The Art of Falling in Love by Haleigh Wenger #AtinaReads

The Art of Falling in Love by Haleigh Wenger

(This is a modified reposting from July 2019.) Just in case you haven’t had a chance to check out this amazing book, add Haleigh Wenger’s The Art of Falling In Love to your Fall reading list to keep you warm while the temperatures plummet!

If you’ve had a chance to read this coming of age, please consider leaving a review so that others have a chance to find out more about this lovely author!

This YA book goes beyond “sweet” romance by incorporating social commentary about a topic that many authors are afraid to touch.
It’s hard enough falling in love while you’re a teenager – imagine navigating those treacherous waters while being homeless:

Seventeen-year-old Claire Haynes always spends summer vacation at her family’s beach house in Florida, sketching and dreaming of art school with her biggest fan–her Opa. But when Opa dies right before summer break, all Claire has left besides her memories is a sand-sculpting contest application with her name on it and the lingering question of why Opa filled it out in the first place. Claire has never even made a decent sandcastle, but she reluctantly turns in the entry forms, hoping the contest will help her navigate the grieving process by honoring one of Opa’s last wishes.

When she meets Foster, a teenage boy with a talent for turning recyclables into abstract sculptures, the two join forces to win the contest and salvage the Summer of Art. They spend the humid summer days shoveling sand, devouring ice cream, and exploring Florida’s art scene. Just like Opa, Foster understands Claire and her overwhelming need to create, but he has a secret that threatens to ruin everything: he’s homeless and hiding from an abusive brother who would have him believe family trumps all.

When Claire’s parents find out about Foster’s homelessness, they offer him a home along with their hearts. But even picture-perfect families like Claire’s can harbor an ugly side, especially in the aftermath of Opa’s death. When someone close to Claire spills Foster’s secret, they’re both forced to choose between love and familial obligation. If Claire can’t break through long-held beliefs and prove family is more than shared DNA, she could permanently lose Foster and a chance at the sand contest to honor Opa.

– The Art of Falling in Love, back cover exerpt

Far too often, trends in Romance focus on “The Billionaire” this and that. Although there’s nothing wrong with that, kudos to Haleigh Wenger for providing us readers with a hero who forces the reader to explore the novel with both heart and reflection. I especially appreciated her vivid, descriptive writing, empathetic character development, and a great story that didn’t shy away from uncomfortable subjects – juvenile homelessness, sibling rivalry/betrayal, and coping with life after a devastating event. (On a personal note, it was also wonderful to reconnect with familiar areas in Florida.)

Order The Art of Falling in Love and add it to your TBR pile in time for the Holidays!

Sending Love and Light to all of you.

©Atina Atwood 2019 Exploring Love and Life, One Word At A Time.™

– Atina Atwood is the author of the Holiday Heartbeats series and a southern girl who moved from Europe to the West Coast. A former university professor in Germany and California, Atina stepped away from Academia to focus on her miracle child, life, love, food, quilting, and of course, writing. Follow her on Twitter and Pinterest for more, and sign up for Atina’s newsletter here.

 

#AtinaReads The Art of Falling in Love by Haleigh Wenger

Go to Your Local Library! (A Random Appeal)

While the summer heatwave is getting the best of us, I’m catching up with some fantastic books. I love encouraging my toddler to read, and although we admittedly have a pretty impressive library of well-loved books, it’s also important to me that we go to our local library at least once every two weeks.

It’s my understanding that each time you visit your local library and check out a book or participate in activities, this leads to more funding or opportunities for that particular branch (ask your librarian for specifics). Requesting books can increase the number of available copies, or they can even help put new authors on your shelves (insert dainty *ahem* here). In any case, showing love to your local libraries is one small, yet impactful way to strengthen your community. Yay, libraries!

The Art of Falling in Love by Haleigh Wenger

Our little family participated in the Summer Reading Challenge, where each person read either 30 books or for 30 hours within a certain period of time in exchange for two free passes to the National History Museum and additional swag. It’s a 100% win-win situation. The last book I read to complete the summer challenge was Haleigh Wenger’s The Art of Falling In Love, where I had the honor and privilege of being an Advance Reader.

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The Art of Falling in Love by Haleigh Wenger.

At this point, you should know that #AtinaReads “sweet” romance. This YA book goes beyond that by incorporating social commentary as well.
It’s hard enough falling in love – imagine navigating those treacherous waters while being homeless:

Seventeen-year-old Claire Haynes always spends summer vacation at her family’s beach house in Florida, sketching and dreaming of art school with her biggest fan–her Opa. But when Opa dies right before summer break, all Claire has left besides her memories is a sand-sculpting contest application with her name on it and the lingering question of why Opa filled it out in the first place. Claire has never even made a decent sandcastle, but she reluctantly turns in the entry forms, hoping the contest will help her navigate the grieving process by honoring one of Opa’s last wishes.

When she meets Foster, a teenage boy with a talent for turning recyclables into abstract sculptures, the two join forces to win the contest and salvage the Summer of Art. They spend the humid summer days shoveling sand, devouring ice cream, and exploring Florida’s art scene. Just like Opa, Foster understands Claire and her overwhelming need to create, but he has a secret that threatens to ruin everything: he’s homeless and hiding from an abusive brother who would have him believe family trumps all.

When Claire’s parents find out about Foster’s homelessness, they offer him a home along with their hearts. But even picture-perfect families like Claire’s can harbor an ugly side, especially in the aftermath of Opa’s death. When someone close to Claire spills Foster’s secret, they’re both forced to choose between love and familial obligation. If Claire can’t break through long-held beliefs and prove family is more than shared DNA, she could permanently lose Foster and a chance at the sand contest to honor Opa.

– The Art of Falling in Love, back cover exerpt

Far too often, trends in Romance focus on “The Billionaire” this and that. Kudos to Haleigh Wenger for providing us readers with a hero who forces the reader to explore the novel with both heart and conscious. I especially appreciated her vivid, descriptive writing, empathetic character development, and a great story that didn’t shy away from uncomfortable subjects – juvenile homelessness, sibling rivalry/betrayal, and coping with life after a devastating event. (On a personal note, it was also wonderful to reconnect with familiar areas in Florida.)

Preorder The Art of Falling in Love and take this book with you on a day at the beach for an even more awesome experience. You’ll swear that Claire and Foster are somewhere nearby!

Sending Love and Light to all of you.
Luck of the Irish, Holiday Heartbeats #3, is now available for preorder.

The first chapter of Luck of the Irish (Holiday Heartbeats #3) is available for free on Wattpad. Read it here.

©Atina Atwood 2019 Exploring Love and Life, One Word At A Time.™

– Atina Atwood is a southern girl who moved from Europe to the West Coast. A former university professor in Germany and California, Atina stepped away from Academia to focus on her miracle child, life, love, food, quilting, and of course, Romance. She is the author of the Holiday Heartbeats series. Follow her on Twitter and Pinterest for more, and sign up for Atina’s newsletter here.

Advance Readers Wanted! Luck of the Irish (Holiday Heartbeats #3)

Be the First to Read This Book!

Luck of the Irish (Holiday Heartbeats #3) is going live next month on August 8th. Based on advance reader’s reactions, it’s the best one yet in the series, and I can’t wait for YOU to read it. (Seriously – I really can’t wait for you to read it.)

That’s why I’m looking for up to 10 people to read Luck of the Irish before its release date in exchange for an honest rating/review.

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Luck of the Irish is available now for preorder.

Am I freaking out about this? You bet your bippie (whatever a “bippie” is, but I digress.) Still, I fell in love with this sweet love triangle that inspired a young woman (Nhu) to recognize and claim her worth and settle for nothing less. I hope that you’ll fall in love with her story, too. As with all stories in my Holiday Heartbeats series, this is a novella. Lately, I’ve wanted to expand their stories to novel-length, but this series is designed to be a quick, light, romantic read.

If you’re interested in becoming an Advance Reader, simply do the following:

* comment and retweet/repost on social media to get my attention

* be willing to leave an honest rating and/or review (please be kind!)

 

I look forward to sharing Nhu, Eoghan, and Jack’s story with you!

Sending Love and Light to all of you.
Luck of the Irish, Holiday Heartbeats #3, is now available for preorder.

©Atina Atwood 2019 Exploring Love and Life, One Word At A Time.™

– Atina Atwood is a southern girl who moved from Europe to the West Coast. A former university professor in Germany and California, Atina stepped away from Academia to focus on her miracle child, life, love, food, quilting, and of course, Romance. She is the author of the Holiday Heartbeats series. Follow her on Twitter and Pinterest for more, and sign up for Atina’s newsletter here.

 

And the Winner Is…

and-the-winner-is

A Special Congratulations to Jodie F!

To say thanks to my subscribers, in June, I held a giveaway for a fantastic book (Meant To Be Broken, by Brandy Woods Snow). 

The randomly selected winner of the paperback novel is… Jodie F! I contacted the winner yesterday via email & the book will be in transit by the end of this week. Congratulations!!

Your Support Means So Much

A heartfelt Thank You to those of you who support us authors and the stories that we feel compelled to tell. When you take the time to read our books and spread the word about them, you help make the blood, sweat, and tears worthwhile. 🙂

Preorder Luck of the Irish (Holiday Heartbeats #3) today.

Sending Love and Light to all of you.

©Atina Atwood 2019 Exploring Love and Life, One Word At A Time.™

– Atina Atwood is a southern girl who moved from Europe to the West Coast. A former university professor in Germany and California, Atina stepped away from Academia to focus on her miracle child, life, love, food, quilting, and of course, Romance. She is the author of the Holiday Heartbeats series. Follow her on Twitter for more, and sign up for Atina’s newsletter here.

Last Day for a Chance to Win A FREE Book!

Because I’m a person who needs constant reminders for all sorts of things, I’m just going to assume that the rest of the world needs them, too. And so, my Public Service Announcement is a reminder that one very random person who supports my blog and/or sporadic newsletter will be selected to win a FREE paperback book! I will contact the winner via email/message at the end of this week and publicly announce the winner on my July 2nd post. More info below (as posted on June 13, 2019):

To get you into the summer reading spirit, and to thank the nearly 1,200 of you for your support – it means so much! – I’m giving everyone who supports my blog and my mailing list a chance to win an awesome FREE book!

As you likely know by now, my latest novella involves a love triangle. I was attracted to the messiness of it all, and as a writer, I wanted to explore the trope in all its ABC triangular glory. Luck of the Irish will be released on August 8, 2019, but for those of you who are looking to enjoy some geometrical hot mess romance right now, I’m giving away a FREE copy of a book that really had me turning the pages (well, mine’s a digital copy, but yours could be this sweet paperback version, wrapped in delicious cellophane). Yes, I enjoyed it so much, I bought it twice.

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Meant To Be Broken by Brandy Woods Snow includes one heck of a love triangle that’s sort of like a bouncy ball, but that’s not the only interesting thing that happens. Not by a long shot. This sucker is a roller coaster that pretty much doesn’t slow down until the last page. Check out this trailer about the book on YouTube:

So, to show my love to all of you, I’ll randomly select one name to whom I’ll send a complimentary copy of this book. Why? Well, because I appreciate you, I’m a fan of this book and the author, and I’m sure it’s cool to see me plugging someone else’s awesome work other than my own for a change, haha.

If you’re interested in getting my attention, just leave a comment below or mention #AtinaReads on Twitter @Atina_Atwood. I’ll announce the winner on my Tuesday post on July 2, 2019. Be sure that you’re active on my mailing list (my sort of every other month newsletter) or following my blog to be eligible. Good luck, and THANK YOU!

Sending Love and Light to all of you.

Luck of the Irish, Holiday Heartbeats#3, is now available for preorder.

©Atina Atwood 2019 Exploring Love and Life, One Word At A Time.™

– Atina Atwood is a southern girl who moved from Europe to the West Coast. A former university professor in Germany and California, Atina stepped away from Academia to focus on her miracle child, life, love, food, quilting, and of course, Romance. She is the author of the Holiday Heartbeats series. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook for more, and sign up for Atina’s newsletter here.

Your Chance to Win a FREE Paperback Novel (Meant To Be Broken by Brandy Woods Snow)!

Whatcha Reading This Summer?

Okay, so now we’re finally in the month of June and SoCal is living up to its sunny reputation! Now that June is here, for me, it means kicking back a little bit and catching up on some summer reading. Last year, I simply recommended a great book to you (Home by Jezz de Silva). This year, I’m upping things up a notch.

To get you into the summer reading spirit, and to thank the nearly 1,200 of you for your support – it means so much! – I’m giving everyone who supports my blog and my mailing list a chance to win an awesome FREE book!

As you likely know by now, my latest novella involves a love triangle. I was attracted to the messiness of it all, and as a writer, I wanted to explore the trope in all its ABC triangular glory. Luck of the Irish will be released on August 8, 2019, but for those of you who are looking to enjoy some geometrical hot mess romance right now, I’m giving away a FREE copy of a book that really had me turning the pages (well, mine’s a digital copy, but yours could be this sweet paperback version, wrapped in delicious cellophane). Yes, I enjoyed it so much, I bought it twice.

want-a-free-book-join-my-newsletter-

Meant To Be Broken by Brandy Woods Snow includes one heck of a love triangle that’s sort of like a bouncy ball, but that’s not the only interesting thing that happens. Not by a long shot. This sucker is a roller coaster that pretty much doesn’t slow down until the last page. Check out this trailer about the book on YouTube:

So, to show my love to all of you, I’ll randomly select one name to whom I’ll send a complimentary copy of this book. Why? Well, because I appreciate you, I’m a fan of this book and the author, and I’m sure it’s cool to see me plugging someone else’s awesome work other than my own for a change, haha.

If you’re interested in getting my attention, just leave a comment below or mention #AtinaReads on Twitter @Atina_Atwood. I’ll announce the winner on my Tuesday post on July 2, 2019. Be sure that you’re active on my mailing list (my sort of every other month newsletter) or following my blog to be eligible. Good luck, and THANK YOU!

Sending Love and Light to all of you.

Luck of the Irish, Holiday Heartbeats#3, is now available for preorder.

©Atina Atwood 2019 Exploring Love and Life, One Word At A Time.™

– Atina Atwood is a southern girl who moved from Europe to the West Coast. A former university professor in Germany and California, Atina stepped away from Academia to focus on her miracle child, life, love, food, quilting, and of course, Romance. She is the author of the Holiday Heartbeats series. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook for more, and sign up for Atina’s newsletter here.

#MotivatedMonday: Making It Easy Is Hard

Join my mailing list to be the first to know about my new releases, books slated for release in 2019, giveaways, and more. Follow me on Amazon and Goodreads. Luck of the Irish, Holiday Heartbeats#3, is now available for preorder.

"Easy Reading is damn hard writing.".png

“Easy reading is damn hard writing.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne

Sending Love and Light to all of you.

©Atina Atwood 2019 Exploring Love and Life, One Word At A Time.™

– Atina Atwood is a southern girl who moved from Europe to the West Coast. A former university professor in Germany and California, Atina stepped away from Academia to focus on her miracle child, life, love, food, quilting, and of course, Romance. She is the author of the Holiday Heartbeats series. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook for more, and sign up for Atina’s newsletter here.

Facts About the Romance Novel Industry

Falsehoods about Romance

It takes a brave soul for a writer to venture into Romancelandia, and an even braver one to admit it – especially in this day and age. The genre of Romance steadfastly gets a bad rap, and as soon as the forbidden word is uttered, one can expect to hear some impolite snort, scoff, huff – or, for even more awkward fun, have a complete stranger launch into an unbidden tirade about why the Romance genre is so trashy and air-brained, and instead of subjecting themselves to such banal nonsense, everyone should read Stephen King’s IT and worship all Sylvester Stallone films.

Yes, that actually happened.

Honestly, I’m just a magnet to awkward, well-meaning folks, but still, it was a small miracle that I could look at this woman without batting an eye as she segued from lamenting the pitiful, unloved female readers of romance, to lauding the incredible genius of gore and lore, only to somehow end up swooning over all things Rocky. Very strange.

Anyway, I digress. It’s hard to be taken seriously as a writer. Period. Throw in the fact that you also dabble in penning about the Amorous Arts, and well, you’ve suddenly become a first-class ninny in the eyes of many. Believe me, for every well-written novel, there are hundreds of other head-scratchers right behind it. I feel you. As with all things subjective, who knows which category your work will fall into for some readers? Nevertheless, like it or not, Romance novels, or the tired a.k.a. Bodice Rippers, are here to stay. So, we may as well get to know some facts about the industry. I picked up these facts from the Romance Writers of America, of which I’ve been a member since 2016.

Romancing the Numbers

Romance Fiction has been a billion-dollar industry since at least 2013.

Yes, you read that right. Why? Well, there are a number of reasons…

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Google

While women continue to dominate the readership of Romance, males are steadily nearing 20%.

An even more exciting fact is that the younger populous is increasingly male, sexually and ethnically diverse, more tech-savvy, and read their books on devices, or listen to audiobooks. As a writer, this is exciting to me because there is so much potential (although I have always disliked the word potential. I’m more for realized energy.). As another generation explores escapism through these kinds of stories, the standard, comforting tropes have an opportunity to be reborn and retold in a completely different voice. This is what any healthy writer lives for!

Romance Readers gravitate toward certain genres depending on their age.

So many subgenres exist in the realm of Romance, you might even be surprised. Not every novel contains sordid scenes, and not every chaste story is a trip to Snooze Town.  From Contemporary to Historical, Religious or Spiritual to Erotic, Paranormal, Suspense, or Young Adult to New Adult, pretty much everyone can find something that may be of interest to them. I read a plethora of novels in every subgenre listed, and I know that I’m not alone. Which likely explains why…

The Romance novel share of the US fiction market is 34%.

That means that for every 3 books actually sold, one of them was a romance novel. This is a very big deal, people. It also means that romance readers are voracious, and are more than likely willing to sacrifice other things in order to obtain more books.

If you have some recommendations for great books (regardless of genre), comment below! Also, find me on Goodreads.com. I’m always looking for new friends!

Sending Love and Light to all of you.

©Atina Atwood 2018 Exploring Love and Life, One Word At A Time.™

– Atina Atwood is a southern girl who moved from Europe to the West Coast. A former university professor in Germany and California, Atina stepped away from Academia to focus on her miracle child, life, love, food, quilting, and of course, Romance. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook for more.

Book Review: HOME by Jezz de Silva

My Quick Book Review of Home by Jezz de Silva

Length: 324 pages (Kindle Edition)
Date of Publication: June 28, 2018
Personal Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars
Quick Points: Fantastic read, fleshed-out romance tropes, extremely well-developed characters, slow-burn, interracial, May/December, friends to lovers, happily ever after

Inappropriate, Yet Pretty Much Accurate Synopsis: Exotic eye-candy elite solider fulfills his dying BFF’s wish by eventually banging his wife.

(Come on. We all know what “take care of her” means in romance-speak.)

book-review-home-by-jezz-de-silva
Home

My Actual, Proper Book Review: 

Home. It’s the place where we always long to be, a private sanctuary where we can truly be ourselves. At its most ideal, home the place where you can be your most vulnerable, yet it’s also the source of your greatest strength and sense of security. Home is the place where your dreams are nourished, and your understanding of true love, protection, and loyalty thrives.

My first impression of the stand-alone novel Home was a positive one. If you’re into slow-burn, friends to lovers, military, interracial, pseudo May/December romance, then you’re bound to be satisfied with what this novel has to offer you. De Silva slaps a perfectly dosed amount of all of the above, with an extra feel good trope or two for good measure. Set in West Australia, the author’s talent of descriptive writing shines through the narrative with visuals that make any reader feel as though she or he is Down Under in the middle of the action like a fly on the wall.

Evelyn (Eve) and Mark Watson have been married for nearly 20 years, and their love is the strongest imaginable. Mark, a Special Forces Staff Sergeant, and his right hand man, Corporal Jamie Turner, are the best of the best in the elite unit. When the two explicitly disobey an order so that they may save numerous innocent lives, tragedy befalls the duo. Before Mark succumbs to his fatal injuries, he makes his young best friend promise to protect Eve, the love of his life.

Jamie, a 28 year old Maori who towers over most people, has the strength of a legendary warrior, the discipline and fine-tuning of the elite soldier that he is, the finesse and charm of any  modern day Casanova, and the heart of a well-loved teddy bear. He makes good on his promise, and is literally welcomed with open arms by both Mark’s grieving widow and his feisty sister, Maggie (who is also Eve’s best friend). Jamie is always respectful, kind, and honest, and he lends his exceptional talents to restore the run-down Watson family home. Eve is a tough, direct, and brave 39 year old trauma nurse who struggles to move forward and stabilize her family’s future. The platonic friendship between the trio is strong and never waivers throughout the story.

As time progresses, the friendship between Jaime and Eve blossoms into romance. From there, the two consummate their transition from friends to lovers. Eventually, the protagonists are able to identify exactly what Home means to them.

Although I’m not a shrinking violet when it comes to profanity, there were times where I felt that its use didn’t necessarily progress the story. Of course, war is hell, and when the effects of it rip into the characters’ lives, I suppose that an F-bomb or ten are justified. Also, my expectations of a May/December romance went far beyond a circa 11-year age difference between Eve and Jaime. To me, that’s more like a May/August thing. No real biggie. (These days, a May/December is more like the current President of France, Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte Trogneux, who is 24 years his senior.)

When Jamie and Eve do finally make love, the intimate scene is disproportionately short in comparison to the time it takes for them to get to that pivotal moment. More time could have been given to the scene that most readers anticipate throughout the majority of the novel. (In fairness, because the characters hadn’t gotten any in such a long time, this could have been the author’s way of keeping things real. Just sayin’.)
If de Silva had chosen to, the entire sex scene(s) could have been left out of the novel, and it still would have been a perfectly solid read. However, the build up leaves the reader wanting the two characters to achieve fulfillment and unity on all levels, and although this occurs, the physical scenes did feel a bit rushed in comparison to the rest of the beautifully descriptive passages. 

Despite this, the dosage of romance is top-notch throughout the entire novel. If you’re looking for a romantic novel that exposes you to both the raw pain and exhilaration of love, then you’ll not feel cheated in the least.      

All in all, this slow-burn moved at a perfect pace. I found myself taking my time with this story, savoring each passage that continuously built layer after layer of character dimension and depth. De Silva is a storyteller, and he breathed true life into the characters Jaime and Eve. The character development is so incredibly thorough; there were many moments throughout the novel where there were tears in my eyes, simply because I could relate to the characters’ emotional battles in such a meaningful way. Their vulnerability, the rawness of their need to love, be accepted, and be loved, will clutch the heartstrings of any compassionate reader. Home is definitely a worthwhile read. Get a copy, and check out the talented author at jezzdesilva.com. I’ll BOL for more of his works!

Sending Love and Light to all of you.

©Atina Atwood 2018 Exploring Love and Life, One Word At A Time.™

– Atina Atwood is a southern girl who moved from Europe to the West Coast. A former university professor in Germany and California, Atina stepped away from Academia to focus on her miracle child, life, love, food, quilting, and of course, Romance. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest for more.