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To some, the number 13 is unlucky, but not to us. And, being that it’s 2013, we’re excited to bring you a whole issue full of lucky books. We could get all philosophical here and ask, “What is luck?” Do you equate it with fate? Destiny? Can you control it? Is it the finishing touch after you’ve already worked hard? Most importantly, do you believe in it?
When you read The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, we bet you’ll agree with us just how lucky Hadley was to miss that first flight to London. In Destiny, Rewritten, Emily contemplates her destiny and wonders how much of it is luck and how much of it can you control. Other featured books on our list have thirteen in the title or characters named lucky, such as Pretty Girl-13 and The Culling (The Torch Keeper), and both are debut books on the lucky 13 list.
So regardless if you think luck is in our control or something fully beyond us, we’re pretty sure you’ll feel lucky to discover some of the books in this issue.
Reviewed by Kerry O’Malley Cerra
Chatted by Shel Delisle, Jill Mackenzie, and Kerry O’Malley Cerra
Seventeen-year-old Hadley is on her way to London for her dad’s wedding to a woman she’s never even met. When she misses her flight by only four minutes, Hadley’s sure that luck is not on her side…or is it? Is it exactly what’s supposed to happen to her at that very moment in her life so she can meet the boy of her dreams? Do you call it luck? Fate? Destiny? The word itself doesn’t matter. What matters is that everything lined up for Hadley to meet Oliver.
Interviewed by Jill Mackenzie
Hi Elizabeth! I am so excited to have you here chatting with me today about your debut novel, Pretty Girl-13, (as well as a few other things!) So let’s dive right in, shall we? One of our favorite questions to ask all our authors is…Whatcha Readin’ Now?
Yesterday, I finished Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler; when I saw it recommended on Twitter the day before and realized that Daniel Handler is the alter ego of my much loved Lemony Snicket, I had to read it. At the moment I am reading An American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld, which is a fictional memoire of someone not entirely unlike Laura Bush. One wonders, though, where the line is drawn between truth and fiction.
Oh! I’ve actually read both those books, so I guess I gotta say…great choices! And yeah, I wondered those same things from time to time. Recently I read that your background is mainly in science and that your fascination with “the way we work” largely influenced your concept for Pretty Girl-13. Do you think your love of science influenced your initial idea for this book? Do you think you will go for something more science fiction-y for the next one?
Reviewed by Jill MacKenzie
When I was searching for the perfect book to review for our “Lucky 13” issue, I came across Kristin Halbrook’s debut novel, Nobody But Us, and just stopped. While I’ll admit that it was partly the cover that kept me from scrolling past it—the image of a wispy, pretty girl, eyes closed, cheek resting peacefully on the shoulder of a scruffy, cute boy—it was also the title that caught me. The title that got me thinking about love. About being lucky enough to find true love. About being lucky enough to keep it.
I read Nobody But Us over the course of a single day. I couldn’t help but be absorbed in the enmeshing love story of fragile Zoe and strong, struggling Will—told flawlessly in alternating points of view. Couldn’t help but contemplate just how lucky they were to have found each other even when life seemed bent on keeping them apart. On page two, I fell completely in love with both Will and Zoe. By page three, my heart beat faster and faster almost uncontrollably as I hoped and prayed that they’d find the luck they needed to get away from her father and get away from his past, and be together forever. Just the two of them.
Luck and love. To me, they go hand and hand. I mean, why else would we look for that someone to be with for forever? Why else would we innately know that when times get really, really tough, as long as we have that one person to carry us through it, we’ll be okay? And now, weeks after I finished the book, I still think about Will and Zoe’s love often and hope that the two will reunite somewhere, someday, somehow. One can only hope they’ll be so lucky.
Reviewed by Kerry O’Malley Cerra
When I read Kathryn’s first book a few years ago, The Year the Swallows Came Early, I knew I’d forever be a loyal reader of any other books she’d ever write. She has the most beautiful way with words. Her newest book, Destiny, Rewritten, follows suit. You only need to read a single conversation between Em and her BFF Wavey to know exactly what I mean about Kathryn’s writing. Perfection!
Having been named after the famous poet, Emily Dickenson, Emily Davis, has been told a thousand times by her fate-believing mom that it’s Emily’s destiny to also be a poet someday. But, Emily isn’t really fond of poems. They’re dreary and have too many rules. She much prefers romance novels and their happy endings, mostly because she longs for her own happy ending—which to Em, means finding out who her father is. Mom could just tell her, but that would be messing with fate.
When a special book of Emily Dickenson poems—that also happens to be the journal of Emily’s childhood—gets lost, she is devastated. Mom tells her that the name of her father was in that book somewhere and Emily sets out to find it at all costs. This journey leads her to question Mom’s belief in fate and Emily decides that sometimes you have to give destiny a little help. Make things happen for yourself. In doing so, you’ll find exactly where you’re meant to be.
Destiny, Rewritten will make you question the concepts of luck, fate, destiny, chance. It has left me with so much to think about and I LOVE it when a book can do that! Kathryn, please tell me you’re working on another book! You’ve got one forever reader here.
Reviewed by Shel Delisle
Elephant Joe, Brave Knight! was picked as our “lucky” picture book for a couple reasons. It’s lucky that Elephant Joe can swim. And it’s lucky because our heroes remember to use the magic word please. And I’m lucky for having found this book! Because, it’s imaginatively quirky with kings and stolen crowns, knights and trusty sidekicks, distressed damsels and dangerous dragons. Which all seems fairly typical until you realize the knight is an elephant, the sidekick is a zebra, the damsel is a crocodile (and spoiler alert: actually the dark knight), and the dragon is ticklish.
The comical adventure begins when the king’s crown is stolen and he promises the biggest feast in the kingdom to whoever can return it. Elephant Joe and Zebra Pete undertake the quest, which quickly turns comically ridiculous. One of my favorite things about the book is the running commentary by an enchanted (or, maybe not) frog who pops up with wry remarks.
With Elephant Joe, Brave Knight! author/illustrator David Wojtowycz has written a playful, unpredictable story with whimsical illustrations that kids and the adults reading to them can both enjoy.
By Shel Delisle
Lucky for readers, especially voracious ones like me, that the era of e-books has ushered in so many affordable stories with appeal to readers of all ages. Here are a few that I’m happy to have stumbled upon:
Save The Lemmings by Kai Strand is a tween novel about the trials of the strangely lovable Natalie Isabelle Cailean Edwards, an inventor who wears monochromatic outfits of yellow, coral, bright green and any other optimistic shade. Although Natalie often spouts annoyingly peppy phrases like “plant a kind word and it will grow into a sentence,” she has a solid group of loyal friends who support her newest invention, the Texty-Talky, until both she and the invention become a national sensation. Then, despite always trying to be a N.I.C.E. girl (Natalie’s initials) she finds herself caught up in the whirlwind of celebrity and a media smear campaign.
This novel is cute and breezy with a fun character in Natalie, who really does try very hard to always do the right thing. It also can provide some worthwhile discussion about the nature of celebrity and how news stories may sometimes only provide a snapshot of the truth, rather than the whole story.
Surfacing (Swans Landing) by Shana Norris is the first in the Swans Landing series for teens about a race of beings called finfolk, those who walk among humans only changing to their mermaid form when swimming. The series will transport readers from the tiny, mysterious island of Swans Landing along the Outer Banks of North Carolina to the northern islands of Scotland.
In this first book, Mara Westray has lost her mother to cancer and is being shipped off to live with her father Lake, a man she’s never known. She struggles with the move from Memphis, a place where there is always something to do or see, to living in this isolated world where everyone knows everyone, except her. On top of that, she’s cruelly ostracized by certain students and she can’t make sense of why that is.
I really enjoyed this e-book! It has tons of atmosphere, interesting well-drawn characters, a generous sprinkling of mystery, and not one, but two, very cute boys!
Open Minds (Mindjack, Book 1) by Susan Kaye Quinn is the first book in the YA Mindjack Trilogy, a futuristic thriller about a society where a mutation causes almost everyone to develop the ability to read minds when they hit puberty. As the story opens, Kira, the sixteen-year-old main character of the story, can’t read minds and as such she’s a freak – a Zero, cut off from most of her classmates. But quickly, Kira learns that she’s not without power. She can mindjack – the ability to tap into another’s mind and control.
This story is very fast-paced and hugely popular, at the time of this review it had almost 1,300 ratings on Goodreads. Kira is a kick-butt character and the story has a little something for everyone – romance, humor, a fully-developed dystopian world, and tons of action.
Hopeless by Colleen Hoover is a new adult (more mature) contemporary romance that is rocking a lot of readers’ worlds. It’s the story of seventeen-year-old Sky, a home schooled girl, who will attend public school her senior year. And her reputation with boys precedes her. Despite letting boys sneak into her bedroom, Sky never feels anything for any of them until she meets Dean Holder, a boy with a reputation of his own. As these two get to know each other, and we get to know them, long buried secrets are unearthed.
I love the way Hoover structured this book. It’s so tightly written, showing how a two-month time frame can take us through such a tumultuous period of a characters life. The tragic twists and turns are…wow. Powerful. Painful. Raw. I simply refuse to say anymore because I don’t want to spoil.
So there you have it! Lots of reasons to feel lucky about e-books and all of them were priced under $5 when I wrote this review. So what’re you waiting for? Grab ‘em now.
Steven dos Santos is the author of The Culling, the first book in The Torch Keeper series from Flux Books, which is being released on March 8, 2013. Book Two is currently slated for release in March of 2014.
As I’m gearing up for the debut of The Culling, the first book in my Young Adult Post-Apocalyptic The Torch Keeper series from Flux, I can look back and say that joining the Lucky 13s debut author group was perhaps one of the luckiest things that’s happened to me in this rollercoaster ride to publication!
Anyone that writes and has tried to get their work published can tell you that the journey is fraught with highs and lows, elation and frustration. But getting published is only half the battle. Here you are, after all your hard work, your dreams on the verge of coming true with a nice pretty book that’s about to be born unto the world. So what happens now? How do you navigate through the endless sea of social media to spread the word? After all, who’s going to read your precious baby if no one knows about it? And who can you turn to and vent about all these frustrating new problems; i.e. editorial letters, deadlines, title changes, cover reveals, foreign rights sales, book swag, author interviews, early reviews, etc.?
Why, your debut author group, that’s who. And in my case, The Lucky 13s, who have really lived up to their name!
I can’t stress enough how helpful it’s been to be a part of a debut group. When I first joined The Lucky 13s, it was shortly after the sale of The Culling. I’d been trying my best on my own to promote my book, but a friend and fellow SCBWI Aventura Critique Group member, Medeia Sharif (fellow Fluxian author of Bestest. Ramadan. Ever.), and social media guru extraordinaire, told me about the formation of this new debut group, The Lucky 13s, and suggested I join, which I did right away.
Best. Decision. Ever.
The group has been a tremendous support in navigating these Da Vinci Code-like uncharted territories of the publishing world. The great thing is there is such an overwhelming sense of camaraderie. No question is too stupid to ask. There’s always someone who knows something. I mean, these people are incredible! I’ve learned marketing strategies and coping mechanisms I never even dreamed of. There is such a strong connection because my fellow Lucky 13ers know exactly what I’m going through, just like I know what they’re feeling. It’s like having your own writer support/crisis line at your fingertips, only a keystroke away, day or night, ready to tweet, retweet, and blog their support to the heavens. Whether it’s celebrating a great review, finishing a new manuscript, scoring a foreign rights deal or passing out cyber hugs, tissues, and chocolates on those days where things maybe aren’t so fab (can you say not-so-enthusiastic-reviews and very-short-deadlines, anybody?), my Lucky 13s are here for me, as I’m here for them. How lucky is that?
I urge everyone to check out The Lucky 13s blog at http://thelucky13s.blogspot.com/ to find out more about us and our books! And my advice to any debut author, join a debut author group. It does wonders for your sanity! ;-)
Some of The Lucky 13s’ highlights for March releases included Mindee Arnett’s The Nightmare Affair, Tamera Will Wissinger’s Gone Fishing: A novel, Sarah Skilton’s Bruised, Debra Driza’s Mila 2.0, Nicole McInnes’s Brianna on the Brink, Liz Coley’s Pretty Girl-13, Lindsay Rebar’s The Art of Wishing, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s Forest Has a Song: Poems, and Yours Truly’s The Culling.
March was certainly a Literary Lucky-Palooza for readers!
Reviewed by Kristina Miranda
No one would ever call Cally Fisher lucky. She’s lost her mother, her home, and her only friend. But on the anniversary of her mother’s death, Cally sees a ghost. It’s her mother, clear as day, in her bright red raincoat. From that day on, her mother appears whenever Cally needs her, often accompanied by a very large, and very real, scruffy gray hound.
Unable to deal with his own grief, Cally’s father is silent when it comes to remembering Cally’s mother, which makes Cally’s pain even worse. When she tries to talk to him about her mother appearing to her, he doesn’t want to hear about it. So after a charity event at Cally’s school, when she—the girl most likely to get caught talking in class—is able to go the whole day in silence, Cally decides not to speak at all anymore.
A Dog Called Homeless is a quiet, gentle read that is beautifully written and deeply touching. Cally’s relationships with her family, her friend Sam, a homeless man named Jed, and the mysterious gray dog, will tug at your heartstrings. The end is tender and satisfying.
A stirring tale of love and healing, A Dog Called Homeless is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Reviewed by Rebecca San Juan
For the first time in years, Jean-Dominique Bauby is reaping the fruits of his labor. After establishing his name and breaking French Elle into the industry in the early 90’s his schedule has been congested with back-to-back photo shoots, articles to review and write. After a bitter separation with the mother of his children, Bauby is regaining the throne to his favorite role – a father. After an emergency meeting at the office, he sets off to steal away his son for the weekend. On the road towards Paris, though, one stroke changed his life forever.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death is the recollection of one man’s life with locked-in syndrome. When Bauby wakes up in a hospital bed, nothing is the same. The only movement his condition allows for is a twitch in his fingers and the ability to blink and view the world through his left eye. In addition to his physical limitations, his emotional ties with his family and friends has been altered. Not being able to verbally communicate, he struggles with being a silent observer in the world. He can no longer hold his children or take care of his handicapped father. When he receives phone calls or visitations from his family he struggles with the frustration of not being able to touch their hand or simply tell them how much he loves them.
The brevity in every anecdote is as delicately crafted as a China doll. With chapter titles like ‘The Sausage’ and ‘The Ladies of Hong Kong’, Bauby explores every corner of his mind. The reader will tag along on a romantic affair in Spain and then gorge on a delectable meal that he crafted through the intertwining web of memory and words. No matter whether his tales are rooted in reality or bound to the pages of one of his favorite childhood fairy tales, Bauby mesmerizes the reader with a novel that in and of itself is a treasure to behold. The paradox with The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is that while the reader dashes for its whimsical escape from reality, the delicate mesh of life will teach the reader how to truly live.
While Bauby died two days after the publication of his memoir, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly proves that through the strength of imagination there exist no limits to the human spirit. You might be asking yourself, how this relates to being lucky. Bauby was pretty lucky to be able to see life through a new, whimsical perspective. Most importantly, I feel this is a gift to any reader—to see life through his eyes. In that sense, the reader is the one who is lucky.