Saturday, August 31, 2013

Giveaway Update: Deadline Extended!

The deadline to enter for a chance to win a copy of Rektok Ross's Prodigal (details about the book below) has been extended! The giveaway now ends on September 14th!

So go ahead and enter for your chance to win one ebook copy OR one print copy of Prodigal! You can get up to 5 entries:
- 2 for commenting on this post (please leave your name, email, and a little blurb about while you're excited to read Prodigal)
- 2 for tweeting about the giveaway (spread the word! and you can do it every day!)
- 1 for following me on Twitter (@PidginPea)

Again, the giveaway now ends on September 14th. There will be 2 winners, drawn at random - one will get the ebook copy and one will get the print copy.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Good luck! :)



Prodigal
by Rektok Ross

Available as: paperback, ebook
Pages: 329
Publisher: Ic13 Books
Publication date: January 31, 2013
Suggested tags: young adult, Christian fiction, romance



From Goodreads:
"It was supposed to be Lexy Quinn’s year.

The hard-working wallflower has finally landed the coveted spot as Editor of her school’s newspaper. Then the rug is ripped out from under her when she finds out her mom is sick, and the family is moving half-way across the country to Preston Hills, Texas. Lexy can’t think of a worse place to be than at a school full of snobby rich kids where she’ll have to start all over to get people to notice her writing, or–who is she kidding?—notice her at all.

When the most swoon-worthy boy in town, who also happens to be the jock celebrity quarterback, gives her an exclusive interview, Lexy’s life takes an unexpected turn. Ash Preston is the perfect guy and, even better, he sees Lexy as she wants to be seen. But can she trust him?

PRODIGAL is a different kind of love story, where faith, romance, and God converge . . . and it just might change the way you look at your life.
"

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Author Q&A: Rektok Ross

Rektok Ross, author of the YA novel Prodigal (you can find my review here), very kindly allowed me to ask some questions and provided some great answers! Prodigal follows Lexy through her senior year of high school as she deals with serious issues, gets involved with a handsome and popular guy at school, and starts asking questions about faith and the future.

{ About Prodigal... }

How did the idea for Prodigal come to you?
Writing a YA was a no-brainer for me because I feel like everything starts with high school. That’s where we begin the path to finding out who we truly are and who we are going to be in this world, so it’s fun to start a story at that point in time. While I LOVE love stories, I didn’t want to write just write a simple romance. My faith is very important to me and I feel like asking why we are here and what’s our purpose is the most fundamental question we should all be asking. Sadly, there seems to be a gaping hole right now for mainstream literature that helps kids answer that question. So I wanted to write something that was fun but that also asked you to think about the bigger questions in life.

How did you decide on Prodigal for the title?
This is a really popular question from my readers! I’m glad you asked it! The title, PRODIGAL, is a throw back to the Parable of the Prodigal Son, which is one of the stories in the Bible. In it, a father gives the younger of his two sons his inheritance before he dies. The younger son, after wasting his fortune (the word 'prodigal' means 'wastefully extravagant'), goes hungry during a famine. He then repents and returns home, where the father holds a feast to celebrate his return. The older son refuses to participate, stating that in all the time the son has worked for the father, he did not even give him a goat to celebrate with his friends. His father reminds the older son that everything the father has is the older son's, but that they should still celebrate the return of the younger son as he has come back to them. It is the third story about redemption, following the Parable of the Lost Sheep and the Parable of the Lost Coin. For me, the parable has lots of parallels to Lexy’s and Ash’s stories. In some ways, Lexy is running around lost during a lot of the book – much like the younger son in the parable—until she eventually comes to learn about God and figure out what she believes in. I don’t want to give away too many spoilers but it’s also safe to say that Ash too has his own redemption story that runs throughout the book.

Lexy wants to pursue a degree in journalism, just as you did. How did you move from journalism into fiction writing?
It was a very long and winding road! I always loved writing and thought getting my degree in journalism would be a lot of fun but my goal back then was to go on to graduate school and become a lawyer. I guess, like Lexy, I wasn’t sure that I could ever really make a living as a writer and law seemed like a safer bet. After law school, I decided to try and conquer corporate America and became a trial lawyer for Fortune 500 companies. I did that for a long time but then one day I kind of just woke up and thought to myself, well, I’m making a great living but I don’t know that I’m living my life dream. Maybe I should try that next?

How long did it take you to finish Prodigal, from idea to finished work?
Ugh. F-O-R-E-V-E-R. When I was writing PRODIGAL, I was still working at my law firm 24/7 so it took be about three to four years to get the book into good enough shape that I could send it to my editors and then we worked on it for about two more years. Since this was my debut novel, I think I can say that the first few drafts needed A LOT of help.

What do you hope readers take away from reading Prodigal?
Each of the characters in PRODIGAL has their own way of looking at life and love and God. What’s important to me is that people take time to think about these things for themselves and really start to challenge themselves on what it is that they believe in. If PRODIGAL can do that, if reading it makes you spend even a few minutes reflecting on your life, then I’ll feel like I’ve fulfilled a little of my purpose here.


{ About writing... }

Can you describe your writing process?
I always outline first because I like to know exactly what my characters are doing and why. However, I don’t research in advance, but as I go along. I also like to read books in the same genre while I’m writing because it really gets me inspired. The one other thing I do--which may be kind of silly—is that I usually write using this book I got called The Romance Writers’ Phrase Book. There are all these cheesy expressions in it for facial expressions and voices and other things like that which I put in as placeholders as I’m writing dialogue because descriptors are really difficult for me to do on the fly and if I don’t do it when I’m drafting I tend to just write “he said” and “she said” with nothing else. After my first draft, I go back and tweak.

Where do you find you do the best work?
I guess I have a talent for being able to shut out the world so I can pretty much write anywhere. My bedroom, the office, a plane, the car, on a boat, in the bathroom, you name it and I’ve probably written there at some point.

Do you have any words of advice for hopeful future authors?
Write because you love writing, not for any other reason. There are no guarantees that anyone else is going to like your writing or that you will make a living doing it. But if you write because you have all these ideas in your head and can’t live with the thought of never putting them down on paper and sharing them with others, then you will be happy as a writer. There is so much rejection in this industry that it really is all about believing in yourself and doing it for you only. The rest is all icing on the cake.

Any projects in the works you would like to share?
Yes! Thanks for asking, LOL. I am deep in the middle of my second novel, tentatively titled GRACE, and am really excited about it! It will be totally different from PRODIGAL in that it is a survival/action adventure story set in college, but of course there will be the signature swoon-worthy boy, a female protagonist with strong character, and discussion about the meaning of life that I consider hallmarks of a Rektok Ross story.


{ About reading... }

What is your favorite genre to read?
Young Adult of course! Oh wait, I know some people are uptight about calling that a genre (even though I still think it is . . . ). I guess I am a sucker for a good romance but I also love horror and thrillers. I really enjoy parables and satires as well. I read a lot of nonfiction too because I love to learn. Pretty much the only thing I don’t really enjoy is history because, yuck, it’s history right?

What’s your favorite book of all time?
Wow, how hard is this question because I love so, so many books? I guess if I had to pick it would be Gone with the Wind. I’m not sure why but it’s left the biggest impact on me and the characters just seemed so real and the story was so very tragic.

Who are some of your favorite authors?
The ones I look up to the most are those that can tell a story that really makes you think long after you finish the book. That doesn’t mean it has to be a literary masterpiece but it does mean you have to make people feel something and I think that is a lot more challenging. I was obsessed with Christopher Pike as a kid because his books were so layered; Night by Eli Wiesel is still one of the most powerful books I have ever read and I cried a long time when I finished it; C.S. Lewis, of course, because who else could write a book about a lion who is Jesus. I’m also impressed with all that Stephanie Meyer and J.K. Rowling have accomplished with their literary empires and for the Young Adult genre. If screenwriters count then I also have a massive writing crush on Wes Craven, Kevin Williamson, Josh Whedon, and Guillermo Del Toro. I have a soft spot for a good horror story.

When a book is made into a movie, do you read the book first or watch the movie first?
I don’t really have a preference. I think I do whatever I am exposed to first. I’m not one of those people that is a snob and goes, oh the book is always so much better so I will only read the book first, or something like that. I guess I’m equally split between a movie lover and a book lover and I think both mediums can do something really amazing with the right story.

Do you prefer to buy books or borrow them from the library?
My family didn’t have a lot of money growing up so getting to buy an actual book and take it home to keep was really something special for me. My mom was a teacher so we really spent a lot of time at the library instead. I would spend the entire day there picking out books and reading them so I think I have special place in my heart for libraries. I guess I would pick the library if I had to except now I have such limited time I don’t get there as often and tend to buy my books online these days.

Do you prefer to read print books or ebooks?
Ebooks hands down. Looking back now, I was anti-ebook for a long time because I always believed in having a physical book in your hand. I loved the feel of one. Now, I am obsessed with my ereader and the ability to download books in a few seconds. The sheer convenience of ebooks and the laziness factor (as in, I don’t have to get in my car and go anywhere, and I don’t have to flip a page when I’m laying in bed) weighs in favor of ebooks hands down. Seriously. Everyone get an ereader. Now!


{ About everything else... }

Do you prefer coffee or tea?
I don’t drink coffee. I have a fear of caffeine. Seriously. I am a control freak. But I drink tea. Yes, I know it also has caffeine, but it has antioxidants too which makes your skin look nice. So it’s a trade off . . .

What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food. Chocolate and marshmallow. How can that go wrong?

If you could travel through time, what time period would you choose to go to?
I don’t think there is any time period I would want to go back to. History freaks me out. I know things aren’t perfect right now but Medieval Times? No thanks. Haven’t you seen Game of Thrones? I’ll pass!

What is the one place in the world you are dying to visit?
I think the one place I am really dying to go is South Africa. I like the beach, the animals, and the accents.

What is your favorite quote?
“In the real world as in dreams, nothing is quite what it seems.” It’s by one of my favorite authors, Dean Koontz. I know, it’s not really inspiring per se and is actually quite haunting but that’s what I love about it. I guess for inspiration, though, I would pick “Carpe Diem!” Simple and to the point.

Anything else you’d like to share?
I think there are a lot of questions PRODIGAL leaves open and there’s a lot there to discuss long after you finish. Because of that, I usually recommend it as a book that is really good to read together -- either with your friends or your parents or in a book club. And, if you can’t find anyone else to chat with about it, contact me! I love talking with my readers!


Learn more about Rektok Ross at www.rektokROSS.com,
and follow Rektok on Facebook and Goodreads!

Find Prodigal on Goodreads and Amazon!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Review: Prodigal by Rektok Ross


Prodigal
by Rektok Ross

Available as: paperback, ebook
Pages: 329
Publisher: Ic13 Books
Publication date: January 31, 2013
Suggested tags: young adult, Christian fiction, romance



From Goodreads:
"It was supposed to be Lexy Quinn’s year.

The hard-working wallflower has finally landed the coveted spot as Editor of her school’s newspaper. Then the rug is ripped out from under her when she finds out her mom is sick, and the family is moving half-way across the country to Preston Hills, Texas. Lexy can’t think of a worse place to be than at a school full of snobby rich kids where she’ll have to start all over to get people to notice her writing, or–who is she kidding?—notice her at all.

When the most swoon-worthy boy in town, who also happens to be the jock celebrity quarterback, gives her an exclusive interview, Lexy’s life takes an unexpected turn. Ash Preston is the perfect guy and, even better, he sees Lexy as she wants to be seen. But can she trust him?

PRODIGAL is a different kind of love story, where faith, romance, and God converge . . . and it just might change the way you look at your life.
"

{ I was kindly provided an ebook version for free by the author. }


I've been hearing good things about Prodigal, so when the author offered to let me read it, I jumped at the chance. And I'm so glad I did! Prodigal is a great story with a main character that is so relatable, I felt like I was reading about my own high school experience at some points.

In some ways, this is a very standard YA book, and I mean that in the best possible way. I mean that it will appeal to a lot of YA readers, and they'll see a lot of themselves in Lexy like I did. But at the same time, it's a very different sort of YA book, and I mean that in the best possible way too. I haven't read a lot of YA Christian fiction, but Prodigal made me want to go read more. Full disclosure: I am a Christian, but a lot of the Christian fiction I've read in the past (mostly adult Christian fiction) has pretty much bashed me over the head with religion to the point where I couldn't enjoy the story. Prodigal handles religion in a very meaningful way; it doesn't feel fake or forced or overdone. It feels real. It doesn't sugar coat things; it tackles a lot of the tough questions, like "if God is so good, why do bad things happen?" and "why does God put people through so much pain as part of His 'plan' for them?" And it acknowledges that sometimes we don't have the answers. Throughout Prodigal, Lexy starts to open up to the possibility of religion being a part of her life, and it's handled in a way that, at least in my opinion, all readers can enjoy, regardless of religious beliefs.

But this is only one part of Lexy's story. Lexy also deals with the usual issues that come with high school: making friends, extracurriculars, stressing over college, dealing with "mean girls"... but she has to face other issues that most other teenagers don't. She had to move to a new school her senior year. She wants to pursue a career that her dad doesn't approve of. And, worst of all, her mom has cancer. Lexy goes through a lot, but she grows a lot from it too, and I realized this along with Lexy as I read her story. And through it all there is Ash Preston. Sometimes Lexy is not sure where he stands - is he interested in her, or is he just a friend? Is he even a friend at all? A lot of the time I was not sure where Ash stood either, or how their relationship would turn out, but I kind of liked that I couldn't predict where it would go. There's a bit of love-at-first-sight, but there are also deep conversations about the future, secrets revealed, miscommunications, fights, break-ups, make-ups... It's a very realistic relationship that many readers (including this one) have had before and can definitely relate to.

I had a feeling I would like Prodigal, but I underestimated just how much I would like it. It handles romance and religion with a great balance. It balances happy and sad too, and real life and dreams. I'd pick up another Rektok Ross book in a heartbeat. Definitely recommended to romance readers who like a handsome hero with some secrets in his past, and very strongly recommended to readers who are Christians, are curious about becoming Christians but have some questions, or are just interested in Christianity itself.


Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

I'm Back... With a Giveaway!

Hello, fellow bookworms! :)  Well, my brief hiatus lasted longer than I expected. So sorry about that. I learned that getting married is stressful, chaotic, exhausting... and wonderful! My husband and I have been dating since high school so we've been looking forward to this stage of our life for a while, and now we're here! Today is our one month wedding anniversary and we still feel like it just happened yesterday!

Anyways, enough about me... back to BOOKS! :)

I'm celebrating my return to my blog with my first ever giveaway! Author Rektok Ross very kindly offered to let me read Prodigal, which I really enjoyed and will be reviewing soon, and then even more kindly offered to provide one ebook and one print copy of Prodigal for a giveaway!


Prodigal
by Rektok Ross

Available as: paperback, ebook
Pages: 329
Publisher: Ic13 Books
Publication date: January 31, 2013
Suggested tags: young adult, Christian fiction, romance



From Goodreads:
"It was supposed to be Lexy Quinn’s year.

The hard-working wallflower has finally landed the coveted spot as Editor of her school’s newspaper. Then the rug is ripped out from under her when she finds out her mom is sick, and the family is moving half-way across the country to Preston Hills, Texas. Lexy can’t think of a worse place to be than at a school full of snobby rich kids where she’ll have to start all over to get people to notice her writing, or–who is she kidding?—notice her at all.

When the most swoon-worthy boy in town, who also happens to be the jock celebrity quarterback, gives her an exclusive interview, Lexy’s life takes an unexpected turn. Ash Preston is the perfect guy and, even better, he sees Lexy as she wants to be seen. But can she trust him?

PRODIGAL is a different kind of love story, where faith, romance, and God converge . . . and it just might change the way you look at your life.
"

Sounds great, right? Then go ahead and enter for your chance to win one ebook copy OR one print copy of Prodigal! You can get up to 5 entries:
- 2 for commenting on this post (please leave your name, email, and a little blurb about while you're excited to read Prodigal)
- 2 for tweeting about the giveaway (spread the word! and you can do it every day!)
- 1 for following me on Twitter (@PidginPea - I tweet about new releases, reviews, book news, etc. And some other things too. Lately it's been Whodunnit, my newest reality show guilty pleasure...)

Giveaway ends August 31st. There will be 2 winners, drawn at random - one will get the ebook copy and one will get the print copy.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Confession: this is my first time working with Rafflecopter. I'm going to do my very best to make sure everything goes smoothly, but if you come across anything that's not working right, please let me know and I'll get it sorted out asap!

Good luck! :)