Today we are hosting a blog tour stop for S. Walden's controversial, yet excellent, Good. Good is the first book in the Too Good series. The follow-up to Good, titled Better, will be the final book in this series. Below you will find a review of this book that gave me a lot to think about and analyze. There is also a giveaway and a contest so keep reading!
Cadence Miller is a good girl. She just happens to make one terrible mistake her junior year in high school which costs her ten months in juvenile detention. Now a senior, she’s lost everything: her best friend, the trust of her parents, driving privileges, Internet access. It’s a lonely existence. But there is one bright spot: Mark Connelly, her very cute, very off-limits 28-year-old calculus teacher. She falls hard for him—a ridiculous schoolgirl crush headed nowhere. She can’t help it. He’s the only thing at Crestview High. She doesn’t expect him to reciprocate her feelings. How inappropriate, right? But he does. And he shows her. And that’s when her life goes from bad to good. (New Adult romance)
Good is a controversial and entertaining book that tackles the overarching question of "What is good?" The idea of "goodness" and the lack therof is central to this book and its storyline. This major theme is discussed in the context of the Church, the character's behavior and in the idea of morality. Some characters appear "good," on the surface, while others are deemed "bad." Towards the end, I think author S. Walden makes it clear that there is no black and white goodness - only varying shades of gray. And really, after reading this book, I have to question if any of the characters are what many would consider 100% morally "good."
Cadence Miller was always a "good" girl. She listened to her parents, was active in her church youth group and brought home decent grades. Until one night where she made her "big mistake." Her "big mistake" got her thrown in juvie for ten long months, and earned her the scorn of her seemingly perfect parents. When Cadence is released from her detention, she comes back to a life that makes her miserable. Her parents don't trust her at all. She has lost all of her teen age privileges, such as driving and going out with friends, and her parents have her on what seems like lock down. School is no better. The gossip mongers have set their sights on Cadence and make her life a living hell. Her oldest and best friend, Gracie, refuses to speak to her. The only ray of light in her life is her calculus teacher, the sexy hipster, and completely off-limits hunk, Mr. Connelly.
"I know he's cute. Very cute. And very smart. And very manly." I rested my face in my hands, elbows propped on the table. "And very off-limits." "Those are always the best love stories," Fanny replied. "Which ones?" She sipped her tea. "The dangerous ones."
The relationship between Cadence and Mr. Connelly begins slowly, but shifts into the fast lane rather quickly. Mr. Connelly, aka Mark, is the only person that shows Cadence kindness and love. Although tentative at first, Mark dives into this taboo relationship head first as soon as he discovers that Cadence likes him, too. I don't know what to say about this relationship. I don't have a problem with 10 year age gaps, but it seemed creepy to me that a 28-year-old teacher had the hots for an almost 18-year-old student. My main questions rotate around this idea - what do they have in common? Mark envelopes Cadence in his world. She begins listening to his music and going out to his type of clubs. Mark also takes the lead sexually. Cadence is inexperienced and Mark teaches her many firsts. Cadence, who has never cooked in her life, even learns how to cook with this man. Mark doesn't seem to become a part of Cadence's world, as much as she becomes a part of his.
I wanted Mark to be my newest book boyfriend, because he is hot, charming, smart and sweet. But the creep factor kept me from fully embracing Mark the way I wanted to. Mark, however, has one huge flaw, aside from his "big secret." Mark has periods of complete and utter immaturity. Mark is supposed to be the older and wiser one in this relationship. He makes a couple of very stupid and extremely immature decisions that rock Cadence's world. Although younger, Cadence shows that she is every bit as mature as Mark in many ways. Here's the bottom line, though. Although I had issues with the student-teacher dynamic, I still want Cadence and Mark to work out in the end. Somehow, someway, I want these two together.
I was nothing but a risk-taker. A wildly inappropriate panty-revealing risk-taker.
There are two friends in this book that make a huge impact on Cadence's life. Avery is a new friend that helps Cadence to get from under her parents' watchful eyes. Avery is a youth leader in the church, gets excellent grades and is viewed as the perfect daughter. In reality, Avery is manipulative and deceitful, yet the most trustworthy friend Cadence has ever had. Avery knows who she is and what she's doing and isn't afraid of it. She remains a good person underneath it all. Gracie is Cadence's oldest friend who dumped her when Cadence got in trouble. Gracie also appears to be the perfect young lady. She values her strong Christian background, yet she is vindictive, mean and jealous. She hides behind her cloak of Christianity, pretending to be "good," yet she's the most hateful character in this book.
"I'm not suggesting you start an illicit affair with your math teacher. I'm simply saying that it's not my business to judge you if you do. Love comes in all kinds of packages. Some are neatly tied up, and some are messy. It doesn't mean that the messy ones aren't every bit as good."
Cadence's parents also use Christianity to hide their true selves. Her parents are more focused on what people think of their family than what their actual family thinks and feels. They treat Cadence like a second-rate person, and only accept her "goodness" because of her seemingly good friend, Avery. They measure Cadence's "goodness" in relation to others. When the truth about Cadence comes out, her father acts out viciously and proves that his "goodness" is superficial at best.
I looked over at Mom who smiled. I wanted to laugh out loud. Now I was good? Now when I was lying about my whereabouts and kissing my math teacher and hanging with the most deceitful girl on the planet? Now I was good? It was ridiculous, and I couldn't care less.
This is a controversial book, but Walden rocks it. There are layers upon layers to disect and analyze. Good is well written and Walden is honest and genuine. She has created a book that is so enticing that I couldn't put it down. Walden gave me a lot of food for thought - lots of ideas and questions that I've obviously spent a lot of time thinking about. I love Cadence's voice and her strength throughout this book. She transformed from a character that lived her life according to others to a person that is comfortable with her own decisions and doesn't judge herself through the prism of others. I cannot wait for the conclusion to this story, Better. There is a lot of information about Mark that we don't know yet, and I'm looking forward to finding it all out.
S. Walden used to teach English before making the best decision of her life by becoming a full-time writer. She lives in Georgia with her very supportive husband who prefers physics textbooks over fiction and has a difficult time understanding why her characters must have personality flaws. She is wary of small children, so she has a Westie instead. Her dreams include raising chickens and owning and operating a beachside inn on the Gulf Coast (chickens included). When she's not writing, she's thinking about it. She loves her fans and loves to hear from them. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit her website at www.swaldenauthor.com to get up-to-date information on her current projects.
Find Mark Connelly Book Cover Contest
Fans, I need your help! I cannot find a picture of the perfect Mark Connelly to go on my cover of BETTER. I've given up and am handing the matter over to you. Here' the deal: find me a picture of Mark and you may win a signed copy of both GOOD and BETTER. Oh yeah, and you'll be acknowledged on the copyright page of BETTER, too!
1. ONE submission per person. Email me THE LINK to your perfect pic at email@example.com (I gotta know where to purchase it)
2. The pic must be a stock photo with a model release (pics on sites like dreamstime.com and shutterstock.com have model releases. They actually say it.).
Contest will run from 9/30 – 10/21. Make sure you get your submissions in before 12 A. M. on 10/21.He's out there. I know it. Now someone find him for me!
Note: I reserve the right to cancel this contest at any time if I stumble across the perfect pic. I don't think that's gonna happen, though.