Tag Archives: book blog

Author Interview: Khardine Gray

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  1. How did you get into writing?

    My earliest memory of writing was when I was about 11 years old. I loved reading books like Sweet Valley High and Nancy Drew. I remembered thinking on one occasion that I wished one of the stories had ended differently. Then it occurred to me that I could try to create my own stories.

That was my light bulb moment and there hasn’t been a day that passed since I didn’t write something. Even if it was for ten minutes.

I have stacks of handwritten books from my childhood and teenage imagination that I plan to revisit one day. In 2015 I thought about trying to get published, so I sent off my manuscript and was completely shocked when it was accepted. My life has changed immensely since then.

2. How can authors develop an emotional connection between their readers and their characters?

I think it’s important to build that connection with my readers. I do newsletters each week so that I can keep in touch. In those I always let my readers know how much I appreciate them and how I love to hear from them. I try to find topics that they like to discuss and encourage them to connect . My husband pointed out once that I’m supposed write for my readers. If I don’t then it would be better to just imagine up my stories in my head and not bother to write them down. He was right. My readers are like gold dust to me and they inspire me to continue doing what I love the most. 51XAYNG4eAL._SY346_

In regards to my characters, I think of them as pieces of my imagination I’ve given life to. They are very much a part of me and are a result of everything I’ve experienced internally, and externally in the world around me.

The same way I love my readers, I love my characters and I do everything to make my characters as real as possible so that emotional connection can be made. I spend a lot of time creating my characters and I go as far as listing down everything about them. That way I know exactly what they would do in different situations. How they feel, what they would say, what effect different things and people would have on them.

My aim is to create memorable characters so that my readers will never forget them. 

  1. What’s the best summer beach read? If you could take that book anywhere in the world, where would you go to read it?

I like Susan Elizabeth Phillips. My favorite book by her is Natural Born Charmer. I’d read that on the beach for sure and I’d love to read it on one of the amazing beaches on Okinawa Island, Japan. I’d be right at home reading there. It’s truly beautiful and has that scenic landscape worthy of a screen saver.

  1. What makes romance your genre of choice? Are any of your characters based on personal experiences?

    I love writing about love and falling in love. I’m one of those people who values love and it fascinates me to create characters who have this intense magical feeling that draws them together.

         I think I identify a lot with my characters in I Only Have Eyes For You. grey 3

        Of all my books that’s probably the one where I’ve mingled a few of my personal experiences with the fiction world I created. I guess I am a lot like my heroine, Savannah too. We love shopping, pizza, our family and friends.

Savannah made this big life change that would allow her to follow her dreams and not just do things because she was good at it. She wanted to do something that made her happy, something that truly represented her. I feel that I did this with my decision to be an author.

 I am good at a lot of things and I have a great academic background, but I felt that I reached a stage in my life where it was time to do what made me happiest. Savannah travelled to Japan and things took off for her from there. I submitted my manuscript to a publisher and that’s when things changed for me.

5. There can sometimes be a bit of stigma surrounding romance readers and writers. Have you ever had any negative experiences resulting from your profession as a romance writer?

I haven’t really had much negativity I think it’s because I tend to share what I do with those who I know will be interested. There was someone though who once said to me that writing romance will never be a stable career. I knew different because I know authors who make six figures a month. gray 1

Aside from that I tend to not worry about what others think of me. I’m definitely in my element when I write and writing romance is a craft that comes from within. I write from my soul, knowing that gives me the strength to deflect any negativity that may come my way.

 

For more from Khardine Gray, check out her website.

Book Review: Fireworks by Katie Cotugno

Title: FireworksFireworks_JKT

Author: Katie Cotugno

Genre: Young Adult

Rating: 4/5 Stars




 

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.




 

Katie Cotugno just released a new book and of course I had it pre-ordered months ago! Fireworks fell a little short for me though, compared to her previous novels How to Love and 99 Days, yet I still devoured this book in a matter of days because Cotugno’s writing is so easy and fun to read.

The characters in Fireworks weren’t as easy for me to love as characters in her previous books. I felt like everyone was unreachable, like they were on a pedestal and I couldn’t relate to them easily. Dana came from a not so well off family, so she should have been easy to relate to, but I wanted to see more of her home life. What did her mother think of her leaving town to become a girl in a pop group? Did her mom even notice she left? And why didn’t she bring a swim suit with her to Orlando?! Don’t Floridians always have swimsuits with them no matter what?!

The romance was just enough in this, I was kind of worried it would be lacking based on the plot, but I was very pleased in the end. I found myself putting a ton of trust in Alex, more trust than I’ve ever put in a male character. He was so kind and patient with Dana while she was going through her problems in Orlando and back home in Jessel.

What I find funny is I never seem to like Cotugno’s main characters best friend. I hated Olivia so much. She came off as a backstabber from the beginning. We don’t see a great conclusion between ‘Dolivia’, but I think it’s the only conclusion that would have worked.

And that cover, Katie, keep doing the polaroid look on your books! Like 99 Days and this, they are so aesthetically pleasing! I’m loving all of her covers so much!

Though Dana doesn’t get a 100% happy ending, I like to believe that she was at least happy with her decisions. And I love that about all three of Cotugno’s books. She leaves them open-ended but without a cliffhanger. You know that the character is going to be all right, but they still have some conflict by the last sentence, just nothing major.

Overall, if you’re going to read anything by Cotugno, I’d read 99 Days or How to Love first. Fireworks doesn’t do Cotugno’s writing justice. However, I am so pumped for her next novel, Top Ten, that’s supposed to come out later this year.

 

Book Review: Shadowlith by Stuart Thaman

Title: Shadowlith (Book 1 in The Umbral Blade Series)1490375765404

Author: Stuart Thaman

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: 5/5 Stars




 

Alistair the Fourth was a mighty general from a long-forgotten war. Four hundred years later, Alster Lightbridge is barely a shadow of his legendary namesake. Crippled and confined to his family’s estate, he spends his days dreaming of something larger than himself—something worthy of his name.

Encouraged by his tutor to explore the Lightbridge archive, Alster discovers a magical dagger with the power to cleave shadows from their bodies. Blade in hand, Alster finally understands his purpose, though he needs to find a four-centuries-old grave in order to fulfill it.




 

I don’t read fantasy… at all… but when my husband tells me that he’s putting out a YA fantasy novel, I have to read it! That being said, I’m going to try my best to make this review as unbiased as possible, though I do believe it is well deserving of a perfect 5/5 star review.

What I love to see is writer’s get better as they progress in their novels. This being Thaman’s second fantasy series, I believe it’s a huge step forward in his writing. If you were to compare this novel to his first book, you could tell more time and effort has been put forth.

It’s also an easier read, and there’s less characters to remember than the first fantasy series, The Goblin Wars. I’m used to reading contemporary YA where there are only a handful of characters to follow. Shadowlith has about six main characters to focus on. This allows you to feel more emotions for each character. Elsey was probably my favorite character (that survived) because of the changes she went through during the beginning of a book. She was so excited to get out of the town that she grew up in and go on an adventure with her friend, but then accidents happen and she realizes this adventure to find the Shadow King’s tomb is not for the faint of heart. I really hope in the second book that we see her grow up more and become a super badass female worrier.

Now the ending….

No spoilers ahead! I promise.

I felt like this book closed off on a good note. Let’s say if you didn’t want to read the rest of the books in the series, you could stop (but you don’t want to!) However, Thaman does set our characters up for a huge plot for the next book which I really loved.

Definitely, check this one out. Loved Alster and Elsey.

 

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen Review

Title: Saint Anythingsaint_anything-540x822

Author: Sarah Dessen

Genre: Contemporary Young Adult

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars




 

Peyton, Sydney’s charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion’s share of their parents’ attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton’s increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident?

Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time.




 

I’ve read seven of Sarah Dessen’s books, now eight and I’ve always been a huge fan. Her books are super cute and fun to read. I usually reserve her books for my summer time reading, but I finished this one in March because I wanted to get it out of the way before her new novel comes out.

This one fell a little short for me, but the writing was fantastic and it’s one of Dessen’s more mature novels, as in the plot is something an adult may experience and I felt like Sydney was very mature for her age, even for a YA character. She’s gone through something life changing that not many teens her age have to deal with, which makes her seem wise beyond her years.

I’m guilty of loving ‘insta-love’ and this book was not that at all like Dessen’s other books. This novel is more of a story of friendship, to my surprise I loved seeing Sydney’s interactions with the Chatham’s (mainly Layla, Mac and Mrs. Chatham).

You know what’s nice? Seeing our main character interact with her parents. It’s a pet peeve of mine when parents are only mentioned in one scene of a YA novel. In this novel, we see her parents in almost every chapter. I can’t stand her mother’s opinions and choices, but it’s nice to still know she is a teenager and someone’s at home worrying about her.

Was anyone else thoroughly creeped out by Ames from the very beginning?!  Way to go Mrs. Dessen for coming up with the most unsettling character I’ve ever encountered in your books!

The character development in this novel was excellent. Dessen manages to pull us into a scene and then give us some backstory on the character and then get us back into the scene again.

However, if you’re looking for a cute summer love story like we’re used to from Dessen, you’re not going to find it in this one. The romance doesn’t begin until the novel is over 75% of the way through and we don’t see much either, just a few kisses. Mac seemed like the only underdeveloped character because of this. I really wanted to see more back story with his weight and why it didn’t work out with his ex girlfriend. I probably would have given this a perfect rating had their been more of a relationship like I’m used to while reading Dessen novels.

Dessen did give us a great ending though, solving most of Sydney’s problems up in the final chapter… well except for the one…

Anyone planning on reading Once and For All!? I have it on preorder!

 

Trusting You and Other Lies Book Review

32441709Title: Trusting You and Other Lies

Author: Nicole Williams

Genre: Young Adult

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Publication Date: June 20, 2017




 

Phoenix can’t imagine anything worse than being shipped off to family summer camp. Her parents have been fighting for the past two years–do they seriously think being crammed in a cabin with Phoenix and her little brother, Harry, will make things better?
On top of that, Phoenix is stuck training with Callum–the head counselor who is seriously cute but a complete know-it-all. His hot-cold attitude means he’s impossible to figure out–and even harder to rely on. But despite her better judgment, Phoenix is attracted to Callum. And he’s promising Phoenix a summer she’ll never forget. Can she trust him? Or is this just another lie?




 

I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

This was the cutest book! I loved the characters so much, and didn’t encounter anything that I hated about the book. So why didn’t I give it a perfect rating? I felt like it left me wanting more and a lot more. This book could have been way longer, I really wanted to see Phoenix and Callum’s relationship bloom a bit more and see how Phoenix interacted with other counselors.

This book was too short, I just wanted it to continue! Which, I guess is a good thing but I needed more Callum!

I thought the ‘family camp’ situation would be weird but it actually worked for this book.

By the end, the moral of the story is tied up with a nice bow, pulling the title and the plot together which I thought was fantastic. Also thought it was genius to name the character Phoenix and talk about her rising from the ashes.

Trusting You and Other Lies, is a fantastic read for your summer vacation! And because I’m a sucker for a beautiful cover, look at that one! It’s gorgeous!

 

 

Nowhere But Here Book Review and May TBR

 

Title: Nowhere but Here (Thunder Road #1)23492282

Author: Katie McGarry

Genre: Young Adult

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars




 

Seventeen-year-old Emily likes her life the way it is: doting parents, good friends, good school in a safe neighborhood. Sure, she’s curious about her biological father—the one who chose life in a motorcycle club, the Reign of Terror, over being a parent—but that doesn’t mean she wants to be a part of his world. But when a reluctant visit turns to an extended summer vacation among relatives she never knew she had, one thing becomes clear: nothing is what it seems. Not the club, not her secret-keeping father and not Oz, a guy with suck-me-in blue eyes who can help her understand them both.

Oz wants one thing: to join the Reign of Terror. They’re the good guys. They protect people. They’re…family. And while Emily—the gorgeous and sheltered daughter of the club’s most respected member—is in town, he’s gonna prove it to her. So when her father asks him to keep her safe from a rival club with a score to settle, Oz knows it’s his shot at his dream. What he doesn’t count on is that Emily just might turn that dream upside down.

No one wants them to be together. But sometimes the right person is the one you least expect, and the road you fear the most is the one that leads you home.




 

At first, this book was a little tough to get into. But by the time I hit a certain part, I just couldn’t go to bed without finishing it. It’s a pretty fast pace read, with a little bit of action. I wanted to read this because I had finally finished watching Sons of Anarchy and I was craving more from a motorcycle club.

All of the characters in this novel are really thought out and I honestly didn’t meet anyone I hated… well, I lied, I hated the Riot when we finally met them. Though Oz is a bit of a jerk in the beginning, I was really rooting for him toward the end. I was rooting for him and Emily to find happiness, together.

This is definitely a great book to read, doesn’t hurt that it was written about the state I live in! I will definitely be reading the rest of the series!




 

May TBR

This is the final weekend for Camp NaNoWriMo, and my book reading was lacking because I was focusing on my writing, but May should be a good reading month for me.

Here’s all the books I plan on reading:

I’ve also been casually reading The Power of a Praying Wife Devotional by Stormie Omartain, about a chapter every other day because I’m working on developing a deeper faith. It’s been a great book so far and I recommend it to any Christian woman who is getting married or already married!

Pucked by Helena Hunting Book Review

 

Title: Pucked (#1)24504274

Author: Helena Hunting

Genre: Romance/Comedy/New Adult

Rating: 3/5 Stars




 

With a famous NHL player for a step-brother, Violet Hall is well acquainted with the playboy reputation many hockey stars come with. She’s smart enough to steer clear of those hot, well-built boys with unparalleled stamina. That is until she meets the legendary team captain—Alex Waters.

Violet isn’t interested in his pretty, beat-up face, or his rock-hard six-pack abs. But when Alex inadvertently obliterates Violet’s previous misapprehension regarding the inferior intellect of hockey players, he becomes more than just a hot body with a face to match.

In what can only be considered a complete lapse in judgment, Violet finds out just how good Alex is with the hockey stick in his pants. But what starts out as a one-night stand, quickly turns into something more. Post-night of orgasmic magic, Alex starts to call, and text, and e-mail and send extravagant—and quirky—gifts, making him difficult to ignore, and even more difficult not to like.

The problem is, the media portrays Alex as a total player, and Violet doesn’t want to be part of the game.




 

Me and my friend really wanted to do a buddy read and after going to a local hockey game, we decided this would be a fun read. She’s breezed through the first three books, while I just finished the first. I must say, this book did hold my attention the entire time. There were never any boring parts, it was pretty fast pace but not in the ‘insta-love’ sense.

This isn’t your typical adult romance, it’s aimed toward the new adult crowd but not the ones looking for sappy romance. Violet is a tomboy-ish type of girl, and she’s not afraid to admit she pleasures herself, after all, that’s where we first meet her. While she’s ‘jilling off’.

You don’t need to be a hockey fan (though hockey is my favorite sport) or even know anything about hockey to enjoy this book. It had just enough of the sport involved. You get to see Alex and Violet’s POV, and I really ended up loving them, though Alex was my favorite. Violet was a little too blunt about sexual endeavors for my taste.

I was planning on giving this book 4 stars, but it fell short in the epilogue (Alex’s POV) because I felt like the ending was rushed and forced. It should have ended on the final chapter and then picked up in book four (which I plan on reading next, I’m skipping two and three because they’re from different characters). The final part of this book was very cringeworthy, and made me feel really uncomfortable, though it was a happy ending. No cliffhanger at all.

What I loved the most about these books was the characters weren’t perfect. Alex, though sweet and romantic, had his flaws and made mistakes and Violet seemed like a girl who knew she wasn’t perfect but didn’t care anyway. She also didn’t want to need a man, but still accepted the love anyway.

If you’re looking for a cooky, romantic, sex-filled, funny story, this book is definitely for you! Looking forward to reading Forever Pucked (I bought it before I even finished this one)!

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Camp NaNoWriMo: Week 1 Recap

It’s been a little over one week since the April session of Camp Nano began. One week already! I’ll admit, I’ve been a bit distracted due to trying to finish watching the final season of Sons of Anarchy (yes, I still haven’t finished that show) and 13 Reasons Why (based off the book, it’s so good and I’m only 5 episodes in)!

Sunday we had a cabin word war that ended up being very successful! Four or five of us ended up participating. Since we all had different schedules and live in different areas, the word war went from midnight Saturday to midnight Sunday and I ended up writing a little over 3,000 words. I’m still about 3k behind, but this weekend we’ll be having another word war, so I hope to catch up then.

One of my cabin mates told me a really good idea that helped with my writing Sunday. It’s the ‘write one page’ task. Where you can’t get up to do anything until you write one page. This helped tremendously!

I’ve also used some advice that my husband heard once where you can’t stop writing at a chapter break. That also helps a ton, because I don’t forget what I was previously writing. It’s hard for me to continue on something if I finish the chapter.

Planning on doing another cabin word war this weekend, hopefully I can catch up!

Anyone else doing Camp Nano? Any tips and tricks to share?

Current camp stats:

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Also, some side news. On April 17th, my husbands new YA Fantasy novel will be released! This is going to be a good one! If you’d like to check it out, find it at any of the 1490375765404following links:

You can also get a signed copy at any of his events he’ll be doing this year! Or he takes orders off of his website and will sign.

The Happiness Tag

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Let’s take a break from book talk! Found a fun tag from a blogger I follow, Beth (Reading Every Night) and I thought I’d join in one the fun! I get tired of doing the usual booktags and trying to pick out 5-10 books for each post, so I thought this would be a fun little tag to do. As always, I tag anyone who is reading this!

No rules for this one, it’s just a couple of lists of things that make me happy.

List Five Things That Make You Happy

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  1. Cats… I don’t care if they’re mine or someone else’s or even just visiting cats at an animal pound or pet store. I love seeing cats and snuggling them. Sometimes if I’ve had a bad day at work, I’ll go to Petsmart after and visit the cats there.
  2. Weekends with my husband and away from electronics… Sometimes I think people get sucked into their own little world of social media, gaming and mindless scrolling. My favorite times spent with my husband are when we get away from cell service or just turn our phones off and hang out.
  3. Reading… It’s nice to just get away for a little while, and I choose to do that via books. My favorite (if you couldn’t tell) are contemporary young adult summer reads. There’s something youthful and romantic about those.
  4. Mountains… I love being able to see the mountains, if I drive about three hours from my house, I can get to my favorite mountains. Every summer my parents would take me on vacation there and I used to hate it but now I can’t get enough. I would love to visit more national parks one day!
  5. Working out… I wish I did it more often, and it sounds silly that it makes me happy but I feel so much better after a workout and if I had a bad day, it’s a good way to blow off some steam.

List Five Songs That Make You Happy

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More so, my five favorite songs that I currently can’t get enough of…

  1. The Chainsmokers ‘Kanye’ I loooove this song, it’s so catchy. The video is a sequel to their song selfie. I like most of their songs, but this one is my favorite.
  2. Oh Sleeper ‘The Finisher’  This is the song that my tattoo is based off of and it’s God speaking to the devil, telling him He will cut off his horns. This band deserves way more attention than it gets! They should be releasing new songs this year!
  3. Pierce the Veil ‘I’m Low on Gas and You Need a Jacket’ Yes, this song is kind of sad but I have a fond memory of it. I saw them in 2013, it was me and my husbands first concert together. Half way through the song, Vic stopped playing (he was doing acoustic) and the crowd kept singing through the song. It was amazing! Here’s the video...
  4. A Day to Remember ‘Already Gone’ I love the soft songs that ADTR puts out and this is probably my favorite.
  5. Rob Zombie ‘Dragula’ We ‘moshed’ to this at our wedding, and it’s just a fun energetic song!

The Five Stages of Grief (After Finishing a Novel)

We’ve all been there, you just finished yet another amazing book and you just ‘can’t even’ right now! What’s left to do but crawl into your bed and become a sad burrito as you ponder on what to read next or why we read through the last book so quickly? Here’s your five stages of book grief.

 

Denial:

So you hammered through that novel and now you’re sitting there shaking your head because you don’t know what to do. You can’t even think about hopping on Goodreads and reviewing the book because you feel so incomplete. Whether it was an unexpected ending, the death of a character or your favorite couple in-shipping, you’re in major denial!

 

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Anger:

Now you’re pissed! You’ve given yourself time to think about it but it’s still not adding up. None of it makes sense at all! Why the hell would the author end the book like that!? That’s not a resolution! She/he better make a sequel! This is a stand alone? Hell no! I will not accept that!

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Bargaining:

You would literally settle for anything else from this author. Remember when we wanted more Twilight and Stephanie Meyer was writing the Edward version of Twilight but then stopped because it was ‘leaked’, yeah, I bet you jumped on fanfiction just like me looking to sooth your soul because you were addicted to that Fandom. Hey, everything worked out in the end though, right? We got Life and Death…

No, Stephanie Meyer! That’s not what we wanted! We’ll do anything to see what happens with Rennesme!

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Depression:

So there’s not going to be a sequel. You rushed through this book like there’s no tomorrow and now you have a book hangover and you don’t think you’ll ever love a book more than the masterpiece you just completed in record time. Load up into that sad burrito again, but this time, grab a pint of ice cream, you’re going to need it.

 

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Acceptance:

You finally get the strength to pull yourself out of bed and go to the bookstore (or an online website) and realize there are so many more books out in the sea. If you’re like me, in a year you’ll completely forget the plot to the book and be able to reread it! Book life goes on!

 

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