How Fireworks Brought Me Down Memory Lane (Review + GIVEAWAY & MORE)

Every once in a while you read a book that just checks all the boxes.
  • Characters who you fall in love with, even though they're not perfect. Check.
  • A love story that doesn't consume the entirety of the story - plus the perfect book boyfriend. Check Check. (Holy crap do I love Alex)
  • A setting that you can insert yourself in. Check. Don't let the 90s setting throw off the fact that this is very much a YA (but today's popstars are made on YouTube, not auditioned like back in my day). The 90s don't bog down the story; it's still fun to live in that era for a bit, though. 
This book was a ball of sweetness and is guaranteed to get you out of any slump. If you don't end up smiling, you're surely a monster. It's out now so I want to hear all your thoughts about it. That's all I'm going to say because I want to take us down memory lane for a bit. But first, an interview with Katie! 


Interview with Katie Cotugno

Tell us how the story in Fireworks went from an idea to a finished book. 

I've always wanted to write a 90s book, and my boy band feelings are WELL-DOCUMENTED, so a book like this always felt kind of inevitable for me--in fact, when I first told my best friend about it, she said, "Oh my god, this is the book you were born to write!". Still, this story definitely had many different incarnations before I landed on something that felt good and meaty and new, but also still identifiable to people who read and enjoyed 99 DAYS and HOW TO LOVE. I knew I wanted to kind of explore the dark underbelly of the teen pop factory--the question I needed to grapple with was what exactly that meant.

What was your research process like for Fireworks? Did you (re)watch Making the Band? Read a lot of old Tiger Beat magazines? 

All of the above! Making the Band is actually only available in like, ten minute chunks of grainy YouTube footage, but you can bet I spent some quality time with Ashley Parker Angel. I also watched the Backstreet Boys documentary, which is sincerely wrenching, and read a ton or articles about Lou Pearlman, the once-imprisoned, now-deceased, always-sketchy superproducer behind so many of those groups. 

I loved how Fireworks ended because it was realistic. Since this is a Where are They Now post, where do you think Dana and Olivia would be now? 

Ahh, I don't know how to answer this without accidentally spoiling the ending. But I like to think they're both happy and at peace now, wherever they are.

What's Crackalackin' ...with Boy Bands from the Late 90s?

You didn't think the girl who had practically every single *NSYNC related Tiger Beat and a JC Chasez doll was going to review a book set around the boy band craze without doing a Where are They Now? post, right? Right.

Boy bands did not die in 2001 (and Celebrity was a GREAT album, tyvm) but the enthusiasm changed as the internet generation changed. So who of my favs is still active?

Maybe you saw that 98 Degrees toured with O-Town, Dream, and Ryan Cabrera in 2016. Well, I did.

Matching camo outfits and synchronized dancing! 

I could watch this all day. 

Both Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys have residencies in Las Vegas. 

I'm going with my high school besties in June for our birthdays. Also, Nancy saw both when they were here for a Christmas show. YEAHHHH.

NSYNC reunited in 2013 for a 2 minute montage of Girlfriend and ByeByeBye and all of me just wants one show, anywhere in the world, during my adult lifetime. 

LFO is MIA - and it's super sad, peeps.

In doing some research for this post, I learned that Rich Cronin died of leukemia in 2010. :'(

RIP <3 

Excuse me, I'm going to watch some TRL now.

by Katie Cotugno
Published: Balzer + Bray
Publisher: April 18th 2017

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.


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  1. My fondest 90s memory is probably seeing Aaron Carter in concert. I was such an AC fan and I remember being in the nosebleeds and still being soooo excited!!!

  2. Unfortunately, I was born '99 so I don't really have any memories of the '90s...


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