January 3, 2015

Next Up: Something Sweet

I've been working on a new project: A Contours of the Heart® novel. A spinoff. A stand-alone story. No prequel. No sequel. (Yep, for serious.)

I'm returning to my favorite way to tell a story: with alternating main character POVs. If you've read Breakable, you're already familiar with these two, and you may have guessed the little secret they were keeping from everyone - even their best friends. If you haven't met them yet, that's okay. You can go in blind.

Either way, prepare to be frustrated - in the very best sense of the word. (Coming April 27, 2015.)

Sweet (Contours of the Heart #3)

He’s the love of her life, but he doesn’t know it.
She’s his one moment of sacrifice in a lifetime of survival.

He was damaged and wild, but resilient.
She’s always been obedient. Now she’s restless.

Home for the summer between college and med school, Pearl Torres Frank knows two things: Boyce Wynn is the embodiment of everything she should run from, and everything she wants to run to. Rebellious and loud. Unconcerned with society’s opinion of him. Passionate. Strong. Dangerous.

And one more trait he hides from everyone but her:
Sweet.

December 31, 2014

Favorite Novels of 2013 and 2014

I began writing when I was a kid for the same reason that most authors begin writing - because I loved to read. Unfortunately, I have less time lately to enjoy that favorite pastime. Where I used to spend an entire day in my reading chair or stay up until 3 A.M. to finish something unputdownable, I now squeeze in a bit of reading time just before bed and mark my spot around midnight. As a consequence, I've gotten really selective about how I spend that precious time.

The following were either recommended by a close reading friend or self-discovered (mostly the latter) rather than sent from authors, agents or editors requesting blurbs or feedback. Although I loathe shopping for clothes, I've never fallen out of love with shopping for a book! I generally buy online after perusing covers, descriptions and samples, whether that means a one-click digital purchase or waiting on snail mail if I must have something in paper.

Note: Many of my most-read authors are also critique partners (or I beta-read for them, or my son did their audiobooks), which prevents me from adding their books here, though I may chat about them online. For the purposes of this list, these are the Wholeheartedly Recommended books I purchased and read during 2013-2014 (although a couple were published prior to January 2013):

The Ivy Years (series) by Sarina Bowen - This New Adult series is the epitome of strong writing and solid storytelling. All three novels and the novella (each novel is a stand-alone - I actually read them out of order) are fabulous. The biggest surprise to me was the last of the series (The Understatement of the Year), which is M/M in an otherwise M/F romance series. Having grown up with (and lost) a gay brother, I'm often let down by the story in M/M books. Not so here.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr - My best literary fiction purchase of the past two years. Exceptional, unusual WWII story set in Nazi-occupied France. The story begins with a blind French girl of six and a brilliant German boy of eight (pre-war) and alternates between them as they move closer to the point their paths cross and their lives will change course due to each other. Brilliantly, poetically written. I bawled.

First Comes Love by Katie Kacvinsky - I loved Gray, but I fell so effing hard for Dylan. Quirky, independent and honest to a fault, she's one of my favorite female leads ever. Think Stargirl goes to college - that's Dylan. (Ignore the cover if it throws you off - it doesn't fit the book, IMO. This is a trilogy - the second and third books are indie published and I loved them, too: Second Chance and Finally, Forever.)

Flat-Out Celeste by Jessica Park - Another favorite, quirky female MC! Celeste is genius-level smart, awkward in social situations and flat-out adorable. (If you haven't read Flat-Out Love, it's not required - this novel stands alone.) It's my hands-down favorite J-Park book.

Making Faces, Infinity + One and The Law of Moses by Amy Harmon - I narrowed down to these three. Amy knows how to craft an emotionally weighty, ultimately uplifting story. After discovering her work earlier this year, all I can say is that this author is now an auto-buy for me.

All of You by Christina Lee - I was offered an ARC by Christina's editor and was too busy at the time to accept, but I couldn't get the uncommon premise out of my head (a girl who's determined to enjoy college to the fullest extent and a boy who's determined to remain a virgin until he finds love and fidelity). I added it to my wish list and bought it when it released. Bennett instantly became one of my favorite NA boys ever.

The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks - Amazing dual-storyline romance, half of which is a New Adult story, the other half a poignant lifelong-love story. This is the third NS book I've purchased but the first I finished (though I enjoyed the corresponding films of the first two: The Notebook and Safe Haven). I read this in one sitting on a cross-country flight because I couldn't put it down.

Love Show by Audrey Bell - A realistic romance between characters who have goals beyond each other and their quest to decide where - or if - love fits in the picture. Discovering this little gem made me so happy. This is the sort of New Adult I want to read and write.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell - a Young Adult novel set in the 80s, just like my adolescence? Yes, please. (This is why I really hate book classifications. A good book is a good book.)

The Lumatere Chronicles (trilogy) by Melina Marchetta - I actually read these as they released (2010-2013 in the US). Now available in a digital set. I'm rarely a fantasy reader, but I adored this romantic, redemptive, love-heals-all trilogy. The world-building was intricately crafted and so well done that I had no problem following the various settings and characters.