Tea & Book Chat: Fireworks by Katie Cotugno

Personal Thoughts:  As I may have (definitely) mentioned, Katie Cotugno is one of my favorite contemporary YA authors.  In fact, she’s definitely in the top three.  I love her words to pieces so when I heard that her newest novel would be set in Orlando in the 1990’s during the boy band craze, I couldn’t possibly be more on board.  And the cover! And the endpapers! While Fireworks didn’t end up being my new favorite of her’s (the number one spot still belongs to How to Love), I did thoroughly enjoy it, especially for the setting. And possibly the most exciting part (for me) is that a character in the girl band is named Kristin! Spelled the same way as me! I didn’t even care that she’s kind of a bitch because I’ve never read a book with a character that has my name and for it to have been in a Katie Cotugno book just amplifies my excitement.

Plot Summary:  Best friends Dana and Olivia leave their small Georgia town and head to Orlando where Olivia is going to be auditioning to become a pop star in a new all girl band being formed and Dana is there as her moral support.  During the audition, Dana gets picked out of the crowd to show off her skills and both girls end up being chosen to move to Orlando to start rehearsing.  But things get complicated when Dana’s lack of formal training start inhibiting what has always been Olivia’s dream and the girls start to become each other’s competition.

Critique:  Fireworks is yet again, another messy and complicated story from the brain of Katie Cotugno.  I love the way she tackled the evolution of Dana and Olivia’s friendship as the girls begin to grow up and their circumstances change.  It’s so easy to fall into a routine and to believe that one person is your be all and end all when you haven’t experienced anything else and Orlando really opens up both of their eyes about what else is out there in the world.  There’s also an adorable love interest named Alex who’s a member of Hurricane State, a boy band similar to N’SYNC who’s just starting to make waves in the industry.  Alex is honest and supportive and quite honestly, he put up with a lot for someone just starting a relationship.  The best part of the novel is hands down the setting.  I love the little nods to the 90’s and just Orlando in general.  I felt like I was reliving my own early childhood while reading and I could perfectly picture myself running around in jean shorts and eating ice cream cones on hot summer nights.

Do I Recommend?:  Yes! Especially if you are a fellow fan of the Britney Spears / Christina Aguilera and Backstreet Boys / N’SYNC era.

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: How to Love by Katie Cotugno

Personal Thoughts:  So, Katie Cotugno is officially an auto-buy author for me.  The funny thing is, I fell in love with her writing style before ever reading either of her currently published books. I used to so look forward to Katie’s Friday blog posts about 5 good things and I’m sad she hasn’t been keeping up with them (although she is posting much more on twitter which is a plus!).  I read her sophomore novel, 99 Days in the latter half of 2016 and it was everything I wanted it to be and more.  I had been putting off reading How to Love because I’m not usually interested in pregnancy stories but boy am I glad that I trusted my gut and in my love of Katie’s ability to make me love anything.

Plot Summary:  How to Love is the story of Reena and Sawyer since he skipped town and she had his baby.  Reena adjusts to her new life with baby Hannah and the fact that she’ll never go to college and she’ll be stuck in her small Florida hometown forever while Sawyer travels around doing whatever he pleases.  Everything has become routine for Reena until one day, Sawyer resurfaces and declares that he’s there to stay.  Now she has to sort through her feelings both past and present to determine her future.

Critique:  All I can say upon finishing is that my emotions are shredded to pieces.  Katie Cotugno crafted one of the messiest, most complicated contemporary love stories I’ve ever read and I have such strong feelings about these characters! Reena is a very relatable teen.  She’s intelligent, she always does “the right thing” and she has a bright future ahead of her.  I really love the way in which the story was told.  Each chapter shifted from present day to the past during the time of she and Sawyer’s initial story. I loved the juxtaposition of the narratives and the way each scene was relevant to one another.  I found Reena’s anger to be justified and as the story unfolded, I slowly found myself falling more and more in love with Sawyer from the way he treats Reena in the present to how good he is with their child.  Both parties have made major mistakes in their time together and this is by no means a cute and fluffy story.  It’s complicated with a capital C.  I also loved the presence of family and the way religion affected Reena’s dynamic with her father.  Overall, I just love love loved this book.  As I neared the end I even tried to slow down my reading because I wasn’t ready for it to be over yet.

Do I Recommend?: Yes! Katie Cotugno is without a doubt one of my favorite authors at this point and I’m over the moon that her published works are about the double in the coming year because I cannot get enough of her words!

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Kristin

Waiting on Wednesday: Fireworks by Katie Cotugno

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly series hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we’re eagerly awaiting.  This week I’m choosing Fireworks by Katie Cotugno.  I finally read my first Katie Cotugno book last week and she’s now one of my favorite contemporary authors.  Her writing is just so pretty and enjoyable and I basically devoured 99 Days.  I also love reading her blog and her twitter and I seriously cannot get enough of her<3 Her newest book Fireworks takes place in Orlando in the 1990s during the boy and girl band craze and it follows two best friends competing to be next big popstar. I absolutely love the cover for Fireworks and I love that it has the same aesthetic as 99 Days.

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From Katie Cotugno, bestselling author of 99 Days, comes Fireworks—about a girl who is competing with her best friend to become the new pop star of the moment—and all the drama and romance that comes with it—set in Orlando during the late-’90s boy-and-girl-band craze.

It was always meant to be Olivia. She was the talented one, the one who had been training to be a star her whole life. Her best friend, Dana, was the level-headed one, always on the sidelines, cheering her best friend along.

But everything changes when Dana tags along with Olivia to Orlando for the weekend, where superproducer Guy Monroe is holding auditions for a new singing group, and Dana is discovered too. Dana, who’s never sung more than Olivia’s backup. Dana, who wasn’t even looking for fame. Next thing she knows, she and Olivia are training to be pop stars, and Dana is falling for Alex, the earnest, endlessly talented boy who’s destined to be the next big thing.

It should be a dream come true, but as the days of grueling practice and constant competition take their toll, things between Olivia and Dana start to shift . . . and there’s only room at the top for one girl. For Olivia, it’s her chance at her dream. For Dana, it’s a chance to escape a future that seems to be closing in on her. And for these lifelong best friends, it’s the adventure of a lifetime—if they can make it through.

Set in evocative 1990s Orlando, New York Times bestselling author Katie Cotugno’s Fireworks brings to life the complexity of friendship, the excitement of first love, and the feeling of being on the verge of greatness. (via Goodreads)

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