Today I welcome awesome author Elisa Dane to the blog! First I’ll review her Young Adult romance Ex Factor, then I’ll interview her. Stick around for the giveaway at the end.
Ex-Factor by Elisa Dane
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Truth and Consequences
Teenager Nev is a former gymnast whose life has undergone startling transitions. She gets uprooted to live with her aunt and cousin in northern California when her father dies and her mother succumbs to a debilitating illness. Not only is she disoriented in this new place, but she’s also overwhelmed by guilt. Just what secrets hide behind that guilt?
Nev’s cousin Livvie is on a competitive cheer team, X Factor, and Nev’s tumbling expertise makes her a shoo-in for the team. At first Nev balks at joining the Diamond Girls squad because tumbling in a gym sparks painful memories of her mother. But by flying through the air again, she slowly finds her footing, and her recovery is a beautiful thing.
It’s cool to catch a glimpse into the world of competitive cheer — a world the author clearly knows. The cheer coaches are so demanding and vulgar that I thought they were football coaches:
“Flyers! Pretend you’ve got a dollar bill stuck between your butt cheeks, and squeeze it ’til it screams!”
“I don’t care if you rip your pee pees, I want those toe touches up past your ears!”
Ew. LOL. Luckily the coaches have a soft side, and Nev forms some close friendships with her teammates.
Nev’s first encounter with a boy is charming playah Eli. Although Eli is supposedly dating Nev’s new friend Erin, Eli hits on Nev non-stop. Nev doesn’t want to hurt Erin’s feelings by telling her, but is also uncomfortable keeping his skeezeball behavior quiet.
Another boy, Bodie, is cold and rude to her. Too bad she tingles with good feels every time he’s around. But Bodie also has a checkered past, and maybe he is more attracted to her than he seems. I love how they share pieces of themselves, gradually unfurling their truths as they both face the consequences of their actions. They both feel damaged beyond repair.
For a minute, I was just a regular girl, he was just a regular boy, and we were both enjoying the moment.
Nev has a biting sense of humor:
I was pretty darn sure he had a thing for my hair, and there was a good part of me that wanted to pull a Marcia Brady and never wash the stuff again because he’d touched it.
Marcia, Marcia, Marcia! Nev’s attempt to heal, supported by Bodie, also packs an emotional punch, and I found myself tearing up in parts.
The story has a solid message about the dangers of drunk driving. My one complaint was Bodie’s term of endearment for Nev: Doll Face. It got a little repetitive for me.
Ex-Factor is book one in the Diamond Girl series, and thankfully book two: Unbreakable is also available. Roundoff-back handspring-double full!
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Jennifer Lane (JL): Ms. Lane welcomes Ms. Dane to the blog! I loved Ex Factor and look forward to Unbreakable. What inspired the series?
Elisa Dane (ED): Thanks for having me! I’m so glad you enjoyed Nev and Bodie’s story. I’ve wanted to write a contemporary YA involving cheerleaders for quite some time. All three of my girls have grown up in their cheer gym, and their dedication and passion for their sport inspires me daily. After attending the Every 15 Minutes mock crash and assembly during my oldest daughter’s senior year, I knew I had a story to tell and the series took off from there.
JL: What made you take Ex Factor in an emotional, dramatic direction?
ED: I was moved to tears by what I witnessed during the Every 15 Minutes assembly at my daughter’s school. The program that year was especially moving as the class lost one of their own to drinking and driving. Listening to a big, tough man weep over the senseless loss of his son marked me, and I knew if I felt as deeply about the subject, others would too. Drinking and driving is a HUGE problem, as is the invincibility complex most teens seem to struggle with. It’s always been my hope that Nev and Bodie’s story would make an impact on the reader and maybe keep them from making a fatal mistake.
JL: What are the biggest misunderstandings about competitive cheer?
ED: Oh, Lordy! There are quite a few. I think the biggest burn comes from those who say that All Star cheer isn’t a sport. I mean…c’mon! The International Olympic Committee recognizes the game of chess as a sport. Chess! Competitive cheer involves two and a half minute routine filled with running tumbling, standing tumbling, jumping, dance, and a mixture of daredevil stunts. The athletes train for countless hours conditioning and perfecting each of the required skills. My middle daughter made an all-girl level-5 team this season. That’s the highest level you can compete at before moving into the college cheer category. She trains five to six days a week for a minimum of four hours. Some days she’s at the gym in the morning, and then goes back for another practice in the afternoon. Competitive cheerleaders are athletic BEASTS and should be recognized as such. Well, in my opinion, anyway!
JL: How did your daughters get involved in cheerleading?
ED: This is our tenth year with our gym. Honestly, we’ve been there for so long, I’m not sure how we started! I’m pretty sure a mom from one of my daughter’s play groups told me about the gym, and things rolled from there. Our cheer gym has become a permanent part of our lives 🙂
JL: I’m one of three daughters. (Youngest children RULE!) What have been the joys and challenges of parenting three girls?
ED: Ha! My youngest daughter would agree with you! Raising three girls can be a challenge for sure. Especially when two of them cycle together. Eeeep! Despite the squabbling that sometimes occurs over misplaced articles of clothing and the like, I find raising three girls to be extremely rewarding. I love watching them mature and make good decisions. I love watching them succeed and school and at cheer. My girls are my biggest accomplishment.
JL: You are quite tech-savvy (thanks for your help with Instagram!) What helps you stay current with technology?
ED: Thank you! I’m always happy to help! Oh goodness… Desperation, maybe? Just kidding! I’m always on the hunt for ways to connect with my readers. I’m on pretty much every social media platform out there, however some I enjoy more than others. I LOVE Instagram and Youtube. The reach is huge and I feel like I really connect with people on those venues.
JL: Thank you for visiting the blog, Elisa! What’s next for you?
ED: Thanks for having me! Book #3 in the Diamond Girls series is currently with my editor at Swoon Romance. I can’t wait for you all to meet the hero, Ryker Vaughn! He’s a broken
fighter, and the perfect match for sassy Claire. Readers will need a box of tissues for this story as well 🙂
READERS: Enter the giveaway for an ebook of Ex Factor by leaving a comment with your email address.