Book Review: Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith

Wild Awake

Title: Wild Awake
Author: Hilary T. Smith
Genre: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult, Music, Romance, 
Publisher: Hardie Grant Egmont
Publication Date: October 1st, 2013
Pages: 375
Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Things you earnestly believe will happen while your parents are away:

1. You will remember to water the azaleas.
2. You will take detailed, accurate messages.
3. You will call your older brother, Denny, if even the slightest thing goes wrong.
4. You and your best friend/bandmate Lukas will win Battle of the Bands.
5. Amid the thrill of victory, Lukas will finally realize you are the girl of his dreams.

Things that actually happen:

1. A stranger calls who says he knew your sister.
2. He says he has her stuff.
3. What stuff? Her stuff.
4. You tell him your parents won’t be able to—
5. Sukey died five years ago; can’t he—
6. You pick up a pen.
7. You scribble down the address.
8. You get on your bike and go.
9. Things . . . get a little crazy after that.*
*also, you fall in love, but not with Lukas.

Both exhilarating and wrenching, Hilary T. Smith’s debut novel captures the messy glory of being alive, as seventeen-year-old Kiri Byrd discovers love, loss, chaos, and murder woven into a summer of music, madness, piercing heartbreak, and intoxicating joy

My Review:

Kiri Byrd is the daughter parents can depend on. To water plants, to practice her piano and not to get into any trouble. And Kiri is fine playing the role because she’s convinced that her perfection is the only way to keep her family together after her older sister, Sukey, died in an accident a few years ago. But a strange phone call one night when her parents are away on a cruise leads to Kiri questioning everything she believes to be true.

“It’s amazing how quickly the things you thought would make you happy seem small once you stumble on something true.” 

This book is both beautiful and bizarre. Kiri is in the midst of discovering things about Sukey, her parents and herself that she never even considered. It’s an emotional story with Kiri falling apart. Her sister may not have been the role model Kiri had on a pedestal and her parents dismissal of all thing Sukey may not have been the most healthy thing to do. Kiri is locked in a world where she lives in denial. Watering the azaleas and perfecting complicated piano pieces is the way she is holding things together. But when she finds out there’s more to Sukey’s death than she ever considered, Kiri is thrown – especially considering her brother and parents knew the truth all along. Kiri tries to hold on to the perfect life she’s living whilst at the same time starts to resent it. She’s beautiful in her confusion and reading her was a pleasure. Her awkwardness regarding love and sex was endearing to read and her passion – albeit slightly fanatical – for music was a joy.

And then there’s Skunk. Have you ever heard a more attractive name for the hero of a story? Probably not. Skunk is one of those characters that I adored from the first time Kiri met him.
“He’s huge. Hagridesque. A bulldozer crossed with a  gorilla.”

Romantic, right? His relationship with Kiri is one based on friendship first and contrasts perfectly with the relationship Kiri has with bandmate Lukas. Both boys couldn’t be more different and they do a great job of representing Kiri’s perfect past and confused present.

I loved the writing in this novel. If I were to underline my favourite lines most of the book would be marked. Kiri’s spiral downwards was oddly wonderful to read – one of those things that feel like they should be entirely uncomfortable were written in a way that made me want to read more and anticipate how Kiri would react to the next bombshell in her life. Her relationships with everyone are declining and it’s awkward yet enticing.

The ending wasn’t quite what I was expecting but I felt it was perfectly fitting for both the plot and the characters. I wasn’t expecting to like this book as much as I did – the recreational drug use on page 1 nearly turned me off but this is so much more than a teenage stoner story. It’s an emotional and lovely debut novel with amazingly flawed characters and some beautiful prose. I adored this book and will definitely be looking out for more books by Hilary T. Smith.

Favourite Quotes:

“His smile is a jar full of fireflies”

“The wired feeling that started when I left my house has grown into a thrumming, crackling, electrical field. I want to kiss Lukas. I want to dance down the street. There’s a reason people get drunk after funerals, and I suddenly know what it is: the flip side of sadness is a dark, devouring joy, a life that demands to be fed.”

“I want to kiss you,” I say, “but I seem to be holding this cat.”
Skunk lifts his hand and touches it to the side of my face. His fingers are warm from carrying the hot skillet to the table. He regards me very seriously, and for a moment I wonder if he’s about to tell me we should Focus on Bicycle Repair. Instead he just looks at me for a very long time.
“You’re beautiful,” says Skunk, “and completely batshit.” 

Thanks to Hardie Grant Egmont for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | Book World

Book Review: Sia by Josh Grayson

SIA banner

Title: Siasia cover
Author: Josh Grayson
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Social Change, Coming of Age, New Adult
Publisher: self-published
Publication Date: November 2013
Pages: 193
Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
When seventeen-year-old Sia wakes up on a park bench, she has no idea who or where she is. Yet after a week of being homeless, she’s reunited with her family. At school, she’s powerful and popular. At home, she’s wealthy beyond her dreams. But she quickly realizes her perfect life is a lie. Her family is falling apart and her friends are snobby, cruel and plastic. Worse yet, she discovers she was the cruelest one. Mortified by her past, she embarks on a journey of redemption and falls for Kyle, the “geek” she once tormented. Yet all the time she wonders if, when her memories return, she’ll become the bully she was before…and if she’ll lose Kyle.

My Review:

Sia has no idea who she is. She doesn’t know her name, her address or anything about herself. The only thing she has to her name is a fairly skimpy jogging outfit and an ipod. With nowhere to go and no idea about who she can turn to, Sia spends the next week on the streets living as a homeless person. Kindness comes from the most surprising sources when and older woman befriends Sia and teaches her how to survive. But then Sia’s parents find her. They take her off the streets and back to their mansion. But Sia still doesn’t have a clue who she is. She doesn’t recognize her parents. her friends, her boyfriend or her life. What she finds is that she doesn’t like the sound of the person she was. And maybe she doesn’t need to be the Old Sia.

I liked how this story let us find out about Sia and Sia’s World as she discovered things for herself. The contrasts from her time on the streets and her rich and flashy life worked nicely against each other. It was a little hard for me to get into the story initially – Sia’s confusion was shared by me for a while – but it didn’t take long for me to get into things.

Sia is a little simplistic at times. Instead of finding out who she was, she decides to completely embrace the life of a street kid. After finishing the novel I don’t feel like that would be something Old Sia or the New and Improved version would do. She’s not really a go with the flow kind of person. But I understand that as a plot device, Sia needed to see what life on the other side would be like. The romance was nicely done but I felt like the end wrapped things up in a way that felt unnatural, over the top and a tad unnecessary.

This was an interesting journey to read. From the gutter to the Academy Awards – there’s a lot going on and Sia managed to traverse it all.

 

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo

 

AUTHOR BIO

Josh Author Pic

Josh Grayson was born in Mexico, raised in Massachusetts, and now lives in Martinsville, Virginia. It was his move to the South that stirred his imagination and gave him the courage to start writing. During his free time, Josh enjoys reading, jogging, swimming, and watching YouTube videos.

Josh currently works as a medical driver, shuttling people all over Virginia and North Carolina. He has also worked as a machinist, film sales rep, administrative assistant, and telemarketer (he apologizes if he called you).

Sia is his debut YA novel.

Author Links:

There’s a tour wide giveaway where you could win one of five print copies of Sia (US only) or one of five ecopies (open internationally). Click the rafflecopter link before to enter.

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Book Review: Crash Into You by Katie McGarry

Crash Into You

Title: Crash Into You (Pushing the Limits #3)
Author: Katie McGarry 
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: December 2013
Pages: 464
Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
The girl with straight As, designer clothes and the perfect life-that’s who people expect Rachel Young to be. So the private-school junior keeps secrets from her wealthy parents and overbearing brothers…and she’s just added two more to the list. One involves racing strangers down dark country roads in her Mustang GT. The other? Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Walker-a guy she has no business even talking to. But when the foster kid with the tattoos and intense gray eyes comes to her rescue, she can’t get him out of her mind.

Isaiah has secrets, too. About where he lives, and how he really feels about Rachel. The last thing he needs is to get tangled up with a rich gira stl who wants to slum it on the south side for kicks-no matter how angelic she might look.

But when their shared love of street racing puts both their lives in jeopardy, they have six weeks to come up with a way out. Six weeks to discover just how far they’ll go to save each other.

My Review:

NOTE: Whilst this book is part of a series it can also be enjoyed as a standalone.

Isaiah and Rachel couldn’t be more different. He’s struggling to make rent in a budget apartment and is facing getting sent back to his foster parents. She’s the perfect daughter of wealthy parents and wants to please everyone. He’s rough around the edges, covered in tattoos and isn’t unfamiliar with the darker side of life. She feels the need to please everyone even when it’s hazardous to her own health. But they both share a love of cars. When they meet by chance at an illegal street race, they feel a spark. They put aside their preconceived notions of the other get to know each other on a deeper level. But real life gets in the way and tries to tear them apart just as they’re falling in love.

I have to admit – I was annoyed at Katie McGarry. After reading Pushing the Limits, I wanted Isaiah and Beth to be together. Then I read Dare You Too and I started to think maybe the author knew better than I did what was best for her characters… Now, after reading Isaiah and Rachel’s story – I know I was wrong. I adored this novel. From the start I could see that these two brought out the best in each other.

Rachel is fragile. But she surprised me by being tough as nails on the inside. She doesn’t like conflict and does whatever she can to avoid it. She’s living her life in her sister’s shadow and whilst they may not mean to – her parents never let her forget it. But she’s more than the society princess. She’s passionate about cars – and her love of mechanics is heartfelt and believable. Isaiah on the other hand is damaged. Life hasn’t been kind to him and he doesn’t think enough of himself to get him out of the hole that he’s in. Noah, his best friend and the main character from Pushing the Limits, tries to do what he can but he’s got his hands full with college, Echo and his brothers. It’s an interesting time for Isaiah – because as well as Rachel coming into his life he gets a case worker who wants more than just to wash her hands of him.

There’s a lot of excitement in this book – illegal street racing, money hungry bookies and a romance that is absolutely beautiful. I thought McGarry did a brilliant job of melding the different worlds her characters live in whilst at the same time being believable. There are some surprises in this book with some amazing new characters being introduced and some old favourites from the series reappearing. I thought it was great that characters like Beth are still prickly and (dare I say) a little bitchy despite having her happy ending – it felt authentic that she’s the same girl despite the changes her life has been through.

I’m looking forward to the fourth book in this series. I love the characters and can’t wait to see what Katie McGarry come up with next!

 

Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon| Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Book Review: Break It Up by E.M. Tippetts

Break It Up

Title: Break It Up
Author: E. M. Tippetts
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: November 2013
Pages: 216
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Kyra Armijo is making a few changes in her life. One of them being, she’s no longer going to give it up to every guy who looks at her twice. And she’s putting her hopes and dreams for her future first. When the aspiring photojournalist gets the opportunity of a lifetime to tag along with international boy band sensation, Triple Cross, she can’t pass up the chance.

The only problem is that she’s in love with one band member, dodging the unwanted attention of another, and desperate to keep her turbulent past under wraps. Triple Cross have “nice guy” appeal, approved of by parents the world over, but have just let go their longtime manager, who controlled their clean image and media exposure with an iron fist. When Zach Wechsler, the object of Kyra’s affection, begins to show interest, she has to be careful.

Surely one girl can’t destroy a band that’s been together for ten years… only what if she can? Kyra knows she’s one bad decision away from ruining everything she’s worked for, and taking the hottest act of her generation down with her.

My Review:

Kyra used to be the girl with the bad reputation. A reputation she may have earned but she’s trying to redeem herself for her past mistakes. When she gets to meet with the somewhat reclusive but very famous band, Triple Cross, Kyra is a little star struck – and she has met her fair share of A-List celebrities. But Zach Wechsler is different. He’s even better than in Kyra’s fantasies. Can Kyra manage to keep her past a secret and have a chance with the clean cut pop sensation or will things between Kyra and Zach be over before they even cot a chance to began?

If you’ve read Someone Else’s Fairytale or Nobody’s Damsel by Emily Mah Tippetts, Kyra would be familiar to you. Break it Up is a spinoff focusing on Jason’s niece, Kyra. She’s not the wild child she was but rather maturing into a respectable member of society. Kyra owns her own mistakes but is trying to leave it in the past and make something of her future. She’s an interesting character. I liked that she didn’t judge others for their actions because she’d been there, done that and it wasn’t her place remark on how they choose to live their lives. Her relationships with her family was great to read about. Whilst this book can be read as a standalone I thought it was interesting to see Kyra’s perception of characters that I had grown to love before from Chloe’s story.

I thought that Triple Cross were fun. Somewhere between One Direction and the Jonas Brothers, they’re three young men who are in the middle of flux. Their mom-ager (mother manager) was recently cut loose and now they’re having to fend for themselves for the first time in their lives. Zach is the ultimate dream boy… and Kyra isn’t immune from his charm. But I found him to be a little immature and he read very young. A little too young for the world wise Kyra. I would have liked him more had he taken a little more responsibility for what was happening to him and his band rather than just hoping something would magically solve all their problems. Romance wise – Kyra and Zach’s chemistry was lovely. They compliment each other so well and I was rooting for them from the start.

It was great to be back in the world EM Tippetts has created. Her characters are three-dimensional – each with their own flaws which makes them that much more relatable and enjoyable to read about. She writes fantastic New Adult novels that are interesting and clean. I enjoyed reading this book and loved that it is a complete story – with no nasty cliffhangers!  

Thanks to the author for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon

Book Review: Diamond’s are a Teen’s Best Friend by Allison Rushby

Title: Diamonds are a Teen’s Best Friend (Living Blond series #1)Diamonds are a Teen's Best Friend
Author: Allison Rushby
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Young Adult
Publisher: Allison Rushby
Publication Date: November 1st, 2013
Pages: 138
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Nessa Joanne Mulholland, aka Marilyn Monroe’s No. 1 teenage fan, is used to moving house. This time, however, she’s relocating in movie-star style—crossing the Atlantic on board the Majestic, headed for Paris from New York City. And it really would be in movie-star style if it wasn’t for the fact that she’s bringing her cringe-fest professor dad along for the ride (Dad’s specialization: human mating rituals—need Nessa say more?). Oh yeah, and sharing a cabin that’s five decks below sea level and next to the engine room. Still, at least Holly Isles is on board. Yes, really, that Holly Isles—star of stage and screen. Suddenly, things are looking up. Looking a little Marilyn, in fact, because events are strangely mirroring Nessa’s favorite movie of all time, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

Watch!
As Holly Isles, world-famous actress, confides in Nessa over mocktails.
Listen!
As Nessa coaches Holly in the amazing “Nessa’s Lesson’s in Love”—the ultimate man-catching rules to finding true and lasting lurv.
See!
Nessa fall for Holly’s too-cute nephew, Marc. . . and
Cover your eyes!
As it all goes terribly, horribly, embarrassingly wrong.

There’s no doubting it. This is going to be one pitchy crossing.

My Review:

Nessa Joanne Mulholland is just a teeny bit obsessed with Marilyn Monroe. But when she finds Marilynisms all the time in her daily life can she really be blamed? On a cruise ship with her dad, Nessa meets thirty-something Holly Isles, a world-famous actress and someone Nessa feels like might be a kindred Marilyn fan. Holly has three broken engagements to her name and after bonding over mocktails and maraschino cherries, Nessa starts to believe that her real life is starting to feel a lot like her favourite movie, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Nessa takes it upon herself to be the Lorelei to Holly’s Dorothy, the Marilyn to her Jane, and comes up with Nessa’s Lessons in Love. She’s going to find Holly’s Perfect Man before the cruise is over!

This book is very cute. Nessa is an engaging main character with a lot of passion for her beloved Marilyn. At thirteen (almost fourteen!) years old, I thought there were times when he behaviour was a little unbelievable but lets face it – becoming BFFs with a movie star is a bit of a fantasy too and this isn’t a book to take too seriously. I love the idea of this book – that even 60 years after Nessa’s favourite film being released, it’s still enjoyable and somewhat relevant to modern life. The parallels from the film to Nessa’s life are beautifully done – you don’t need to have seen the film to enjoy Nessa’s antics but if you have seen it I think you’ll like how Nessa relates them to her own situation.

I love a good love story but I didn’t really connect with Marc – Nessa’s sort of love interest. He felt old beyond his years organizing and looking out for his aunt – but this only made the gap between the almost fourteen year old Nessa and the seventeen year old going on forty Marc seem even larger. That said, as eye candy for the Marilyn obsessed, he was okay and did a good job at keeping Nessa a little off-balance. Holly is lovely if not a little odd. She’s fun but I couldn’t quite imagine the educated adult woman to be taking love and life advice from a teenager she just met. But like I said before – this isn’t supposed to be real life. This is a sweet story where you shouldn’t let realism (or lack there of) get in the way of a great novel.

Fun, cute, sweet and fairly short – I’d recommend this book for younger teens. It’s clean and amusing with a quirky and entertaining main character who lets her imagination get away from her – and gets her into trouble! Diamonds are a Teen’s Best Friend is the first book in a trilogy and this is a series I definitely want to read more of – can’t wait to see what Nessa gets up to next!

Note: I decided that I need to watch Gentlemen Prefer Blondes after reading this book and I had such a great time imagining Nessa as Lorelei Lee – this movie maybe from 1953 but it’s a lot of fun. Thanks Allison for inspiring me to watch a Marilyn film!

Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon

To celebrate the release of her book, Allison is hosting a Rafflecopter giveaway. You can win one of twenty gorgeous “Marilynette” wristbands from the Etsy Marilynette Shoppe. This is open internationally and if you want to enter, please click on the Rafflecopter link below. This giveaway is open until the end of December.

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Book Review: So Into You by Cecilia Gray

So Into You (The Jane Austen Academy Series, #2)

Title: So Into You (The Jane Austen Academy #2)
Author: Cecilia Gray
Genre: Contempoary Romance, Young Adult, Retelling
Publisher: Gray Life LLC
Publication Date: November 6th, 2013
Pages: 149
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Sweet and sensible Ellie hasn’t met a problem her mom’s yoga mantras can’t fix. But when Ellie’s parents threaten to pull her from the Academy just as her flirtation with the cutest boy in school heats up, will Ellie be able to keep her cool?

The last thing that the girls at the elite Jane Austen Academy need is guys. But over the summer the school has been sold, and like it or not, the guys are coming. And they’re about to turn the Academy—and the lives of its students—totally upside down…

Dive into the fabulous, fun lives of six Academy girls as their friendships are tested, torn and ultimately triumph.

My Review:

Ellie has always been her parents rock. When they’re travelling the world in search of spiritual enlightenment, Ellie is the one to make sure the bills get paid and that everything runs smoothly. But there are things Ellie can’t control. Her parents decide to move to another continent and open up a yoga studio and they want Ellie to come with them. With the Jane Austen Academy being the home Ellie always wanted, she’s not sure she can leave just yet. Especially not when her flirtation with the gorgeous Edward is starting to get interesting.

Ellie is one of those characters I couldn’t help but like. She’s a little out of her depth but she’s smart and sensible and doesn’t fall apart like other girls would. When faced with possible eviction from her beloved school, she finds a way around the limitations. That said, she’s still fairly timid and has many personal challenges that try to overwhelm her. I loved Emma in this book. She’s a mix of Emma (from Emma) and Marianne (from Sense & Sensibility) and Gray has done a great job combining the characters whilst still giving the readers someone new. The scenes with Lizzie and Dante were great to read and I loved that just because they had their happy ending doesn’t mean that everything’s perfect.

I enjoyed the romance in So Into You a lot more in this book than the first of the series. Ellie and Edward have had time to get to know each other and things didn’t feel quite as sudden and Lizzie and Dante’s relationship. I liked them for each other and was more than satisfied by the ending.

The concept for this series – having Jane Austen’s heroines all modernized and familiar with each other – is still one that I like. It’s developed a bit more here with us getting to know some more of the girls (like Fanny from Mansfield Park) within the confines of the Academy. I’m really impressed with how Gray is interweaving the stories and characters together. This book is quick and fun with characters true to Ms. Austen’s but still somewhat original. I will definitely be reading the third book in this series – When I’m With You  – which is Kat’s story, a retelling of Northanger Abbey.

Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon

Interview + Giveaway: Destiny by Cindy Ray Hale

Destiny Banner 1.2

I’m delighted today to be interviewing the author of Destiny, Cindy Ray Hale, today on the blog. She took the time out of the busy life to answer a few of my questions about Destiny. musicals and writing.

Title: Destiny (The Destiny Trilogy #1)Destiny
Author: Cindy Ray Hale
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Young Adult, Christian Fiction
Publisher: Self-published
Publication Date: 5th November 2013
Pages: 316
Rating: 3  stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Destiny Clark, a young Mormon girl living in Tennessee, is wildly infatuated with Isaac Robinson, the headmaster’s son at her Baptist high school. When they’re cast together in the school’s production of Les Misérables, Destiny is horrified to find that she has to be publicly humiliated by acting out her true feelings of rejection onstage.

As their rehearsals begin, Destiny realizes the unimaginable: Isaac has developed deep feelings for her despite their religious differences and the fact that he has a girlfriend.

But will they be able to find their place amongst the backbiters of their ultra-conservative world?

Weaving around Destiny and Isaac’s alternating viewpoints, Destiny is the first book in a series inspired by the characters of Les Misérables and explores heartbreak, self-discovery, intolerance, and love

Interview!

  • What inspired you to write Destiny?

My own life. I was a young Mormon girl who went to a Baptist school. My parents both converted to the Mormon Church before I was born, so that is a bit different, but still similar since Destiny’s family converts when she’s eight. When I went to the Baptist school, just like Destiny, I faced a lot of persecution. I had girls tell me they weren’t allowed to be more than casual friends with me because I was a Mormon.

  • All the characters in your book are very spiritual people. Is religion and faith very important to you? 

Absolutely. Religion is a huge part of my life. I was born and raised Mormon. I never missed a Sunday or Wednesday night meeting unless I was sick and contagious. On top of that I went to four years of seminary (church classes) before I started my day at the high school.

I went to seven years of school in a Baptist school where I listened to prayer before each class, memorized a Bible verse every week for Bible class and attended chapel twice a week. That was just the Baptist side of things.

That’s all the religious side of things. To me religion is the outward expression of an inner faith. If I didn’t believe deeply in God and Jesus, that the Book of Mormon is scripture, that Joseph Smith truly was called of God, I wouldn’t do any of that stuff. All of it would be purely social. I know people who go to church because they’re expected to or because all their friends are there or just because they were raised going. That’s not me. I go even when I’m on vacation or if I don’t know anyone and I’m scared to go. I go because I need to be spiritually fed.

That doesn’t mean I think I’m perfect or better than other people. No way. I’m still as guilty as the next person. I gossip. I’m prideful. I judge others. I disrespect my husband. I yell at my kids. But every day is a battle between good and evil, and I’m struggling with everyone else to make it a day where good wins over evil.

  • Are there any similarities between you and Destiny?

Yes. Destiny is described to look like me when I was 15. Brown hair with natural curl that frizzes up when it gets humid. Bright blue eyes. Small chest.

Beyond her appearance, she acts like I did, too. Shy, obsessing over Mr. Popular, strong in her faith.

  • I loved all the Les Misérables references in Destiny. Are you a musical person yourself? Which musicals are your favourites? 

Yes. I was in an elite choir in high school called the Madrigal Singers. Our choir director was just like Mr. Byrd. I’m sure I didn’t do him justice as a choir director. Mr. L was the most amazing choir director in the world. I’m not kidding. He was awesome. Just like Destiny I was an alto and my audition pretty much went exactly like hers except my mom was there and it was in the summer before the year started. But other than that the scene was written straight from my memory. Everything she thought and felt was how I thought and felt that day.

I still enjoy singing now. I’m in the church choir, and I’m always singing around the house.

I have a piano, and I used to teach piano lessons before I was a writer.

You can read more about it at http://cindyhaleauthor.wordpress.com/about/

  • What books do you think have influenced your life the most?

The Help by Kathryn Sockett That book taught me to find the humor in even the most serious situations.

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. I know it gets a lot of bashing online and that it’s not perfect, but it really did teach me to love reading again. Like me, Stephanie Meyer was a Mormon stay-at-home mom with little kids. I figured if she could get famous, why couldn’t I? Anything can happen, right? Why not be inspired to reach for the stars?

  • What are you currently reading?

Right now I’m listening to Life After Theft by Aprilynne Pike on my phone for when I’m doing the dishes or taking the little one to the park. I have Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen playing on CD in my car for road trips down to my family in Chattanooga and running errands. Also, I have a paper copy of Scarlet by Marisa Meyer that I’m almost finished with. I’ve been reading it for an hour before bed each night this week.

  • Are you working on anything now?

Yes! I just started a clean romance for  NaNoWriMo. I’m shooting for traditional publication this time around.

  • Do you have anything specific you want to say to your readers?

Thanks so much for reading my book! I hope you like Destiny. Regardless of how you feel about it, please take the time to fill out an honest review on Amazon. If I did something wrong, I’d like to know what it was so I can make it better next time.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions. I think I have a new found respect of your characters after having read your responses and have a bit more insight now into why they may behave like that do! 

 

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon

AUTHOR BIO

Official Author pic

Wife. Mother. Writer. Cindy Ray Hale lives in Murfreesboro, Tennessee with her husband and four children. In addition to being a writer, she’s an avid reader and a social media junkie. She starts her morning by writing with a freshly-blended berry spinach smoothie next to her. She’s obsessed with Les Misérables, playing the piano, and stalking up-and-coming musicians on YouTube. Destiny is her first book and will be available for purchase November 2013.

Author Links:

GIVEAWAY!

There is a tour wide giveaway for the blog tour of Destiny. Here is what you can win:

Camp Boyfriend swag pack

– A Destiny Swag Pack:including a signed copy of Destiny, a Destiny keychain, a t-shirt that says “I heart Destiny,” a Destiny bookmark.

– a $25 Amazon Gift Card

– Camp Boyfriend Swag pack.

Click the rafflecopter link below to enter.

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Book Review: Love and Relativity by Rachael Wade

LoveandRelativityTourBanner1

Title: Love and RelativityLR
Author: Rachael Wade
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult, 
Publisher: Rabbit Hole Press
Publication Date: December 2012
Pages: 338
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Love, life, and happily ever after? It’s all relative.

Marine biology student Emma Pierce lives in paradise—geographically speaking, anyway. Stranded on Sanibel Island, Florida, she works at a nursing home by day and spends her nights dodging the island’s infamous bad boy, Jackson Taylor, at her favorite karaoke bar. Trying to heal from the loss of her sister and a failed relationship she rerouted her life for, she’s ready to graduate and finally leave Florida behind.

When a run-in with Jackson and his rowdy crew goes sour at the bar one night, sparks fly and irreversible damage is done. It’s no secret that Jackson loves to get underneath her skin, but this time he’s gone too far. Now all he wants is to earn her forgiveness before she’s gone for good, but their ideas of closure—and the future—are enough to keep them worlds apart.

My Review:

“Love is like art,” I shrugged. “It’s relative.”
“I don’t think so. I think it’s absolute. You know when you love someone.”

Emma Pierce has been hurt by love before. She planned out her entire life with her boyfriend only to have everything fall apart. Now single – and looking to keep it that way – Emma isn’t looking for distractions. She’s applied a program on the other side of the country and can’t wait to move away from the town where she’s haunted by memories of her sister and dogged by the baddest boy in town – Jackson Taylor. Jackson is the one guy who could tempt Emma to change her plans. He’s gorgeous and there’s no denying the sparks that fly when Emma and Jack are in the same room. But she’s a one guy kind of girl and he has a different girl warming his bed each night.

I loved reading the story of Emma and Jackson. Their chemistry flies off the page and from their first interaction I was hoping for a happily ever after. The banter between them is witty and heated with the romance red hot. What I liked most about Emma and Jack was they’re both flawed. Jack gets around and makes the same mistakes over and over again with Emma not willing to face up to reality at times. Their faults aside they both have some great qualities too. Emma is down to earth and a caring side. I thought her interactions with the residents at the retirement home where she works to be both funny and sweet. She’s a very strong person too. I loved that she didn’t let life get her down. She wasn’t going to give up. That said – she wasn’t bullet-proof and her actions and reactions were refreshingly realistic. Jackson is a little messed but oh-so attractive and one of those guys that I can imagine being many readers’ book boyfriends.

The supporting cast was great – with them being interesting and having stuff of their own going on. I am definitely going to check out Wade’s Preservation series to read their stories. Plot wise, this is a book about love and relationships. But it’s also about families and over coming the past. It was nicely done with an ending that was absolutely perfect and played out like a romantic comedy.

Love and Relativity is a great story. It’s incredibly hot – definitely not recommended for young audiences – with some characters that I loved and a plot that really worked for them.

(PS. The reference to the Lux series by Jennifer L Armentrout made me laugh and was a nice tribute considering the cover models for this book!)

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AUTHOR BIO

Rachael

Rachael Wade is the Amazon bestselling author of The Preservation Series, The Resistance Trilogy, and the upcoming sci-fi series, The Keepers Trilogy. When she’s not writing, she’s busy learning French, watching too many movies, and learning how to protect animals and the environment. Visit her at www.RachaelWade.comand www.LightsOnOutreach.com, or come chat with her on Twitter via @RachaelWade.
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Book Review: Fall For You by Cecilia Gray

Fall For You (The Jane Austen Academy Series, #1)

Title: Fall For You (The Jane Austen Academy #1)
Author: Cecilia Gray
Genre: Contempoary Romance, Young Adult, Retelling
Publisher: Gray Life LLC
Publication Date: November 6th, 2013
Pages: 144
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
It’s obvious that Dante thinks he’s way too good for Lizzie. And Lizzie knows Dante is a snob with a gift for pushing her buttons. But things are changing fast this year at the Academy. And when Lizzie’s quest to stop those changes blows up in her face, taking her oldest friendship with it, she has nowhere else to turn but to Dante, with his killer blue eyes, his crazy-sexy smile, and his secrets… Secrets Lizzie can’t seem to leave alone, no matter how hard she tries…

The last thing that the girls at the elite Jane Austen Academy need is guys. But over the summer the school has been sold, and like it or not, the guys are coming. And they’re about to turn the Academy—and the lives of its students—totally upside down…

My Review:

I think the idea behind this series is fantastic. A modern-day retelling of Jane Austen’s novels – with the characters from each novel being friends with each other! Fall For You, the first book in this new series, is Lizzie’s story. She loves the Jane Austen Academy and is horrified when the former-all girls school opens its doors up for male students. And that’s not the only change being made. Room mates and a headmistress who is more about the bottom dollar than the students is enough to drive Lizzie crazy. Not to mention Dante – a new student who has formed a less than impressive first impression on (and of) Lizzie.

Lizzie knows that she has to do all she can to save the Academy she loves before it’s too late – and Dante better not get in her way.

There’s a lot going on in this book and I think too much was attempted in such a small number of pages. We get introduced to the Academy, to the heroines, to the heroes and have a complete story all in less than a hundred and fifty pages. It didn’t completely work for me. I love the idea of Lizzie being friends with Ellie (Eleanor from Sense and Sensibility), rivals with Anne (from Persuasion) and not entirely sure of Emma (from Emma). It’s a fabulous idea. And the fact that they’re not all bosom buddies is even better! I strongly believe that not all of Austen’s original characters would be BFFs because of their fairly strong – or overly passive – personalities. I loved how well the story as a retelling worked considering it’s set in a boarding school and how well Gray substituted some of the original minor characters with what will be major characters in this series. I really thought it was clever.

Unfortunately I felt like Lizzie’s story wasn’t given enough room to really blossom. Her interactions with Dante were gorgeous. There’s one scene in particular where the tension between the two of them had me completely absorbed with their chemistry. But their relationship felt so sudden to me that I felt a little short-changed. Their scenes together were few and short. It needed to be bigger and more dramatic and just more. As Darcy and Elizabeth’s counterparts I knew they had to be together but I wanted to feel they’d earned their relationship as Dante and Lizzie within the bounds of this novel.

This is a fairly quick read and it was a fun one. I loved the cross overs with Austen’s original works and enjoyed seeing how Grey would integrate the stories. I was lucky enough to get review copies of the next two books in the series and I’m excited to see how Grey tackles Sense and Sensibility as well as Northhanger Abbey

Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy.

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Book Review: My Date from Hell by Tellulah Darling

My Date From Hell (The Blooming Goddess Trilogy, #2)

Title: My Date From Hell (The Blooming Goddess Trilogy #2)
Author: Tellulah Darling
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Mythology, Young Adult, Adventure, Humour
Publisher: Te Da Media
Publication Date: October 2013
Pages: 288
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Sophie Bloom’s junior year has been a bit of a train wreck. After the world’s greatest kiss re-awakened Sophie’s true identity as Persephone (Goddess of Spring and Savior of Humanity), she fought her dragon-lady guidance counselor to the death, navigated mean girl Bethany’s bitchy troublemaking, and dealt with the betrayal of her backstabbing ex, Kai (sexy Prince of Darkness). You’d think a girl could catch a break.

Yeah, right.

With Zeus stepping things up, it’s vital that Sophie retrieve Persephone’s memories and discover the location of the ritual to stop Zeus and Hades. So when Aphrodite strikes a deal that can unlock Sophie’s pre-mortal past, what choice does the teen goddess have but to accept?

The mission: stop media mogul Hermes from turning Bethany into a global mega-celebrity. The catch? Aphrodite partners Sophie and Kai to work together … and treat this suicide mission as a date. Which could work out for Sophie’s plan to force Kai to admit his feelings for her–if she doesn’t kill him first.

Add to that the fact that BFF Theo’s love life and other BFF Hannah’s actual life are in Sophie’s hands, and suddenly being a teenager—even a godlike one—seems a bit like … well, hell. Whatever happened to dinner and a movie?

My Review:

Sophie Bloom never expected to be held captive by her birth father. But then again – the never thought he’d be Zeus, Greek King of the Gods. But somehow Sophie finds herself breaking free from her fedora wearing, suit clad all-powerful bio-dad. Together with Kai, son of Hades and lover of Sophie’s former self, Persephone, they must somehow work out how to uncover Persephone’s memories and stop Zeus and Hades. If only that was all – they also have to stop the teenage megalomania Bethany from taking over the world thanks to a magical tattoo’s powers and somehow fall in love with each other. I suppose it’s a good thing they also have Aphrodite helping on the romance front or not…

Sophie is one of those characters I can’t help but like. She’s smart mouthed – probably too much so as it always seems to be getting her in trouble with tenancy to talk first and reap the consequences of angry gods later – but she’s also a lot of fun. Not much can get this newly reincarnated goddess down. Not even the devilishly handsome Kai. Together they’re a match to be reckoned with – that is if they can get their hormones in control. Sophie’s friends Theo and Hannah are supportive in all the right ways but I like they also have their own stuff going on. Theo’s former beau makes an appearance (who knew there would be hipster gods?!) and Hannah finds her feet beautifully after being thrust into a world where the gods are real.

This is a great second instalment in this series. Now all the preliminary stuff is taking care of we really get into the adventure and blossoming (or should that be blooming?) relationship between the characters. Sophie is starting to get the hang of being a goddess and only has to occasionally come to terms with jealousy of her former self’s relationship with Kai – someone Sophie isn’t even sure she wants to love… but doesn’t want him not to love her. She’s delightfully confusing and I think she manages to confound herself more than she does anyone else.

I love books with an adventure/quest side and this one doesn’t disappoint. We get to see more gods and goddesses along with their powers during this book. I thought it was a great to witness Sophie’s reactions to places and people she’s met as Persephone and doesn’t recall. Getting to know Kai as she travelled was another highlight. I loved finding out that he is every bit a match for Sophie and her sarcasm.

Tellulah Darling’s writing is just as sassy and witty as in her previous books, littered with pop culture references and feisty characters. I love how many references she manages to slip in. Having a Dance Dance Revolution game having memory retrieving capabilities? Who thinks of that?! I found myself amused from cover to cover with the antics and cheeky dialogue. There is no doubt that I’ll be reading the third and final book in the Blooming Goddess trilogy. I just have to find out what happens next to Sophie and Kai!

 

Thanks to the author for the review copy.

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