Gets Better as it Goes Along: Awake | Review + Author Interview

Awake: A Fairytale - Jessica Grey, Kate Metroka, Tall House Books

I wasn't sure about this YA Contemporary Fantasy, but in the end it stuck with me.


Alexandra Martin didn't believe in fairytales... Alex has always been more interested in rocks and science than stories about princesses and magic. Now she's far too busy with her summer internship at the Gem and Mineral Museum to think about children's stories. Between avoiding her former best friend and high school baseball star, Luke Reed, and trying to hide her unrequited crush on her mentor at the museum, the real world is occupying all of her time.


Until she walked into one... It turns out fairytales aren't all fun and games. A curse has turned her neat and orderly world upside down, and to break it, she bands together with a fellow intern and a recently awakened princess who's been asleep for almost 900 years. Can this trio of unlikely heroines put an end to an ominous enchantment, discover true love, and keep an ancient and evil magic from being unleashed on modern-day Los Angeles?


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Source: I purchased this book myself from Audible



Awake by Jessica Grey, read by Kate Metroka, published 2013 / Length:11 hrs 10 min



This is #1 of 2 (so far) in the "Fairytale Trilogy". Book #3, Aspire, has been delayed for a very long time.



This was right on the borderline between 3.5 & 4 stars. I'm not a real fan of the narration on this one but, because there are parts that I do like to go back and reread (relisten to), I went ahead and gave it 4 stars. It probably also got a mental bump up from the fact that I really like the sequel.


Cover comments: For whatever reason, I don't like the skyline on her face. Otherwise I think it is quite nice.


Note: Audible has this categorized in the 11-13 age range, which is incorrect. The main characters are recent high school graduates.




Alex: Although I didn't dislike her, I had some issues with her that probably all relate to her insecurities. I'm not a big fan of characters who are hugely ignorant about their own looks and abilities. A thumbs up for her being into STEM though.


Luke: One of the things I like about him is, baseball god aside, he seemed like a real teenager just fumbling his way through as he tries to repair his relationship with Alex and kept screwing it up.


Alex & Luke: I am not sure I can get behind the idea that 2 people who have barely spoken since they were in 7th grade can be said to have "true love," even if they've know each other since they were very little. And I question how close they were if Alex has so little knowledge of and faith in Luke.


Becca - I really like Becca and can't wait to review her book for you, since I liked it much more / Lilia - she was very annoying until they started actively working to break the curse. Part of it may have been the voice that the narrator chose for her, and part may have been Alex perceptions



The book presents a world where Fae & nature magic used to be a common part of everyday life in certain parts of the world. Although the Fae haven't interacted much with humans for hundred of years, and we have paved over much of nature, they still exist and can be tapped into if you know how.



I felt like the beginning simultaneously dragged and yet didn't give us enough of a stake in Alex & Luke as a couple. It wasn't until they started actively working to break the curse that I really got pulled into it.


The story has a full ending, with just 1 subplot left open for the next book.



  • Alex experiences one of Luke's dreams, which makes a few things clear (to us at least).
  • The girls learning to really work together and be more than just casual friends. And the fact that it's the girls who save the day.
  • The real reason the whole "true love's kiss" loophole was added.


I COULD HAVE DONE WITHOUT: moderate swearing


OTHER CAUTIONSCaution: Apparently there were lots of half-fae in the past, but Lilia's parents were the only ones who actually got married.



Character voices differentiated = only sort of / Opposite sex voices acceptable = just barely / Accents good = not applicable, she doesn't even acknowledge that Lilia is said to have a faint french accent / Phrasing, Pacing & Pronunciation = She reads the whole thing in a sort of heightened "I'm reading to little children" type of style / Speed = listened on 1.25, my usual



Awake (Fairytale Trilogy #1) by Jessica Grey, read by Kate Metroka, published 2013 / Length:11 hrs 10 min Buy Now | +Goodreads

Talk to Me (pretty please)

  • What's your favorite Fantasy re-telling?
  • What do you think constitutes "true love?"
  • How do you define strong women? (See the interview for some thoughts from the author)


  • If you are a first time visitor, how did you discover my blog?

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Bonus Author Interview


How did you choose/come up with your lead character(s) name(s)?

It’s a joke among my author friends that I am the worst at coming up with character names. I’m always sending them plot ideas and asking for name help. They’re amazing about coming through with fantastic names! Because Awake was my first book, I hadn’t yet exhausted “names of friends,” and so both Alex and Becca are named after friends of mine (with their permission). Alexandra Martin had her first and last name stolen from two different friends. Becca Ward had her first name lifted from my “little sister” (the second book, Atone, which is Becca’s story is actually dedicated to the real Becca), and her last name lifted from my best friend.

If you were to spend a day with your lead character(s), what would the two of you do?

I would love to spend a day with all three of the main girls from Awake and introduce Alex to the wonders of Disneyland! It’s truly my favorite place and Alex has missed so much by not being a fairy tale fan! Luckily, Luke educates her on Disney movies between books one and two. There’s actually a scene that takes place in Disneyland in the third book (Aspire) which will be released later this year.

What motivated you to sit down and write your first book?

Awake was the first time I’d written anything over novella length since college. I started writing it because at the time I was in an emotionally and verbally abusive and manipulative marriage. I was aware enough to know what I was experiencing was horrible and that I didn’t want my daughter to ever go through anything like it when she was older – but still not aware enough to know how to get out. Writing Awake was my escape, a way to write strong female characters that could learn they were enough by themselves, but that pure and true love can really exist…even if there is magic involved.

How long did it take you to write this book?

I wrote the rough draft of Awake in about three months, but it lived in my head for much longer. I tend to play little movies of scenes over in my head about a million times (usually while staring off into space…I have a friend who calls this Blue Sky Thinking and I think that sounds way better than “staring blankly while I watch movies in my head.”) Once I sit down to write it usually goes pretty fast. I call myself a “pantser” because I don’t outline, but all of that internal planning must count for something.

What is the hardest thing about writing? The easiest?

Everything is the hardest about writing and everything is the easiest! It all depends on where I am in the process! Probably the easiest part is the original ideas…I always say I have at least thirty stories going on in my head at any time and when it gets up to thirty-three or so I have to write three down and actually work on them just to clear up some space. This is why I love short stories. When I just can’t stop thinking about an idea, a short story is sometimes the best way to “get it out of my system” and share it with my readers. I’ll sometimes post them on my website just as quick, fun reads.


Currently, the hardest part of writing is finding the time and focus. I’m a mom of two kids, I work a full time job, and am also working on earning a Master’s degree.

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