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Theirs was the perfect love story.
After Emma Lorde’s parents’ divorce forces her to move halfway across the state of Arizona to live with her father, Emma must face her senior year in a new school knowing absolutely no one.
Then she meets Dillon Hobbs and something just clicks.
Dillon introduces Emma to friends she can call her own. He provides a refuge from the chaos of her past and the security of a commitment that he promises will last forever. And because circumstances of her messy life forced Emma to put aside her dream of pursuing archaeology, Dillon creates a blueprint for a future together.
He saves her, over and over, by loving her more than she thought anyone ever would.
But just when everything seems picture-perfect, Emma is offered an opportunity that will upend the future they’ve planned. Uncertainty grows, and fear spirals into something darker.
Now Dillon is the one who needs saving.
But how much do you sacrifice for the one you love? What if saving Dillon means losing herself?
Amy Fellner Dominy is a former advertising copywriter, MFA playwright and hula-hoop champion. Her novels for teens and tweens include Die For You (11/8/16); A Matter of Heart, Audition & Subtraction; and OyMG, a Sydney Taylor Notable Book. Amy’s first picture book, Cookiesaurus Rex, will be published by Disney, Fall 2017. Amy lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband, various pets and two kids who occasionally stop by for free meals.
Die for You by Amy Fellner Dominy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Profound, painful, powerful. DIE FOR YOU is hard to put down.
Readers will get sucked into the lives of Dylan and Emma and watch what appears to be a beautiful relationship spiral out of control. Amy Fellner Dominy creates a story that could be going on at any high school. Yes, with different circumstances, but we’ve seen the headlines—teens so wrapped up in each other that one or both would be willing to die to keep the other or to make sure they stay together. Forever. In death. Not all relationships that are unhealthy take it that far, but here are some chilling statistics: One in three young people will be in an unsafe or unhealthy relationship. WOW!
Though this is a gut-wrenching, important topic, the story is gripping. The way Amy integrated Emma’s family history and Dylan’s family history brought an eye-opening understanding to the intensity of the relationship. Another very cool aspect was Emma’s love for archeology, which plays a central theme in the novel. I loved the story created around Pompeii.
Friendship is also explored. How loyal should a friend be? What constitutes disloyalty? And then there is family betrayal as well as loyalty to one’s family. What lines should or shouldn’t be crossed?
Without a doubt, DIE FOR YOU is the type of novel that will take you on a journey of reflection, and for some a mirror to look into and hopefully recognize before things get too out of hand. This kind of ugly love is not love at all. It needs to be revealed. It needs to be understood.
Brava, Amy! I highly recommend this novel!
This book started with an innocent question: “How did you and your husband end up together?”
I asked a friend that question about twenty years ago. I’ve always been a romantic and there’s nothing I love as much as a good love story. But what I got instead was a reply that sent shivers up my spine. She told me her husband had said that if she ever left him, he’d kill himself.
And she believed him.
So she married him.
I never forgot that over the years. How could a smart, talented, beautiful woman let herself be manipulated that way? I would never fall for that kind of emotional blackmail…or would I?
What if I loved someone and what if I worried for his life? What if he convinced me his need was love? What if I thought it came down to his life or mine?
What would I be willing to sacrifice?
What should I be willing to sacrifice?
I always say it was the search for answers that led me to write Die for You. But really, it began with a question.
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ABOUT THE LOST AND THE FOUND:
When six-year-old Laurel Logan was abducted, the only witness was her younger sister. Faith’s childhood was dominated by Laurel’s disappearance – from her parents’ broken marriage and the constant media attention to dealing with so-called friends who only ever wanted to talk about her sister.
Thirteen years later, a young woman is found in the garden of the Logans’ old house, disorientated and clutching the teddy bear Laurel was last seen with. Laurel is home at last, safe and sound. Faith always dreamed of getting her sister back, without ever truly believing it would happen. But a disturbing series of events leaves Faith increasingly isolated and paranoid, and before long she begins to wonder if everything that’s lost can be found again…
ABOUT CAT CLARKE:
Cat was born in Zambia and brought up in Edinburgh and Yorkshire, which has given her an accent that tends to confuse people.
Cat has written non-fiction books about exciting things like cowboys, sharks and pirates, and now writes YA novels. She lives in Edinburgh with a couple of cats, Jem and Scout, who spend their days plotting to spit up furballs at the most inconvenient times. She likes cheese A LOT, especially baked camembert.
LINKS: Website | Twitter
Food often works its way into my stories (often when I make the critical error of writing while hungry!) but in The Lost and the Found a particular type of food has an important role. One of my characters is a particularly lovely Frenchman called Michel, who is a sort of step-father to the main character, Faith. Michel is a veterinarian, but on the weekends he likes to make macarons and sell them at the local market. If you haven’t had the pleasure of trying one of these delicious morsels, a macaron is a tiny hamburger-shaped sweet treat, made from almond meringue and filled with ganache or jam. They are good. Really, really good.
I didn’t plan on making Michel a master macaron-maker (try saying that three times really fast!) but at the time I’d recently discovered a macaron shop in my hometown of Edinburgh, Scotland. Mademoiselle Macaron makes THE best macarons this side of Paris, and I became ever so slightly obsessed with the salted caramel ones. So when I was trying to come up with something fun for Michel and Faith to do together at weekends, macarons popped into my head.
For the UK launch party of The Lost and the Found, Mademoiselle Macaron made the most spectacular macaron tower, which the guests proceeded to demolish in a matter of hours. Here’s a picture of me, sampling the macarons just to make sure they were good enough for the guests. I only had one or two. Honest. Please ignore the tiny cheeses on the table in front of the tower. Cheese appears in lots of my novels, but that’s another story for another day.
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Sixteen-year-old Renley needs three thousand dollars for the math club’s trip to New York City, and she knows exactly how to get it: she’s going to start a how-to blog where people pay for answers to all of life’s questions from a “certified expert.” The only problems: 1) She doesn’t know how to do anything but long division and calculus. 2) She’s totally invisible to people at school. And not in a cool Gossip Girl kind of way.
So, she decides to learn to do . . . well . . . everything. When her anonymous blog shifts in a more scandalous direction and the questions (and money) start rolling in, she has to learn not just how to do waterfall braids and cat-eye makeup, but a few other things, like how to cure a hangover, how to flirt, and how to make out (something her very experienced, and very in-love-with-her neighbor, Drew, is more than willing to help with).
As her blog’s reputation skyrockets, so does “new and improved” Renley’s popularity. She’s not only nabbed the attention of the entire school, but also the eye of Seth Levine, the hot culinary wizard she’s admired from across the home-ec classroom all year.
Soon, caught up in the thrill of popularity both in and out of cyberspace, her secrets start to spiral, and she finds that she’s forgotten the most important how-to: how to be herself. When her online and real lives converge, Renley will have to make a choice: lose everything she loves in her new life, or everyone she loves in the life she left behind.
A huge number of things were taken from my real life as a sixteen and seventeen year old for How to Make Out. The thoughts Renley has during her first kiss in the novel are an EXACT transcript of mine during my first shocker of a French kiss (odd gum flavor choice included), the bikini wax scene was indeed inspired by real-life events, and Drew’s car is my friend Jeremy’s, from high school. Man was that thing a death machine.
Brianna Shrum is the author of NEVER NEVER and lives in Colorado with her high-school-sweetheart-turned-husband and two uber-hyper, superhero-obsessed little boys. She thinks chai tea is proof of magic in the world, and loves all things kissy, magical, and strange. She’d totally love to connect with you, so you can find her online at briannashrum.com or saying ridiculous things on Twitter @briannashrum.
Ocean’s Eleven meets the star-crossed lovers of West Side Story.Grab some popcorn and get ready for an adrenaline-filled heist!
LEXI is a rich girl who loves a good rush. Whether it’s motorcycle racing or BASE jumping off a building in downtown Los Angeles, the only times she feels alive are when she and her friends are executing one of their dares. After her father’s arrest, Lexi doesn’t think twice about going undercover at his bank to steal the evidence that might clear his name. She enlists her hacker brother and her daredevil friends to plan a clever heist.
CHRISTIAN is a boy from the wrong side of the tracks. The local gang has blackmailed him and his friends into robbing banks, and he is desperate for a way out. When the boss promises that one really big job will be the last he ever has to do, Christian jumps at the chance for freedom. In fact, he’s just met a girl at the bank who might even prove useful. . . .
Two heists. One score. The only thing standing in their way is each other.
Told in alternating points of view, this caper is full of romance and fast-paced fun. Hand to fans of Perfect Chemistry, The Conspiracy of Us, and Heist Society.
By Amy Christine Parker
Writers are thieves. Everything we put into a novel is stolen: research, our personal lives, things we over hear, other forms of art we’re exposed to. Okay, okay, I know. I’m being a bit overdramatic here—maybe borrowed or inspired is more accurate than stolen—but it just sounds cooler (and we are taking about a heist book here), so I’m rolling with it. When you spend most of your day drinking tea and typing on a computer in a bathrobe while mumbling to yourself, you have to grab the cool where you can. But now that you know I don’t come up with story details straight out of thin air, you probably have questions, like how much of what I wrote in Smash & Grab about the characters or the plot was directly inspired by true events and stuff from my personal life?
Well, that’s my secret.
…Or it was until today.
I’m about to confess.
But let’s keep this between us.
Here, in no particular order are six secret, stolen inspirations for Smash & Grab:
Christian and the Romero Robbers plan to tunnel under the bank: A group of thieves actually did tunnel under a bank in LA years ago. They were never caught.
The movie dumbwaiter in the bank building: the woman who let me tour her bank talked about another, historic bank she used to work for years ago and mentioned that it had a dumbwaiter so that cash from the teller floor could be transported directly to the vault. I loved the idea of it so much, I knew I wanted to have one in Smash & Grab. You can watch someone investigate an old, historic bank in Philly that has a dumbwaiter here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drRB_J5T12E
The dumbwaiter shows up at about 4:10.
The doughnut date scene in the book came about because my husband has two customers who recently opened a doughnut shop here in Tampa called the Mini Doughnut Factory. Yes, their maple bacon one is my favorite!
I chose to name Christian’s group of thieves the Romero Robbers because Night of the Living Dead was the first movie that made me stay up all night and I am a huge Walking Dead fan. They needed masks, why not zombie ones?
Lexi’s fish tattoo was borrowed from a short story I did a long time ago before I was published. The girl in that story had a goldfish tattoo that peeked over the top of her sock. I’ve always liked the image and wanted it to be in something that would be more widely read then that first story. This book was the perfect opportunity!
The character Leo—my main character Lexi’s best friend—has a photography hobby that was inspired by my oldest daughter who is fourteen. She is an amazing photographer and is always documenting our family outings the way Leo does. She discovered her passion for taking pictures while I was writing this book and so into the story it went! Here is one of her photos of her younger sister:
And there you have it, the inside scoop on all the things that came together to make Smash & Grab a reality. Zombies, doughnuts, and dumbwaiters, oh my!
AMY CHRISTINE PARKER writes full-time from her home near Tampa, Florida, where she lives with her husband, their two daughters, and one ridiculously fat cat. Visit her at amychristineparker.comand follow her on Twitter @amychristinepar.
ABOUT THE MEMORY BOOK:
They tell me that my memory will never be the same, that I’ll start forgetting things. At first just a little, and then a lot. So I’m writing to remember.
Sammie was always a girl with a plan: graduate at the top of her class and get out of her small town as soon as humanly possible. Nothing will stand in her way–not even a rare genetic disorder the doctors say will slowly start to steal her memories and then her health. What she needs is a new plan.
So the Memory Book is born: Sammie’s notes to her future self, a document of moments great and small. It’s where she’ll record every perfect detail of her first date with longtime crush, Stuart–a brilliant young writer who is home for the summer. And where she’ll admit how much she’s missed her childhood best friend, Cooper, and even take some of the blame for the fight that ended their friendship.
Through a mix of heartfelt journal entries, mementos, and guest posts from friends and family, readers will fall in love with Sammie, a brave and remarkable girl who learns to live and love life fully, even though it’s not the life she planned.
ABOUT LARA AVERY:
Lara Avery takes her role as a young writer very seriously; she enjoys wandering the world notebook in hand, making her living off of odd jobs. One of those jobs happens to be publishing the novel Anything But Ordinaryjust two years after getting a degree in Film Studies from Macalester College.
When Lara left home armed with nothing but a basketball scholarship, she told everyone she was going to law school. Then, when she started interning at The Onion and publishing pieces of fiction in national anthologies, she realized her secret plans to be a writer all along.
Though Lara sat down to write Anything But Ordinary everywhere from a 110 degree apartment in Kolkata to a hostel in Berlin, she always felt at home in Bryce’s story. Writing currently from St. Paul, MN, she hopes her debut novel will be the first of many.
LINKS: Website | Twitter | Facebook
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
OH MY HEART! It’s aching right now! How do I possibly describe this book? How does one sum up a future unfulfilled, dreams extinguished, love found better late than never, a body ravished, memories stolen, the devastation of a disease?
I need to hug Cooper.
This is a beautiful, heart wrenching, special book, and I loved
Even the ones
my heart into m i l l i o n s
View all my reviews
GIVEAWAY: 3 FINISHED COPIES (US ONLY)
Bo Dickinson is a girl with a wild reputation, a deadbeat dad, and a mama who’s not exactly sober most of the time. Everyone in town knows the Dickinsons are a bad lot, but Bo doesn’t care what anyone thinks.
Agnes Atwood has never gone on a date, never even stayed out past ten, and never broken any of her parents’ overbearing rules. Rules that are meant to protect their legally blind daughter — protect her from what, Agnes isn’t quite sure.
Despite everything, Bo and Agnes become best friends. And it’s the sort of friendship that runs truer and deeper than anything else.
So when Bo shows up in the middle of the night, with police sirens wailing in the distance, desperate to get out of town, Agnes doesn’t hesitate to take off with her. But running away and not getting caught will require stealing a car, tracking down Bo’s dad, staying ahead of the authorities, and — worst of all — confronting some ugly secrets.
One thing my readers might not know about me is that I grew up quite poor in a small, southern town. I’ve lived in tiny houses and in trailers – a few different trailers. And growing up, the books I read never reflected that sort of setting. Or, if they did, the books were all about being poor and how much that sucks. Only, I rarely thought much about being poor. Because where I lived, everyone was poor. So my life didn’t revolve around it. It was there, always weighing on the decisions my family made, but me and my friends didn’t think about it a ton. We had crushes and school projects and all sorts of things in our lives, all sorts of stories, that weren’t about poverty.
So in writing RUN, I wanted to write about a town like mine. A town where everyone is either poor or, at best, lower middle class. But I also wanted to show characters living in that town who have lives beyond poverty. Characters who think about poverty on occasion but whose stories don’t revolve around it. I wanted to write about characters that teenage me could recognize.
While the town in RUN, Mursey, isn’t necessarily based on the town where I grew up, it does share some similarities, being small and in Kentucky. The culture is similar, too. And I tried hard to show that sort of world honestly – both the good and the bad. Because no matter how long I live in NYC, in my heart, I am always going to be a poor kid who lived in a trailer in Kentucky.
Kody Keplinger was born and raised in small town western Kentucky, where she began her writing career after penning the New York Times and USA Today bestseller, The DUFF, at age seventeen.The DUFF, now a major motion picture, was chosen as an YALSA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Readers and a Romantic Times Top Pick. Kody has since written other books for both young adult and middle grade readers. When she isn’t writing, Kody is posting about fashion and body positivity on her Instagram, chatting about her favorite TV shows on Twitter, or making videos for her YouTube account. Kody is also the co-founder of Disability in KidLit and a teacher at the Gotham Writers Workshops in NYC.
Kody is active on social media, so feel free to reach out to her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or YouTube.
3 Finished Copies of RUN (US Only)
In the wake of a devastating plague, two communities emerge as bastions of survival. One is called the City, and its people scrabble for scraps in the wasteland. The other, New Charity, enjoys the bounty of its hydroelectric dam and refuses City denizens so much as a drop of precious water. When City-dweller Cressyda inherits her father’s ranch within New Charity, she becomes intent on opening the dam to all—no matter the cost.
But when Syd reunites with her old best friend, Casandra, a born seer and religious acolyte, she realizes that her plans could destroy the fragile lives they’ve built in order to survive. What’s more, the strange magic securing the dam’s operations could prove deadly if disturbed. Yet when Syd discovers evidence that her father might have been murdered, she is more determined than ever to exact revenge on New Charity’s corrupt.
Pitted against Cas, as well as her own family, Syd must decide how to secure the survival of both settlements without tipping them over the brink to utter annihilation. In this intense and emotional reimagining of the Trojan War epic, two women clash when loyalty, identity, community, and family are all put to the ultimate test.
Growing up, our house sat in the hills of eastern Montana, about 15-20 minutes east of “town.” As such, a little girl like me made her own adventures – on foot, on a bicycle, or – most commonly – on horseback. I had big dreams about riding beyond the horizon, loping over the brown velvety hills to see whatever was on the other side – presumably more velvety hills, or a mountain, or a river, or some wild, green, oasis in our northern desert.
My favorite spot was a clubhouse of sorts in the ravine behind the barn. A cluster of mature juniper bushes had grown into one another, forming a two-room shelter. Shaped not unlike a figure eight, the Bramble House, as I named it, is the basis for a setting in New Charity Blues. Troy’s shelter in the ravine, where he takes Cas after the chaotic Goodwill Dinner, is an extension of the dreams I once had for decorating and adorning my secret hideout. I had hoped for furniture and candles, but what remained was a broom like branch I used for clearing the soft needles from the ground so as to keep them from getting inside my peanut butter sandwiches.
At night, I visited my other favorite spot. I would take my Walkman and hike out to a sandstone outcropping that overlooked the lights of the town in the distance. I wanted to be home with my horses but I also wanted to know what was in those lights.
By the time I left for college, the lights had won the battle. I fell in love with Los Angeles – the way the city grew together, the low hum of energy 24-hours-a-day. I loved how orange the light was, the tiny lizards in the bushes, the smell of the eucalyptus trees.
These memories – these strong bonds to the places I came of age – both as a child and as a young woman – begged me to remember them as I wrote about Syd, a woman torn between love for the City and love for the rugged hills of New Charity. Sharing my secret bramble house was the best way I could think to invite readers into the life of those of us who grew up dreaming horses into unicorns, sandstone into thrones, and trees into castles.
Camille Griep lives just north of Seattle with her partner, Adam, and their dog Dutch(ess). Born in Billings, Montana, she moved to Southern California to attend Claremont McKenna College, graduating with a dual degree in Biology and Literature.
She wrote her way through corporate careers in marketing, commercial real estate, and financial analysis before taking an extended sabbatical to devote more time to her craft.
She has since sold short fiction and creative nonfiction to dozens of online and print magazines. She is the editor of Easy Street and is a senior editor at The Lascaux Review. She is a 2012 graduate of Viable Paradise, a residential workshop for speculative fiction novelists.
Her first novel, Letters to Zell, was released in July 2015 47North. Look for New Charity Blues in April of 2016.
Sheriff’s Department! Raise your hands above your head and don’t move.
She’s a runaway bride who left her two-timing fiance at the altar. He’s a county sheriff determined to keep the peace in his country and leave city girls alone after his own fiance left him for the bright lights of the city. Neither of them planned on running straight into each other…over a burning wedding dress.
Ellie and Lucas planned on never trusting their hearts to love again. When danger follows her from the city, the sheriff must do his duty to protect her. However, it isn’t long before he discovers the real danger may be to his heart. Ellie just might teach him that even a city girl can be a country girl at heart.
His Country Bride by Debra Holt
Bring on the tough, but sensitive sheriff and the school teacher in a beautiful setting! Small town, inherited old house, and a fire to burn that bridal gown! HIS COUNTRY BRIDE is a sweet, sweep-you-off-your-feet, quick read adult romance that will definitely please anyone who loves a HEA.
Thanks you so much to the publisher for providing a review copy!
LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon
Born and raised in the Lone Star state of Texas, Debra grew up among horses, cowboys, wide open spaces, and real Texas Rangers. Pride in her state and ancestry knows no bounds and it is these heroes and heroines she loves to write about the most. She also draws upon a variety of life experiences including working with abused children, caring for baby animals at a major zoo, and planning high-end weddings (ah, romance!).
Debra’s real pride and joys, however, are her son, an aspiring film actor, and a daughter with aspirations to join the Federal Bureau of Investigation. (more story ideas!) When she isn’t busy writing about tall Texans and feisty heroines, she can be found cheering on her Texas Tech Red Raiders, or heading off on another cruise adventure. She read her first romance…Janet Dailey’s Fiesta San Antonio, over thirty years ago and became hooked on the genre. Writing contemporary western romances, is both her passion and dream come true, and she hopes her books will bring smiles…and sighs… to all who believe in happily-ever-after’s.
Debra invites you to visit her website at www.debraholtbooks.com. She loves to hear from other aspiring authors or readers via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
4/4: The Irish Banana Review
4/5: Emily Reads Everything
4/6: In Wonderland
4/7: Life According to a Bibliophile
4/8: Emilie’s Book World
4/11: Kimberly Faye Reads
4/12: Polished Page Turners
4/13: Books Are Love
4/14: Silk & Serif
4/15: Who R U Blog
His Country Bride was my first contemporary romance and it was fun to write. It also has so many elements in it of my hometown area, my love of all things country, and the dog in the book has special meaning for me, too. The idea for HCB came about as I was driving along a beautiful road next to a river in the Texas hill country. On one side was the river and the other was a ditch filled with spring wildflowers…notably my favorite Bluebonnets, some pink primroses, and Indian Paintbrush. Then there was an old barb-wired fence separating the ditch from a beautiful pasture where peach trees were just filling out.
My brain began to go into its own mysterious mode (for want of better description) and in my mind I did a what-if game…what if a hero…say a county sheriff… was driving along this road and on that old barbed-wire fence post was something that caught his eye? And that something was a bridal veil? That would certainly catch his attention. So he stops, gathers up the veil, his gaze seeking the errant bride and he spies some smoke across the pasture. Naturally, he must investigate. That was the original beginning to His Country Bride…as simple as that. Of course, as editors do, changes are made and the beginning changed a bit but I still got that veil in there in another scene!
People always ask, “where do your story ideas come from?” Well, they come in a blink of an eye…no warning, at any time and any place. It could start with a bit of conversation overheard in a café, or catching a quick glimpse of a billboard next to a highway, or in the steady gaze of a real Texas Ranger. (I write many books with Texas lawmen as the heroes) I often have no warning before they strike. That is why my initial notes or chapters have been scribbled in longhand on things such as paper napkins, café menus, or pieces of cardboard… whatever I could reach the fastest to get the words recorded that pour from my brain like turning on a water tap. Friends who are with me at these times, have gotten used to this. One telling the waitress who was afraid I was having some sort of fit at the table… “don’t worry…she’s just a genius at work.” LOL I am no genius…just a writer of romance. I hope you enjoy reading about the runaway bride and the country sheriff who captures her heart.
About ESSENTIAL MAPS FOR THE LOST:
When Madison makes a startling discovery, the body of a dead woman floating in the middle of a lake, the summer after her senior year becomes more complicated than she ever expected.
Madison (Mads to everyone who knows her) is staying with her aunt and uncle in Seattle after graduating from high school. Being away from her needy, unstable mother who’s been pressuring her to take over the family business is such a relief. Now all Mads has to worry about is taking classes, swimming laps, and fighting off the sadness that threatens to overtake her.
That is, until the traumatic moment Mads collides with a body in the middle of the lake. After swimming the body back to shore, Mads becomes obsessed with uncovering the identity of the woman and what drove her to leap off of the Aurora Bridge. Determined to discover more, Mads parks outside the woman’s home and sees the woman’s son: the sweet and tormented Billy Youngwolf Floyd.
Through a series of not-so-happenstance meetings, Mads and Billy realize that desperate mothers and rescue missions are not the only thing that bonds them. Billy carries a map in his pocket; the one of the museum from The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler; and it’s his dream to visit the museum one day. And though book-loving Mads is expected to return home to her already-decided future, her dream is to run away to a life of her choosing.
As the unlikely pair fall hard for each other and as the summer draws to a close, Billy and Mads must decide whose story to follow: their family’s or their own.
I once lived part-time in one of the houseboats on Lake Union. These are not the kinds of boats you drive – think “Sleepless in Seattle,” a home on top of water. On the houseboat docks it’s all magic – seaplanes and twinkling city lights, sprinkled with an assortment of wacky neighbors and charming tugs, barges, sailboats and kayaks cruising past. Often, the sailors will wave as they glide by, and you will wave back as you stand at the dock. But the houseboats can be a bit eerie and atmospheric, too – things are a little off kilter there. Yes, they’re charming and shingled and dripping with gorgeous flowers. Ducks paddle past, and sailboats swoop out to the lake, and it’s glorious. Still, the houses and boats rock and clang. The old piers sway and creak. On a rainy day, it’s almost spooky. On any day, it’s all slightly unhinged.
In other words, it’s a perfect place to set a book, or in my case, many books. The first book I ever set there was an unpublished novel I wrote many years ago. The son from that novel became Sebastian in The Nature of Jade, who lives with his baby boy in his aunt’s houseboat. Clara and Christian in Stay also visit Lake Union one night, and my first novel for adults, He’s Gone, is set entirely on the same dock as Nature of Jade. Sebastian’s aunts and some of the old neighbors from Jade make an appearance in that one, as Dani Keller tries to find out where her husband has vanished. (And, as a bonus “novel secret” – all of my books have interconnecting characters and locations. If you read them closely, you’ll even find out what happens to certain characters, major and minor, in their future.)
Essential Maps for the Lost begins when Mads is swimming in Lake Union and bumps into the body of a woman who jumped off the nearby Aurora Bridge. In her desire to find out why this woman took her own life and understand her own depression, Mads becomes involved with the woman’s son, Billy Youngwolf Floyd, who now lives with his grandma in one of the houseboats near the bridge. When I lived on the lake, a friend who owned a houseboat near the same bridge told me how a similar event happened to him – he had seen a body in the water, but while driving a boat. I swam a lot in the lake when I lived there, and I never forgot his story. I’m hoping my latest novel, Essential Maps for the Lost, will be a story you’ll remember, too.
Essential Maps for the Lost by Deb Caletti
Thank you so much to the publisher for the ARC.
An eye-opening look into depression, suicide, family dynamics, serendipity, and how two lost souls find each other and fall in love. A journey that will leave readers cheering for the characters and hoping that they’ll find a happy future together.
Depression is a serious topic and Deb Caletti holds a spotlight to it by intertwining the lives of two teens in an emotional, honest, heartbreaking and healing journey. Madison has a needy, self-absorbed, demanding mother who centers her life around her daughter, expecting her to be her best friend. She’s also mapped out Madison’s life by making her a partner in her real estate business.
Billy is a teen living with his cranky, verbally abusive grandma. His mom suffered from depression and when she killed herself by jumping off a bridge, Billy grieves deeply and is a lost soul.
Both Madison and Billy have a strong desire to save others—Billy works at an animal shelter and Madison babysits a little girl with messed up parents. They definitely understand each other.
Things I loved:
1. Madison’s aunt and uncle—they really care about her. And she needs them. I love how they stand up for her
2. Billy’s gentle ways and how he cares for and rescues animals
3. Madison’s love for the child she babysits for
4. How Madison and Billy find strength to follow their own paths
5. Integrating The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler into the story
6. Sweet romance. I definitely felt the chemistry between these characters and looked forward to watching it develop and sizzle
7. A hopeful ending
Definitely recommended for YA realistic contemporary fans!
ABOUT DEB CALETTI:
Deb Caletti is an award winning author and National Book Award finalist. Her many books for young adults include “The Nature of Jade,” “Stay,” “The Last Forever,” and “Honey, Baby Sweetheart,” winner of the Washington State Book award, the PNBA Best Book Award, and a finalist for the PEN USA Award. Her first book for adults, “He’s Gone,” was released from Random House in 2012, and was followed with “The Secrets She Keeps” in 2015. Coming this April: “Essential Maps for the Lost,” her eleventh book for young adults. She lives with her family in Seattle.
3 Finished Copies of ESSENTIAL MAPS FOR THE LOST (US Only)
ABOUT THE DOOR BY THE STAIRCASE:
A Junior Library Guild Selection
“Well-drawn characters, an original setting, and a satisfying resolution are the ingredients that make this carefully crafted middle-grade adventure a highly rewarding read.”
—Kirkus, Starred Review
“A sparkling tale full of adventure, magic, and folklore…Imagine Little Orphan Annie crossed with Russian folklore, plunked down in the spiritualist community of Lily Dale, NY, with a dash of Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away on top.”
—School Library Journal, Starred Review
“This book is a splendid mix of traditional Russian folkloric details, magical adventure, and hints of historical fiction.”
—The Bulletin of the Center of Children’s Books, Starred Review
“An engaging, almost cinematic story.”
—The Wall Street Journal, “Children’s Books: Inspiring Awe”
Twelve-year-old Mary Hayes can’t stand her orphanage for another night. But when an attempted escape through the stove pipe doesn’t go quite as well as she’d hoped, Mary fears she’ll be stuck in the Buffalo Asylum for Young Ladies forever.
The very next day, a mysterious woman named Madame Z appears at the orphanage requesting to adopt Mary, and the matron’s all too happy to get the girl off her hands. Soon, Mary is fed a hearty meal, dressed in a clean, new nightgown and shown to a soft bed with blankets piled high. She can hardly believe she isn’t dreaming!
But when Mary begins to explore the strange nearby town with the help of her new friend, Jacob, she learns a terrifying secret about Madame Z’s true identity. If Mary’s not careful, her new home might just turn into a nightmare.
I‘m Katherine Marsh. I write books about kids. Some are alive. Some are dead. Some lived hundreds of years ago. All of them find themselves in unusual situations and places. Some of them are unusual themselves.
If you’ve ever wondered about witches, ghosts, the lives of court dwarfs, the power of magic, the invincibility of death, and how (and how not) to care for a fire-breathing horse, then you’ll probably enjoy my books. Warning: They may make you laugh. They will almost certainly make you cry.
My debut novel, The Night Tourist, won the Edgar® Award for Best Juvenile Mystery. It was published in translation in ten countries and there’s even a sequel, The Twilight Prisoner.
My third book, Jepp, Who Defied the Stars was a New York Times Book Review Notable Children’s Books of 2012 and a Wall Street Journal Best Children’s Book of 2012, among other accolades.
The Door by the Staircase is available now from Disney Hyperion. It’s a fairy tale adventure story for middle grade readers inspired by Russian folklore. Other influences include my love of cooking and magic acts, my cat Egg, and my family’s onetime ownership of a small flock of chickens.
One of my favorite childhood photographs is this one: Me, aged 4, sitting behind a big bowl of my grandmother’s homemade borscht.
My grandmother was born in Russia. She came to this country in 1928, opened a bar and restaurant, and still loved to cook when my parents and I moved in with her in the late 1970s. The comfort food in my house growing up was her food. And although she could win any American bake-off with her apple or lemon meringue pies, the food I remember most was her Russian cooking—pierogi and blini, stuffed cabbage, and of course, borscht, the chicken soup of the Slavic soul.
There was something magical about her cooking—the old recipes that she knew by heart and would never write down; the hours of invisible prep-work—that became even more magical to me as an adult. As hard as I tried, I could never recreate her dishes. I didn’t have any recipes but even if I did, I felt she’d always added something more than I could give: time, patience, love.
The magic of cooking is something I worked into THE DOOR BY THE STAIRCASE. The book, after all, is about eating—initially in the worst possible way. Twelve-year old orphan Mary Hayes is finally adopted only to discover that her new guardian is the child-eating Russian witch Baba Yaga. But Mary confounds the witch by daring to stick around and demanding she teach her magic. Will Baba Yaga eat Mary or love her? What follows is a tale that is really about the ingredients of family, particularly mothers and daughters. But it also a secret catalogue of those special dishes my grandmother cooked for me.
3/7: Who R U Blog – Novel Secrets
3/8: Books for Thought – Excerpt
3/9: Quite the Novel Idea – Guest Post
3/10: Mundie Kids – Excerpt
3/11: The Cover Contessa – Q&A
3/14: Once Upon A Twilight – Excerpt
3/15: The Story Sanctuary – Top 10
3/16: I Turn the Pages – Q&A
3/17: I Am Shelfless – Excerpt
3/18: Books Are Love – Playlist