Monday, March 30, 2015

Book the ones from your 21st birthday.

Oh, man. Let's keep it real for just a second here. Most people I talk to have no idea how I can mope around like a hangdog after reading a book. I get this reaction from my family and friends, colleagues even, "you know it's not real, right? It's fiction." Of course I know it is just fiction, but my goodness, when it is done well, you feel like you lived in that moment. In that time. You were completely immersed, and now you cannot seem to get out of that fictional world, and live in reality. Sometimes I don't even want to emerge from the fiction, and back into reality. It was THAT good. Recently I asked some friends which book gave them the biggest book hangover. In other words, I wanted to know the book that they read that long after you closed the last page you could not forget about it. I'm in one right now, I can feel it, but more on this book later. (Tease) are the top runners for book hangovers:

This book steamrolled the competition, and was a resounding winner for the biggest book hangover. It is the equivalent to your 21st birthday party or Bachelor Party hangover.
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
"Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon. Orphaned by their mother’s death and their father’s disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution.

Moving from Addis Ababa to New York City and back again, Cutting for Stone is an unforgettable story of love and betrayal, medicine and ordinary miracles--and two brothers whose fates are forever intertwined."

A close runner-up for biggest book hangover goes to...

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
This is a book I have recommended more than any other book I have ever read. It's still in circulation somewhere out there!
"Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

A Love Story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?"
The best thing about reading this now is that the sequel will be released September 29th! I cannot wait to hear the rest of the story. 

This post could potentially be a million miles long, but I kept it to two. For now.
Happy reading!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Save Me by Kristyn Kusek Lewis

From Kristyn Kusek Lewis, author of How Lucky You Are, comes Save Me, a new novel about love, truth – and forgiveness.

In Save Me,  Daphne Mitchell faces a terrible dilemma: her husband Owen comes home one day and tells her he’s in love with another woman. Daphne's life hangs in limbo - unable to hate him, but also incapable of moving forward. 

When Daphne becomes a pillar of support for Owen after his girlfriend sustains near-fatal injuries in a car accident, she realizes she may have a chance to reconcile her marriage. But she must decide whether forgiveness is possible and which path is the right one for her.

Kristyn was kind enough to answer a few questions. I always love getting insight into an author's life, and catch a few glimpses of their inspiration for the book.

Kristyn Kusek Lewis Q & A
1. How did the idea for this book come to you? What made you want to write about infidelity?
I wish I could say that I’m someone who outlines and has the whole story worked out before I start writing—it seems like it would be easier that way—but for me it always starts with the characters. I lived in New York City throughout my twenties, and my roommate and I would often walk along the Hudson River after work and invent identities for the people we passed. I do the same thing in airports and restaurants, and when I write, I feel like I start in much the same way.
            Daphne came to me as a very particular woman. She is laser-focused, unwavering, and she has tightly controlled everything in her life. When I started writing about her, I wasn’t so much interested in infidelity, though that’s part of her story. I was interested in seeing how she’d fare if her carefully designed life unraveled, and in the course of writing about that, it really became a story about forgiveness. What does it take to forgive someone who’s hurt you and what does it take to reconcile your pain with your love for that person? I believe that in any relationship, whether it’s a marriage, a friendship, a family relationship, etc., you have to forgive each other over and over again, in ways big and small, to make it work. And you have to learn how to forgive yourself, too. That, to me, is what the story is really about.

2. Your protagonist and her husband are both doctors. Why did you choose this profession for them, and how does it reflect on their respective characters?
There are several reasons. Daphne is someone who thrives on specifics and formulas. She’s a fixer, but she also has a huge heart, and to me, that made her work as an internist a natural choice. Because she’s so ambitious, I thought it would be interesting to see how her relationship would fare if there was just a little bit of career competition between her and her husband, which is why I made Owen a doctor, too. And then when I decided to set the story in Durham, NC, it became a no-brainer. Durham is known as “the city of medicine” because of Duke Hospital. UNC is just a few miles away and also has a renowned medical center. I lived there for over a decade, and half the people I knew worked in medicine. At one point, I lived in a cul-de-sac with seven doctors for neighbors. Finally, I spent the first several years of my career working as a health reporter and was raised by a woman who read medical books for fun, so it’s a field that always appealed to me. I couldn’t have written about it otherwise and I called on several medical friends for advice about everything from how they take notes after seeing a patient to plausible ailments for my characters.  

3. In your first book, HOW LUCKY YOU ARE, you wrote about the friendship between three women and how complicated it can be. In this novel, Daphne¹s sister Lucy is a pillar of support in some ways, though Daphne doesn¹t always agree with her. How is it different to write about sisters versus adult female friends?
I think that there are a lot of similarities. Female relationships are endlessly fascinating to me, in large part because my friendships with other women are such a big part of my life. In both books, the women make a lot of assumptions about each other based on the fact that they’ve made very different life choices—about their careers, their thoughts on marriage, etc. I think that the three women in HOW LUCKY were more apt to let each other’s poor behavior slide out of politeness, whereas Lucy and Daphne will call each other out because they have their family history. Also, in both cases, there’s a bit of posturing and putting a happy face on things, though I think that both books show in the end how essential it is to be wholly yourself with the people in your life. Authenticity is a word that’s thrown around a lot these days but to me, it’s the foundation of any good relationship. And for the women in these books, realizing that the unconditional love that they have for each other won’t fade when they reveal themselves is a big part of their stories.

4. So many people have wanted to know what happens to Daphne after Italy and the book¹s end. Do you have an idea of this you can share with readers, or are you saving her next steps for a sequel?
It has been so much fun to hear from readers about what they think happens to Daphne after the book. I’m going to hold my cards close to my chest on this in the event that I do write a sequel, but I will say that I think she settles back in Durham. I won’t reveal with whom.

5. You have two young children. When do you find the time to write, and what is your process like?
I’ve been self-employed for over fifteen years, long before I had kids, so that certainly gave me an edge once I became a mother in terms of having a flexible schedule and being used to holding myself accountable for getting my work done. There are lots and lots of things that I don’t do well, but I’m a really diligent person and I stick to a firm work schedule just like if I worked in a traditional office. If you’re going to write for a living, you need to approach it as seriously as you would any other job. There’s no waiting for inspiration to strike—you get yourself to your desk every day and do the work. It’s as simple as that. And when stuff comes up, as it inevitably does, I make up for it with early mornings, late nights, and weekends.
            Becoming a novelist is a leap of faith because you typically spend years writing before you ever know whether you’ll even get a book contract. I remember sitting at my desk, writing my first book with my first daughter in a Baby Bjorn, and having lots of insecure moments when I’d wonder whether I’d ever be successful. But everyone starts the same way. I know novelists who write before they go to their traditional jobs at software companies and doctors’ offices. I know novelists who were stay-at-home parents and wrote when their kids were at school and swim team practice. I wish I could reveal that there’s more romance involved, or that I once had an epiphany that has since made the work a breeze, but at the end of the day, it really just comes down to putting the time in.

Raves for Save Me:

“Lewis gets it just right in her examination of how tiny cracks can shatter a marriage that gets ‘cemented in the fable’ of what being together is supposed to be” 
– Publisher’s Weekly

“Lewis’ newest novel is an emotional roller coaster of a read, but in a good way. As fans follow the protagonist’s story and journey through one of the hardest moments of her life, they will find themselves feeling every emotion with her along the way – hope, anguish, rage, sadness and love all emerge. It’s a testament to Lewis’ great writing and is an absolutely fantastic read.”
 – RT Book Reviews

I have the BEST giveaway for you, my dear readers! 10 copies of Save Me are up for grabs. Simply comment to enter. I wish you all luck, and thanks for reading! 
A huge thank you to Hachette Book Group for the generous giveaway, and a review copy.