Book Jacket

 

rank  Editors Pick
word count 13157
date submitted 08.10.2012
date updated 24.07.2013
genres: Fiction, Chick Lit, Romance, Young ...
classification: universal
incomplete

Starting Over - Starsville Book 1

Jaclyn Aurore

Starting Over: This is It Never Happened – revised and retitled – yet same story… Same Max Cole… but better.

 

Max deals with high school the way she deals with panic attacks… deep breaths and denial. But denying her brother’s friend is another thing altogether.

Her nickname is ‘The Kid.’ She’s small, she’s socially awkward, and she desperately wants to be left alone.

For most of her childhood, Max was punished for speaking, or for just being in the way. Life improved slightly when her abusive father was no longer in the picture, but she still felt the need to be invisible.

Her older brother, Nate, is extremely protective and refuses to leave her side. He shelters her so she won’t be hurt again.
They had a good system until he introduced her to his new best friend.

Drew wants to coax Max out into the world so she can move beyond the pain. The method each boy takes in helping Max cope with her anxiety causes more conflict than Max is prepared to handle… especially when the school heart-breaker offers her more than a brotherly shoulder to lean on.

Full copy available here: www.jaclynaurore.com or at Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CLXC3WW

 
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HarperCollins Wrote

Broad Overview

Plot Summary
Max Cole is a young girl with emotional scars from her abusive father. Her mother, with her disastrous taste in men, may have left Max’s dad, but Paul, the new man on the scene, is probably cast from a similar mold. Only her brother Nathan looks after her; so protective that he is potentially quashing her development – but he can’t help it, her panic attacks and nightmares mean she can’t be left alone. When Nathan makes a friend at his new school, Max is pleased for him – until Drew starts showing intentions which go beyond platonic.

Genres & Similar Authors
This is a coming of age/survivor YA story, and as such would sit alongside hard-hitting YA fiction Speak by Laurie Anderson.

First Impressions
This is a strongly plotted novel with a clear message. It knows where it is going and the author has obviously put a lot of thought into situation, character and narrative arc.

Weaknesses

The main difficulty with this book is the voice. You give Max a very descriptive voice, rather than an experiential one. We do not really get into her head. It would be nice if things happened to her in a more immediate sense, with the back-story with her father gradually alluded to, not simply described at various points. This could be done in very short flashbacks, or jumpy reactions, etc.

We are also kept quite distant from her feelings – instead she just observes Nate’s. I think you need to give her a unique voice, which brings the reader up close to the action. Don’t be afraid to leave your reader in the dark at times; don’t be afraid to immerse us in Max’s world.

Strengths

I like the plot. Whilst a common YA formula, it manages to seem fresh. The setting is good, and some of the details (her mother driving barefoot, for instance) have the power to be very moving. The way young people cope with trauma in their formative years is a fertile area for fiction, and one which, with research and development of Max’s voice, could work really well. I’d recommend reading psychoanalytic/therapeutic case studies on trauma, especially those with testimonies transcribed in the words of the young victim – how has Max’s worldview shifted as a result, beyond simply being frightened?

Drew proves an intriguing figure, although of course in this excerpt I do not know what happens. It might be nice to create a family situation for him which exists as a comforting counterpoint to Max’s family.



Decision

I am afraid that this isn’t the novel for us, but am very glad to have seen it, and wish you all good luck and success with it.

KAlexopoulos wrote 448 days ago

:D

Oh, Jac. You clever girl, you. "I'm afraid this isn't the novel for us, despite it being fucking awesome."

That's cool, HERE'S THE AMAZON LINK!

Good on ya.

singfam wrote 547 days ago

This is a YARG review. L:-)

SOOO great!! I love this. I have read a lot of painful 'life tragedies" lately, and was worried that this was another one of those, but I loved how Max is blessed with the sweetest gifts of hope from her brother and from Drew. Your writing is fantastic. So easy to read. NOthing slows me down. I love the fun comments that pop out from your own personality. - like "even his hair is tougher than mine," "Fan-freaking-tastic" or "Holy frustration Batman." They bring the book to life. The characters are strong, and continue to carry my heart deeper and deeper into their souls with each chapter.

The tragedies they endured are sooo sad, but the emotion and the responses she shares are so truely felt and sincerely recorded. It not only makes the story real to the reader, but helps us understand pain when we see it in the eyes of people around us that we never "saw" before. There is so much good, that comes with the pain in this book, that it is difficult to write it all. I love how patient and kind Drew is, and it makes me think, yes there are people like that out there in the world- even in a world where there has been so much pain. It gives the reader hope for their own lives as well.
In the other "life-tragedy" books I've read here, it hits me hard that readers already know about the tragedies of life. We dont want to read a book where each chapter sucks more hope from our lives. WE need to have something to look forward to. Your book will be sucked up and devoured for that reason alone. Each chapter carries the story along at just the right speed tickling the reader with just the right amount of hope to make us want to continue to read. By the 6th chapter I am so involved with Max's heart, I am aching to help her. But it is also a story of reality. We cant just fix people. We can only do what Nate and Drew do so well, be patient, and kind and caring and let them move through their journey.
Your book is the "Cinderella" story of the 21st century. I love how subtly Max opens up. How slowly she allows herself the smallest increments of freedom, to speak, and to experience more things in life.

Comments all scattered, but its late and I read too long. couldnt stop. I will get you on my shelf for the last couple days here. sorry it took me so long. Ive been doing work and school and family and snow. :-)
but good luck at the editors desk. I hope they publish you book.
really good stuff. I look forward to reading their review.
Jeannette Singleton
Journey to Kalado're
ps. thanks again for reading mine. great comments. great help.

Stark Silvercoin wrote 553 days ago

It Never Happened - A Max Cole Story is a perfect tale for the target young adult audience. Author Jaclyn Aurore proves that she understands what makes great YA fiction. It Never Happened hits all the right notes, tapping into the angst, confusion and fears of young adults trying to figure out life, or just attempting to survive school.

Great writers develop a sense of place. William Faulkner had the South. Steinbeck had the mid-west. Even Stephen King can lay claim to rural Maine. Aurore doesn’t so much develop a region, though the story is littered with sufficient Canadian colloquialisms to make it feel quite real. She instead plants her flag in high schools everywhere. Pretty much anyone can pick up It Never Happened and relate it back to their school days, when even the coolest kids were awkward and unsure of themselves to some degree, and very few of us were actually cool. Young readers themselves will instantly know that Aurore is the real deal, not a pretender to the YA crown.

Beyond that, this is also a compelling story in its own right, even outside of the YA genre. That is due to strong characterization. Max is certainly a realistic heroine, as are all the minor characters (no pun intended) that we meet in the posted chapters. The relationship between Max and her brother is also perfect. Those of us lucky enough to have a sibling close to our age will recognize that relationship right away.

There is no reason why It Never Happened - A Max Cole Story wouldn’t find lots of adoring fans within its target audience. I foresee a great future ahead for Max, and for author Jaclyn Aurore as well.

John Breeden II
Old Number Seven

Cheryl Henderson wrote 567 days ago

I'm hooked! The characters of Nate and Max are totally believable, and very quickly I started to feel extremely protective of them. This deserves to be a bestseller Jaclyn.

artifactory wrote 648 days ago

I'm back, with chocolate, to read a couple more chapters. And, I got totally immersed and read all the rest! The story continues to be compelling and perfectly paced. Max is even more endearing as I get to know her. I'm rooting for her, and somehow I feel like baking! Writing like yours is why I am on Authonomy! This is a great story, Jaclyn, and I can't wait to check out your other book!

jessicaminor wrote 355 days ago

YARG review

hi there, I see you have already made it to the editors desk and I can see why its a wonderfully written story with strong background and amazing descriptions are you working on anything now?

L.M.Bell wrote 427 days ago

YARG Review

Jaclyn, since this made desk already, I thought I’d read it leisurely and I’d just jot down a few notes here and there while making my way through it, tourist pace, with a cuppa before going to bed.

Instead I found myself devouring the whole thing in one session, staying up well into the night (and I am a new mum, I treasure my precious chances of sleep!) and of course being bitterly disappointed when I reached the end of the last chapter and there was no more to read. AAAAARRRRGGGHHH!

Now I will have to buy a kindle just to be able to get your book and finish it. See what you’ve done.

But honestly, I have actually developed a minor obsession with your characters, and especially Max of course. At the beginning I was a bit worried I might have stumbled on a misery-lit, which is usually not my thing, but the way she slowly opened up her world was so beautiful, so touching, I found myself completely spellbound.

I really don’t have anything else to say. Now I am off to read ‘My Life Without Me’.

Best of luck with it!

Laura

KAlexopoulos wrote 448 days ago

:D

Oh, Jac. You clever girl, you. "I'm afraid this isn't the novel for us, despite it being fucking awesome."

That's cool, HERE'S THE AMAZON LINK!

Good on ya.

K Sharma wrote 461 days ago

Read it twice and enjoyed it!
Great writing

jessicaminor wrote 469 days ago

Yarg
okay i will admit i did not think this was a story i'd like when i saw max cole i thought james bond but once i read the pitch i had to and i read all 8 chapters and i love max!! this story almost reminds some of us of our own youth i was a super mario brothers addict as a teenager. i enjoyed the story the charecters, but i want to know will this be one book or a series of painful events for max?

jessicaminor wrote 469 days ago

im looking forward to this one i suffer from panic attacks myself so it'll be an intresting read i will comment later on today

Susan Burns wrote 516 days ago

It Never Happened is so tightly written, with so much intimacy, one feels
eased into empathy with Max's struggle to grow up whole and healthy.

sydenay wrote 532 days ago

Hey :)

This seems really good so far. I think your characters are very real- I feel like I know Max already, she's quirky and kind of reminds me of myslef a bit. I like that you don't expand on the setting much, you just kind of let the reader do that with the hints you drop. It feels so Canadian I can instantly relate!

I'll be reading more later, as I've only read a bit, but this is really something.

Brendie wrote 536 days ago

It's wonderful how you gave Maxine and Nate such colourful depth in the very first chapter that the reader is immediately captured by their situation and can't wait to read the rest to see how it pans out. A lovely, easy style of writing that put me in mind of To Kill A Mockingbird. Looking forward to seeing it in the bookshops soon ...

T J Pallett wrote 538 days ago

Hi Jaclyn

This isn't my normal genre but reading this at work and three chapters in and still enjoying it. Congratulations on making it to the top!

LauraD7 wrote 539 days ago

Jaclyn - Hi there. I think you have the bones of a great story. And if the bones are good, the rest can be equally good, even fantastic. Max is a girl I'm sure lots of readers will identify with. I can't personally, but I can tell you've poured your heart into telling her tale. And her brother is her savior and I love that. You have deeply troubled characters with a dark past - makes for excellent reading. But as your story is right now, I'm afraid we're not IN the story with you. You're TELLING us about it - reading it to us like a book report - instead of SHOWING us. And the result is that while I want to care about Max, her brother and his friend, I just can't. I need to see these people, watch them and judge for myself how the story will unfold. Right now, you've got the story in your head, and that's great, but you're telling us what you want us to know, and NOT letting the characters show me. Let me provide some examples of where showing versus telling would greatly improve what's already happening.
Right off the bat, we see this girl (who you don't name, by the way) scrubbing away a la Cinderella. We don;t know why. Is she a maid? Is this how she does her chores? Or is there some OCD going on? I'm going to lean toward the third option, but let me just try to give you an example of how you can show what's going on.
- It would never be clean enough, Max thought as she scrubbed her ratty toothbrush against the pale tile for the one thousand and thirty-third time. Seven more to go, she said to herself. But it would still never be clean enough.
"Hey, kiddo." Max paused her habitual cleaning and observed her brother Nate leaning against the doorframe. Though his posture conveyed relaxation, she knew the worried look in his brown eyes and that crease that formed prematurely across his eighteen-year-old brow. "Mom's gonna freak if she sees you doing this." Slowly he approached, crouching before her so they were level. He held out his hand and gently pulled Max to her feet. Then he took her chin between his thumb and forefinger. "He's gone, Max. He can't hurt you anymore. You've got to stop this. Please." -
Okay, so I made that stuff up, and wasn't trying to rewrite it for you, but hopefully you get the idea. I tried to show Max doing something that obviously is a remnant scar of her past, a shared past with her brother. He understands her but obviously wasn't affected the way she was. His concern and love for her are obvious, but I'm not telling it. I'm showing it. See?
Also, keep in mind that if you're truly telling this from Max's point of view (and generally speaking, authors must pick one and stick to it as religiously as possible. If you can't for the sake of the story, the POV change must be clearly marked.) So Max wouldn't know she's hit her head against the window - she's asleep. Only show and inform us of what your narrator can see. And since that narrator is Max, she wouldn't know any of that stuff on the bus was happening. After all, you've told us as much. So if you want to show what's going on, find another way through Max's eyes.
Also, instead of telling us what happened that day in the car, I like to use flashbacks as a way to have the characters relive the experience in real time. It seems more immediate and you can play more with physical and emotional reactions. Just a suggestion, though.
Trust me, I give you this advice as someone who's been brought to the "light" and is still learning. But I truly think that if you work on less telling and more showing, you'll have an amazing story.

Please keep at it and good luck! Please let me know if there's anything you'd like to discuss!
Laura

Owen Dorr wrote 540 days ago

I know this book has reached the editors table and I sincerly hope it gets published.
These types of books are not my style story but this was an amazingly well written work.
Normally I only read the first three chapers of the work I review which is enough for me to get an idea of the book and the writer, but this work I read every thing that was there.
Well done and well deserved to get to the desk.
Best of luck in all your endevours.
Owen

HariPatience wrote 543 days ago

I enjoyed reading about Max and Nate - they're really well drawn characters and I'm eager to learn more about them. This is a good young adult read, with lots of nice details. Your reveal of Max and Nate's past was handled tastefully and realistically, without making it sensational, which I appreciated. Your gold medal is deserved.

Thecurious wrote 543 days ago

is the last book of your trilogy out yet? i really want to read it could you plzz let me know would be great

Duncan Watt wrote 544 days ago

Hi Jaclyn ...
Yes, I know I'm a little late but it is still worth backing and rating. You have a very worthy book and one that has a brilliant story line, a good plot and very strong characters. Max, although a little shy, is a little cracker. She is the sort of strong central character that I feel will blossom to take control of the story and is so realistic, I feel I know her.This story feels very real and I think will have universal appeal.

I would suggest though that you try to remove the word 'had', especially before words ending 'ed'. these are in the past tense and do not need 'had': '... I had baked only hours before'. I read a sentence with the word and again without and if it reads the same with out altering the meaning, then 'had' is not needed. The same applies to 'that'.

'Got' ... Arggh! The dreaded word. This is my pet hate and is creeping more and more into everyday vocabulary. 'Got' is the past tense of 'get' and as 'get' means to 'obtain', (OED) you now have: 'He's got (obtained) a mohawk ... If you remove the contraction: 'He has a mohawk', the 'got' is unneccesary.

I now apologise for my pickiness, wish you well and will continue to read. I like Max a lot ... a well thought out character. Regards ... The little plastic man.

romanrunner wrote 546 days ago

At first I was a little thrown, because I was reading your story with the expectation of an adult fiction reader. But once I altered my thinking and read from the perspective of a teen or young person I changed my tune. Your writing is very well tailored to that age group and given the difficulties youth are experiencing these days it is relevant. You took me back to my Judy Blume days. You reminded me of when I used to read Boxcar Children. So keep on writing. Good job knowing which genre your strengths lie in! Starred well.

~Roman Newell

romanrunner wrote 546 days ago

At first I was a little thrown, because I was reading your story with the expectation of an adult fiction reader. But once I altered my thinking and read from the perspective of a teen or young person I changed my tune. Your writing is very well tailored to that age group and given the difficulties youth are experiencing these days it is relevant. You took me back to my Judy Blume days. You reminded me of when I used to read Boxcar Children. So keep on writing. Good job knowing which genre your strengths lie in! Starred well.

~Roman Newell

singfam wrote 547 days ago

This is a YARG review. L:-)

SOOO great!! I love this. I have read a lot of painful 'life tragedies" lately, and was worried that this was another one of those, but I loved how Max is blessed with the sweetest gifts of hope from her brother and from Drew. Your writing is fantastic. So easy to read. NOthing slows me down. I love the fun comments that pop out from your own personality. - like "even his hair is tougher than mine," "Fan-freaking-tastic" or "Holy frustration Batman." They bring the book to life. The characters are strong, and continue to carry my heart deeper and deeper into their souls with each chapter.

The tragedies they endured are sooo sad, but the emotion and the responses she shares are so truely felt and sincerely recorded. It not only makes the story real to the reader, but helps us understand pain when we see it in the eyes of people around us that we never "saw" before. There is so much good, that comes with the pain in this book, that it is difficult to write it all. I love how patient and kind Drew is, and it makes me think, yes there are people like that out there in the world- even in a world where there has been so much pain. It gives the reader hope for their own lives as well.
In the other "life-tragedy" books I've read here, it hits me hard that readers already know about the tragedies of life. We dont want to read a book where each chapter sucks more hope from our lives. WE need to have something to look forward to. Your book will be sucked up and devoured for that reason alone. Each chapter carries the story along at just the right speed tickling the reader with just the right amount of hope to make us want to continue to read. By the 6th chapter I am so involved with Max's heart, I am aching to help her. But it is also a story of reality. We cant just fix people. We can only do what Nate and Drew do so well, be patient, and kind and caring and let them move through their journey.
Your book is the "Cinderella" story of the 21st century. I love how subtly Max opens up. How slowly she allows herself the smallest increments of freedom, to speak, and to experience more things in life.

Comments all scattered, but its late and I read too long. couldnt stop. I will get you on my shelf for the last couple days here. sorry it took me so long. Ive been doing work and school and family and snow. :-)
but good luck at the editors desk. I hope they publish you book.
really good stuff. I look forward to reading their review.
Jeannette Singleton
Journey to Kalado're
ps. thanks again for reading mine. great comments. great help.

Brian Bandell wrote 547 days ago

You do a good job explaining Maxine's background and why she has trouble coping. It's easy to warm up to her and want to help her. At some points I wonder if she's too helpless, like she has an inner desire to stand up for herself but is afraid.

It's heartwarming to see her brother sticking up for her and interesting to see how they deal with a new person coming into their lives.

I would like to know more personal details about their home, their rooms and their clothes that could bring out their characters more.

Well done here. I'll back it.

Brian Bandell
Famous After Death / Mute

L.Lombard wrote 547 days ago

It Never Happened - A Max Cole Story. And now I know why it has reached the ED.

The writing is pristine. Not a word seems out of place. The story evokes so many emotions and thoughts while capturing the reader in the plot. The characters are fascinating.

This is one of those stories for which I would like to hit a "pause" button on life and just read.

I loved how Nate got his name. I absolutely love the phrase: "You don't need a story. You are the story."
"The perfume invasion" made me laugh out loud, and the scene in the kitchen during the pool party made me cry (I'm tearing up again just thinking about it!).

I am sure that not only the YA audience will be charmed by this book.

Thank you, Jaclyn, for such an amazing read. :)

Suzi F wrote 547 days ago

Really enjoyed this opening. You have captured Nate and Max's characters so well, I feel as though I know them. Good luck with this, it deserves to do well.
On my bookshelf and high stars.
Teresa
Love, Suzi x

Dollybottom wrote 547 days ago

Really Weird Jaclyn, but i am a newcomer to this site just put my book on---and happened upon your book quite by accident-- twice. I am therefore destined to read it. And I shall, altho, I am a woman of a certain age, and wouldn't be drawn to such an age group; albeit I have a 19 year old daughter in college. Shall look forward to it. Best regards Janey (DollyBottom)

Elarian wrote 547 days ago

I've just finished reading your 8 uploaded chapters and when I get a minute I'll be downloading the next two.

The relationships between your characters are believable and can be easily related to; Nathan as the protective big brother and Max as the shy girl struggling to fit in after emotional trauma. I'm excited to see where it goes and how Max and Drew's relationship develops. He seems like an understanding guy, but I'm poised for some unexpected news about him. Am I right? I'm hoping I can get more info on him in the next 2 chapters!

Highly starred and going on my shelf x

S.J. O'Hart wrote 548 days ago

I've only just begun reading this story, but I already want to take Max under my wing. I really like her character, and her voice. I'll be back to read the rest when time allows! Great writing, excellent dialogue and an engaging story.

EMDelaney wrote 548 days ago

IT NEVER HAPPENED - A MAX COLE STORY by Jaclyn Aurore

Jaclyn is smooth. I say this first because essentially, she is! I'm not necessarily a YA, Chic-Lit or romance lover to any great degree but I really enjoyed reading this offering. The careful, well-balanced flow paces well. The writing is clean. She describes her scenes, characters and plot very well.

I remember so well some of the analogies used by the author. It really takes you back to when you were young. I found Max to be a great charactrer, strengthened by good description of her thinking process yet allowed to 'tell' the story without bulky narrative. There is a great balance in that regard here which could be its strongest attribute.

Max encounters many obsticles that could happen to anyone yet she has her own unique set of challenges. The well-paced way the relationship with Drew developes is defined well, the author's patience being foremost. This is what I meant by the thinking process. It's just a great characterization by an author. I have no doubt that young folks, and old ones alike, will be entertained by this story.

All in all, good stuff! A nice job by Jaclyn Aurore on a book that I think may well make its way to a few book-bags. Way to go!

Emmett

Bryon1963 wrote 548 days ago

Hello Jaclyn,

I'll tell you truthfully, I'm not usually into reading teen novels. Teen novels usually bursting with wizards or sparkling vampires, something that has pulled me away from getting too close to a teen novel. With that aside I find your story with Max compelling. The way you have Max slowly accepting Drew and starting to open up towards him and his family seems natural. The way Drew gets her to open up is pleasant and non obtrusive, which is a pleasure itself. The characters are believable and the back story for Max and her family adds to that.
Definitely on my watchlist.

Good luck, Bryon Decker
"The Strans Curse"
"Dear Mr. Killer"

TAB wrote 550 days ago

I'm very excited to see this at the desk. Your hard work has paid off! Best of luck, and fingers crossed for a good HC review.

Tab

SJ Bell wrote 550 days ago

Hi Jaclyn- I read and enjoyed chapters five, six, and seven. At first, I thought, "ah, geez, here we go again- yet another awkward, introverted adolescent full of angst and bitching about the world..."- but soon got past it and began to like Max as a character. I like that she has something to grasp onto (cooking); it makes her more interesting, and that she always seems to find a way to carry on without blaming the people around her. I like that she enjoys scary movies. Maybe she isn't so vanilla, after all?

Your writing style is sort of like Max. Shy. Unimposing. But occasionally displaying unexpected convolution. For example, the way Max finally reveals her name to Drew is nicely done. I need to keep in mind that this is a YA book, but think you should reach a bit more. Take some chances. Use imagery every now and again. Show rather than tell.

I like the first person style a great deal but think you use self-references too often. For example:

"I nodded. I liked scary movies. I could handle them... usually."

Might be better as:

"I nodded. Scary movies were alright... usually."

Here is another example:

"My name is Max," I said, then I rolled over and fell to sleep.

Could be:

"My name is Max," I said, then rolled over and fell to sleep.

But still, you frequently surprise me:

"'Drew's nice,' I said. 'He's easy to be around. I can see the two of you getting along great. You're both very patient and understanding.' There. I said enough. More than enough, even. Too much. I said too much."

This is a nice piece of writing. It communicates a great deal about Max and her issues with self-esteem. This is more than a simple case of shyness. It is more than a teenager trying to figure out her place in the world. Max knows who she is. She values her ability as a cook, as demonstrated when she made breakfast for the Adams', but still thinks so little of herself that she is hesitant even to share an opinion. I have yet to see any signs of self-hatred, though, no self-mutilation or eating disorders or such, so it causes me to wonder what is really going on here. Yes, Max is not vanilla at all.

Nate puzzles me, as well. Is he simply over-protective or is he intentionally reinforcing Max's low opinion of herself? Is he a hero or a villain?

"Perfume invasion" - pretty damn funny.

"No sooner were the words out of my mouth did the phone ring." - (chapter 7) This does not sound right to me.

It is nice to hear Max laugh at the end of chapter seven. Maybe there is hope for her, yet. But I think that something more is needed to take "It Never Happened" to the next level. Getting Max to deal with her adolescent pain and develop into a healthy person is clearly the main theme but I think there needs to be something else, a mystery or puzzle to be solved, a conflict of some kind- something in the way of one or more sub-plots to carry this story through to the end. Admittedly, I have read only three chapters. But from what I have seen, there needs to be something more in order for this book to really pop.

Wishing you the best,
SJ

David Stonehouse wrote 550 days ago

I really enjoyed these opening chapters. Max and Nate are instantly likeable and their messed-up homelife makes them quirky and engaging. There's more than enough here to hook you into the story and plenty of questions raised that you genuinely want answers to. I liked it a lot and definitely want to read the rest.

GemGinder wrote 551 days ago

Hello there Jaclyn,

My, what a collection of commentary and feedback you have here! I'm reading the ones with the cherries - I'm guessing they're the most popular - and can see that you've created quite the buzz here. Having read your first four chapters, I can understand why.

As an old fuddy duddy that can recall the perils of high school during the punk years, I can certainly relate to the fear that Maxine has, and I don't have the added stress of her history. School was never easy for me, and Maxine reminds me of myself (if in a different gender!).

I wonder, is this Drew fellow going to be good or bad for Maxine? My heart says good, but my head says this is heading into a direction of forlorn love and broken hearts. Perhaps Nathan is torn between his sister and his burgeoning school hobbies?

I must admit, your genre is not part of my normal reading, but I've seen your name bandied around on other reviews while getting used to this site, and from my own experience, when there's a lot of talk about someone it's worth looking into. I'm glad I did.

This is warm and feelgood storytelling, albeit one with a dark undershadow and, as such, I feel is worth a place in my library so I can enjoy more.

Salut!

Dean.

Janet/Helen wrote 551 days ago

A Max Cole Story. Chapters 1 to 8

Excellent beginning, exemplary writing and a gripping story. Nothing else to say. 6 stars and shelved. Janet

Janet/Helen
The Stranger In My Life

Aaronl wrote 552 days ago

It never happened
First chapter.
Fantastic. There’s a lot of story to tell here, a lot of character building and relationship building to be done between Nate and Max. It would have been very easy to show all of that but instead you’ve told it through dialogue and some really emotionally creative moments. When Max starts screaming and Nate says “he’s not coming back, Kid.” Right there you completely nail their relationship, her feelings and the horror of a nightmarish past.
Chapter two.
Introduction to Paul is well handled. I liked the piece about her personal bubble and how she is always noticing peoples shoes. The part where Nate is ordered to his room didn’t work for me. For someone who is so confident and strong it seems strange that this is the first time in his life that he and his mother have had a disagreement? I’d have thought they would have had several run ins. Not necessarily bad ones as he is clearly protective of his mum and sister, but enough so that it’s not a shock when he is sent to him room.
Chapter three
Wow. Terrifying opening, really picked up the pace with a dark twist. Otherwise excellent read.
Chapter four
It’s a great story with Paul, but after reading chapter 5 it doesn’t seem needed. I was much more interested in Drew and the real start of the story. I’m not sure if Paul comes back into play later on, but it seems like a chapter that serves to tell the misery of these kids. I’m already there with them on that front, I didn’t need an extra chapter of grief to make me feel that empathy.
Overall – wow! What a fantastically written story. Like I mentioned in the notes above you really get to the core of the characters. I felt an instant connection and empathy with both of them from the start. I’m not sure about the whole Paul chapter but then chapter five gets right back on track. Really really wonderful, dark, emotional and angst fuelled story. Max and Nate are so well drawn and their dialogue sparkles. I hope this is in bookshops and the top of kindle lists soon!

Aaron
Pollen

Mik wrote 552 days ago

Okay, read the first couple of chapters. I would've read on but kept getting an error for chapter 3 and didn't want to sail past it ... I thought that would be rude ;)

Nice couple of chapters, which lead us into the mind of a young teenager. Intriguing about her father and wanting to learn more about that. Nate seems like a nice guy, and a good support for Max. I did cringe a bit at: 'Nathan King Cole' - er ... no comment!

Good, pacey writing. Realistic dialogue and decent lead into what appears to be an interesting story. I'll come back and read some more.

Douglas York wrote 552 days ago

CWOG Review

Chapter 3

I enjoyed this chapter a lot, and I'm glad you saved this information drop until now. Any sooner in the story would have taken away from the plot.

The reader can relate to Max's thought process of first being angered that her mother brought a stranger home, and later realizing the "pay it forward" mentality that her mother was exercising. The last lines of the chapter about Max's name were great too.

A couple of small things:
1. She never asked for anything; she worked for everything she has."
2. I found it sort of odd that Max asked her mother to tell her the story of Nate's name again, when there wasn't really a story other than the fact that her mother liked the name.

Chapter 4

"I can't set foot in the basement..." You seem to switch from past to present tense, I think.

Another good chapter, and props to Nate for teaching the drunk a lesson. My only suggestion for this chapter is that it seemed like a lot of telling, and I wanted to see Paul's douche-baggedness (word?) through conversation.

Anyway, I like the layers building up around Max, and her past definitely explains her apprehension at letting people in. I'll be back for more later!

Helen Laycock wrote 552 days ago

Jaclyn, this is a book that propels the reader forward so smoothly and adeptly that we are immediately immersed in it. There is a great balance of narrative and very natural dialogue and the characters are so well-drawn from the damaged Max to the wonderfully protective Nate that we invest in them without question.

You've left me on a cliffhanger here! I was excited at the promise of access to chapters 9 and 10, but the link didn't work for me.

Anyway, from what I've read, I will say excellent work and a bagful of stars!!

Helen
Glass Dreams

Stark Silvercoin wrote 553 days ago

It Never Happened - A Max Cole Story is a perfect tale for the target young adult audience. Author Jaclyn Aurore proves that she understands what makes great YA fiction. It Never Happened hits all the right notes, tapping into the angst, confusion and fears of young adults trying to figure out life, or just attempting to survive school.

Great writers develop a sense of place. William Faulkner had the South. Steinbeck had the mid-west. Even Stephen King can lay claim to rural Maine. Aurore doesn’t so much develop a region, though the story is littered with sufficient Canadian colloquialisms to make it feel quite real. She instead plants her flag in high schools everywhere. Pretty much anyone can pick up It Never Happened and relate it back to their school days, when even the coolest kids were awkward and unsure of themselves to some degree, and very few of us were actually cool. Young readers themselves will instantly know that Aurore is the real deal, not a pretender to the YA crown.

Beyond that, this is also a compelling story in its own right, even outside of the YA genre. That is due to strong characterization. Max is certainly a realistic heroine, as are all the minor characters (no pun intended) that we meet in the posted chapters. The relationship between Max and her brother is also perfect. Those of us lucky enough to have a sibling close to our age will recognize that relationship right away.

There is no reason why It Never Happened - A Max Cole Story wouldn’t find lots of adoring fans within its target audience. I foresee a great future ahead for Max, and for author Jaclyn Aurore as well.

John Breeden II
Old Number Seven

MelissaService wrote 553 days ago

I love Nate and Max. There is a richness to them. It's layered and storied and bubbling just below the surface. I want to know more about why their father did what he did to sweet Max, and I am curious about the newcomer in their lives-Paul. I am thrilled that you made it to the desk and I look forward to reading more. I also look forward to hearing about your journey. High ratings to you. Great job.

ibholdvictory wrote 553 days ago

This is a well written story. It is easy to read and the story flows beautifully. The short and concise paragraphs makes it easy to read and follow. A very interesting story, one that is so believable as deja vu, seen this before? Abusive parents, panic attacks and the caring ones around. Lovely worth reading and hope that it is published. Please when you can pop over to my book and coment. Thanks.

Catherine
If Only You Could Tell.

Lee Carrick wrote 553 days ago

YARG REVIEW Hi. I read the first three chapters. I like how the book starts in the sense that it starts straight away, i always find it difficult to get into books that wait two chapters before they say something. Your writing is quite honest, you're not trying to hide the fact that Max has some problems and the Nate is her super hero, i like that, too much beating around the bush can be tedious. You dive very quickly into the paternal abuse and i like the aggression portrayed in the car scene. You're clearly a good writer. I have no idea what kind of vision you have for you're writing so to critique content would be unhelpful. Good Luck with the book

Rebecca Tester wrote 554 days ago

WTF crit, ho!

I read all of this in one sitting (between, of course, trips to put the kids back in bed). Excellent work (looking forward to checking out those bonus chapters too!)

At first, I was a bit concerned with the anxiety your character was having--it seemed a bit overdone in the beginning. That said, I have had similar anxiety attacks and a similar time in middle school. The mother seemed a mite cardboard and I was looking forward to some more detail being lavished on the Adamses and Mummy Cole (didn't happen, but I'm letting you know that you have lots of room of gloriously endow their characters. I can't see them breathing yet--not that this is terribly out of character for a self-obsessed teenage protagonist).

Yes, while I would not term Max a selfish individual, she is very wrapped up in her own world. It's to be expected and very well pulled-off by you as her writer. She comes off as very insecure and adolescent. A true breathing, lovely young lady.

As a miscellaneous side note, I picture her with large, round black eyes and walnut brown hair even though that is not how you described her at all. I think the darker, elfin features give extra prominence to her anxiety and fragility. I can't shake the image, not that it's important. I also think, from the sounds of things and personal pinings for the tall, dark and handsome subtype, that her brother might be cute ;)

I did feel that the bullying she receives from other girls (and lack of adult supervision) are overdone. I get that she doesn't defend herself without the needless cattiness and licking from her peers, so I don't need it illustrated in every chapter that other girls hate her. Yes, girls are like sharks: the school at the smell of blood--but they're not all bad (we would know--we're girls, and here we are, returning reads and being civilized, rational, awesome adults ;-) ).

I know teenagers can be vicious, but it felt overdone. for every clique of terrible hotties, there's an equally accepting clique of insecure, friendly, acne-riddled shy girls who would be happy to welcome in someone like them.

I do like that her shyness and quiet temperament are driving Drew toward her instead of her awesome physique and stylishness. Also, it fits the old adage 'the way to a man's heart is through his stomach'.

Jon Schafer wrote 554 days ago

Too damned good,

The only thing I regret about this book is that I don't have an open slot left on my shelf to put it in. Came here thinking I'd just read a few paragraphs and now I've finished chapter three. Had to force myself to stop. Excellent writing, excellent story, excellent characters. Max and Nate are as real as you and me.
Highest # of stars they'll let me give and put it on my W L to finish later.
Thanks Jaclyn.

Jon Schafer
Dead Air
Immigrant Song

John Lovell wrote 554 days ago

So I took another read of chapter 1 again as I think it has been revised since I read it a couple of month back. This is still on my top stories on the site. Easily hooked in, great characters and a story that draws you in from the start.

Darla Ferrara wrote 554 days ago

Overall, I thought it was an interesting piece. You obviously have good control of grammar. The story moves a little slow, but that is okay. You counter that well by starting the first sentence with dialogue. When you start with action it helps to pull the reader in, then if is slows a bit, the story still works.

You handle the first person narrative well.

I did notice one grammar issue. “You’ll be okay, Kid” – kid is not a proper noun and so no capitalization. If you want him to consistently use a nickname for her, you might want something less obvious than Kid.

It is difficult to master creating prose that is concise and fluid. This is one area I think could use some improvement. The text reads choppy and that distracts from your story. It is a little meticulous, but if it is a chronic issue, it becomes noticeable. I work a lot with editors, and this is a common complaint. Here is an example:

“I closed my eyes and started to count. I could feel myself starting to hyperventilate. I took deep breaths and tried to calm myself down.”

How about “I closed my eyes and started to count as I could feel myself begin to hyperventilate. I took deep breaths to calm down.” That tightens up the writing by eliminating some repetitive words and removing clutter like “and tried to” Obviously, she tried to.

When the narrative flows, the reader forms an image in their minds of the scene as it happens. When it is choppy, you interrupt that process and hurt the storytelling.

The character development is crisp and well thought out.

I hope that helps. If it were my book, I would keep refining it. Writing a good story is the hard part, now you just need to make it great by tightening it up. This is a site I go to when I working on tightening a story. If offers some good tips.

http://www.be-a-better-writer.com/creative-writing-tips.html

Good luck with it.
Darla

Michael Matula wrote 554 days ago

I gave this book 6 stars and backed it when I read it way back in October. I've read a ton of books here since, and this is still on my shelf, and still my favorite book on the site. In my opinion, you won't find a better character in fiction than Max.

Mike
Arrival of the Ageless
What, the Elf?

JMTE23 wrote 555 days ago

WOW this was so short ! But the characters are so intricate and relatable ... Gotta say i would have liked an intro or a Prologue (im a sucker for environmental descriptions and pre cursers) but this was actually very good. Only read the first two chapters but ...Very good dialogue and good story so far.

By the way thank you for your awesome review and for your suggestion, it was duly noted :0
I wish you the best !!

Joel

Grey Muir wrote 555 days ago

Hi. Here's a comment just to post one. I'm glad to see that you were at #5 and I'm hoping you can do it again.

Give it all you've got. Worst case, is you are in #1 to start next month. Still got 9 days this month so don't give up easily.

Rooting for you.

Lockie wrote 556 days ago

Thanks for the bonus chapters, ya little tease! I absolute loved this book,Jacs. Your characters are very life like and the chapters lead into the next seamlessly. This will remain on my shelf a long time I expect. Thank you.

Jennwith2ns wrote 557 days ago

This is flawlessly written. I'm glad it looks like you're poised to hit the desk next month. When I get a spot on my shelf, I'll put this on there to help out. Meanwhile, I've given it highest stars.

Fr. Ambrose wrote 557 days ago

Good opening chapter. The characters are sketched well. Your "hook" is good to get the reader to want to continue. It is very well-written.
My only question is about the ages of your protagonists. They seem older than you say they are. Also, you say that Nate is 14 and has been working out since the age of 10. As a Gym Instructor, I question whether that is likely. Do gyms in Canada admit youngsters that young these days? Perhaps he's simply athletic? It may seem a small point, but you do make much of his physique and power to intimidate.
Hope this is helpful.
Fr A (Clive)

chevalier94 wrote 557 days ago

I don't usually read this kind of genre, so I can't give no comparison. But the way the author describes the characters, it feels alive and I'm hooked. I think it's good. And I think that the greatest power this novel has is on its characters.
However, I've backed it.

Faruq Chevalier
Flawless Ritual