Good by S. Walden
Series: Too Good #1
Published by Penny Press Publishing on August 26, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Humor, New Adult, Romance
Amazon • Goodreads
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.
Make sure you scroll to the bottom for not only the giveaway but also a special “FIND MARK CONNELLY” contest!
You’ve read the synopsis. Now you’re trying to decide if you should read the book.
The synopsis for Good tells us a few things. One, there will be an inappropriate relationship between a teacher and a student. Two, Cadence is a senior and most likely under 18. Three, Mark may or may not be a predator. Four, Cadence is struggling to get past her mistakes. Lastly, we know this is a story of fiction.
With this knowledge how do you decide whether or not to read the book?
Have you read other books by S. Walden and you like her writing style and proclivity for touching on sensitive (taboo) subjects?
Have you read other books about relationships between teachers and students and you enjoyed them?
Are you deciding based off a review in particular or maybe several different reviews?
Maybe a friend recommended it.
Whatever the reason you chose, you read the book. The story is exactly what the synopsis says, Cadence is a senior in high school who has spent some time in juvie. Mark is her math teacher and he’s 28. There’s attraction that ultimately leads to a relationship. But there’s more. More that’s not given to you in the synopsis. Cadence is very religious. Her Christian upbringing is not only a part of who she is it’s ingrained her. It’s all around her. Church is a focal point in her life. Her decisions are based on her beliefs. And she begins to question some things after seeing how people are treating her for the mistake she made. These things have made Cadence who she is at this particular time in her life. She’s lost everything in her mind. Her friends won’t speak to her (because they aren’t allowed to). Her parents have taken away her privileges like her car. She’s ostracized and bullied at school. Her parents don’t even treat her the same. She’s depressed, sad, angry, confused and alone. We don’t know much more about Mark then what you get in the synopsis. S. Walden does a good job of keeping him a mystery in Good. We learn a few things about him for instance his love of music, he has an English degree but wants a doctorate in math. Oh and he has several cowlicks and he’s not very religious if at all. Most important though in my opinion is that we literally know nothing else about him. It my assumption that S. Walden did that on purpose. Good is Cadence’s story. I’m thinking Better (book 2) will be Mark’s story. Both books together will be their story.
So now you know that not only is Good about a teacher and a student in a relationship but it also has strong religious overtones.
Will that keep you from reading it?
What if I tell you that Cadence’s mistake was so big that it opened her eyes to several things that were wrong in her life? I don’t want to give away too many details or you won’t need to read the book. But suffice it to say that what Cadence does lands her in juvie for a very good reason. I won’t say whether her sentence of 10 mos. was too harsh or too lenient. I will say that after her time at juvie was up she would continue to “pay” for her crimes. I’m not sure sure she was deserving though of the backlash from her peers, her parents, the church. I’m not saying her parents shouldn’t have punished her I’m just saying that as a parent myself we sometimes go overboard to get our point across. Certainly doesn’t make us right.
Cadence wants to be liked again. She wants to be forgiven. She wants some of her old life back. She wants her parents to stop telling her “no”. Cadence isn’t a bad girl. She’s quite the opposite actually. She doesn’t drink or smoke. She’s a virgin. A good student. A good girl.
“I had one serious boyfriend last year before being carted off to juvie, and he touched me between my legs once. I made him stop because I was convinced I’d go to hell for it, and he broke up with me two weeks later.”
How far does Cadence have to be pushed before making even more questionable decisions?
“Let them play outside with no fence, and they’ll stay near you. Put up a fence, and they’re smashed up against it, trying to get out.”
Those two sentences, for me, summed up what I felt Cadence was feeling. She was desperate for attention. Desperate for friends. Desperate for affection. Desperate for forgiveness. Cadence was desperate to break free.
So when she meets Mark she’s vulnerable. Does this instantly make him a predator? Is it at all possible that he’s just as confused by these feelings he has for Cadence as she is with her feelings for him. Is it wrong that falls for her? Is it wrong that she falls for him? Do we hold him more accountable because of his age or his profession? If she weren’t a virgin would we feel differently? What if she had been a “bad” girl who had arrested several times or already had many sexual partners. Would we then think to ourselves “well she’s the type to prey on him”? What is it that makes this story so scary to us? Cadence knows what they’re doing is wrong but she also can’t help how she feels about him. Are we going to say that she isn’t old enough to know how she feels? Does she not deserve that respect?
Will you be uncomfortable reading this book?
Most likely, especially if you’re a parent.
Are there things in this book that will have you questioning Mark and his intentions?
Absolutely. There are a couple of scenes in the book that will definitely catch you’re attention and you probably won’t like them. Just remember it’s all fiction.
Will you feel that Cadence was a victim?
I’m not sure. Her character is developed in such a way that you may feel sympathy for Cadence. Then again you may think she’s just naive and her innocence is what gets her into this situation. You may think she’s a normal teenager.
“I looked down at my jumpsuit. It was unflattering, clinging to my petite body like a baby onesie, but I could get over that. What I couldn’t get over was the hideous color that washed out my fair skin.”
My very first thought after reading that was, “typical teenage girl”.
As adults we’re quick to pass judgment based on our life experiences, morals, values, education, etc…
But try to remember what it’s like being a teenager more specifically a teenage girl (I’m assuming no men are reading this, if so I apologize and please don’t imagine being a teenage girl lol.)
Are you remembering? I sat here thinking back to my own childhood. My parents were very strict. We were religious going to church every Sunday. I taught pre-school Sunday school. I sang in the choir. I was taught that sex before marriage would ruin me. I believed every word that came out of my parents mouths. But there was a part of me that wanted to break free. I was desperate for attention from boys. Mostly because I wasn’t allowed to date and also probably because my relationship with my dad wasn’t too great. I did things that looking back make me cringe. I wasn’t exactly “bad” I just made some bad decisions.
So is Mark a predator? Should he be punished? Should he go to jail?
My answers are maybe, yes, and no.
We don’t really know anything about Mark. I don’t think it’s fair to pass judgment quite yet. If you know there’s another book coming out I really don’t think we can write an informed review of the story. We don’t have it all yet.
Yes, he should be punished. He should lose his job. What happened on school grounds is very wrong.
No he shouldn’t go to jail because he doesn’t break any laws. Age of consent is 16 in Georgia. Cadence is 18 when they take their relationship to another level.
I wrote my review this way in part because of the negative attention I’ve been seeing written about Good and S. Walden. I just want to reiterate that Good is a work of fiction. I write my reviews based on my emotions and my thoughts when reading a book. But I base my star ratings on certain criteria.
(What can I say I’m a cover snob)
After I’ve allotted each of these criteria a number (1 thru 5) I then take the average and come up with my star rating. If I don’t like the plot (I probably won’t read it) then I mark it accordingly. Especially if the plot has holes or just sucks overall. If I can’t get a good feel for the characters and their background I might take away a star. If the cover in my opinion is ugly I might take away a star or two or three. It’s unfortunate that some reviews are being left as 1 or 2 stars because the reader didn’t like the subject matter. Or my favorite are the reviews that are a mile long, talking about how uncomfortable they were reading the book. Well if you’re uncomfortable and you FEEL something then S. Walden is doing a good job. She’s able to evoke something in you and maybe you don’t like that but she’s doing it and that to me means she deserves ratings based on the criteria above and not emotions.
I feel there is a lot left to Cadence and Mark’s story. There are too many questions without enough information to answer them.
I really loved Going Under (see my review here) but I think S. Walden has made me a fan-girl for life after Good. I hope that you will give the story of Cadence and Mark the chance it deserves. Read it with an open mind and an open heart.
Better will be the second and FINAL installment in the Too Good Series.
When I approached Summer Walden about doing an interview with Nicely Phrased, I honestly didn’t expect her to say yes. I had never asked anyone for an interview before and I don’t even know why I thought she would say no. I’m so happy she agreed and I’m even happier that she answered all my questions so willingly.
Thank you Summer for not only doing this interview but for being the first author interview on our blog! I’m going to do something a little different. I don’t want this to be formal or stuffy so how about some fun questions and maybe a few serious ones too?
I know you just came back from a research trip to Ireland. Can you tell us about your next project?
Well, my next project is actually the sequel to Good and has nothing to do with my research trip. J As soon as I finish Better (the sequel to Good), I’m writing another stand-alone. Those are my favorites, and what I’ve learned from the book world, they tend to be readers’ favorites, too. (I’d no idea how loathed series have become. Noted.)
I’m hesitant to speak about my stand-alone as it’s in its primary stages (and because I haven’t preregistered it for copyright protection). I can say with confidence, though, that it will be my last novel (for a while, anyway) set in high school. I realized I’ve pretty much tackled all the high school social issues out there: drug use, drinking, bullying, poverty, sexual assault, plain old sex, interracial dating, teen pregnancy scare, student/teacher romance, prostitution, parental abandonment, suicide, depression. Good Lord. I’m kinda tired. Of high school. I’m kinda tired of high school. Plus, when you’re 33 and start shopping at Forever 21 again, you know it’s time to move OUT of that setting. I have a sleeveless shirt with a screen-printed cheetah face on it. Okay, people? So I think this stand-alone will be my last in the world of New Adult for a while. Possibly forever.
Ireland? Yeah, my editor said no. So, I can’t talk about that either. I understand where she’s coming from. She has a feeling about this trilogy. It’s deep-rooted and glowing and something already dear to her, and she’s not read a sentence of it yet. J That’s why I love my editor, btw. But she’s adamant that I protect it. So this is me protecting it. Ireland? Totally fun. I’m writing a story based in Ireland. It’s about stuff. You know. Things happen. People do whatever. There’s good. There’s bad. And then it ends. A bestseller, huh? xo
Did you have a friend like Avery growing up or were you an ‘Avery’ to someone else?
Ha ha! I was definitely the “Avery” to my best friend in college. I think at the beginning of our friendship, she was constantly shocked until she realized that this was typical me. The shock factor went waaaay down after that. It turned into, “Of course you did that” and “Of course you know that.” I introduced her to Brazilian waxes. We giggle about that scene in the book because it’s so her and me.
Your best friend (she’s 18) comes to you and says she’s having an affair with a high school teacher. Would your reaction have been more like Gracie or Avery?
Honestly, I think my reaction would have been a Cadence/Avery hybrid. Wide-eyed. Did I hear that right? Please tell me all the details even though I’m not sure I want to know them. Wait. I do wanna know them. Hold up. I’m not sure. OMG, you’re sleeping with your teacher?! I swear on my life I won’t tell.
Would Summer have entered into a relationship with Mark if he was her teacher in high school?
Um, totally. (Am I supposed to elaborate on this? Because I don’t think I need to.)
There’s a particular scene in Good that’s ruffled a lot of feathers. When Angel the bouncer fist bumps Mark remarking that Cadence is “Not even legal.” and then he says, “Score.” Many readers were turned off by it. Did you know when you wrote it, the impact it would have on the readers?
*rolling my eyes* Details . . .
Mark knows the age of consent law. So does Cadence. So does the bouncer, most likely. So when I wrote that scene, I was primarily referring to her drinking age. She’s not old enough to drink, hence the large black X’s that were swiped on her hands. Was there an implied message there from Angel to Mark about being with someone so much younger? Uh, yeah. I try to be clever in my writing. I think it makes for a better read.
But the bottom line is this: those people who were so turned off by that scene were already turned off by the book before they even got there. So Angel’s comment, and Mark’s subsequent fist bump, just solidified their opinion that Mark was a sex predator. Would I have left that scene out had I known how many people’s panties would get in a wad? No. I looked at it as guy camaraderie. And think about this: they’re saying way worse off the pages. 🙂
Do you have a nickname and will you tell us what it is?
My husband calls me Honey Bunny. I think that’s a standard nickname for dorky couples.
What’s your favorite quote?
“I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.” – Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged)
If you could turn into your husband for a day, what would you do?
I think I would just go about his usual business day to see who he talks to and what he does. That and knowing what goes on in that brain of his. Man, what I wouldn’t give to have a brain that compartmentalizes things! I’d probably be a hell of a lot saner. So yeah, I’d just move through the day as Aidan. Hear his thoughts. Be privy to the way his mind functions. I think afterwards we’d probably never argue again. J It would be one of those moments of revelation, you know? Oh! I get it!
Tell us one thing nobody knows about you.
That’s a tough one. If no one knows, I’ve got a reason for that! I mean, there are a ton of weird ass things about me—some I could NEVER share with anyone. Well, maybe my husband, but that’s because he’s a weirdo, too.
*came back to this question six times!*
Okay. I can’t do it. I just can’t.
What’s your biggest pet peeve when reading other romance novels?
Umm . . . I don’t read romance novels. *hanging my head in shame* I don’t even read New Adult. I know I know. How can I write romance AND New Adult and not even read the stuff? I dunno. But I prefer memoirs, classics, and history texts. And I think this actually works to my advantage as an author. I’m aware of the trends in romance stories, but I don’t read them, so they don’t influence my writing in any way. I know that when I develop a plot, create characters, outline a theme, that those things are entirely unique to me. Sure, the overarching themes of true love, perseverance, and power have been written a million times over. Nothing about the human condition is actually new. But the way I develop these themes in my stories, with my characters and my settings most definitely is.
Name something that drives you crazy.
When people say “anyways” instead of “anyway.” Yeah, I get that it’s the nonstandard form of “anyway,” but it drives me insane. Oh yeah, and when people pronounce “especially” “EXpecially.” There’s no “x” in “especially.”
*revisited this question a few days later after going to the bank*
Okay, those above-mentioned pet peeves are totally valid, but I think I’ve discovered one that takes the cake: When people bank at the drive-up ATM when the BANK IS OPEN.
If you were to write a book about yourself, what would you name it?
Well, I think there’s something inherently vain about writing a memoir (even though I totally love to read them!). So I’m answering this question if I were forced to write one. My title? Brain Zap. Yeah, I’m gonna let you look up what that is. J
What cartoon character best represents your personal philosophy?
LOL! Okay, cartoon character? Generally funny. Personal philosophy? Generally serious. How do I combine the two?? Umm, how about Bugs Bunny? He’s a hardcore realist. Has a bit of a sarcastic outlook on life. I imagine his philosophy is “don’t expect too much.” That sounds about right.
If you were a professional wrestler, what would your ring name be and why?
Sum Sum. Why? I dunno. I think it sounds cool. And it’s like, “You want a little sum sum? You got it!!” *runs across the ring towards opponent and executes a perfect pile driver*
If you had your own talk show and your first guest is another author, who would it be and what would be your first question?
Guest Author: William Faulkner (resurrected)
Question: What goes on in your brain on a daily basis? (specifically in reference to The Sound and the Fury)
Tell us something silly/funny your husband would say about you?
I do this thing where every now and then I’ll ask him, “Hey honey, would you still love me if I (insert stupid thing)?” And I’m talking really stupid things that I can’t even give examples for because I’d probably lose all my “likes” on my Facebook page. But I really just do it to make him laugh, and it always does. He’s kind of turned it into a sort of competition now—who can insert the dumbest thing. I think I’m still in the lead.
Have you ever jumped out of a plane? If not, would you?
Never! I’m terribly afraid of heights, and even more afraid of flying. I was a clammy, shaky mess when we traveled to Ireland. I don’t like feeling completely out of control of a situation. It’s a real problem that I’m trying to work on.
You’re stranded on a deserted island. What book character do you want to rescue you? (It doesn’t have to be one of yours)
Probably Jamie Fraser from the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. That was actually the last romance series I read that I truly enjoyed (although Gabaldon would say that IT’S NOT a romance!) And it’s not even really about his looks. It’s his personality. I could hang with that.
Thanks so much for having me! xo Summer
Summer is giving out a bunch of FUN stuff for the tour (all pertaining to the book). Giveaways are:
- GRANDPRIZE includes: Signed paperback of Good, DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing… CD. the notes that Mark and Candace wrote to one another, Amazon Gift Card and an iTunes Gift Card (since music is a heavy theme in the novel)
- 2 winners will receive signed paperbacks of Good
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!
1. ONE submission per person. Email me THE LINK to your perfect pic at firstname.lastname@example.org (I gotta know where to purchase it)
2. The pic must be a stock photo with a model release (pics on sites like dreamstime.com and shutterstock.com 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!
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.