#30DaysofRomComs Interview: Kerry Winfrey

kerryToday for #30DaysofRomComs, we have an interview with the awesome Kerry Winfrey, whose novel Love and Other Alien Experiences was recently bought by Feiwel & Friends. Kerry, who did the Year of Rom Coms blog (highly recommend it if you’re looking for something to watch, or just need to pass the time while you’re waiting in line!), came by to talk about her new book, her love of blogging, and how she made the transition from YA reviewer to YA writer!

 

 

You started out as a book reviewer for Hello Giggles. Had you always wanted to write your own YA novel? Or did reading all those fantastic books inspire you to give it a try?

I always knew I wanted to write a book, but I didn’t really take writing seriously until I started writing for HelloGiggles. At the time, I read at least one YA book a week for years. This meant I was learning a LOT about what I liked and didn’t like, and what I thought worked and didn’t work. If you want to write a book of your own, I think that reading literally hundreds of books in your chosen genre is incredibly helpful!

Congrats on your new book deal! Love and Other Alien Experiences has had a unique road to bookshelves. Can you talk a little bit about that?

LAOAE was initially published through Paper Lantern Lit’s The Studio as a digital-only book in November of 2015. After it was published, an editor at Feiwel & Friends read it and expressed interest in publishing it in print. I loved my experience working with Paper Lantern Lit (I can’t imagine a better first book experience!), but I’m so excited that the book will now have a chance to reach a larger audience. The best part of it is that now I no longer have to deal with people saying things like, “Oh, an ebook? I thought you wrote a REAL book.” (Eye roll…ebooks are still real books, people!!).

You spent 2015 doing a project called A Year of Romantic Comedies. What inspired it?

While I was working on LAOAE, I missed the immediate feedback I got from blogging, because writing a book can be sort of a lonely experience. Also I’m a goal-obsessed weirdo who loves a project, so I decided to turn my love of romcoms into a blog that would give me a chance to engage with people and learn a lot about the genre while I was writing my own sort-of-romcom. I’ve loved romantic comedies ever since I was a love-obsessed teenager who watched Pretty in Pink on repeat and swooned over Pride and Prejudice. I’ve always had thoughts about what I liked and what makes a good romcom, but it was great to really dive into it over the course of 52 movies. I’m a firm believer that love stories are not just important, but essential. The desire for love is one of the few things that most human beings share, and I hate that a genre celebrating that is so often denigrated. Hopefully the project inspired some people to check out new romcoms or to give the genre a chance.

What was your favorite and least favorite rom coms that you watched?

My favorite, hands down, is You’ve Got Mail. It has a pretty farfetched concept but real emotions. Just like all of Nora Ephron’s movies, it has a lot of sadness mixed in with the happiness. My least favorite was probably The Ugly Truth. The worst romcoms, in general, are the ones where the leads don’t have chemistry or they’re just unlikeable. Unlikeable characters have their place, but it isn’t easy to root for Gerard Butler as a gross, misogynistic tool.

Did A Year of Romantic Comedies have any impact on your writing?

I hope it did! The best love stories feel effortless, but they’re not easy to write (at least for me). I learned a lot about plot, pacing, and tension from watching so many romcoms…those concepts don’t exactly sound sexy, but they’re important in any romcom! Bad romcoms taught me more than good ones. Like, you can’t just show a terrible main character being nice to a small child and assume the audience will then see that he’s a sensitive soul. Okay, so I’m still talking about The Ugly Truth, but ugh did I ever hate that movie.

I’ve seen on Instagram that you’ve gotten to do some good e-book reading while up with your new kiddo. Can you rec anything you’ve read lately and loved?

I’ve been exclusively reading romance novels, and it’s been so fun (and a great escape when I’m especially sleep-deprived and cranky). I recently read and LOVED The Perfect Find by Tia Williams. It’s about a 40 year old woman in the fashion industry who falls for a 22 year old. I also loved Courtney Milan’s The Duchess War. A million people recommended her books to me and they were all right. Right now I’m in the middle of You Had Me at Hello by Mhairi McFarlane, and it’s perfect for anyone who loves Bridget Jones’s Diary or Rainbow Rowell’s Attachments.

Thanks Kerry! Be sure to check out Kerry’s new book, Love and Other Alien Experiences, which releases in April 2017. And while we’re here, take a gander at her AMAZING new cover!

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Kerry Winfrey grew up in Bellville, Ohio, where she spent most of her time reading inappropriate books at the library. Not much has changed. Kerry writes for HelloGiggles and blogs at welcometoladyville.com. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband, their son, and their dog, Merlin. You can find her on Twitter @KerryAnn.

My Unscripted Life
Out October 11!
AmazonBarnes & NobleIndiebound

MyUnscriptedLife_110915[2]

Better Know A Cover: Meant to Be

30daysofromcoms

I remember getting this email like it was yesterday. I was sitting in my apartment in Boston. We were a year away from the release of Meant to Be, my debut novel. And then there it was … all the cover options the brilliant and talented Heather Daugherty had created. The first one they showed me was the one that ended up being the brilliant and beautiful cover of Meant to Be (which I still get compliments on to this day), but there were other contenders. And they were fantastic. But don’t just take my word for it, take a look!

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(I won’t lie, the one above was, and still is, my favorite. But this was 2012, and more graphic covers just weren’t on-trend)

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Like I said, they knew already that this one was their favorite, and Barnes & Noble had approved it already too. This was the first version of what became the cover that I saw…

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You can see that the colors are a little bit different, but on the whole, it was very close. That’s not to say we didn’t try a few things with it first. We were a little worried that maybe the dude looked too old or too formal to be Jason, so Heather had some fun with photoshop.

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But yeah, that didn’t quite do it. So we went back, and in the end, this was the final cover. We went lighter on all the colors, and I have to say, OH MY GOD is it good. Guess this one was, well, meant to be (hey-oh!)

MTB FINAL COVER

True story: when I first shared this cover online, I got a comment from a woman. Not sure how she stumbled across it, but she wanted to tell me that that was her son in the photo! It came from a stock photo shoot that was meant to be (and are you ready for this?) EDWARD AND BELLA! They actually found their way to another book cover

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Top Movie Meet-Cutes

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What’s a rom com without a meet cute? It’s a boring movie, that’s what it is. But what is a meet cute, exactly? Well, I’ll let one of my favorite characters in The Holiday (one of my must-watch rom coms during December … who knew I could have amorous feelings for Jack Black?) tell you all about it.

Notting Hill

Ok, this is a bit of a cheat, because this is technically the second time they met … but it’s the one that counts! And it’s such a well-executed piece of physical comedy (plus the little Pretty Woman call-back!). And while we’re at it, can we please bring back berets? The 90s are fully back, right? If we’re doing chokers, I definitely think we can work on berets.

The American President

I love the American President. I watched it over and over in college, and my roommate and I used to always stand up and cheer at the final speech (“My name is Andrew Shepherd, and I AM the President”). I also love a meet cute that starts with one character unknowingly insulting the other.  It always says a lot about both characters (what did they say? how did they react?) and usually primes them for some electrifying chemistry.

Love, Actually

Along the lines of The American President meet-cute, this one is about a character who just can’t manage to not say something embarrassing. And I think we can all agree that Hugh Grant’s little look-back here is absolute rom com perfection.

Serendipity

This whole movie is basically one entire meet cute (or a series of near-miss meet-cutes), so of course I had to include it. It’s Kate Beckinsale at her most ethereal, with everyone’s favorite rom com stud, John Cusack.

 

Thanks for checking in on #30DaysofRomComs! Don’t forget to enter the giveaways we’ve got running! And get a bonus entry onto all three giveaways by commenting below with your favorite rom com meet-cutes!

$15 Amazon gift certificate
Gilmore Girls “In Omnia Paratus” tee
Katie Cotugno book of your choice!

This Rom Com Is The Best, Fight Me: Katie Cotugno

For today’s installment of #30DaysofRomComs, we’ve got one of my favorite YA contemporary authors, Katie Cotugno, here to to tell us about her favorite rom com. Katie is the author of How to Love and the NYT Bestselling 99 Days, so she knows from romance. And if you follow her on Twitter, you definitely know she knows funny, too. I’m so excited to get to see her next weekend when I’m in Boston for Boston Teen Author Festival, and hopefully get some inside scoop on her forthcoming novel, Fireworks.

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You’ve Got Mail is the I Ching. You’ve Got Mail is the sum of all wisdom. You’ve Got Mail is the answer to any question. What shall I put on the canapes at my next cocktail party? “That caviar is a garnish!” What are you up to this weekend? “I’m going to the nut shop where it’s fun.” Where are we going to live once we realize there’s no way the proprietor of a children’s bookstore could afford a beautiful, shabby-chic apartment on the Upper West Side? “Hello, New Jersey!” The answer to your question is, You’ve Got Mail is my very favorite romcom. I love everything about it, from Meg Ryan’s potato sack dresses to the plinky, earnest soundtrack to the blink-and-you-miss-it cameo by Chris Messina. It makes me feel happy and safe and nostalgic for the sweet, sweet sound of dial-up internet. It makes me feel, like Joe Fox tells Kathleen Kelly as he leans dashingly over the counter in her beautiful, fictional bookstore, enchanted.

You can never EVER go wrong with a Nora Ephron movie, I say. And it makes me DOUBLY excited that we’re going to livetweet You’ve Got Mail coming up (rain-checked from Sunday night because life happened, as it does!).

Today’s #30DaysofRomComs giveaway is a copy of a Katie Cotugno book of your choice! You can pick from a paperback of How to Love, a hardcover of 99 Days, or a pre-order of her latest novel, Fireworks, out April 18, 2017. To enter, leave a comment below with your favorite rom com. Winner will be chosen at random on Sept 30, US only.

fireworks_jktFrom Katie Cotugno, bestselling author of 99 Days, comes Fireworks—about a girl who is competing with her best friend to become the new pop star of the moment—and all the drama and romance that comes with it—set in Orlando during the late-’90s boy-and-girl-band craze.

It was always meant to be Olivia. She was the talented one, the one who had been training to be a star her whole life. Her best friend, Dana, was the level-headed one, always on the sidelines, cheering her best friend along.

But everything changes when Dana tags along with Olivia to Orlando for the weekend, where superproducer Guy Monroe is holding auditions for a new singing group, and Dana is discovered too. Dana, who’s never sung more than Olivia’s backup. Dana, who wasn’t even looking for fame. Next thing she knows, she and Olivia are training to be pop stars, and Dana is falling for Alex, the earnest, endlessly talented boy who’s destined to be the next big thing.

It should be a dream come true, but as the days of grueling practice and constant competition take their toll, things between Olivia and Dana start to shift . . . and there’s only room at the top for one girl. For Olivia, it’s her chance at her dream. For Dana, it’s a chance to escape a future that seems to be closing in on her. And for these lifelong best friends, it’s the adventure of a lifetime—if they can make it through.

Set in evocative 1990s Orlando, New York Times bestselling author Katie Cotugno’s Fireworks brings to life the complexity of friendship, the excitement of first love, and the feeling of being on the verge of greatness.

My Unscripted Life
Out October 11!
AmazonBarnes & NobleIndiebound

MyUnscriptedLife_110915[2]

The 6 Most Romantic Moments on Gilmore Girls

30daysofromcoms

Welcome to Day 2 of #30DaysofRomComs!

My entire fall is basically just one giant countdown to November 25, when Lorelai and Rory return to my life (and then I get to binge Lauren Graham’s new book). In fact, when I realized that I’d be in Ohio with my husband’s family over Thanksgiving, thus making it probably impossible to binge the show, I literally shouted NOOOOOO!!!!!!!

My relationship with Gilmore Girls is deep and goes back to the very beginning. I watched the pilot episode when it originally aired on television, and then proceeded to watch every single episode for the next 7 seasons. I sobbed at the finale, feeling pretty cheated that we [spoiler alert!] weren’t going to see a resolution with Luke and Lorelai (I need a wedding, people!).

And so for #30DaysofRomComs, I had to check in with my favorite ladies and count down my favorite romantic moments from the series. Are you ready?

If you haven’t watched the complete series, warning! Danger! Here be spoilers!

Dave Asks Lane to Prom

No, there will not be a Dean scene on this list. Dean is a yawn come to life, and while he was a perfectly nice first boyfriend for Rory, he does nothing for me. So my pick for romance in the early years was definitely Dave Rygalski. And peak Dave was this moment when he showed up to ask Mrs. Kim if he could take Lane to prom in Season 3 Episode 20: Say Goodnight Gracie. It has everything we love about Gilmore Girls: fast talking, cultural references, and subtle humor.

Jess and Rory FINALLY get together

When Jess finally showed up on Gilmore Girls, it was all praise hands from me. I loved his bad boy intellectual thing, and I liked that he challenged Rory. Sure, the older I get the more his behavior irks me (he had some serious growing up to do), but I still can’t ignore the chemistry he had with Rory. And that all finally boiled over in Season 3, Episode 7: They Shoot Gilmores, Don’t They? It is my sincere hope that the revival finds Rory and Jess having met up on the campaign trail, both older and wiser, and being creative bon vivants in New York. Or maybe they could reunite ON the revival, and hook up in an industrial loft while Adele’s Hello plays? Not that I’ve thought about this a lot or anything …

Luke + Lorelei Kiss FINALLY

I’m pretty sure if you listened hard on May 18, 2004, you’d have heard a collective SQUEE across America as Luke and Lorelai finally finally FINALLY kissed. Us die hards had seen the chemistry between the two of them from that very first episode, but damn did the writers take the scenic route to get there. We had to wait through four seasons of Max Medina (snooze) and Jason Stiles (who I loved, but it was never gonna work). And when we finally got here? Turned out it was well worth the wait.

Richard and Emily’s Wedding

You guys, I’m gonna need a moment to collect myself before we go here. Because Edward Hermann’s death still seems like a cruel trick. I’ve already started stocking up on Kleenex for the revival. especially after this shot was released. I love Richard and Emily’s relationship, from the season 1 declaration that she demands to go first (oh god, the tears are already starting) to the story of their first date in season 3 on a visit to Yale. But this moment really captures what I love about their relationship, how despite the fact that these are two very staid people, they do have a playfulness about it.

You Jump, I Jump, Jack

Alright, here it is, folks. The declaration. Despite my love of Jess and desire for them to get together NOW, I think … I’m Team Logan. Yeah, he made some mistakes, and [spoiler!] he should have known better than to propose and issue an ultimatum like that (DO YOU KNOW RORY AT ALL?!?!). Everything I love about their relationship is wrapped up in this moment, which is several episodes before they even get together. But their chemistry is on FIRE here, and we see exactly why she needed Logan (ugh, we will ignore the ill-advised Dean repeat/detour). Can I also say that I freaking LOVE The Life and Dead Brigade, and I’m so psyched to hear that they get to do some stunts in the revival!

Stars Hollow Says Goodbye

Despite the dudes, I think Gilmore Girls is all about family: the family you’re born into and the family you make yourself. And nothing sums up that theme better than the end of the series finale. Sure, I’m still pissed that we didn’t get a Luke + Lorelai resolution (which I hope will change in November!), and it’s not Amy Sherman Palladino’s last four words, but I truly believe this was the perfect way to end the series. If you didn’t cry watching this, I don’t even wanna know ya.

Are you psyched for November? While you’re waiting, throw on a rewatch, follow gilmoregirlsonly on Instagram for updates on the revival, and peruse the shop at Kindred Handicrafts for an awesome Gilmore Girls-inspired tee (I’ve got this one on its way to me as we speak).

Mark your calendars for Sunday! I’ll be watching one of my all-time favorite rom coms, You’ve Got Mail, and livetweeting using the #30DaysofRomComs hashtag. Join me! It’s available free on Amazon Prime or for rent on iTunes or GooglePlay for $2.99. Cue it up on your platform of choice at 7pm.

Wanna win your own In OmniA paratus tee from kindred handicrafts? Tweet about this contest, then come back and comment with a link, and you’ll be entered to win this tee in the size of your choice!

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[US Only, Contest Ends Sept 30]

My Unscripted Life
Out October 11!
AmazonBarnes & NobleIndiebound

MyUnscriptedLife_110915[2]

Welcome to #30DaysofRomComs!

30daysofromcoms

It’s here! It begins! Join us, won’t you?

What is #30DaysofRomComs?

It’s exactly what it sounds like … 30 days celebrating the greatest art form known to humankind, the romantic comedy (shut up, I said it, so it must be true). They make us laugh, they make us cry, they make us swoon, and they just don’t make ’em like they used to … so for the next 30 days we’re going to revel in what makes them great.

Ok, so what do I do?

Sit back, relax, and follow the hashtag! Check Instagram and Twitter for #30DaysofRomComs, where you’ll find links to interviews, blog posts, countdowns, and rewatches, not to mention some awesome giveaways.

But why?

Because rom coms are awesome, duh. And also because I’m releasing my 4th novel, My Unscripted Life, on October 11th. This book is a classic rom com, and exactly the book I would have wanted to read when I was 16. It’s a bit of a love letter to high school Lauren, who spent way too much time feeling absolutely certain that the N*SYNC tour bus would break down outside my house, and I’d just be forced to entertain the band. And so, when I sat down to write my fourth (yes, FOURTH!) novel, I decided to fulfill that wish for 15 year old Lauren. I also wanted to write about the amazing world of film and television sets that I’d been living in for the past couple years as an extra on The Vampire Diaries and The Originals. And soon Milo and Dee were off and running, driving around the back roads of tiny southern towns, falling in love amidst the chaos of a movie set, and finding out how fragile a heart can be when under the watchful eye of a camera.

So to celebrate the launch, I decided to get some of my friends together and revel in all that is good and swoony about romantic comedies. Thus, #30DaysofRomComs was born.

Oh, and did I mention the giveaways? Let’s start that right quick. Tweet using the hashtag #30DaysofRomComs, then come back and comment below with a link to be entered to win a $15 Amazon gift certificate! Open internationally, contest ends September 19th.

A new venture and a giveaway to celebrate!

This blog has been pretty well tumbleweeds for a while now. I’m not much of a blogger, I guess. But I still want to be able to share with you guys some longer thoughts (beyond the 140 characters on twitter … or the epic twitter rant), so I’ve decided to create a newsletter! I’ve been working hard on the first one, and I’ve got big plans to do some fun things with it (interviews! exclusive content! giveaways! news!).

To celebrate this fun new venture, I’m giving away a $50 Barnes & Noble gift card to one lucky subscriber from the US or Canada. All you have to do is click this link, sign up, and you’re entered. I’ll pick a winner on September 1, so don’t delay!

CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

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CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

My 2016 Reading Resolution

I’m going to admit something here. Real talk? Here we go. Over the last couple of years, I’ve really given in to my book-buying addiction. Part of it is that I visit a lot of indie book stores, and I refuse to walk out without buying something. Part of it is that I know a bunch of incredible authors, and I want to support them and read their books. And part of it is just that, well, I FREAKING LOVE BOOKS.

Unfortunately, I’ve been buying books faster than I can read them. Which means my TBR pile became a tower, then a shelf, and then I built a new bookcase (only 2 shelves!) next to my bed to hold it … and then I stacked two-deep.

I know. I have a problem.

I was combing through my shelves today picking out titles for a friend who’s collecting books to start a library at a girl’s home in Atlanta, and I realized how much I have that a) I haven’t read and b) I’m really freaking excited about. So I started pulling books and putting them in a “read this soon!” pile. And then that pile got big. And then it almost tipped over and injured me.

Well that settled it. My 2016 reading resolution? Read the books I already have, dammit!

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Can you believe that haul? If someone deposited all those books on my doorstep at once, I’d probably fall over from the excitement. Well I’ve got them all on my shelves, and yet I’m not reading them! It feels wasteful. It feels overindulgent. It feels wrong.

My other 2016 reading resolution is to get better about passing books along, either to friends (I’m a book pusher) or through donation. There are so many readers out there without access to these kinds of titles who would LOVE to get their hands on them. And so I’ll be keeping my absolute favorites, my signed books, or books I’m pretty confident I’ll read again. But otherwise, I’ll be passing them along, even books I loved. Because books are meant to be read (Pixar, I know you’re working on Toy Story 7 or something that’s all about sad unread books, and I’m already crying about it).

In case you’re wondering, yes, I’ll still be buying some new titles. Like I mentioned in my 2015 Book Superlatives post, I’ve got 5 titles I’m already jonesing for. And the haul in the picture is only 26 books, so I’ve got room to add more (though I’m a huge supporter of my local library, so lots of slots will get filled that way).

So be sure to follow along as I revisit the hype (Six of Crows! Bone Gap! The Wrath and the Dawn!) and dig into some backlist (Tiger Lily! Legend! We Were Here!) with my 2016 reading list. And this time next year, hopefully I’ll have absolved myself of being a filthy book hoarder who acquires and doesn’t read.

2016 Reading List (so far!)

(left-right)
Symphony for the City of the Dead by MT Anderson
Illuminae by Amy Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family by Amy Ellis Nutt
Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin
Juba! by Walter Dean Myers
Anything Could Happen by Will Walton
Five, Six, Seven, Nate! by Tim Federle
Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
George by Alex Gino
Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone
Hit by Delilah Dawson
Another Day by David Levithan
A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
First and Then by Emma Mills
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales
Don’t Fail Me Now by Una LaMarche
(top-bottom)
Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas
We Are The Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson
We Were Here by Matt de la Pena
Legend by Marie Lu

2015 Book Superlatives

It’s that time of year, when people are making their top 10 or 20 or 200 books of the year. As of now, I’m at 64 books read (though I’ll probably add another 1-2 before the year ends). Less than in recent years, but hey, this was my first full year taking care of a tiny human. Not as much unadulterated reading time as I used to have! So instead of a top whatever list, I’ve decided to do my 2015 reading superlatives (along with some 2016 anticipated books). If you see something on the list you haven’t read, well, you should.

Most Feminist YA

THE CURE FOR DREAMING
Cat Winters

The genre of Cat Winters novels are not my usual cup of tea, and yet I’ve added her to my auto-buy list. Her sophomore novel, The Cure for Dreaming, weaved together some magical realism with some feminist AF narratives. Throw in some amazing historical details, and I was ALL IN.

Book I Evangelize the Most

VIVIAN APPLE AT THE END OF THE WORLD
Katie Coyle

PLEASE READ THIS BOOK. It’s funny and smart and subversive and so so important in our political landscape. The sequel, Vivian Apple Needs a Miracle, has one of the best laugh-out-loud finales I read this year.

Best Series Ender

IN THE AFTERLIGHT
Alexandra Bracken

Again, The Darkest Minds trilogy is not something I’d usually be into, but these books are so well written and well-develped. I recommend this trilogy to anyone who says they know a reluctant teen reader.

Quietest YA

DEVOTED
Jennifer Mathieu

This category is a shoutout to the #QuietYA hashtag. What if I told you this story was a loose version of if one of the Dugger girls got woke? What I love most about this novel is the respect Mathieu has for Rachel’s faith. In a lesser author’s hands, this story would have taken the easy way out and given Rachel some kind of Rumspringa-esque rebellion. But this is a gentle story about faith and family and finding yourself, and I want more people to read it.

Sweetest Read

ROLLER GIRL
Victoria Jemieson

This graphic novel was so happy-making, I think I sighed and hugged it when I finished. Perfect for rebels and outsiders and athletes and junior riot grrrls, or just the girls who are looking for a place and finding middle school to be less than perfect.

Most Important

ALL THE RAGE
Courtney Summers

This needs to be in the hands of every high schooler, male or female, across this country. It’s raw and honest and just such a good book. There’s a reason I’ve auto-bought everything Courtney’s written since I first picked up Cracked Up to Be in 2008.

Best Audio

UNBROKEN
Laura Hillenbrand
Narrated by Edward Herrmann

RIP Richard Gilmore … this incredible story was made even better by the late Herrmann’s narration. I could just imagine him telling Rory that he’s read the most extraordinary book and pressing it into her hands. You wouldn’t think a book where more than a hundred pages are spent floating lost in the Pacific could be gripping, but it so is.

Best Romance

HELLO, GOODBYE, AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN
Jennifer E. Smith

A novel about a couple on the night before they leave for different colleges, retracing their relationship and trying to decide if they’re going to stay together or break up. I loved it all the way through, but that ending really sealed it for me. Jen writes contemps that feel so real. I’ll read anything she writes forever.

Most Un-Put-Downable

THE ROYAL WE
Jessica Cocks and Heather Morgan

I loved the Fug Girls’ YA novels (Spoiled and Messy), so I was going to read this no matter what. But when I found out that it was a Will-and-Kate-style rom com? YES PLEASE! This book is a beast at over 500 pages, but I read it in a weekend. I’m pretty sure I neglected my husband, child, and all responsibilities to finish it.

Most White-Knuckle Read

WRITTEN IN THE STARS
Aisha Saeed

This one was a major surprise. I knew it was going to be great (everyone told me it would), but I didn’t expect it to be such a tense page-turner! This is another one I couldn’t put down, and again, in the hands of a lesser author, the ending wouldn’t have been nearly as delicate and strong. This book is important, but that doesn’t mean it’s not also incredibly readable.

Favorite Character

Willowdean from DUMPLIN’
Julie Murphy

I think I literally fist pumped while reading this book. The moment where Willowdean is giving her friend a pep talk while a douchebag taunts her from the parking lot, and she pauses only to yell “Eat shit!” and then returns to her pep talk is maybe the most triumphant moment in writing this year. I loved Willowdean for her complexity and her heart, and you will too.

Book Boyfriend

Will from BEAUTIFUL PLAYER
Christina Lauren

Yes, I discovered Christina Lauren in the last quarter of 2015. Yes, I read them all (in a row). Yes, it was hard to choose (Max! Finn! Ansel! Not-Joe!). But in the end, I went with Will. Maybe it was the running? I don’t know … it worked for me.

Biggest Surprise

THE CARNIVAL AT BRAY
Jessie Ann Foley

Ok guys, maybe this book was a big deal, but it’s possible I missed that because it came out right when I had a baby (it was definitely a big deal, because it was nominated for the Printz, I was just wildly out of touch, ok?). Regardless, this summer I discovered a paperback copy for sale while I was shopping at my local Kroger and figured, hey why not? Color me shocked when a book I’d never heard of turned out to be one of my favorite stories of the year. This is the book I wish I’d had when I was in high school.

The Novel That Wrecked Me

A LITTLE LIFE
Hanya Yanagihara

All I have to say about this is WHY DOES ANYONE TALK ABOUT FRANZEN WHEN HANYA YANAGIHARA IS WALKING AROUND ON THIS BEAUTIFUL EARTH? Oh Jude and Willem and Malcolm and JB. These were the most fully realized characters I’ve ever come across. It gave me the hardest crying jags I’ve ever experienced while reading. It was brutal to read, but also beautiful. I mean, don’t just trust me. It was a National Book Award finalist, after all.

Book That Changed My Life

BIG MAGIC
Elizabeth Gilbert

Two things: 1) I usually can’t get through a self-help/inspirational book without a million eye rolls and 2) I DNFed Eat, Pray, Love because #whitewhine. But Big Magic? Big Magic made me fall in love with writing again after a very hard year writing-wise (that’s a post for another day…). Thanks to Big Magic, I’m writing again for fun. I’m remembering why I do this. Some people keep the Bible on their bedside table? I have my marked up, be-stickied copy of Big Magic. If you’re a creative type, you need to read this.

Series I Binged

GALLAGHER GIRLS
Ally Carter

I highly recommend picking one series next year that’s complete that you missed and binging it. It’s so fun! After a million recommendations, I finally picked up the first from my local library, then returned to check out the remaining 5 all once. Two weeks later, I’d had a fun and exciting ride with Cammie and the Girls.

Favorite 2016 Book

THE SERPENT KING
Jeff Zentner

I loved this book for focusing on the kinds of characters we don’t often see in YA. There’s also a *thing* that happens in this book that had me sending a slightly hysterical DM to Jeff midway through. I’ve never been so mad at an author ever (but in a good way, I promise). Put this book on your TBR, though if early reviews are any indication, you already do. I predict everyone and their dog is going to be reading this next year.

2016 Books I’m Dying to Get My Hands on

Are you a publicist? Do you have these galleys? Because watch out, I might be stalking you. These are my 2016 auto-buys!

THE UNEXPECTED EVERYTHING by Morgan Matson

Her books always rank amongst my favorite reads. This might be the only book I’ve already pre-ordered, and it doesn’t come out until May!

SUMMER DAYS AND SUMMER NIGHTS by Stephanie Perkins

Another Perkins anthology! I loved My True Love Gave to Me (which I bought WHILE I WAS IN LABOR you guys; remind me to tell you that story!). If I were in the Hunger Games and this book was in the cornucopia, I’d make a run for it.

YOU KNOW ME WELL by David Levithan & Nina LaCour

A Levithan/LaCour teamup set during the Pride Parade in San Fran?! I mean …

THE LAST BOY AND GIRL IN THE WORLD by Siobhan Vivian

I loved The List, Vivian’s last solo-novel, and I can’t wait for this one.

PASSENGER by Alexandra Bracken

The only non-contemp on this list, but what can I say? Bracken is an incredible writer, and I’ll get my hands on anything she publishes

Top 6 Ways to Support Your Favorite Author

bookmark

It’s getting close to release time! You know how I know? Because I had a nightmare last night that my launch party was a disaster, and I have to physically restrain myself from visiting review sites. Just one week until The Trouble With Destiny hits shelves, and the thing that comes up most often in conversation with family and friends is “what can I do to help?” So in that spirit, I put together this handy list of the top six ways to help an author launch a book.

1. Pre-Order The Book

Preorders help authors enormously by convincing their publisher’s that there’s an interest in the work. Bonus? Preorders often come with fun surprises (if you preorder The Trouble With Destiny from Little Shop of Stories, your copy will be signed and include fun swag!), and at some online retailers, you can get special pricing.

2. Purchase In-Store During Release Week

The first week of sales are a big deal for authors. Again, they show the publisher that there’s reader enthusiasm and author support out there, which can mean extended print runs, bigger publicity pushes, and even author events and tours. Does it matter where you order from? Not for the author. All sales are equal. Most of us hope you’ll order from a local shop, but we understand that a) there might not be one in your area or b) online retailers work better with your budget.

3. Ask Your Local Library to Order It

Ok, so you can only order so many copies of a book (unless you’re my grandmother, who ordered 10 … thanks Grandma!). But if you want to really help an author, stop into your local library (and branch libraries!) and ask them to order the book. A lot of times readers wonder if checking a book out of the library hurts the author. No way! Each book in a library represents a sale for the author, and enthusiasm for one book means the library might stock multiple copies, or order it for all its branch libraries, or order copies of the author’s backlist (ie, previously published titles). One request to your local library can result in lots of sales for an author!

4. Ask Your Local Bookstore to Stock It

Not every book arrives in every store, and that can especially be true for smaller indie shops without a lot of shelf space. They want to order books that they know there’s local enthusiasm for, so if you ask or order from your local indie, it’s more likely that multiple copies of that author’s books will appear on the shelves. And maybe that author might end up stopping into the shop to visit/sign/read!

5. Recommend It

This one is easy and free, and if you’ve ever recommended someone’s new favorite book to them, you know how awesome it can be. So it’s practically a selfish enterprise to recommend a book! A personal recommendation means the world to a reader, because they know they’re in for a treat. But know your audience when you go for a personal rec. For example, The Trouble With Destiny is a great read for younger teen readers, particularly ones involved in band, orchestra, theater, choir, etc. Readers who love slapstick comedy and romance. Readers who are looking for a happy ending. Readers who love books by Elizabeth Eulberg, Susane Colasanti, or Jessica Brody’s contemps.

6. Talk it up

Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat (no, I don’t know how Snapchat works, but I believe if you’re younger than me, you probably do!). Instagram a shelfie! Tweet your current read! Share a quote on Facebook! Tell your favorite forum, or talk it up at your knitting circle or your church group or out with friends. You never know who might remember that mention and pick up a copy.

 

Well there you have it, six easy ways to support an author you love (and only a few of them involve actually purchasing the book!). Don’t forget that The Trouble With Destiny hits shelves on December 8th, and if you’re in Georgia, you can celebrate with me at the Macon Barnes & Noble on December 10th (Thursday at 7pm) and at Little Shop of Stories in Decatur on December 12th (Saturday at 6:30pm). 

Pre-order from Indiebound, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, The Book Depository OR call Little Shop of Stories at 404-373-6300 to get a signed copy with swag!