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Inspired By My Own Past

A E Brouhard
A. E. Brouhard Author Interview

Carried Away follows the life, love, and friendships of a young woman reliving a vivid memory of her last high school year. What was the inspiration for the setup to this riveting novel?

Leila’s journey was inspired by events and people in my own past. Although made fictional, it really was a story written straight from my memory and heart. I wanted to write a story that was relatable and realistic, and I felt that I accomplished that with Carried Away. Many of the experiences in the book are reflective of actual happenings in my life, like the prom draw that my high school has held for over 100 years.

Leila is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some sources that informed her character development?

Like I said before, Leila and her journey were inspired by my own past. Leila, like myself, grew up right before the social media explosion, and I feel like it was such an incredible time to grow up. I think most 90s and early 2000s kids will be able to find something of themselves in Leila. I felt that Leila displayed emotions, insecurities, and desires that were very reflective of the times.

What are some themes that you wanted to explore in this book?

I wanted to write a story that was real. I’m a teacher, and I have many former students who are now in high school who love to read. I really wanted to write something realistic for them. I felt that Carried Away showed the fragility, and resiliency, of friendships in high school, the incredible natural high feeling that is only felt when you have your first real love, and the realization that life moves on, and can be amazing, after a breakup.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I’m currently finishing up the sequel to Carried Away, called Love Always. It picks up Leila and Leo’s story a few months after Carried Away ends (before the epilogue). It should be available in the spring of 2021. Once I’m done, I will be moving on from Leila’s story to something completely new.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Instagram

The memory of your first love never fades away. At least, that’s what 28-year-old Leila Thomas discovers as she’s sitting in her driveway and hears a familiar song come on the radio, a song that triggers the most detailed memory of her last year of high school, the joy and the pain. The whole story playing like a movie in her mind. First loves. Fractured friendships. The realization that it is okay to remember.

The Power of Us

The Power of Us (Us Duology Book 1) by [Skylar Shoar]

Skylar Shoar’s The Power of Us is utterly romantic. It follows the love story of Harly, a young billionaire and Cassidy, a college freshman. Although they come from entirely different worlds, they are drawn to each other from the first day they meet, their lives becoming deeply intertwined.

Naturally, they face many challenges, some instigated by family and others by foes. But they seem to be tenacious, at least when it comes to their love. However, something much greater than people’s opinions and reactions eventually threatens to wreak havoc on their union.

If there is one thing that makes this story so relatable, it has to be its main characters. Harly and Cassidy are so well developed, so well fleshed out that you would be forgiven for believing you know them personally. By writing the story from each of their perspectives, the author brings us into their inner domain, helping us understand why they act the way they do.

Apart from their love for each other, we also get a glimpse of how their childhoods informed the current personalities and thought processes. Moreover, we encounter powerful themes like loyalty, betrayal, revenge, and the need for belonging; all things that readers can identify with. But if I was to pick one thing that I loved most about this book, it would have to be its easy-to-read language. Its sentences are simple and clear, leaving little to the imagination.

While I enjoyed this story, I would have loved a more dramatic twist at the end, and a few more interesting facets that would make the story more unique in the romance genre and keep things from being predictable. The sex scenes, while steamy, reinstated the powerful man- innocent woman dynamic where I would have loved a unique twist. 

The Power of Us is perfect for a mature audience interested in new adult romance. Readers looking for a dramatic love story with riveting scenes of love and violence will find plenty to enjoy in Skylar Shoar’s provocative novel.

Pages: 452 | ASIN: B08LQQ6CMR

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Carried Away

Carried Away by [A. E. Brouhard]

It’s the summer before senior year and Leila is excited to start this new phase of her life, preparing for adulthood, alongside her best friend Trin, both of them will find that love and friendship can become enemies very quickly. She’ll have to navigate the ups and downs of life and what originally started as a way to mend her broken heart proves to be a challenge to her loyalty. She’ll have to make polarizing decisions that could shake her world up.

Carried Away by A.E Brouhard is a coming of age story that shows us an intriguing life through the eyes of the main character. Carried Away is a riveting teen drama, where we are introduced to the life of Leila, following her in her daily routines, learning about her desires and getting a good glimpse into her social life. Brouhard does a fantastic job of humanizing the characters, making them each relatable and authentic. While the story may feel monotonous at times, it picks ups with the introduction of new characters and their dynamics with the protagonist livens things up. Leo, for example, we meet him very deep into the story and he shifts the narrative and brings tension between the two main characters that has to be resolved or else they’ll face consequences.

The narrative felt appropriate for a young adult audience, with simple words and a consistent delivery of dramatic events makes the pacing feel quick and makes it hard to put the book down. We are also let into Leila’s inner monologue which adds depth to her character.

Carried Away is a contemporary drama that will appeal to readers looking for a romance story that’s grounded in reality but still has passionate and believable characters. Author A.E Brouhard has written an entertaining romance novel that explores life, love, and friendship.

Pages: 232 | ASIN: B0873VHYHP

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Follow My Lead

Follow My Lead by [Hannah Blowers]

Follow My Lead by Hannah Blowers is a romance novel featuring a steamy love triangle in the small coastal town of Waterville, Massachusetts. Elisa Roberts is a professional ballet dancer returning to her hometown from New York after sustaining a life changing injury that impedes her from continuing her dancing career. Her otherwise peaceful and nostalgic return gets complicated when she runs into her childhood crush, Christian, who has only ever seen her as his cousin’s best friend; something Elisa is desperate to change. When she runs into sexy gym owner Derrick, who just so happens to be secretly in love with her best friend, they form a fake relationship to inspire jealousy in their respective crushes. What she doesn’t expect is to actually catch feelings for the arrogant yet sweet Derrick who pushes her to the limit and equals her level of humor and intellect. Both of them share a special connection that they’ll soon have to admit. Sometimes what we really want is closer than we think.

I think that Follow My Lead is a charming book. This is something that I think many people will call a comfort read. The plot is simple and easy to follow as it consists of only the love triangle between Elisa, Christian, and Derrick. Elisa is a great character, funny and witty when need be but relatable in most aspects. She is just like any other girl looking for love. Though the story is filled with fun descriptions and humorous banter between the characters, the plot itself is a bit reminiscent of other new adult romance novels, or the heartfelt loves stories found on the Hallmark channel.

Overall, Follow My Lead is light and fun to read, despite the predictability of the story. The characters are well developed and distinguishable in their personalities. While I would have appreciated one or two good twists, the light humor and fluid storyline makes this book perfect for a beach read. This is a book that will easily be enjoyed by fans of contemporary romance stories, and is perfect if your looking for a book that will leave you smiling.

Pages: 265 | ASIN: B08M7KBH34

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Everyone Had Tragedy

Zachary Ryan Author Interview
Zachary Ryan Author Interview

Cutthroat Cheerleader follows a bully who dies and is given the chance to look back at how her life affected the people around her. How long did you have the idea for this novel and what made you decide to start writing?

I had the idea kind of come forward while I was writing High School Queens. I have really loved this campy caddy novels, but I really wanted to add murder to it. With covid happening, I’ve had a bunch of time to write. I just really didn’t want to write a depressing novel while our world is a huge dumpster fire right now.

What were some ideas that informed Madison’s revelations throughout the story?

I think her seeing everyone’s life behind closed doors. What I always add to my novels is the theme, don’t judge a book by its cover. I feel like we all have our own struggles, and we don’t really know what someone’s going through unless we look behind all the closed doors. She realized everyone had tragedy, and I hurt a lot of people along the way. She made Mark be two different guys, and she made Chad be the stereotypical jock. These two were unhappy because they were playing the same game book as Madison to survive high school.

What scene from the book was the most challenging for you to write?

I think for me it was the plot twist when you realized one of the characters wasn’t crazy, and it had to be when the murderer was revealed. I think both I wanted to live up to the hype that I created in the novel.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I’m working on a book called Playlist. I have wanted to write this novel for honestly over ten years. It’s a love story between two characters and my love for my music. It should be out in the summer. I’m just having too much fun with Cutthroat that I’m not ready to publish just yet another novel.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook

In the sleepy town of Townsend, Washington, there was an act so gruesome that no one would ever be the same. What heinous crime do I speak of? Skylar Torres thinking she could pull off a crop top with that pudgy body of hers. Oh, did you think I was going to say my murder. Well, I thought it was more sensational than anything else, but the real scandal was who killed me and why.

You should already know my name since it was on everyone’s lips once they found me with my throat ripped out. People thought they should have only feared me, but the Liberty Lion’s cheer squad knew one thing, hunt or be hunted.

No one’s hands were truly clean from all the dirt and blood on them. Be safe, watch your back and always remember, Happy Hunting.

Love
Madison Taylor

Petrified

Petrified (The Keeper Chronicles Book 1) by [Ben Meeks]

Petrified by Ben Meeks is a consistently entertaining paranormal fiction novel. While it’s set on earth, it revolves around the existence of not supernaturals but ultranaturals as they prefer to be called. Obie, the alluring protagonist of the book is an ultranatural that is a were-being, like were werewolves but not exactly that. The book starts with Obie on a mission to get information regarding non-earthly beings that quickly turns into more than he bargained for, both in his personal and professional life. Obie then embarks on a quest to fight the force that is behind the recent turn of events in his life, and a secret world. This is the moment where the plot truly blossoms and the novel takes off at a quick pace.

At the start of the story there is a certain mystery to Obie. He was obviously not human, but I could not tell what or who he was. I was intrigued and desperate to know more about his intentions. Author Ben Meeks has mastered the skill of character development. Seeing the character’s in the story evolve slowly over time I was able to empathize with them and understand the complexity of their emotions and motivations. I enjoyed the subtle humor thrown into the dialogue, and laughed unexpectedly. Meek’s innovative descriptions of scenes in the story keep you engaged even when learning about minor details of the scenery and location. The supernatural world being built was bold and just unique enough to make this paranormal adventure stand out in a genre filled with fodder. I used to read a science fiction series when I was younger called Animorphs by Katherine Applegate, Petrified reminds me of that series, but as a more adult evolution of that idea.

Petrified is a stimulating fantasy novel that brings otherworldly creatures into this world and does so with an almost effortless drive towards entertaining the reader at all times.

Pages: 232 | ASIN: B08CKDQ58K

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Broken Melody

Broken Melody by [Nikki Haase]

Broken Melody is a contemporary fiction novel that follows the life of Alana, alias Sunshine, and her assorted friends. Nikki Haase drew motivation for writing this book from Casey Clayton, her friend’s journey of addiction, recovery and death. The book is a voice for those struggling with drug addiction, depression and other mental illnesses. Alana was the perfect daughter and student, acing her grades and making her parents proud. But deep down she was fighting monsters that only she knew of.

Nikki Haase has an enthralling way of introducing fascinating characters to readers. This book is an invitation into the mind and life of a young person struggling with addiction. It is heart-wrenching to see the potential in a person slowly chipped away at.

The main theme of the book is drug addiction. Nikki Haase has captured the struggles and raw emotions that most addicts grapple with, and I appreciated the unfiltered view we’re given. Alana’s journey is a sad one, although not a completely lonely one as she has her friends like Skylar and Xavier and her girlfriend Casey. The prose captures the voice of new adult angst and gives the characters an authenticity that makes them endearing and their stories all the more tragic. I think that by the second or third chapter I was interested in Alana’s character, by the mid point I wanted to know more, and by the end I was desperate to know more. Will she survive her addiction? Will her friends stick with her throughout the process? Will Casey love her beside all her inner demons?

The author shows the importance of friendships and speaking out when going through hard times in life. The story seemed too real to be cliché and the author has done a good job of incorporating supporting themes like mental illness, love and friendship. Nikki Haase has a unique way of bringing out serious issues through humor. The other unique thing about Broken Melody is that the author shows the other side of addiction, one that most people do not know about. For instance at the end of the book, readers are introduced to the other side of Rabbit. Throughout the book, Rabbit is known to be a hardcore drug dealer but he does something at the end that surprised me. I would recommend the book to fiction lovers, people struggling with substance abuse and those living with addicts.

Pages: 302 | ASIN: B08B2Q5YDP

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The Revelations of August Barton

The Revelations of August Barton by [Jennifer LeBlanc]

The Revelations of August Barton is a contemporary romance novel by Jennifer LeBlanc. A coming of age story which is a sequel to Tribulations of August Barton. This young adult book is a continuation of the life of August Barton and his love Rose. August is faced with many difficult challenges throughout the story that throw into question his and Rose’s ability to be together. This is a drama filled story with family secrets, confessions, drunken bachelorette parties and layers of family problems that all hit August Barton like a tornado. Will he be able to overcome them?

What I like most about The Revelations of August Barton is that it’s not a cliché teen love story, although it may seem like it at first. Jennifer LeBlanc is able to make the story relatable and believable and because of this I found the story to be immensely engaging. The Revelations of August Barton is full of weighty teenage agony that resonates with truth. In this story we get to see new sides of August Barton as he’s faced with new obstacles and I was amazed at how he continued to grow into a much more dynamic and layered character. This reminds me of a show that should be on The CW network, but maybe not as melodramatic as the shows on that television network.

I suppose I should give a spoiler alert, although it’s not much of a spoiler, August is able to solve his life’s problems and bring all the broken pieces together, but the way in which he does it was something I won’t ruin because I believe that is what this story is about. The journey of putting your life back together after it falls apart. This is one of the greatest milestones in this book. It shows readers just how strong one can be if they summon their strength and willpower into what they want. The main theme of the book is love and family and Jennifer is able to mingle these things into a rich heartfelt fictional story that left me a bit wistful. The life of Grandma Gertie, Rose, August, John and Diane is a perfect image of love and family. Although they are not perfect and they make mistakes, they do not give up on each other. They build each other up and most importantly, they forgive. Jennifer LeBlanc has done a fantastic job of using humor to bring levity to some weighty situations while also underlining some poignant themes. The book has strong language that might be a problem to some readers on the younger side, but otherwise I think it fits well in the college romance genre.

Pages: 155 | ASIN: B07F5JF3T5

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