Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Author Spotlight: Chantele Sedgwick

Hello all! I have decided that, on occasion, I'm going to spotlight an author on my blog. I am honored to have the opportunity to interview Chantele Sedgwick. Her debut novel, Not Your Average Fairy Tale, will hit store shelves and online retailers tomorrow! I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of this book which I will review on Thursday (P.S. READ ALL THE WAY TO THE BOTTOM TO FIND OUT ABOUT A SUPER AWESOME GIVEAWAY!). Here's a sneak peek....

“Close your eyes.” The room began to glow.
I felt a twitch in my toes and grimaced as it traveled up my legs. Soon my whole body was tingling, the strongest near the middle of my back. A rush of warmth spread through me and I suddenly felt lighter.
I opened my eyes and met her amused expression.
“Perfect.” She smiled, admiring what I assumed were my wings.
I looked down and groaned. “I thought you said there wouldn't be any tights,” I said through clenched teeth.
She shrugged. I could tell she was trying not to laugh. “Sorry about that. We've never had anyone quite like you before.”
“Oh really? You mean you've never had a fairy godmother who was a guy?”

I'm so excited for you all to get a chance to read this book! But for now, I want you to meet the talented gal that dreamed it all up. 


Chantele Sedgwick grew up playing the harp and singing. Little did anyone know, she always had stories floating around in her head. After she had her second baby, she finally realized she should probably write them down. Pursuing publication was something she only dreamed about, but now her dream is coming true.

The discovery of a first love, first kisses, and the many emotions teens go through, pushed Chantele to find her niche in writing teen fiction. Some of her stories share a few of her own experiences, but most of them are just fantasies she wished happened to her as a teen. She's a sucker for a great love story and always enjoys a happy ending. She tends to have a thing for the "bad boys" in books, unless they're total jerks. Then she'll root for the good guy.

When she's not writing, Chantele can be found spending time with her husband and three beautiful kids, or driving her sisters crazy with random story ideas. NOT YOUR AVERAGE FAIRY TALE is her first book.

Now on to the Q and A portion of today's event (ha!):

 Q: I’m pretty sure everyone is thinking the same thing I am right now after reading that book teaser…. How did you dream up a MALE fairy godmother??
A: Honestly, I’m not quite sure. I wanted to do a spin on a fairy tale and had a crazy idea. What if the girl didn’t end up with the prince? And thus, Ash was born!
Q: Are your characters based on anyone?
A:  Kendall is loosely based on  my younger sister. Messy room and all. ;)  Ash just popped in my head one day, so he’s a character all his own.
Q: Where do you find your inspiration for your stories?
A: Out of nowhere really. Sometimes I get ideas when I’m driving, or in the shower. Other times I’ll see a story on the news or something and an idea hits me.
Q: Who is your favorite literary character? Why?
A: Oh, man! I hate this question! Lol  In terms of complicated characters, I’d have to say Snape from Harry Potter. I loved how he was written. One of my favorite lead characters is Isi from The Goose Girl. I loved her growth throughout the book and adored her personality.
Q: Is there a book that you can read over and over?  What one and why?
A: The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale. I just love the world she created and the love story is so cute!
Since I am a big fan of random questions, here are a few. 

Q: If you could throw a pie in anyone’s face (dead or alive), who would it be?
A: My sister, Chaleese. HA HA HA HA!!! :D
Q: Which Disney princess are you most like?
A: Probably Belle. She loves to read like me! 
Q: What is your favorite word?
A: Seriously? I have no idea! I tend to use the word “just” in my writing a lot. Not a good thing …
Q: What is your most embarrassing guilty pleasure? (Mine is Phineas and Ferb!I pretend to only want to watch it with my kids, but I watch it even after they go to bed. LOL)
A: I LOVE Phineas and Ferb! I also love video games. Shhh… Don’t tell anyone….
Q: What books are you anxiously awaiting this year?
A: I’m really excited to read REACHED by Ally Condie! And The Crimson Crown by Cinda Williams Chima! Pivet Point by Kasie West as well.  (That actually comes out at the beginning of next year…)
And finally:

Q: Tell us why we should read your debut novel, Not Your Average Fairy Tale, in 20 words or less.

A:  There’s magic, mystery, a love story and a hot fairy. What more do you need? ;)

I completely agree! What more do you need? 

Now I'm wondering, are you thoroughly intrigued about this book yet? If so...

Come back to Reading for Refuge this Thursday, August 2nd, to find out how you can win a SIGNED copy of this book!

I'd like to thank Chantele for taking time out of her busy schedule to let me interview her. And I'm sure I speak for everyone when I say congratulations on becoming a real, live, official author! :)

Happy Reading!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

"Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?"

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life. Having missed her flight, she's stuck at JFK airport and late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon-to-be stepmother Hadley's never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport's cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he's British, and he's sitting in her row.

A long night on the plane passes in the blink of an eye, and Hadley and Oliver lose track of each other in the airport chaos upon arrival. Can fate intervene to bring them together once more?
Quirks of timing play out in this romantic and cinematic novel about family connections, second chances, and first loves. Set over a twenty-four-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it.
This book wins two awards from me this year: 
1) Best cover of the year! (So far)
2) Longest freaking book title in the history of mankind.
I first heard about this book a handful of months ago- about the time it came out. The idea intrigued me. I'm not really a believer in "love at first sight". I think it's more "LUST at first sight" and then it turns into love (which I think can happen quickly! I'm not totally cold hearted and cynical...)
To be honest, I had a really difficult time diving into this book. It's told in Third Person, Present Tense, which doesn't sound so bad, right? It is. It mostly just made me uncomfortable the whole book, even though I loved the story. If this book would have been much longer than its 236 pages, I would have put it down simply for the way it's told. Maybe I'm being too harsh, but for me, it was a huge distraction for most of the book. There were times that it was easy to ignore, but they were few and far between. 

So the question is: Would I recommend this. You may be surprised, but I whole-heartedly say YES!!! As I said, I loved the story. I loved both Hadley and Oliver and their chemistry as they got to know each other over the course of their flight. I loved the way they were brought back together at the most inopportune times and how fate worked it's fickle magic. I think it was a wonderful story. But... if you are reading along and can't figure out what seems so strange, now you know what it is.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The List by Melanie Jacobson

Ashley Barrett doesn't want to get married. At least, not anytime soon. She doesn't care how many of her friends and family members and fellow churchgoers had weddings before they finished college -- the last thing she needs in her fun-loving twenties is the dead-weight of some guy. And that's why she created The List. By the time she completes all twenty-five goals -- from learning a language to skydiving to perfecting the art of making sushi -- she'll be more ready to settle down. Maybe.

This summer in California is a prime time for Ashley to cross two items off the list: learn to surf (#13) and have a summer romance (#17). And Matt Gibson, the best surf instructor in Huntington Beach and the most wanted guy in the singles ward, is the perfect man for the job. Ashley hatches a plan to love him and leave him before heading off to grad school in the fall (#4, get a master's degree). But when Matt decides he doesn't like the "leaving" part, Ashley's carefully laid plans are turned sideways. Now Ashley faces an unexpected dilemma: should she stick to the safety of The List, or risk everything for a love that may tie her down —- or might set her free?

This was our book club pick that we were supposed to read this month, but it's one I've been wanting to read for a long time. So I really struggled in my waiting-to-read-it-until-I'm-laying-on-the-beach moment. Alas, I resisted. I did actually read this on the beach in California, not far from Huntington Beach where this book takes place. And I loved every second of it.

As someone much like Ashley's sisters who got married fresh out of high school, I can see Ashley's viewpoint. Wanting to accomplish things in life and be her own person before she's forever attached to someone, and maybe even some little someones. I loved seeing her grow and realize that she could still be someone and be WITH someone. Yes, there were moments where I wanted to shake Ashley (and Matt), but I liked the way everything worked out for the best (for both parties) in the end. I also liked the online conversations between Ashley and Ryder and thought that they gave a fun and different twist to the story.

I would definitely recommend this book. I enjoyed it very much! It was the perfect summer read.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Girl Named Digit by Annabel Monaghan

Farrah “Digit” Higgins may be going to MIT in the fall, but this L.A. high school genius has left her geek self behind in another school district so she can blend in with the popular crowd at Santa Monica High and actually enjoy her senior year.

But when Farrah, the daughter of a UCLA math professor, unknowingly cracks a terrorist group’s number sequence, her laid-back senior year gets a lot more interesting. Soon she is personally investigating the case, on the run from terrorists, and faking her own kidnapping—all while trying to convince a young, hot FBI agent to take her seriously. So much for blending in...

Hey there! So, we survived our very first real family vacation. This past week we walked Fremont Street (which should be renamed Freak Street- even if it was so cool!) in Vegas, lounged on the beach, did some boogie boarding, shopped lots (!!!) and we were even ambitious enough to brave the crowds at Disneyland and California Adventure for Cars Land. (Which was awesome!!, and actually the main reason for our trip. It was like walking through Radiator Springs. My boys loved it!) Anyway, along with all that, we had lots and LOTS of hours in the car coming and going. Translation: I got a lot of reading done. Four books, to be exact. And that was just during travel time. I need a life.... LOL

This was the first book on my "What I Want to Read on My Vacation" list. I've heard and read quite a few mixed reviews about it but I thought it sounded like a fun read so I threw caution to the wind and bought it anyway. I loved it! It was a really short, quick read but I thought the story was fun. A perfect vacation read, to be honest. Had I not been very relaxed from vacation on my brain, I could easily find things to pick apart in the plot line, but since I was feeling very zen (aka: sleepy and a bit loopy....thanks to HIGH doses of Dramamine--I'm a terrible traveler!) I really enjoyed the "out there" and "unrealistic" world of genius teenager who just happens to uncover a terrorist plot and then even more astonishingly gets to work with the youngest (and HOTTEST) FBI agent in the bureau. Far fetched? Yes. But was it action packed. Also yes. Just what I wanted.

It was kind of a fun change of pace for me to read an unrealistic book without any fairy tale elements to it. It was more of an on-the-edge-of-your-seat-contemporary. Which proves that even without vampires and fairies and dead people, a YA book can still hook you, break your heart, make you jump for joy, and keep you on the edge of your seat until the last page. I would definitely recommend this book. 

Happy Reading!

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Starring Me by Krista McGee

Release Date: July 10, 2012
Kara McKormick is told she's auditioning to star in a new teen variety show. But it's what she isn't told that could change her life.

The feisty New Yorker moves to sunny Orlando to participate in a month-long audition, where she'll live with nine other contestants and an eccentric housemother. Kara knows that the show already has a big-time celebrity lined up for the co-host, but she doesn't know who it is.

Chad Beacon quickly rose to fame after winning America's Next Star, but he doesn't want his entire career to be about singing. There is so much more he wants to do-like act. The new variety show sounds like the perfect next step for him, but his parents want him to have a co-star who shares his faith since they'll be spending so much time together.

Acting is high on Kara's priority list. But a relationship with God? Not so much. In fact, she's tried to stay away from anything religious. But God is after Kara's heart and He's put people in her life who are showing her there's far more to Christianity than rules and judgment.

And just when it seems that Kara's going to have to give up her acting dream, God reveals that she may have a starring role after all-in a story so big only He could write it.

This is a companion book to First Date that was released earlier this year. I would highly recommend reading that book before reading this. You can read my review of First Date by clicking HERE.

I think I am officially a Krista McGee fan. Are her books fairly predictable? Yes. Do they have plenty of fluff in them? Also yes. Do I love them even more because of that? Absolutely. I wasn't so sure about the Christianity element when I read First Date but I thought it was refreshing in this book.

I really liked Kara. She was sassy and confident and lovable--and not in an obnoxious way. I thought she was such a great character. I am glad that Addy and Jonathan made guest appearances in this book. I was hoping there would be more to their story when I finished the first book in this "series".

I don't want to have to do a spoiler alert in this post at all, so just know that I really enjoyed this book. I would recommend it, but make sure you read the books in order! Even though this is a companion book, you still need to read the first book. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Now, I want to let you all know, THERE WILL BE NO REVIEWS NEXT WEEK (July 10th and 12th). I'll be back to posting on Tuesday, July 17th. See you on the flip side! (That is such a lame saying, but I couldn't resist. I've always wanted to work it into a conversation.... I figured this was close enough!)

Happy Reading!

**I received this book from the publisher for the purpose of review.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Never Sit Down in a Hoop Skirt and Other Things I Learned in Southern Belle Hell by Crickett Rumley

Expelled from thirteen boarding schools in the past five years, seventeen-year-old Jane Fontaine Ventouras is returning to her Southern roots, and the small town of Bienville, Alabama, where ladies always wear pearls, nothing says hospitality like sweet tea
and pimento cheese sandwiches, and competing in the annual Magnolia Maid Pageant is every girl’s dream.

But Jane is what you might call an anti-belle—more fishnets and tattoos than sugar and spice. The last thing on her mind is joining the Magnolia Maid brigade and parading around town in
a dress so big she can’t even fi t through doors. So when she finds herself up to her ears in ruffl es and etiquette lessons, she’s got one mission: Escape.

What’s a hipster to do? Will Jane survive Bienville boot camp intact or will they—gasp!—make a Southern belle out of her yet?

I had never heard of this book before, but when I saw the title as I was browsing the shelves at the library, I had to read it. It sounded like it had potential to be an entertaining book, which it was, but in a different way than I was expecting.

This book was very much about Jane figuring out who she was and coming to terms with her mother's death and her father's constant absence. Becoming a Magnolia Maid, while it was more a "to spite everyone" move at first, set the wheels in motion for Jane's journey to self discovery.

I suppose it also helped that there was a cute boy waiting back in Bienville that Jane happened to have unresolved feelings for. Cute boys solve everything! I just wish there would have been more to the Jane/Luke story worked into the "I am woman, hear me roar" story.

Anyway, this was a quick and easy summer read. It'd be a good book to take to the beach or the lake or camping or to the park and just sit around in the sun and enjoy. 

Happy Reading!