Fiction Friday: Book Review- Shooting for the Stars (Gravity #3) by Sarina Bowen

Shooting for the Stars (Gravity #3)Shooting for the Stars by Sarina Bowen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Stella has had a crush on Bear for most of their childhood. However after he turned her down in high school, Stella has to content herself with just being his friend. Until one night when he has a crappy day and Stella is the one who comforts him (and somehow they end up in bed together). But any chance of a happy ever after is ruined when Stella finds out that her brother- and Bear’s best friend- has been badly injured in an accident.
I’ve read most of the Ivy Years series and I really enjoyed it. I love Sarina Bowen’s writing style and her characters. However this book seemed really filled with angst which kinda spoiled it for me. I did still enjoy it but I miss the lightness of the Ivy Years (maybe I should just go and finish the last few books in the series).
I loved the romance between Bear and Stella. I also loved the characters of Hank and Callie and will definitely be tracking down their story. This is a great read that I recommend to anyone who enjoys romance novels.

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Fiction Friday: Book Review- Spring at Blueberry Bay by Holly Martin

Spring at Blueberry BaySpring at Blueberry Bay by Holly Martin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Bella has been abandoned by her parents as a kid. She is also very broke. But when she finds a homeless man, Isaac on her doorstep, she takes him in and shares her last meal with him. What Bella doesn’t know is that Isaac is lying to her and is not who he seems to be.
I can’t say more without giving too much of the story away but if you’ve read Holly Martin’s other books then you probably will be able to predict the story. This book reminded me of Holly Martin’s other books so at first, I wasn’t really interested. It just seemed like a story that was told one too many times before. However I love Holly Martin’s writing so I pushed though and I’m glad that I did. Bella and Isaac are an adorable couple. It pissed me off that he lied to her but I eventually got over it. I loved their chemistry in this book and was really sad once it was over. Like all Holly Martin books, this one is full of colourful characters and I cannot wait to read more. I’ve developed an attachment to Bella’s cousins and would love to see them all get their happy endings.

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Fiction Friday: Book Review- Rookie Move by Sarina Bowen (Brooklyn Bruisers #1)

Rookie Move (Brooklyn Bruisers, #1)Rookie Move by Sarina Bowen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve been stalking this book ever since I read an extract on Netgalley. I’m pleased to say that the actual book exceeded my expectations. Georgia and Leo were first loves and high school sweethearts. But then something happened that tore them apart. Years later neither of them are over it and the connection between them is as intense as ever.I loved this book. I’m a huge fan of Sarina Bowen’s writing and I love that her characters are always so real. This novel is no exception. I can’t wait to read the rest of this series. I’ve gotten really attached to these characters. They’re all so lively and fun. I think all romance fans should read this book.

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Fiction Friday: Interview With Leslie Welch

Leslie Welch is the author behind “The Goodbyes”, a novel that is equally heartwarming and heart-wrenching. I caught up with her to find out more about the beautifully moving book.

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1) Tell us a bit more about yourself

I’m the person at the grocery store who holds up the checkout line because the cashier is telling me her life story. I’m only half-joking. I’m a listener, a connector, and an intense observer of life. But I’m also a textbook Leo: a little wild, dramatic, and a natural leader. It’s probably a strange combination for an author, but it works for me. I love being on the water–especially in a sailboat. I’m a huge foodie. And I’ll drink coffee until my jaw clenches from caffeine intoxication. 

2) How did you come up with the idea for “The Goodbyes”?

I was driving to my childhood home in Pittsburgh. If you don’t live where you grew up, going home can be a surreal experience, at least it is for me. A lot of people that I grew up with still live in the area. Anytime I go back, I end up seeing someone from high school. Sometimes it’s amazing, and other times? Not so much. 

It’s a four hour drive from D.C. to my mom’s house. After the first two hours of the drive, I started to get lonely and bored, so I decided to do some creative exercises. I started daydreaming that I was a rock star going home. I made the fantasy a little more interesting. I was going home to see the guy who inspired all my songs. And then, I brought in the big conflict–he was dying. I couldn’t wait to start writing! I decided to write the story from a male perspective to challenge myself.

3) What sort of research did you do while writing “The Goodbyes”?

Some of the situations in the book are inspired by real-life events. Before I wanted to be a writer, I wanted to be a musician. I even dropped out of college for a semester to focus on music. 

I’m lucky to know people who do really cool things. I interviewed my friends who have toured with their bands. I went backstage at big shows. I sat in on recording sessions.

I also did a lot of research on celebrated musicians; I watched interviews and read memoirs. And, although I’ve been to Glen Hope and the surrounding coal towns, I spent a lot of time on Google Maps “driving” my little yellow Google guy around.

4) What was the best part of writing “The Goodbyes”? Was there a specific scene or an aspect of writing the book that was particularly memorable?

I loved writing the ending. The original ending was good, but, as Charlotte would say, it didn’t “make my scalp shiver.” The night before I was supposed to turn the manuscript over to my editor, I had a last-minute bolt of inspiration. I stayed up all night rewriting the ending. It’s my favorite part of the book now. I can’t imagine Webb’s story ending any other way.

5) Is there anything about the writing life that you think is misunderstood by the public?

I used to imagine that when writers typed “the end” they were done. In reality, that’s only the beginning. Pristine prose doesn’t flow out of our fingers on the first try. It takes a lot of work to get it right after the first draft. 

Writing is a partnership between creators and editors. Most writers are not masters of the English language. We struggle with punctuation (seriously, let’s not talk about my comma issues). We get to take credit in the byline, but we don’t create the magic alone.

6) What sort of books do you usually read?

Right now, collections of short stories are filling up my Kindle. I try to read a lot of different genres. For a while, I was obsessed with biographies about actresses from the golden age of Hollywood. I love Young Adult novels. There’s something comforting about tapping into a time of life that seems full of possibilities–where you’re not assaulted by the mundane details of adulthood like interviewing contractors to replace your roof. 

7) Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

I can’t take credit for this wisdom, but here’s some of the best advice I’ve collected over the years:

• Don’t edit until the first draft is done. Make notes if you must. The first draft is supposed to be a disaster. If you get bogged down chasing perfection, you won’t finish. Embrace the mess–fix it later.

• If you’re writing for insta-fame, you’re doing it wrong. 

• Write something you want to read. If you think it’s too weird for the world, you’re doing it right.

• Connect with other writers. Follow them on Twitter. Build your community; you’ll need them. 

• Eliminate passive voice with a vengeance. Search your document for the verb “to be” in all forms. Analyze each sentence and rewrite as many as you can.

• Read your dialogue out loud. 

• Reject the rejection, but consider the criticism. If someone’s telling you there are issues with your story, take a step back and try to see it from their perspective. 

• Throw in a 180 degree twist if you don’t know where else to go.

8) The characters in “The Goodbyes” are very real and flawed. Personally I’d love to see more of them. Do you have any plans for a sequel?

(*blushes) I’ve been thinking about writing Charlotte’s story. She’s my favorite character in this book and was so much fun to write. One piece of trivia: TempFive makes a cameo in my next book. 

9) What can we expect from you in the future?

I have four books in different stages of chaos. Currently, I’m rewriting my first novel–a YA Urban Fantasy that I wrote with my best friend. The working title is Tandem. 

It’s the story of a rebellious auto heiress who discovers she’s half extra-dimensional. When she starts her junior year of high school, her family declares bankruptcy and the guy she loves becomes a monk—literally. On top of that, she has to worry about trying not to blow things up with her emerging powers and it’s really getting in the way of her social life. We’re aiming for a late 2017 release. 

As soon as the final draft of Tandem is in the hands of our editor, I’ll tackle another Women’s Fiction project that I started a few months ago about a Congressional staffer who quits her job and leaves her boyfriend of four years (because he can’t commit). I’m really excited to see where her story goes.

You can order a pre-order copy of “The Goodbyes” from Amazon or Barnes and Noble

Fiction Friday: November 9 by Colleen Hoover

November 9
November 9 by Colleen Hoover

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This story has a sweet idea but falls flat towards the end. It seems like the characters are dragging out their romance simply because November 9 is a special day for them. If you look past that obvious flaw this is an amazing book, well-written with intriguing characters.
Fallon and Ben have an instant connection and because she is moving away, decide to meet every year on November 9. However life gets in the way and as they grow, they struggle to keep to their arrangement.

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Waiting on Wednesday: It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

Colleen’s books rip me up inside and make me sob like a baby. But it’s this devastation that makes her happy endings so beautiful. It also makes me doubt that there’s going to be a happy ending but so far she’s never let me down. I’m really looking forward to reading It Ends With Us because I’ve seen snippets on her social media and it seems like such an emotional read. I feel like this might be her best work yet.

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Release Date: 2 August 2016

Official Synopsis from Goodreads.com:
Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up. She graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true. 

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, and maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant and has a total soft spot for Lily; and the way he looks in scrubs certainly doesn’t hurt. Lily can’t get him out of her head, but Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. Even as Lily finds herself becoming the exception to his no dating rule, she can’t help but wonder what made him that way in the first place. 

As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan, her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened. 

With this bold and deeply personal novel Colleen Hoover delivers a heart-wrenching story that breaks exciting new ground for her as a writer. Combining a captivating romance with a cast of all too human characters, “It Ends with Us” is an unforgettable tale of love that comes at the ultimate price

Why Do Contemporary Romances Promote Cheating?

I absolutely adore contemporary romance. They capture perfectly the emotions of falling in love. Recently however I’ve noticed that several of my cherished novels involve cheating or almost cheating (ie flirting or leading someone on when you’re clearly in a relationship). Off the top of my head some examples are: Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door and This Raging Light.
Maybe I’m simple-minded but it just seems to make sense to break up with someone when you no longer feel a connection with them. My friend, Vincent broke up instantly with his girlfriend of a year and a half (we were all devastated) when he realised that the feelings he once had for her was gone.
In the abovementioned novels, someone is always in a relationship. Yes it may not be a great relationship(in Anna and the French Kiss, St Clair hasn’t seen his girlfriend in ages and in Lola and the Boy Next Door, Lola’s boyfriend is a jerk) but that doesn’t make it okay.
Maybe Someday- an excellent novel by Colleen Hoover- tells the story of two people with an incredible connection…but the guy is already in a relationship and refuses to break up with his girlfriend. Yet despite that he is unable to let his feelings for the other girl go or even let her date other guys.
I get that in the world of this novels, there’s a reason this behaviour is okay -it’s dramatic, it drives the plot, etc- but it worries me what if people think “hey if person xyz can do it, why can’t I?”
Think about it. How often have we seen the cliché story about the girl crushing on the guy with the mean girlfriend? And why is it okay? Shouldn’t the fact that someone is in a relationship mean that they’re off-limits?
I certainly wouldn’t want my boyfriend going around and flirting, almost flirting or even connecting with someone while we’re still together. The decent (albeit painful) thing to do would be to have a clean break.
What do you think of contemporary romance stories with cheating or almost cheating in it?