My Thoughts Aren’t Divided Over This One!

Sometimes when you read a friend’s book and want to review it, you’re divided because you didn’t love it. Just ask Jennifer Eaton . . . she hated my first novel, 18 Things. But she’ll tell you it wasn’t because the writing that sucked *wipes forehead* . . . it just wasn’t her thing.

When Jessa Russo sent out an email to organize her blog tour for her new release, Divide, I signed up to review the book right away. I KNEW loving her story wouldn’t be a problem because she’s A*M*A*Z*I*N*G! She could publish a grocery list and I’d buy it 🙂

The Book Blurb:

Divide cover

From senior class president to dejected social outcast, with just the flick of a match.

After accusations of torching her ex-boyfriend’s home are followed by the mysterious poisoning of her ex-best friend, seventeen-year-old Holland Briggs assumes her life is over. And it is. But not in the way she thinks.

As Holland learns the truth about her cursed fate—that she is descended from the Beast most have only ever heard of in fairytales—she unites with an unlikely ally, good-looking newcomer Mick Stevenson.

Mick knows more about Holland’s twisted history than she does, and enlightening as it is to learn about, his suggestion for a cure is unsettling at best. Holland must fall in love with Mick in order to break the spell, and save their future generations from repeating her cursed fate. Having sworn off love after the betrayals of her ex-boyfriend and ex-best friend, this may be difficult to accomplish.

Complicating things further for Holland and Mick, time runs out, and Holland’s change begins way before schedule. With Holland quickly morphing into a dangerous mythical creature, Mick struggles to save her.

Should they fail, Holland will be lost to the beast inside her forever.

My Thoughts:

Jessa didn’t disappoint! She really knows how to get a story under way.  I immediately feel in love with Holland and Mick and cared about their happily ever after. There’s the triple D factor: desire, danger, and decision. Jessa nails them all with Divide.

Holland is a girl fighting for her identity, seeking truths about what’s happening to her. She wants Mick, but she’s conflicted because of the beast living inside her. At the same time, she’s recovering from a major heartbreak and betrayal (who isn’t in high school, right?). She’s trying to be good, but she’s lost control of herself. Other issues pop up that create plot twists I never saw coming. The whole time, you’re LIVING each moment as the characters experience it because of Jessa’s flawless writing. It’s a character-driven story and an action-driven plot, and it’s darn hard to pull off both but this book does! I loved the tension woven throughout this YA fantasy/fairytale redux. Every scene is manipulated for maximum impact.

The only thing I didn’t like was the ending. It came too soon, and I wanted to see MORE of Holland and Mick.

book hangover

If you want to find out more about Jessa, go here to visit her website (she also offers a full line of editing services! My publisher uses her for freelance & as my editor, I can vouch for her!)

DIVIDE: Amazon | Kobo | Barnes&Noble | Goodreads

What else has everyone been up to? I have to say I saw two great movies this past weekend. Friday I rented The Spectacular Now from the Redbox, starring Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller, a coming of age film based on the novel by Tim Tharp. Lovely indie film. Then Saturday the fam and I saw Rio 2. I must admit I wasn’t too excited to see this one, but I laughed more than the 3 kids with us (okay, 4 if you include hubs, hahaha).

Also, now that 18 Thoughts is written, I’ve had time to exercise again! YAY! I met two girlfriends for a six-mile walk on Saturday morning and was able to show them the door I’m convinced leads to Narnia. I’ve never tried to open it, but how cool is this door?!

Narnia

I’ll be back next week with my IWSG post. Huge hugs to Alex who mentioned me in his A to Z blog post on Monday! Until we meet again, LONG LIVE ASLAN!

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Branded Character Interview and Am I A Real Person!?!

Wait? Back-to-back posts from me? Couldn’t be! I know, I know . . . but I’m shaking things up a bit for Katie Teller/Hamstead in honor of her new release this month, Branded.

branded_katie_hamstead TALL

Her characters, Ali and Nick, have stopped by for an exclusive interview!

Q: Tell us a little about yourselves.

Ali: Ah… I’m Ali, and I’m not an alcoholic.

Nick: Smart A. I’m Nicholas Qasim, I’d barely finished my bachelors at the University of Technology, Sydney, when the attack happened.

Ali: Let’s not talk about that.

Nick: Agreed.

Q: You two went to the same high school, but were never friends then. Why do you think that is?

Ali: He was two grades above me, and a super nerd.

Nick: *Laughs* Yup, I’ll take that; gaming, comics, anything nerdy you can think of and that was me. She never would have talked to me if I’d tried.

Ali: You don’t know that.

Nick: Really?

Ali: Okay, yeah, I probably would have blown you off.

Q: You guys are best friends now. Do you think things would have been different if you’d become friends before Ali met Damien?

Nick: *Stares at feet*

Ali: Maybe. Nick’s an awesome guy. I mean, yeah, in high school I would have ignored him, but I think if we’d met up after I graduated we would have been friends. He’s as loyal as they come. Who doesn’t want that?

Nick: Thanks, Ali.

Q: What is the earliest memory you have of each other?

Nick: Her walking into school with her older brother, Andrew, who, by the way, is more of a nerd than me.

Ali: That’s true.

Nick: All of us guys thought she was a hottie and wondered why Drew had her with him.

Ali: They have no taste.

Nick: Anyway, later she had tons of girls surrounding her, but Drew seemed to have vanished. A few days later we found out he hated having her at the same school as him and hid to avoid being associated with her.

Q: And you, Ali?

Ali: My earliest memory of Nick? Hmm… let me think… probably around the middle of ninth grade, so his eleventh grade, I remember him getting this math award. The school made a huge deal about it, and presented it in front of everyone. I think it helped you get your scholarship, right?

Nick: Yeah.

Ali: The school made a big deal out of that, too. But he was pretty shy about it. Unlike me, he didn’t thrive in the limelight.

Nick: Didn’t they have you and the choir sing at that assembly?

Ali: Ahh… Oh, no, that was the vocal ensembles. So yes, I sang.

Nick: I loved that. Ali is the best singer, you should hear her.

Ali: *Scoffs* I am not. You’re totally bias.

Nick: Nope, you’re the best. People would stop what they were doing to listen to you. I remember being late for class several times because you were practicing for something or another.

Ali: Stalker.

Nick: I’ll take that.

Ali: *Shoves his shoulder, grinning.*

Q: So, one last question: What do you want to do if/when the war ends?

Nick: Repair the bridges that have been broken. I hate the thought that people will hate me and my family and other like us because of everything that’s happened. Fear will make things like this happen again, so I hope to bring understanding and peace.

Ali: I just want to live my life, have a family, and enjoy being free without fear. I want to keep the people I haven’t lost with me for the rest of my life.

Sounds like a good plan! I mean, war, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing!

Buy Branded here. About the book:

Terrorists have invaded Sydney, and Allison King barely escapes her brother’s wedding reception alive. She and her siblings flee, but their parents are killed by firing squad.

Now Ali’s on the run and terrified. While searching for other survivors, she is captured by the General who leads the invasion. He’s smitten by Ali, and when she refuses to submit to his whims, he brands her for death. In a wild act of defiance, she snatches the branding rod and sears the mark onto his face. Marking not only him but also sealing her fate. Ali manages to escape and flees into the bush once more where she finds a group in hiding. Even with the scars left by the General, Ali learns to love and falls in love with the young man who found her—Damien Rogers.

But the General is hunting her. When he discovers their location, and finds her with another man—Damien—his wrath is kindled and his obsession is inflamed. Ali must put herself on the line or the General could kill her family, those who help her, and most significantly, the man she loves.

Also, visit Katie’s site to enter her Rafflecopter giveaway! And once again, I want to thank everyone for supporting me on my 18 Truths Blog Tour and playing along! I’ve contacted everyone personally to let them know they’re winners, so if you’re here looking for the prize list, it’s up at the top right-hand corner of my site ^ . . . $25 Amazon gift card and my swag pack were the first prizes to go!

What do you think of Ali and Nick? If you have time, I’d appreciate a visit over at Jennifer Eaton’s blog. She asked me an interesting question today: Am I A Real Person? You be the judge 🙂 Also, my publisher is making the Kindle version of 18 Things only 99 cents tomorrow for a BookBub promotion . . . I’d really appreciate some social media shout outs to help move it up in the rankings! THANK YOU!!

IWSG-The #1 Rule Authors Shouldn’t Break?

*Happy*FoURth*of*July*Eve* Am I the only one hearing constant explosions in my neighborhood this week? Don’t get me wrong, I love explosions just as much as the Little Blue Lady on Jennifer Eaton’s blog, but not between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m.  I imagine this is what it feels like to live in Syria. Thank God for our freedom! Sure, it’s annoying when I’m trying to fall asleep at 2a.m. and the fireworks are still going off, but I just pretend the teenagers have just finished 18 Things and it was sooo good, they had to celebrate. Hahaha . . . yep, a “vain” attempt to sleep.

Sorry, that joke was lame, wasn’t it?

Okay, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. It’s the first Wednesday of the month, so it’s time for Head Ninja Alex J. Cavanaugh’s . . . .

Buccaneer Blogfest and IWSG

Last month, I wrote about my latest pathetic royalty statement. The good news? I was back on Amazon’s top 100 for coming-of-age fiction one day last week, something that hadn’t happened in 3 months! And it seems I had at least one fan, because the very kind Sandy sent me this email after reading my post (and gave her permission for me to share):

“I just read your latest posting regarding lack of sales for 18 Things. I just wanted to mention that I bought 18 Things as soon as it came out and read it in 2 days. I was so emotionally invested in all of the characters and their relationships. I laughed, cried and smiled a lot those 2 days. Please don’t give up writing and don’t change your style. You really have a gift and I am really looking forward to 18 Truths. On top of the many messages I got from reading 18 Things, you also taught me how important it is for me to write reviews for exceptional work, so the author has some idea how well they are being received. I promise to be a more responsible reader in the future. Good luck in your future endeavors and know that I bought a hard copy of 18 Things so I could read it over and over and hopefully give it to my child to read one day.”

How awesome is that? One thing Sandy mentioned was writing reviews. Those certainly are crucial. I have 40 Reviews on Amazon and 22 Reviews on Goodreads. As my publisher submits my book to B&N for nationwide distribution in their brick-and-mortar stores, I certainly hope for newer reviews. I hear that B&N usually likes to see near 100 reviews before deciding to carry a book in their store.

So, I was thrilled when one of my blogger buddies sent me an email saying she was going to post a review for my book. Then I read the review. The review didn’t make me angry, even though it focused solely on the sad parts and didn’t highlight any of the fun *that’s a reviewer’s prerogative*, but it did make me even more interested in a blog I read by Kristen Lamb that same day, Should Authors Write Bad Book Reviews? The blog was in response to a post she did the previous day about The Three NEVERs of Social Media, one being never write bad book reviews. To quote Kristen: “If I can’t give a book a five-star rave review? I just don’t review it. Again, publishing is a small world and we all need each other. The world is already out to throw us under a bus. We need each other to keep from turning into cutters.”

bus image

There was so much discussion surrounding this topic, she did a THIRD post, Is it FAIR for Authors to Review Other Authors? I should note that the review my blogger buddy emailed me (she gave me the option of asking her not to post it, which I thought was really sweet)  gave me 4 stars and I didn’t think it was a ‘bad’ review. She thought 18 Things was a brilliant piece of Christian fiction about dealing with death and learning to live your life again, but felt cheated by my ending so she deducted a star. I’m fine with that . . . I knew not everybody would like my ending when I wrote it.

I still consider 4 stars a good review, and have starred the books I read with 4 or 5. But ever since I became an author, I haven’t reviewed a book if I felt like I couldn’t give it a 4 or 5. I tend to agree with Kristen. I know the amount of blood, sweat, and tears that goes into writing a book now, and writing is sooo subjective, I don’t want to publicly flog a book just because I didn’t agree with that author’s creative work. I think you can still mark it as “read” on your Goodreads page and just not star it. Silence can be very loud.

What about you? Do you leave ‘bad’ reviews? Do you think a 4 star review should still be considered ‘good’ or should I throw virtual eggs at my buddy? Hahaha  . . . kidding! Although that leads me to another thought. Has anyone seen the movie that was released last month, The Purge ? It’s an interesting premise where one day a year for 12 hrs, people can vent their negative emotions by making all crime, including murder, legal. Of course, I don’t agree with going that far, but it did make me long for the same concept, but with egging and toilet papering houses and cars instead. That could just be the foreclosure notice I was served Monday night talking though . . . really makes me mad that there’s no bailout that works for the American homeowner struggling to make their mortgage payment. But that’s a rant for another time. I still love America despite it’s politics–enjoy your BBQ’s and freedom tomorrow, even if that does entail posting a bad review 😉