Phew, what an extraordinary week I’ve just had.
For the second time, I’ve been lucky enough to attend the national conference of the Romance Writers of America. Last year, NYC provided the backdrop. This year, it took place in L.A. and the Orange County.
I’ll keep it quick. I had the chance to see (from up close) the Queen of Romance, Nora Roberts herself. I’ve listened to my YA Goddess, Simone Elkeles, who announced her upcoming series on Football Bad Boys (double yummy!), and even sat at the same table as Miranda Kenneally, the talented author of Catching Jordan.
I spent a day with the Kiss of Death Chapter visiting the real L.A. Police Academy. I even raced police cars (check how cool I look with my racing helmet… or not) and fired fake guns.
Now that I’m back to Olympic London, I can reflect on those exciting days, and I realize how grateful I am. I am grateful for being driven by this crazy, overwhelming passion-slash-obsession -writing- and grateful for being able to share my passion with my sisters.
No-one is stronger than a woman with a purpose and, on that basis, I can tell you that my friends -Juliette Sobanet, Sophie Moss and Tracy Hewitt-Meyer- can kick some serious ass.
If you read this post, I’d like to make a wish for you. I hope you’re blessed with your own passion, and I hope you’re blessed with a sisterhood to share your passion with.
In my debut novel, Breathe, Sadie may have fallen in love with the teen rock star, Jax Stone, but readers fell head over heels for Marcus Hardy. This is his story…
Marcus Hardy had hoped to enjoy a year away at college while he put the summer he’d rather forget behind him. But instead, he’s jerked right back to the coastal town of Sea Breeze, Alabama due to a family crisis. His dear ol’ dad found himself a girlfriend only a few years older than Marcus. So now his sister needs help dealing with their mother who is mentally falling apart. The only bright spot to returning is the fascinating red head who sleeps over several times a week. The problem is she’s sleeping in bed with his new roommate, Cage Watson.
Willow “Low” Foster needs a place to live. Running to Cage’s apartment every time her sister kicks her out isn’t exactly a long term solution. Juggling her courses at the local community college and a part time job doesn’t produce excess income. But Cage has a new roommate and suddenly sleeping over at her best friend’s apartment isn’t such a bad thing. Not when she gets to see those sexy green eyes of Marcus Hardy’s twinkle when he smiles at her like he wants her there.
Even though Cage seems a little territorial where Low is concerned, Marcus finds time to spend with Low without upsetting his roommate. Cage may use his small college baseball star persona to sleep with every hot female in his path but he’s still under the disillusion that when he’s through sowing his wild oats, he’s going to marry Low. Marcus intends to change that assumption for both Cage and Low. Until his carefully laid plans come crashing down with a revelation he never expected. He’ll have to choose between Low or his family. Because once the truth comes out…. there’s no other choice.
Did I Like it? Very much so…
Because of Low is the first novel I read by Abbi Glines. I discovered her through my new-found passion for New Adult author Tammara Webber (check my review of Easy). They happen to be CPs (critique partners), i.e. they review each other early drafts (grrr, I’m jealous). Well, when you see the quality of the ‘product’ delivered by Tammara, it does reflect well on Abbi Glines’ standards. So, here I was having downloaded Abbi’s Because of Low, her second installment in the Sea Breeze series. For the record, as soon as I was finished with Low, I immediately purchased Breathe (Sea Breeze #1), then The Vincent Boys and The Vincent Brothers (which I will review soon as part of the 2012 New Adult Reading Challenge).
I’m glad I started with Because of Low as I find it to be a much more accomplished work than Breathe. Don’t misunderstand me: The first book in the series is good, but the second one is excellent. While the characters were a bit thin and stereotyped in Breathe (starting with the teen rocker Jax) and the plot slightly flat, Because of Low offers a ride with two truly unforgettable, fleshed-out, multi-faceted people: Willow and Marcus. Abbi Glines knows how to make you fall hard for swoon-worthy bad-boys (Beau Vincent, yummy!yummy!), but Marcus isn’t one of them. He is driven by duty, loyalty, family, and fairness. Still, he isn’t boring one bit, but utterly falling-in-lovable because he treats people and the girl he loves as a person of worth… As far as Low, she has some similarities with Lana in The Vincent Brothers. She had it tough and suffers of a very low (pun intended) self-esteem. It is truly heart-warming to see her gaining in confidence. What Low lacks in self-esteem, she doesn’t lack in self-respect. I think it’s important to make the difference here. She’s open-minded and always tries and understands Marcus, but, still, she doesn’t compromise with who she is and believes in at core.
Now, you’re going to say, these two are really cute and likable. Great, so it’s easy to make them the main protagonists. Yes, they are good people, but, what I really liked about them, were their flaws. Marcus does some really stupid things. As far as Low, there’s the question of her ambiguous relationship with childhood friend, Cage. She relies on him as he’s the only person who has cared and supported her. They cling to each other, and she sleeps in his bed when she has nowhere else to go (although nothing has ever happened). I like that very much. Yes, it is screwed-up, but totally realistic. The book shows how their relationship evolves and becomes healthier. But if there’s one thing I absolutely loved in this book that’s how Low grows out of her dependence for Cage and embraces her own self and trusting Marcus.
So, if the plot twist is predictable and I wasn’t entirely convinced by the climax and resolution, I would whole-heartedly recommend to read Because of Low. The good news is that Cage gets his own story soon (31st July 2012) in While It Lasts. Can’t wait!
Abbi Glines is a writing force to be reckoned with.
Book Stats (From Goodreads) –
Published February 7th 2012
Edition language: English
Original title: Because of Low
Series: Sea Breeze #2
When Jacqueline follows her longtime boyfriend to the college of his choice, the last thing she expects is a breakup. After two weeks in shock, she wakes up to her new reality: she’s single, attending a state university instead of a music conservatory, ignored by her former circle of friends, stalked by her ex’s frat brother, and failing a class for the first time in her life.
Her econ professor gives her an email address for Landon, the class tutor, who shows her that she’s still the same intelligent girl she’s always been. As Jacqueline becomes interested in more from her tutor than a better grade, his teasing responses make the feeling seem mutual. There’s just one problem—their only interactions are through email.
Meanwhile, a guy in her econ class proves his worth the first night she meets him. Nothing like her popular ex or her brainy tutor, Lucas sits on the back row, sketching in a notebook and staring at her. At a downtown club, he disappears after several dances that leave her on fire. When he asks if he can sketch her, alone in her room, she agrees—hoping for more.
Then Jacqueline discovers a withheld connection between her supportive tutor and her seductive classmate, her ex comes back into the picture, and her stalker escalates his attention by spreading rumors that they’ve hooked up. Suddenly appearances are everything, and knowing who to trust is anything but easy.
Author Recommendation: Mature Young Adults (language, drinking, sexual situations)
Did I like it? I loved it.
Okay, I’m going to try and be objective here. Easy by Tammara Webber is… a great book. I heard about Tammara through the New Adult forum on Goodreads. I didn’t start with Easy but her YA trilogy Between The Lines. I devoured it in three days: one book a night. When I turned the last page of Good For You (book 3), I directly purchased her latest (stand-alone) novel, Easy that had just been released (lucky me!).
And began another sleepless night…
What needs to be said first about Tammara Webber is the strength of her writing. It might not win her the next Pulitzer prize, but who cares… In my opinion, it is impeccable: fluid, strong, clean. She has a distinctive voice, and every one of her heroes (whether Reed, Emma etc.. in BTL, or Jacqueline in Easy) sounds totally unique. That’s a sure sign of her competence as a writer.
I don’t usually like books that are trying too hard to deliver a “message.” Most of the time, it is heavy-handed and clumsy. Yes, Easy deals with rape, but not the ‘attacked in a dark alley’ story. It deals with this very fine line treaded by many, and those stupid words we often hear. “She was totally hammered.” “Did you see how she was dressed?” “She followed him into his bedroom, so what else can she expect?”. “She’s so EASY.”
Easy reminds us that: No is No, whatever the circumstances, whoever the girl.
Now, on a lighter note, I melted for Lucas. I usually don’t like tattoos. I’m not a fan of the ‘artsy’ look. I don’t fall for guys driving Harleys… But he’s a character I’ll keep in my heart for a long time. The relationship with Jacqueline unfolded in a realistic and sweet (and sexy) manner.
It is a New Adult / Upper-YA / Mature YA novel, not just for the topics it deals with, but also for the way the author handles them.
Easy is about empowerment and standing up straight for yourself by doing what is right.
Book Stats (from Goodreads) ~
Kindle Edition: 316 pages
Self-Published: May 25th 2012
HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO?
All Meg has ever wanted is to get away. Away from high school. Away from her backwater town. Away from her parents who seem determined to keep her imprisoned in their dead-end lives. But one crazy evening involving a dare and forbidden railroad tracks, she goes way too far…and almost doesn’t make it back.
John made a choice to stay. To enforce the rules. To serve and protect. He has nothing but contempt for what he sees as childish rebellion, and he wants to teach Meg a lesson she won’t soon forget. But Meg pushes him to the limit by questioning everything he learned at the police academy. And when he pushes back, demanding to know why she won’t be tied down, they will drive each other to the edge — and over….
What I thought about it?
I wasn’t entirely sure if I would like GOING TOO FAR based only on the synopsis and what some of my friends (other YA/New Adult readers) had told me about it. Another boilerplate story about two entirely different characters: the loud, rebellious blue-haired teen versus the law-abiding, stiff, introvert police officer? Both of them would be fighting their own demons, while falling in love, and revealing a more likable side of their tortured souls…
I feared the cliches by the bucket. I was positively surprised and, I must admit, I felt bewitched by Meg and John’s love story and friendhip. Some reader might not like Jennifer Echols’ voice, the way she tags you along in her story-telling. I can see that. But you have to give to her that her writing resonates apart in the crowded YA literature. Is it whimsical? Maybe.
GOING TOO FAR reads a little bit like a short story, due maybe to its short timeframe (a week). But I really liked the density, depth and intensity of the book.
Will Meg and John stay together for ever AFTER? I don’t know. I’m not sure. But their friendship and respect for each other will nuture the rest of their lives.
An interesting read.
Book Stats -
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: MTV Books (20 April 2009)
The Beatles sang it…
What would you do if I sang out of tune,
Would you stand up and walk out on me.
Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song,
And I’ll try not to sing out of key.
Oh I get by with a little help from my friends,
Mmm,I get high with a little help from my friends,
Mmm, I’m gonna try with a little help from my friends.
We can make friends at any point in time.
They can become dear, precious, pivotal, annoying, frustrating… at pretty much any age. But I do believe that the friendships we strike-their quality, content, longevity, intensity-depend a lot on when those people enter our lives.
A very special group of friends are those you meet early on, at high school or in college. For me, my first love happened when I met The Valiant Warriors in Paris at uni… I was 21. We then sailed together to Oxford, and finally flew to Berlin. These friends (boys AND girls) are my rock.
Life has taken us far away from each other, but they’re the ones I will always come back to. They make me laugh, they make me dance, they make me sing… out loud and out of key. But who cares? That’s what U2 are for, aren’t they?
Nowadays, we see each other once or twice a year. We live in different cities, different countries. We’ve made different or opposite choices about our priorities, or maybe we just did our best, and our lives just turned out the way they did.
But those guys, God, I can trust them. I can tell them anything, embarrassing, disturbing, so-not-funny… Anything. I can go radio silent for months and months… and still, when we talk again, it’s as if no time had gone by. We have treasures of memories together, of nights spent dancing till dawn, talking sh**t, and listening to music.
What do I wish for my little baby girl? Success, love, happiness… Yes, of course, all of that. But if I have to start somewhere, I will wish her Friendship. I will wish her to meet, one day, her own Valiant Warriors. And a lucky girl she will be.