definitely my favorite. I loved watching the relationship between Graham and Emma begin in the first book and then be front and center in Where You Are.

    Also, a couple years ago I read It’s Not About the Accent by Caridad Ferrer and I just loved it. Granted, I haven’t re-read it that recently, but at the time it was really the only YA book I’d come across that featured characters in college and considering I was only a year or so into my college education at the time, I really enjoyed it. If I remember correctly, Caro, the main character, is 18-19 in the story and the love interest (who I remember swooning over even more than Marcus Flutie at the time, which, trust me, was huge) is around 22. Speaking of Marcus Flutie, the last couple Jessica Darling books by Megan McCafferty take place during and after Jessica’s college years.

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  7. Azure
    Jul 24, 2012 @ 08:58:30

    I would definitely include the Jessica Darling books by Megan McCafferty–the first two take place while Jessica is still in high school, but they’re well worth it. I remember reading Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings and being blown away by how amazing they were.

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  8. Sarah
    Jul 24, 2012 @ 09:00:45

    I wish there was a better term than “New Adult” because that just sounds so lame even if it does perhaps fit where these characters are headed.

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  9. Jane
    Jul 24, 2012 @ 09:07:21

    I didn’t put McCafferty on the list for a reason and that is that I felt that she ruined the series for me in the last book of the series. The book is so awful, does so many terrible things to the characters (i.e Jessica Darling sleeps with a married man, cheats on Marcus more than once) and I regretted having read the entire series.

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  10. Lou
    Jul 24, 2012 @ 09:39:49

    Thanks for making this list, Jane. This is going to be soooo bad for my purse strings.

    I feel the same about the Jessica Darling series. It was like the author transplanted a new personality into Jessica because she’s now a college girl. It ruined the entire series for me.

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  11. Gwen Hayes
    Jul 24, 2012 @ 10:05:30

    I’ve been waiting for this post. Thank you!

    ReplyReply

  12. Bethany
    Jul 24, 2012 @ 10:23:14

    Good for You by Tamarra Webber was one of the best books I read this year. I have Easy in my TBR pile, as well as Girl of Thorn and Fire. I think this is definitely the hot new genre–there are a lot of great authors in this category self-pubbing and it’s breaking down the traditional boundaries in the publishing industry.

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  13. Elyssa
    Jul 24, 2012 @ 10:30:28

    Ditto to what Gwen said. This is a great post. I hope there’s more New Adult books to come out; I really love the genre the same reason you do, Jane.

    ReplyReply

  14. L.G.Kelso
    Jul 24, 2012 @ 10:34:23

    Great post and recommendations!
    I’m a contributer for NA Alley, a blog dedicated to the NA category. We have quite a few recommendations and info on NA over there so feel free to stop by :) It is NAAlley.blogspot.com

    And wasn’t Easy fantastic! A great example of NA!
    LG

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  15. Elyssa
    Jul 24, 2012 @ 10:56:14

    I would probably add the companion book to WHERE SHE WENT on that list, since it’s upper YA/on the verge of adulthood. IF I STAY is in the girl who is loved by the teen rock star but I should warn those who do not know—IF I STAY is a very sad, heartwrenching book. (But it does have a good ending, pinky swear!) I think you get more out of WHERE SHE WENT if you read IF I STAY first but the girl does hover between life and death for the whole book and it will make you cry and cry and cry at some of the things that happens. But it’s really, really good. Promise.

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  16. Tripoli
    Jul 24, 2012 @ 11:27:21

    I remember liking Rock Me, although I read it a while ago. One I read recently that was a good paranormal YA is Ravyn’s Fall by Julie Blackstone (not on the list). I don’t read much YA, but I liked the cover and it was a good angels and demons story. My college-age daughter is reading it now and likes it. Tempest was good too!

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  17. Nicole
    Jul 24, 2012 @ 13:27:12

    I really should read some of these as I keep hearing about them.

    The idea of New Adult seems off-putting, as if the ages should make me think they’re too young, but then I think of how many couples I know who met in college and are still happily married, myself included. Then there’s one of my relatives who met her now husband in middle school and their relationship survived high school and college and beyond.

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  18. Jane
    Jul 24, 2012 @ 13:32:29

    @Nicole: So true. In my neighborhood, almost everyone seems to have met in high school (2 sets of neighbors who dated since the 9th grade) or college and remain married. Even my nephews are the living embodiment of these YA HEAs.

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  19. Janet W
    Jul 24, 2012 @ 14:53:15

    I like New Adult or coming of age stories … Easy was easily one of the books I most enjoyed in the last few months. And publishers take notice: I read it for free — a friend lent it to me — and then I bought it. Do I trust publishers not to take something good and screw it up? No, not really. Thank goodness for review sites and Goodreads and friend recommendations.

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  20. Rita Oberlies
    Jul 24, 2012 @ 18:17:46

    Love this list. I’ve read and enjoyed several of the books mentioned, especially Webber’s Easy. This past weekend I devoured Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout. The main characters were mature high school seniors (around 18 years old, I believe). Although I had heard great things about Obsidian I was hesitant to purchase it because the theme is not one that normally pulls me in — several of the main characters are aliens. In the end I loved it to the point that I’m now staring at the calendar waiting for the next book in the series to release in August.

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  21. Brie
    Jul 24, 2012 @ 19:27:48

    I’m the opposite of you (@Nicole: and @Jane:) in that It’s hard for me to believe in YA HEA’s because of my own personal experience. It wasn’t until I became a more active part of the romance community that I met so many people who married their high school sweethearts. I guess romance readers attract happy endings. However, not believing it doesn’t mean that I don’t like reading it. My main issue with YA was that it was hard for me to relate to some of its subjects, I found them immature and part of a moment of my life I didn’t want to revisit. But NA deals with a whole different set of issues and subject that feel more familiar to me. Also, I enjoy the higher sensuality level. There, I said it!

    Thanks for the list, although my credit card is weeping. One of the books I enjoyed was Gone Too Far. The power imbalance between the leads made me a bit uncomfortable, but the story was engaging and angsty, and who doesn’t love angsty? And double thanks for warning about the love triangle, I hate love triangles!

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  22. Loosheesh
    Jul 24, 2012 @ 20:42:40

    This post gets a big ‘yay’ from me! I recently finished both If I Stay (OK read) and Where She Went (really good), and I was wishing then that Jane would compile a list of NA recs, and here they are.

    @Brie: “My main issue with YA was that it was hard for me to relate to some of its subjects, I found them immature and part of a moment of my life I didn’t want to revisit. But NA deals with a whole different set of issues and subject that feel more familiar to me.” – Exactly this for me, as well. I’d read the blurbs of some YA books and go, “And I care because …”. Terrible of me, right? ;-)

    What I’ve come across in a couple of these books that I’m really digging and want more of is the “first person male MC POV”. It’s quite a ‘different’ thing for me (especially when it’s done for the entire book, like Where She Went and Something Like Normal), and I’m enjoying that. Most YA books I remember reading, if not third person POV, were usually all “first person female MC POV”. I’m curious, are many YA books now employing the first person male POV (whether alternating or for the entire book)?

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  23. Barbara
    Jul 24, 2012 @ 21:14:56

    I signed up for a challenge to read New Adult (that was St. Martin’s term, other pubs were calling it YA-Mature and neither has particularly stuck yet) books this year and have been grabbing them where I can too. A couple of people on Goodreads have started up some lists with books that qualify (neither of these were started by me):

    New Adult Literature Goodreads List

    New Adult/Post HS Books

    I’d also add Beth Kephart’s Small Damages and Tammara Webber’s Knee Deep to the list of books that are really great to read.

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  24. Lana
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 00:24:24

    I have read all of Jennifer Echols books and most would fit into that New Adult theme. All of them have kept me reading. Her new one Such a Rush kept me up very late!
    I am reading Tammara Webbers books right now, on Good For You right now and have Easy left. She is excellent and super great with her readers. She emailed me personally when her books finally became available on Kobo.
    Jenny Hans trilogy is a great read. I wish she’d write more.
    I like to pretend that the last McCafferty book didn’t exist :(

    Finally, thank you for the list and links all!!!

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  25. Loosheesh
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 05:20:52

    @Barbara: “I’d also add Beth Kephart’s Small Damages and Tammara Webber’s Knee Deep to the list of books that are really great to read.” – Did you mean Knee Deep by Jolene B Perry?

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  26. Jane
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 06:04:32

    @Barbara – Thanks for the lists. I don’t know the correct terminology. YA Mature, New Adult. I’m open. I purposely left off Beautiful Disaster and Flat Out Love for a couple reasons but primarily because the authors are a couple of the worst as it relates to c reviews and under. They work together to set their fans off on goodreads reviewers. The author of BD actually went on this awful rant about people having “gold stools” or something if they couldn’t appreciate that damaged people fall in love too and then tried to remind us that her book was fiction. It was really distasteful.

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  27. Barbara
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 07:59:43

    @Loosheesh:

    Ach, yes! I’m sorry. My brain runs on empty some days.

    Jane, I know some of the authors on those lists don’t have particularly good relationships with reviewers. I haven’t read Flat Out Love and while I’ve read BD, I understand all of the issues in it and get all of the problems the author has caused for herself. I’m not an apologist for her, believe me.

    I just offered the lists – I know they contain some books by authors that reviewers rightfully have problems with but they still have a good selection of books I’d never have found if they didn’t exist.

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  28. Julie Cross
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 08:31:27

    @Loosheesh: I know what you mean about not being able to relate and just thinking why don’t they just do ___ and there would be no conflict or crisis! I think YA stuck with me because I always worked with middle school/teens and somehow you stuck in their drama so it’s easier to slip into those plots. Male POV is my favorite in YA too because of the honestly and subtly, they have angst but it’s not usually over the top. Looking For Alaska by John Green is 1st person/male POV, also Paper Towns by John Green. I Know It’s Over by C.K. Kelly Martin, Across The Universe trilogy is alternating Male/Female POV in 1st person. Invincible Summer and Break by Hannah Moskowitz are all boy POV/1st person. If you like quirky YA books with boys narrating I’d recommend, Stupid Fast and The Misedumacation Of Jay Baker. Simone Elkeles’ books Perfect Chemistry, Chain Reaction, Return To Paradise are all alternating boy/girl POV. Hope this helps!!

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  29. Julie Cross
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 08:38:49

    @Loosheesh: okay, I just realized I didn’t answer your question properly…it’s early. Well, if anyone needs male POV first person YA book recs see my previous reply…lol.

    I’m not sure if publishers are seeking boy POV YA books, but I know, for me writing one, I was nervous at first that people wouldn’t like that about Tempest, but even in the reviews by those who didn’t like the book, many said they were excited to read it and picked because it was a male POV. So, you might be on to something with that theory. But I would be curious to see how the teens feel about it in general. I think the boy perspective can be less dramatic and maybe that makes people my age (32) slip into YA books a little easier. Statistics show mostly girls are reading YA, but a lot of girls will relate to the boy MCs better than the girl ones.

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  30. Shanna Swendson
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 12:25:54

    It seems a little shortsighted of bookstores (and this is probably because of the chains, with their top-down dictates) to stick so firmly with their established categories. The teen/ya market has been one of the publishing successes in recent years, and those readers do grow up, but it can be difficult to find the books they might relate to in the relevant adult sections. A next steps type section might help keep those readers as customers, and in today’s bookselling climate, booksellers should be doing everything they can to keep customers and help them find books they might like.

    I’ve particularly enjoyed the “older YA” fantasy books I’ve found lately (including one of the books mentioned as having been one of those contest submissions), perhaps because they reminded me of fantasy books I read as a teen that were about older teen/young 20s characters, even if they were shelved in adult fantasy. I remember standing in the sf/fantasy section of the mall bookstore, skimming through the first few pages of books to see if the main character was in the right age range. I didn’t want to read about “old” people in their 30s, but I didn’t want to read kids’ books, either.

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  31. Loosheesh
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 18:10:21

    @Julie Cross: /@Julie Cross:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts (and the recs, which I’ll check out!).

    “Male POV is my favorite in YA too because of the honestly and subtly, they have angst but it’s not usually over the top.” / “I think the boy perspective can be less dramatic and maybe that makes people my age (32) slip into YA books a little easier.” – I feel the same (and in my 30s also). In the few NAs I read with this narrative structure, there’s something really ‘clean’ [as in not too emotionally cluttered? It's a little hard to express :-)] and matter-of-fact about the writing that resonated with me.

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  32. Kris Bock
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 19:31:47

    Interesting, I have one book out and one coming soon that have heroines in their 20s. I hadn’t thought about marketing them as New Adult, but maybe I’ll add that to the list of keywords. Thanks for the tip.

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  33. Trisha
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 20:40:30

    Haven’t seen anyone mention An Off Year by Claire Zulkey. Which, yeah, is about a privileged girl who is able to walk away from her freshman year of college without worrying about money. But I thought the emotional arc and Cecily’s uncertainty were spot on. And I found her way less aggravating than the guy in Peter Brown’s Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You.

    Also, Amy is still in high school in Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson, but I’d still recommend it for fans of some of the just-graduated YA books.

    @Loosheesh: Don’t know how you feel about paranormals, but Lish McBride’s Hold Me Closer, Necromancer is mostly told from a 1st person male POV, a college dropout now working in a fast food restaurant who finds out he’s a powerful necromancer. Good fun. And, not new adult and definitely not for the easily offended, but I feel compelled to mention Jesse Andrews’ Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Mostly because it has the awesomest cover of the year, but still.

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  34. ReadingPenguin
    Jul 25, 2012 @ 23:05:05

    The Next Door Boys by Jolene Perry is a pretty awesome college age romance/drama. Be warned, though, that the characters are Mormon so that does figure into the plot a bit. If you’re easily bothered by religious themes, stay away. Otherwise, definitely look into it. It’s about a cancer survivor who falls in love with a single dad. Yeah, pretty fantastic. While you’re at it, check out Perry’s other books…they’re more firmly YA, but they’re very well suited to an adult audience.

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  35. Janine
    Jul 26, 2012 @ 03:28:05

    I would think the last three books in Megan Whalen Turner’s Thief series (not including the first book) are really new adult. They are pubbed as YA but given that the protagonists get married in book three, not to mention rule countries, they must be considered new adults.

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  36. Emily
    Jul 26, 2012 @ 11:18:27

    I recently went in to the largest Chapters-Indigo in my city to try and find some books in this new genre. I had read Easy by Tamara Webber and loved it so much. I didn’t think I would like this genre, but was pleasantly surprised how well it had pulled me in.

    That being said I couldn’t find one person working there who knew what I was talking about, let alone who could recommend any books for me, and I looked and spoke to people in both the YA and Adult Fiction sections. I literally spent 3 hours looking on the shelves and wrote down maybe two books that I went home and googled to see if they would interest me, trying to find reviews and categorization of their genres. I hope that New Adult continues to grow and that there will be a distinct area to identify it online and in stores soon. I think it’s refreshing.

    Thanks for the list.

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  37. Li
    Jul 26, 2012 @ 13:52:21

    I’m bookmarking this post – thank you for putting it together. And loving all the additional recs (as well as warnings)!

    Second the rec for Diana Peterfreund’s Secret Society Girl series – one of my all-time favourite series. The romance only really kicks off in the third and fourth books, but it’s very fun getting there.

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  38. Patty
    Jul 26, 2012 @ 20:40:12

    I love love love How to Kill a Rock Star by Tiffanie deBartolo
    Also enjoyed Jane by April Lindner, I second any recommendation on the Simone Elekes books and although he was pretentious I liked the hero in Someday this Pain will be useful to you.

    I find the problem with New Adult for me is that sometimes it doesn’t push the age barrier enough…there is a big difference between the me at 18/19 and the me at 22 or so….this is probably why I enjoy books like Sheltered by Charlotte Stein which have a more adult tone to them, I have a harder time relating to the going off to college for the first time new adult books…

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  43. Louisse Ang
    Oct 30, 2012 @ 04:32:08

    Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire is a great one! Loved loved LOVED it. :)

    ReplyReply

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    ReplyReply

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