Book Review: Hello Stars (Faithgirlz / Lena in the Spotlight)

Book title: Hello Stars

Author: Alena Pitts

Contributor: Wynter Pitts

Illustrator: Annabelle Métayer

Number of Pages: 176

 Book blurb: Lena Daniels never thought she’d get the chance star in a movie. Headstrong and determined, she has her life planned out to the minute. But when her best friends, Savannah and Emma, tell her about an audition, she knows there’s nothing else in the world she’d rather do. And now that she’s gotten her wish, Lena finds that being in the spotlight is harder than it sounds. She got everything she never wanted! Her face turns up everywhere she goes, and everything in her life is flipped upside down. Lena wonders if this is a dream come true or a horrible nightmare. Even a visit from her best friends during filming turns into a disaster.

With her little sisters—Ansley, Ashton, and Amber—and her mischievous pup, Austin, constantly at her side, Lena must face the challenges of everyday life while chasing her dreams of being a model and actress on the big screen. Lena tackles tough choices, learns the value of perseverance, and keeps her hopes high. She knows her faith and family will keep her feet on the ground and her eyes on the stars.

This Faithgirlz series entitled Lena in the Spotlight, written by Alena Pitts, star of War Room and tween blogger of For Girls Like You, and co-written with her mother, editor and author, Wynter Pitts, is a reflection of Alena’s own life experiences as she reaches for the stars and keeps her faith in balance.

Book purchase links: Amazon, B&N, CBD

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My Thoughts:

Hello Stars is a children’s book written by Alena Pitts.

Alena is an author, actress, model and contributor to the magazine, For Girls Like You.

Hello Stars features Lena Daniels who the reader can infer is based on Alena and her real-life experience as a movie star, except the characters in this story have been changed. In real-life, Alena played Danielle, the daughter of Priscilla Shirer’s character Elizabeth Jordan in the movie War Room. In the story Hello Stars, Lena gets to meet her favorite celebrity. She goes through an audition process and is chosen to star in a movie with Mallory Winston.

Lena’s best friends Savannah and Emma play a role in helping her become a movie star because they were the ones who told Lena about the audition. The friendship between Lena and her best friends is sweet, solid and heartwarming. The bond that Lena shares with her parents, sisters and pet dog is also very encouraging. This fictional family is portrayed as happy, healthy and helpful. It’s very refreshing to read.

This story is not without challenges. Lena works hard on making her dreams come true. But when Lena starts working on the movie, she realizes that being in the spotlight is more difficult than she dreamed. She doesn’t like seeing her face on advertisements and being in the public eye. This is where Lena’s faith plays a strong role. She writes letters to God in her journal. She prays, and she relies on her parents to help her navigate fame. Through it all, Lena learns how to persevere, make good decisions, and trust God.

Alena’s real-life Mom Wynter Pitts contributed to the writing of this book. Just like Mrs. Daniels (fictional Lena’s Mom), Wynter plays a crucial role in keeping her daughter Alena grounded in reality and soaring high with her faith in God as her dreams come true.

My favorite character in this story was Lena because of her sweet personality, strong work ethic, drive to succeed and her heart for helping people. The characters in this book, though fictional, felt real. The storyline was a bit predictable but did have its surprises with plot twists that keep the reader guessing at times. My favorite part of this book was watching Lena’s dreams to star in a movie with her favorite celebrity come true. It’s my favorite part because it reignited my hope that my own creative career dreams—though I am much older—can come true if it’s God’s will for me.

There are no heartbreaking scenes in this book that will make the reader cry. But there are highs and lows that Lena experiences in the journey to her dreams, causing her faith walk with God to be tested. The author writes these scenes with believability, skill and perfect prose. The way she details Lena’s journey endears her character to the reader’s heart. Readers may find themselves rooting for Lena from the start of the story and caring about what happens—or does not happen—to her throughout this book.

There is a very tense scene in this story that involves a moment where Lena disappoints the entire film crew and something Mallory says crushes her spirit. But to find out the details on this, you’ll have to read the book!

This book didn’t make me laugh or cry but it did make me smile quite often. I loved reading this story! There honestly is not anything about Hello Stars that I did not like. I was pleasantly surprised that this story did not have any cliffhangers. As a reader, I enjoyed journeying through this story with Lena, her family and friends. The characters are relatable and the dialogue is lively. The author’s writing style is sweet and engaging.

Overall, Hello Stars is a wonderful story filled with captivating characters, a creative premise, hope, faith, love, and a heroine’s journey that will encourage you as the reader to dream again.

I’d recommend this book to younger readers ages 8 to 12. But I’d also tell teenagers and young adults to read this book because the heroine’s journey to her dreams is relatable with a lesson that’s universal. This book is unique and in a class of its own though the theme is slightly reminiscent of Natalie Grant’s book, Miracle in Music City (Faithgirlz/Glimmer Girls), which is also a Faithgirlz book series.

Hello Stars is worth every bit of a five-star rating!

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Author Bio: 

 Alena Pitts is a young actress and model from Dallas, Texas. As the oldest of four girls, Alena first cut her teeth in acting through making home videos and dramas with her sisters, using their entire home as their recording studio. She has a natural love for all things creative which falls right in line with her gifts and talents. The Kendrick Brothers’ War Room marks Alena’s professional acting debut. With only school theater on her young resume, Alena jumped at a chance to audition for the role of Danielle Jordan. In addition to school and acting, Alena models and is a frequent contributor for the magazine For Girls Like You.

Connect with Alena: Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Instagram

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Contributor Bio: 

 Wynter Pitts is the founder of For Girls Like You Magazine and the author of For Girls Like You: A Devotional for Tweens and You’re God’s Girl. The mother of four girls, Wynter’s mission is to empower and equip girls to walk boldly into becoming who God has created them to be and to provide parents with the resources and support needed to raise strong Christ followers. In addition to publishing the quarterly magazine, Wynter is a frequent blogger, a contributor for LifeWay’s ParentLife Magazine, and a public speaker. She is also the niece of Dr. Tony Evans. Wynter, her husband Jonathan, and four daughters (ages 6-11), reside in Dallas, Texas.

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Author Interview: Stacy Hawkins Adams, featuring “Worth a Thousand Words”

Please extend a warm welcome to a familiar face here on our blog!

Journalist Stacy Hawkins Adams returns to answer my questions about book number two in her Jubilant Soul Series, Worth a Thousand Words.

Enjoy!

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About the book:

 Life has always gone Indigo Burns’s way. She’s smart, pretty, and talented, and she knows exactly what she wants. A photography internship at her hometown’s local newspaper is the next step in her well-laid plans for her future. But her long-term goals are put to the test when her boyfriend Brian proposes–two years before he’s supposed to and in front of all the guests at her college graduation party. Too concerned about his feelings to say no, she heartily agrees, but inside she’s cringing.

Indigo knows in her heart that she’s not prepared to sacrifice her dreams to become Brian’s wife–not before she has achieved any of them. Will she find the answers among family and friends in Jubilant, Texas? Or will the picture-perfect life she dreams of be left behind?

Purchase the book: Amazon ~ B&N ~ CBD

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Author Bio: Stacy Hawkins Adams is an award-winning author, journalist, and writing mentor whose fiction and nonfiction enlightens readers while helping them find confidence in their own stories.

She has penned nine faith-based novels and one devotional book.

She also serves as a parenting columnist for a Virginia-based newspaper and blogs for the Huffington Post on social justice issues.

Stacy lives in Virginia with her family.

Learn more about her at www.StacyHawkinsAdams.com.

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Interview with Stacy Hawkins Adams about her book, Worth a Thousand Words:

Alexis: What was the inspiration behind the title of this book?

Stacy: Worth a Thousand Words is a metaphor for how the truth is worth a thousand words. The main characters in this novel had to choose between living their lives to please others or finding the courage to stand in their own truths.

Alexis: Indigo is a very artsy, unique name for a heroine. How did you imagine her name? What is she like? Describe her personality, passion, career goals and dreams of her heart.

Stacy: I’m always on the hunt for intriguing character names – whether I find them in articles or overhear them in conversations. I don’t quite recall how I discovered this particular name, but when I heard it, I fell in love, and when it was time to create a young character who was vibrant and arts-oriented (via her photography), this name seemed perfect.

Indigo is a recent college grad beloved by her family, including her favorite older cousin Rachelle, who is the main character in The Someday List, the first novel in my Jubilant Soul series. She is eager to launch a career as a photographer and see the world, so she is caught off guard when her handsome boyfriend – who her parents consider to be “a good catch” – proposes at her graduation party before she even has a chance to experience independence. While she says yes to the proposal to save face, her heart is screaming something else, and she must decide which path to take.

Alexis: Why would her boyfriend Brian’s proposal interfere with her carefully constructed life plans?

Stacy: In part because she is so young that her plans simply include being excited about the possibilities life could offer. By choosing to follow Brian in following his dream, she might always wonder if she had compromised her own. And truthfully, Indigo has to decide whether the love she feels for Brian is truly deep enough to spend the rest of her life with him, or just convenient and pleasing to her parents.

Alexis: Does Indigo love Brian? It looks like her heart didn’t want to say “yes”.

Stacy: As I mentioned above, she does, but even she is not sure if it’s an enduring, God-ordained love. They make a picture-perfect couple, but beyond the surface, are they really compatible, and meant to help each other flourish in their purpose and dreams? The fact that Indigo seems less than thrilled by the proposal and the impending wedding plans makes her wonder.

Alexis: Why does Indigo fear marriage and settling down with Brian?

Stacy: Because she’s so young. There’s so much to learn about herself and life and her purpose. She doesn’t know how to articulate this, but what she’s feeling is the question of “Is there something more?” And the fact that she’s asking herself this in various ways is her clue that there probably is something more, or at least something different, for her.

Alexis: What were the challenges unique to writing this story?

Stacy: This was a fun book to write because it allowed me to explore the inner thoughts, hopes, and fears of two young adult characters (in their early 20s), at a pivotal time in their lives. The only challenge was trying to tell the story without giving away Brian’s struggles too early and also those of a few other characters. I also sought to write about the issues they were facing in a balanced way so that readers could decide for themselves whose side to take.

Alexis: What were the most rewarding parts of writing this novel?

Stacy: Showing the humanity of all of the characters, even when they made choices that I knew readers might question or find frustrating. My goal was to show their motivation for their choices so that when readers put down the book and considered the choices of people around them, they might begin to extend a little more grace.

Alexis: As a real-life journalist, was it easy for you to write the scenes where Indigo takes pictures with her professional camera? Why or why not?

Stacy: Yes – having worked in newsrooms with great professional photographers was a bonus. I was able to pull from those experiences to make Indigo’s summer job realistic.

Alexis: As an author of color, do you feel like you need to write about characters that look like you and share your experiences? Or do you write stories about characters that are not of color too? Explain.

Stacy: I write about the humanity of all characters because, at the end of the day, we all care about the same things and about people we love. We all want to be safe, happy, loved and fulfilled, and we all can grow from a personal relationship with God. With that in mind, it’s a pleasure to write about characters of color who reflect this, because this is who I am, and many people I know. At the same time, I’ve heard from readers of all backgrounds that they’ve found my stories relatable, and that they were surprised once they started reading how they sometimes forgot that the characters “happened” to be African American.

I don’t take those comments to mean that there’s anything wrong with having characters who are people of color; instead, I believe what they’re saying is that the stories were relevant to them, no matter what the characters looked like. And yes – I often include characters in my books who are not African American, because we live in a multi-cultural world, and this helps the book feel more true-to-life.

I also try to show that true friendship, grace, love, and caring can be more powerful than any surface or cultural differences; we just have to open our hearts and eyes to this and truly see the other person.

Alexis: What do you want your readers to remember most about this story?

Stacy: I want readers to remember that trusting the truths in your heart is the best path to take, in every aspect of your life.

Each of the primary characters in this novel experienced a peace beyond understanding when they embraced this reality and stood tall in who they felt called to be and in what they felt led to do. This doesn’t mean it was always easy or that the path was always clear; but because they were honoring what they felt was right, they knew they would be okay. They trusted that God’s hand on their lives was the best roadmap to follow to their joy.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Stacy! Would you like to share closing thoughts?

Stacy: Thanks for the opportunity to share with your readers about my novel Worth a Thousand Words. I loved writing this book and I hope they will find it inspiring, eye-opening and thought-provoking. I’d love to receive feedback on my social media pages. In the meantime, I wish everyone reading this all my best.

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Connect with Stacy:

Website – www.StacyHawkinsAdams.com

Twitter – www.twitter.com/shadams

Facebook – www.facebook.com/stacyinspires

Author Interview: Stacy Hawkins Adams

I’d like to introduce a writer friend of mine Stacy Hawkins Adams. She’s a journalist and author with a passion for creating stories that are real and sincere. She likes to write about African-American characters and tell their story.

She’s stopped by the blog today in order to talk about her novel, The Someday List. Enjoy your time with Stacy via this author interview!

About the book: 

Rachelle Covington has it all. A fabulous home, a handsome and prestigious husband, two beautiful children, and a place in the upper crust that’s quite comfortable. But her life is not all it’s cracked up to be. When her husband goes away on business trip and the kids are sent off to the grandparents for a month, Rachelle takes up the challenge of a dying friend to start a list of things to do before she dies.

She heads back to Jubilant, Texas, to reconnect with her past, her purpose, and herself. But when her ex shows up in town looking very fine and very single, Rachelle must confront feelings she thought she’d long buried.

Will she give up everything to recover the past? Or will she find a reason to plan for the future? The Someday List is an honest look at what makes us who we are and what can throw us off track.

Author Stacy Hawkins Adams writes with a voice that is fresh, sincere, and completely real. Her characters jump off the page and into her readers’ hearts.

Purchase the book: Amazon ~ B&N ~ CBD

Author bio: Stacy Hawkins Adams is an award-winning author, journalist and writing mentor whose fiction and nonfiction enlightens readers while helping them find confidence in their own stories.

She has penned nine faith-based novels and one devotional book. She also serves as a parenting columnist for a Virginia-based newspaper and blogs for the Huffington Post on social justice issues.

Stacy lives in Virginia with her family. Learn more about her at www.StacyHawkinsAdams.com.

The Interview:

Alexis: What’s your “story behind the story” for this book of yours, The Someday List?

Stacy: I wrote this novel after hearing from many women readers who felt like they were stuck in life, or that it was too late to pursue their dreams. I wanted them to realize that as much as we love and value our families, God loves and values each of us; and our hopes and dreams are meant to be birthed. The main characters in The Someday List eventually realize that as they concentrate on what brings them meaning and joy, the more they’re able to be and do for others.

Alexis: Rachelle Covington is your heroine. What makes her tick? What fills her heart with bliss? What made her fall in love with her husband?

Stacy: Your questions are at the heart of this novel’s premise: Rachelle no longer knows these answers. She has lost herself in being a wife and mother and has a hard time figuring out why she matters. This novel takes her on a journey to remembering what makes her tick, what fills her heart with bliss, and what made her fall in love with her husband, among other things.

Alexis: How close was Rachelle to her dying friend and how did her friend’s challenge lead to Rachelle creating her “someday list” of things she wants to do before she dies?

Stacy: This was a childhood friend of Rachelle’s that she hadn’t seen in years, but during her friend’s farewell party she was deeply moved by how her friend was able to die with no regrets. Rachelle couldn’t say she would face that fate with the same peace. So attending that event, and then struggling to create a list of things she wanted to accomplish, jolted her into realizing that she needed to reclaim her life and her faith.

Alexis: You set up this story at the start to show that Rachelle has it all but the reader can infer that something is missing. What is missing in her life?

Stacy: What’s missing is the core of who she is. In doing her best to love and serve her family, she forgot to carve out some time to nurture her own interests and dreams – a pattern many women fall into. There’s nothing wrong with sacrificing and serving those we love most; that’s how we grow a loving family. However, what many women tend to find over time is that when doing so leaves us drained or empty, we haven’t truly given of ourselves in the best way. Also, I’ve found that as women–including myself- we need to practice self-care and take care of our inner selves as much as we “dress up” our outer selves. When we take the time to do this, our families, friends, and associates are blessed by what pours from us. My character, Rachelle, eventually realizes this.

Alexis: Rachelle’s journey takes her home to Jubilant, TX and she encounters her ex-boyfriend who is just as fine as ever. What role does he play in this story?

Stacy: She and Troy had a long and deep history together (I won’t say more, or I’ll give away too much), and their romance was sweet and honorable. But because Rachelle seems to have never been able to stand up for herself or for her own desires, the relationship was shattered. She went on to marry her current husband; yet as the story unfolds, you see that neither she nor Troy (her former partner) fully healed from their breakup.

Alexis: You’re known as an author for writing characters who, “jump off the page and into her readers’ hearts”. How much time did it take you to develop that skill?

Stacy: Thank you for saying that. I’m humbled by that, and grateful that my readers react to my characters in this way. My goal is to make every character and every scenario seem real, so that readers can lose themselves in that story and root for the “good girls” while simultaneously finding themselves frustrated with the “not so good” characters. Just like in real life, right? Lol

Truthfully, though, no person is all good or all bad, and I try to show these layers in my main characters and in some of the secondary characters.

I can’t say that I’m finished developing as a writer, because it’s an ongoing process, and I’m always striving to get better at my craft. However, I do work at it, and I think that intention pays off. I try to read good books with great dialogue, plots, and character development. I also read writing craft books to help me better refine the “people” I’ve created in my stories.

Alexis: Your voice as an author is described as “fresh, sincere and completely real.” What do you think of that? Did you always want to be an author? Explain.

Stacy: Again, I’m honored by this, and I’m grateful, because this is who I aim to be as both a person and a writer – sincere, real and also creative in how I express myself and engage my readers.

Yes, I’ve wanted to be an author since I tried to pen my first book around age 8. I’ve loved writing since I learned to read, and I always wrote stories and poems throughout my childhood. I segued into a journalism career, which allowed me to hone my nonfiction writing skills and learn to write on deadline, research stories, and understand people from all walks of life, and this training has been invaluable in crafting memorable fictional characters.

Alexis: What stirs you to write?

Stacy: I’d have to say life! When something exciting or heartbreaking or intriguing happens in the world around me or in the world at large, I’m often inspired to express myself through writing – whether fiction or nonfiction – and to share that with the world, to help others process the issue, too, or to simply offer food for thought or encouragement as readers consider what has unfolded or how to react.

Alexis: How do you deal with writer’s block?

Stacy: I’ve come to realize that my form of writer’s block is procrastination. When I should be writing I’ll load the dishwasher or decide to clean a closet. And sometimes I give in to that because taking a break from the writing allows your mind to relax into the story. Taking a walk also helps. It gets the creative juices flowing. I’ll allow myself a short break and then get back to it. If the chapter or paragraph still isn’t flowing, I just write through it, knowing that I can go back and fix it later.

Alexis: Most if not all of your books feature African American characters. Is there a special reason why you only write fictional stories about African Americans?

Stacy: Since I am African American it’s quite natural to write what you know. Plus, I think it’s valuable to all readers to have an opportunity to read about characters from all backgrounds–protagonists who may have some similarities to the reader, yet also some differences. What my stories show is that ultimately, we all have the same hopes and dreams and desire to be loved–by God and by other people. And while most of my characters are African American, I never write a one-color world. In The Someday List, Rachelle’s husband takes a mission trip to Uganda with his Caucasian partner, for example; and in subsequent books, you see Rachelle’s family members befriending and/or working with people of various ethnicities.

Alexis: How does your experience as a journalist impact the way that you write your fictional stories?

Stacy: Having the ability to write on deadline is a major benefit. And the research skills I learned as a journalist have helped me seek out facts and trivia for my novels that make my stories more true-to-life.

Alexis: If you were not an author, how else would you spend your creativity?

Stacy: That is a great question. Since I’ve always been a writer, I’m not sure! Writing is second nature; so it flows all the time, even in just simple musings. So even if I had chosen another career path, I might find myself writing in some way.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Stacy! Would you like to share any closing thoughts?

Stacy: Thank you for featuring me, and thanks to all of your readers who have read my books or will take the time to read them. I try to write stories that are entertaining, but also that touch a chord with readers wherever they may find themselves in life. It has been a humbling and satisfying experience to see how the written word truly does matter, and I hope to continue writing and inspiring readers for years to come.

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Connect with Stacy:

Website – www.StacyHawkinsAdams.com

Twitter – www.twitter.com/shadams

Facebook – www.facebook.com/stacyinspires