Sunday, 21 September 2014

Debut Authors Bash 2014: Lisa O'Kane! (Interview+Giveaway)

Hi Everyone!

I am happy to say that I am part of the Debut Authors Bash 2014. 

I have for you today an interview and giveaway for Lisa O'Kane author of Essence, a young adult novel!

Goodreads Synopsis: Autumn escaped a cult, but now she realizes she's fallen into another.

Growing up in San Francisco’s Centrist Movement, sixteen year-old Autumn Grace has always believed emotions—adrenaline, endorphins, even happiness—drain your Essence and lead to an early death. But her younger brother’s passing and a run-in with a group of Outsiders casts her faith into question.

Ryder Stone, the sexy, rebellious leader of the Outsiders, claims Essence drain is nothing more than a Centrist scare tactic -- and he can prove it.

Autumn follows Ryder to his Community of adrenaline junkies and free spirits in Yosemite National Park, and they introduce her to a life of adventure, romance, sex, drugs and freedom. But as she discovers dark secrets beneath the Community’s perfect exterior, she realizes the more she risks in search of the perfect rush, the further she has to fall.

Hi Lisa, welcome to Keep it Fictional!

Hi Pavan, and thank you so much for hosting me. I really appreciate it, and I’m excited for your interview!

I find I prefer certain places to read, do you have a favourite place to write?

I am pretty flexible, but my very favorite place is a comfy papasan chair in my bungalow. I like to curl up cross-legged and burn candles or Nag Champa incense, and I also love listening to world music and drinking tea. It’s the perfect writing environment for me.

Autumn Grace is a unique name, how do you come up with your character names?

I’m glad you like it! I carry an arsenal of potential names around with me at all times, so the perfect name is sometimes just a few short clicks away. Other times, I have to do extensive research, and I have trolled through those online baby name generators so many times I’m surprised they haven’t started sending me coupons for diapers and baby bottles yet.

When I first started Essence, I immediately knew I wanted my main character’s name to be Autumn. I have always loved seasonal names, and I thought this one was a particularly nice nod to her very distinctive auburn/strawberry blonde hair. As for her middle name, Grace, I threw it in because I loved the way the two words sounded together. I also liked the idea that throughout the course of the novel, Autumn strives (and usually fails) to carry herself with grace.

The premise of your book is quite different, what research did you undertake to write Essence?

Thank you! I have always been intrigued by the psychology of cults, so I jumped at the chance to create a main character whose entire upbringing was shaped by one.

I chose San Francisco as the hub for my Centrist cult because I remember the public outcry that ensued in the aftermath of the Northridge Earthquake in 1994. Some groups actually believed the earthquake was a manifestation of God’s anger, and they said San Francisco was targeted because it was a haven for perversity. I wondered what would happen if a group of San Franciscans actually took this message to heart, and the foundation for my story was born.

Before I could begin writing, however, I needed to do my research. I began studying San Francisco’s various counter-culture movements, and I also began drawing parallels between my Centrists’ beliefs and the beliefs of Theravada Buddhism and Taoism.

The Essence theory itself—and its belief that your emotions can tick down your lifespan like a gas tank—was modified from the Taoist concept of yin and yang. I have always been a fan of the idea that every dark must have a light, and every good must have an evil. Therefore, the Centrists believe positive emotions are just as dangerous as negative ones, and they try their best to repress everything.

I tried to imagine how scary it would be to grow up believing you might run out of Essence and drop dead at any moment. I also wondered how liberated you would feel when you finally broke free from that fear. That’s what my main character Autumn faces when she finally decides to forsake her Centrist upbringing and join the free spirited, commune-like Community in Yosemite.

I love listening to music whilst I read, did you listen to any music while writing Essence?

I definitely had a very specific playlist I listened to while I was writing Essence. It was carefully selected to inspire me while also not distracting me from my work, and it included lots of songs from artists like The Shins, Bob Dylan, Carla Bruni, The Lumineers, and Of Monsters and Men.

You can listen to my full Essence playlist here: “The AP Book Club” (Please link to:

Where did you inspiration for writing in general come from?

I think I just really like people—studying them, watching them interact, trying to understand why they do the things they do. I have also always been drawn to storytelling and trying to make sense of the things that happen to us.

Perhaps it’s a desire to make order out of the chaos? Or maybe it’s just a celebration of all the little things that make up the very big things in our lives? Either way, I have always known I wanted to be an author, so I am thrilled to actually be given this platform to share my stories with readers.

Are you reading anything at the moment?

I am right in the middle of Unhinged, the sequel to A.G. Howard’s delightfully creepy “Alice in Wonderland” reimagining, Splintered. A.G. is a good friend of mine, and she has acted as my mentor so many times during my crazy publishing journey. I continue to be in awe of her ability to create lush, three-dimensional worlds and characters, and I am loving Unhinged so far!

Can you share anything about what you are writing now?

Haha, I am always scheming something! Right now, I have just started a brand-new project, and while I can’t say too much about it yet, I can tell you the characters are slightly older—though no less vulnerable, flawed or wandering than the characters in Essence. The story is set in one of my favorite countries in the entire world, and—also like in Essence—I am hopeful the setting will become almost a character itself. (Very excited about this project!)

Thank you so much for being on my blog today!

Thank you for hosting me! It’s an honor to be given the opportunity to share my inspiration, and I appreciate you taking the time to ask such awesome questions. Have a great day!

Lisa has also generously offered a signed copy of Essence + two collectible pins as a giveaway! (This giveaway is US only and is sponsored by the author)

To enter all you have to do is leave a comment on this post with a way to contact you (email or twitter handle)

Bonus Entries: 
Tweet about this giveaway with a link back to this post and tag me (@LovesBooks96) + 2
Follow Lisa O'Kane on Twitter (@LisaAnnOkane) +2
Follow my blog +2 (Leave your Bloglovin or GFC name in the comments)
The giveaway will end October 9th 9pm AEST

Author Bio: Lisa Ann O'Kane is a young adult author and former vagabond who once camped out in Yosemite National Park for an entire summer, an experience that inspired her debut novel Essence. Her background is in zookeeping and environmental education, and she has been kicked, cornered, bitten and chased by nearly every animal she has ever loved. She currently resides in Florida, and she is now a huge fan of shooting stars, indoor plumbing and keeping both her feet planted firmly on the trail.

Buy Links: 
Hope you all have enjoyed this interview!

Saturday, 13 September 2014

DNF Review: Eyes of the Woods by Eden Fierce

Hi Everyone!

Today I have a review for my first Did Not Finish book of 2014!

Title: Eyes of the Woods

Author: Eden Fierce

Publisher: Wordsmith Publicity

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Goodreads Synopsis:
Eris Helgren knew her life was about to end. A daughter of the Priory--a generations-old family who protected their territories from nightwalkers--Eris was strong and independent. But on her birthday, her father would announce her betrothal. A year later, she would be forced to marry.

What Eris didn’t know was that the very beings she hunted were watching her, and that being tamed wasn’t what would kill her after all. 

In a land where the woods were forbidden and the laws meant life, Eris will have to make a decision that could bring peace between enemies, or war among friends


Spoilers Ahead

It’s been a while since I have read a young adult book about vampires and from the Goodreads description of Eyes of the Woods had me intrigued. Sadly the blurb was the only intriguing part of the story for me. I had to put this book down at 50% and I can’t see me picking it up again.

For the most part the writing wasn’t entirely terrible-it just wasn’t that great either. Nothing really stood out for me. There was no POP in the writing to draw me in at all and I found myself wandering off in my head, thinking about what other things I could be doing other than reading this story (Blasphemy, I know!).  

In all honestly, the actual story of EofW bored me in itself. I could not connect to anything or anyone in any way, shape or form. Eris, the main character was dull. She was being hunted and had an impending betrothal on the way yet I still couldn’t sympathise with her at all. I wanted to reach into the book to shake her at times just to make things interesting! All these things are happening to Eris and I’m just sitting there reading with a bland look on my face seriously hoping the book would pick up soon.

And then there is Daniel who is the love interest and I was not swooning or even the slightest but intrigued by him at all, although I didn’t get up to any kissing bits so maybe they were done well and I just didn’t read it.

The world building was so slow. Usually I stay up late at night to keep reading-during this book I fell asleep. EARLY. I actually skipped pages and could still follow along with the story BECAUSE NOTHING HAD HAPPENED!

You are probably wondering why I stuck with Eyes of the Woods for so long, I mean I made it to 50%. Well I felt bad because I had a lot of university work to get through so I felt that maybe I wasn’t connecting because I was a bit distracted. I kept going because I wanted to give this book the best chance.

Overall I commend Eden Fierce for writing a novel at such a young age (I believe this novel was published when she was 14), however I do feel that this was a tedious book to get through and it may be a while before I pick up anything by this author again.

*I received this book from Wordsmith Publicity in exchange for my honest review*

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Review: Frigid by J.Lynn/Jennifer L Armentrout

Hello Everyone!

I have a new review (or rant) for you!

Title: Frigid

Author: J.Lynn/Jennifer L Armentrout

Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary

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Buy on Amazon

Buy on BookDepository

Author Website

Goodreads Synopsis:
For twenty-one-year-old Sydney, being in love with Kyler isn't anything new. They'd been best friends ever since he pushed her down on the playground and she made him eat a mud pie. Somewhere over the years, she fell for him and fell hard. The big problem with that? Kyler puts the 'man' in man-whore. He's never stayed with a girl longer than a few nights, and with it being their last year in college, Syd doesn't want to risk their friendship by declaring her love. 

Kyler has always put Syd on a pedestal that was too high for him to reach. To him, she's perfect and she's everything. But the feelings he has for her, he's always hidden away or focused on any other female. After all, Kyler will always be the poor boy from the wrong side of tracks, and Syd will always be the one girl he can never have. 

But when they're stranded together at a posh ski resort due to a massive Nor'easter, there's nothing stopping their red-hot feelings for each other from coming to the surface. Can their friendship survive the attraction? Better yet, can they survive at all? Because as the snow falls, someone is stalking them, and this ski trip may be a life-changer in more ways than one.


This review does contain spoilers as I feel as though I need to explain why I really did not like this book, which includes the ending.

I want to start by saying that I am a huge fan of Jennifer L Armentrout. She is a lovely person and a wonderful writer and I adore her Lux and Covenant YA series as well as enjoying her adult (or it may be new adult, I’m not 100% sure) first Gamble Brothers book.  But I just didn’t connect with Frigid at all. To be honest for the most part I hated it, which surprised me so much because the concept really seemed like something I would enjoy.

But then I was introduced to Sydney, the main female character, and everything went down hill from there.

I just did not like Sydney at all! I found her whiny and annoying which was a shame because I have been looking for a new adult contemporary leading female which I loved since many have been bothering me lately. But Sydney stepped it up a notch. I couldn’t connect with her or even sympathise with her situation and often wanted to shake some sense into her. All she seemed to be doing stating that if Kyler (the male lead character) ever found out she loved him their friendship would be over, and complaining that Kyler is such a man-whore and could never commit but also how incredibly hot and sexy he was.


For me Kyler was a better character. Even though he wasn’t the best male lead,  I could deal with him. He was why my rating is 1.5 stars and not just 0.5. Kyler was described in a good manner so I did feel as though I was rooting for him to be happy in the end (but not to be with Sydney). He did treat Sydney like glass though, which did not endear me at all.

One thing I do have to say which is positive is that JLA/J. Lynn can definitely write great sexy scenes! These scenes were definitely a plus to an otherwise boring book for me. However they seemed a bit much for a new adult book, more towards an adult book.

I have to say, plot-wise, Frigid was extremely predictable. The suspense around who was targeting Kyler and Sydney could have been an added element to the story bringing it to another level but I guessed that it was a boyfriend/ex-boyfriend of one of Kyler’s conquests towards the beginning. And even if I hadn’t it was like getting shot at and have generator wires cut when it was freezing temperatures wasn’t even really in the minds of our leads. Those aspects just felt like they were thrown in for the hell of it.

All together I just did not like this book and would not recommend it, and I will not be reading the sequel.

1.5 Stars