ARC Review: Cross the Stars by Venessa Kimball writing as V. Angelika with Interview

Cross the Stars
Venessa Kimball writing as V. Angelika
(Crossing Stars, #1)
Publication date: March 8th 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

What would you risk for love? Would you cross the stars? Steal the moon?

A year shy of graduating from Georgetown University, Ella Wallace feels like she is losing direction. Having carved her own path through life, rejecting her family’s elitist influences, the last thing she wants is to waste time and prove her parents right. A happenstance summer-long program abroad offers the perfect opportunity to immerse herself in volunteer work, finding richness in family and purpose she has never experienced before.

Prince Rajaa bin Ammaar is returning home to Jordan from Georgetown University. His intent is to spearhead a refugee program meant to bring peace to his country. Amidst threats of civil war and revolt, Raj stands for his convictions, even when they challenge his family and the very culture he is preordained to uphold.

A chance encounter at a crowded party in D.C. brought Ella and Raj together for one fleeting moment – two people never thought to meet again. But it’s not until their diverse worlds collide in Jordan that they realize the power of their connection. With the refugee program as their reuniting bond, they must cross the stars and defy their clashing cultures to protect their forbidden love.

With the culturally rich Jordanian backdrop, Cross the Stars will take you on a journey into the geographical and cultural Middle East, the resilience of people amidst turbulent civil unrest, the parallel unrest of two lovers’ clashing fates, and the diversity they must challenge with every breath to keep their love alive.

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BUY LINKS

Amazon US / Amazon UKBarnes & Noble / Kobo / iBooks

 Review

I would like to thank the author for providing me with an advance copy for an honest review.

Cross the Stars is a beautiful story rich with culture, romance, and political intrigue. This is an adult modern retelling on Romeo and Juliet, and I loved that the author took and gender swapped the roles. This is not super obvious but if you stop and think about how Juliet was the one who was betrothed and had such a prominent family it fits Raj. Not that Romeo didn’t have a prominent family it was just not to the same degree, aka seeing Ella come into play.  The amount of detail in the culture, language and setting used in writing this book really drew me in and enriched my reading experience. This book is very powerful, and could be controversial, depending on someones personal views on the middle east. However, I felt that it was handled with great tact and respect, and personally I loved it!

Ella has always done what her family wants but when her grandmother dies she decides that she is tired of letting others make decisions for her. She wants to chase her dreams and not just let money buy her everything. She doesn’t want to marry who she is expected to, and have her parents pay her way through life. She is struggling but has managed to make it at Georgetown on her own. She soon decides to do a summer overseas in Jordan helping refugees learn English.

Rajaa is a prince from Jordan. He sees Ella one night in the D.C. before going back to Jordan at a party. She instantly held him captive and he is intrigued by her. Rajaa heads back to Jordan where he must deal with his sick father, his brothers political ambitions, and his own desires to help his people. He has a Center that he has been funding to help his people and sees this as a real opportunity to change the future.

Rajaa soon realizes that Ella is at the center, and he cannot believe it. His brother Zaid is very manipulative and wants Rajaa to be the Royal he sees for the future. Zaid will do and say things to try to get Rajaa to do what he wants.

Will Ella and Rajaa find a way to be together in a world that would not permit such a thing? Can Rajaa and Ella find a way to make their own choices and not hurt their families? What will be the consequences of a relationship that is forbidden? You have to read this amazing book to find out!

Cross the Stars is just the beginning and the ending definitely left me wanting the next book now!!! This book is romantic, sexy, suspenseful, and diverse. It really is an amazing book if you love contemporary-romance but want something new and fresh. I am giving this book 5 out of 5 Stars and I can’t wait to get my hands on Steal the Moon!

 

Interview

Venessa, I am so excited to have you stop by today. This book was so great and I cannot wait to continue with next book!

Thank you for having me. I always enjoy doing discussions and interviews.

Can you tell us somethings about Cross the Stars that is not in the synopsis, without spoilers?

Zaid, Raj’s older brother is full of ulterior motives and the deceit and betrayal runs deep not only for Raj, but for Ella. There could be some triggers for readers sensitive to what is happening currently in the Middle East ( Extremists, the refugee crisis, war in general) since the backstory covers it in a speculative manner. Another aspect that isn’t in the synopsis is how I have woven in Arabic content/ dialogue to give an authentic cultural experience for the reader.

What kind of research did you have to do for this book to make it accurate? (language, culture, and architecture)

Collectively, I have calculated over 100 hours of research. I watched documentaries on the affects of war in the Middle East, specifically Syria. Article after article getting the history of wars in the the Middle East; religion driven, extremist driven, and more. Research of the tribes, the Bedouin culture. The language- Arabic translation and word use based on dialect and the coloquial use in Jordan. Names….names were very tricky especially when applying the unique formula in which Middle Eastern names are displayed. The allies within the Middle East and those that oppose each other- I mapped how the plot could turn for Raj’s family and Ella and the other volunteers with the dynamics of the countries in the Middle East. This dynamic has given the backstory in Cross the Stars a richness so deep that it will reflect heavily in the final book in the Crossing Stars duet, Steal the Moon. I also used sketch to recreate the scenes in Wadi Rum camp site, creating a unique site from the visual research I did on existing camp sites in the Wadi Rum. Speaking of sites, I have never traveled to the Middle East, Jordan, Wadi Rum, or the Lost City of Petra. Would I ever love to! For this story to be rich with the culture, I had to watch many many many youtube videos on these locations. The food! I’m a big foodie, so making sure I was depicting the right food for the right region took research as well. Even though Cross the Stars took 100 plus hours of research for my particular storyline, I believe I have only scratched the surface of my research for the continuation in Steal the Moon. I know that my 100 plus hours can never be enough to fully show all of the aspects of the Middle East. I would never pretend that I have achieved learning the most I can about this area of the world. I just wanted to show the utmost respect for the culture and people I was involving to convey this story by researching as much as I could.

What was the hardest scene to write and the most enjoyable?

Hardest scenes where of Zaid and Raj and Zaid and Ella. I won’t say more than that as it would result in potential spoilers. Most enjoyable scenes would be Ella’s traveling within Jordan, her naive ways at times in a completely different culture, the host family she lives with, her girls at the center, and last but never least…her scenes with Raj.

What are some of your favorite books of all time? What books are you most looking forward to reading in 2016?

House of Seven Gables, The Outlander series are two of my favorites, but there are many more! Gosh, I have too many in my TBR to list here! That would be a blog post all in its own! lol

What can we expect next from you? Do you want to write in any other genres?

Expect the unexpected. I don’t write per genre. I write where the story takes me. So far in my writing career I have written Young Adult, Adult, Paranormal, Sci-Fi, Urban Fantasy, and Romance. So, I’m kind of all over. So, expect the unexpected is all I can say. I do have 3 projects lined up after the Crossing Stars series that are itching to be written ranging from Pyschological Thriller, to Urban Fantasy, to Contemporary Romance.

Just A Few Fun Lightning Questions

Coffee or Tea

Both, Coffee in the a.m. Tea (Chai Rooibos is my favorite! Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf!) in afternoon, and maybe a decaf coffee at night while I read.

Spicy or Sweet

Spicy

Introvert or Extrovert

Introvert mostly, but I have my extrovert moments

Pets or No-Pets

Pets

E-Book or Print Copy (what format you prefer to read)

I prefer print, but with my reading addiction I like the affordability of e-book.

Paper or Print (which do prefer to use to write on)

I use long hand (paper) to get my scenes outlined from my bare bones outline (which is in print), then I take the long hand which can be anywhere between 20-30 pages for a 90K to 100K book and type (print). So combination of both.

Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and answer some of my questions. It was so much fun to have you on the blog!!!

Thank you for having me! I had a blast!

 

Teaser

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Author Bio:

V Angelika is the pseudonym for best-selling Author Venessa Kimball. Having always been passionate about the written word, Venessa Kimball embarked on writing what would become her debut novel, Piercing the Fold: Book 1; a young adult paranormal/sci-fi series in 2010 with a release in 2012.

in 2016 Venessa will journey into the New Adult and Adult genre of fiction, writing under the pseudonym V. Angelika. The first of her adult geared books will be Cross

the Stars (Adult Contemporary Romance/Suspense).

When Venessa is not writing, she is keeping active with her husband and three children; chauffeuring said children to extracurricular activities, catching a movie with her hubby, and staying up way too late reading.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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