Tag Archive | Contemporary Romance

Review: A Very Large Expanse of Sea

Title: A Very Large Expanse of Sea

Author: Tahereh Mafi

Date of Publication: October 16th, 2018

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Goodreads Summary:

It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.

Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.

But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.

My Review:

So Shatter Me is my favorite series ever, yet it took me a while to read this one. Why, you ask? Because contemporary is iffy for me. Most of the time I like my contemporary light and fluffy. But this was time! Oh, and breakdancing is awesome!

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Here’s where things get tough for me. I was seventeen and in high school in 2002. I remember everything as clear as day, so I was confused by several things. First, the texting? I don’t really remember anyone texting back then. It was mainly AIM and landline phone calls! Also, I feel like most of us still had CDs vs MP3 players! Also, if Shirin’s family didn’t have a lot of money then how was she always using this cell phone that didn’t have unlimited minutes or texts? Why not just use the landline????

Next gripe, I felt this book was over dramatic. I don’t want people to think that all schools were racist like this. In fact, if teachers would have acted like this to any student at my school, they would have probably been fired! Right after 9/11 kids at my school were NOT like this about Muslims and I live in SE Texas. In fact the only separation we ever had was between the preppy kids and the metal kids, but it was more of a “let’s just hang out in our own social circles!” This book kind of reminded me of the movie A Walk to Remember, when popular dude dates nerdy girl and the kids in school get all hostile toward Mandy Moore’s character after they start a relationship. It just baffles my brain and doesn’t seem real.

It was super hard for me to connect to Shirin, and I was so sad about this, but the fact was that she was just as prejudice as these other kids. Yes, she had been through a lot, but she was just so very angry. I’m just a big fan of showing kindness over that anger! Ocean, for example, was nothing but sweet to her, and at first she was pretty mean to him! Also, she mentioned in her head that he should be with a blonde. Why a blonde???

As for side characters, I seriously loved Navid and his group of friends. They were so cool and awesome and I literally wanted to breakdance with them! I will say that Shirin does grow as a character by the end, and I really loved that! Ocean, dear Ocean was so sweet but he got a bit over dramatic, too! I just don’t even know what to say except I still feel confused here, but I seriously love Tahereh Mafi’s writing more than anything.

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Can you clearly remember where you were during 9/11?

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Review: Moonlight Scandals

Title: Moonlight Scandals

Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout

Date of Publication: January 29th, 2019

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Goodreads Summary:

Even a ghost hunter like Rosie Herpin couldn’t have foreseen the fateful meeting between two mourners that has brought her so intimately close to the notorious and seductive Devlin de Vincent. Everyone in New Orleans knows he’s heir to a dark family curse that both frightens and enthralls. To the locals, Devlin is the devil. To Rosie, he’s a man who’s stoking her wildest fantasies. When a brutal attack on her friend is linked to the de Vincents, he becomes a mystery she may be risking her life to solve.

Devlin knows what he wants from this sexy and adventurous woman. But what does Rosie want from him? It’s a question that becomes more pressing—and more dangerous—when he suspects her of prying into the shadows of his past.

Now, the legends surrounding the de Vincents may not be myths at all. But if she’s to discover the truth, she must follow them straight into the arms of the man she can’t resist—the handsome devil himself.

My Review:

This series has been so much fun, and these men are just crazy and awesome! Oh, and my favorite part to this one was that Rosie likes to do paranormal ghost hunting stuff. I would be all over a chance to do that.

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I’ve been waiting since book one—literally—to get inside Devlin’s head. And good ol’ Dev’s head did not disappoint! He’s very dimensional and has a whole lot of baggage that we uncover as the book progresses, like anxiously waiting to unwrap a Christmas present! Rosie was a great character, too! We learn about her backstory and it’s a very sad one but she doesn’t let it destroy her.

There are some twist and turns that I didn’t guess, and there was one where I was like how is that possible? And may have been a tad over the top, but that’s okay. I also feel like I still need answers!! I’ll say it again, I hate ab covers, but that didn’t keep me away from this fun and addicting story! Seriously, I’ll read anything Armentrout writes!

 

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Do you believe in ghosts?

Review: Serious Moonlight

Title: Serious Moonlight

Author: Jenn Bennett

Date of Publication: April 16th, 2019

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Goodreads Summary:

After an awkward first encounter, Birdie and Daniel are forced to work together in a Seattle hotel where a famous author leads a mysterious and secluded life in this romantic contemporary novel from the author of Alex, Approximately.

Mystery-book aficionado Birdie Lindberg has an overactive imagination. Raised in isolation and homeschooled by strict grandparents, she’s cultivated a whimsical fantasy life in which she plays the heroic detective and every stranger is a suspect. But her solitary world expands when she takes a job the summer before college, working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel.

In her new job, Birdie hopes to blossom from introverted dreamer to brave pioneer, and gregarious Daniel Aoki volunteers to be her guide. The hotel’s charismatic young van driver shares the same nocturnal shift and patronizes the waterfront Moonlight Diner where she waits for the early morning ferry after work. Daniel also shares her appetite for intrigue, and he’s stumbled upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—might be secretly meeting someone at the hotel.

To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell…discovering that most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel.

My Review:

Jenn Bennett has been my favorite YA contemporary author for a while now, and this book just kept her position at the top! A boy that likes street magic and a girl that wears flowers in her hair made my eyes fill with hearts.

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At first, I must admit, I was annoyed with Birdie. But she grew up rather sheltered, so her personality fit with that. As the book went on, she really grew as a character, and I started to like her. Daniel was just a bucket full of sunshine and sweetness, and yes there’s a secret hidden there, but it made me love his character even more.

Bennett knows how to write character driven stories and she knows how to breathe life into every single one of her side characters, too. No one ever feels like they are there for no reason. Always a purpose. Plus, we also get quirkiness and swoon which I love! Can’t wait to read the author’s next book!

 

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What’s your favorite contemporary book?

Book On Sale: Bacon Pie for .99

Hey guys, since it’s Thanksgiving week and you know you want to definitely try Bacon Pie—right? Right? Well, you can totally grab my co-authored book for .99 for a short time! It’s fun, romantic, and quirky! Plus it helps so there’s no leftover pie!

Purchase Bacon Pie on Amazon

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Did you pick up Bacon Pie while on sale?

 

Review: Unconditional Love

Title: Unconditional Love

Author: Alexa Whitewolf

Date of Publication: November 8th, 2018

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Goodreads Summary:

It’s summer in Tofino, BC. This means chilling, hanging out with friends and meeting hot boys.

Not so for Maya Finnigan, who’s stuck in summer school with extra classes in order to make it to college. Looks like another summer of studying and boring “fun” – and hanging out with her loyal German Shepherd, Bear. Or will it be?

Kolt Waters meets the “hot” criteria with his intense blue eyes and Brit accent, plus he’s the boy-next-door. But his smug attitude and never-ending jabs get on Maya’s nerves.

When Bear goes missing, surprisingly it’s Kolt who jumps to the rescue. But is their budding romance a happily ever after or a wreck in disguise? And what’s the story with their parents, and the secrets they hide?

Dig in for a summer of fun, mystery and first loves…as unconditional as they come.

My Review:

Sometimes you just have to read a novella! This was the perfect size, and it was such an adorable read! Also, there is a little side love story in here as well that I absolutely loved! Plus, there is a POV from a very special animal as well that just made the story that much better! 

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I thought Maya and Kolt were super likable characters, and I always love the dislike to like scenarios! And it was done so well! Sometimes when you get to an end of a story and feel that deep breath escape from yourself because the story was so cute, that’s what I did! I’ve read all of Alexa’s books so far, and this one does not disappoint!

Also, awesome news! This book is FREE on Amazon, etc!!

 

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Do you have an awesome pet?

Author Interview: Brandy Woods Snow

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Rayne Davidson is perfectly happy fading into the background. Her mama’s antics garner enough attention in their small Southern town for the both of them, but when Rayne catches the eye of all-star QB, Preston Howard, she’s enamored with the possibilities. Too bad Preston doesn’t make her heart thump—but his brother does.

Gage Howard doesn’t mind the town’s stares, probably because he doesn’t get them. Growing up in his older brother’s shadow, Gage shrugs off the endless parade of girls Preston brings home—until Rayne.

But there are unwritten rules that shouldn’t be broken, like cheating on your boyfriend or betraying your brother. Rayne and Gage deny their growing attraction, neither willing to hurt Preston—until the town finds out.

They think overcoming the gossip will be the hardest obstacle.

They’re wrong.

Rayne’s mama has a secret, and its revelation could divide the town, the families, and the new couple.

Can love really exist if it’s all built on a lie?

 

Author Interview: Brandy Woods Snow, author of MEANT TO BE BROKEN (a Carolina Clay novel) released July 2018 from Filles Vertes Publishing

What was the inspiration for Meant to be Broken?
I originally wrote a prologue for MEANT TO BE BROKEN more than 12 years ago while sitting in a tiny, blue cubicle on my lunch break from a corporate job. I sent the file to my email where I let it sit until 2015 when I finally began writing the actual story. (Ironically that terrible prologue didn’t make the cut!) I guess my inspiration really came from something as simple as wanting to write a small-town love story. It was when I actually started writing that some of the underlying themes began to come out—the love/hate relationship with a small town; Southern culture and how it affects expectations of behavior; the thin line between truth and lies; and even religious undercurrents. Growing up in a place where everyone knows your name can be both comforting and constricting. I found my characters doing exactly what I was doing at the time of writing—stepping out of “my box” and embracing my true self. Some people support that, and some people don’t.

Do you have a favorite character in your book? Who and why?
Of course, I love both Rayne and Gage. They are so special to me (see how I talk about them like actual people?). If I have to choose, though, I’d say Rayne, for the simple fact that she reminds me so much of myself. She tries to be confident but the insecurities creep in; She has strong opinions but she’s afraid to voice them all the time; She says she doesn’t care what people think of her but she spends her life worrying what everyone will say. I like to think that while I was writing this, she and I grew up together and finally found our true selves.

Do you usually outline or just go with it?
The first draft of MEANT TO BE BROKEN was completely pantsted. I had an overall idea of what I wanted the main turning points to be, but that was pretty much it. After that first draft “wasn’t working” though, I took it back to basics and plotted out some new scenes and put it all into a very formulaic pattern. The flow and pacing improved significantly. It was a learning curve. As I write now, I plot most scenes and turning points with the plot and character advancement goals for each, but I can honestly say I’m not tied to anything. If I begin writing and a character begins pulling me in their own direction, I go. It’s more important to be true to the character and story than some random notecard I put together in the beginning.

Without me giving spoilers, did you always know who Rayne would end up with or did you question yourself at time?
I always knew it would be HIM.  I’m a bleeding heart romantic who fully believes that the decision your heart (not your head) makes is the right one—you know, that whole “love” versus “in love” thing. The guy Rayne chooses in the end is the one who knew her—all of her—and still wanted more. He wasn’t the popular choice, but he was her choice. Rayne had to learn to get herself and other people out of her own way to become the person she was meant to be in order for it to finally work. Sounds easy enough, right? But try growing up in a small town where everyone has an opinion. Sometimes it becomes a matter of “do I live their version of life?” or “do I live mine?” When Rayne finally makes that decision, the choice is clear.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Since age 4 when I read THE POKEY LITTLE PUPPY. It was the first book I ever read by myself, and I was sold on the wonder of books. At age 6, I begin typing out stories on a typewriter and illustrating them. I dabbled in poetry a bit in elementary school and wrote several emotionally-charged pieces about navigating bullies in high school. I majored in English and Writing at Clemson, though I pursued a journalism focus since everyone warned me that you can’t expect to make a living writing books. I’ve worked in corporate communications, marketing, and magazine writing/editorial for nearly 18 years now but the desire to write a novel never left me. In 2015, I moved that dream off the back burner, and here we are today.

What’s your favorite book you’ve read this year? And what’s your favorite book ever?
My favorite book I’ve read this year has to be WORDS IN DEEP BLUE by Cath Crowley because it deals with true love finding its way back after so many emotional hurdles. And who doesn’t adore love letters?
I have two favorite books of all time: PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (obviously) and THE GRAPES OF WRATH. I’ve always adored these books and now, looking back, I can guess why. One deals with finding love and one deals with emotional suffering and finding your way as a family through various trials. Both are right up my alley.
What future books do you have planned next?
I’m currently writing Book 2 in the Carolina Clay series, which will focus on the rejected brother and his HEA/HFN.
I’m also querying another completed YA contemporary romance as we speak and have put down extensive notes and a rough first chapter on “the book of my heart” that deals heavily with an issue close/dear to me. I’m being intentionally vague here because right now, I’m keeping it under wraps. 

If you could live in any year or another fantasy world, what would it be?
I’ve always thought it would be so much fun to live in the 1950s and 60s with all the big hair-dos and drive-ins and rock and roll music. Maybe that’s from listening to a crap-ton of oldies growing up? LOL

I know you’re a Southern girl, what’s your favorite part about it?
The lifestyle. I feel like I have the best of all worlds here. From big city to rural backroads, you can go from one extreme to the other in a matter of miles. The food. The weather. The fact that strangers still wave to each other and say hello. The unique places. My biggest dream is to drive cross-country and see everything America has to offer, but there’s no doubt in my mind that the South (and more specifically, South Carolina) is my home and my heart.

What’s your favorite color?
I have two, blue (any hue) and orange (Clemson Tiger orange, to be specific!).

If you were trapped on an island with one person, one object, and one food, what would they be?
This is so easy—my husband, notebooks (and pens!), and macaroni and cheese (not the box variety but the good Southern kind in a casserole dish).

Do you have any advice for other writers out there?
There are four points of advice I always tell writers, and I don’t foresee this ever changing.
1. Find your tribe
Critique partners are the bee’s knees, y’all! Don’t trust yourself to see all the mistakes and plot holes in your own work because it’s not going to happen. The book you’re writing is already in your brain but you cannot see if you’re translating it to the paper efficiently. Fresh eyes make all the difference. Find a core group of honest, talented CP’s and your writing life will change for the better!
2. Read in your genre
Please do this. You want to learn how to show and not tell? Read. You want to know how to develop character voice? Read. You want more information on building character motivation? Read. See what other authors are doing. See what publishers are looking for. Gather all this great information while also taking in a great story, and then use that to hone your own craft. Gold mine!
3. Throw away limitations
You know that whole quote about “dance like no one’s looking”? Well, modify that to “write like no one’s looking.” I can’t tell you how many times in the beginning I found myself censoring my own words because someone I knew might not like what I was saying. For real, y’all. There goes those weight of expectations again, thrown all over your shoulders. Brush that junk off and write what’s in your heart. Quit caring if Aunt “sew and sew” will banish you to Hell or tell the Ladies League about your “free-wheeling” style. WRITE.WHAT.YOU.WANT.
4. Persevere
You’re going to want to give up. You’re going to feel defeated, rejected, worn out, and sometimes unloved. It’s a part of the whole experience. But this is your dream. Remember that when the sucky stuff happens. And just like I tell my kids, “Any dream worth having is worth fighting for.” It’s not going to be easy…it’s not supposed to be. If it were easy, everyone would do it. You are not “everyone.” You’re an author, so get back up and see this through!

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About Brandy:

Brandy Woods Snow is an author and journalist born, raised and currently living in beautiful Upstate South Carolina. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a minor in Writing from Clemson University. While creative writing has always been her first love, the media has been her home for more than 17 years, during which time she has built a strong platform that includes articles in Delta Sky, Greenville Business Magazine, Columbia Business Monthly, and Home Design & Décor magazine (Charlotte, Raleigh). She has also worked in corporate communications, public relations and business development for international and regional companies. Her first novel Meant To Be Broken, the first book in the Carolina Clay series, was published by Filles Vertes Publishing in July 2018.

When Brandy’s not writing, reading, spending time with her military husband or driving carpool for her three kids, she enjoys kayaking, family hikes, yelling “Go Tigers!” as loud as she can, playing the piano and taking “naked” Jeep Wrangler cruises on twisty, country roads.

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Author Interview: Moriah Chavis

Check these out on Swoon Reads!

 

What kind of books do you write?

I’ve written in different genres, but I’ve found my niche in contemporary YA. I love to experiment with my writing, so I have lots of different ideas. But there’s always a romance!

Do you outline or just go with it?

My writing style has changed and evolved. In past manuscripts, I’ve been a “pantser” (just went with it). With my current WIP, I outlined it first. It really helped focus the story, this one specifically. It changes story to story, though.

What’s your favorite book you have written? Tell us a little about it.

Every book I’ve written has a special place in my heart. I love the one I’m currently working on. It’s a tie between a manuscript titled The Way to Grace and this one!

What do you find to be the hardest thing about writing? The best thing?

That first page. The first page is always daunting. It’s so blank! The best part of writing is hitting that grove, where you know the story is going somewhere. I really start to believe in a story at around 30K-40K.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer, and when was the first time you wrote a story?

Twelve-years-old. I finished my first novel-length story at eighteen.

What’s your favorite book you’ve read this year? And what’s your favorite book ever?

Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

It’s a toss up between Voyager by Diana Gabaldon (really anything she writes) and My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick.

You also have a Bookstagram account on Instagram. What are your favorite kinds of pictures to take? Inspiration?

I love #copythatcover! Meredith of @fromlibrarywithlove is a huge inspiration and so sweet. I also love @latenightreading, @erinsummerill, and @pink_eye_pro.

When you take Bookstagram pictures, do you take them daily or a bunch at one time?

I usually take them one day at a time. Sometimes I don’t have time for this, so I miss a day. But my pictures are better, I’ve found, if I don’t stockpile them.

What’s your favorite color?

My favorite color changes with my mood! I love red, blue, green, purple! I love purple right now.

Do you have any advice for other writers out there?

Keep going. It’s a never-ending process, but it’ll be worth it (I hope) in the end. You meet wonderful people along the way and get to develop your craft. Every story is a story worth discovering.

 

Author bio: 
As long as she has a book in her hand, her Nikon around her neck, or her laptop nearby, Moriah is happy. She holds a Liberal Arts degree from the University of South Carolina and loves talking literature. Currently, she’s a graduate student at USC working on her Masters in Library and Informational Science. If not being crushed by her cat, she loves being outdoors and sometimes goes for a run. And yes, a turtle passed her a few miles back.
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What did you think of the interview?