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Monday, 6 June 2016

Interview & Review - Gifted (The Hayven #1) by J.A. George

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Coming of Age, Fantasy, Romance


There is no chosen one in this story. 

Avery Gray was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and happened to make a decision that altered her future forever. It happens to all of us every day. 

Avery is a size twelve university student with a penchant for dry humour, and she’s as normal as they come. Up until now, the biggest choice she’s had to make was glasses or contacts? At the moment, it’s stay and save, or leave and be saved. 

Allow me to explain. One rainy afternoon, Avery had to make a choice: go through the alleyway or around it. Two possible options. One would have had her future continue on as planned, the other would ensure that her future never remained the same again. She unknowingly went with the latter. 

But change is not always bad. Avery meets Theodore-James Connors, an enigmatic young man who takes her to Hayven, a city separated from the rest of the world, where only gifters – ordinary people with extra-ordinary gifts – can go. She soon finds herself in a close-knit group of friends she’d never have imagined herself in. Friends who are diverse in every possible way, from their ethnic backgrounds, to their personalities, from their gifts, to their life stories. Friends who make her laugh, who make her cry, who make her think and who make her…her. 

However, change is not always good. The beautiful, golden city of Hayven has its dark side – Cliders. Gifters turned rogue, aka, Cliders are determined to aid fallen Clider, Madrina, return to rule Hayven. They will stop at nothing to make that happen, including harming those Ava has grown to love. 

Again, Ava is faced with a choice: spend her days finding a way to inhibit Madrina’s return, or walk away. After all, she isn’t the chosen one. Yet, there exists a third option – rig the future itself and make it work for her.

Amazon UK  |  Amazon US

4 out of 5 (very good)

Your life is full of choices, whether you recognise this or not. In Avery's case, she makes the choice to take a shortcut and it changes her life. What would have happened if she hadn't? We'll never know, and to be fair, I don't really care either. I didn't think much of her human friends, especially Toni, so I was glad when distance appeared between them all. The only one I liked was Susie, and I'm really hoping that we see more of her in the future. 

This is a wonderful tale about gifts and friendship, with a slow burner of a romance thrown in for good measure. Can I just say that I LOVED the friendship/hopeful love interest that grew between Theo and Ava? No insta-love at all, instant attraction... yes, but then we've all been 'guilty' of that at some point in our lives!

Like with the whole story, nothing is as simple as it seems, and there is definitely more to everything than meets the eye. This was an intriguing and delightfully told story that I can't wait to read more about. Definitely recommended for all Fantasy/Paranormal fans out there.

* I received this book from the author in return for a fair and honest review. *

Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!

 Character interview with Ava.

What are you keeping a secret? 
If I told you it wouldn’t be a very well-kept secret.

How do you know when you love someone? 
They give me the same feeling I get when I see my food arriving at the table.

How do you learn best? 
Through experience. Sometimes.

What unusual hobbies or interests do you have? 
I take Krav-Maga? I know that’s not unusual to some, but if you knew me, you’d know that that’s not something I’d normally do in my spare time.

If you had one wish, what would it be? 
To care less about what people think instead of always pretending I do. I’m getting there though.

What do you like best about yourself? 
My brown eyes.

What do you like least about yourself? 
How good I can be at pretending.

I’m a lot more fun than I sound…

Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My author name is J.A. George and my full name is Jessica George. I’ll leave the middle name a mystery. I like to read, write, bake, socialise with my friends and be at the cinema. I’m the author of GIFTED – The Hayven Series and I am a chocolate fiend. Seriously, it’s gotten to the point where I may need to seek professional help about it.

What do you do when you’re not writing?
Eat chocolate. Read. Eat food. Or I’m around my friends because they’re hilarious.

What was your favourite book as a child?
Roald Dahl – George’s Marvellous Medicine. It still is one of my favourite books.

What book do you wish you had written?
Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. The amount of thought and planning that must have gone into that book series…my goodness. It’s unfathomable.

When did you start and when did you finish your first book?
I started in late 2013 and finished in early 2016. I thought I’d finished in 2015, but it went through a major revision that resulted in me changing 95% of the original novel.

How did you choose the genre you write in?
I started off writing a novel because I wanted something to read. I wanted to read a contemporary YA fantasy novel that didn’t feature instant-love, a chosen one or a girl growing up in a dystopian society. I just wanted to read about someone normal, someone I could relate to. Someone who worries about the way she looks, but never says it out loud, has a sense of humour, thinks about the small stuff. Then I wanted to take her and place in a world she never thought existed.

Do you ever experience writer’s block?
I sure do! But I don’t try to force ideas because those tend to be the ideas I don’t really like in the end. I just wait it out, think about another scene or about introducing another character and the road will become unblocked eventually.

Are you a planner or a pantser?
Ooooh, definitely a planner! I plan everything! My life would be chaos if I didn’t. I used to type everything out as I was thinking it, but now I write everything down on paper, wait a few hours and then type it out. That way, my plot lines are more developed, more interesting and just make more sense!

Is there any author or book that influenced you in either way either growing up or as an adult?
Many of Roald Dahl’s books. I’ve only found this out recently, but his themes about extra-ordinary events happening to ordinary people e.g. Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, has subconsciously stuck with me for so many years and I never really knew it.

Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
Boiled down, GIFTED is all about a nineteen year old university student who meets a woman a little on the strange side before meeting a young man a little more on the stranger side. These meetings lead to the eventual discovery of Hayven – a city separated from the rest of the world where only those with gifts can go. She makes an eclectic bunch of friends, who, even though I’m biased, are just awesome. But Hayven has its dark side and they’re called Cliders. Gifters turned rogue, Cliders are determined to see Hayven return to the way it was one thousand years ago when the city was under the dominion of Madrina. Want to know more about her? Read GIFTED.

What was your favourite chapter (or part) to write and why?
My favourite part has to be thinking up all of the supernatural gifts I give to my characters. I’ve made it a hook in the novel that no two people can have the exact same gift so it’s a lot of fun thinking of all the supernatural gifts I’d like to have.

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Keep writing because if you want to be an author, I’m afraid to say you don’t have any other choice.

What sort of writing environment do you create? I.e. music or not? Pen and paper or laptop/PC?
I cannot write with music! I end up listening to the music instead of writing! When I’m in the gym or simply walking and listening to music, scenes do play in my head that I’ll jot down and then write up properly in silence. I’m a bit boring now that I come to think about it. I just sit at my next with a bottle of cold water and some chocolate – if there’s any left…

Is there a certain type of scene that is harder to write than others?
Love scenes. I’m not a very…romantic person. I’m the kind of person who cringes at love scenes in books and sometimes skips over it. Want to hear something ironic? My first edition of Gifted was full of scenes like this and I hated it writing it. Honestly, I would wince at my desk as I typed it out. I just…blah… yeah, it’s not for me. I know what you’re thinking – so why write it? I added strong romance into my book because I thought that was what people wanted to read. Every author wants their book to sell and in order for it to sell, you have to write what people want to read, so I tried to do that. Until one evening, I’d just had enough and I deleted all of the romance scenes and completely revised my novel, resulting in edition two, and I am so happy with the way it is now.

Do you read your reviews?
I definitely do! I ask for reviews. I want to know what’s working and what’s not. And if I agree with what’s not working, I’ll rewrite it.

Do you respond to them, good or bad?
Yes. Because I ask for reviews, I have to take what criticism I get. I don’t have to agree with it, but when I get criticism, I think about and I mean really think about it. Then I decide on whether it’s something I want to change.

Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
Remember that criticism can help. Also remember that bad reviews as well as the good are opinions, not facts.

Quick Fire

  1. Light or dark chocolate? Light
  2. Favourite colour? It changes. Right now, violet.
  3. Dogs or cats? Dogs!
  4. Tea or coffee? Green tea?
  5. Morning, noon or night? Morning – I’m more alert.
  6. Books or movies? Books. And then I watch the movie adaptation.
  7. Chinese or Italian. Italian because pizza.
  8. Chocolate or vanilla? Vanilla! Strange considering how much I love chocolate…
  9. Winter or summer? Winter!
  10. Spring or fall? Fall. I love autumn leaves.
  11. Cake or pie? Cake, there’s usually more in a slice.
  12. Fruit or vegetables? Fruit.
  13. Tattoos or piercings? Tattoos.
  14. Pancakes or waffles? Pancakes on waffles.
  15. Call or text? Text.
  16. Spicy or mild? Spicy!
  17. Marvel or DC? Oh! I LOVE marvel, but I recently watched Batman vs Superman and I loved it, and I love the Flash TV series so…

J.A. George is the author of the four-part series, GIFTED: THE HAYVEN SERIES. Jessica spent years of her life reading book after book before sitting on her bed one morning, opening her laptop and typing Chapter One into her word document. Now, not only does she read book after book, she now writes book after book too. When she's not writing, she's trying to break her record of finishing a tub of Oreo ice cream in less than forty-five minutes.
You can contact her at

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