Book Blitz – Torn by Mia Kerick

Torn
Mia Kerick
Publication date: August 7th 2018
Genres: LGBTQ+, Romance, Young Adult

Vinny Bucci and Tommy Stecker are almost cousins—their mothers call themselves “sisters of the heart,” so that sort of makes them cousins, doesn’t it? Since childhood, they’ve shared holidays and Sunday services and their passion for soccer. But now they’re eighteen, high school seniors, and what has always been devoted friendship—the next best thing to family—has started to feel like something else. Something more….

Unfortunately, the Steckers can’t accept their son’s same-sex romance, and upon recognizing the teens’ mutual attraction, they push Tommy into dating a girl from church, then compel him to attend a Christian College far away from Vinny’s school. The Buccis and the Steckers—once a family of choice—clash over what’s right and go their separate ways.

Forced into separation, Vinny and Tommy are both devastated, but while Vinny hardens his heart to love, halfway across the country Tommy becomes emotionally and physically ill. Their passion for each other hasn’t diminished, let alone died, but they lose contact, and for the first time in their lives learn what it is to live with a broken heart.

Will Tommy and Vinny find their way back to each other, or will they accept the rules dictated by family and try to live severed lives, their love forever unfulfilled?

A Mature Young Adult Romance

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GUEST POST by MIA KERICK

Hello. I’m Mia Kerick, and I’m here with my first in a series of YA/NA “story ballads.” This one is called TORN.

According to Wikipedia…

New adult (NA) fiction, also rendered as new-adult fiction, is a developing genre of fiction with protagonists in the 18–30 age bracket.[1] St. Martin’s Press first coined the term in 2009, when they held a special call for “…fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult—a sort of an ‘older YA’ or ‘new adult’”.[2] New adult fiction tends to focus on issues such as leaving home, developing sexuality, and negotiating education and career choices…

In its short life, NA fiction has had its ups and downs. Some writers/publishers don’t see it as a valid genre. Others find it to be a much-needed category. Lauren Sarner, in her article The Problem with New Adult books, states “New Adult is a label that is condescending to readers and authors alike. It implies that the books act as training wheels between Young Adult and Adult. For the New Adult books that are particularly childish, the label implies that they are a step above Young Adult—which is insulting to the Young Adult books that are far superior. For the New Adult books that are particularly sophisticated, the label implies that they are not worthy of being considered ‘adult.’ It’s a lose-lose situation for everyone.”

I think NA is an important developing, and hopefully not disappearing, genre, as there are topics, which when dealt with in full detail, are not entirely appropriate for a YA audience. There is also a difference in attitude. Teens who have are sharing their first kiss, experiencing a parental divorce, or experimenting with alcohol for the first time, have a different voice than those who are going off to live on their own to discover who they are when high school ends. In particular, there is a lot more sex in NA books, and the details are more descriptive. But this is where the genre seems to have hit a wall, in my opinion. According to my study of the Amazon Hot New Releases and Best Sellers lists, New Adult has largely turned into a genre that is centered around stories of sexual escapades. (Check out the lists and you’ll see what I mean.)

So when I wrote a novel that truly deals with more mature YA subjects and the transition from high school to college—living as “adults” for the first time—deciding upon a category is challenging. If I go with YA, I run the risk of offering more descriptive fact and detail than 13-18-year-olds need. If I choose New Adult, reader expectations have largely shifted away from “older YA” as it was originally intended, to be stories of a primarily sexual nature.

I’ve put a great deal of consideration into the choice between YA and NA, when it comes to my novella, Torn. As the story begins, Vinny and Tommy are high school seniors. The plot takes them through their final year of high school and into college. And certainly, in the novel they confirm their sexualities and experience passionate moments with each other, but that is not the only thrust of the book. The primary theme is of separating from family—not just physically, but emotionally. The young men go out into the world and develop their adult identities. They deal with being truly alone for the first time, religious conflict, and parental expectations. They make choices that adults make—ones that cause huge disruption and long-term change in their lives.

In the end, I chose to categorize the book as a Mature YA Romance. I placed this in the blurb so those who are selecting a book will realize that it isn’t about a first kiss or fitting in at their high school. The topics are a somewhat more mature, though not out of the scope of YA lit. But my main reason for choosing YA is because of the voice. The two main characters, who are the narrators, possess a YA voice for a great portion of the book.

I hope you check out my Mature YA Story Ballad, Torn, meet Vinny and Tommy, and explore the challenges they face as they journey toward love.

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Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—one in law school, another a professional dancer, a third studying at Mia’s alma mater, Boston College, and her lone son off to Syracuse. (Yes, there is Atlantic Coast Conference rivalry within the family.) She publishes LGBTQ romances when not editing National Honor Society essays, offering opinions on college and law school applications, helping to create dance bios, and reviewing English papers. Her husband of twenty-five years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about this, as it is a sensitive subject.

Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled young people and their relationships. She has a great affinity for the tortured hero in literature, and as a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with tales of tortured heroes and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. Now she publishes her work—it’s an alternate place to stash her stories.

Her books have been featured in Kirkus Reviews magazine and have won Rainbow Awards for Best Transgender Contemporary Romance and Best YA Lesbian Fiction, a Reader Views’ Book by Book Publicity Literary Award, the Jack Eadon Award for Best Book in Contemporary Drama, an Indie Fab Award, a First Place Royal Dragonfly Award for Cultural Diversity, a First Place Story Monsters Purple Dragonfly Award for YA Fiction, among others.

Mia Kerick is a social liberal and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of human rights. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology. Contact Mia at miakerick@gmail.com or visit at http://www.miakerickya.com to see what is going on in Mia’s world.

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Review

The Tiger’s Watch

(Ashes of Gold #1)

Julia Ember

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5 ★ – Magical and Thrilling
Published by Harmony Ink Press August 22, 2017
Genre(s): Young Adult, Fantasy, GLBT, Romance
Pages: Kindle 180
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Sixteen-year-old Tashi has spent their life training as a inhabitor, a soldier who spies and kills using a bonded animal. When the capital falls after a brutal siege, Tashi flees to a remote monastery to hide. But the invading army turns the monastery into a hospital, and Tashi catches the eye of Xian, the regiment’s fearless young commander.
Tashi spies on Xian’s every move. In front of his men, Xian seems dangerous, even sadistic, but Tashi discovers a more vulnerable side of the enemy commander—a side that draws them to Xian.
When their spying unveils that everything they’ve been taught is a lie, Tashi faces an impossible choice: save their country or the boy they’re growing to love. Though Tashi grapples with their decision, their volatile bonded tiger doesn’t question her allegiances. Katala slaughters Xian’s soldiers, leading the enemy to hunt her. But an inhabitor’s bond to their animal is for life—if Katala dies, so will Tashi.

This is the first book I’ve read by Julia Ember and I’m definitely 100% going to be adding her other books on my neverending TBR. The Tiger’s Watch is a fantastic thrilling story that features a genderfluid protagonist (Woohoo!). From the very beginning until the last page, I was enthralled by Ember’s beautiful writing. The story, the world building, the characters, the magic, the romance, everything… – I LOVE it all.

Ember is an amazing writer and visionary. The world building in this book is unique and imaginative. The idea of inhabitors, a soldier who is able to bond with an animal in order to spy and kill, is creative and fascinating. I definitely loved it when Tashi would connect with their tiger, Katala. I mean how incredible is it to be able to experience two lives at once. To do things you never thought you could. To feel, hear, taste, and see the world through another species. Of course there’ll be limitations and danger, but still… it’s pretty darn awesome! I really enjoyed this part of the book and hope to see it developed some more in the next installment.

I love the characters with all my heart and rooted for each of them. Tashi is not exactly the bravest and for a trained spy/killer, they’re actually quite horrible at it, but they try to be strong and to do good. Pharo can be impulsive and reckless, but he’s also kind and very loyal. Xian is unpredictable and cruel, but there is also a side of him that’s caring and vulnerable. They’re complex, flawed, and awfully frustrating, but it’s difficult not to sympathize with them when they’re just trying to do what they believe is right to protect the people they love.

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The romance is subtle and the relationships could have had a bit more development… but the little preview was enough to keep me interested. And yes, there’s definitely some swooning here and there. I enjoyed the slow burn romance between Tashi and Pharo… BUT (and someone tell me I’m not alone in this) I REALLY LIKE Tashi and Xian together… I know I know.. Xian’s despicable and the enemy, but I sort of have a thing for the “bad guy” type… the complicated more than meets the eye villain who ends up being the “good guy.” So, of course I found the love-hate chemistry between Tashi and Xian totally intriguing. (Kind of reminded me of how I felt towards Juliette and Warner from the Shatter Me Series). While Tashi and Xian is my obvious ship, I’m still pretty excited to see how both relationships progress.

The Tiger’s Watch may be short (not even 200 pages), but it’s full of intrigue, magic, adventure, and mystery. I love Ember’s vivid storytelling and this wonderful world she’s created. I seriously have so much love for this book and can’t recommend it enough. If you’re looking for a quick, fun, and entertaining fantasy novel, then you absolutely have to add this on your TBR… or you know just grab a copy when it comes out. Oh and be prepared to shut the real world off, cause you’ll want to finish this in one sitting.

I received an advanced reader copy of this book from the author and publisher, Harmony Ink Press, in exchange for a fair review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Follow / Connect with Julia Ember: Website / Instagram / Twitter / Facebook

Sincerely Karen Jo