Thursday, January 24, 2013

Blog Tour, Book Review, Author Interview and Giveaway: Breathe by Elena Dillion

Title: Breathe
Author: Elena Dillon

Genre: Young Adult Romantic Suspense

978-0-9886353-0-2 Breathe Mobi
978-0-9886353-1-9 Breathe EPUB
978-0-9886353-2-6 Breathe Print
978-0-9886353-3-3 Breathe Smashwords

Word Count: 62,300

Cover Artist: Alexa Dillon

Book Description:

Jasmine’s life wasn’t normal for a 16 year old girl.  It hadn’t been normal since the murder of her older sister, Daisy, two years ago. Her life had been changed forever. The monster that murdered Daisy was never caught.  That was the reason her family decided to move away from their hometown in Southern California, to start over.  Hopefully in a place where the last name Rourke wouldn’t bring on staring or judgment or morbid curiosity.

In Lafayette, Louisiana things are quite a bit different but in a good way.  Good manners, Cajun accents and a whole lot of Southern Hospitality all make her think things are going in the right direction.  On top of that the most gorgeous boy she has ever met is interested in her. Her new friends are better than she could have hoped for even if she is worried about what they might think when they find out who she is.  Life would be perfect if odd things didn’t keep happening.  Creepy phone calls, texts, and flowers in her locker start adding up quickly to something terrifying. Could the Monster have followed them to Lafayette? Was he coming after her this time?  Maybe she was just worrying unnecessarily…or not.

About the Author

Elena lives and writes in a suburb North of Los Angeles. She has never lived anywhere besides California which is probably a good thing since she hates being cold and is terrified to drive in the snow. She loves being a wife and a mother to her three kids and three dogs, although really the bulldog is the fourth child who has never matured beyond the toddler stage.

A self-proclaimed nerd, she has been writing since she was a child. She has only recently, however, come out of the closet about this to her family and friends. They now understand better, but not completely, why she talks about characters in stories as if they are real people.

Author Interview:
1. When did you know that you wanted to be a writer? Was it something you always wanted to do or something you sort of fell into?

I always knew I could write it came really easy to me. I didn’t necessarily think it was good but putting the words down wasn’t really hard. I always loved it but I never thought I would have the nerve to show any of my fiction to anyone. I think knowing that I was going to finish the story helped. Also I have an amazing friend who encouraged me and kept after me to show her the manuscript. She is so kind and lovely that I knew she wouldn’t be mean even if it was terrible. When I brought her the first two chapters she had to literally pry them from my hands. I waited with bated breath to hear what she thought. When she texted me saying she loved it and wanted to read more, I was hooked!

2. Why the YA genre?

I love teenagers. I find them funny and interesting. I love that they are still so idealistic before the world has a chance to beat them down and who doesn’t adore first love? Also I want to write something that I wouldn’t be embarrassed for my whole family and my pastor to read!

3. How did the idea for Breathe come to you? Are any of the characters based off of people you know in real life?

When I started thinking about writing a story I wondered how would a family adapt to such a tragedy as a death of a sibling. What happens after a couple of years and the news fades? That family is left with the destruction of murder. I am kind of fascinated with birth order in children and how it affects their personalities. What happens when the oldest is gone and the middle child is now the oldest? It really just made me sad to think of what it might do to the family unit so it grew from there.

4. If you could visit anywhere in the world where would it be?

Italy for sure. I’m half Italian and it is very high on my bucket list. I would love to go and stay for a whole month and just live there to have the experience. Not just visit.

5. If you could go back in time who would you want to meet?

I would want to meet Jesus for sure. I would want to go back to the time of his ministry and see the miracles and hear the stories. I find that time in history fascinating and I would love to understand the history better.

6. Ice cream, cookies, pie/cake or are you a candy kind of girl?

Cookies or pie for sure! I love cookies or pie
as long as they don’t have nuts, I’m allergic.

7. Favorite genre to read?

I skip around a lot. I have eclectic taste in reading material. YA, Romantic Suspense, Romance, Historical Romance, Classics, Non -fiction, Light Fantasy, Biographies, Chic Lit, Christian Bible Studies, Christian Fiction, and Thrillers. Can’t really read horror because it gives me screaming nightmares!

8. What can we expect from you next?

My second book is in the rewrites phase. It is not related to Breathe. Another YA Romantic Suspense though set near Charleston, South Carolina. It’s got a love triangle, a creepy kidnapper and a beautiful setting. I’m hoping to release it in the Spring!

Chapter 1

Most days I can almost forget someone murdered my sister. I try to go through every day like a normal sixteen-year-old. I can eat breakfast, go to school, do homework, but then something will remind me that my family will never be the same. I’ll see my mom looking out the kitchen window—she has this blank look and her clothes are hanging on her. I worry she doesn’t eat enough to stay alive. Or I catch a glimpse of the picture on the coffee table we took three Halloweens ago, when Daisy and I dressed up like crayons, and Caedan and Lily were Skittles. It seems like a long time ago, and then, again, I remember it like it just happened.
We finally moved two weeks ago. Mom decided we couldn’t continue to live in Burbank. Besides the obvious reason that Daisy’s murderer was never caught, someone was always staring at us with that look that said, “Isn’t it so sad what happened to the Rourke family?” But you know in their hearts they are thinking how glad they are it didn’t happen to them. It’s obvious they’re thinking my mom must have done something wrong. She wasn’t a good enough parent, didn’t supervise Daisy enough, didn’t call the police soon enough. They wanted to believe the murder of a teenage girl happened for a reason and they could avoid it, if they just did everything right. The thing is, I think the exact opposite is probably true.
So, three months ago, we had a family meeting. We got out a map of the US and each chose a city and state. Mom and I did research on ours, Caedan picked his based on name only, and Lily did the spin-around-and-wherever-your-finger-lands routine. Thankfully, we pulled mine out of the hat. I don’t know how I would have felt living in Smackover, Arkansas. Caedan thought it was hilarious. He is so twelve.
Tonight, my mom drove us all to Wal-Mart in our new town of Lafayette, Louisiana. School supplies were the one thing we hadn’t shopped for in the last two weeks, and school was starting tomorrow.
Jas, take your brother and sister to the school supplies, while I go grab stuff for lunches this week, will you, hon?” my mom asked, as she walked away without waiting for my reply.
I was going to—” I clamped my mouth shut. She didn’t even hear me.
I was stuck with this life now. I love my brother and sister, but I hadn’t always been the oldest and in charge of herding them. These are the times Daisy’s absence hits home the most with me. She had been good with them. I used to slip into the background. Do my own thing. Sneak off to the books and browse, while she did her Junior Mommy act. I’m less patient and easily irritated. I’m angry at Daisy for leaving me here with this mess. I don’t want to be the responsible one. I want my life back. I just inherited her spot and, honestly, I don’t want it. Not that anything is going to change it now.
I want to get all matching Justin Bieber school supplies,” Lily decided, as we found the school supplies section. The place was crawling with kids and parents getting all their last-minute items. I thought we would be lucky to find filler paper and some pencils, as picked over as it all seemed.
Caedan was pushing the cart around the corners and down the aisles with the precision of a NASCAR driver on Sunday. He knew that one incident, and his driving privileges would be revoked. I was trying to find Justin Bieber anything, as Caedan turned onto the next aisle. Suddenly, I heard a crash and a loud oomph as I rushed around the other side.
Caedan!” I shouted.
Jas, I’m sorry I didn’t know he was there. It was an accident,” he pleaded.
So sorry,” I mumbled to the man pushing the other cart. He shot me a look and moved past us. “That’s it! I’m driving.” But when I looked down at Lily, who had been walking next to Caedan, her eyes were big and full of tears.
My Justin shirt!” she cried out. I looked down, and in the collision her purple slushy had spilled all over her shirt.
Don’t be such a baby! It is just a shirt,” Caedan told her with all the sensitivity of a pre-teenage boy.
Shut up, Caedan. I hate you.” Lily shoved him in the chest.
Purple is not your color, Lils.” He was looking at his twin with pure disgust.
People next to us were starting to stare. I could feel the blood rushing to my face. Why did anyone have children anyway? They were cretins. By this time Lily was starting to melt down.
Okay, okay, we are going to fix it,” I hurriedly told her. Lily had always been emotional, but since Daisy’s murder she was hypersensitive to anything upsetting her world, and Justin Bieber was her world.
Into this chaos, my mother arrived. In the past, she could handle these situations quietly and easily. The twins fighting, or Daisy and I arguing over the mess in our room, would not even get us a raised voice. She was an RN for geriatric patients, and she was used to calming situations and peacemaking. Since Daisy’s death, even simple sibling arguments seemed overwhelming for her.
What is going on?” she said between clenched teeth. Lily chose this moment to burst into full tears, while Caedan started protesting about it not being his fault and how mean I was not to let him drive. “I guess it’s too much to ask for you to get one thing done for me without any uproar,” my mother remarked to me sarcastically. “Jasmine . . .” The use of my full name was never a good sign. “Go to the car and get your sister her sweatshirt, while I bring her to the bathroom to get her cleaned up.” She looked at my brother with narrowed eyes, “You will stand outside the ladies room door with the cart, quietly, while I handle the mess you made. And I don’t want to hear another word from you while we are in this store. Are we clear?”
I made a face at Caedan behind my mother’s back before I whipped around and stomped off to the car. Why was his obnoxious behavior my fault again? Whatever. Being the oldest really was the worst.
As I reached the electronic sliding doors to the outside, I slowed down and caught my breath. It had gotten dark since we had been in the store. After Daisy’s murder I had found myself starting to get anxious in particular situations. Outside in the dark could be a problem, sometimes escalating to panic attacks. I tried to keep these little incidents from my mom. She was definitely starting to pay more attention these days.
I scanned the parking lot quickly to find the car. My breath started to come in short gasps. The car was halfway down an aisle, three rows over . . . and not under a streetlight. Damn! I grabbed my keys out of my purse and stepped into the lot. I would just hurry. I was being ridiculous. This was Lafayette, not Los Angeles. I had nothing to worry about here—lots of miles between us and him.
When I was three feet from our car, “Hey there,” a male voice said from behind me. I jumped and squealed at the same time. I turned around fast with my pepper spray out. Thankfully, I noticed, before I sprayed, that the nozzle was pointed at me.
Hey, hey, sorry. I just, um . . . saw you drop something . . . um . . . here.” A tall brown-haired boy around my age was holding my mother’s list of school supplies. He kept moving toward me. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”
I kept backing up until my rear end hit the end of our car. “Okay. I, uh . . .” I said weakly. All of a sudden there was a loud buzzing in my ears, and the world started to tilt.
Whoa.” I heard as everything went black.
I could hear voices around me as I started to wake up.
Hey, Sleeping Beauty. No time for a nap,” a deep, soothing voice said quietly in my ear. “Trenton, what did you do to her? She fainted dead away.”
I became aware that I wasn’t on the ground, like when I normally wake up from a faint. Since this had happened more than a few times in my teenage life, I found that odd. Due to some hormonal upheaval or whatever, since I hit puberty, fainting had become a fairly common part of my life. But right now, I felt warm, surrounded by the most amazing smell. I was not on the ground with a goose egg on my head as usual. I opened my eyes and saw the most handsome face I’d ever seen. I thought I must still be passed out and was dreaming.
I was just trying to give her back the paper she dropped, and she acted like I was gonna attack her or somethin’. I don’t know why she fainted. I didn’t touch her—I swear. Why would that happen? I can’t believe you caught her. That was awesome! Is she okay? Do you think there is something wrong with her?” The grating voice kept on until . . .
Trenton, shut up,” the dream said, still looking into my eyes. I tried to shake my head to wake up and realized I was cradled against his chest like he had swept me up in his arms.
Not a dream then. Crap. I became instantly mortified. “I, uh . . . Can you put me down? Please? I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to faint.” Duh.
Well, I guess, if you really want me to,” Dream Guy said as he lowered my feet to the ground.
I couldn’t believe he had been holding me while I was passed out. It’s not like I’m so heavy. I’m actually kind of skinny, but I’m five foot nine, and he was holding me in the air like I weighed less than a bag of groceries. Time to make a graceful exit. Or any kind of exit. I probably wouldn’t be able to accomplish graceful. Who was I kidding?
Do you normally mean to faint?” he asked.
Um, no. Thanks for catching me. I really have to go,” I babbled, while I searched for my keys.
Here,” he said, as he carefully handed me the keys.
Thanks,” I said, as I opened the car and grabbed Lily’s sweatshirt.
Maybe you should—” he started to say, but I interrupted.
I’m fine, really. Thanks again.” I shut and locked the door. They were both standing there looking at me like I was nuts. Well, I guess they weren’t far off. This had to be the most ridiculous moment of my life. My face felt like it was burning. I meet the cutest guy ever and what do I do? Faint. Like an idiot. I shouldn’t be shocked.
I gave them a little wave as I ran/walked back to the store. I concentrated on getting inside without looking back. If this day was any indication as to how my life in Lafayette was going to go, I should have closed my eyes and pointed.

My Thoughts and Review:
Oh my goodness I was pleasantly surprised by this book.

Jasmine was a very strong character. Way stronger than she thought she was and very brave. I really loved her. I felt for her and her family and in fact fell in love with them all. I couldn't imagine going through all that they went through and coming out so much stronger because of it.

And while I loved Jasmine and her family (okay really loved the pranks she did with Caedan!), Easton was the one that stole my heart. What a charmer he was with his southern accent and manners. Truly he was a swoon worthy character that really did make me smile and wish that I knew him in real life. No bad boy persona here, he was all good 'ole Southern charm.

And his family? I loved them all too! I really wanted to be a part of his wonderful family. His brother Trenton, his Mom and Dad, Chase, his Aunt Bellie, they were all perfect and all exactly how I would picture a family from down South to be.

And while this was a serious read about serious stuff, I laughed quite a few times throughout as well. Jasmine was hilarious. I loved her inner dialogue.

I can't say it enough but this book really did surprise me. In fact, my only complaint was that it wasn't longer. I really wasn't ready for it to be over. It has the right about of everything that I love in a good story. Great characters, a great plot, suspense to keep you on edge, enough mystery to keep you curious, and just the right amount of romance and humor to keep me happy and lets not forget lots and lots of Southern hospitality.

Dillion is one author I will be keeping an eye on. I will happily read whatever else she comes out with.

I truly loved every minute of this one.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Thanks for sharing this was new to me. I love romantic suspense. I enjoyed the interview and Italy is on my bucket-list too!

  2. Oh I love books and characters in the south! I remember hearing of this book before but your review has me really wishing I could fit it in!

  3. This sounds really good. I can't imagine what a family would go through after losing a loved one to murder. How horrible, I am glad that the family was wonderful and the you loved them and that this book had humor!

  4. Thank you so much for having me on your blog and the lovely review! So glad you enjoyed the book. =)

  5. Oh man, this sounds good. Great interview. Even the whole liking teenagers thing. lol.

  6. I enjoyed the interview. The book sounds good to. My attention was captured by the description "young adult romantic suspense."