Blog Book Tour | “Right Next to Me” by Rachel Ward The sophomore release of a #SweetRomance author I discovered last August whose given me another lovely Contemporary Rom!

Posted Monday, 4 September, 2017 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Acquired Book By: I have been a blog tour hostess with Cedar Fort for the past three years, wherein I took a brief hiatus from hosting before resuming August 2016. I appreciate the diversity of the stories the Indie publisher is publishing per year, not only for fiction and non-fiction but for healthy eats within their Front Table Books (cookbooks). I appreciate their dedication to writing general market, INSPY reads and LDS focused stories across the genres they publish.

I received a complimentary copy of “Right Next to Me” direct from the publisher Bonneville Books (an imprint of Cedar Fort Inc.) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Inspired to Read:

I first came across the writing style of Ms Ward last August, when I reviewed her debut novel “Dear Jane” which was a spin on a ‘Dear John’ letter! Here are some of my takeaways from my reading of her debut which truly struck a chord with me, as it was one of the few times a Contemporary gave me a lot of fodder to chew and appreciate whilst I was engaged with the story-line! Contemporaries for me are rather hit/miss a times – I love them, but ironically or not, I find them to be a difficult ‘fit’ for my own particular interests in what I am looking for in a Contemporary read. To find a debut novelist who added such a heap into their novel which not only was to my liking but provided such a strong entrance with an overall approach of giving a reader new to their style such a lot to contemplate was the truer gift within the chapters of ‘Dear Jane’!

Ward chose to tackle heady issues in her debut novel – as she talks openly about having to readjust after losing grace within the church and the tragic loss of a loved one from suicide. These are difficulties rooted into the fabric of where Quinn’s life is taking her once she’s back home, realising that the world has arrived at her doorstep. It’s the juxtaposition all children go through when their maturing past the school years, where everything that once felt rosy and bubbly full of light and spirit was suddenly a bit marred by a swelling darkness of reality. I felt Ward broached the difficulties well whilst giving Quinn a humble and honest reaction to each new trial she was facing as her family worked through the impossible.

I loved how Ward surprises her readers by introducing Nick’s backstory slowly as Quinn starts to spend more time with him. The interesting bit is that it’s a good life lesson about not always understanding a person’s past or their personality as sometimes their stand-offish behaviour has a reason behind it. Further curious is how through her conversations with Nick, Quinn started to soften her own guarded heart and openly talk about what bothered her on a personal level. They were each others’ huckleberry friend in brewing chaos where a new friendship was fast developing without their awareness. I felt this was the most authentic part of the turning point for Quinn’s life; where she was getting a feel for how first impressions are not always accurate and how serendipity has a way of affecting your life positively even if everything else feels upturnt.

Keeping true to a coming-of age tale, not everything is as it appears to be – even when things start to look like their turning round in Quinn’s favour. This was a bit frustrating if your reading the novel and want to see Quinn’s story end in happiness at some point. It felt like everything she felt was righting itself for the good in her life was being taken from her soon thereafter. However, as relationships are naturally complicated, Ward does present good folly for her characters to wrangle inside whilst trying to sort out what they truly want from each other and from life.

Ward etched in so much behind the relationships and the growing season for Quinn, that you nearly are not entirely ready to meet each new scene where tensions are as high as the emotions! I was a bit shocked by the depth of spite from Quinn’s mother at various intervals of the story as it developed; her paltry apology at the conclusion didn’t quite warm me to her or feel as if she vindicated herself from the misery she subjected her daughter(s) too. The best part I felt was the developing love story and the arc of narrative that proves that emergencies and non-traditional trajectories are more commonplace than you realise. Life comes around the corner so blaring fast, you have to bolster your strength out of your faith and hope you have the courage to face what tomorrow brings. If you do, you’ll find butterflies of joy alighting throughout the days where you feel you cannot be surprised in a good way after a succession of adversity.

-quoted from my review of Dear Jane

When Ms Ward contacted me about her sophomore release “Right Next to Me” – I must say, I was quite captured by the premise! I am always quite eager to read a ‘next book’ by an author who gave me such a stirring read the first time round and as I’m one of those readers who has the tendency to fall ‘behind’ on when the new releases are pending for her beloved authors – it is quite a lovely surprise to hear from one of them and be offered to read their ‘next story’!

I truly love Sweet Roms for their ability to have an undercurrent of simple joys and generally a walk of faith knitted into them (although not always, there are mainstream Sweet Roms, too) which gives a little added dimensional joy in reading them as I do love a wicked good INSPY! This one felt quite realistic to me – as there are times when you do wonder if the person you’ll find as your true match is hidden in plain sight – either near you in the present or unexpectedly will cross your path in the future in such a way as to take you off-guard and not realise you’ve ‘met’ your true love. I think everyone muses about how they will meet ‘whom’ their meant to be with in marriage and in life; who they will walk through life’s adventures and share their thoughts, hopes and dreams with whilst engaged in the art of living and the discoveries of the world. I was simply overjoyed Ms Ward reached out to me as this became a special ‘surprise’ for the ‘end of Summer’!

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Blog Book Tour | “Right Next to Me” by Rachel Ward The sophomore release of a #SweetRomance author I discovered last August whose given me another lovely Contemporary Rom!right next to me
by Rachel Ward
Source: Direct from Publisher

She has a crush on her boyfriend's best friend.

How long can a good thing last? Sydney was sure Gavin was the perfect boyfriend until he moved across the country for school. After spending more time with her best friend, James, she's now rethinking everything. Sydney's once sure footing in life slips even more as she discovers new details about her own father's betrayal. Scared she'll hurt Gavin like her father hurt her, Sydney must decide if she'll stay with the perfect boyfriend or the perfectly flawed boy who's been there all along.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781462128396

Also by this author: Dear Jane

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Sweet Romance


Published by Bonneville Books

on 8th August, 2017

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 208

Published By: Bonneville Books (@BonnevilleBooks)
an imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc (@CedarFort)

Available Formats: Paperback, Ebook

Stories by Rachel Ward

Dear Jane by Rachel WardRight Next to Me by Rachel Ward

Dear Jane | debut novel | (see also Review)

Right Next to Me | sophomore release

Converse via: #RightNextToMe, #ContemporaryFiction, #CleanFiction

About Rachel Ward

Rachel Ward Photo Credit: Lindsay Walden Photography

Rachel Turner Ward graduated from Hillcrest High School after spending two years writing for the yearbook and the creative writing magazine. She then studied English at Brigham Young University­—Idaho, graduating with an emphasis in Literary Studies. She has contributed to several online publications, including Mormon Mommy Blogs and SheSteals. She has written a personal blog since 2009, Trapped Between a Scream and a Hug. Rachel lives in Salt Lake with her six children and husband of 15 years.

Photo Credit: Lindsay Walden Photography

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Romantic overtures & first loves:

Sydney truly had a special beau in Gavin, as one of the most sweetest romantic gestures of young love is when after graduation, he surprises her with a look-out vista, a truck bed picnic (for desert) and a quiet moment alone before the rest of their Summer started to change the course of their lives. It was sweet in it’s simplicity but tender in how it was knitted together with the love of keeping each others’ company – including the sentiment Gavin shared with Sydney when he surprised her with everything he had assembled for her the night they were celebrating their independence from school.

There is a moment where Gavin let’s Sydney down – he’s unable to celebrate her eighteenth birthday and it’s the one day where Sydney feels the most vulnerable. Without even realising it, she turnt to James and he was the one who played her knight in one stroke of incredible kindness putting together a surprise party for her which gave her a hug of love and comfort. You can see how much Sydney misses the smaller moments which gave her such a lot of joy whilst she was growing up – even birthdays used to hold more inside them than fleeting moments of ‘congratulations’ such as what she was thinking she might be doomed to repeat now. James was able to take her by surprise because he gave her the one thing she dearly needed: a random gesture of unexpected joy.

Whilst on a trip with her friends, Sydney realises there was one special way she could give back a bit of joy to James who had to stay behind for work. She created a symbolic gesture based on a film she loved and knew James would get the symbolism without having to be prompted; the effect was a bit more than she expected, as James was truly overwhelmed that she would go out of her way to make sure he was included in having a ‘piece of the trip’ she had experienced. In some ways, I felt it might have been a turning point – of where James might have considered Sydney was starting to catch on to whom he was crushing over all these years.

First loves are tricky – they become so comfortable and constant, sometimes when you start to grow apart you do not see how your lives have become untangled from one another. Sometimes it takes someone outside your relationship to show you how things have changed and sometimes, it just takes something to change your perspective on everything in your life – such is the course Sydney is walking throughout Right Next to Me.

My review of right next to me:

I kind of always assumed that graduation would be this big, amazing event, liberating us from the tyranny of tardy bells, class schedules, and sadistic cliques. In truth, it was a little boring. I mean, there’s a moment there where they call your name and you up on stage and for one moment it’s all about you. But otherwise, meh.

-quoted from Right Next to Me with permission of the publisher

Right here – just after I opened the novel to the very first chapter which (ironically or not!) begins on the unassuming reality of being ‘June 2017’ is an opening paragraph I could personally relate too! I had waited for my own graduation for so very long – I thought the day would NEVER arrive as I was itching to ‘graduate’ (which was also observed by my teachers!) and get ‘on’ with living and life outside the boundaries of ‘school’. I wouldn’t say traditional education was a ‘fit’ for me but what I couldn’t stand more than the redundancy of it all is exactly what is being expressed here – the cliques, the annoyingly steadfast bells and the expectation of ‘liberation’ from the grand gesture ‘graduating’ becomes for all high school seniors. In such a short expanse of narrative, Ms Ward taps into everyone’s thoughts and feelings whose felt anguished about ‘one more day’. She relates to everyone who found their graduating day ‘liberating’ and ‘freeing’ to simply walk out into the world and letting ‘go’ of everything which came beforehand. And yes, even after two decades of being ‘liberated’ you can be taken back to how you felt as easily as reading this opening paragraph!

One thing I thought was comical is how the graduating class listened to the naysayers about ‘not throwing their caps’ as that was the quintessential moment of ‘independence’ out from under your alma mater! (unless your class boycotted their ‘song’) I still remember the shower of caps raining down on us as we all celebrated as ‘one’ which was such a rare moment of joy and solidarity – I wish I could say we had captured the feeling more often during the ‘year’. I didn’t even care if I never saw the cap again – although, mind you, with your name inside it, there’s a chance you’ll be handed it back (which I was) which in turn is what you find yourself doing with someone elses cap, too! lol Those last moments of randomness – of shared spirit with your classmates, even if you didn’t have a lot which united you during the year, there are somethings worth hanging onto in the end.

Right Next to me starts to transition through the present and the past – shifting perspectives from when Sydney first learnt of her parent’s separation (the very next chapter past her graduation) and her high school years – where her friendships were formed and the first major growth periods of her life were taking shape. As Ward moves us forwards and backwards, the past is italicised, almost as if they were pages of her (Sydney’s) journal and we are now becoming privy to those thoughts and memories. The one interesting thing here is that in the present you can feel the melancholic cloud over Sydney whose not quite impressed with everything but not entirely sorrowful about it all either – more resigned to more ‘change’ and ‘new’ experiences round the corner. As we transition backwards to see how the changes in her home life affected her internally whilst changing how she viewed her life and everything else round her – we start to also notice the changes in her moods and better understand her emotional state of mind.

Although Sydney is relatively happy her years in high school are over, she’s still processing what it means to have it over and done with as the people you went through school are still in your life (or at least they were for Sydney). She’s trying to forge a future out of reconciling the past – which is evidenced by how Ms Ward paced the novel. James isn’t the focal point in the flashback sequences as their friendship developed later than her tight friendships with Gavin, Sean and Piper. Except to say, he’s there – he isn’t showcased per se, but his presence is a bit more stable in her life than the rest of her friends; something I think took Sydney awhile to understand. She had a strong core of friends for most of her years in school but things started to change in the latter bits of her high school years where her alliances started to shift even without her being aware of those small subtle changes.

As we reside back inside high school alongside James and Sydney we start to notice what drew them together – it was the unexpected ‘everything’. Meaning, James had a natural way of taking Sydney by surprise at every turn – the way in cajoled her into a comedic fest of nerdiness and how he knew instinctively what would rile her even if he was giving her nothing but pure sass! James seemed to understand her in a way Gavin did not; even though Gavin was a great guy, there was a difference in how he related to Sydney, which made me question if he was simply her high school sweetheart rather than her lifelong husband? If of course, this story was going to lead us to who Sydney chooses to marry as she’s a bit turnt off on marriage (for obvious reasons) but it’s more than that – I think she hold’s back a bit because she’s curious if something could happen which would make someone pull away from her – it is almost as if she’d rather remain a bit detached from people if it would help her remain unaffected if something separated them lateron. Not that this is overly observed – but I gathered the sense, part of what is stressing out Sydney is if she can truly believe someone could be genuinely interested in her everyday life. She had an actively interested Mum for most of her life but the year her father left, was the year everything changed; it was the first year where she was more on ‘her own’ than she was the one who was being bolstered in strength, courage and joy by her mother. She reversed roles in some ways and had to be the one who championed her Mum who was redefining herself after divorce whilst finding ways to balance the family’s accounts to keep her and her three children self-sufficient now that she was single again.

Whilst observing Sydney I kept wanting her to see the differences between Gavin and James – even if she had to make the bold choice to choose the one who understood her heart and soul rather than the one she felt comfortable with in a quasi-relationship. It is easy to see what you need to see from a distance (if your the one living the life) or from a different point-of-view if your looking at someone’s life from outside their reality – the hardest part of living life is we don’t have hindsight until after we’ve traversed through our transitions. Even after Sydney is settled into college and has found a new balance at school, she still finds herself attached to how life was before she relocated.

Sydney never realised she was at an intersection in her life – where she would need to re-examine everything she believed she understood about herself, her parents, life as it was evolving and her friendships. The joy in reading her story is finding how Ms Ward gave her wings to express what she needed to explore – both through introspective flashbacks and a willing heart to embrace her present days with the hope of what might come next. There is a tenderness to the story – of how true friends stand by you through the worst of times and help you celebrate the better days and of how there are moments where you need to spend time on yourself. Sorting out your thoughts, resolving your feelings and finding exactly who you are and what you feel to be true at all costs.

On the Contemporary writing style of Rachel Ward:

Ms Ward drops you so wholly true into the shoes of a graduating senior in high school anyone whose walked this part of their life or is about to walk through it – can find something to relate too. Even if high school wasn’t a succession of angst ridden days (such as they were for me) you can find things about your high school years which ring true – such as how your friendships knit close together and how sometimes, you drift apart from those you care about even without realising you started to separate from them emotionally. The novel is paced well to give you a strong impression of Sydney’s back-story – of how she went from living in a two parent, three sibling (she has a brother and sister) home to a divorced single Mum with siblings who were more or less not as willing to embrace the radical changes in their lives. Her younger sister Whitney is described well as being the daughter who took the brunt of the divorce whereas Sydney kept her truer feelings closeted and simply carried onward.

Ms Ward excels at tapping into those formative years where your on the cusp of understanding who you are and who you are most likely to want to keep in your life long term. (if you had found someone when you were younger; not everyone does) She also finds a way to bring school life back into the forefront of your memory – I admit, there were parts of the story I had to re-read because some moments of Sydney’s life brought back my own memories of high school! Laughs. This is another nod of credit to Ms Ward for being able to pull back the layers of school life and finding traction to give you a leeway into Sydney’s life to where your own school years can be objectively seen through her own journey.

Note on placement for novel:

One thing about Ms Ward’s Contemporaries I appreciate reading is how she fuses you straight into the heart of her narratives – her characters are identifiable and can be cross-related to those who are reading their stories. There is also a bit of innocence which is not oft seen in today’s Contemporary stories which bridge the gap between Young Adult, New Adult and Adult Fiction.

I tend to think she’s writing stories for Upper YA readers and those who are ready for New Adult or the lighter side of Adult Fiction – where Contemporary Roms and Contemporary Fiction stories reside. She writes about those years of your life which are on the cusp of adulthood – of where your younger self is maturing into the next stage where the experiences of your past may or may not cloud your future – whilst exploring themes of how setting your attitude to deal with the changes which come can also be a determination of how things play out. I find her stories uplifting and sweet stories which are quite addicted to read!

Curiosity note:

I know this is a Bonneville release – which means it’s meant to be LDS, however, try as I might, I could not detect how this was strictly LDS. I was thinking it might be straight-up INSPY too – where there would be undertones of faith and elements of a faith-lived life running through the narrative but I found both were predominately absent. If anything, I felt this was more Contemporary – in how it was set, paced and written. I think the only way it could be considered LDS is the author who write it is LDS but as far as the story? It’s rooted in our modern world to where any reader of any religious background could find themselves in the story – the characters could be any person you know in real life who went to school with you.

In other stories published by Bonneville, I could tell how the stories were LDS, as the characters lived their faith on the pages – the roots of their LDS backgrounds took center stage and were a secondary focal point of the narratives; however, in this instance, I almost thought this could have been published as General Fiction under Sweetwater Books.

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As you might have observed – I am listening to music more than ever as I read & blog my ruminations – giving me a new layer of connection between the stories & my own personal takeaways of the story’s heart. Recently, I switched apps for listening to music – finding iHeartRadio to be more stable and equally as lovely for providing a myriad of choices in regards to genres of music! As soon as I picked up ‘Right Next to Me’ I knew I wanted to listen to Alternative Rock – not only for the overtures of being reminiscent of high school but because high school is a succession of angst & personal growth – rockin’ it out and feeling alive through the music which reflects your emotions is one way of celebrating what your high school years can be for you. It doesn’t have to be the same ‘tunes’ of Alt. Rock you had yourself – it’s the general vibe Alt. Rock gives and breathes which made it a wicked good compliment to my readings!

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This Blog Tour Stop is courtesy of Cedar Fort, Inc:

Cedar Fort Publishing & MediaFollow the Virtual Road Map

by visiting the blog tour route:

Right Next to Me blog tour via Cedar Fort Publishing & MediaIf you’ve been following the blog tour and wondering why my review did not post on [Sunday] – you can chaulk it up to the unexpectedly awkward tech issues stemming out of severe lightning storms and the curiously strange way in which you lose hours to blog and read whilst awaiting for a ‘break’ in your storms in order to have stable connectivity! Overall, I simply needed more time to put this review together as it’s been another horrid Summer for lightning storms for me!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comI look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary! Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst readers who picked up the same story to read.

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{SOURCES: Author biography and author photograph of Rachel Ward were provided by the author Rachel Ward and used with permission. Book covers of “Dear Jane” and “Right Next to Me”, the book synopsis, tour banner and Cedar Fort Publishing badge were all provided by Cedar Fort Publishing & Media and used with permission. Quotation from “Right Next to Me” selected by Jorie and is used with permission of the publisher. Post dividers badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Book Review Banner using Unsplash.com (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2017

I’m a social reader |  I  tweet as I read

You might have noticed a reduction in my tweets recently (ie. late Spring / early September) – this is due to excessive lightning storms which have muddled both my blogging & readerly life – to where, tweeting or blogging became a bit more difficult to manage! My tweets and my blog are resuming more steadily now that the last bits of Summer are upon us!

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

“I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen.” – self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Monday, 4 September, 2017 by jorielov in 21st Century, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Brothers and Sisters, Cedar Fort Publishing & Media, Coming-Of Age, Disillusionment in Marriage, Family Drama, Family Life, Fathers and Daughters, Indie Author, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, INSPY Realistic Fiction | Non-Fiction, Life Shift, Loss of an unbourne child, Modern Day, Mormonism, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Realistic Fiction, Self-Harm Practices, Siblings, Sisterhood friendships, Sisters & the Bond Between Them, Teenage Relationships & Friendships, Unexpected Pregnancy, Upper YA Fiction, Utah

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