So I recently picked up Downcast by Cait Reynolds. In the spirit of transparency, I am going to let you know we have the same publisher, but that in no way has affected my review. If I don't like something I don't review it, plain and simple. So here's my rave.
In Downcast we meet Stephanie Starr. You remember that poor girl in high school whose mother made all her clothes? That's Stephanie. But she comes with a whole world of other baggage, including an oppressive mother-daughter relationship that really is something of mythic proportions.
Pretty fast we meet Zach and Haley, two new boys who've recently moved to the area. Stephanie is smart, but she's insecure and convinced any motive behind a popular person's attention to her means they're messing with her, just waiting to humiliate her the moment she gives into the belief anyone outside of her small circle of friends would be interested in her. And yet, from the moment deep, mysterious, dark, and good-looking Haley lays his eyes on her, he seems transfixed, an interest she doesn't encourage, but one that draws her in the longer it endures.
Pretty fast the reader realizes a myth is being played out in modern day high school—Persephone and Hades. What I loved about Reynold's writing wasn't just how deeply embroiled I became from almost the first page, but I loved her characterization. Stephanie truly was one of the most interesting characters because she wasn't immediately the most beautiful or interesting girl at school. She initially is submissive, insecure, and only when Haley comes around does she seem to assert any sort of agency. And yet, as the story unravels, she evolves dramatically.
Outside of everything else involved in this unique take on an old Greek myth, the romance was STEAMY. I would love to date Haley ... if he wasn't a high school boy (in the book) and I wasn't already married (in real life) and deeply devoted to my long-time book boyfriend (Tarod from Louise Cooper's Time Master Trilogy). Reynolds is a master of the romantic build up, something that seems lacking or almost non-existent in so many books today.
I turned and turned those pages, and so should you if you're a fan of Greek mythology twists, YA romance, and interesting heroines to boot. You can find Downcast on Amazon for $3.99 in Kindle and $16.95 in paperback. While Reynolds is busy at work on the sequel in the Olympus Falling series, she has since released Angel Hands, a standalone. Stay tuned for an interview with the lovely Cait Reynolds later this week.
In honor of Downcast's one year anniversary, Reynolds will release a special director's cut of deleted scenes with the launch of her newsletter at the end of May, and it will feature almost 50k of content that never made it into the book!
**You can also read this review and others at Cellar Door Lit Rants & Reviews
What would you do when faced with an impossible truth? Written with heart and passion, Downcast by Cait Reynolds is ripe with twists you never saw coming and love that defies the odds in this intense new Paranormal Romance retelling one of mythology’s greatest love stories.
It’s the start of Stephanie Starr’s senior year of high school, but sadly, this is no life of the prom queen. Stuck at the bottom of the high school social totem pole, Stephanie is forced by her domineering mother to wear lumpy linen dresses and eat organic tofu for lunch in a world of mini-skirts and pizza.
What Stephanie doesn’t anticipate is gorgeous and cocky Haley Smith who breaks social convention and pursues her with a determination that is both terrifying and flattering. Afraid that Haley is simply trying to set her up for massive humiliation, Stephanie does her best to push him away. But the more attention he pays to her, the more she runs, and the more everyone else begins to notice.
Instead of a loving family to support her as the mean girls make their play, Stephanie’s mother begins to unravel mentally, her possessiveness of Stephanie spiraling to new and frightening extremes. Stephanie is forced to grow up, find herself, and learn the truth about her past in order to save her mother, her friends, and her town. When the truth is revealed, nothing can prepare her for the outrageous reality of her existence…and nothing can save her from her fate.
When I was younger, I could barely read a book without some sort of love story involved. I would zoom through plot to get to the parts where the heroine and hero would finally reveal their love for each other, finally realize they were soul mates. The soul mate principle, as explored by many authors with various theories and ideas within the context of YA lit, was a passion. At night, I would wish to the world that I would find my truest love. My teen years were filled with the idea that some day I would find that person who would defy death for even me. I'll never forget in middle school we were reading some love story, and our teacher asked us to pen an answer to the question, "Is love worth dying for?" This was a time when Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was my newest and favorite-st movie and Bryan Adam's "Everything I do, I do it for you," made my heart fill so much I felt it would burst. Yes! I fervishly wrote my answer, love is worth dying for!
You think you'll never change, your beliefs will always be the same. That your passionate believe in something so true will last forever. Then, suddenly you're in your thirties, much wiser, and you laugh a little at your silly younger self, all the while feeling guilty for letting that idealistic, naive girl down.
When did I stop believing in the "soul mate"? While I'm not sure, it could be when I met my husband—my life mate, which I believe to be based on something much stronger. And yet, while my reading tastes have broadened through the years and my love of plot is evident in my own writing and thought processes, I still embrace the love stories—fantasy, contemporary lit, chick lit, YA—whatever the genre. I will never understand the hate-on of the "insta-love" in books, because to me it's escape, fantasy, idealized versions of love, cosmic connections, and allowing yourself to believe that the worst thing that could tear you from your soul mate is some apocalyptic war that will ultimately be stopped in the end. The belief that goodness prevails and happiness can be found. Love is love, and I'm all in.
YA love stories allows those of who are older to relive that passion, and even though many would scoff at the "insta-love" connections, instant attraction and connections happen every day—in real life. YA love stories are often truly reflective of the big emotions of youth and a breakup can seem like the world is ending, that true love has been thwarted. But trust me, it hasn't.
While I'm reflective on the wisdom that has come from age and experience, some beliefs may have shifted, yet they remain the same. I do believe in true love. I see it every day in the face of my son. I do believe in spending the rest of your life with someone. My husband and I have laughter and new adventures planned for our silver years. I do believe in dying for love, not in the jump-off-a-bridge-because-I-got-dumped, which is ridiculous and even as a teen I had better presence of mind. But I would put myself in harm's way if the people I love were in danger, as would many people. #mamabear
The truth is, I will always be a sucker for a good love story, whether it's realistic or riddled in fantasy, in life and in the pages of stories. After all, great love between lovers, family, and friends is what life is truly about. That's why reading is so magical, because for a short time we find new adventures and characters to love, ones that can help us find insights within ourselves or provide a relaxing or stimulating escape from reality.
“Where there is love there is life.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
Don't miss the Valentine's Day-themed episode of the Quirky Book Sirens, where we'll talk about what makes a good love story in literature. Feel free to chime in with any suggestions!
Chicklit lovers should check me and my sister's book review for the latest giveaway, Lisa Becker's Clutch, which launched Monday. Here's the links to the blog for more info about the author and book and the link to the Rafflecopter:
Cellar Door Lit Rants & Reviews (w/ info about Clutch)
When I was in middle school the most risky, scintillating book we read covertly in the hallways and during study halls was Go Ask Alice. This book about a teenage girl who spirals into drug addiction was about much deeper issues, obviously. But I can remember reading alongside my friends passages filled with cursing and sex. It was horrifying and yet at the same time, exciting to read such gritty, dark stuff. A cursory look at Amazon shows me it's still a bestseller. But I wonder if teens have the same reaction me and my peers had back in the day, or do they possibly read it now for it's true content? Because I've noticed a shift in YA that's more mature and sexual in nature.
Back in my day when I was reading the likes of RL Stine, Christopher Pike, Richie Tankersley Cusick, and LJ Smith, the teens in those books stayed pretty clean. There were no sex scenes, nor were they ever really implied. Pike bordered a little bit more on the risky side of sex, but it was still fairly chaste. Flash forward and as a woman in my thirties, I've read a number of YA books that have sex. Take the House of Night series by Kristin and PC Cast, which even goes so far as to portray oral sex in scenes. I recently read the Goddess Test series by Aimee Carter, and while there's no sex scenes, sex is definitely happening and is heavily implied.
When I wrote Fractured Dream, the first in my epic fantasy series, I did not write directly for any age group. My intention was to just write a high fantasy adventure novel, much like the ones I'd read growing up found in the Fantasy/Sci-fi section of the book store. So when I put one sex scene in it, I assumed it would be marketed for more adult audiences even though I'd increasingly been reading YA books with sex in them.
Once it was out in the market, however, Fractured Dream began to get slotted into the YA category by readers and bloggers. And while there have been a couple of readers I've noticed who thought perhaps the sexual content was more adult than it should be in the YA genre, sex seems to be a more accepted element in YA books overall.
And yet, had I been writing with a strictly teen audience in mind, I would have left that scene out, truthfully. Even despite knowing that I read all sorts of graphic sex scenes as a young reader from books outside the YA genre. When I started writing The Reaper's Daughter I always had a YA audience in mind for it and like the books of my day, it's more Christopher Pike-ish in the sex department.
I do think the change going on in YA of today, however, is an attempt to be realistic. Teens do have sex. They deal in all sorts of situations and to portray them all as virgins or never really addressing sex between young characters is not based in reality. This shift in YA makes writing it a bit more exciting, because there can be a more gritty factor, and that's what I like to do best, write fantasy and paranormal around relationships based in a real context.
WHAT DO YOU THINK? IS YA GROWING UP?
I am somewhat in love with book trailers, especially my own. (Targeted link now ... ) BUT ... I also very much enjoy perusing other authors' book trailers. They're such a nice little marketing supplement, and when I've played my own at events I've drawn a few eyes to my table. At any rate, my sister is in the business of making book trailers and here's her latest, created for author Elena Kincaid, author of the upcoming novel, Unshattered (Silver Cliff #1). Synopsis below, followed by awesome book trailer.
After Anna James loses nearly everyone she loves and is betrayed by those she trusted, she sets out in search of a place that would bring her peace. She knew she had found it when she arrived in a sleepy little town called Silver Cliff and she vows to never trust anyone with her heart again, especially a man she fears would not only break her heart, he’d incinerate it.
Nathan Kent has dealt with his own heartache and demons from getting off the path he was meant to be on. He decides to return to his home town to rebuild his life and the last thing he needs is to fall in love with a snarky girl who keeps her past under lock and key. He realizes quickly, though, that she is girl worth risking it all for and vows to make her his.
Their pull was undeniable, like fireworks on top of flaming bonfires. But Anna can’t help wonder if she and Nathan are strong enough to survive a past that keeps resurfacing or if fate will keep shattering the world around her.
I am thus dubbing this Book Trailer Sunday, wherein which I will share book trailers I love whether anyone is listening or not. If anyone's out there, feel free to link me in the comments below to your book trailers or ones you love and I'll begin sharing them on Sundays here and also at, Cellar Door Lit Rants & Reviews.
Peace, Love, and Happy Almost Monday!
It's a sad state that I seem to have become a once-a-month blogger. But I have been busy, I promise, and right now I just wanted to post a few updates. Although I was hoping to release The Reaper's Daughter earlier in 2015, I think the later release date is well-worth it. The official launch for The Reaper's Daughter is May 9. I will most likely be hosting a big giveaway right here on that day. More to come on that soon!
Next, for Fractured Dream readers, I'm currently rolling out the prequel to the saga on Wattpad, called Fairytale Lost. Currently, the update is every Wednesday. I'll also occasionally be updating with new short stories coming form the land of Tressla. Take a look if you're interested: http://www.wattpad.com/106534307-fairytale-lost-chapter-one
Meanwhile, I'm in the midst of working on Shattered World, the second in the Dreamer Saga trilogy. While I'd love to release it later this year, I'm thinking realistically it will probably be early next year again. But I'll update here as I get closer to finishing it.
Finally, we're also looking for advance readers, so if you're interested in getting an ARC of The Reaper's Daughter in exchange for an honest review, please feel free to email me: KMRANDAL@GMAIL.COM.
I'll leave you with a small excerpt from The Reaper's Daughter. Here's one for all you romance lovers:
Rishi rolled the car into a parking spot and put it in park. I was turning to wake Shelby when a warm hand slid down my arm and over my hand tugging on it in a way that insisted I look back at him.
He was suddenly so close I felt trapped in my seat, his gaze intent, but not on my eyes—on my lips. He smiled slowly, finally raising his eyes to meet mine, a slow, golden burn igniting my blood with heat. “Yes?” I managed to say, arching my brow in that way I’d practiced.
“Do that thing again,” he said, his voice low and smooth, invading my senses as I never thought a voice could. My heart lurched in a way that hadn’t happened even when we were in a high-speed chase. I swallowed thickly, trying to find my voice around his desire that smelled like musk and car leather.
“What thing?” I finally managed to murmur, sipping in a deep breath of air as my breathless voice gave away my weakness for him.
His smile widened, as if he knew he had me, his high cheekbones and loose, shiny black hair lending him a certain primal male beauty that made me retreat until I could feel the door handle pressing into my back. “That thing with your tongue. When you chastised me,” he said, mimicking my tsking of him from only moments earlier. “I found it interesting.”
I couldn’t help it, my eyes fell to his own lips while I tried to wrangle my cutting wit and Artemis-like spirit. I shook my head, so lightly I was surprised he saw it.
“Let’s go get rooms, we could all use the sleep,” I finally managed to say, nearly choking on the words that sounded liked a sordid invitation. “I mean separate rooms,” I amended, inwardly bringing back the defense he’d torn down, but only by avoiding his gaze.
He brought me back to him by clasping one hand under my chin and bringing my eyes up to meet his. “First, do that thing,” he insisted, his dark eyes glowing with amusement.
K.M. Randall writes fantasy and paranormal for both a general and young adult audience. Her debut novel, an epic fantasy called Fractured Dream, launched in June 2014, and her second book, The Reaper's Daughter, launched May 2015. Randall also published Fairytale Lost, a prequel to Fractured Dream, as an exclusive on Wattpad. She blogs about dreams, female heroines, and activism and its relevancy to the literary and fictional world. And when in the season, sometimes she just likes to talk about Halloween. She is currently hard at work on the second book in the Dreamer Saga series, Shattered World.