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review 2015-08-12 11:55
Review: How We Fall
How We Fall - Kate Brauning

I started this book on a Saturday morning and finished it a few hours later. So good I simply couldn't put it down. 


There is very little plot to the book. It was mostly the mystery angle that got my attention and why I picked it up. Though the main focus of the book is the relationship drama between Jackie and her cousin Marcus. The whole cousin romance thing was kind of icky, but weirdly compelling as well. 


Jackie has moved to rural Missouri with her parents to live with her aunt and uncle, and their huge mess of kids of all ages. She developed a friendship with Marcus and it quickly turned into something more. Both of them are torn over what to do about it. They sneak around a lot, they are both smart enough to know that the whole situation is a difficult one, they are cousins and live in the same house and it would cause a lot of stress and drama if their families found out.


They go up and down on this roller coaster of emotion. They try setting rules and boundaries, but things always get twisted. Worse when a new girl comes to town and sets her sights on Marcus. Jackie tries to pretend she's okay with it...she and Marcus are messing around and both will go their separate ways to college before long.


But of course, its way more complicated than that. Despite the fact that the cousin thing was uncomfortable, the depth of feelings and Jackie's inner struggles were absorbing. The writing was amazing, and the book was just simply impossible to put down. Jackie had a great voice and a well rounded personality that made her extremely easy to like and care about her struggles. The family dynamic was great. The family was full of kids and parents who ran a pseudo hippy-ish lifestyle, even if one aunt was very overbearing. There were rules to follow and everyone pitched into help. There was plenty of drama, but it was different and entertaining.


There was a side mystery pot as well, involving Jackie's former best friend Ellie who had moved away and they had lost touch. Ellie turns up missing. And is soon found dead. Jackie doesn't get too involved, until she notices the new girl, has a connection to Ellie. Its almost like at some points the mystery is forgotten and then brought up again at the end in way that felt to me like -  oh we really need to tie this plot up and everything is concluded during a storm in what seemed like an overly dramatic rush.


Despite a few uncomfortable themes, the book was exceptionally well written with some beautifully fleshed out characters exploring some deep emotions. I really can't wait to read something else by this author.  


Forbidden Romance Square crossed off for Story Sprites Round 1 Challenge

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review 2014-11-19 03:31
Emotional if not Earth shattering
How We Fall - Kate Brauning

***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

I’d like to start off by saying that if you’re interested in this book because you loved Forbidden you might want to give it a pass. I don’t actually say this with any authority since I haven’t actually read the book but from the reviews I’ve read, I’d imagine that this book is nowhere near the same level as Forbidden. 

That said, I adored the book. It wasn’t mind blowing, it wasn’t AMAHZING but at the same time, it was an emotional read and it kept me up for a couple minutes. You might imagine that is not a lot but I am usually someone who’d rather daydream before going to bed so the fact that I kept on coming back to this book was a big deal for me.

The characters are what take the cake in this book. The author makes them realistically flawed but at the same time they aren’t horrible people. They are lovable even if you want to shake them from time to time.

There is a good chance Jackie will bother you but she didn’t bother me. I loved that she wasn’t all, ‘we love each other, let’s do this’. She had doubts. She knows her relationship with her cousin isn’t going to be viewed the way she wished it could be viewed. The way society feels affects her. She doesn’t want to be the one that sticks out like a sore thumb because of who she loves. As a result, she ends up not realizing the extent of her feelings for Marcus and ends up pushing him away. I love that she actually realizes how silly she is being in a lot of the cases. That’s what makes her a likeable character. This is a self-discovery process and it takes her a while to realize what it is she wants and it takes her even longer to actually do something about it but then again, no one said that change would happen in a day.

Marcus is just as wonderful. He is a perpetually sweet guy but at the same time, he is tired of not being sure how Jackie feels about him and when they call the quits, he is a jerk. We know that he loves her but at the same time; he does immature things because he is heartbroken. Maybe subconsciously, he does want to hurt her, the same way she hurt him. It did make me want to shake him but considering the kind of guy he is, it made sense that he would lash out this way.

My favorite secondary character was hands down Will.The author could have easily made him into the douchy guy that would make the female lead realize how much she loved Marcus but the author didn’t do that. Instead she let Will be a genuinely nice guy, appearances aside. She let the two be friends and she let Will be the friend she really needed at that point of time.

All these wonderful things said; I am not so sure how I feel about the romance. It’s emotional and angsty and amazing but at the same time, I was discomforted by it. It was that odd mix of where I was cheering for them but at the same time, I wasn’t entirely comfortable with their relationship. In this case though, I don’t think it would entirely be possible to write a romance that would be a 100% comfortable.

The mystery was definitely a nice addition to the story but don’t go into this book thinking it’s going to be a mystery. It’s not. It’s still primarily a contemporary romance.

That isn’t to say that the mystery wasn’t good, the little there was. It just wasn’t as well developed as it could have been considering how well the author lay the foundations.

I wish I could talk about the ending but me saying anything would give away what happens and I think it’s for you to find out what becomes of the two and whether they get the HEA they want or if they end up going their separate ways.

I’d definitely recommend this to anyone looking for an intense, emotional, contemporary romance to read.

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text 2014-11-04 11:18
Author Talks: Kate Brauning


Please welcome Kate Brauning to BookLikes' Author Talks! 


Kate is an Young Adult author with her debut novel How We Fall coming out November 11th. She writes contemporary and speculative suspense. Kate has written novels since she was a teen, but it wasn’t until she studied literature in college that she fell in love with the soul of young adult books.


You can follow Kate on BookLikes where she shares her favorite reads and reviews here: Kate Brauning. Read on to win Kate's debut novel. 



As a child you’ve enjoyed spending time in the library. Was it then when you thought “I want to be a writer!”?


I’ve always had fun writing stories, and I wrote a novel all through high school. I loved it, but it just never occurred to me that I could write for a career. I kept on loving it, though, and in college I decided that I loved it too much to not try.



You seems to be keen on Young Adult: you write and edit YA novels. Why have you decided to write in this genre, or did the genre pick you?


Oh, that’s a great question, with a tough answer. Yes, YA has really grabbed me. Young adult fiction explores the teenage years of a person’s life, and those years are a significant point of change for most of us. Teens are tackling adult issues for the first time—serious relationships, jobs, shifting authority structures, new limits and opportunities—but they’re doing it without the experience and often without the resources that adults may have. It’s a vulnerable, heady, thrilling stage in someone’s life. Teens are also adjusting to greater independence and more authority in their own lives, but might still be dealing with limitations at odds with those things, like curfews, not having a car, house rules, and the structures of school. YA tackles that.


The experiences we have in our teenage years are formative ones, and the mistakes and choices we make can follow us into adulthood. There’s great opportunity, uncertainty, and passion in those years, and they leave a mark on us. I didn’t start reading YA until I reached my twenties, and I wish I’d found it earlier—seeing so closely into the lives of other teens who are wrestling with the same changes and struggles I was would have been so helpful as a teen. I still find myself identifying with the characters in these stories, because people never stop struggling with change. You don’t grow out of YA.


A final reason I love YA is that there’s no reason not to. Teens are every bit as complex as adults, and they can think as deeply, too. Of course they can. Teens aren’t a more simplistic or less demanding audience, and their stories aren’t any simpler or less worthy. When I came to YA as an adult, what drew me in was the depth of these stories, and that’s what I’ve stayed for, too.

Your debut novel How We Fall is about to be released, congratulations! Can you tell our readers more about the book -- the plot is quite controversial.


I’d love to! Yes, the cousins relationship is unusual, but the complexities of it are why I wanted to write about it.  I love best friend romances, and to me, that’s essentially what this story is. I think best friend romances are sweet, and deep, and full of little tensions. There’s not much like discovering the person who knows you best is the one you want to share your life with.


To me, How We Fall is primarily a best friend romance, even though it’s a taboo one. I liked the idea of writing a sort of extreme best friend love story, and the cousin dynamic seemed like a fascinating one to use. For a lot of people, the cousin relationship is a unique one. Cousins know your family, but don’t necessarily share the same baggage. They know your siblings and parents and the special aggravation that can come with them. A lot of people grew up seeing their cousins frequently, so there’s no use having pretensions– they’ve known you since you were little. They’ve been there, they know you, and they’ll be there for the rest of your life.


And I mean, why not write about cousins? a) It’s not illegal. Cousin marriage is legal in about half the states, and is only considered incest in a few. b) It happens. Some form of cousin marriage accounts for 20% of marriages worldwide. I personally know of a few cousin marriages. c) People do write about it. We have a history full of famous cousin marriages, as well as a number of famous novels (including Mansfield Park) where cousin marriage is part of the story. d) Cousin crushes happen a lot. One thing I find really interesting is the stories people tell me when they hear about my book. Turns out, a lot of people kissed their cousin when they were little and a lot of people crushed on an older cousin. It’s there—we just don’t talk about it much.


Yes, there are safety issues, similar to other forms of nontraditional relationships, and yes, there are genetic issues, though the genetic issues with children from first cousin marriages are widely exaggerated. The risk of birth defects for children of first cousins is only 2% higher than for the general population.


The problems and issues surrounding cousin relationships are exactly why I wanted to write about it. Conflict makes a story, right? Usually, the deeper the struggle, the more fascinating the story. The problems with cousin relationships are a huge part of why I wanted to write about it. It would test my characters in ways not much else could.


To me, How We Fall is about self more than cousins. It’s about finding out what you really want out of life, and being brave enough to go after it. It’s about emotional dishonesty, and courage, and roots, and missed opportunities changing who you become. And really, I hope it’s a fun read. There’s humor, produce farming, and Casablanca quotes, and flirting, friendship, and sisters. It’s about parents, and being uprooted, and sneaking off in the dark, and Hitchcock movies. It’s about a girl and her family, and the guy she can’t/won’t/desperately wants to go after.



Literary genres mingle and mix with each other, YA is not only dedicated for teens and gathers more and more adult readers. You’ve worked as a high school English teacher and you have some experience with teenagers. In your opinion, what issues should Young Adult books touch to meet teens’ expectation and be well received?


Oh, tough question. Since YA explores the lives of teens, it can cover a lot of territory. Being a teen for one person may be an entirely different experience than being a teen is for someone else. However, dealing with the changes and struggles that go along with being both a person and a teenager is really what most YA explores. Independence. A changing identity. Choices that affect your future. Serious relationships. Friendships. Sex. Jobs. Those things are key to YA. And YA needs to be authentic and genuine about what it means to be a teen, for that character, in that culture and situation, because teens can identify pandering and preachy stories so easily, but also because I think most great authors write to explore, as a way to be genuine and interact authentically with the world.


If I write a story that’s not authentic, that doesn’t deal with real life and tough issues, I’m missing the whole point of why I write. I don’t know how other authors feel about that, but that’s how it is for me.



Apart from being a write, you’re also an editor. What’s more difficult: writing or editing? How these two jobs are different from each other?


They’re both challenging careers. Which one is tougher depends on the day and the book, I suppose! They’re very different from each other, though, because when I write, I’m creating—my own world, my own characters, my own vision for the book. When I edit someone else’s book, I’m evaluating and challenging the story, and helping that author figure out how to get his/her vision on the page. It’s a supportive position instead of a creator position.



How long does it take to write a book? Can you tell our readers about your writing process and its phases?


For me, it depends on the book. A few months to a year, depending on what else is going on in my life and how easily the book comes together for me. I like to spend time mulling over the characters and the conflict and even scenes before I ever start writing the book. I tend to fast-draft the first 30,000 words or so, and then take a step back and do heavy revisions to condense, focus, and shift anything that needs to change. Then I finish writing the book, and start revising again. Then it goes to my critique partners and agent, and I do more revisions.



Do you have any writing habits, like drinking a coffee from your lucky mug, not writing on Mondays, inventing the plot while riding a bike?


I think having a routine is important. It helps me stay dedicated, accountable, and avoid burnout. I like to turn on my playlist for the book, get coffee, and sit in my armchair with a yellow legal pad and jot down the conflicts, goals, and ideas for the scene I need to work on, and spend a while thinking it through. I then turn off the music so I can focus, and work through those notes while I write the scene. Doing this every day is my goal, but life gets in the way. The times I can do this consistently, every day, without interruption, are the times I produce the best writing and the times it comes most easily for me.



You run fiction workshops in your local library, what have you learned from teaching others how to write?


Teaching writing fiction to others has been one of the main things that has shown me how many varied ways there are to be a talented writer. Writing is made up of so many different skills, that even if you need to strengthen most of your skills in that area, there are likely several areas where you really stand out. The unique fingerprint of each individual writer on his/her story always surprises me. It’s a wonderful field to work in. 



Can anyone become a writer? What advice would you give to aspiring writers?


I think anyone with the passion to become a writer can. Some people have more natural talent than others, but writing is also a skill that can be developed if you’re determined enough. My advice to aspiring writers is to study writing fiction, and not just keep writing draft after draft. Practice is definitely important, but there’s so much to storytelling that I’d struggle to pick up just from practicing. How the human attention span works, what makes people curious, what puts them on edge, how to make concepts interesting, the difference between theme and message, identifying and then connecting with your readers, etc. Reading good books on craft and hearing great authors speak has been invaluable to me, so definitely do that.


Also, read. And read more than you think need to. At least a book a week, if not two. It will show you what’s out there, help you identify all-important voice, and help you see how others did what you want to do. 

Can you tell our readers what are you working on right now?


I’ve got a couple projects going! I’m working on a new adult contemporary right now, and I’ve got something really fun and different (not contemporary), too.




Do you read books during your writing process? Do they influence your work?


I do! I have to, or I lose touch of what great writing is. I usually try to be conscious of not letting the voice in another book bleed over into mine, but if I’m paying attention that usually doesn’t happen.



What are you reading now?


I just finished Carrie Mesrobian’s Sex & Violence, and it was wonderful and voicey and thought-provoking. I also finished Where’d You Go, Bernadette? So funny and charming and engrossing!




Are you a book collector or a book recommender?


Both. I love owning books I loved, and I love telling people about the great reads I come across. If I loved something, you’ll probably hear about it.



Paper books or e-books? Why?


I love both—but ownership is important to me, and I don’t feel like I own an e-book. I love e-books for sales and trying new authors and for bringing a tonof reading on vacation, but if I love a book or the author, I buy a physical copy. Just to make it mine.



What are your favorite books?

Please recommend some must read titles for our readers.


Gone Girl. The 5th Wave. What Alice Forgot. Warm Bodies. Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Under the Never Sky. This is Not a Test. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. This Song Will Save Your Life.





Every one of these books is imaginative, twisting, gripping, and completely engrossing. Read them all.


What are you favorite quotes? 

I have two that rank pretty highly for me:


The first comes from A Dance With Dragons, by George R.R. Martin: “‘A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies,’ said Jojen. ‘The man who never reads lives only one.’”


The second is from The Deathly Hallows and J.K. Rowling, courtesy of Kingsley Shacklebolt:

We’re all human, aren’t we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving.


What’s your favorite writing and reading spot?


I love to read on my couch at home, or in bed at night, but I most often write in the creative arts studio I run with my husband and a friend.


It’s a gorgeous studio with hardwood floors, a high table I use for a standing desk (important for people who sit all day!) and lots of natural light. It also shares a building with a café/wine bar, which is a great perk.



Thank you, Kate!


And here's a surprise from Kate Brauning: 

enter the giveaway to win How We Fall:



 You can find more information on Kate's author page

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