Thursday, December 11, 2014

Review: Last Will and Testament & Author Interview

Title: Last Will and Testament
Series: Radleigh University
Author: Dahlia Adler
Pub dateDecember 9, 2014
Rating: 5 Cows

Goodreads Description:

Lizzie Brandt was valedictorian of her high school class, but at Radleigh University, all she's acing are partying and hooking up with the wrong guys. But all that changes when her parents are killed in a tragic accident, making her guardian to her two younger brothers. To keep them out of foster care, she'll have to fix up her image, her life, and her GPA—fast. Too bad the only person on campus she can go to for help is her humorless, pedantic Byzantine History TA, Connor Lawson, who isn't exactly Lizzie's biggest fan.

But Connor surprises her. Not only is he a great tutor, but he’s also a pretty great babysitter. And chauffeur. And listener. And he understands exactly what it’s like to be on your own before you're ready. Before long, Lizzie realizes having a responsible-adult type around has its perks... and that she'd like to do some rather irresponsible (but considerably adult) things with him as well. Good thing he's not the kind of guy who'd ever reciprocate.

Until he does.

Until they turn into far more than teacher and student.

Until the relationship that helped put their lives back together threatens everything they both have left.

Buy links: Amazon B&N | iBooks | Smashwords | Kobo

When you read a lot, there always tends to be someredundancy in books, whether it’s the characters, plot, or genre itself (hellooo dystopian worlds).  With Last Will and Testament there was none of that though, and it was SO refreshing for a change.  It made for an AMAZING story, that I read in two sittings. I’m not kidding you.  I even had a test the next day that I was planning on going to bed early for. Oh well. No regrets. When you start reading this book, you’ll totally understand.

I wasn’t sure at first how I would feel about reading NA.  I’ve never actually read anything from this genre before, so I didn’t know what to expect. If everything from this genre was even half as good as Last Will and Testamentthough, then I have to say I’m in. Dahlia Adler, I have to give it to you.  You know how to hook a reader!  I was in love with Lizzie from the start. She’s sassy, independent, and EXTREMELY witty!  She’s like the cool version of me that I always secretly wished I could be.  Some of my favorite parts of the book were actually when her and Connor were arguing, because Lizzie is SO SASSY it’s hilarious!  She’s also extremely blunt, and tells it like it is.  Basically, she says all the things most people wish theywere brave enough to say in real life.  

I’m a college student myself, so as I was reading the book, I tried to imagine myself in a situation similar to that of Lizzie’s, and I honestly couldn’t. Losing both of your parents at once, and trying to stay afloat in your college classes would be extremely difficult.  Now let’s add the responsibility of being the new guardians of your little brothers.  I COULD NOT even begin to imagine it.  Dahlia did a great job of writing Lizzie’s new life as realistically as possible though, and for me, that was one of the reasons I loved the book so much.  From running the boys to school, to trying to make it to class on time, nothing goes smoothly for Lizzie.  The boys get sick one night, she has car problems, and she doesn’t always have time to get ready and look presentable.  The whole thing was really believable and I couldn’t help having ALL THE FEELS for Lizzie. I cried when she cried, and I got frustrated when she did.  Each time something went wrong between her and Connor, I felt like it was happening to me.  It’s been a while since I’ve read a book that made me feel that way, and I was impressed.

Other than great characters and a realistic portrayal, the book also has some pretty hot moments.  Don’t say I didn’t forewarn you! You’re best off to read this in the privacy of your own home.  Unless you don’t mind reading a book that will probably make your face turn red (like mine did) where other people can see you. SO. GOOD. HOT DANG though. That’s all I’ll say on THAT matter!

All joking aside, the ending was great too.  I’m superpicky when it comes to endings, and I’m almost ALWAYS disappointed with at least one aspect of how the book ends.  With Last Will and Testament I had no complaints though. Not a single one!  This book definitely made it to the top of my favorite books of 2014, and I foresee a reread of it in the near future!  I can’t wait for the next book in the Radleigh University series by Dahlia Adler to come out!

Hey, Emily!

I'm so glad you enjoyed the book, thank you!! And thanks for the interview! Here are my answers:

I noticed Last Will and Testament is the first book in the Radleigh University series.  Will we be seeing more of Lizzie and Connor?  Or will the series continue with new characters? 
You will definitely be seeing more of Lizzie and Connor (quickly! The first chapter of book 2 is included at the end of the finished book of LWaT, and they already appear), but they're secondary in rest of the series. Book 2 is called Right of First Refusal, and it's Cait's book, and the third book is still untitled, and that's Frankie's story.

Last Will and Testament is your debut NA novel.  Prior to writing this, did you ever expect to get into the NA genre?  Or have you always thought you’d stick to being a YA author?
Oh, I totally knew I was gonna write NA as soon as became a Thing. I actually wrote NA before I seriously wrote YA, but when I tried to find agents with it, it was at the end of 2008, beginning of 2009, and became very clear that it wasn't gonna happen. I went back to YA (which is what I wrote as a younger teen), and eventually, when it became clear there was a place for NA in the market, and I was feeling a little burned out on YA, I started writing Last Will and Testament.

So which genre do you prefer?  What do you think are the perks and downfalls of writing NA as opposed to YA?
Honestly, it's hard to say. On the one hand, I love that NA is so new that it barely has "rules." On the other hand, I think it comes with certain expectations that are closer to the tropes of Romance and, as much as I love writing them, start to feel repetitive in a way YA still doesn't to me. I have a lot of freedom with my YA, being with a small press, so NA doesn't have that same exciting "No limits on how I can write about certain topics now!" as it might for other authors who feel a little more restricted. But I do love writing older, freer characters who don't have parental/curfew/high school restrictions, and that's a huge NA draw for me. Obviously you can write YA that way too, but I tend to feel it a lot less believable, and parents always factor in to my YAs more than I expect them to because I think it's truer that way, at least to the stories I'm telling.

You’re a blogger, editor, and author.  How do you find the time to fit in your writing? 
I try to fit things into "windows" of sorts. I don't write during the day, when I'm at my dayjob, though lunch is free for me to blog or work on promo stuff. My commute is either writing or drafting time, the latter only if I'm feeling particularly inspired. Then I try to be really disciplined about my blogging and writing goals at nights and on the weekend, because those are really the devoted times. I used to copy edit much more frequently than I do now; at some point, something had to give, and that's what I chose.

What does your writing process look like?  Do you force yourself to sit down and write, or do you only write when you feel inspired? 
I sit down at my computer pretty much every night, and I really, really try to write. Some days, it comes easily, and some days, it's pulling teeth. When I really can't do it, I don't; there's always another way I could be spending my time, especially with several books to promote. But when I really, really want to, I beg someone to sprint online with me, and that's a huge help.

Where did you find your inspiration to write Last Will and Testament?
I usually don't remember the inspirations for my books, but this one's crystal clear - it was a conversation with a friend of mine, in which she mentioned her parents put it in their will when she went to college that she would inherit her younger brothers if anything happened to them, because there was no one else in the family they trusted to be their guardians more. The second I heard that, I knew that was a book. (She knows none of this, by the way.)

I loved the plot, and how Lizzie becomes the new guardian to her brothers.  I’m in college now and I couldn’t even IMAGINE what it would be like having to balance taking care of siblings and studying for finals.  Lizzie is one tough cookie.  Is her character based on anyone you know? 
Thanks! And no, Lizzie's definitely her own person. The friend who inspired the book is a seriously tough cookie, and I know if anyone could handle this, it'd probably be her, but she'd probably handle things a lot more...gracefully than Lizzie does.

One last question. I noticed you’re very active in social media (especially twitter) and you follow many popular book bloggers.  It’s actually what got me first interested in you as an author, and how I heard about Last Will and Testament!  You have such a great personality, and you’re extremely outgoing in the book community.  How do you think this has impacted you as an author?  Do you feel this is a crucial element in promoting your book and yourself as an author?  Or do you do it just because you enjoy it?  
Thanks so much! I don't feel like it's crucial, though I do think it's helped people be much more open to the idea of embracing a small-press and self-pub author than they otherwise might've been. I actually stopped following book bloggers at some point because the idea of seeing them talk about hating my books was way too nervewracking, but then I met a bunch in person and they were just too awesome. I made the call that I feel like I'm capable enough of separating myself from my work to handle that; so far, so good! But it is hard, because I'm an author and also a person and also a blogger, and it's like there are these invisible wires in between you're just praying you don't trip. And it's also a challenge because thankfully, people trust me to recommend them books, and I want to earn that trust, but also support my author friends. I'm happy with the balance I've struck so far, and I just hope it holds, because I enjoy all these worlds very much!



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