All posts by Kelly

Books To Watch For In 2015: An Interview With Amy Fellner Dominy

1)  What could you go to the Olympics for (even if it’s not a traditionally recognized event)? For example, I could medal in sleeping, reading, marathon movie and TV viewing and consumption of crab wontons.

I could compete in the Olympic event: “Most time soaking in a bubble bath with red wine and a good book”. But, I would WIN the gold medal in the event: “Number of books dropped and ruined in bubble baths.”

2)  Is there anything you love so much that you would continue doing it even if you could literally die?

This is such a great question. Lately I’ve been paying attention to how many times we say things in passing like: “I’d die without coffee. I’d die without my phone. I’d die without air conditioning.” (We say that in Phoenix a lot!)

But if we knew we would actually die?

Part of me wants to say that I’d die if I couldn’t write because it sounds so passionate and dedicated. But the truth is that the thing I’m most passionate about is living. So the simple answer to your question is no. (But you still might hear me say I’d die for a good apple fritter.)

3)  Part of the proceeds will go toward preventing sudden cardiac arrest.  Talk about that :)

I learned about Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) when I brought my kids to be heart-tested at a screening event. That’s where I met Sharon Bates who lost her son, Anthony, to HCM. Sharon started a foundation to provide free screenings so other student athletes can be tested and lives can be saved. Her story inspired me—and inspired my book. So when the book sold, I wanted to help support her in any way I could. A donation seemed like a no-brainer. I’m also hoping to make Sharon’s foundation part of my launch event and help her do what she does in any way I can.

4)  What are you reading now?

I just finished listening to Orphan Train by Christine Klein. Though the main character is a teen, I think it’s classified as an adult book. Whatever—it’s excellent!

5)  What are your five favorite books? You can do authors, if that’s easier.

Five favorite books—that’s just an evil question. Here are four books, one author and why:

JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH by Roald Dahl. This is the book that first inspired me to write.

Judy Blume. I felt like I learned about life and myself in her books.

WATERSHIP DOWN by Richard Adams. I tear up every single time I read it and they’re freaking rabbits!

LORD OF THE RINGS by JRR Tolkien. I read the trilogy every year growing up. I even read all the appendices! Most of the time I think books are too long. This series, well over 1,000 pages, wasn’t nearly long enough.

SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson. I was just blown away. I don’t think I could stand to read it again, but wow.

6)  If you could make one book mandatory, what would it be?

If I could make one book mandatory, I’d say every child should have to keep a personal journal. For me, writing about my life was a type of therapy. Journals make you think, make you consider, make you face the things you’re dealing with. Plus, they get kids writing which I’m afraid is turning into a lost art. Every time I do a school visit, I encourage kids to start a journal. I always tell them: be the hero of your own story!

7)  What books are you looking forward to in 2015?

You mean my book isn’t the only one coming out? J

Honestly, I don’t read many series so I’m rarely waiting for a “next” book. The one exception to that is GAME OF THRONES. I’ll be waiting for that one the day it releases!! Otherwise, I usually take my cues from savvy bloggers like you, and read the books that strike a chord. Contemporary books are my favorite but any kind of story with strong characters will pull me in.

Books To Watch For In 2015: A Matter of Heart

There are no words for my excitement for A Matter of Heart by Amy Fellner Dominy (out May 12).

“Readers will happily sink into this emotionally grounded, contemporary young adult novel about the sudden end of one girl’s Olympic swimming dreams and the struggles she endures before realizing there are many things that define who we are.

Sixteen-year-old Abby Lipman is on track to win the state swim championships and qualify for the Olympic trials when a fainting incident at a swim meet leads to the diagnosis of a deadly heart condition. Now Abby is forced to discover who she is without the one thing that’s defined her entire life.”

I love the idea of having to redefine yourself.  I know that for me, I define myself so much more as a blogger and publicist (neither of which are my “day job,” and I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t do them anymore) than anything else.

I am also really excited for a new Amy Dominy book, because I haven’t had one since Audition and Subtraction, which was FOREVER ago.  (Amazon says 2012, but it feels much longer.)

Books To Watch For In 2015: An Interview With Jasmine Warga

1)  What character do you most identify with?
I probably identify the most with Aysel. She was my narrative companion for the story so I really feel as though I got to know her. I also could very much relate to angst about her identity as I went through a similar struggle when I was growing up. That said, there are definitely pieces of me in all my characters. Both good and bad traits!
2)  Reviews say that this is obviously a heavy topic but one filled with hope.  How were you able to navigate that line?
I think I just tried to be honest. It’s a funny thing, almost a paradox really, that when writing fiction (ostensibly lying!) I always find the most important thing to be that you tell the truth. So that’s what I sought out to do. Depression is a tricky disease because it usually doesn’t present itself in a way that is readily identifiable–i.e., you don’t lose your hair, you don’t lose mobility, you don’t break out with a skin rash, you don’t lose a leg. And I think the lack of physical identifiers makes it harder for people to understand, and sometimes for people to emphasize–or worse, why mental illness is sometimes stigmatized. So I set out to write a book that hopefully treats depression as a disease that is REAL and SERIOUS while also trying to give hope that depression, while often a lifelong disease, doesn’t have to be a terminal one. It was really important to me though that the notes of hope don’t ring false and so I would love for readers to find the book to be messy and difficult, but packaged with a glint of meaningful hope.
3)  What was the inspiration for this novel?
So many things. I always find it difficult to answer this question because inspiration came from all places while writing the novel–a song on the radio, a poem I stumbled upon, a conversation with a friend. But the initial emotional kernel that sort of propelled the book came in January 2013 when I lost one of my closest friends. Grief manifests itself in many different ways, and for me working on something creative was a way to grapple with my own grief.
4)  What are you reading?
I’m currently reading AMERICANAH by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith.
5)  If you could make one book mandatory, what would it be?
Wow. I don’t know. Maybe The Autobiography of Red? No one writes like Anne Carson and I think it’s such an inventive novel, it’s like nothing else out there. Plus, it made me cry ugly tears.
6)  What are your top 5 favorite books?  You can do authors, if it’s easier.
Ack! Such a difficult question. I’ll do books and list them in no particular order.
The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson; The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz; The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood; Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block; and The History of Love by Nicole Krauss.
7)  What 2015 releases are you excited for?
So many! Each and every 2015 debut. In particular, my #Beckminavidera best friends–David Arnold’s MOSQUITOLAND (March 2015), Becky Albertalli’s SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA (April 2015), and Adam Silvera’s MORE HAPPY THAN NOT (June 2015). Also, Kim Liggett’s deliciously creepy BLOOD AND SALT (Fall 2015). And finally, everyone will be talking about Sabaa Tahir’s EMBER IN THE ASHES (April 2015) and Kelly Loy Gilbert’s CONVICTION (June 2015) and Nova Ren Suma’s (not a debut, but I’m dying to read this book!) THE WALLS AROUND US (March 2015). Lastly, I’m always excited for a new Lauren Oliver book so I can’t wait to get my hands on VANISHING GIRLS. I know I said lastly, and I should really stop (can you tell I have a book problem?!), but also the new Daniel Handler–can’t wait to read that one!

Books To Watch For In 2015: My Heart & Other Black Holes

You guys, I can’t even discuss this book like a rational person.  My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga sounds like exactly my type of book.  It’s out on Feb. 10.

“A stunning novel about the transformative power of love, perfect for fans of Jay Asher and Laurie Halse Anderson.

Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back, and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness.

There’s only one problem: she’s not sure she has the courage to do it alone. But once she discovers a website with a section called Suicide Partners, Aysel’s convinced she’s found her solution—Roman, a teenage boy who’s haunted by a family tragedy, is looking for a partner. Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other’s broken lives. But as their suicide pact becomes more concrete, Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it. Ultimately, she must choose between wanting to die or trying to convince Roman to live so they can discover the potential of their energy together.”

It sounds like it will literally be perfect!  I cannot wait to dive into this.

Books To Watch For In 2015: An Interview With Daisy Whitney

1)  Which character are you most like?

McKenna in Trophy Husband! And Riley in Stars in Their Eyes. I talk to my dog, like Riley, and love clothes and shopping and Qbert like McKenna.

2)  Which fictional or famous person would you leave a love letter for?

Cassel Sharpe from Holly Black’s Curse Workers – he’s my favorite narrator ever!

3)  What was the inspiration for this story?

I’ll admit it – I love forbidden romance. 21 Kisses is a forbidden romance between an 18 year-old and an older guy, and I have always wanted to write that kind of story.

4)  What are you reading now?

Bella Andre, CD Reiss and my copy edits for Nights With Him

5)  What are your top five books? (You can do authors if that’s easier)

Harry Potter. Gone with The Wind. A River Runs Through It. Time Traveler’s Wife. Anything by Stephanie Perkins.

6)  If you could make one book mandatory, what would it be?

Miss Manners.

7)  What books are you looking forward to in 2015?

All the Rage by Courtney Summers!

Boyhood

Boyhood is one of the 10 (really 11) best movies of 2014, according to the AFI.

If you haven’t seen it (or heard of it), Richard Linklater filmed it over the course of 12 years.  It follows a family through remarriage and divorce and the effect that that (and life in general) has on the two kids.  Because it was filmed over so long a period of time, the kids are played by the same people throughout.  It’s especially lucky that the kids end up being decent actors (which is kind of a risk when you cast people at six or seven).

I really enjoyed this movie.  It’s sad in parts, but it’s also incredibly well-made and poignant.

Books To Watch For In 2015: 21 Kisses

I can’t even explain how excited I am for a new Daisy Whitney book and 21 Kisses sounds amazing!  I have loved all of her books but I’m glad this is a return to contemporary YA, because that’s my favorite of hers.

About a Manhattan teenager who leaves love letters around the city in an effort to make amends for the ways that love has disappointed her, all while trying to choose between the two very different boys in her life.

Sounds so great, right?  Goodreads just says “out in 2015″ so here’s hoping it’s toward the beginning of the year.  Or maybe it’ll be at BEA.  That would be great, too.

Books To Watch For In 2015: An Interview With Eileen Cook

1)  If you could forget a painful memory, would you?

Oooh hard question right off the bat. There are some things that have happened to me that I wish I could forget, such as when my brother passed away. However, my second thought is that those painful things have shaped who I am as much (maybe even more) than the good things.

Part of what makes me appreciate the good things in my life is contrasting them to the bad thing, so as hard as they have been at times, I would keep all my challenging memories.

2)  What inspired this novel?

There were two things that kicked off this novel. The first was an article in the paper about the increasing trend of having teens on medication for emotional issues and debating if this was a good thing or not. The second was a discussion I had with my parents where we were talking about something that happened when I was a kid. I had what I felt were very clear memories of the event, but my parents kept insisting that wasn’t how it happened. It got me interested in how fallible memory can be.

I started to read more about memory and how easy it is to manipulate it. Once I find myself Googling articles and making notes in one of my notebooks I know I have the possibility of a novel.

3)  If Memtrex were real, do you think it should be legal?

I can see where it would be very valuable for people who have true PTSD. People who have been through trauma of some sort and find themselves unable to move forward. However, I would hate to see it used for people wiping out all memories that are unhappy. We learn so much from those times.

4)  What are you reading now?

She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick. Big thumbs up so far.

5)  What are your five favorite books? (You can do authors if that’s easier)

How do people ever pick just five? I don’t know if they are my favorites, but these are the books that have stuck with me, that I find myself reading again, or where I can point to them being pivotal in my life.

The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler by E.L. Konigsburg. I don’t remember when I first read this book, but I do remember being totally consumed with the idea of this two kids leaving secretly in this museum. I’ve re-read it dozens of times and it still transports me to the feeling that there are all sorts of wonderful adventures and secrets in this world.

Salem’s Lot by Stephen King. I read this book when I was twelve. The librarian made me get my mom’s permission in order to check it out. I remember being insulted that she thought I couldn’t handle it. After all I understood the difference between reality and fiction- how scary could something be if you knew it was just pretend? Pretty damn scary as it turns out.

I would lay in bed (waiting for the vampires to get me) and think how amazing it was, that someone could make something up, that I knew was just imagination, but write it so well that I felt real emotion when I read it. That was the first time I ever thought about being a writer. I wanted to do that. It seemed like magic to me.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt: I read this book years ago and was blown away by her writing ability. She only writes a book about every ten years so when one comes out I get very excited.

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. I read this book in college. I still think about the themes of destiny and friendship and it is one of my favorite books to talk about with other people. The character Owen, is one who will stick in your head, he’s unforgettable. When I am asked my favorite book of all time, this one is the one I mention most often.

Harry Potter (the whole series) I wasn’t interested to read this book and was late to the party. I didn’t even start the series until the sixth book was out. I felt I was too old to get caught up in the story, however once I started them I couldn’t stop. It was the perfect reminder that a good story isn’t restricted to any age or gender. A good story is just that- a good story.

6)  If you could make one book mandatory, what would it be?

I always hated when people told me I had to read something. Life is too short to eat bad cookies, to fold socks, or to read books you don’t want to. I don’t know about others, but the stack of books I have to read seems to grow by the day. The book I would make mandatory is the one that you haven’t had a chance to get to yet. I give you full permission to take the day off from whatever else you should be doing, snuggle in on the sofa, or wherever you like to read best, and read all day long.

7)  What books are you looking forward to in 2015?

I’ve had my head down for the past few months working on my next book, but I do have a few on my list.

Making Pretty by Corey Ann Haydu- I don’t know what this one is about, but I loved her last book and she’s on my auto-buy list. (May 2015)

Amy Reed’s Invincible which is described as sort of The Fault in Our Stars meets Go Ask Alice–a girl survives a terminal cancer diagnosis, only to fall into the spiral of addiction. (Summer 2015)

Chevy Stevens will have a new thriller out in the summer and I always love her books.

I’ve also heard that Gillian Flynn who wrote Gone Girl (one of my favorite thrillers of all time) will have a new book out.

Books To Watch For In 2015: Remember

It’s no secret that Eileen Cook is one of my absolute favorite authors and I cannot wait for her new book, Remember (out Feb. 24).  It sounds thought-provoking and like it has the potential to absolutely devastate me.

Remember

“A thrilling tale about what a girl will do to get back a memory she lost…or remove what she wants to forget.

Harper is used to her family being hounded by protestors. Her father runs the company that trademarked the “Memtex” procedure to wipe away sad memories, and plenty of people think it shouldn’t be legal. Then a new demonstrator crosses her path, Neil, who’s as persistent as he is hot. Not that Harper’s noticing, since she already has a boyfriend.

When Harper suffers a loss, she’s shocked her father won’t allow her to get the treatment, so she finds a way to get it without his approval. Soon afterward, she’s plagued with strange symptoms, including hallucinations of a woman who is somehow both a stranger, yet incredibly familiar. Harper begins to wonder if she is delusional, or if these are somehow memories.

Together with Neil, who insists he has his own reasons for needing answers about the real dangers of Memtex, Harper begins her search for the truth. What she finds could uproot all she’s ever believed about her life…”

Books To Watch For In 2015: An Interview With Courtney Summers

1)  What was the inspiration for this story?
All the Rage is an examination of rape culture and violence against women–it was inspired by the questions (and anger) I have surrounding those topics.
2)  A lot of your books center around what we will euphemistically call “unpleasant topics.”  Is it hard to write them*?  What do you do to get out of that head-space?
I’m very interested in writing about emotional survival and it can be hard to write about, for sure, but they’re the kind of stories I’m drawn to. It is not emotionally difficult for me in the sense of going there per se, but it can be very hard to make sure that you’re doing the topic, whatever it is, justice. There is a lot of pressure there–that you are contributing something worthwhile to a larger conversation. As far as getting out of the headspace… I like to de-stress from writing with video games. :)
3)  If this book were a movie, what would it be?
Aah! It’s hard to think of one. I hope if it became a movie, though, that it would be gritty and true to the book.
4)  What are you reading now?
I’m getting caught up on one of my critique partner’s WIPs. Can’t say what it’s about, but I can tell you it’s excellent!
5)  What are your five favorite books? (You can do authors if it’s easier)
I have so many! This is so hard to choose. :) The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier, In the Miso Soup by Ryu Murakami, Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma, Battle Royale by Koushun Takami and The Space Between Trees by Katie Williams.
6)  If you could make one book mandatory, which would it be?
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. It’s brilliant. It is so brilliant people would not even mind the ‘mandatory reading’ part, they’d be so happy they read it.
7)  What books are you looking forward to in 2015?
So many! Tunnel Vision by Susan Adrian, The Devil You Know by Trish Doller, Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn, About a Girl by Sarah McCarry, Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt, More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera, Kissing Ted Callahan (And Other Boys) by Amy Spalding, The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma, The Stars Never Rise by Rachel Vincent, just to name a few… !