Book Review- Alex, Approximately

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Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
Expected publication by Simon Pulse on April 4, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 400
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Classic movie buff Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online by “Alex.” Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new arch-nemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever-it-is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.

Boy oh boy did I love this book. Alex, Approximately was beautiful and heart felt and had just the right mix of romance and realism to loose me in its pages. I was captivated from the first word, and it only went uphill from there.
Bailey is a pretty awesome main character. She is relatable and honest, and very true to herself. She moves from Washington D.C. to California to live with her Dad, and starts a new job working at a museum for the summer. She describes herself as an “Artful Dodger” (which is going to be my new favorite term for literally ever), and despite her desire to avoid conflict, she can’t seem to stop “fighting” with her coworker Porter.
I’m usually not one to go for romantic books, but this one really swept me off my feet. I got so emotionally involved in the story (what more can anyone want?) and every twist and turn, for better or for worse, made it even harder to put this book down. Alex, Approximately is adorable and toe-curling and made me have all the feels. All of them. I can’t even describe what this book did to me.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a rainy day read (or a beach day read, or an any day read). If you love romance, this book is for you. If you love romantic gestures, this book is for you. If you don’t know how you feel about romance, this book is still for you. If you have a heart, this book is for you. (do you see what I am getting at here?)
As you have probably been able to tell, I am going to give Alex, Approximately five out of five hearts. Now excuse me while I go read it again.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

An ARC of this book was sent to me by the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Author Q&A- Alyson Noelle

Today I had the honor of interviewing Alyson Noelle, an internationally best selling author, and one of my person favorites. She has published 21 novels and has many on the way, including Unrivaled, the first book in her new Beautiful Idols series.

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Q: When did you start writing?

A: Unofficially: In junior high. I wrote terrible, very bad, albeit heartfelt poetry in an attempt to make sense of my parent’s divorce, being bullied, and my general unease in my own adolescent skin. Thankfully, those poems shall never see the light of day, though they did serve their purpose at the time.

Officially: In March 2005 my debut novel, FAKING 19, was released into the world and I’ve been writing ever since. With 21 novels published, 3 in production, and several more in the works, it’s been an amazing 11 years!

Q: What inspires you to write? Do you have a muse?

A: No muse. While I like the romantic concept of a muse, it’s always seemed like such a flighty, intangible, whim-driven thing with a shaky sense of integrity when it comes to showing up at the agreed upon time. As a punctual person, this would never work.

Same goes for inspiration. Aside from the initial spark behind every new book idea, when it comes to the actual writing I rarely feel inspired at the start of each day. Not when there are so many shiny things like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, online shopping, and Gilmore Girls reruns on Netflix vying for my attention. But once I’ve worn myself out with all that, I force myself to get to it, whether I want to or not (usually not). But then, like magic, somewhere in the middle of all the typing inspiration hits, and the next thing I know an entire day has passed without my even realizing.

Q: You have written an impressive 21 novels. Does it ever get easier?

A: Since I’m generally a silver linings kind of gal, I want to be optimistic here and tell you, yes, it most certainly does! But the honest answer is no, it really, truly doesn’t. But maybe that’s a good thing (optimism alert!), because easy tends to get boring, and boring makes me want to run back to more interesting endeavors like watching Gilmore Girls reruns on Netflix. So basically, every time I begin a new book, I stare at page 1 and think: How can I possibly fill this page, much less the 325 to follow? But somehow, word by excruciating word, it manages to come together. And when I reach the end I can’t help but feel like some intangible bit of magic, not entirely of my doing, has just occurred. After a brief but celebratory hiatus, I dive in once more and hope/trust the magic will happen again.

Q: In your Immortals Series, how did you decide what the conditions of the immortality were?

A: Well, it was a bit of a puzzle, really and it didn’t come all at once. But generally, all magic has consequences, and in order to best serve the story it helps if those consequences can get in the way of the protagonist’s goals as much as possible. So it was mostly a matter of figuring out what Ever wanted versus what she needed and then shaping the rules of the world accordingly. Also, I tried to insert a certain sense of logic based on the research I’d done on the subjects of immorality, the afterlife, chakras, auras, psychic phenomenon, etc. that would correspond with the parameters of the world I’d built.

Q: If you could be inside one of your books for a day, which one would it be? Why?

A: The Immortals for sure.

Mostly because of Summerland.

And yeah, Damen.

Also Jude.

And Roman.

Q: Which one of your characters do you relate the most with? Who was the most fun to write about?

A: Most of my protagonist’s contain at least a small piece of me, so I relate to all of them in some way. Alex in Faking 19 was very much like me in my senior year of high school back when I was totally failing myself until I figured out I was the only one who could turn it around. Like Rio Jones in Art Geeks and Prom Queens, I know what it’s like to be the new girl at school and have all the other girls hate you. Like Colby Cavendish in Cruel Summer I once lived in Greece (Mykonos though—I sent Colby to Tinos). Like Hailey Lane in Fly Me to the Moon I was a NYC based flight attendant who longed to be a writer and end up marrying an attorney. Like Ever Bloom in The Immortals I know what it’s like to be drowning in the seemingly bottomless grief over losing your loved ones. And in Unrivaled, book 1 in my new Beautiful Idols series, I used to be cynical like Layla (before I surrendered to optimism), I love shoes as much as Aster, Tommy and I share the same musical tastes, and though I have no idea what it’s like to live a life as gilded as Madison’s, I do have serious closet envy!

As for the most fun, that’s a tie between Riley Bloom from The Immortals and The Riley Bloom series, and Nick Dashaway the protagonist from my upcoming MG novel, Five Days of Famous. Placing myself in the head of 12-13 year olds allows me to re-experience the pre-cynical me (before the snarky phase that preceded the optimism surrender) when I had a surplus of confidence and believed myself capable of superhero-type feats. #GoodTimes

Q: Are you currently working on a writing project? If so, what can you tell me about it?

26116460A: I’m working on book 2 in my new Beautiful Idols series. Book 1, Unrivaled, is set for a simultaneous global release in 17 languages on May 10, and I had so much fun writing it, I’m really excited for everyone to read it!

It takes place in the fast-paced world of LA nightclubs, where three teens get caught up in a high-stakes competition and the desperate measures they take to win that make them suspects in a mysterious crime. It’s been compared to Pretty Little Liars meets Scandal, which thrills me to no end!

Q: What advice would you give to a budding writer? What advice do you wish you had gotten?

A: When I was younger, I wished I’d paid less attention to all the people who saw fit to predict what future me was capable of. I wished I’d realized that they were speaking from a place of their own limited vision and failed dreams and that their bleak projections were all about them and had absolutely nothing to do with me.

As for advice, I’d say that if you want to write, then by all means write! It’s really that simple. You may not get published right away, and that’s okay. It took me 2.5 years to get my first book deal, but now I look back on all those early rejections as a test to my commitment and tenacity. There were so many reasons to give up, and at times I declared that’s exactly what I would do. But by the next day, I was back at it, just stubborn enough to keep trying, and I’m so glad I did.

The truth is, there are no guarantees, no 401K, no health insurance plan, and all the logical, well-meaning people in your life will probably do their best to talk you out of it. But if it’s your dream, if entire plot lines and worlds take shape in your head, if characters talk to you on a daily basis, if your dreams involve wearing pajamas and sweating over every word you type on a screen, then you owe it to yourself to give it your best shot and bring those stories to life.

Q: Would you ever want to see any of your books as a movie or TV show? Why or why not?

A: Yes, definitely, a thousand times yes!

So far, I’ve had 17 novels optioned for film, but no movie yet…

Though, I am happy to say that the Soul Seekers was optioned by Cheyenne Enterprises and Traziende films and is now moving forward as a Spanish language franchise, which is so super cool—now I just need to get back to studying my Rosetta Stone tapes! The Immortals was recently optioned by Gil Adler (Valkyrie, Constantine) and Jason Rosenberg and I have high hopes they’ll be able to get something going. And Saving Zoë was optioned by actress/producers Ellen Marano, Vanessa Marano (Switched at Birth), and Laura Marano (Austin and Ally), with Jeffrey G Hunt (Vampire Diaries, Gotham) set to direct. I’m super excited to have the Marano sisters on board because they’re beautiful and talented and perfect to play the parts of fictional sisters Echo and Zoë.

Q: What is something you want the world to know?

A: That after writing 21 books in 8 years and going on countless international book tours (5 continents!), I decided to take a year off. During that year, I traveled extensively, spent time with family and friends, and took time to refill the well as they say. What I didn’t do was write. Not a word (aside from e-mails, twitter, texts, and the like). By the end of the year, I found I missed writing. I missed creating fictional worlds I could get lost in. I missed pondering over themes and ideas in order to challenge and/or determine my own thoughts and beliefs. So, I’m happy to announce that I’m back, and the first book in my new Beautiful Idols series, UNRIVALED, is set for a simultaneous global release in 17 languages on May 10! Also, my new MG, FIVE DAYS OF FAMOUS, will debut on December 13. It’s going to be a busy year, and I’m super excited to return to what I love most—publishing books and connecting with readers! I had so much fun writing both of these stories and I hope readers enjoy them as well!

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