Bailey Baxter Series – Book Reviews, Interview, and Other Fun Stuff

As most of you know, I was a part of Jody Hedlund’s influencer team for her recent release An Uncertain Choice (an awesome book by the way!). It was a rewarding experience, especially in getting to know the other influencers. One of the influencers, Kim Moss, emailed me asking if I’d be willing to read her books and review them.

Of course I said yes. And I am super glad I did! Not only did I get to read two wonderful books, I also got to know a fellow Christian author. Before I knew it, I had two book reviews, an author interview, and character spotlights and way too much stuff for one blog post. This blog post will have my reviews and my interview with Kim. Tomorrow I’ll have character spotlights with three of her characters. And, to top it all off, I’m having a giveaway for ebooks of Leaving Nelson and My Summer Storm. Look for the Rafflecopter entry form at the bottom of this post.  

So let’s get the fun started.

Leaving Nelson – Bailey Baxter Series Book 1

leaving-Nelsonv cover

About the Book: 

Bailey’s ninth grade year couldn’t possibly get any worse.

After losing her mother to cancer, her father decides to move the family back to his hometown in Tennessee.  Leaving Nelson, the only home she’s ever known, is the icing on the cake. Uprooted from the familiar, with wounds left unhealed, Bailey attempts to hide in the shadows of strangers. However, as the daughter of Fulton’s hometown hero, she catches the attention of many—foiling her plan to simply blend in. Worst of all, the biggest jerk in school has decided to make her his special project.  Then Bailey runs into the cute, shy boy from her English class. His charm and lopsided grin give Bailey a reason to smile again even in the midst of her pain. Could he be the one putting poetry in her locker?  As new friendships take shape, Bailey’s bitterness and resentment begin to slowly melt away. Just as her faith is restored, a secret is discovered. A painting of a young girl that dates back years before her birth now threatens to ravish the relationships with those she has grown to love.On a quest to reveal the truth, Bailey discovers that, though she had a difficult time leaving Nelson, what she finds in Fulton may just be what she has been searching for all along.

My Review

The beauty of this book is not in its fast-paced action scenes or heart-thumping danger. Normally, that is the type of book I pick up. Leaving Nelson is the story of an ordinary, fourteen-year-old girl, Bailey Baxter, who has lost her mother and forced to move several states away from the place where she has grown up. She has to start over with new friends in a new place while trying to heal from the pain of losing her mother. The writing drew me in until I couldn’t put the book down while I held my breath over Bailey’s inner growth and freshmen in high school drama.

The thing that impressed me most about this book was the characters. The characters sounded like fourteen and fifteen year olds in high school. They had drama and bursts and anger and irrational decisions, but it all felt natural to the characters. It is hard to write fourteen-year-olds that don’t sound too young or too old.

I felt like the beginning of this book spent a little too much time on back story and revealed some of the early information in infodumps that could have been worked into the story better. Once I got past the first couple chapter, the rest of the story flew by so fast that the beginning didn’t detract too much from the rest of the book.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All comments in my review are my own.

My Summer Storm – Bailey Baxter Series Book 2

Now available. Click to order.

About the Book

Nestled deep in the breathtaking mountains of Virginia, Camp Golden Meadows is the ideal place for summer romance.

At least that’s what 17-year-old Bailey Baxter thinks when she makes the trip with her childhood friend, Max Martin.  A summer away is the perfect escape from her father’s budding romance, and it just might be her chance to kindle a romantic fire of her own with Max.  Bailey packs all of her hopes and wishes for summer love in her suitcase next to a photo from her past.  But when an unexpected turn of events bring old feelings to life, jealousy and betrayal unpack their bags.  At odds with one of her roommates and haunted by feelings she can’t ignore, the summer isn’t turning out the way Bailey had planned.  In the mountains, where storms are intense and often unpredictable, Bailey learns that love often behaves the same way—with great power and the potential to cause damage.  Will Bailey find happiness in the midst of this perfect storm, or will it drown out the fire between her and Max?

My Review

I loved My Summer Storm even more than Leaving Nelson. The writing of this book is even better than the first book. In this book, Bailey is now seventeen. Once again, the characters sound their age. Bailey sounds like a seventeen-year-old. Her decisions are more thought-out. Her faith plays more of a role in this book than book 1. In book 1, Bailey was just beginning to grasp what faith means for her. In this book, she depends on her faith to help make decisions in her life.

Although this book covers an entire summer, I never got bored. Once again, the ups and downs of Bailey’s life were written in a compelling manner that kept me reading.

In the interest of full disclosure, I bought this book myself since I loved the first book so much. All my comments are my own.

About the Author

Kim Moss is a wife, mother, teacher, and author. She lives in Dallas, Texas with  a very amazing husband and two young “super hero” boys who inspire her daily. She’s been writing ever since she could hold a pencil.  She actually wrote her first YA novel on a yellow legal pad in junior high school, and she hasn’t stopped writing since!  She is a teacher by day, and a novelist by night. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family in the great outdoors.

You can connect with her on her website kimmosswrites.com

Interview

What inspired you to write Leaving Nelson? What about My Summer Storm?

Leaving Nelson was inspired by the death of my mother when I was fifteen-years-old.  She was an incredible woman, just like Bailey’s mom.  She always wanted to write a book about surviving cancer, but she never got the chance.  I feel like God gave me this story to write for kids out there who may have lost a loved one.  It’s for them to see that He can use both the good and the bad things in our lives for a bigger purpose.

My Summer Storm was written because a few of my beta readers begged me to write a sequel after reading Leaving Nelson.  They wanted to read more about Bailey’s budding romance with Bryce and her confusing feelings for Max.  I chose to send Bailey to summer camp because (let’s face it) summer camp is the perfect place to fall in love!  I spent several summers as a camper and as a camp counselor, and many of my favorite memories were made on the shores of a lake in the hot summer sun.  I also wanted to write a true love story, one that’s not just focused on romance, but on how God ultimately brings two people together who value each other and His plan for purity.

Your mom sounds like she was a wonderful person. Your emotion over your mom comes through in the books. I’ll admit, I cried a couple of times in Leaving Nelson when Bailey described her mom. 

You mentioned these books are part of a four book series. When is the next book coming out?

I’m so excited about Chasing Secrets.  It is the third book in the series, and it is set to release late this summer.  It picks up right after camp, so those of you who are waiting to know what happens next with Bailey and her friends will not have to wait much longer.

Including me! I’m counting down the days until summer! 

You’re an indie published author. What made you decide to pursue indie publishing?

It was a very hard decision.  I guess it all boils down to creative control.  I honestly didn’t want anyone to change Bailey’s story in Leaving Nelson.  It was such a personal project for me.  I’m not opposed to traditional publishing in the future. I would eventually like to find an agent and have my next series (written in the perspective of one of Bailey’s friends) published through a Christian publishing house.

You did a great job! Best wishes with whatever route you go in the future!

What is the hardest part of indie publishing?

Marketing.  Hands down.  It’s hard to get the word out without “selling yourself” all the time.  That’s my biggest problem as an indie publisher.  It’s hard for me to tell people, “Oh yeah, read my book!” without feeling awkward.  I’m just not that kind of person.  My hope is that people will read about Bailey and her friends and spread the word—that people will want to introduce these lovable characters to their friends, students, and family members.  That’s been my biggest reward so far.  It’s been really neat to see how readers have responded to these characters.

I’m glad I could help get the word out! 

One last question: Chronicles of Narnia or Lord of the Rings?

Chronicles of Narnia

I say that simply because I’ve read them several times with my students.  I teach elementary school, and we love spending our fantasy unit with C.S. Lewis.  I must admit, though, I’m currently reading The Hobbit with some of my advanced readers.

I was in elementary school when I first read The Chronicles of Narnia. It is an experiences that sticks with a person. 

Thank-you so much for spending some time on my blog, Kim! 

Giveaway! 

To help get the word out about Leaving Nelson and My Summer Storm, I’m giving away ebooks of both books to one person. Follow this link to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway:a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check back tomorrow for character spotlights on three of the characters from Leaving Nelson and My Summer Storm! 

#Tell One Person

shout

Authors do a lot of things to get their book out there. They write blogs, hang out on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and any other social media site they can think of. They host giveaways. They beg for reviews of their book. While a lot of those things help, the single best way to get the word out there still is…

Word of Mouth.

Yep. Something the author has no control over except for writing an awesome book that readers will want to talk about.

That puts the real power behind marketing a book on you, the readers. You are the ones who make or break an author’s career. If you love an author’s book, then you are the one who can support them so they can write more books. This doesn’t have to be hard. Reviews are super helpful. Emails to the author are nice to let them know how much you liked the book.

But, if you can’t do anything else, the best thing you can do is simply tell one person. Just one. But tell them and tell them until they read it. Tell them to pass the word along. Beg them to tell just one person.

I found Jill Williamson’s Safelands trilogy a while ago and loved it. I told my sister-in-law about them and kept telling her until she read them. She loved the books so much that she passed them along to her sister and mom. She was so excited about the books she posted about them on a mom group on Facebook.

All because I told one person.

What about you? Who is going to be your one person? Can we start a trend going? #telloneperson Let’s see how many people we can reach if we simply tell one person and they tell one person and they tell one person.

Got a favorite author? What book are you going to tell a friend about today?

A Writer Gets Her Wisdom Teeth Removed

Teeth

I slid onto the brown, cushioned chair. My heart pounded. Nerves filled my stomach better than the food I hadn’t been allowed to eat for the past six hours.

I shouldn’t be such a wimp about this. After all, I’ve had my characters get stabbed, shot with arrows, and cauterize their own wounds without any sort of pain killer whatsoever. I should be able to handle getting my wisdom teeth removed.

Even worse, I wasn’t worked up about the surgery part. I could handle the aftermath, and I’d be asleep when the surgeon removed the teeth.

No, I was freaking out over the needle for the I.V. That tiny, single prick.

The oral surgeon breezed into the room. The assistant placed the rubber mask for the happy gas over my nose. “Relax and breathe deeply. Try not to talk for the next couple of minutes.”

I sucked a long breath through my nose and stared around the room, at the blank TV, the empty stool in the corner, the x-ray of my teeth on the computer screen. The happy gas didn’t seem to be working. Tension still curled my muscles. The monitor bleep bleeped my heartbeat.

“Hold out your arm.” The oral surgeon pulled out a stool and sat next to me. I draped my arm towards him. He tied a rubber tourniquet around my upper arm.

I bolted upright, nearly knocking the mask off my face. “Wait! You’re putting the I.V. in my right arm? Can’t you do my left?”

The surgeon raised his eyebrows at me. “Anything special about your right arm?”

“No, it’s just…my right arm.” My tongue wasn’t working right. I didn’t have the energy to explain why I was freaking out. I needed my right arm. If it got a bruise from the I.V., I wouldn’t be able to spend Saturday editing like I’d planned.

“Okay, get ready. Just a little pinch now.”

I squeezed my eyes shut. He was right. It was only a slight pinch. He removed the tourniquet.

“So, what do you do in your spare time when you’re not getting your teeth out?”

The oral surgeon was trying to distract me while the I.V. started working. But I might as well go along with it. “I’m a writer. I write books.”

“Oh, what kind of books?”

“Young adult fan…fantasy…Christian fantasy fiction.” Did that sound as slurred to him as it did to me? “I actually have an idea for a book where a guy from the Middle Ages goes to the dentist.” It was an idea I’d had while at the dentist a few weeks’ before, right before I’d learned I needed my wisdom teeth removed.

“Just think how bad something like this would have been back then. No anesthetic.”

“Yeah, though my idea would have him go to a modern dentist. Time travel. He’d freak out.” The things a writer thinks of while getting her teeth cleaned at the dentist. I could just see the guy freak out by the strange torture session.

By this point, the oral surgeon was probably relieved when I passed out.

An Uncertain Choice – Book Review

An Uncertain Choicea medieval YA novel by Jody Hedlund, releases today! Head over to her blog where she is hosting a giveaway for this book. I was so excited when I learned that Jody Hedlund, one of my favorite authors, was writing a YA book. I was even more excited when I had the opportunity to be on her influencer team. I feel sorry for all of you who had to wait until today to buy and read the book, because it is as awesome as I thought it would be!

My Recommendation An Uncertain Choice is a delightful romance, but with enough action and mystery to keep it from being sappy or boring. Rosemarie is a wonderful heroine. She is weak and vulnerable, but she has a strong core that keeps her from being helpless. While she needs to be rescued, she also rescues herself at times. Her strength comes from her faith in God, and she has a compassionate heart. A good example of how a young Christian lady should be. The three knights are also well-rounded characters. The book could easily have turned awkward, but it is handled well. The other knights beside the one meant for Rosemarie could have turned into flat characters, but I liked each of them. While I had a favorite for Rosemarie, I loved all three of them and can’t wait to read about their happy endings in the rest of the series. Once again, a great book by Jody Hedlund and one I’ll be sure to read over and over again!

About the Book Due to her parents’ promise at her birth, Lady Rosemarie has been prepared to become a nun on the day she turns eighteen. Then, shortly before her birthday, a friend of her father’s enters the kingdom and proclaims her parents’ will left a second choice—if Rosemarie can marry before the eve of her eighteenth year, she will be exempt from the ancient vow.

Before long, Rosemarie is presented with the three most handsome and brave knights in the land. But when the knights’ arrival results in a series of attacks within her land, she begins to wonder if the convent is the best place after all. If only one of the knights—the one who appears the most guilty—had not already captured her heart.

This book also also has a prequel novella, The Vow. The Vow contains the backstory for An Uncertain Choice, and I recommend reading The Vow first. It makes her decision in the beginning of An Uncertain Choice more poignant. About the Book In this historical romance novella by Jody Hedlund, young Rosemarie finds herself drawn to Thomas, the son of the nearby baron. But just as her feelings begin to grow, a man carrying the Plague interrupts their hunting party. While in forced isolation, Rosemarie begins to contemplate her future—could it include Thomas? Could he be the perfect man to one day rule beside her and oversee her parents’ lands? Then Rosemarie is summoned back to her castle in haste. The disease has spread, and her family is threatened. And the secret she discovers when she returns could change her future forever. Q&A with the Author! After writing for the adult market, why did you decide to transition to young adult books? I have five children and three of them are now teens. That means that over the past few years I’ve ended up reading a lot of books in the Young Adult genre not only to stay abreast of what my kids are reading, but also to have discussions about the topics and world views within the books. All that to say, I’ve fallen in love with reading YA books! Naturally, as I’ve fallen in love with reading them, I had to consider the possibility of writing them. And while I have a lot of other things going on my publishing career, I decided I wanted to make this move into YA now while I still had teens at home to read my books (and give me feedback!). How is your approach to writing Young Adult novels different than your Historical Romance novels? My approach is different in a couple of ways. First, my adult historical romances are mostly set in the 1800’s in America (due in part to that setting being considered the “sweet spot” for adult historical fiction). But my YA is medieval times which is allowing me to jump into a time period that I’m crazy about! I’ve had lots of fun writing about knights, castles, and daring damsels! A second difference in my YA and adult fiction is in how I’m approaching the heroine and the romance. Obviously the heroine is a young adult (under 18 or on the cusp of turning 18), and so this is more of a coming of age story where the heroine must grapple with some “growing up” issues. She’s also just beginning to explore relationship issues and must wrestle through timeless questions about how to know who’s the right one, what qualities to look for in a relationship, and how to know when you’re really in love. What’s the story about and who are the main characters?   The heroine is a beautiful and wealthy young woman named Lady Rosemarie. She’s on the cusp of her eighteenth birthday and knows her destiny is to fulfill a vow made by her parents. In light of their infertility, her parents had promised to give their firstborn back to God for a life of service and celibacy when she turned eighteen. Now with only one month before her birthday, Lady Rosemarie receives the news that there is an exception to the Ancient Vow–if she finds true love and is married by her birthday, then she’s exempt from having to become a nun. Faced with a growing loneliness and the possibility of losing control over the people she rules with compassion, Lady Rosemarie questions whether life in a cloister is really the best choice for her life. She agrees to allow the three handsomest and noblest knights in the land the chance to win her heart in one month. Enter on stage, the three heart throbs! Sir Collin, Sir Bennet, and Sir Derrick. Each one is completely honorable and noble in his own way. Lady Rosemarie will have a tough choice ahead of her. Now you’ll have to read the book to find out who she chooses and why! Are you working on the next book in the series?  Yes! I’m excited about the second book in the series. It’s already written and I’m in the process of getting ready to turn it in to my editor in order to get her expertise feedback. As I mentioned it will involve another one of the three knights. But of course, I won’t give away which of the knights until closer to the release of the book! (How’s that for a tease!) In An Uncertain Choice, Rosemarie has to choose between three knights: 10957722_10204630598062228_6238788260820733248_o Sir Bennet – Charming and Handsome Sir Collin – Funny and Sincere Sir Derrick – Brooding and Compassionate If you were Rosemarie, which knight would you choose?