SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL (Something Like Normal #1) by Monica James-Review, Interview and Giveaway
Something Like Normal
Something Like Normal #1
by Monica James
Genre: New Adult, contemporary
Release Date: May 13, 2014
ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date May 13, 2014
Mia Lee has a secret…
A secret she’s kept hidden since she was eight years old, however, Mia will no longer allow that secret to define her.
An irrevocable decision has left Mia Lee a fugitive and on the run—a circumstance that should leave her weak and scared, yet Mia has never felt so alive.
Under the pseudonym of Paige Cassidy, Mia is ready to live the life she’s never had, and she’s determined not to allow her tainted past dictate her promising future.
Paige is on a Greyhound bus heading from L.A. to South Boston, Virginia, to start a new life. A life that includes finding her mother, who abandoned her at age three. But what she finds, is four people, who will change her life forever.
Yet no one can outrun their past…
Especially one filled with bitter memories, which refuse to remain hidden
REVIEW: SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL is the first instalment in Monica James’s contemporary, new adult series of the same name. The focus of the series is on nineteen year old Mia Lee (aka Paige Cassidy) and the horror that has been her life.
Told from first person (Mia/Paige) POV, the storyline premise follows Paige as she runs from her past. Landing in South Boston, Virginia with only a few dollars and a backpack with little more, Paige will discover that sometimes family has nothing to do with the blood in your veins but the people you meet along the way.Much of the back story is told through flashbacks and nightmares.
Monica James pulls the reader into an emotional storyline where a young woman had to make a choice –a choice that haunts her sleep but a choice that had to be made. Meeting Quinn and Tristan Berkeley, Hank the motel operator and Tabitha (her new BFF), Paige learns what it means to be family-a family of misfits who are there when the world begins to spiral out of control.
There is a slight love triangle formula developing between Paige and the Berkeley brothers which amped up my anxiety with an already emotional and heartbreaking storyline. Tristan and Quinn’s family history is just a step up from Mia’s horrific past and Paige (Mia) will find a kindred soul mate in Quinn.
The secondary characters (Tabitha, Quinn, Tristan, Hank) play a major role throughout the story and become one another’s sole source of comfort and support. The world building brings the abhorrent face of abuse, betrayal, neglect and addiction –front and center-in a storyline that will tug at your heart and your soul.
Monica James writes a seductive story about one woman finding solace and support from the unlikeliest of people and places. SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL is a provocative, emotional, intense and passionate storyline; the back story is gritty, abrasive and startling; and the present is traumatic and profound. You will not walk away untouched.
Copy supplied by the author.
Reviewed by Sandy
TRC: Hi Monica and welcome to The Reading Cafe. Congratulations on the release of SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL and the success of your I, Surrender series.
We would like to start with some background information. Would you please tell us something about yourself?
Monica: Well, I am a humbled girl from Australia, who is incredibly grateful to be doing an interview with someone halfway across the world. I studied Philosophy and Literature at University and I loved it. I loved reading the philosophies of Aristotle, Plato and Nietzsche because their writings are simply beautiful. So I guess in a way, these philosophers inspired me to follow my dream, and take a chance to start writing seriously.
TRC: Who or what influenced your career in writing?
Monica: Life inspired, and still inspires me to write. I never really had a moment where I was like, ‘Yes, I want to be a writer.’ I just loved being able to express myself onto paper, as writing came so naturally to me. It started out jotting down simple phrases, quotes, thoughts, and then it extended into poems and short stories. Then it just exploded and went from there. I love being able to tell a story, and share my vision with everyone who reads my work.
TRC: When not writing, what do you do to relax?
Monica: I love hanging out with my pets. And of course, reading.
TRC: SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL is the first release in your latest contemporary, new adult series. Would you please tell us something about the premise?
Monica: Something like Normal is a manuscript I hold very close to my heart. This book was a very challenging, taxing project to write, but I loved every minute of it. I wanted to write a different story, and challenge myself as a writer, and also, challenge my readers. Some readers may find the context a little dark, but that’s what I love about this series. Every chapter challenges me, and also pushes me to write outside my comfort zone, which I love. The premise is simple: my characters just want to find their piece of normalcy in a not so normal world.
TRC: Are any of the characters or the premise based in reality or a combination of reality and fiction?
Monica: Honestly, I had to do a lot of research for this book. I wanted it to be as accurate as possible, and also, I wanted it to be confronting. It is mainly fiction; however, the characters are loosely based on people I know.
TRC: How many books do you have planned for the series?
Monica: There are 4 books in this series, and they all follow the same characters throughout each book. These characters have a lot of secrets, and I really wanted to ensure I didn’t rush anyone’s past, especially Mia’s and Quinn’s.
TRC: What challenges or difficulties (research, logistics, background) did you encounter writing this particular story and series?
Monica: Heaps. This story involves certain situations and topics which I have never personally encountered before. I wanted to make the story as real, and as raw as possible. Everything that you read was researched, and double checked, to ensure that what you are reading is factual.
TRC: SURRENDERED-the final book in your I Surrender trilogy will be released in July 2014. Will you give us any hints or clues about the premise?
Monica: It was actually very sad writing, Surrendered. I have become very attached to these characters, and wrapping up their stories was hard. I did cry a few times LOL Hints- hmm, let’s just say Jasper White is gonna make you swoon!
TRC: Have you considered a spinoff or novella series when the trilogy is complete?
Monica: Yes, I have. If the fans want it, then I’ll see what I can do 😉
TRC: We have read where you have re-written the first two books –I Surrender and Surrender to Me-in your I Surrender series. Has the premise changed from the original storylines such that reading the new release will be confusing to previous readers?
Click HERE for our reviews of I, Surrender and Surrender to Me.
Monica: Not at all. When I say they are rewritten, this means the flow of the storyline has been rewritten. The actual plot itself has remained the same. A few scenes have been added, so think of these as bonus scenes.
TRC: What are your thoughts on writing a series and ending an instalment with a major cliff hanger?
Monica: LOL I know many readers hate them, but I feel they are needed to keep the readers coming back for more. Personally, as a reader, the more powerful and devastating an ending, the more chance I have at remembering the story. I love eagerly awaiting the next book in a series I love, because it’s like Christmas morning when I get my hands on it!
TRC: When writing a storyline, do the characters direct the writing or do you direct the characters?
Monica: If only I had a say! It’s 100% the characters. I cannot tell you how many times I have sat down in front of my laptop with a clear vision in my head, and then by the end of it, it reads like a totally different story. Some characters are louder and more obnoxious than others LOL, but I do try and stay true to them, and even though their decisions are sometimes questioned by readers, there is a reason why they are doing it.
TRC: The mark of a good writer is to pull the reader into the storyline so that they experience the emotions along with the characters. What do you believe a writer must do to make this happen? Where do you believe writer’s fail in this endeavor?
Monica: This is a really good question. There is only one rule I religiously follow when writing, and that is, write what you know. Your readers are intelligent, and they will know if you’re trying to write about something you’re not comfortable with. I am not talking about subject matter, because like I mentioned, Something like Normal was a project out of my comfort zone. I’m referring to writing style, words, flow etc…
An honest, raw piece of literature which showcases your talent, I believe, is what makes a successful story. If you want to write about something totally foreign to you, just make sure you have done your homework.
TRC: Writer’s Block is a very real phenomenon. How do you handle the pressures and anxiety of writer’s block?
Monica: I usually take a breather for a few days. I watch movies, read, and listen to music, that kind of thing. The more pressure put on oneself, I believe, the worse it gets. Writing should be expressive, not structured and controlled.
TRC: Many authors bounce ideas and information with other authors or friends and family. With whom do you bounce ideas?
Monica: I am a very private writer, and I actually only use one other person to bounce my ideas off, and that is my friend, and fellow author, Lisa Edward.
TRC: What three things would you like to accomplish in the next five years?
Monica: Well, I am honoured to be an Amazon bestselling author, so I guess the next step would be reaching for the stars.
TRC: What is something that few, if any people, know about you?
Monica: I am terrified of Air Blown Inflatable Characters
TRC: On what are you currently working?
Monica: Book 2 of the Something like Normal series, and a standalone.
TRC: Would you like to add anything else?
Monica: I wanted to give a shout out to my ever supportive, forever loyal readers- You guys mean everything to me. Without you, I wouldn’t be where I am now. It’s because of your enthusiasm and loyalty that I am able to do what I love, and for that, I will forever be grateful to each and every one of you. And the only way I can repay you, is to continue writing stories I hope you will love.
Thanks for this. It was fun x
Favorite Food Pizza
Favorite Dessert Pancakes
Favorite TV Show Dexter and Supernatural
Last Movie You Saw The Lego Movie
Favorite Musical Group 30 Seconds to Mars
Dark or Milk Chocolate Dark
Secret Celebrity Crush Animal (yes, the character from The Muppets)
Last Vacation Destination USA (I miss you guys ☹)
Pet Peeve Dog ears in books!
TRC: Thank you Monica for taking the time to answer our questions. It is always fun to meet the author. Congratulations on the release of SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL and the upcoming release of SURRENDERED.
Monica James is offering an ecopy of SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL to one (1) lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe
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5. Giveaway is open to INTERNATIONAL.
6. Giveaway runs from May 19 to May 23, 2014, 2014