By Jen Naumann
Published: April 9, 2013
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Fantasy, New Adult, YA
Lysandra Brooks remembers everything about the day she almost drowned alongside her grandma, especially the set of mysterious eyes she saw at the bottom of the lake. Ever since then, she's been seeing strange things when she is near water—things that aren't really there. Because of it, Lysandra has the tendency to avoid anything that isn't on dry land. On her last day of high school, however, the biggest party of the year is set to take place at a fellow senior's lakeside mansion. Despite her fears, Lysandra decides to prove to her friends and herself that she can handle it.
But after a horrific night of drinking and drama that leaves Lysandra feeling lonely and confused, she nearly drowns for a second time, only to be saved by the new guy in town. From that moment on, Lysandra's world is forever changed by mind blowing secrets, including a revelation that something sinister is after her soul.
J&M's Book Diaries rating:
Cheating Death has brought us back to our teenage years. The rebelling, the friends, the boys, drinking, the "lying" to parents that you were going to spend the night at a friends house when really you were out partying.
When Lysandra was younger her and her grandmother fell into the lake and although her grandmother drowned, she was mysteriously saved and cheated death. Ever since her drowning incident Lysandra is haunted and has nightmares about her past and avoids talking to any body about her issues. She would see ghost or spirits any time she was around a large body of water.
The week of graduation she meets a new student at her school. Aydin is tall, lean, handsome, with mysteriously beautiful blue eyes. Those eyes she recognizes but she can't remember why she is familiar with them.
When Lysandra and her friends attend a senior party, her life is turned upside-down. Something terrible happens to Lysandra and she can't remember any of it. Her friends started blaming her for what happened that evening. Lysandra was a mess when she unconciously drove a friends car off the bridge.
What happens from there on out is something we can not tell, it will just ruin the book. So you're just going to have to pick it up and read this story and experience the life-lessons it has showed us.
Cheating Death was a bit of a roller-coaster ride for us. In the beginning, Lysandra was a little annoying, just really immature. But while the book progressed and she had to make life-changing decisions her character began to grow on us. She became more selfless. Even with how her friends treated her she still cared and worried for them and for the outcome of their lives.
The ending killed us! It was bittersweet and one we definitely weren't expecting. *sigh* Jen every time we thought we knew how the book was going you did a great job at surprising us.
Although this was a Paranormal story, there was a lot of life lessons everyone could learn from reading this whether you're a teenager or an adult. It teaches you about courage, strength, & forgiveness.
Even though we may have been annoyed in the beginning with Lysandra and her friends. Jen Naumann did a great job of creating such real characters. Thinking back in our past, we have to admit we knew people or we had friends like Lysandra's.
This book was a great read for a NA and for a YA. Thank you Jen Naumann for sending us a copy of your books. We truly appreciate it and we can't wait to read the rest of books including Mind Static.
What inspired you to write your first book and how long did it take you to complete it?
If we're talking about my first published book, the story of What I've Done came to me one day while listening to Jack Johnson. I can't get any more specific as I would be revealing a major spoiler that I've worked very hard to protect since the book's release. ;) The first draft was something I wrote during NaNoWriMo, and the re-writes took probably a good month or two before starting the next rounds with my editor. In all it probably took a few months.
If we're talking my first full length book that never saw the light of day beyond my dot matrix printer, I believe in junior high and high school I often wrote books in the span of a weekend. I still have all those books—they're a total riot to read now! Back then I was obsessed with John Hughes films and anything involving the Brat Pack. I wrote myself into stories with Sam from Sixteen Candles and Jules from St. Elmo's Fire. I guess you could say I was writing fan fiction before it was considered cool.
Out of all the books you have written, which is your favorite and who is your favorite character?
Agh, this is like asking a mother to pick her favorite child! They're all very dear to me for their own reasons, but I think Mind Static was probably the most fun to write, followed closely by The Day Zombies Ruined My Perfectly Boring Life. Each of the heroines in these stories was full of wit and good humor, so I had a blast stepping into their shoes. As for my favorite character, it would probably be Harrison from Shymers. He has a special place in my heart for all he went through, and after writing from his point of view for part of the book, I really feel as if I was in his head for a time. Just like Olive, I want to wrap my arms around the poor guy and tell him that I'm there for him.
How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Without giving too much away to those who have yet to read Cheating Death, I know someone who had a bad party experience very similar to Lysandra's. It's scary when you think of all the teen girls who drink excessively at parties without anyone watching out for them (and I can say that from experience). I also had a near drowning experience while at a lake cabin up north, but I was sitting on my grandma's lap and not my mom's. Thankfully I got over the horrible memories, and didn't develop an aversion to water the way Lysandra did.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
I would probably have to say the hardest part is always going through the re-writes. A friend recently told me her first drafts sound like they were written by a sixth grader, and I'm guessing that's true of all writers. We have these visions and thoughts of characters and their stories that have been invading our heads, and they don't always come out sounding the way you expected them to, or things just don't flow right at first. It's kind of like taking a wad of runny clay, and trying to make it into a beautiful vase. There are days you about have to be a magician to make things work.
If you can go back and change anything you have written, what would it be and why?
In two of my books (Shymers and The Day Zombies Ruined My Perfectly Boring Life) I left major cliff hangers. I thought doing something like that would be fun, kind of like a season finale, but a lot of people are annoyed by the incomplete resolution they're left with. Now there's a ton of pressure to get the sequels out, and I tend to fold under that kind of stress. After writing so many other stories since those two, I worry I won't be able to get back into my characters' heads. When I recently finished the first draft of the zombie sequel, it felt like my biggest accomplishment as a writer to date. I wrote Cheating Death with the backlash of these other two books in mind, and wanted to give Lysandra's story a solid resolution. I was actually crying when I wrote the final scene.
What books/authors have influenced your writing?
I really can't say that my writing is like that of any authors' I've read, although I enjoy the terrifying element of Stephen King's work, the down-to-earth feel Lauren Oliver is able to create for her characters, and the heart-warming feel JK Rowling achieved with the Harry Potter series. My writing is constantly evolving, taking on the good elements of every amazing book I can get my hands on.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
A heartfelt THANK YOU for giving my stories a chance! I appreciate each and every one of you, especially those who take the time to actually leave reviews on websites like Goodreads and Amazon. Without people like you, I wouldn't love my job nearly as much as I do, and I'd probably still be writing books that spend the rest of their lives in binders underneath my bed.