Tuesday, March 31, 2015

NEW & REVIEW: Where Sea Meets Sky by Karina Halle


A new adult novel that perfectly captures the existential angst of your early twenties with raw wit, fresh insight, and true feeling from a critically adored USA TODAY bestselling author.

Joshua Miles has spent his early twenties spinning his wheels. Working dead-end jobs and living at home has left him exhausted and uninspired, with little energy to pursue his passion for graphic art. Until he meets Gemma Henare, a vivacious out-of-towner from New Zealand. What begins as a one-night stand soon becomes a turning point for Josh. He can’t get Gemma out of his head, even after she has left for home, and finds himself throwing caution to the wind for the first time in his life.

It’s not long before Josh is headed to New Zealand with only a backpack, some cash, and Gemma’s name to go on. But when he finally tracks her down, he finds his adventure is only just beginning. Equally infatuated, Gemma leads him on a whirlwind tour across the beautiful country, opening Josh up to life, lust, love, and all the messy heartache in between. Because, when love drags you somewhere, it might never let go—even when you know you have to say goodbye.

Shel: I know Karina Halle from her Artists Trilogy and Dirty Angels so I thought I knew what I was getting into when I started Where Sea Meets Sky...

Intensity? check.
Sexiness? check.
Strong emotions? check.
Love affair? check.
Travels to places unknown to me? check.
Intrigue and violence? No.

Shel: The thing about the list above is that it's misleading; while all of those things exist in this novel it feels so different than the other things of hers that I've read. Rather than starting with a huge action sequence or mysterious event (which I guess is what I suppose I thought I'd get?), we start with a one night stand. I know..I KNOW you're going to think it's too tropey and obvious-the one night stand that isn't just one night...the one night stand that becomes more..and I guess if you boil it down to those simple terms, you could walk away with just that. I think, though, that that would be a mistake.  Court: I couldn't agree more. I was on that side of the fence. This isn't the Halle we know. I wasn't sure if I liked it, but with Shelley's never wavering encouragement, I kept going. She warned me I might not like it, but as the pages flew by...I knew I was getting something more than I had bargained for. Gemma is not an easy heroine to get to know or like, so the journey these people set out on is the perfect backdrop for finding out if she might be worth it. 

Shel: As we get to know Gemma and Josh, we learn that this novel is, as I tweeted, an ode to the lost and found; both of them are searching for something to fulfill or heal them and both of them know that life as they know it isn't quite right. Both of them acknowledge the strangeness of finding that missing something in this one night stand and both of them spend a large part of the novel struggling to come to terms with how to handle this. Court: I need odes like these. That maybe there other people in the world who feel the same as you do. And Gemma and Josh do. Even Amber. This novel is also about taking risks, and freefalling when you have no idea where you might land. Ugh, I am still reeling for how I feel about this. I finished it in a very short amount of time, and the melancholy I feel now that I am done is hard. 

Shel: As much as I love a strong heroine (and there are definitely strong characteristics to Gemma), this novel gives us a strong Josh. Josh takes a ton of risks--from financial to emotional--as he tries to figure out what this thing is with Gemma. He often opens up to Gemma and confronts her with how and what he feels despite his uncertainty about how Gemma will react. Gemma, more emotionally closed off, seems to be in constant conflict with how she feels about Josh and his emotional honesty and it's sometimes really hard to read her parts without feeling frustrated. Court: It is very Josh-centric, and while I am glad to have some of Gemma's point of view for how she really felt...I was even more glad for Josh's. He put it all out there, and not just for her...he took his entire life by the horns, and embraced it. He experienced it, and got even more out of it. He is inspiring to me, even without the way he was with Gemma. She had a lot of things inside of her that she had never embraced fully, and grieved for herself. Her part of this story was finding herself, and those are my favorite kind.

Shel: I think what some people might find frustrating about Gemma is what makes her seem to real. She's hot and cold. She's uncertain. She's resistant and stubborn and I'm betting many readers will have a hard time liking her. But isn't she like many others who have baggage? They don't want to ever feel as hurt as they have before and so they do many things to make sure they'll never have to feel that again. ...and that's Gemma in a nutshell. Court: I was one of those people. But then I realized why she was doing the things she did, and I understood her better. When I also realized that my desire for a character to behave a certain way never makes for a good reader, IMHO, and that I had to experience it and not try to write it because it isn't mine...things went along beautifully. :) 

Shel: This novel is a slow unfurling...it's a love affair with New Zealand...it's knowing you're lost and accepting when you're found.  Court: A slow burn that begins with sex, is a bit of an oxymoron, but it is that...and the wanderlust that I feel and that is in this novel is also amazing. Where Sea Meets Sky was an experience that I am glad I was on, felt, and the emotional power of Karina Halle's word will stick with you. 


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“Gemma,” I whisper softly. Before I know what I’m doing, I’m raising her palm to my lips and kissing along her scar. She smells so good, feels even better.
She lets me do it for a moment then she awkwardly clears her throat.
Don’t make me let go, I think. Please don’t make me let go.
The rustle in the bushes is back again. Gemma jerks her hand away, as if we’re about to be caught by Nick the Peeping Tom, as if we’re doing something wrong.
Are we doing something wrong?
Suddenly the air around us fills with squeals, and the rustling increases. The nearest bush to us at the base of the yard, near the fence, starts to move back and forth.
I stand up out of my chair to get a better look and see what looks to be little creatures waddling out of the bushes and heading for the side of the house. Once they hit a patch of light coming from the house, I can see what they are.
Little blue penguins.
“What the fuck?” I say softly, feeling like my mind has just imploded. “What the hell are those?”
“Little blue penguins,” she says proudly.
I turn to her in disbelief. “Are you serious?” I thought I was making that up. In my head.
She nods. “Yup. Little blue penguins.” 
And she’s right. They’re about a foot high, miniature versions of the ones I’ve seen on TV, and they’re entirely blue in color. I thought it was just the darkness playing tricks on me but no, once they hit the light, you can see the color on their oily feathers.
“I don’t get it,” I say, watching as the last of their group quickly scampers out of sight. That might have been the cutest and weirdest thing I have ever seen.
“You never head of them?” she asks. “They probably have a burrow under the house. It’s actually quite common for beach houses.”
“Look, I wasn’t lying when I said I didn’t do a whole lot of research about the country.”
“I can see that,” she says. “Well, how about that, then.”
“How about that,” I say, sitting back down. The penguins’ magical appearance has somehow taken Gemma’s heartbreaking story to another place, and she’s quick to jump on the transition. She tells me all about the interesting birdlife in New Zealand, from yellow-eyed penguins on the Otago Peninsula down south, to the Kea—cheeky green parrots that live in the snow-covered Alps. She’s animated as she tells me all she knows, and I absorb it like a sponge. 
I drink my beer and she goes back to drinking hers, and before Nick, Amber, and the Irish show up all sloshed, she’s painted a beautiful picture of what’s to come. I can only hope I’ll continue to be part of the picture.

Don’t miss Karina’s next book, RACING THE SUN, on sale July 28th!

With her USA Today Bestselling The Artists Trilogy published by Grand Central Publishing, numerous foreign publication deals, and self-publishing success with her Experiment in Terror series, Vancouver-born Karina Halle is a true example of the term "Hybrid Author." Though her books showcase her love of all things dark, sexy and edgy, she's a closet romantic at heart and strives to give her characters a HEA...whenever possible.Karina holds a screenwriting degree from Vancouver Film School and a Bachelor of Journalism from TRU. Her travel writing, music reviews/interviews and photography have appeared in publications such as Consequence of Sound, Mxdwn and GoNomad Travel Guides. She currently lives on an island on the coast of British Columbia where she’s preparing for the zombie apocalypse with her fiancĂ© and rescue pup.


1 comment

  1. I've only read The Artists Trilogy but I loved it so I can't wait to dive into Karina Halle's other books. And I'm totally obsessed with the covers for all of her books - they're gorgeous!!!


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