Saturday, November 26, 2011

Review: Remembrance and Guest Post by Michelle Madow

Fans of Fiction is thrilled to be a stop on a book blog tour! Congrats to Michelle Madow for publishing her first novel!
It's still not too late to check out past (and future) blog stops for the Remembrance Book Blog tour. Here is the link. Kudos to Amanda from Stuck in YA Books for hosting the tour. 

Review (*The author provided Fans of Fiction with a copy in exchange for an honest review)
"New Hampshire high school junior Lizzie Davenport has been reincarnated from Regency Era, England ... but she doesn't know it yet.

Then Drew Carmichael transfers into Lizzie's school at the beginning of the year, and she feels a connection to him, almost like she knows him. She can't stop thinking about him, but whenever she tries talking with him about the mysteries behind her feelings, he makes it clear that he wants nothing to do with her. Reaching him is even more difficult because she has a boyfriend, Jeremy, who has started to become full of himself after being elected co-captain of the varsity soccer team, and her flirtatious best friend Chelsea starts dating Drew soon after his arrival. So why can't she seem to get him out of her mind?

Even though Lizzie knows she should let go of her fascination with Drew, the pair of them soon find that fighting fate isn't going to be easy.
Remembrance Guest Post: Characters or Plot?"

Stats:
  • Publisher: Dreamscape Publishing
  • Release date: July 27, 2011
  • Number of pages: 302
  • Would appeal to: readers who are interested in the idea of reincarnation, fans of romance
*Make sure to check below my review for Michelle's guest post!

First of all, I love the idea that the premise of the book was inspired by a Taylor Swift video! Very creative and cool. Not only that, but Michelle Madow is in college and she managed to find time to write a book that she started for a class. Impressive feat.

The cover draws the reader in as soon as she sees it. I love that the mask on the cover is similar to the description of the one the main character Lizzie is presented with in the story.

Lizzie is a confused girl with a low self-esteem. Mostly because she has two boys in her life who treat her like garbage. There's the long-term boyfriend, Jeremy, who spits insults at her left and right (including a nasty one right off the bat about her hair) and she sticks with him. They say people gravitate toward the comfortable. I guess that's true in this case. Jeremy likes speed, and insists on going fast even when Lizzie is uncomfortable. There are really no endearing moments that redeem his character, and the only reason I feel other girls crush on him is because he's co-capain of the soccer team. One of his most annoying qualities is that he must get better grades than his girlfriend, especially in French, or he sulks around like it's a giant surprise that she could beat him at anything.

Drew, the handsome new senior transfer, is mysterious and complicated. One moment he gives Lizzie the cold shoulder, the next, he's flirting with her. No matter how he treats her, she can tell there's an instant connection with him. The book opens with her first flashback of their previous life together as they're dancing at the Halloween dance.

The funny thing is, even though Drew acts like a complete prick at times, I wanted to know what was going to happen with their relationship. I felt Lizzie's pain (and possession) as she watches her best friend Chelsea go on dates with him and talk about how she's falling hard and fast. It's clear to the reader that Drew and Lizzie have a bond, but Chelsea seems to live in La-La Land and not notice.

Of all the minor characters, I liked Keelie the best. She is popular, but not snotty, and a friend to Lizzie even when Chelsea focuses on her own problems. I despised Amber, which I'm pretty sure was the point. She drapes herself across Jeremy. Even though Lizzie doesn't love him anymore, I can see how annoying that would be.

Both Jeremy and Chelsea constantly tell Lizzie she's changed (and not for the better). This was a tad annoying because it was clear that they should have been the ones to change, with their self-centered ways.

It was cool that Lizzie loves Pride and Prejudice so much, but it wasn't very realistic that she'd compare most every event in her life to something from the book. I did enjoy the gift the antique shop owner Alistair gives her that dealt with Pride and Prejudice. Their connection was fun, and the information he revealed as her "spirit guide" brought the reincarnation aspect full circle.

I felt that Lizzie's mother was acting strange at the beginning (but you later learn why). Even if my mom was out having dinner, she'd leave to pick me up if it was pouring rain outside. I turned out to like her later because she surprised me. I thought her career of a psychologist was introduced a little too late to be believable. It seemed more like a convenient plot detail so mother/daughter could talk.

I do love the connection between Lizzie's playing of the song Minuet and her flashbacks. I could picture the teeny piano practice room perfectly.

The story's detailed exposition kept me from completely immersing myself in this story. Many things were repeated, like verbs (for example, "wrapped" three times within two pages starting on 202), the outside description of Lizzie's house, and the way an electric current ran through Lizzie's body when she touched Drew. I thought Lizzie overanalyzed things to the extreme. Sometimes, she repeated nearly the same thought in two consecutive sentences. Some chapters lacked action because of this, and the flow of the story's middle was slow for me.

Lizzie spends a great deal of the book worrying about what Chelsea will think when she finds out her feelings for Drew. When this situation is resolved, I didn't think Lizzie's reaction was believable because of what she first thinks after Chelsea tells all she knows in the bedroom scene near the end (sorry, trying not to give away spoilers!).

I will be interested to see what the sequel holds for all of the characters and cross my fingers for more flashbacks of Drew and Lizzie's old life together! If you want a light read with a hard-shelled male interest (who's soft and compassionate on the inside, and yeah, his crazy moods strangely lured me into reading more, and okay, he's kind of gorgeous), this is the book for you!


Guest Post by Michelle Madow (check out Michelle's cover design and book trailer blog tour contest by clicking here and go to www.michellemadow.com for more information on Michelle's writing).
Thank you, Jenna, for having me at Fans of Fiction for a guest post!

Jenna asked a great question for the guest post, and I’m really excited to answer it for you all:

Did the characters of Lizzie and Drew inspire the story, or did the story create the characters? In other words, for all the writers out there, which comes first for you: characters or plot?

When I write a story, it’s always the plot that comes to me first. I’ll just be hanging out, and suddenly I’ll think, “Wouldn’t it be cool if (insert plot idea here) happened?” It’s usually some sort of daydream that I turn into a story idea.

With Remembrance it happened differently though, because the idea came to me from Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” music video. In the video, Taylor sees a guy while walking through campus, and the moment their eyes connect, the scene flashes to the two of them dancing at a beautiful ball dressed in clothes that appear to be from around the year 1815. The first thing I thought was, “Wow, they were reincarnated and didn’t remember their past lives until seeing each other for the first time!” Then I thought, “Hey, that could be a cool book.”
 I told my friends about my idea, and they loved it! They kept asking me about the plot and the characters, so I started a plot outline and character bios so I could have an idea of the story before writing. The whole story (plot and characters) formed together in my mind really quickly, and I knew I had to turn it into a novel so I could share the story with others.
 Since I create the plot before the characters, I like to create characters who are not prepared for the story they’re about to be flung into. For instance, when Lizzie first sees Drew, her soul mate from the past, she’s already in a long-term relationship. This complicates the situation so things aren’t too simple for the main characters. The best stories to read are ones where the main characters have to go through something challenging for them, so it’s good to create characters who are not ready for what’s about to happen to them. This allows them to make mistakes, grow, and change as the story progresses. It’s something I always try to remember when creating characters to go with my plots.

Thank you again, and I hope you enjoy Remembrance!

Be sure to check out Remembrance on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and The Book Depository.

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