Today is my stop during the book blitz for Face Time (Love in the Digital Age #1) by SJ Pajonas. This book blitz is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. This blitz takes place on 25, 28 and 30 April, you can view the whole blitz schedule here. I share my review of this book with you and I interview Stephanie 🙂
After the best first date ever, Lee thought Laura was funny, intelligent, and impulsive; a whirlwind of bright laughter and happiness. Laura loved Lee’s sweet smile and the way he expertly filled in every awkward pause. He held her hand and then pulled her in for the most perfect kiss she’s had in years. What could possibly be wrong? Just the 7000 miles that separates them the next day.
Even though Lee has gone home to Seoul, Laura can’t stop thinking about him. What starts as an innocent text thanking him for their dinner date becomes something much more: someone either of them can’t live without. But Laura’s got a live-in mother going through a midlife crisis, and Lee’s stressful traveling schedule means they’ll be apart for some time. Life, family, and a complicated past also get in the way, and they’re both going to need actual face time to figure it out.
Told from both Lee and Laura’s point of view, FACE TIME is a funny, romantic, modern-day story about two people who connect across the world.
I got a copy in exchange for an honest review
When I heard that SJ Pajonas was writing a contemporary romance book I knew I had to read it and the blurb sounded so good and original. When I received my ARC review copy I tried to convince myself I had some other review books I had to read first, but after finishing my current read my self control flew out of the window and I had to start this. This year has been slow so far in terms of reading, but I finished this book in only 3 days. I loved it so much and I want to read anything else this author is going to write. I love her writing style, the originality of the story and the fleshed out characters.
Face Time is an original story about two people who after their first date start to date through FaceTime. I have never read a book where people dated like this and it was really original and refreshing. Although I did wonder a bit how they where going to fall in love without actually seeing each other, but the author handled this really well. And beside the romance aspect there is so much more, both characters have a past, family issues and friends. I loved it all and couldn’t stop reading.
Face Time is told from both Lee and Laura’s point of view and this really worked well for this boook. I liked seeing both their sides of the story. Almost from the start I liked both Lee and Laure, they are easy character to like and the more I read the more I fell in love with these characters and I kept hoping they would get their happy ending. The gradually more and more characters are introduced and even though there is a big cast of side characters they each felt reall and where eays to keep apart. A few side characters I liked even more than the rest where Nicole, Lee’s dad, Cori and Nari, they each surprised me in good way. I wanted to know more about each character and the author has done an amazing job creating such interesting side characters.
The romance is done so well, it’s so real. I sometimes have an issue with romance books because they feel a bit fake, that certainly wasn’t the issue with Face Time. Laura and Lee’s relationship feels real and believeable. And they are so good together! Although some of the Face Time chats where a bit frustrating because I wanted them to be together and not only chat through Face Time.
While the focus is on the romance, there is so much more going on. Further into the story we learn much more about both characters. There are some emotional scenes, memories from the past that get’s dragged up, family problems and developments with the side characters that all play a role. There also is a lot of character developments especially concerning Laura and Lee, they both grow to be a so much better and stronger version of themselves and it was great so see them change that way and realize things about themselves they didn’t knew before.
To conclude: I loved this book! It’s a real and believeable romance in the digital age. The story is orginal and addictive. The characters are likeable and believeable and the cast of side characters where fleshed out and interesting. Beside the romance aspect of the story there is so much more going on and I can’t wait for the next book in this series. SJ Pajonas is certainly one of my favourite authors now and I can’t wait to read all of the books she writes next!
You can find Face Time (Love in the Digital Age #1) on Goodreads
Or you can request a review copy of Face Time through Netgalley.
Want to know more about Face Time?
– You can listen to the Face Time playlist
– Visit the Face Time visual inspiration Pinterest board
– View a teaser trailer for Face Time from Laura’s point of view:
And now it’s time for the interview I did with Stephanie 😀
Hi Stephanie! Welcome to Lola’s Reviews!
Stephanie: Hi Lola! I’m happy to be here. Thanks for having me.
Face Time is the first book in the Love in the Digital Age series, why did you want to write books about love in the digital age?
Stephanie: There are a number of reasons I wanted to write this series. Even though reason number two is that I was inspired by friends of mine having their own long-distance relationships over FaceTime and Skype, reason number one was that I was fed up with stories that glossed over technology. As authors we are often told by those in publishing not to put technology in our stories because it “dates” them. But the problem I have with this approach is that technology is so prevalent in the present and is so influential in modern relationships, it often feels awkward to read a story without it. This is when I’m glad to self-publish! In five years, Face Time may feel dated, but will it be any less poignant or truthful? No. In fact, it may take on a nostalgic appeal. I’m happy to swim against the current once again with these books.
I love how you add the technology in your book and how big of a role it plays. I haven’t read a lot of other book that incorporated tehcnology in the story like this. I wonder if Face Time will be considered a historical romance in the future?
How many more books will there be in the Love in the Digital Age series?
Stephanie: I’m not sure! The next book I want to write will be about Nicole and her move to Korea. After that, we’ll have to see who inspires me next.
I can’t wait for Nicole her book! I guessed the next book would be about her, because as soon as we met her it was obvious she has her own story to tell. I hope there will be more stories after that, because I loved Face Time!
The Love in the Digital Age series will consist of multiple books that can be read as standalone and each are told from different point of views. Which point of views can we expect for the next books?
Stephanie: We can expect Nicole’s POV and her long-time best friend who already lives in Korea. I have him mapped out in my head but I haven’t given him a name yet. I’m bad with names. I’ll have to comb through Facebook again 🙂 From Nicole’s POV, we’ll also see more of Lee and Laura, so that will be fun to write them from an outsider’s perspective.
I like it when series like these where the books can be read as a standalone, character from earlier books made an appearance. I am glad to hear we will still be hearing about Laura and Lee 🙂
Face Time is an Adult Contemporary Romance book, what do you like about writing this genre and age category?
Stephanie: As you know, my previous books, the Nogiku Series, focus on characters in their early twenties which is a turbulent decade for most young people. But the thirties are no less interesting. I wanted to write about people who already had crazy pasts, had already made mistakes, and now they had to live with them. With time comes some maturity too, and it was a nice break to write about true adults, ones with jobs and responsibilities, and see how they deal with new changes and new situations. I’m first and foremost a romance writer. I like to explore the relationships between two people who fall in love. So for me, I’m just exploring romance at different ages and in different situations. It’s a lot of fun.
Indeed Adults have different challenges as New Adults, but both are fun to read about!
Laura is one of the characters whose point of view we read in Face Time, how did you come up with the idea for her character? And how did you decide on her name?
Stephanie: My lovely friend, Laura Taylor, provided me with Laura’s name and Justin’s last name. She’s read everything I’ve ever written multiple times, so she got a big mention in this story. But the character Laura came to me in bits and pieces. Originally she was going to be from a Film background. Her last name is Merchant for a reason! But I made her an English major instead. I wanted her to be the rebel from a wealthy Connecticut family, but not the kind of rebel most people think of. Instead of making a mess of herself in front of her family and friends, she did it overseas because she just wanted to get away. When she returned, everyone had abandoned her including her family. She wasn’t mean or spiteful, just lost, which is something I see often in real life but not in books. She grew organically from my head through many drafts.
I really liked Laura, I really connected with her!
Family is a topic that’s important in both your Nogiku series and in Face Time, can you explain why family is an important topic in your books?
Stephanie: Family is very important to me as an individual. I grew up in a big extended family. My mother was one of six kids and all her brothers and sisters got married and had kids around the same time, so I have tons of cousins that I’m close to. I moved from Michigan to NYC to be closer to my family and have never regretted that! A lot of the popular books nowadays, especially YA books, rip a young hero or heroine from their family and put the screws to them. In fact, it’s rare to find YA books with actual parents in them. But how many of us are dealing with overbearing parents? Or absent parents who still expect the world from their kids? Crazy siblings? Familial duties? Lots of us. So I set out to write about families in all of my books (and this “family” extends to best friends as well) and I try to experiment with as many kinds of family units as I can. Traditional and nontraditional. Multicultural and mixed versus homogenous. Straight, gay, and bi. Broadening the scope of “family” naturally brings drama to just about any relationship. Because when I boil it down, I’m writing about personalities and how they intermix, and I find that fascinating.
I also think it’s strange so many YA books don’t feature parents more. Although I have read some books where the parents did play a role and I have to say those feel more realistic. My mom and her friend live on the other side of the country, which is really different from when they lived close by and it brings new challenges to our relationship indeed.
Who designed the cover for Face Time and how went the design process?
Stephanie: Carrie Butler (Forward Authority) designed the cover for Face Time and I love it to pieces. I came up with mockups of my own in the beginning but didn’t like any of them enough, so I knew I’d have to hire someone. This was a romance and I wanted people on my cover, but not white-washed, two lovers clasping and almost kissing. Face Time is also a multicultural romance with a male Korean lead, and finding a good-looking Korean man from stock photo sites was so difficult. I eventually found the photo of the guy to play Lee from a stock images site out of Singapore! And it was twice as expensive as all the other photos but worth it. I asked Carrie to give me a cover with a brunette woman looking at her lover on a tablet, and I asked for blue tones. That’s it. Carrie played around with a few different mockups (one was a really good representation of the Apple iPhone and I eventually said no to it because I didn’t want to be sued!) One day she sent me this cover, and I knew immediately that it was THE ONE. I love the cityscape up at the top and the two cities connected with heart. That was all Carrie. She did an amazing job.
Two lovers almost kissing on a cover can be done well, but it’s also a bit cliché. I like how original the cover for Face Time is! I also love the cityscape on the top, it’s so well done!
Which scenes do you find the easiest to write?
Stephanie: I come from a screenwriting background, so I always find scenes that contain a lot of dialogue are the easiest to write. In Face Time, the actual FaceTime conversations were the easiest for me to write. They flowed straight from my head to the computer.
Which scenes do you find most difficult to write?
Stephanie: Scenes with a lot of descriptions are the hardest for me to write, though, admittedly, this is getting easier with time. Practice makes perfect, right? In the beginning, and you can probably see a lot of this in Removed, I had the habit of telling and not showing. Now, I’ve learned and practiced how to show my world in a more descriptive fashion. It’s still difficult, but I’ve seen improvement in the past year, so I must be doing something right!
What is your favorite place and time to write?
Stephanie: Mornings are my best time to write, and I usually do it at home if the kids are gone or at Starbucks or Panera. The ladies at Panera all know my name, what I’m working on, and my favorite tea. Lol. I get some work done in the evenings, but I tend to save that time for marketing work like making teaser images or book trailers or returning emails. I can do those things in shorter spurts when the kids are running around.
lol, must be nice to have a place to write where they know you! I always have this stereotypical idea of writers writing in a café or restaurant, but I guess there are some writers who really do that!
What can we expect from you in the future?
Stephanie: Well, I’m working on Book 3 of the Nogiku Series right now (4th draft), and I plan on publishing it in late summer (late July/early August). There will be new covers and blurbs for all the Nogiku books (stay tuned for those in June!) I have plans to write the first draft of a New Adult Contemporary Best Friends/Romance book this summer, plus some Nogiku short stories (or it may be a novella, I’m not sure yet) in the fall. The short stories/novella are already drafted because I wrote them during NaNoWriMo in 2012. For NaNoWriMo this year, I’d like to start the second Love in the Digital Age book. We’ll see how productive I am this summer!
I can’t wait to read your next books! Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to answer my questions. It was fun chatting with you!
Stephanie: It was great to talk to you! Thanks for taking an interest in my work!
About the Author:
S. J. Pajonas loves all things Asian and has been in love with Japan and the East for as long as she can remember. Writing about Asia and Japan came naturally after studying the culture and language for over fifteen years. She studied film and screenwriting first and eventually segued into fiction once she was no longer working a full-time job.
Face Time is the first novel in the Love in the Digital Age series, and Pajonas’s first foray into Korean culture and families. Along with Removed and Released in the Nogiku Series, she continues to take the cultures of Asia and weave them into stories that appeal to people from around the world. Her writing is described as unique and unpredictable. Expect the unexpected.
Stephanie lives with her husband and two children just outside of New York City. She loves reading, writing, film, J- and K-dramas, knitting, and astrology. Her favorite author is Haruki Murakami and favorite book is The Wind-up Bird Chronicle.