Recommend Me… a science fiction novel

Welcome to a new little facet of my blog. Every now and then I’m going to post a “Recommend me…” blog post. It will be a way for all of us to share our favourite novels with each other and also to find some new reading material.

The series has kicked off with “Recommend Me”… a book that made you laugh and then “Recommend Me”… a fantasy novel.

This time… Recommend Me… a science-fiction novel!

My contribution:

The Program by Suzanne Young

I read this book back in the beginning of 2014, and at the time, it was the best book I’d read in ages! It took about 80 pages to really get started, but by page 200 I was giggling like a little girl and having mini excitement fits. It was disturbed and a bit messed up, but I loved it.

What is your favourite science-fiction novel? Recommend me! Share all your favourites and hopefully we will all find some new favourites in the mix!

Blog Tour: Decree of Hope by Beth Fred

On Words Read & Written today is Beth Fred. Thanks to YA Bound Book Tours for setting up the interview and to Beth for answering all my questions and giving some solid advice!

Title: Decree of Hope
Author: Beth Fred
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Blurb:

When insecure eighteen-year-old Kailee Hill gets caught tagging Iraq war refugee, Abrahem Yohanna’s garage, she’s not expecting him to act as her designated driver, hold her hair back when she pukes, or offer to be a shoulder to cry on. But she’s failing chemistry and her life is falling apart, so she uses the number Abe leaves her and finds herself with a new tutor.

The two quickly find themselves falling hard for each other. Kailee attacks a local grunt when he calls Abe a “sand nigger” and fights with her veteran brother to be with him. When she learns Abe hasn’t told his family about her, she’s heartbroken and the couple risks losing everything they’ve worked to build. To make matters worse, Kailee’s previous acts make her the prime suspect in a serious crime. With Kailee behind bars and doubting his feelings for her, Abe must find a way to rescue the girl he loves and win back her affection . And to do that, he’ll have to catch a crook…

Interview:

1. How did you come up with the ideas for Decree of Hope?
Decree of Hope is a companion to A Missing Peace. I was very excited about that book and so were readers. I wanted to spend more time with my characters but things are tied up really well at the end, so the only way to do it was through Abe and Kailee’s relationship, and Peace talks about how they met, so I wrote like crazy and had a draft in 27 days.

2. Describe your writing process? Are you a planner or do you write by the seam of your pants?
I plan. I teach a class on the three act plot structure and blurb writing (the synopsis on the back of a book), and I like to write my blurb before I start writing. It leaves me enough room to play around while creating and gives me a clear road map to the ending.

3. What makes you happy?
The ELF! (My 3 year old). My husband, sweet romances, and Hallmark movies.

4. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Rejection stings. Don’t quit. Writing is hard. Don’t quit. Don’t self-publish until you’re receiving requests for revision, and don’t sign an “ebook only” deal. You can do that better on your own. Don’t be afraid to ask other writers for help. Most of them are more than willing. Some will say no. They’re probably asked for favors a lot, but most writers are extremely supportive.

5. What are your writing goals?
I’d really like to be a NYT bestseller but I’m still working on making $1000/month, so I can just substitute instead of working full time.

6. When are aren’t writing, what do you get up to?
Read, play with the ELF. I teach English during the day, and I like to dance.

7. What are your favourite books?
Twilight, Perfect Chemistry, Meant to Be Mine.

8. What is the most important thing you’ve learnt in your writing journey?
You have to believe in yourself and be confident. It’s a hard rope. We are constantly surrounded by rejection. We finally get published and we are hit with negative reviews and/or bad sales days. Perseverance is the only way to make it in this industry, but you have to stay confident enough to keep writing through it all and to know when to listen to someone, and when not to.

Book Review: 7 Days by Eve Ainsworth

Title: 7 Days
Author: Eve Ainsworth
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Issue: Bullying
Publisher: Scholastic
Links: GoodReads

Blurb:

This bold, compelling and topical story about bullying is told from the perspective of the bully and the bullied. You won’t be able put it down until you’ve reached the conclusion. Jess’s life is difficult enough without Kez picking on her – it’s turning school from a safe place into a nightmare. Kez has plenty of problems too but she finds comfort in knowing she is better off than Jess – or so she thinks.

Why I picked it up:

This book was sent to me from Scholastic in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts:

I haven’t read a lot of bullying books. In fact, I think I’ve read only one other – Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers, which was excellent, so picking up this book (also about bullying) my expectations were high. Bullying is such an important subject.

To me, this book wasn’t about bullying though. The most tragic part of the story was Jess’s complete and utter self loathing. She had no self-esteem and no self-love. I can’t help but think if she’d been raised in a more nurturing environment that the bullies never would have seen her as a target in the first place.

All in all, this was a great and important read about two lost girls whose families really weren’t there when they needed them. I love books that tackle difficult topics.

My Verdict – 3 stars

My Favourite Books I’ve Read So Far In 2015

I’m currently doing my tax, which means the first part of 2015 is now over. So I’ve decided to do a little wrap-up of my favourite reads in 2015 so far.

What have been your favourites?


Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen | 5 stars


Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli | 5 stars


Paradise City by CJ Duggan | 5 stars


Fallen Too Far by Abbi Glines | 4 stars


Hero by Samantha Young | 4 stars (Review to Come)


Dirty Rowdy Thing by Christina Lauren | 4 stars


Soulprint by Megan Miranda | 4 stars


Wild by Sophie Jordan | 4 stars

Okay… I know that’s only 8 books. I have read 39 books this year so far, and those 8 are the only ones I rated 4 or 5 stars! Turns out I’m a picky reader :)

Interestingly enough… of those books, 7 are contemporary novels. 3 are Young Adult novels, 4 are New Adult… My tastes are definitely on the contemporary romance side this year!

What are your favourite books of the year so far?

Blog Tour: Deep by Kylie Scott

Today I’m interviewing Kylie Scott as part of my spot on the Deep Blog Tour. Thanks to Pan Macmillan for setting it up and to Kylie for answering my questions.

‘The Stage Dive series is published by Pan Macmillan and the final book in the series, Deep: Stage Dive 4 is now available.’

Title: Deep, Book 4 in the Stage Dive series
Author: Kylie Scott
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Musicians
Links: Kylie’s Website | My Lick Review

Interview:

1. Can you tell us a little about the Stage Dive series?
The series is about the lives and loves of four members of a fictional rock band called Stage Dive.

2. I recently saw you at Readers & Writers Downunder on the Gold Coast – do you enjoy attending author events and meeting fans?
I do. It’s great to get out of the office and to get to meet readers. When people say I made them laugh or improved their day, it’s very humbling.

3. What do you get up to when you aren’t writing?
Spending time with my family, reading romance books, watching TV.

4. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Read books on craft, do writing courses, join a critique group, learn. If you want it badly enough, you won’t give up.

5. What are some of your favourite books?
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, The Stand by Stephen King, Sweet Dreams by Kristen Ashley. Those are probably my all time favourites. This week.

6. What are you currently working on writing-wise?
I’m currently working on the Dive Bar series. The first hero was in DEEP, the last book in the Stage Dive series. It’s about Vaughan heading back to the small(ish) town that he’s from and dealing with all the friends and family he left behind years ago when he left with his band to try and make it big.

Book Review: Fallen Too Far by Abbi Glines

Title: Fallen too Far, Book 1 in the Rosemary Beach series
Author: Abbi Glines
Publisher: Simon Schuster (Atria)
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Links: GoodReads

Blurb:

Blaire Wynn left her small farmhouse in Alabama, after her mother passed away, to move in with her father and his new wife in their sprawling beach house along the Florida gulf coast. She isn’t prepared for the lifestyle change and she knows she’ll never fit into this world. Then there is her sexy stepbrother who her father leaves her with for the summer while he runs off to Paris with his wife. Rush is as spoiled as he is gorgeous. He is also getting under her skin. She knows he is anything but good for her and that he’ll never be faithful to anyone. He is jaded and has secrets Blaire knows she may never uncover but even knowing all of that…

Why I picked it up:

I bought this book at Readers and Writers Downunder when I met Abbi and got my book signed.

My Thoughts:

Abbi Glines has published a stack of books, but this is the first one I’ve ever read. On GoodReads, Fallen Too Far is her most popular novel with over 100,000 ratings averaging out at over 4 stars, so I figured it would be a good place to start.

The main thing that struck me about this book is its length. Its 220 pages, which is pretty short as far as NA novels go. As such, I felt a lot of the romance was a tad abrupt. I would have liked a little bit longer to warm to Rush and the idea of how Blair felt about him before that all sped forward. Because at first, I didn’t get why she liked him. He had no redeeming qualities aside from being hot. In all reality he was a controlling, man-whore.

It took me about half the book to warm to him. But once I did… oh my god, this book sucked me in like crazy!

I didn’t like all the unsafe sex, and the twist was ridiculously confusing, but overall this was a nice read. I read it in one stint. I guess the reason I’m rating this 4 stars instead of 5 is that I don’t feel an intense desire to pick up the next book. Maybe I’ll get around to it some day.

My Verdict – 4 stars

Recommend me… a fantasy novel

Welcome to a new little facet of my blog. Every now and then I’m going to post a “Recommend me…” blog post. It will be a way for all of us to share our favourite novels with each other and also to find some new reading material.

The series kicked off with “Recommend Me”… a book that made you laugh.

This time… Recommend Me… a fantasy novel!

My contribution:

Gravelling by Kristin Cashore

I have to admit… I’m not a huge fan of fantasy novels. I much prefer to read a contemporary romance or a science fiction book. But I really adored Gravelling. I read it back in 2011 and it still sticks out in my mind. It was a 4 star read for me.

What is your favourite fantasy novel? Recommend me! Share all your favourites and hopefully we will all find some new favourites in the mix!

Book Review: A Small Madness by Dianne Touchell

Title: A Small Madness
Author: Dianne Touchell
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Issue: Teen Pregnancy
Links: GoodReads

Blurb:

Rose didn’t tell anyone about it. She wondered if it showed. She looked at herself in the mirror and turned this way and then that way. She stood as close to the mirror as she could, leaning over the bathroom basin, looking into her own eyes until they disappeared behind the fog of her breath. Looking for something. Some evidence that she was different now. Something had shifted inside her, a gear being ratcheted over a clunky cog, gaining torque, starting her up. But it didn’t show. How could all of these feelings not show? She was a woman now but it didn’t show and she couldn’t tell anyone.

Why I picked it up:

This book was sent to me from Allen & Unwin in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts:

I’ve never read a book about teenage pregnancy before. In fact, pregnancy in a young adult novel generally kills the story for me. But A Small Madness was very openly about teen pregnancy, so I decided to jump on board.

In a nutshell, this book is about the fallout of a teenage pregnancy. The isolation, the uncertainty, the fear, the denial… It was a dark and gritty novel and I loved that it didn’t try to ‘romanticise’ the drama.

In its essence, this was a very powerful and terrifying novel. In saying that, I don’t really know how to rate it. I found it unique and interesting, but I’d never read it again. It isn’t really the sort of novel you’d read twice.

My Verdict – 3 stars – Definitely worth a read, if anything because it is so unique in the YA genre.

Author Interview: Brittney Mulliner

Title: Begin Again
Author: Brittney Mulliner
Publisher: Indie, Self Published
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Links: Author Website | Amazon | GoodReads

  

Blurb:

Escaping her past, Aubrey Tate moves to Southern California for a fresh start with her older brother, Brandon. Starting over at a new school seems easy with her cousin, Mckayla, and her two best friends at her side, but handling the new guys is another matter. Aubrey ends up in the middle of three rivals that each wants her to themselves. Mike claims her first and declares himself her friend and protector. Luke is the school heartthrob that stops Aubrey in her tracks, speechless. Gage is the mysterious, dark outsider that Aubrey can be herself around.

How will she navigate her new life while she’s still haunted by her past?

Interview: (Thanks to Brittney for answering my questions!)

1. How did you come up with the ideas for Begin Again?
I actually had a dream about it. Several of the characters were in it and I was being followed the whole time by someone I could only catch glimpses of. When I woke up I remembered it, which NEVER happens, so wrote it down. I spent the next few days making changes and adding details and suddenly the story was there in my mind and it didn’t go away until I started writing.

2. Describe your writing process? Are you a planner or do you write by the seam of your pants?
I really wish I was a planner, but I’ve learned that the characters have minds of their own and ultimately decide how things are going to happen. I always thought writers were a little bit crazy (and we totally are) when they said that they hear voices or the characters write the story but it’s true. I have a general idea of what’s going to happen, but when I try to force things to go the way I plan writing gets tougher. If I let the story unfold as I write it comes out much smoother.

3. What makes you happy?
Puppies, the beach, and my husband. Not necessarily in that order.

4. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Love what you’re doing! If it becomes a chore you need to step back and think about what you’re doing and what you’re trying to accomplish. Maybe the story needs to be tweaked or maybe you’re in it for the wrong reasons. If you’re looking for fame or fortune I would suggest another path. Writing is extremely fulfilling if you’re doing it for the love of it and because you have stories inside you that need to be told.

5. What are your writing goals?
I’m planning on publishing three titles a year. That’s short-term and will hopefully lead to my long-term goal of being in a position to write fulltime.

6. When are aren’t writing, what do you get up to?
My husband and I are both active and like to exercise everyday so with that and my big girl fulltime job I stay pretty busy with just enough time at night to write.

7. What are your favourite books?
I’ve been reading all of Ginger Scott’s books lately and I’m a fangirl of C L Stone’s two series. I’m also looking forward to Rachel Van Dyken’s new release, Elude.

8. What is the most important thing you’ve learnt in your writing journey?
Don’t get hung up on criticism. I’ve had so many reviews and comments that completely contradict the exact same thing that I just brush it off now. One person told me they loved how true to life the teenagers were in my books then another person said they acted too “high schooly”. Reviews can be helpful and harmful so I’ve learned not to take anything too personally.

Book Review: Make it Count by Megan Erickson

Title: Make it Count
Author: Megan Erickson
Publisher: William Morrow Impulse
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Links: GoodReads

Blurb:

Kat Caruso wishes her brain had a return policy, or at least a complaint hot-line. The defective organ is constantly distracted, terrible at statistics, and absolutely flooded with inappropriate thoughts about her boyfriend’s gorgeous best friend, Alec…who just so happens to be her brand new math tutor. Who knew nerd was so hot?

Kat usually goes through tutors like she does boyfriends—both always seem to bail when they realize how hopeless she is. It’s safer for her heart to keep everyone at arm’s reach. But Alec is always stepping just a little too close.

Alec Stone should not be fantasizing about Kat. She’s adorable, unbelievably witty, and completely off limits. He’d never stab his best friend in the back…

But when secrets are revealed, the lines of loyalty are blurred. To make it count, Alec must learn messy human emotions can’t be solved like a trigonometry function. And Kat has to trust Alec may be the first guy to want her for who she is, and not in spite of it.

My Thoughts:

I purchased this book when iBooks was giving away the first book in a NA series for free. I read a little of it on my computer and a little of it on my iPhone, so maybe that reading style had a little something to do with my overall rating…

Because I didn’t love this. It took me a while to get used to the writing style. It read a lot like a to-do list. The author threw around miniscule details about the characters days that dragged the prose out. I really didn’t need to know about every meal and how he finished said meal and then spun his milk bottle. It felt clunky sometimes and took me a while to adjust to.

It was also pretty heavy on the angst. Both Kat and Alex had personal dramas that they wallowed over. I would have liked to know why I was supposed to care about them before tipping all their problems on my shoulders.

I guess at the end of the day, this was an enjoyable NA romance. Was it the best NA romance I’ve ever read? No. Was it the worst? No. It was just somewhere in the middle. Maybe if I had of sat down and read this in one stint I would have liked it better.

My Verdict – 2 stars