Friday, October 4, 2013

BLOG TOUR: Good by S. Walden

Cadence Miller is a good girl. She just happens to make one terrible mistake her junior year in high school which costs her ten months in juvenile detention. Now a senior, she’s lost everything: her best friend, the trust of her parents, driving privileges, Internet access. It’s a lonely existence.

But there is one bright spot: Mark Connelly, her very cute, very off-limits 28-year-old calculus teacher. She falls hard for him—a ridiculous schoolgirl crush headed nowhere. She can’t help it. He’s the only good thing at Crestview High. She doesn’t expect him to reciprocate her feelings. How inappropriate, right? But he does. And he shows her.

And that’s when her life goes from bad to good.

4 – thank-you note

As soon as I heard the music start, I knew it was time to go in. I placed the rest of the programs on a nearby table and tentatively walked inside the sanctuary. I slipped into our usual row and tried my hardest not to look at Mr. Connelly. But it was impossible, and when I did glimpse him, I saw a tiny smile playing on his lips. What was that? I rolled my eyes and directed my attention to the large screen on stage that highlighted the words to the current song.

Ours was your typical big ass non-denominational church complete with Starbucks-toting attendees, a church band that liked to play U2 hits before the service, and a pastor who always wore jeans. He did more teaching than preaching, which I liked very much, never having been the type of girl who enjoys being yelled at or sweated on.

The church was more an auditorium than a classic sanctuary, and there were no pews. Just rows and rows of cushioned chairs. No hymnals. No cross up front. No pulpit. None of the traditional “churchy” things. We rarely took communion. And many people dressed inappropriately, at least according to my mom. She went livid the first time she saw a teenage girl walk in wearing sweatpants with the word “Juicy” plastered on her butt.

After the offering was collected, Pastor Tom took the stage and began his lesson. Mr. Connelly didn’t have a Bible, and while the verses were displayed on the screen up front, I shared with him. Another clichéd habit: when you see someone without a Bible, you share yours. I shouldn’t have, though, because when he leaned into me to get a better look at the page, I smelled his cologne. And it made me feel something I wasn’t supposed to feel inside a sanctuary. Or auditorium. Holy auditorium. Whatever.

“So it’s really about weighing options: what I can do versus what I should do,” Pastor Tom continued. “We have the will to choose. That’s how God designed us. Free will. Everything’s permissible. Go on and do it. But understand the consequences first.”

I inhaled deeply, almost tasting the cologne on my tongue, and wanted to rest my head on Mr. Connelly’s shoulder.

“Let’s read this verse again,” Pastor Tom said. “Paul says, ‘Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible, but not everything is constructive’. So yeah, you can do whatever you want, right? Sure. But why would you do something that would ultimately harm you? What you really need to ask yourself before you engage in anything is, ‘Does this glorify God or me?’”

Mr. Connelly has nice lips.

“And why don’t we take it completely out of the “Christian” context for a minute,” the pastor went on.

I wonder what it would be like to kiss them.

“Whether you believe in God or not, Paul’s words resonate with all of us. Ask yourself this: I’m permitted to do whatever I want, but how will it affect my life, my health, my relationships, my friendships, my community? Those things matter. And unless you’re completely self-destructive, you want to live a healthy life. You want to have healthy relationships. You want what’s best for your community.”

What am I thinking? I can’t kiss my math teacher!

“So, in essence, that’s living ‘beneficial’,” Pastor Tom explained.

But maybe I could kiss him. Just a little.

You think that’s a good idea, Cadence? I heard my conscience ask. I mean, have you not been paying attention to the lesson for the last thirty minutes?

What lesson?

The lesson about not doing things you shouldn’t be doing. Like your math teacher, for one. Pay attention! my conscience cried.

I shook my head and huffed.

I was only fantasizing, I argued.

And that’s where the trouble begins.

At the end of the lesson, we sang one more song. I didn’t sing any of the songs in the beginning of the service because I was too nervous being so close to Mr. Connelly. But I couldn’t resist the closing song, and sang along with the crowd, forgetting for a moment that Mr. Connelly was standing beside me until he mentioned my singing after church.

“You have a really pretty voice, Cadence,” he said.

“Thank you,” I replied, eyes glued to the floor.

“If there was a choir, you ought to be in it,” he went on.

“No choir here. This is a contemporary church,” I said, grinning.

“I gathered as much. And I suppose ‘contemporary’ defines a place of worship that, in no way, resembles a traditional church?” he asked.

“You got it,” I replied.

“It’s very sneaky,” he said.

I laughed. “Sneaky?”

“Oh yes. You make it look this attractive, and who can resist?” he asked.

I instinctively smoothed my hair. I knew he was referring to our church service, but the way he looked at me suggested he was really talking about me. It was that same look. The one from Highway 28.
This book is just WOW for me! I don't know what it is about the teacher/student romances but for some reason they really get to me. And now I am going to be patiently wait for BETTER to come out for the conclusion of this story. 

I think part of the reason I really connected with this book was because a small part of it seemed to be taken from my life. No I didn't have a secret affair with my teacher. But I did grown up in a house all too similar to Cadence and I was the good girl, at least in everyone else's eyes, until I did something bad and had everyone judging me. So this book was a little bit of an emotional read for me. (Ha! Now you want to know my story huh?)

Cadence made a mistake. We all make them, but after a year in juvie, she is just trying to get back to her good girl status before everything went wrong. From the first day of school, it doesn't look like its going to happen. No one trusts her. Her parents. Her friends. Her teachers. Except for one teacher. Mr. Connelly, her calculus teacher and angel that she met on the side of the road while in juvie.

This book touches on bullying, rebellion, sacrifices and love. It's a heavy read with humor interspersed. I found some of the church and youth group scenes to be quite funny, as they were a regular part of my life growing up. This is a to be continued novel. It does have a cliffhanger, but nothing too big. I cannot wait for the continuation of Good with BETTER

S. Walden used to teach English before making the best decision of her life by becoming a full-time writer. She lives in Georgia with her very supportive husband who prefers physics textbooks over fiction and has a difficult time understanding why her characters must have personality flaws. She is wary of small children, so she has a Westie instead. Her dreams include raising chickens and owning and operating a beachside inn on the Gulf Coast (chickens included). When she's not writing, she's thinking about it.

She loves her fans and loves to hear from them. Email her at and visit her website at to get up-to-date information on her current projects.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Find Mark Connelly Book Cover Contest

Fans, I need your help! I cannot find a picture of the perfect Mark Connelly to go on my cover of BETTER. I've given up and am handing the matter over to you. Here' the deal: find me a picture of Mark and you may win a signed copy of both GOOD and BETTER. Oh yeah, and you'll be acknowledged on the copyright page of BETTER, too!
The Rules:
1. ONE submission per person. Email me THE LINK to your perfect pic at (I gotta know where to purchase it)
2. The pic must be a stock photo with a model release (pics on sites like and have model releases. They actually say it.).

Contest will run from 9/30 – 10/21.  Make sure you get your submissions in before 12 A. M. on 10/21.

He's out there. I know it. Now someone find him for me! Emoji

Note: I reserve the right to cancel this contest at any time if I stumble across the perfect pic. I don't think that's gonna happen, though.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Becca,

    I'm so glad you enjoyed Good! I love to read reviews from people who understand the church humor :) Glad I could make you chuckle. I appreciate you participating in my tour and helping me spread the word about this book!

    xo Summer