by Nikki Jackson
Publication date: September 12th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
California Blend Summer Vacation is the first book of this series.
As book one it introduces the three main characters: Tori Logan, AJ Reynolds and Kalea Kinimaka.
It’s summer vacation, and all seventeen-year-old Tori Logan wants to do is hang out with her two best friends, practice her mixed martial arts and go to FBI spy camp. Summer means freedom (mostly from adults) and Tori plans to fill every spare moment of her last summer before graduating from High School with all the fun things she and her best pals can come up with.
The Heart’s Journey Home Book CoverTori, whose mom died of breast cancer when she was young, has always relied on her own strength to get by – especially because her Archeologist father tends to leave her behind with his live-in girlfriend while he gallivants around the world on digs. Thankfully, Tori can take care of herself. She knows exactly who she is and what she wants to do with her life. Her Lakota Sioux grandfather, a former Navy SEAL, trained Tori in self-defense from a young age. Now, as a teenager, Tori excels at mixed martial arts and the use of various weapons. During the summer she will be attending an FBI sponsored Summer Camp which she hopes will lead to her dream job – becoming an FBI serial killer profiler.
With her two best friends at her side, Tori believes she can handle anything. And with summer vacation stretching before them, the trio plans to find plenty of adventure.
“I gotta go,” Tori said.
“I was thinking that for the first day of summer vacation maybe we could do something as a family,” Rachael faintly smiled. “When you dad wakes up...”
“Dad got home late and won’t be waking up until 4, by then it’ll almost be time for the bar-b-que so I’ll see you guys anyway.” Tori was talking and backing out of the kitchen.
“Then maybe you and I...” Rachael started but Tori cut her off.
“Look, you’re my dad’s girlfriend not my mother, we don’t have to hang. I gotta jet. I’m meeting AJ at Kalea’s.” And with that Tori bounded out of the kitchen and ran towards the front door.
Rachael sighed shaking her head. “How long?” she whispered.
I could really use a belt. Fin thought as he jumped from the porch, bounding over the five steps. Running down the graveled drive at break-neck speed he cursed the fact he was wearing tennis shoes - that along with the baggy, beltless pants was hemming up his stride.
The sound of shrieks and a male voice yelling at him in a foreign language didn’t help the matter. Fin tripped over his own size 12 feet, rolled and got up running. After gathering his wits about him he heard a muffled roar zoom past him followed by a streak of green. He was unsure of what it was but he was too scared to try to figure it out – he was running now – minus the jeans and a tennis shoe.
Fin all but dove into his Camaro thankful he’d left the keys in the ignition and not in his pants pocket. He turned the key and sped down the drive, kicking dirt and gravel in his wake. In his rear-view mirror he could see the crazy man chasing him with the longest, sharpest sword he’d ever seen.
Making it to the end of the drive, Fin did a complete donut, spun the vehicle around in the right direction and then tore off down the street. Tori had grabbed his errant shoe and AJ leaned down to scoop up the jeans, then the two of them tore down the drive after Fin.
Kale Kinimaka stomped angrily up the drive to the house. “You get in the house!” he yelled as his daughter Kalea was climbing onto her own scooter, a 1960s era Vespa 90SS, refurbished in a shiny hot pink.
“Daddy! We were just going to the Observatory,” she whined.
“In the house!” he ordered. Kalea shoved the scooter to the side and stomped past her mother.
“I hope you realize you’re hampering the exploration of knowledge!” she cried over her shoulder. Disappearing down the hall, a door slammed in the distance.
“Oh Kale,” Pualani shook her head.
“Surely you’re kidding me Loni,” Kale waved the sword toward the door. “Some boy comes to pick up my daughter and his pants are halfway down his butt?! Then he’s driving my only child away in some car and he’s already half out of his clothes! At the door! And how old is he anyway!” Kale stomped and sputtered, swearing in Hawaiian.
“Will you put that thing away before you cut yourself?” Pualani said. Kale looked at the exquisite sword forgetting it was in his hand. The Katana had been given to him by his father who received it from his father before him, and so on all the way back to the original owner – a Japanese Samurai.AUTHOR BIO:
The Heart of a Writer
I have eclectic tastes that spill over to what I love to read and the movies I love to watch. I’ll go on a jag and watch the same movie again and again, seriously, upwards of 10-12 times. My most recent jag includes – Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars (though I had to come to terms with Divergent’s Tris/Shailene Woodley dating her brother Caleb/Ansel Elgort in Fault – Hazel/Gus).
I’ve seen the following movies at least a dozen times:
Captain America, Thor, The Avengers (I’m a huge Marvel fan), i-Robot, both of the new Star Trek movies (with Chris Pine), Despicable Me, Brave, Tangled and Epic. I also love Turner Classic Movies, timeless black and white hits such as Hondo, the Great Escape, The Yearling, Sunset Boulevard and To Kill a Mocking Bird. Around the holidays I can’t get enough of Alf and all the various versions of A Christmas Carol.
I love books in the same way I eclectically love movies – all and then some. But isn’t that the best way we can be as readers and writers? In that eclectic means - a person who derives ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources (bing’s definition) isn’t this what the world craves, if not needs? Individuals brimming over with diversity – unique, sporadic, odd, extraordinary, from the inside out.
As an African-American, who says I can’t write books where the majority of the characters aren’t Black? Because I have gray in my hair who says I can’t write a book where the plot and themes revolve around teenagers? Because I live in Michigan who says I can’t write scenes that take place in California or West Virginia? Who says?
As writers we take our readers on adventures many will never take themselves. We stretch their imaginations, introducing them to new thoughts while at the same time challenging the popular or mainstream mindsets and opinions of their circular worlds: suggesting there’s perhaps another way to see, to think, to be. At the end of the day we writers want to entertain, yes, but we want the reader to grow and expand too. That’s why I became a writer.
Aldous Huxley, writer of Brave New World had this to say - “Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly -- they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.”
That’s what I hope to do as a writer, pierce the reader to their very core. I want you to laugh and cry and get mad, and I want to make you think. I want you to think outside your home and neighborhood, your gender and age and yes the color of your skin. I want you to see the world around you through maybe a bit of a different lens, and I want you to realize that at the end of the day you and I really aren’t all that different. Ultimately, we writers just want to be your friend.
My Dream Co-Writing Partner
If I had the opportunity to co-write a book with any living author I would choose Steven King. Those who know me would be surprised because I don’t watch ‘scary’ movies and I don’t read scary books. I saw the original version of Night of the Living Dead many years ago and that was it (well, that coupled with those flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz). I couldn’t sleep for a month. That’s when I swore off scary movies forever.
So then why Steven King? Two works of his: The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile. The movie - The Shawshank Redemption was adapted from King’s novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. I thought it was excellent - the plot, the characters, the tightly woven story – I’ve watched the movie a zillion times.
Likewise, The Green Mile, another prison story and another fine piece of work. Wonderfully diverse characters, great drama: parts of it was funny, other parts sad, a story any author would read and wish they’d written (or co-written).
King is great at his craft. Literally a master. We writers read and view the works of those we respect with a jealous awe because they’ve figured it out – how to take the reader/audience through a full range of emotions and leave them spent and satisfied in the end. I’d love to look into the non-scary inner workings of his writer mind, a mind that can make plots and characters so believable. A mind that can weave a morality tale into the middle of a gory story that challenges the reader/viewer with - what would you do if faced with the same situation? He both scares you and makes you think. He makes you commit. This is why Steven King is my co-writing choice. He’s an amazing story-teller and cinema genius.
I love being a writer. I love the idea of having the effect on others that the authors I’ve read have had on me. Laughing out loud and crying out loud too. Getting mad and yelling at the book, even throwing the book against the wall because I got shocked or snookered just that bad. I love endings I didn’t see coming and then the sweet sugary ones I saw coming a mile away but I hung on because I was curious as to how the author would write it. I love reading that last page and closing the book and smiling. Totally satisfied.
Ultimately that’s what we writers want from you readers – we want you to buy into the journey and be satisfied at its end. We want you to lick the plate clean, and grin your widest grin, and ask us for more.
a Rafflecopter giveawayBlitz-wide giveaway (INTL)
$15 Amazon or iTunes gift card + a signed copy of The Heart’s Journey Home.
Ends Oct 1st: