26 August 2016

Between Now and Never

This book showed up in my Bookbub feed (LOVE this service. Recommend it for all the voracious readers out there!) and I saw the blurb from Janette Rallison on the cover. At 99 cents, well, it was worth the risk, right?


From Goodreads:
"Buh boom, buh boom.

My heart thrusts with a force that takes me by surprise. Telling me something I don’t understand. A splitting pain, a longing to slip back under. They tell me I was in a hit-and-run, but I can’t remember what happened that night. All I know is that I woke up with pictures in my pocket, a card from one of those photo booths in the mall. And I’m in the pictures. Cody Rush. Me and…


Her brother was there that night, and my dad, the FBI agent, was the one who put her mom behind bars. What’s the connection? And why won’t Julianna talk to me now? Somehow, she holds the key to it all, and getting close–real close—to her for the answers I need will be no hardship at all…"

This is an excellent book--suspenseful and real and tugs at the heartstrings and makes me want to cheer and cover my eyes at the same time. Cody and Julianna are well-drawn and individual and I ended up admiring them both for finding their way. I really liked how their weaknesses became their strengths by the end of the story--great character growth, especially on Julianna's part.

The plot is tight and intense--no plot holes anywhere--and I had such a hard time putting down the book because I had to see what was going to happen next. I also love the way Johnston wrote the setting. I've spent 10 years living in Arizona, and she evoked memories of my time there in a subtle but realistic way. (ARGH--INCLUDING THE HEAT.) The story was well done and I really enjoyed the ending. I would have loved a sneak peek at their futures, but I'm content with how things stand. Great, great book.

Gentle Reader Alert: I don't recall anything of concern.

Second Twin

Just as a heads' up: Second Twin is the *fourth* book in the Legend of Rhyme series. I reviewed the first three books here.

From Goodreads:
"Grimblerod has led twins Asher and Ariana Caine back to ancient Rhyme, a time when Calla and Elora were the same age the twins are now. Though the Kingdom of Falmoor is rich with magic, the twins are unable to use their powers. They don’t know whom to trust, where to turn, or how to avoid doing something in the past that may alter the future forever.

Meanwhile, young Teagan Rogers must decide if she is ready to leave behind everything and everyone she knows to follow her mysterious destiny beneath the waves.

Will Teagan choose to become a mermaid? Will Asher and Ariana get home before changing the course of history forever? And can enemies truly become friends?"

Second Twin suffers from sequel-itis. It is a bridge between the beginning of the story and the end, which can make it hard to enjoy on its own. In fact, I would very much like to go back and read the entire series when it's complete to get a better sense of the story. As it was, the plot deepens and the characters grow more complex as the narrative moves on. It's setting up for a rather explosive ending. I'm looking forward to the finished product.

Gentle Reader Alert: I found nothing of concern.

17 August 2016

The Echoing

From Goodreads
"Rylee has an unusual gift. It brings good luck to those who are kind to her and misfortune to those who are not-at least, that's what the crazy woman in the woods tells her. But Rylee doesn't believe it until strange coincidences start happening to her classmates and friends. Her gift may not be a matter of luck but of life and death."

The Echoing perfectly captures the tone of an imaginative teenager who can't quite grasp the cosmic significance of the burden she just took on. Rylee treats her encounter with the hag in the woods as incidental, not giving any thought to the consequences or listening to the hag's explanations. Typical teenager. It was frustrating, but true to life. I found the plot to be quite compelling as Rylee figured out how to use her new powers and how to defeat the villain that comes with them. As she simultaneously dealt with her mother's health issues and the unexpected turn in her relationship with her childhood buddy, Rylee didn't descend into insipid woe-is-me moments, but used her smarts and her native confidence to get her through. I really do love a confident teenage character. The romance here was sweet and slow-burning and the ending had a twist that I didn't quite see coming, but that worked out beautifully. This was a great debut novel!

Gentle Reader Alert: I found nothing of concern. 

I was fortunate enough to get an interview with author Jessica Blackburn. Enjoy!

1. When you hit a block in writing your book, what did you do to get yourself unstuck?
There were some funny ways I would get inspired… Taking hot showers with the lights off, surrounding myself in nature, the rain, or going to the beach would always help. Pretty much anything involving water. I genuinely believe water has some sort of energy that helps us unlock our creativity.

2. What's the silliest/most embarrassing thing you've ever written?
I remember in 3rd grade writing a “goosebumps” kind of story about some kids who believed their dad was secretly a giant rat. And I think there was an important detail involving the father insisting on being called Papa Squeeker? … Creepy? Yes.

 3. What inspired you to write this book?
Ha! Oh boy! I probably shouldn’t share this story. When I was younger I worked at a sandwich shop and I remember one customer coming in who was just… Grumpy McGrumperson! He was extra rude and belittling and all I could do was stand there with a smile on my face as a customer service representative. As I handed him his sandwich I remember thinking, “Oh, what I would do if I could control your karma at this very moment.” In my book, you may notice my character experiencing a similar situation. Her reaction was my daydream from that moment in the sandwich shop years ago.

4. You're stuck on a fabulous luxury tropical island with electricity but no internet. How do you keep yourself entertained?
Probably just make out with my husband all day. I guess I’m picturing an island similar to the honeymoon from the last Twilight book. Can that be my island? I want that island please.

 5. What's the best piece of advice--on life, on writing, on being a human being--that you've received so far?
 As far as writing goes, if you have dreamed of publishing a book, DON’T GIVE UP! Be ready for the rejections and people who tear you down! Your day will come! Persevere!

Best advice I’ve received on life was actually marriage advice where I was told, “Whenever you’re frustrated and your needs aren’t being met, stop pouting and get up and serve the other person.” I think that can apply to anything in life. Whenever you’re down, get lost in service and you will always feel better by helping someone around you.

Great interview. Thanks for stopping by, Jessica!