Archive for the ‘ Fiction ’ Category

What Are Your Favorite Love Stories?

Friday, February 14th, 2014

I am anti-Valentine’s Day even though I have a wonderful husband and happy life. Why? Because one or two bad experiences with Cupid are stuck in my mind and heart and determined to torment me forever. I’ll never get over it. I’ve been married for almost 10 years, and now the nice Valentine’s Days outnumber the bad ones. So I’m listing a few of my favorite love stories below to get me in the mood for this romantic day. It’s working. I just think about Eleanor and Park’s first kiss or how much Scarlett really loved Rhett but couldn’t show it. Below is an eclectic mix of new and old, young adult and literary. Don’t just wait for Valentine’s Day to get sappy–these books are great for all year round.

What are your favorite love stories? Here are mine:

1. Eleanor and Park
by Rainbow Rowell

2. Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen

3. The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald

4. Lolita
by Vladimir Nabokov

5. Twilight (Don’t judge me. The love in these books is epic and the pace is time-stopping.)
by Stephenie Meyer

6. The Fault in Our Stars
by John Green

7. Gone With the Wind
by Margaret Mitchell

8. Outlander
by Diana Gabaldon

9. Eat, Pray, Love
Elizabeth Gilbert

10. The Lover’s Dictionary 
David Levithan

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Valentine's Day Felt Hearts Garland Craft
Valentine's Day Felt Hearts Garland Craft
Valentine's Day Felt Hearts Garland Craft

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Ned Vizzini, Author of ‘It’s Kind of a Funny Story,’ Dead at 32

Friday, December 20th, 2013

My morning Facebook check made me shaky and teary today. My friends in the young adult novel writing community were mourning the unconfirmed death of the talented author Ned Vizzini. He was the prodigy who wrote the bestselling YA novel It’s Kind of a Funny Story that also became a movie. His other teen books include Be More Chill, The Other Normals, Teen Angst… Nah and House of Secrets. I looked forward to his humorous essays in the New York Times, and I was happy to hear he had a seemingly great career writing for TV.

The rumor is now confirmed. Ned Vizzini is dead at 32 of an apparent suicide after jumping off the roof of his parents’ Brooklyn home. He was 32 and survived by his brother, wife and son.

I didn’t know him personally, but our paths crossed at young adult panels back when I was a hyperactive Scholastic author. I thought he was wicked funny, and honestly, I was totally jealous of him. He was a super talented overnight success. He was totally deserving. I just wish I had a little more of what he had.

Today I feel sad. I have dealt with depression and anxiety for years. I understand its depths and suffering. But I have never been so far down that dark hole that I attempted suicide. I just wish Ned–and others–could find peace in another way. I hope today his suffering has ended. I hope others do not judge him. My thoughts are with him and his family.

Here’s a haunting quote from the touching book, It’s Kind of a Funny Story:

“Its so hard to talk when you want to kill yourself. That’s above and beyond everything else, and it’s not a mental complaint-it’s a physical thing, like it’s physically hard to open your mouth and make the words come out. They don’t come out smooth and in conjunction with your brain the way normal people’s words do; they come out in chunks as if from a crushed-ice dispenser; you stumble on them as they gather behind your lower lip. So you just keep quiet.”

and one more to leave you with:

“Things to do today:
1) Breathe in.
2) Breathe out.”

Rest in sweet peace, Ned Vizzinni.

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Best Books of 2013 Roundup: Oprah, The New York Times, Publisher’s Weekly–See Who’s List You Like Best

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

What were your favorite reads of 2013? I’ll list my Parents picks in the next few days, but today I’ve been having fun with are everyone else’s. Other editors and reviewers from Oprah and The New York Times don’t agree on many of the Best Books of 2013, as you’ll see below. Publisher’s Weekly culled through 9,000 reviews (15 I wrote myself) to come up with their choices–most I haven’t even heard of. So what should you read? I’m thinking about The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner which showed up twice–so did Good Lord Bird. The Interestings gets one nod, and that’s one I loved it this summer.

So stop what you’re doing–work and watching kids can wait. Take time to peruse these awesome reading choices below. I’m sending this list to my book club. (Hi girls!) We need a great new read to ring in 2014.

Oprah’s 10 Best Books of 2013

1.The Isle of Youth
By Laura van den Berg
The gist: A quirky story collection filled with unique and strong female protagonists.

2. Country Girl: A Memoir
By Edna O’Brien
The gist: A memoir by one of Ireland’s most famous fiction writers that has been compared to Angela’s Ashes.

3. The Signature of All Things
By Elizabeth Gilbert
The gist: This one about a strong 19th Century botanist proves that the Eat, Pray, Love writer is at the top of her game. Gilbert makes moss a fascinating subject, I hear.

4. Vampires in the Lemon Grove
By Karen Russell
The gist: This hugely creative collection of short stories–one about a vampire who’s afraid to fly and another about U.S. presidents reincarnated about horses–proves that the author of Swamplandia has staying power.

5. The Flamethrowers
By Rachel Kushner
The gist: The award-winning saga of an electric young woman’s full-throttle pursuit of love amid the class war and cultural upheaval of the late ’70s.

6. The Good Lord Bird
By James McBride
The gist: A slave boy and abolitionist John Brown change the course of American history in this novel that is inspired by real events.

7. The Interestings
By Meg Wolitzer
The gist: Through well-tuned drama and compassionate humor, Wolitzer chronicles the living organism that is friendship, and arcs it over the course of more than 30 years.

8. The Cuckoo’s Calling
By Robert Galbraith
The gist: A book for mystery lovers by J.K. Rowling.

9. Dog Songs
By Mary Oliver
The gist: This Pulitzer Prize-winning author’s combo of woman’s best friend and poetry is irresistible.

10. The Woman Who Lost Her Soul
By Bob Shacochis
The gist: What is the legacy of war—and how long does it last—are the questions behind this brilliant and gripping novel.

Publisher’s Weekly Best Books (gathered in no particular order)


1. See of Hooks
By Lindsay Hill
The gist: “Pure reading pleasure on every single page, not to mention a wallop of pathos.”

2. Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood & the Prison of Belief
By Lawrence Wright
The gist: Wright’s prodigiously researched investigation of Scientology does what good reporting ought to do: examine something in search of truth, lay out the findings, and let conclusions be drawn.

3. Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield
By Jeremy Scahill
The gist: The Nation’s national security correspondent surgically exposes how the War on Terror is actually conducted: secret prisons, torture, extralegal assassinations, drone surveillance and warfare, gamesmanship with corrupt regimes. 

4. Men We Reaped
By Jesmyn Ward
The gist: Critically acclaimed novelist Ward (Salvage the Bones) bravely enters nonfiction terrain in this starkly honest and deeply tragic account of the deaths of five important men in her life.

5. People in the Trees
By Hanya Yanagihara
The gist: In this novel, a ccientist who, after graduating Harvard medical school in the 1940s, travels to a remote Pacific island chain where he may or may not have stumbled upon the key to immortality.

6. Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery
By Robert Kolker
The gist: “Even hardened true crime readers will be haunted by New York magazine contributing editor Kolker’s provocative tale of five young escorts who became linked by the tragic circumstances of their disappearances, and the discovery of their remains on Long Island’s Oak Beach.”

7. Miss Anne in Harlem
By Carla Kaplan
The gist: In this beautifully written, empathetic, and valuable addition to the history of the Harlem Renaissance, scholar Kaplan (Zora Neale Hurston: A Life in Letters) presents the untold story of six notable white women (including Fannie Hurst and Nancy Cunard, members of a larger group known collectively as “Miss Anne”) who embraced black culture—and life—in Harlem in the 1920s and ’30s.

8. Constellation of Vital Phenomena
By Anthony Marra
The gist: A Chechen village, a young girl watching her father taken by Russian soldiers and her house burned to the ground: so begins Marra’s startling debut, in which a tough doctor ponders the extent of her obligation to help Havaa, an eight-year-old girl who has been brought to the doctor’s wretched and abandoned hospital by Akhmed, the girl’s neighbor.

9. The Silence and the Roar
By Nihad Sirees
The gist: “Sirees’s deeply philosophical and satirical novel echoes Kafka and Orwell.”

10. The Good Lord Bird
By James McBride
see details above

The New York Times 10 Best Books of 2013

1. Americanah
By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi

2. The Flamethrowers
By Rachel Kushner

3. The Goldfinch
By Donna Tartt

4. Life After Life
By Kate Atkinson

5. Tenth of December
By George Saunders

6. After the Music Stopped: The Financial Crisis, the Response, and the Work Ahead
By Alan S. Blinder

7. Days of Fire: Bush and Cheney in the White House
By Peter Baker

8. Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital
By Sheri Fink

9. The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914
By Christopher Clark

10. Wave
By Sonali Deraniyagala

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Author Allison Winn Scotch Talks About Her New Book ‘Theory of Opposites’ and The Myth of Having It All

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Former blogger and current New York Times bestselling author Allison Winn Scotch wrote a cool new novel, and of course she wants to tell us about it. In her book, The Theory of Opposites, she writes about a woman who thinks she has the perfect life–that the stars have aligned for her and her dreams have come true. Then, her husband asks for a “break,” her boss fires her and all hell breaks loose. Read this book for a fun–and sometimes sad–adventure through heartbreak and healing.
What inspired Allison to write this kind of women’s fiction? Find out in her guest blog below:
“What’s the toughest part of parenting for you, dear readers?
For me, It is accepting that I can’t control everything in my kids’ lives. Not the day to day stuff. I’ve always been a parent who believes that children have to sort out many things on their own, and with a 9-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter, there is plenty to sort out. :) Complicated friendships; homework time-management; sticking up for themselves against a not-so-nice kid who sits behind them on the bus; sibling squabbles that could potentially end in broken limbs. These are things that I happily let my kids manage on their own (unless I really do sense that a broken limb is imminent).  (more…)
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Eighth Grader Ravina Thakkar Writes a Novel Thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Sourcebooks

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

Ravina Thakkar, an eighth-grader in Plainfield, IL, has cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening medical condition that affects her lungs and digestive system. She doesn’t define herself that way, though. She thinks of herself as a writer–and a girl who loves to dance and listen to music.

When she became eligible, her social worker helped make her dreams come true through the Make-A-Wish® Illinois foundation.

Ravina wanted to write a book for middle graders, and she did just that yesterday when Sourcebooks released her new title. The publisher gave Ravina the entire author experience–from working with editors and designers to revising the manuscript and weighing in on the cover art.

Ravina’s book is called Adventure of a Lifetime and was written when she was 8-years-old. It’s about a 9-year-old girl named Betty who battles alongside a character from her favorite fiction series as they race from one danger to the next.Adventure of a Lifetime It was released on her 14th birthday. Ravina’s doing a marketing and publicity campaign that includes this Q&A with me: nts and bravery.

KK: How old were you when you wanted to become a writer? What age should we parents start encouraging our little ones who seem interested in it?
RT: (At left.) I was 6 when I decided I wanted to be a writer, I think…or at least, that was when the idea first got in my head. If children show interest in writing, then I would definitely suggest encouraging them early on! My parents’ support is one of the reasons I’m here today.

KK: How does your illness tie into your deep desire to write? How do your experiences affect your writing?
RT: Well, in my case, Cystic Fibrosis affects my lungs more than anything else. I take medication and do three treatments a day to stay healthy, and since those treatments take up much time in my day, they’re usually the time when I sit down to write. However, I don’t think Cystic Fibrosis has really affected my actual writing in anyway though…I’ve never really written about it.

KK: Kids your age are really busy. How did you communicate your passion to your parents, and make sure you had enough time to write, while juggling school, friends and after-school activities?
RT: The time I had during treatments helped a lot. I’m not in many extra-curricular activities anyway, but as school gets harder and harder, there’s less time to write. I’ve been juggling ideas around in my head and jotting them down for a later date, so I can write them out once everything gets less hectic.

KK: What advice do you have for other parents whose kids are interested in writing?
RT: Support them! If they want to, let your children tell you about their stories. Readers make the best writers, so encourage that. However, some kids just like writing as a hobby and that’s fine–never make it into a chore of sorts for them.

KK: If you could meet any writer, who would it be?
RT: Oh, this is funny, considering my first ‘wish’ with the foundation was to meet J.K. Rowling. Sadly, she’s not a participant in the Make A Wish foundation, but I’d still love to meet her! Either her or John Green, most definitely.

KK: If you could write another book, what would it be about?
RT: I’m not quite sure yet…I’ve kind of gravitated towards realistic fiction instead of adventure fiction, so if I did write something else, it would probably be that genre.

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