Discussing Other Breakable Things With Kelley York & Rowan Altwood

Hello Readers & Writers,

I had the pleasure of interviewing Kelley York & Rowan Altwood, authors of Other Breakable Things from Entangled Teen. This is a rather emotional novel, but one with an incredible premise.

Before I kick off the interview, here is a synopsis of Other Breakable Things:

According to Japanese legend, folding a thousand paper cranes will grant you healing.

Evelyn Abel will fold two thousand if it will bring Luc back to her.

Luc Argent has always been intimately acquainted with death. After a car crash got him a second chance at life—via someone else’s transplanted heart—he tried to embrace it. He truly did. But he always knew death could be right around the corner again.

And now it is.

Sick of hospitals and tired of transplants, Luc is ready to let his failing heart give out, ready to give up. A road trip to Oregon—where death with dignity is legal—is his answer. But along for the ride is his best friend, Evelyn.

And she’s not giving up so easily.

A thousand miles, a handful of roadside attractions, and one life-altering kiss later, Evelyn’s fallen, and Luc’s heart is full. But is it enough to save him? Evelyn’s betting her heart, her life, that it can be.

Right down to the thousandth paper crane.

Q1: Where did the inspiration for Other Breakable Things come from? It’s a rather heavy hearted tale.

Kelley: I think a lot of my books have that heavy quality; even Dirty London, which is overall more light-hearted and optimistic, has some heavy themes, like addiction, tucked beneath the surface. When I talked Rowan into writing something with me, she had the idea for Luc and his ailments, and we decided a book on euthanasia and the Death with Dignity act would be a good one subject to tackle.

Q2: Given the subject matter of the book, did you ever have to take a break to gather your thoughts?

Rowan: Not really. We both thrive on this kind of stuff.

Kelley: For me, it’s therapeutic. It gets emotional at times and you really feel the “character bleed,” but some of my best writing (I think) comes when it gets emotional.

Q3: What made you tie in the Japanese legend behind folding paper cranes?

20657470Kelley: I read a book as a kid called Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr. It’s a historical fiction about a little girl (who actually existed) in Japan who contracts leukemia after the bombing of Hiroshima. She starts folding cranes in order to be granted a wish. I first read this book in grade school, and the idea of this legend has stuck with me so strongly ever since. It’s a great kid’s book and I suggest everyone check it out.

 

Q4: What do you want your readers to take away from this book?

Rowan: Nothing is black and white; the hardest decisions in life are made in shades of grey.

Q5: What do you admire most about the characters you created?

Rowan: I like Luc’s sass. I know people think he comes off as a douche a lot of the time, but honestly if you think about how much time he’s spent being sick and in hospitals in his life, he hasn’t had a normal upbringing or socialization. He’s awkward and doesn’t like to admit it. I like his sarcasm probably because a bit of that comes from me.

Kelley: Evelyn’s loyalty, I think, and the growth she displays throughout the story. She starts off pretty meek and go-with- the-flow, and gradually learns to stop letting everyone else’s needs come before her own.

Q6: Describe Other Breakable Things in three words.

Kelley: Painful, hopeful, emotional.

Q7: Where is one place you’d like to go on a road trip to and why?

Rowan: If I only had one stop? Point Reyes National Seashore.

Kelley: Same. It’s our go-to vacation spot.

Q8: What’s your writing process like?

Rowan: I throw words at a page and hope Kelley can make sense of them.

Kelley: I arrange words, throw more words at a page, and hope my editor can make sense of them.

Q9: Do you have any projects in mind for the future?

Kelley: I have a few books in the works, and no idea which I’ll finish first. I have one my editor really wants to see from me, an LGBT dark contemporary, another road trip-esque kind of book (very, very different from OBT), and the beginning to a fantasy series.

Author Bio:

Kelley York and Rowan Altwood are a wife and wife writing team living in central California with their daughter and way too many cats. Kelley is the author of Hushed, Made of Stars, and Modern Monsters, and Other Breakable Things is Rowan’s debut.

Social Media: 

 

Once again, a big thank you to Kelley and Rowan for joining me today. To see more book related posts on my end, keep an eye on the blog.

Xx

Megan

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The Message Behind Goodbye Days Ft. Jeff Zentner

Hello Readers & Writers,

If you haven’t read Jeff Zenter’s twitter thread on why he wrote Goodbye Days, I highly recommend you do so by clicking here.

It is insightful, genuinely inspiring, and only made me want to read his book all the more quickly. Though, as readers, we know our TBR piles never quite end. Nevertheless, I reached out to Jeff in order to talk a bit more in depth about Goodbye Days and his inspiration for such an emotionally charged story.

In case you haven’t heard of Goodbye Days, here is a synopsis:

Can a text message destroy your life?

Carver Briggs never thought a simple text would cause a fatal crash, killing his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident and even worse, there could be a criminal investigation into the deaths.

Then Blake’s grandmother asks Carver to remember her grandson with a ‘goodbye day’ together. Carver has his misgivings, but he starts to help the families of his lost friends grieve with their own memorial days, along with Eli’s bereaved girlfriend Jesmyn. But not everyone is willing to forgive. Carver’s own despair and guilt threatens to pull him under into panic and anxiety as he faces punishment for his terrible mistake. Can the goodbye days really help?

Now onto the interview!

Q1: What drew you to writing about a very difficult topic – especially to the extent Carver experiences it?

Jeff: I’ve always had a certain fascination with death. It’s so final and universal. I contended with it some in my first book, but not to the extent I felt like I needed to. I was also interested in telling a story about guilt and blame.

Q2: On your twitter account, you discussed wanting to deal with questions of accountability, memory, saying goodbye to loved ones – among others things. Do you feel as if you’ve successfully grappled with these questions?

Jeff: I hope so. For now.

Q3: Describe Goodbye Days in three words. 

Jeff: Tell your story.

Q4: What traits do you and Carver share?

Jeff: We both see a lot of beauty in the world. We both like to think about important questions of life and death.

Q5: What do you want readers to take away from such an emotionally driven tale? 

Jeff: That lives are complex stories; that you can cause something to happen without being to blame for it.

Q6: Is there any advice you want to share to a young adult audience?

Jeff: Beware of anyone who tries to get you to blame your problems on some group of people; beware of people who tell you that selfishness is a virtue; beware of anyone who tries to make you fear whole groups of people.

Q7: How did you get into writing? 

Jeff: I got into writing because I wanted to make art for teenagers and I was past the age where I could make music marketed to teenagers.

Q8: Not only are you a writer, but you’re a musician. Does being in tune with music help your writing process at all?

Jeff: It does. It helps me be attentive to economy of language and melody of sentences.

Q9: Share one random fact about yourself. 

Jeff: I once owned a pet sloth.

Author Bio:IMG_4026

Jeff Zentner is the author of William C. Morris Award winner and Carnegie Medal
longlister The Serpent King and most recently, Goodbye Days. Before becoming a writer, he was a singer-songwriter and guitarist who recorded with Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, and Debbie Harry. In addition to writing and recording his own music, he worked with young musicians at Tennessee Teen Rock Camp, which inspired him to write for young adults. He lives in Nashville.

To find out more about Jeff’s projects, click the links below:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jeffzentner
Website: http://www.jeffzentnerbooks.com/

Lastly, be sure to check out Jeff’s newest book Goodbye Days and stick around for more book related posts on my end.

Xx

Megan

This is Our Story: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

Let me start off by saying this book had me hooked. I needed to know what happened, which made reading it on the commute to work very stressful. It was the kind of book that constantly tugged at my mind, drawing me towards it. I wound up having to come home and read the rest of it so I could unravel the mystery.

20170218_124756The story opens up with the death of Grant Perkins. He was out hunting with four of his friends, also known as The River Point Boys. All of them were either high or drunk and no charges have been able to be placed on either one of the boys. Being from a small town, the death of a teenager makes front page news. It draws protesters, obsessed fanatics, and deals being made behind closed doors. Throw in families with wealthy business ties and the case moves further away from being solved.

There are two point of views: the main character Kate who works for the law office that gets the Perkins case and one of The River Point Boys. You don’t know the POV of the latter until the end. Together, these perspectives create an immensely engaging story. On the one hand, you have Kate who gets herself heavily wrapped up in the murder case, desperate to find out who killed Grant Perkins – a boy who she believed to be falling for. On the other hand, you have a River Point Boy who wants to prevent the bond between his friends from severing. He also wants to make sure none of them go to jail. His goals shift as the plot thickens and his relationships are put to the test.

I haven’t read a thriller in a long time and Ashley Elston did a great job of creating tension and reward. Just when you as the reader think you may have solved the puzzle, she throws another curve-ball at you. Each of The River Point Boys have their own secrets that shatter initial thoughts about them. They become strangers in a way the mystery does.

The writing style wasn’t over the top or littered with imagery in the way some of the other books I reviewed are. Note: this is not a bad thing; I’m merely noting difference in author style and creativity. Elston utilizes a straight forward style that works with the plot. It guides you from point A to point B and so on until we reach the end.

Lastly, I enjoyed Kate as a main character. I like that most of the story is told from her perspective. We don’t get inside The River Point Boys’ heads and know everything right away. We get bits and pieces that change and get disproved. We get pieces that don’t make sense. We get glimpses of humanity within these boys. We learn an insane amount about them through the evidence used in the case and Kate’s interpretation of the evidence. Elston creates a duality between real life and personas – who The River Point Boys actually are versus how they act in order to avoid trouble. It is only through Kate that we could have had this opportunity. It allows us as readers to call into question behavior and what people do when they think no one is watching. It also shows us how desperate some people will be to cover up their mistakes.

Overall, if you’re looking for an edge of your seat read, this is it.

I’m giving it 5/5 photographs.

Xx

Megan

Caraval: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

Caraval by Stephanie Garber was one of the most anticipated and talked about books of 2017. I remember it circulating around Twitter and how it was on nearly every list of upcoming books to read. Having just finished it, I wanted to discuss it in a mostly spoiler free review.

The book follows Scarlett, a woman whose arranged marriage is closely approaching. She
has been confined to the Isle of Trisda with her sister Tella at the hands of an abusive and controlling father. A letter arriving from Legend, the leader of this well known fantastical event called Caraval, invites Scarlett, her fiance and her sister to where they will be holding their next performance. It is all Scarlett has dreamed about as a girl, having written letters to Legend for most of her childhood. Now that she has given up on the dream and is on the verge of adulthood, the letters disrupt her perfectly laid out plan.

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Taken from my instagram, Written-Infinities

It is because of her impulsive sister and an unknown sailor that Scarlett is brought to Caraval. Not everything is what it seems in Caraval despite it promising magic, fun, and something that will never be forgotten. Once admitted, a guest can either choose to be a player or a watcher. Those who play have a chance at winning a prize from Legend himself. The decision to play is one that Scarlett does not make lightly and its from there the thick of the plot takes place.

I’m going to briefly mention my only negative of the book and that is Scarlett prior to her growth in the story. She is a character who is afraid of taking risks and constantly tries to uphold all the rules that made her a prisoner in her life. It can be a bit excessive and it made me not like Scarlett at first. I wanted her, as a reader, to push past her fears and do something instead of her internal thoughts being filled with the same worries over and over again. She does break away from this, which makes her narration a pleasant read, but I kept wanting to shake her. I wanted her to listen to those around her who were trying to help her do what she needed to do.

Moving past that, I was entranced by Caraval. I can’t say with a hundred percent certainty I would want to be a guest at the show, but I definitely loved reading about it. Stephanie Garber did a great job of heightening sensual perceptions in order to create the magic of Caraval. Characters feel in colors, take in people by their scents, see things with a sense of wonder. Her descriptions made me smile and I think she not only captured Caraval for the story, but she made sure her readers could picture everything too. I’m a sucker for descriptions and there was a balance between too much and not enough.

As much as this is a Fantasy story, it is also a mystery. Scarlett has to decipher a series of clues in order to get her sister back. She was stolen from her upon arriving at Caraval. You are as much of a reader as you are a detective trying to figure out what happened to Tella. Through this journey, Scarlett discovers a lot about herself and how the views she once held weren’t the best.

I enjoyed the twists that were thrown into the story, how I wasn’t sure who to trust and who Legend really was. Every time something appeared to be figured out, Stephanie Garber went, “Nope, here is a new twist.” This uncertainty is only added onto by the secondary characters who promise and offer help to Scarlett in exchange for payment. Only once is payment in this story money.

This story gave me similar feelings of awe as The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern did. I was taken to a world very different from my own and nearly everything was given a splash of magic and life. By the last two sections of the book – it is split up based on which night it is in Caraval – I couldn’t put the book down. I needed to know what happened.

Overall, I felt as if Caraval lived up to its expectations and if you haven’t picked up a copy, I suggest doing so.

It gets 4.5/5 top hats from me.

Xx

Megan