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Awake and Second Chances Review + Tour

I am so excited to be sharing with you my tour stop for the books, Awake and Second Chances by Lisa Battalia! Read on for the reviews, an interview, and book information!



In A Midlife Romance series, books one and two are the main focus of this tour. Below are my thoughts and info on the books!



Series synopsis (from Amazon):

A Midlife Romance Series. Friendship and passion, lost and found again by chance. Lori, an affluent wife and mother, has sacrificed her career for the sake of her family and the expectations to build a "perfect" family. Brandon, an FBI agent, is smart, committed, and protective of the women in his life, but struggles as a single parent. Despite living on opposite coasts, and the competing responsibilities that accrue in midlife, Lori and Brandon take a shot at romance.

Synopsis (from Amazon) of Awake (Book One):

Awake begins in the shame and pain of a marital desertion. Lori is reluctant to let Brandon into her life, afraid to be hurt again. Once she opens that door wider, Lori experiences an explosive awakening. With Brandon's help, Lori rediscovers her sexual power and, through that, confidence and hope. Yet three-thousand miles separate suburban Maryland and Seattle. Their intense but infrequent visits are disorienting, particularly as Lori feels pressured towards a more suitable post-divorce life. When Lori makes an impulsive decision to take her kids on a trip to Seattle, she sparks a chain of conflicts that might end their still-precarious romance.

Synopsis (from Amazon) of Second Chances (Book Two):

Second Chances continues the story of Lori and Brandon's bicoastal romance. Their sexy, fun weekends, crisscrossing the country to see each other, are bookended by the challenges back home. For Lori, that's a new home, job search, divorce proceedings, and conflicts with her teenage kids. With newfound confidence, helped by Brandon's skills in the bedroom and as handyman, cop, and father, Lori revels in a budding independence. Still, there's no avoiding that their time together is scheduled around the competition (exes, kids, and bosses). Brandon's aversion to risk, his loyalty to his daughter, and Lori's increasingly complicated life in Maryland all loom as potential, insurmountable obstacles, and Lori fears that shuttling between disparate worlds will break her. After a particularly empowering sexual encounter, Lori finds the courage to ask for what she wants-a second chance to build a brave new life with Brandon-but taking that risk could mean losing everything.


Overall Thoughts:

Awake and Second Chances are sooo good! I love the relationship between Lori and Brandon and the continuous growth throughout the two books. Lori finding her independence in the second book is brilliantly done as her life unfolds with the chance of a new life with Brandon. Overall, I love the story and the pace of both reads.


Battalia is a great writer and storyteller and it is shown throughout both reads. Readers of romance will love this book and find themselves wanting more after the second book! Add this to your TBR, you won't want to miss out on this one!


Author Bio:

Lisa Battalia is an attorney in the field of gender equity and a writer. She is the mother of two newly launched young adults; a lifelong east-coaster who recently launched her own new life on Whidbey Island, WA.


Her other novels and short stories can be found at www.lisabattalia.com.



Interview:


On writing:


How did you do research for your book?

A: In the bedroom LOL. I wanted to write a romance where a sexual awakening was a key driver of the character’s emotional growth and newfound self-confidence. That meant writing explicit scenes. One of the most challenging aspects was imagining and writing scenes that were “real” and still sexy; and, since there were multiple scenes, that each remained fresh and exciting without resorting to the outlandish.


Where do you get inspiration for your stories?

A: In addition to my novels, I have written a handful of short stories. The inspiration is often my own life, but the stories are never about me. For example, “The Gift,” involves an adoption triad. In fact, my children are adopted; and I have a joyful and loving relationship with each of their birth mothers but the story is not mine but belongs to the characters that I have created.


There are many books out there about....What makes yours different?

A: In particular, there are a lot of romance books out there; as well as reader’s expectations for books in that genre. That doesn’t mean you can’t expand and challenge readers—particularly if that lets you invite in new audiences. Romance novels often neglect the experiences of women closer in age to 50 than 20; women who have to find the courage to start over in midlife; women who must fit love and romance into lives already filled with responsibilities that accrue from the “unseen” work women do.



In your book you state....why is that?

A: “I believe more is better when it comes to families.” I believe this statement reflects one side of a fundamental tension and question facing every family — particularly non-traditional families. If your family is built through adoption, or you are a family recovering from divorce, or thinking about blending families through re-marriage — it is complicated. You can say yes, or no, to new and expanded familial relationships. Do you play it safe; or embrace the complications: more connections, potentially more risk, but perhaps more joy.


Do you have another profession besides writing?

Yes, I am an attorney. I work with a collective of STEMM professional societies to help them address sexual harassment in the fields of science and medicine, and to make the fields more equitable and inclusive.




How long have you been writing?

A: For about fourteen years. I did not grow up thinking I would be a writer; it wasn’t really until I was a lawyer working for the US Department of Education that I started to consider writing as an avocation. I was drafting a lot of policy around Title IX, and that particular administration considered it our mission was to write policy for students and educators that was clear, and “real,” and helpful (not filled with government jargon). That got me thinking about writing well, to fit a purpose, as a satisfying puzzle and challenge. I stopped working for a time to raise my kids and I missed that challenge, so once they were both in school I picked up my pad and paper (well, turned on my computer).


Do you ever get writer’s block? What helps you overcome it?

A: I always find it hard to start a new project; the blank page is terrifying to me; and even though I know how much I will enjoy the writing when a project is underway; it is still hard for me to get started.


What is your next project?

A: My big brother, who was my best friend, took his own life about a year ago. I feel like my next project will somehow be related to that experience of loss and grief; the impact of suicide on a family…. For me writing is a wonderful, creative activity, but also an opportunity to figure sh** out.


What genre do you write and why?

A: I have written a “young adult” novel, The Warming Season; and A Midlife Romance falls in the romance genre. I like that a genre provides a frame or structure to work within, yet gives you plenty of room to make it your own.


What is the last great book you’ve read?

A: I am listening to Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner, a book I read a long time ago and thought was one of the best books I had read; we are reading for book club so I’m getting the chance to revisit why I thought so LOL. I love to read, and have lots of favorites. I recently finished The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin and loved it. I’m looking forward to reading Lessons in Chemistry.


Are you similar to or different from your lead character?

A: Both LOL


What were the biggest rewards and challenges with writing your book?

A: I have written both novels and short stories — each is different and challenging in its own way. I love the sparse precision and conciseness required of a short story but then I look forward to the pleasures of length in a novel, to have room for history and backstory; more characters; building context and texture through details; building the arc of a story through individual scenes that feel fluid and necessary. The reward, honestly, comes from reader reviews — a reader you don’t know and might never meet — but who enjoys your story and feels it resonates.


In one sentence, what was the road to publishing like?

A: Not for the faint of heart; It takes courage and resilience.


What is one piece of advice you would give to an aspiring author?

A: Read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Big Magic”


Which authors inspired you to write?

A: Elizabeth Strout; Elizabeth Gilbert; Ann Pachett



On rituals:


Do you write every day?

A: Once I’m in a project, yes. I would like to get better at writing everyday, just for fun and discipline.


In today’s tech savvy world, most writers use a computer or laptop. Have you ever written parts of your book on paper?

A: I wonder about this — it’s hard for me to imagine writing a book on pen and paper — my handwriting is sloppy and hard to read and it gets tiring, and yet I’ve read that using a computer allows a writer to get sloppy with the writing — if something feels off, it’s easier to cut and paste than to start from scratch, which may be what is needed…..


If you’re a mom writer, how do you balance your time?

It’s not easy — you have to use the time your kids are at school; but in the end that’s not a lot of time; so you have to say no to all those volunteer requests! And not feel bad about it!


Fun stuff:


Favorite travel spot?

A: I like to travel. Period. So don’t go back to the same spot. I just took my daughter to Morocco — her birth father is Moroccan. It was so different, and eye-opening, and yet simply lovely to be traveling with my daughter.


What’s the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?

A: After many decades living on the East Coast, and weeks after burying my brother, I drove cross-country in my Prius with my 24 year old son for company, my brother’s dog, and my cat, to start a new life in Whidbey Island, WA. When I bought the Whidbey house several years ago, I was dating a man and thought we would be starting a life together there. He is no longer in my life, but I made the move and feel grateful to have been welcomed by the Island, and proud to have built a community, friends, and — after the disruption of divorce — a place my kids call home.



If there is one thing you want readers to remember about you, what would it be?

A: My life, like everyone else’s, has proven enormously challenging. I struggled with years of infertility treatment; was abandoned after 20 years of marriage; shepherded one kid through addiction and treatment, another through severe dyslexia; I am still grieving my brother’s suicide. But always — doors have opened: the joy of adoption, the beauty of rebuilding a life out of the dreams I thought lost; to witness the courage in my son’s sobriety and my daughter’s resilience; recommitting to a family in need of healing. Remember to look for the openings….



What TV series are you currently binge watching?

A: Bad Sisters — love it! Dead to Me with my daughter. We love to snuggle and binge together.



What is your favorite thing to do in (current season)?

Moving from summer/fall where I love to play tennis into the short, dark days of winter where I love to sit by the fire and read.



What is something that made you laugh recently?

A: I just spent the Thanksgiving holiday with my immediate, extended family of 25, including my 2 ½ yr old niece. We have a special thing going and playing hide and seek, and making towers that fall and being the tickle monster all had me at full belly laugh!


Who was your childhood celebrity crush?

A: If I tell you, I’ll give away my age LOL


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