Book Review – Beatless by Amber L. Johnson

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Mallory Durham has been left behind and it is making her feel less like an adult and more like an afterthought. Divorce, sickness, educational aspirations being shattered, and her Aunt Sam moving into her home, have made Mal’s life nearly unrecognizable to her.

When Tucker Scott re-enters her life along with his band, will they offer what she needs to once again find her voice and self confidence or will it strip her of it even more?

Told through the dual voices of Mallory as she navigates her new world, and Aunt Sam’s letters to her niece, Beatless tells the story of two women at very different points in their life, fighting the same battles; proving that no matter what age a person is, there are always lessons to be learned.

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There are some writers who are so talented that their stories are effortless to read. Amber L. Johnson is one of those authors. As a writer myself, I know that effortless takes a lot of work, no matter how much of a non-sequitur that might seem. Her words flow gently but they pack a punch, hitting you right in the gut when you expect it least. That’s one of the many things I truly enjoyed about Beatless. It’s a story that is narrated so well that I was almost lulled into a false sense of security, yet before I knew it, I was reading with tears in my eyes and an ache in my heart. And I LOVE that.

First things first – a little about the characters. It’s narrated in first person, past tense, by the heroine, Mal. Left behind at community college while all her friends head away, she’s lost at first, trying to keep her head up when circumstances want to pull her under. Her father has left the family, and her mum is working away and leaves Mal behind in the care of her Aunt Sam. For the first few chapters you feel Mal’s bewilderment as she tries to carve herself out a life from the little that remains. It resonates so well, because I think we can all remember being a teenager, wondering where we fit, whether we’re the only ones feeling that way. Amber captures that mood so vividly it made me have all the feelings!

Under the encouragement of her aunt, Mal gets a job and meets a boy. And what a boy! Tucker is the perfect hero; devoted to his disabled sister, and trying to become the man he wants to be. Like Mal, he dreams of getting away, but he also knows that his family keeps him where he his; he shares the care of his sister with his father, and they both need him.

As Mal and Tucker become friends, confidantes and finally lovers, their story is so poignant it’s almost like you’re spying on something so intimate and raw. Right at the moment when everything feels like it’s finally coming together, something happens that brings their world tumbling around their feet. Oh my, does it hurt.

The story itself is perfect. It’s an emotional journey for Mal, Tucker and Sam, without the plot feeling forced. There are times when they make the wrong choices, treat people the wrong way, but that only serves to make it more real and truthful. Though I can’t give away the ending, it was juicy enough to make my eyes water, and sweet enough to melt my heart.

I’ve no hesitation in labelling this a five star read. So go buy, read, devour and enjoy. Amber has a full schedule of releases ahead and I’m looking forward to every single one of them!

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About the Author

Amber is a full time mom, full time wife, is employed full time, and writes when she can. She believes in Happily Ever Afters that occur every day – despite the obstacles that real life serves up on a regular basis. Or perhaps they’re sweeter
simply because of them. She always has 2 rubber bands on her wrist, a song in her head, and too much creamer in her coffee cup that reads ‘Cocoa’ – because she’s a rebel. If she’s not at her desk, with her boys, or behind the computer, she’s supporting live music with her arms raised above her head and eyes closed, waiting for the drop.  

Connect with Amber

Twitter: @WhereIsJakeRyan
Facebook author page: Amber L. Johnson Author

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Romance Weekly #LOVECHATWRITE – 25th Feb

Romance Weekly Chat

Do you like to read romance novels? Wouldn’t you like to know more about your favorite authors? Well you came to the right place! Join the writers of Romance Weekly as we go behind the scenes of our books and tell all….. About our writing of course! Every week we’ll answer questions and after you’ve enjoyed the blog on this site we’ll direct you to another. So come back often for a thrilling ride! Tell your friends and feel free to ask us questions in the comment box.

This weeks questions are brought to you by Katherine Givens

1.  What is your writing process like?

It differs with every novel. For my recent release, Fix You, I wrote two chapters a week, come rain or shine. Once they were done, I went in and did a brutal edit, taking out half the stuff I’d so lovingly written. For my current WIP, Coming Down, it feels like more of an organic process. I’ll add some words in every day. I’m also writing it on my ipad using my fingers, rather than on my laptop. This slows me down a bit (I’m a demon typer) and really makes me think about each word I use. It’s the closest I can come to handwriting the story without a pen and paper. It does mean I’m taking longer to write the story, but I’m hoping it also means less brutal editing at the end. We will see!

2.  Do you listen to music to enhance your writing?

Absolutely! We are big into music in our house. At the last count we had over 500 albums, and have loaded them all onto a Sonos system, so I can choose what to listen to at the press of a button on the laptop. Music truly influences everything I write. It has inspired my novels, as well as setting the tone for my writing. With Fix You, Hanna, the heroine, is a music blogger, and writes a lot about songs that influence her (hence the cover – see pic). FIX_YOU_AMAZON

 

Because the story is so influenced by music, I created a playlist in spotify to accompany the book. 

Fix You Playlist

3.  What two songs best describe the overall body of your work?

Now this is where it gets tricky. I guess Fix You by Coldplay would be an easy one–since it has the same title as my book. For the second song I’d choose a song called ‘Little Yellow Balloons’ by John Murry (who, incidentally, I’m going to see play live at Islington Ballroom on Thursday, and I can’t wait). It has a beautiful melody and truly tragic words, as it describes a heroin overdose that nearly killed him. I love how he mixes beauty and sadness so well, and that’s what I try to do in my books.

 I hope you enjoyed reading these questions–I really enjoyed thinking through the answers. Thanks to Katherine for setting them! And now to read more Romance Weekly Blog Hop go to http://findinglanora.weebly.com/lanoras-lanotes.html and read Lanora Mangano’s answers!

 

I’m Clearing Out

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This week has been dedicated to clearing out my clothes. Mr E has decreed that we are decorating the bedroom, and as we will need to rearrange the wardrobes (closets to my American friends), I first have to go through everything I have and decide whether to keep, donate or throw out.

It’s hard. First off, I have too many clothes. I have those things that I loved so hard I wore them out but can’t bear to throw away. I have clothes that were impulse buys that I’ve never worn but know will come in handy… one day. Then I have clothes that I have grown out of / never grown into / am keeping until I shed that pesky half stone that clings to me like a limpet. All of these should be easy to throw out, right?

Well… no, not really. Because I have an emotional attachment to them. Whether they bring happy memories of the days I wore them, or the last vestiges of hope that I’ll ever fit into them, they’re more than just pieces of sewn-up fabric. They give me promise of a better life, thoughts of a time when I was happier. A dream that I’ll finally be a size 10 (that’s really tiny, okay!) That’s what makes this clearing out thing so hard. If they were just things that meant little to me, then I’d happily jettison them. But if I get rid of them now, it’s like I’m admitting I’ve moved on or am never going to fit in those clothes.

Let’s face it, I’m not. So I’ve filled up the bags and taken them to the charity shop for somebody else to enjoy. Which leaves a lovely gaping hole in my wardrobe waiting for new clothes to be bought and for the cycle to begin again. Which in my very humble opinion is a pretty good metaphor for life. And in the meantime, have a little drool at how I imagine my perfect storage space to look. So much better than the mess I have now!

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Have a great week!

Carrie Pink

Romance Weekly #LOVECHATWRITE

Romance Weekly Chat

Do you like to read romance novels? Wouldn’t you like to know more about your favorite authors? Well you came to the right place! Join the writers of Romance Weekly as we go behind the scenes of our books and tell all….. About our writing of course! Every week we’ll answer questions and after you’ve enjoyed the blog on this site we’ll direct you to another. So come back often for a thrilling ride! Tell your friends and feel free to ask us questions in the comment box.

This weeks questions are brought to you by Susan Peterson Wisnewski

1.  How did you get the idea for your book?

I wanted to write a story about two people that stretched over time and distance. The couple in my novel, Fix You, Richard and Hanna, first meet when they are 17 and 19, and then we see them grow up, going through all the emotions and life twists that twenty-somethings do. I also wanted to explore how actual events impact fictional characters, and in Fix You we see Hanna and Richard go through the new Millennium, 9/11, the rise of social media and a LOT of different music. All these things have an impact on their lives, and I really enjoyed researching this part of the story.

2.  How did you decide on the title?

I hate titles. I tend to get through about fifty or so (slight exaggeration) before I come to the final one. The working title for any manuscript that I write rarely sees it past the first draft. Sometimes because I think of something better, find out there are about five hundred books of the same name already published, or because it’s way too long to fit comfortably on an ebook. For my latest novel, Fix You, it seemed to fit the story. It’s about the relationship between two damaged people whose hearts are broken by each other. The story follows how they manage to repair themselves, and finally come back together. Plus, I really like Coldplay 😉

3.  What motivated you to get the book completed and published?

I have some very lovely supporters who urged me to get the book out there. Two in particular have worked with me all the way, from choosing the cover, beta reading, and even helping me with my marketing plan. I have to admit that for me the actual publishing is the scariest part of the author process. Writing is my favourite, then editing. Publishing and marketing are S.C.A.R.Y. because you are putting yourself out there, and  no matter how thick skinned you think you are, every reaction can either soothe or hurt in equal measure. Which is why I’m now burying my head in the next manuscript!

 I hope you enjoyed reading these questions–I really enjoyed thinking through the answers. Thanks to Susan for setting them! And now to read more Romance Weekly Blog Hop go to Dani Jace at http://www.danijace.com

 

Monday Musings – What a week!

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Wow! It’s been one of those weeks that has passed in a blur, leaving you spinning around with your mouth wide open and thinking “..what the heck?” I’d like to say I’ve enjoyed every moment of it, but it’s been such a rollercoaster of emotions that I’m not even sure how I’ve been feeling half the time. So, looking back, I’ve managed to do the following:

1. Turn 40

Yes, hard to believe (hehe), but I turned 40 last Wednesday. I tried to spend the day in bed, hiding underneath my lovely, warm duvet, but my friends were having none of it. They dragged me out, kicking and screaming, and took me to a pub for lunch. Of course, as soon as I was out I really enjoyed it and was so glad I wasn’t lying in bed anymore. But, still, I’m now out of my thirties, and I have to admit I loved every single moment of them. As long as my forties turn out just as good, I should be a happy girl.

2. Release my second book

Fix You was due to be released on my 40th birthday (because I’m crazy) but due to the lovely vagaries of Amazon, it was actually live two days earlier. Then when I checked it on my phone the text came up big. As in B.I.G. Cue hasty republishing (no less than 3 times) and staying up all night waiting for the book to go live again on Amazon so I could check it. Plus angsting over all the people who had already bought it and were wondering why the heck my writing was so large. 24 hours later it was all fixed and published, but I think I managed to get a few extra grey hairs that day!

3. Have my first paperback

Fix You is my first book that’s also been released in paperback. I can’t lie, there’s something very satisfying about holding that physical book in your hand, and seeing your name on the front cover. It made me very happy indeed. Plus I’ve already had some requests for signed copies, which makes me more happy than I can say. What a great birthday present.

So, I’ve managed to wallow, celebrate and prevaricate for the past week. I’ve given myself that time to adjust to these new things, but now it’s time to go back my office and start the writing process again. I think I’ve said before that I’m about a third of a way through a new novel, which is tentatively titled “Coming Down.” I’m really enjoying the characters and story in this book, and want to try to get it finished by April / May ready for edits and beta reading. In order to do that, I need to get my head down and work hard on the manuscript. Everything else will have to come second!

So, that’s where I am. Hope you are good too!

Release Day – Fix You by Carrie Elks

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Celebration Time!

Fix You is being released today. It’s a book — and a story — that is close to my heart, and I’m so happy to finally be able to share it with you.

I hope that if you read it, you enjoy the story and the characters as much as I did when I created them. 

I want to thank all of you, my readers and friends, for signing up for showing your support. Your enthusiasm, comments and messages mean everything to me. Thank you so much for making this writing gig fun.

Carrie Pink


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“Richard, we had a baby.”

31st December 1999. Seventeen-year-old Brit, Hanna Vincent, meets New Yorker, Richard Larsen; a Columbia student and step-son of scion Leon Maxwell. Divided by wealth, distance and a common language, an unconventional friendship grows between the two.

From London to New York, from 1999 to 2012, Fix You follows the story of quirky, music-loving Hanna and handsome, driven Richard as they fall in love and are torn apart. Their tempestuous relationship leads to an explosive revelation that threatens to destroy them both.

Emotional and touching, this is a story of second chances. Is their shattered love beyond repair?

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Romance Weekly #LOVECHATWRITE

Romance Weekly Chat

Do you like to read romance novels? Wouldn’t you like to know more about your favorite authors? Well you came to the right place! Join the writers of Romance Weekly as we go behind the scenes of our books and tell all….. About our writing of course! Every week we’ll answer questions and after you’ve enjoyed the blog on this site we’ll direct you to another. So come back often for a thrilling ride! Tell your friends and feel free to ask us questions in the comment box.

This weeks questions are brought to you by Jo Richardson

1. Do you have a favourite character from any of your books?
Definitely. Richard Larsen is the hero of my book Fix You, which will be released on February 12th (yes, that’s tomorrow lol!), and I’m head over heels for him.

2. If you were him/her what would you have done differently in their situation?
Without giving too much away I definitely wouldn’t have listened to what other people told me. Plus I would have followed my own dreams rather than stifling them for the sake of my family. But I’m glad he didn’t listen to me otherwise there wouldn’t be much of a story!

3. Do you believe in the traditional HEA or do you think sometimes characters don’t need (or maybe deserve) them?Happy
I’m a true HEA girl at heart. When I read a book I get invested in the characters, and it’s important for me to know they are going to be happy. However, there have been a few books that have ended without an HEA that I’ve loved anyway. It all depends on the skill of the writer and the strength of the plot!

So, that was short but sweet! These were great questions, but hard ones to think about. Thanks to Jo Richardson for setting them! And now to read more Romance Weekly Blog Hop go to J. J. Devine at

http://definingjjdevine.weebly.com/ramblings-of-a-writer.html