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“…an incredibly readable, fast-paced, YA coming of age adventure novel where everyone has a secret, and no one is who they seem.” —Chanticleer Reviews High school senior Riley Ozaki is desperate to change her reality after an avalanche of Internet shaming ruined her life. With her reputation and self-esteem at rock bottom thanks to cyberbullying, Riley needs to do something drastic to repair her social standing—which is why she decided to try out for a reality TV show. Suddenly, she’s dropping onto a deserted tropical island with nineteen other teens for a Survivor-style competition that she hopes will be her redemption. With a cast of vivid characters who will stop at nothing to win the show, a cursed island setting, and a priceless treasure waiting to be discovered, Reality Gold pitches readers right into scheming web of lies, love, and betrayal. This novel is a fast-paced journey where allies may not be who they say they are, and legends abound. Riley must embrace all of life’s realities, including loss and deceit, in order to discover who she truly is.
About the Author
Tiffany Brooks is a YA fiction addict living in San Francisco with her family and up to four rescue pets at any given time. Reality Gold, her debut novel, kicks off the Shifting Reality Collection, a YA trilogy. www.tiffanybrooksauthor.com
Read an Excerpt
I've got my own version of Murphy's Law, and it goes like this: if there's something that will make a bad situation even worse, I'll do it. My ex-friends called it Riley's Law, and it's the best explanation for why I was now crammed shoulder-to-shoulder with nineteen other teens on one of those ominous-looking military-style helicopters that always show up in disaster movies when the worst stuff is about to go down.
Why — why — had I thought doing a reality show was the answer to all my problems? Would I ever learn to leave things alone?
My back bounced against the cold metal wall. All the players were wiggling and vibrating against one another like a batch of lottery balls about to be released. I scanned the opposite row of my new rivals' faces, yet not a single other person looked scared, sick, or even mildly nervous.
Keep it together, Riley.
Somehow, a stupid mistake from eight months ago had snowballed into this: me, hurtling toward a deserted island off the coast of Brazil, about to compete in a nationally televised reality show. Back in October — a lifetime ago — my friend Izzy and I did something dumb. I got suspended. Izzy got expelled. My sentence was lighter because my role was trivial, but my progressive San Francisco classmates — always on alert for signs of inequality — decided the school had gotten it wrong and our misdeeds were identical. The only reason I was still around, they argued, was because my parents were big donors to our school and Izzy had been ousted because she was a scholarship kid. There was a petition submitted to the headmaster, demanding my expulsion. The school declined, and the only wreckage would have been my own hurt feelings if I'd left everything alone.
But because of Riley's Law, I didn't. I couldn't.
Instead, I decided I had to defend myself in an op-ed on the school website. The essay was well-written and impeccably argued. No one noticed any of that, though, because within hours the San Francisco Chronicle had picked the article up and decimated it. Decimated me. There's a whole gentrification thing going on in the city right now, and my words were twisted and held up as proof of the spoiled mentality of the Bay Area's one percent. Their warped interpretation: Wealthy Private School Student Demands Special Treatment.
That was definitely not what I'd said, but it didn't stop people in all corners of the Internet from flooding my Facebook page and raiding my Instagram, suggesting I go kill myself — but before I did, I should get surgery to move my eyes closer together, start a diet to fix my fat face, and grow some boobs.
It was bad enough when it felt like my friends and classmates hated me, but suddenly the whole world was screaming about how worthless I was.
Some creative snake even managed to download some photos of me before I made everything private. He slapped some Marie Antoinette–style comments on them and they went viral. Birthed by the Internet and tended to by trolls, this warped version of myself showed up everywhere. The meme of the girl in the red velvet party dress, holding her white-gloved hands out in disgust, under the caption You bought that on sale? I can't even! That was me when I was ten, taken at my middle school's annual holiday dance. It had been a really fun night; the dress was a gift, and when I twirled, the skirt puffed up like a bell. I felt like a princess. That sour expression had probably only flashed across my face for a second or two, and it was nothing more than an exaggerated reaction to the DJ playing "Oops I Did It Again," which I secretly loved.
Now when I hear that song or think of that night, I want to die.
The helicopter suddenly banked right, hitting a rough patch of air. Across from me, two girls wearing tiny shorts with hair longer than their crop tops clutched each other and screamed. The one with the deep red hair looked familiar but I couldn't think of why, which was driving me crazy because I usually remembered things like that.
They were so casually entwined, as if they were best friends already. Once, that might have been me. If I'd been doing this show a year ago, I probably would have been right there next to them, commiserating over the awkwardness of it all, asking the girl with the red hair where she was from and complimenting the blond girl's gold clover necklace.
But now my instinct was to hold back. Becoming the butt of a national joke left me unsure of who I could trust. After the bad publicity prompted the headmaster to start making noise about how it "might be better for everyone" if I enrolled somewhere else, I withdrew and hid in my room while being homeschooled for the remainder of the year. At least, that's what my mother called the rotation of counselors and tutors who cycled through our house. My father didn't call it anything. By then he had basically washed his hands of me.
And now September was coming in three short months, bringing with it a new school for my senior year and a chance for a fresh start. I wanted my future classmates to know something about me besides that garbage online, but countering a rumor is nearly impossible. As my tutor liked to say: a lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on. But then I heard about this show. It was the perfect solution. Me, on television every week — the real me, looking friendly and nice and normal and nothing at all like an evil narcissist who bathes in champagne and the tears of poor people.
For that tactic to succeed, though, I had to put myself out there. Be friendly. The girl sitting on my left, who'd introduced herself as Taylor, seemed like an easy person to start with; she'd been chattering away non-stop with nearly everyone else already. But when I leaned toward her to say something, we hit more turbulence and my forehead smacked squarely into hers.
"Hey!" she pulled back, pressing her fingers into the bridge of her nose. The exclamation was hardly fair. I obviously hadn't done it on purpose.
Nevertheless, I apologized. "Sorry," I said sheepishly, internally cursing myself for the false start. Doing this show badly would be worse than not doing it at all.
"Hang in there," Deb, the producer, shouted. She was tiny, but she had a big presence with her loud voice and a wild flash of dark, curly hair. "The wind currents always get unpredictable near the island, but it won't be too much longer in the air. You guys ready?" There were a lot of nods, some more enthusiastic than others.
"Are you guys dead or what? A little spirit, please. I'll ask again: You guys ready?"
This time there were shouts and cheers. A guy in bright red Bermuda shorts near the back door put his fingers in his mouth to whistle, although the wind rush inside the helicopter was so loud I couldn't hear it from that far away. He had short dirty-blond hair, looked very preppy, was named Parker or Porter — one of those first name/last name kind of names. Cute. We'd met at the airport when we'd both arrived at the door at the same time and had a couple of rounds of polite but awkward "You first," "No, you." Too bad I'd watched him later trying to catch the eye of the pair of new best friends huddled across from me.
"Much better," Deb said. "Now listen up, because I've got a surprise."
Oh no. I'd binge-watched enough reality shows in the last few months to know that last-minute bombshells never brought good news. Even more worrisome was how the film crew had suddenly jumped into action, swinging cameras onto their shoulders and scattering among the players to take up their filming positions.
One of them knelt in front of me, so close I could see dark patches of stubble along his cheeks and a few loose threads unraveling from the neck of his black T-shirt. If I could see him in so much detail, his lens must be capturing my every pore.
I swallowed nervously. I had definitely underestimated how unnerving it was to feel this level of scrutiny again.
For a second the aperture in the center of the lens opened up and a reflection of my face flashed in the glass. I didn't see any features, just fear.
There's a game I play when my anxiety starts to kick in. Since it was a suggestion from my therapist, I resisted at first, but now I use it all the time. It takes up excess mental energy and forces me to be in the moment. It also feels way more productive than plain old deep breathing. Here it is: describe something in opposing ways and then figure out which description is correct.
My participation in this show: ballsy attempt to rehab my reputation or a ginormous mistake that would lead to round two as the Internet's favorite punching bag?
Me: misunderstood girl, or spoiled Internet brat?
I'd find out soon enough.CHAPTER 2
"Try to ignore the cameras," Deb advised, which was virtually impossible. I could practically feel the lens touching me, the sensation of being stared at was that strong.
I didn't know the names of any of the cameramen, and I wasn't about to ask. Part of Deb's welcome at the airport had included the fact that the camera crew was off-limits.
"Don't talk to them, engage them, or worst of all, try to bribe them," Deb had told us. With what? I'd wondered, before deciding I probably didn't want to know much more about what that implied. She'd obviously meant sex or something illicit because we had virtually no possessions to bribe them with. We were hardly allowed to bring anything to the island — just the two bags we'd been supplied: the duffel for clothes and a smaller nylon square bag Sharpie'd with each of our names that we'd been told to stuff with our most important personal items.
Deb clapped her hand against the back of her clipboard, eager to reveal her big surprise. "Guys, come on. Can I have you look over here, please?"
I must not have been the only one transfixed by the camera, which was reassuring. I gave Deb my attention, glad to have something else to focus on.
"As you know, for the next twenty-six days you'll be living on Black Rock Island, competing against one another in challenges and games for a million-dollar prize," she said. "You also know that the island is the long-rumored hiding spot for a priceless treasure, a trove of stolen Inca gold, which is why the contests you'll face in the game are all inspired by the legends of Black Rock."
She paused. As a producer, she worked behind the scenes, but her flair for the dramatic meant she was also at home in front of the camera.
"But here's something you don't know. We've added a twist to the game. Any player who wishes to do so will be allowed — and encouraged — to search for this treasure. All searches and discoveries will be part of the show, and there will be an extra two hundred and fifty thousand dollars for any player who finds the treasure or a substantial clue that leads to its discovery."
"Yeeeeehawwww," a huge guy in an army-green tank top shouted, tossing his cowboy hat in the air. I didn't usually support the idea of men in tank tops, but I'd make an exception in this case. He had incredibly huge biceps.
I weakly joined in the cheering. Over the past year I'd learned a lot about how to keep a low profile, and the key is to do just enough so that you fit solidly inside the norm of what is expected. Going camo, I called it.
It wasn't that I didn't want to search for the treasure. I did. That was the problem. In fact, the chance to sneak around the island on my own and search for the treasure was another big reason I was here. Finding the gold — now that would really be an accomplishment, possibly even more important than transmitting my true self onto television screens across the country. Forget spoiled, entitled, or selfish, if I found the gold, the first ten pages of a Riley Ozaki Google search would be nothing but sunshine and rainbows. I'd be celebrated, not shunned. Sought out, not exiled.
I might even — dare I hope — impress my father, who had been involved in the last failed treasure hunt on the island.
But now that part of my plan was in jeopardy. I'd planned to search alone, in secret, without any competition. During casting auditions, Deb had explicitly told me the treasure wasn't going to play any role in the competition, and I'd counted on that. I had some inside info on where the gold was hidden, and I wasn't about to share it with a bunch of yahoos who probably thought all they had to do was run around the island and start digging when they found a giant X marking the spot.
The guy on my right — black skinny jeans, beanie, definitely a hipster — seemed particularly jazzed about the prospect of finding the treasure.
"Maybe I'll just keep the gold," he said. "It's probably worth more than the two-hundred-and-fifty-grand prize, right? Finders keepers."
I was too shocked to respond right away. Just keep the gold? As if finding it would be the simplest thing in the world? The last person who had searched the island for the treasure had been murdered, the specifics of which I happened to know pretty intimately because (a) that treasure hunter was my godfather and one of my parents' oldest friends, and (b) I had been with him on Black Rock Island about three weeks before he'd gotten hacked into a million pieces.
So, yeah, treasure hunting wasn't quite the no-big-deal Deb had made it out to be. People had freaking died doing this. Gold fever was a virus, my father always said, and once people caught it they became reckless — or worse.
"I'm just throwing this out there, but how, exactly, would you keep it for yourself?" I asked my new opponent. It took some work to keep the hysteria out of my voice, because I'd already been thinking of the treasure as mine. It was obscene picturing this guy's hands — or anyone else's — all over it. I didn't even plan on touching it. The finding part was more important to me than the keeping part, and in fact, I hadn't thought too much about the particulars of what would happen right after I made the discovery. Instead, my mind always sped past that part to imagine the final outcome: a pile of glinting gold, a crowd of admirers, and exploding flashbulbs.
"I guess I'd take what I could carry," he said. "Stuff whatever could fit into my pockets."
We both evaluated his tight jeans at the same time.
"You might want to wear bigger pants," I advised. "Because, let's say you find it, you'd have to hide it from Deb. You probably wouldn't be able to keep more than a coin or two secret. Not worth it. You might as well take the cash prize."
He nodded thoughtfully. "True. Hey, do you think if some of us work together to find the gold we can split the prize money? I'm Sean, by the way."
I paused for a second. Would hearing my name trigger any sort of recognition?
"Riley," I said, glad we'd only be using our first names on the island. Less identifiable. I waited to see if there would be a reaction, but he just nodded.
"Cool," he said.
I was relieved, although it wasn't totally surprising. Simply hearing my name wasn't usually enough for someone to realize I was the "Can't Even" Girl — which was nice, but also only temporary, because the second anyone looked me up online they'd immediately get the goods. There was no way to separate your online self from your real-world self anymore. Both versions converged into one, whether you wanted them to or not. Still, I was going to take it as a good sign that the first person I'd given my name to hadn't reacted upon hearing it.
The trick was going to be getting through today without being recognized. If I did that, I'd be anonymous the entire time I was on the island. I hadn't dared to think too much about it because I didn't want to jinx it, but so far so good. We'd turned over our phones and tablets and computers at the airport in preparation for three weeks in a screen-free, no Wi-Fi zone. Or, rather, everyone else was preparing to be unconnected during our island stay. I had different plans.
My bag held a small Wi-Fi satellite receiver I was attempting to smuggle onto the island to help me decipher clues as I searched for the gold. Designed to look like a makeup compact, it had passed undetected in this morning's search for contraband, which was actually kind of funny. I had spent hours stressing over getting that thing past the security check, and it had turned out to be a nonissue. Instead, it looked like having a bunch of newly deputized treasure hunters to compete against was going to be the real problem.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Reality Gold"
Copyright © 2018 Tiffany Brooks.
Excerpted by permission of Dunemere Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
** I was given an advanced copy of Reality Gold by Tiffany Brooks by Dunmere Books Publishing Company in exchange for my honest opinion of the book. Reality Gold Book Review Have you ever wondered what it feels like to have your world turn upside down because of one mistake? Ever thought that your world will fall apart, including your family and friends betraying you, because of that mistake? Finally, to what extent would you go to finally fit back in? Well, welcome to the world of protagonist Riley Ozaki in Reality Gold, the first book of the series Shifting Reality by Tiffany Brooks. Riley wants nothing more than people to forget her past, and wants others to view her as more than just the mistake she made; which is why she boarded a helicopter to be featured on a new reality TV show with a plethora of other teens — each with secrets of their own. Dropped on an island in Brazil — stranded. Reputations pending, competition swelling — welcome to the first day of filming the series. Upon arrival the contestants are sorted into the teams of Huaca and Sol. Allies are formed and enemies are made. For Riley, she keeps her allies close — oddly hitting it off with the smart kid AJ and the goth girl Maren. As for her enemy, its the perfect girl Willow, who seems to have her eye on the preppy boy Porter — whom Riley finds extremely attractive. Other key players are the caring Alex, naive Maddie, odd Sean, sporty Justin, persuasive Rowan, and country boy Cody. As for the goal of the series, it’s last people standing get the money. However, the cast is thrown a curveball once they arrive — they will be able to search for the gold that makes this island famous, at their own risk of course. Riley is a little too familiar with the gold — as she has been to the island before, and lost someone she loved to the effects of “gold fever”. You maybe be wondering, “exactly how are people eliminated?”. The contestants compete in a series of different team challenges, and the losing team has to vote somebody off — giving this book a Survivor feel. First the “no brainers” are kicked off the show, and production runs into some difficulty — including food poisoning, a mysterious injury, and pirates. I mean what would a story be without some sort of threatening factor? On top of this Riley also has to deal with earning the trust of her new companions, a threatening internet user, and truly finding herself. When the show was threatened to be canceled, and time on the island is limited — the search for the gold escalated. They run into barriers, and ultimately pirates; and the fight is on for who claims the gold. Throughout the encounter, Riley learns the truth about what happened to her loved one, and how valuable the gold really is. In my opinion, Reality Gold by Tiffany Brooks was an excellent read. It truly whet my appetite of the new book series; providing sparks of adventure, romance, and friendship — applicable to a majority of the young adult population. Reality Gold also taught multiple lessons — the most important being “one mistake does not define who you are”. Riley has truly proven throughout the story that she is more than her expulsion from school. She really is a caring, selfless person who is loyal to her friends. As for the writing style, it is written in a modern tone and narrated in the first person by Riley herself — which gave us a nice perspective to what was going on in her, and ultimately other teenage girls lives. It was a
Tiffany Brooks’s book, Reality Gold, is an excellent read for young adults and beyond. Readers follow a large group of teenage survival show competitors who are whittled down as the show progresses. The story is told from the perspective of protagonist, Riley. Riley sees the show as a shot for redemption. She had gotten into some trouble at her high school, and ultimately had become both a viral meme and the butt end of seemingly everyone’s jokes. She wants to shake her reputation as a spoiled brat with a silver spoon. It doesn’t hurt her shot at winning that she has first-hand knowledge of the show’s backdrop, Black Rock Island, and the treasure it holds. Brooks has constructed a very interesting, very well-written story with Reality Gold. The characters represent several demographics across the board. The plot and pace flow well. Bits of backstory of the island and Miles, Riley’s godfather with gold-fever, come out as the story progresses. The story sometimes feels like it does a cha-cha with it’s one step forward, two steps back rhythm. The kids are steadily moving toward their goal with some obstacles and setbacks in their path. Some plot twists at the end took me by surprise. The story kept my interest piqued until the very last page. I particularly liked the character, Maren. Maren had dyed black and purple hair, and was always in a t-shirt with a sarcastic word or one-liner printed across the front. She was instantly labelled as harsh, mean, and weird. Some of those things came to her rightfully. Some of those things were likely just defense mechanisms. Either way, we get to see a few jagged edges soften at times. She lets some redeeming qualities peek out from underneath the dark makeup at times. She became a lesson in “don’t judge a book by its cover.” I also liked brainy, sometimes aloof, A.J. who was interested in one thing and one thing only, the gold. He was more interested in the gold than the actual payout, because he saw the discovery itself as a foot into Harvard’s door. He was smart and driven and between him and Riley, had all the answers. Riley was a rich kid, but wasn’t “just a rich kid.” That is the reputation she was fighting hard to shake. She wanted people to know her. Really know her. She thought the show would give her the chance to show the skewed world who the real Riley was. She also had a bit of the taste for the hunt passed down to her from her godfather. She plays a pivotal part in the story, both as a friend to her coeds and as an experienced treasure hunter. There is a bit of a budding romance or two within the story, but nothing gets graphic whatsoever. There is also an important cautionary tale. There is an “almost romance” between an underage player and a crew member of the show. The characters struggle a little with how to handle that situation, but in the end, they keep their friend’s best interest and safety at heart. Watching the clues, maps, markers, and cryptic symbols all fit together to form a completed puzzle was reminiscent of watching National Treasure and movies like it. The brainy kids all hashing and rehashing possible meanings and directions was exciting. The island served as a scary backdrop. Throwing in the “reality” factor kept both me and the characters trying to figure out what was fake and what wasn’t until the very end. They had to second guess everything they thought they knew since some things were manufactured specifically for the anticipated TV audience and ratings. A
Reality Gold by Tiffany Brooks Riley Ozaki is a regular teenage girl. She experiences the normal struggles that come with that precarious stage especially in this era. Her senior year of high school is going okay until something horrible happens. She suffers under the hands of cyber bullies. Riley is trolled to no end. Her reputation and self-esteem take a nose dive. She is desperate to get a little bit of it back. She is convinced a reality TV show is the answer to her problem so she enrolls with 19 other teens. They travel to a secluded island off the coast of Brazil. Promises are made and broken. Backstabbing and self-serving teen ushers go to extreme measures for the treasure. In the chaos of it all, Riley discovers her true self. Who will take the prize? Who will survive the race? This is the first installment in the trilogy. The author works to weave an interesting tale of deceit and betrayal. She vividly describes a beautiful island that could not possibly be home to so much backstabbing. The survivor style competition is cut throat. Tiffany Brooks has done a good job of keeping the reader glued to the pages. The twists and turns are shock worthy even though some parts are quite predictable. This book is suspenseful and intriguing. The author has done a good job of weaving real world issues in this era of social media and the evil that lies beneath. Riley shows characters right from the word go. Her struggle with cyber bullying and the impact it has on her emotional state make her very relatable to the reader. Her character is well rounded and full dimensional. The same wholesome personality allotment is exercised on every other character as well. The author has done a good job of ensuring each character is well understood in their entirety. The author has a good understanding of the genre and target market. She writes in a way that appeals to the demographic. She strikes the perfect balance between addressing the YA fans and accommodating adventure and treasure hunt enthusiasts. Her writing is beautiful and prose seems to flow effortlessly. She seeks to take the reader on a journey rather than just tell a story to have it out in the world. The author has a good grasp of grammar and the nuances of the English language. That much is evident from her ability to weave and craft words into art. Reality Gold is a real treat. There is teenage romance and betrayal. There is adventure and mystery. There is thrilling treasure hunt with the blood cuddling history and threat of death. You will be on the edge of your seat through the experience. Five stars out of five for this riveting start to the Shifting Reality trilogy.
Who doesn’t like a good treasure hunt? When a group of teens and young adults get thrown together for an island reality show all the drama you would expect comes out. Twenty kids around the ages of about 17 and 18 are all chosen to be on a new reality TV show call Reality Gold. It is taking place on a tropical island called Black Rock Island. Each of the main characters has a story to tell and seems to have a reason for being selected. Aside from being another teen reality show, the producer Deb, drops on them as they are flying to the island there is an additional prize for anyone that can find the lost treasure rumored to be hidden on the island. The problem, the island doesn’t seem to want people there snooping around. Things break, disappear, and local residents claim the island is cursed. Will they find the treasure before the mystery saboteurs force the show to shut down production or someone dies? While treasure hunting is banned on the island due to some unfortunate deaths that have occurred mysteriously, the show things they found a loop hole and want to capitalize on the potential. Riley is on the show to prove she is more than a spoiled rich kid from Silicon Valley and has deeper ties to the island than most know. Most of the other contestants are just interested in the cash prize or the fame that comes from being a reality show star. This creates a lot of conflict from the beginning. Those looking for notoriety are quickly sorted out from those that have a different agenda. The show references many of the popular reality shows out there, Survivor, The Curse of Oak Island, even a nod to the Deadliest Catch. If you’re a fan of the Oak Island mysteries this story is defiantly for you. There are a lot of parallels, including the rumor that seven must die before the island will reveal it’s treasure, and when the story starts, six already have. Tiffany Brooks has taken the idea of treasure hunting and giving it a modern twist that can appeal to the young adult reader and adult readers alike. Reality Gold has a lot of mystery and funny commentary to match the island’s mysterious past and puzzle solving without being gruesome and overly dark like more adult novels. I was instantly drawn into the story line because of my love of treasure hunting, and the character development was superb. You would think a novel about teens would have many shallow characters and flat personalities but that is far from the case. The producer Deb uses the show’s confessionals and challenges to pull out the characters deeper sides and personalities, often revealing things they would have rather kept hidden. It all flows so naturally and is not forced, you feel like you are on the island with the production staff getting to know these players. When AJ and Riley start solving clues to find the treasure you are rooting for them to be right, you want to see them find the hidden treasure. The enthusiasm and excitement portrayed by Brooks is contagious and makes you keep turning the pages unable to put the novel down. This is by far one of the best young adult novels I have come across in a long time and am looking forward to the continuation of the story with the next two books.
I was hooked from first chapter of “Reality Gold” and my interest never wavered for a moment! I loved the creative and strong characters and plots that continued to build and shock and surprise. Riley is a great lead, strong, but flawed and relatable and we really see her change and grow throughout the competition. Even though the setup is one that we’re familiar with, the plot was intelligently constructed, and just when you think you know what’s happening, something comes along to throw a wrench in it. This is good because I HATE books that are super predictable. And this one isn’t at all. I’ve read a ton of YA/NA over the years so I’m rarely surprised by anything anymore but I can say that this author managed to do it. I appreciated the (mostly) brisk pace and the descriptive details that really brought the story to life – world building is absolutely crucial in selling any sort of story and it is done nicely here—we really feel like we are there on the island as the cameras roll. Speaking of, I liked the ‘behind the scenes’ feel as well – wonder if the author has experience there because I do know that reality tv shows are totally “real” there were things (like double-up filming) I never knew of before. Things like that makes me see these shows in a new light. This whole book is easy to get lost in, but it does get a little convoluted at a few parts, especially when I’m trying to remember some characters. Too many cooks in the kitchen. Ends well but does leave us wanting more. Will be interested in seeing where this series and our leads go to in the next one. I can definitely see action/ adventure YA fans really liking it-- there is a lot of great character development and has several thrilling moments and shocking discoveries, great tension, and pirates! Something for everyone that will keep you engaged night after night. Recommend.
I loved this book! Yay! I read so many books of all genres, but lately YA has been tough as they have all seemed the same to me (at least paranormal romance do…) – but this one did stand out and was just fun. Maybe because “Survivor” is one of my favorite shows, but the way that Tiffany Brooks really captured the teen ‘tude and angst and edge really impressed me. I read lots of YA and I can always tell when the (adult) author is “trying” to sound cool or in-touch, but failing miserable. Brooks has a natural voice and breathes great life into most of her characters – the main ones at least. Some supporting cast feel a little thin. But “Reality Gold” captured my attention from the beginning, pulled me in, and never once let go. Each scene was riveting, imaginative, and flowed smoothly from one to the next… and definitely surprising me more than once! I thought I had the characters and their motives all figured out, but was wrong on just about everyone, haha. I felt like I was genuinely experiencing all this through Riley’s eyes, for better or worse, but sometimes I did think we spent too much time ‘in her head’ and was glad that she seemed to get distracted by the competition and to help put things into perspective. There is really solid chemistry with most characters, the only thing I also noticed was how the story seems to suddenly stop right after a whole bunch of wild events… and then it goes to an epilogue that just summarizes things. This almost made me subtract a star, but because I loved the overall feel and trajectory of the book, and that it actually contains some valuable life lessons as well and an entertaining experience that hits on several important issues, I’ll forgive it. I would love to read more from this author in the future as the series continues (this is just book 1). Recommend for ages 16 and up (even adults!)
4.5 stars SO much fun! I’ve been a reality tv show addict since the first episode of “The Real World” appeared many years ago. But I’ve never read a novel based on one, and I thought it was ingenious. Tiffany Brooks managed to take so many different aspects of today’s modern society, with teens and adults alike (but mostly focusing on teens) and combines them in a story that is readable and thrilling and funny and shocking and most of all authentic--- which is key. Good mix of narrative and dialogue to really show us the events as they unfold (as opposed to just ‘telling’ us through narration which weakens it for me) and how we genuinely feel a part of Riley’s experiences and understand her. I quickly became hooked and found myself reading for longer than I planned to, as there was never a good place to just stop. This is good too. This book is probably technically YA but I’m in my late 30’s and loved it. It didn’t have any of that annoying teen stuff that is so prevalent – like some uber-superstar heroine who is just THE MOST, or “insta-love’ with the guy who is JUST THE HOTTEST. Etc. It is intelligent and raw and real and complex, and written with enough substance and finesse to please adults as well. Looking forward to reading book 2 in the series when it’s available.
I thought the premise for “Reality Gold” sounded amazing, and it had some really positive reviews already so I was excited to dive in. I have to say that the first few chapters were a little rough for me - I think the start was a little too slow (after the enticing opener) and lost some momentum… too much setting the stage and talking about events in the past – I know that it helps us to understand Riley’s perspective, but it seemed like too much backward motion right off the bat. There are SO many characters that show up, I had trouble distinguishing some from the others at times (trying to recall personality traits and couldn’t), and I had trouble picturing them in my head physically – something I like to be able to do. This wasn’t ALL of them, just a few, but it does feel like ‘name soup’ sometimes. But the more I read on, the more I got into it, and found myself thoroughly enjoying this exciting world Tiffany Brooks writes of. Overall the storylines of the reality show, the treasure hunt, the interaction with the characters (friends, foes, romantic) and Riley’s own self-esteem issues was brilliantly imagined and well-crafted, even if in a way the setup feels like a composite of familiar elements---Brooks brings such a genuine authentic ‘voice’ and originality to the characters and their actions. Loved Riley, liked Deb and Joaquin (I know…) and Alex, Maren, Porter… several others could have their roles cut or consolidated and would have been better (for me). The pacing is pretty good – bouts of – ‘slow and safe’, mixed in with crazy events – especially toward the end. But the writing was very good, and great editing! Polished and professional feel throughout (from cover, formatting, editing and content). This is the first book in the “Shifting Reality” series so I’d certainly be happy to read book #2 when it is published! Geared towards teens, but I think adults will enjoy it as well.
exciting and very creative, but maintains a ‘real-life’ vibe that makes it believable and relevant, “Reality Gold” from Tiffany Brooks is an absolute must-read for fans of reality TV shows (especially ones like “Big Brother” or “Survivor”) and novels such as “Hunger Games” but with more fun and humor and is more heartwarming (but yes, there’s plenty of danger too!) I like that the girls here are a wide range from sweet to cunning, (almost evil?) and don’t fit neatly into stereotypes. They seem to have a lot of focus on social media presence, and frequently mention/narrate things that might go over some people’s head if they aren’t in tune with today’s social culture, especially with youths. There are several storylines running through here concurrently, and a grand cast so at times I almost felt dizzy… At times wondered where it was really headed, but Brooks managed to reel it back in and deliver a pretty epic ending – although there are more books after this so I guess it’s not really the ‘end’. I liked that it made me think outside the box and wasn’t just another formulaic Young Adult ‘peer pressure’ or ‘bullying’ story. This was really original, I thought, but at the same time comfortingly familiar. Engrossing and action packed. Ready for more! Recommend for ages 16+
From the Shifting Reality Collection, Reality Gold is a fast-paced, intense, and exciting coming of age adventure novel, that highlights lots of important themes such as secrecy, survival, competition, and money. “There are only two ways to survive Internet infamy: drop offline and play dead or give everyone something bigger and better to talk about. I’ve tried the first strategy. Now it’s time to try the second…” This quote is taken from the synopsis, and I think it really highlights all of what’s to come. The author, Tiffany Brooks, does a brilliant job in writing about a group of vivid and adventurous characters who will stop at absolutely nothing in order to come out on top. Basically, the narrative is simple, yet effective. Whilst it provides elements of hidden truths and survival (think of Survivor meets The Hunger Games), it also allows the reader to understand what is ‘actually’ important. From start to finish, Reality Gold was fast-paced and packed with action, dilemmas, and excitement. The main character, Riley Ozaki, represents a typical adolescent, who deals with ‘typical’ teenage problems. Because of cyberbullying, Riley’s character, right from the offset, is shown to be quite isolated. This is a feeling that many of us reading the book can relate to. For Riley to climb back on top of her social status, she enters a Reality TV show. This all sounds tedious, but what happens to Riley soon after, takes a dramatic turn. She is then subject to a survival game with nineteen other people. The question from this point that every reader will be asking themselves is: ‘who will win the battle of survival?’ What I thoroughly loved about Tiffany Brooks’ Reality Gold was the mixture of themes including uncertainty, deceit, love, and betrayal. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of YA books, however sometimes I often feel like I’m reading the same plot over and over again. Not with this one! With Reality Gold, I realised that whilst reading, the themes and emotions than run throughout the novel appealed to me much more than other books I have read in this genre. I think Brooks’ writing style and appeal to emotion is what gives this book a unique edge. After reading the book, I would rate this novel 4 out of 5 stars. I have not found a book that I’ve enjoyed for a long time, and this book was a fantastic read to get back into the Young Adult genre. Not only does the book contain a strong narrative full of suspense, drive, and ambition, but it also blends our world of reality with a world which ‘could be’. I have praised the book a great deal, but what I would have suggested is that the book was broken up into two or more shorter novels. The novel is heavy will plot twists, and intense goings-on, and therefore can make the read a little long-winded. For me, I don’t mind this, but for other readers, I think they may struggle to read consistently, especially if they don’t read the book in one go – which not many of us do! Reality Gold is an outstanding contribution to the world of young adult and adventurous creation. Packed full of inspiration, creation and innovation, this novel provides a great insight in to a world of reality versus fiction. An eccentric read for anyone who enjoys The Hunger Games or simply loves a good read!
Reality Gold, written by Tiffany Palmer is the first in a series for young adults, which tackles the millennial teenager and the realities of being young in today’s society. In a world of social media, where reputation is everything, the main character Riley tries to change public perception of herself. She throws herself into the challenge of a reality television show and the trials that come with it. She is betrayed, double crossed and narrowly avoids gold fever. Amid all of this she has to keep herself together and try to become a better person. Riley’s character is an example of a modern teenager, obsessed with what other people think, a tearaway whose life is documented online. At first her character seems shallow because of her obsession with her social status and she comes across as another troubled teen. However, her character improves as her experiences make her think about acting more morally. Throughout the book she creates lasting relationships that show she is capable of real human interaction rather than just online exchanges. A key theme in Reality Gold is the presence and normality of technology in everyday life. In a remote part of the world, the presence of mobile phones is not questioned, and the contestants of the reality show get used to the cameras very quickly. There are references to social media sites and some characters’ whole personality is based on their online profile. The book seems to make a point that as Riley grows into a better person, the importance of technology and reputation becomes less important. This should make young adult readers think about the importance of their character, not just what they post online. The plot being centred around a reality show and incorporating technology will enable teenagers to relate to the story – as the realities in the book and reader’s lives are the same. Palmer has written a book in a chatty and informal style, mimicking the language and behaviour of young people. This not only makes it relatable but entertaining to read. It captures the drama in charismatic ways and highlights the dramatic goings on between characters. The book’s beautiful, isolated island setting contrasts the violent occurrences and mystery that run throughout. Blamed on a curse, it reminds us that things do not always turn out the way we want, and anything can happen in the places we least expect - even in paradise. This gives the text an edge and leaves the reader excited to turn the page. I did not expect to find these kinds of events in the book! The book also touches on the importance of cultural history, with bits of knowledge included throughout and shows how a bit of research can really pay off – it’s not always the strong, attractive people that have strengths, sometimes intelligence and wit will get you further. This book scores a solid 4/5. It is relatable, realistic and written in an inviting way. It will keep readers entertained and interested until the end but does rely heavily on the standard character idea of a troubled young teen. Despite that, it was an entertaining read that I’d recommend!
Wow, wow, wow! What a ride!! REALITY GOLD is a non-stop young adult adventure with fascinating characters, intrigue, secrets, lies, and plot twist after plot twist that made it impossible to put down. Riley Ozaki is a down-on-her-luck teen, whose misfortune is of her own making. When she has the opportunity to rebrand herself after internet infamy, she jumps at it. The opportunity is in the form of a reality TV show, called Reality Gold — a Survivor-style teen-centered show set on a South American island that just happens to be the rumored home to a long-ago buried treasure. Riley has roots on the island; her own godfather, Miles, was killed while searching for the treasure recently and Riley herself accompanied him on one of his expeditions just two years prior. But being one of twenty kids on an island, surrounded by cameras, may not be what Riley needs. Forging friendships under constant surveillance is tough for a girl who currently has no friends. With everyone competing for the same prize and the chance to maybe hunt for the treasure while they’re there, trust is a valuable commodity that is as hard to come by as the elusive buried gold. When one mishap follows another, cast and crew alike begin to wonder if the rumored island curse is true. Plot Outstandingly plotted, this story moves. I loved the attention to detail throughout the story and not just with settings; everything from their surroundings, to the clothes they wear, to micro expressions bring the reader deep into the story. But they also serve as expert foreshadowing of every devious twist and turn the author throws at us. The Characters LOVE the characters. I was up and down on Riley throughout. She’d win my loyalty, then do something stupid and make me wonder about her. At least up until the end when she redeems herself as only Riley can. The rest of the cast is wonderful. Perfect. Seen from Riley’s perspective, the reader doesn’t know who to trust either. I had all of my ideas about what was really going on turned upside down so many times, I gave up trying to figure it all out. Top Five Things I Loved About REALITY GOLD 1. Reality TV. While not one of my favorite things to watch, although I did watch several seasons of Survivor when it first came out, it may be one of my favorite things to read. The behind-the-scenes wrangling is so much more interesting that what shows up on screen. 2. Riley. She was both annoyingly inconsistent and lovably confused about who she was and who she wanted to be. 3. Treasure hunting. Maps, and ciphers, and markers, oh my! 4. Plot twists. So many twists I nearly got dizzy, but each one was perfectly timed, completely unpredictable, and hella fun! 5. Maren. Riley’s teammate and frenemy was one of the most complex characters and I still don’t know enough about her. I hope we get more of her in the next book in the trilogy. Bottom Line A rollercoaster ride of action with a mystery tied up with a simple romantic bow. Highly recommend! Disclaimer I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
"Reality Gold” by Tiffany Brooks was an entertaining, emotional, true-to-life-feeling, action/thriller novel that pushes the boundaries of typical YA literature. It probably took me until almost half way through to really and truly hooked, but once I was, I was all in and didn’t want to stop until I was finished. I’ve read a lot of teen/young adult and it’s hard to surprise me, but this book did more than once. I am in awe of the author’s imagination and ability to weave together a story that is both believable (to a necessary extent), but also complex and crazy enough to keep us interested, and timely enough to be significant in today’s media-obsessed society. I thought it was nice that there are some positive messages here as well for the younger readers, but Brooks doesn’t beat us over the head with them, they are subtle but we really feel it. It was actually profound at times, especially at the end (but I would have liked to see some of those situations fleshed out more). Some weaknesses for me was that there were too many characters that I wasn’t unable to connect with, so they just felt confusing. (not all, just a few). Sometimes I thought some scenes didn’t add much for tension or plot development, they just felt like ‘filler’. It wasn’t BAD, I just was anxious for more drama to happen. But when it did – wowsa! Hold on to your seats! Lol. Tiffany Brooks tells a fun, original story that could have easily ended up a clichéd re-telling, but wasn’t. And it doesn’t take itself too seriously, even when it has some darker moments. I liked that. Appropriate for most ages, mid-teens on up. Recommend.
4 1/2 stars What a delightfully entertaining book! I’m not one for rehashing the plot (that’s what the summary is for on the book description page), but trust me when I say you’ll have a blast reading this. It has something of everything: realistic situations with teens & peers and in popular culture; humor, action, danger, facing challenges, learning to be strong, overcoming adversity and obstacles, using wit and intellect, friendship, betrayal and even some romance…….. I like how everything came together , but I do almost feel like the ending came on very suddenly and seemed to just cut off – then fast forwarded a year later… almost anticlimactic after everything that had happened! But there are supposed to be more books, I just feel like we missed out on some key info at the end. I think that Ms. Brooks is really talented and with great imagination, but ‘keeps it real’. Great with emotion and descriptions, and I felt like I was really watching a TV show (or being part of it) and I actually think that is a great idea! (To have a treasure hunt/”Survivor” type reality show with teens). Riley is a likable heroine who grows as the story progresses, and even thought it has all sorts of YA/NA tropes that are fairly commonplace, Brooks’s insightful take on the ‘social-media pressure’ angle is one that I haven’t read before and I thought it was great because it is SO prevalent in today’s society for teens (and adults!). While not technically perfect, I can definitely see many people enjoying this novel by Tiffany Brooks. I know I did!
"Reality Gold” by Tiffany Brooks was awesome! I finished it a few days ago and am still digesting it and trying to figure out how to write a proper review without spoiling things. I do read a lot of Young-adult and New-adult books, and prefer the more issue-driven or action-based ones over the fantasy/paranormal/romantic ones – so this seemed like it was right up my alley. I always am happy when I find a book where the characters aren’t the stock, ordinary typical ‘perfect’ heroine (or hero as it may be) but have demons, motivations, secrets, flaws…and I thought the whole reality show’ and Incan treasure mystery and ‘curse’ aspect was pretty awesome too and different from the norm, that’s for sure. So often I read YA and it feels like I’m reading the same story over and over. Not there though. I like that there were several well-thought out storylines, and all came together to create a fresh-feeling novel that was out of the ordinary and kept me interested throughout. I was shocked by some events toward the end and didn’t see it coming (I admit to seeing a few twists coming). Some characters felt more real to me than others – the main ones I mostly had down, but some others were lost on me. I questioned the need to have so many – at one point I counted 13 different ones mentioned within 2 pages on my iPad. Yikes! But when it focuses on the core group it is good, and I am eager to see what happens to them now after the dust has settled (if indeed they appear in the next book – perhaps it’s a whole new cast). Several positive takeaways and strong writing/clean editing is also noted. Recommend for teens and adults alike.
I liked “Reality Gold” by Tiffany Brooks. I thought it was good and nails the voice of teens in this day and age very authentically. Nicely edited and kept me engaged from the alluring opening to the thrilling (but sudden) ending. It is a relatively quick book, one I finished in a few sittings (maybe I just didn’t want to stop reading…) but Brooks takes her time in carefully developing the various storylines so that we the readers are involved the whole way through. This was a clever spin in the whole “reality show” theme that is so popular these days, and I’m happy that while some familiar concepts were there, it didn’t feel derivative of other works or cliché. We can see the social media and popular culture influences, but it more pays homage to these elements rather than merely replicating them, In fact, I was impressed with the author’s new take on a Young adult subgenre (social media awareness/ cyber-bullying and ‘Internet ‘celebrity’), and enjoyed watching Riley on her journey to overcome her past and create a better future – if she can survive the present!! Was almost disappointed when I was done because I wanted more. Hopefully the next book in the series isn’t too far off. Recommend for older teens on up.
I am of somewhat mixed feelings on this novel, “Reality Gold” by Tiffany Brooks. On one hand it is very well- written with some of the most authentic and creative characters I’ve read in a long time, and I liked how each of them had their own unique set of circumstances and brought something interesting to the story, whether we like them or they stir up trouble or become unexpected sources of support or friendship. – I actually thought Joaquin, Maren and Willa’s characters were the best (not necessarily ‘good’ just interesting). But of course Riley is really good too and it’s fun to watch her evolve and handle business and face her problems. There is good character and plot development, and I think it had several good messages throughout. But on the other hand, at times I felt almost like this book was too much at once, mostly because of the abundance of characters and many are just ‘names’ and we don’t get a real sense of identity with them – they don’t stand out and are quickly forgettable. I would have preferred tighter focus on a smaller cast. Also, the beginning with all of Riley’s narrative backstory on her situation, while interesting, slowed down the pace a lot and would have been better more organically worked in throughout the story as pieces rather than dumped all at once right up front. But that is just my opinion, other people may disagree. I did think the flow was great and at the end of each chapter I wanted to read the next one. Perfect editing, which is always appreciated. The ending seemed rushed, in my opinion – not much of an anticlimax, and then the epilogue glosses over some important events. Character and relationship developments were just ‘summarized’ quickly and I would have liked to see them unfold more. And I still had several questions. But it is a good story with an engaging storyline that feels current and in touch with teen behavior and lifestyles and problems. I can see fans of young adult action and adventure really liking it.
Just a heads up…when starting “Reality Gold” by Tiffany Brooks make sure you don’t have anywhere you need to be or anything you need to do because you won’t want to stop reading it until you’ve finished it all!! Trust me on this! It starts off with an intriguing beginning where Riley Ozaki is attempting to re-invent her notorious identity (thanks to social media) and is participating in a wild reality show that is a thrilling mix of Survivor, meets Treasure Hunters, meets Hunger Games (but not nearly as violent or dark). I’ve seen other reviews make these comparisons as well, but it does fit. But it doesn’t feel like a copycat, just the same spirit, but Brooks makes the experience into something new. It gives a glimpse into the danger and intrigue of their circumstances on Black Rock Island, and the lure of an Incan treasure and a million dollars means the stakes are high – and oh yeah, a legend that suggests someone else will die trying, as 6 others have already done. It is so entertaining to watch this game play out, and see what the various characters do in each situation – my opinion of several changed over the course of the story, and a few really surprised me. It has a great energy and the conversations always sound authentic – like how teens really talk and act, and what they really talk about. Very easy to keep reading, because I was also invested in the outcome – I wanted to see if they’d find the gold, if it was even real or just a setup (no spoilers). There are some surprising twists and some parts that really catch you off guard… but that just made the book even more addicting. I thought that Ms. Brooks did a terrific job of making the story and the characters unique in their own right, and also incorporated more emotional issues that teens can relate to – not just romance or angst, but real conditions and pressures they face that older adults never had to (like social media influences, etc). I could see this having cross-genre appeal so even if YA isn’t your fave, the terrific scene-building, suspenseful and action-packed plot, and dynamic, authentic characters will appeal to a wide variety of readers. Recommend.
"Reality Gold” by Tiffany Brooks is one of the more compelling, and socially/culturally relevant YA action novels I’ve read lately, and it was a lot of fun! I was completely drawn in from the opening pages as we see that Riley (the main character) is about to embark on a crazy adventure reality show, “Survivor-style”, and then we are filled in on the drama and scandal that led her to go on it in the first place. Won’t give too much away, but I was surprised that even for a premise that sounded familiar enough, it felt very new and unpredictable, and not like something I’ve read a million times before, which is really rare in this genre. There are a lot of characters, some who add more to the story/plot than others, but they all help to give this book its own distinct personality. It is a competition for fame and fortune – and maybe survival. Tensions run high, and it brings out the best in some and worst of others. It’s hard to know who to trust, and people aren’t always who/what they seem to be. This book is very fast paced and lots of twists around every corner. The challenges are fun and we feel like a part of the story searching for the ‘treasure’ as well. It was a fun escape from reality, and had a totally action-packed ending that nearly left me breathless, but I was surprised by how the ending seemed kind of abrupt after all that just happened, but the epilogue helps to explain some things more. I like that it finishes without some crazy cliffhanger (thank goodness!!!) but we know there is more to come, as this is the firs of a trilogy. I will definitely be interested in reading the next one when it comes out! I would recommend this book to fans of young adult and new adult adventure /action /contemporary drama.
I don’t normally read books like this (Young Adult), but I was looking for something a little out of my comfort zone and this book sounded intriguing. Well, I am most certainly glad I took the chance on Tiffany Brooks’ “Reality Gold”! This was a captivating novel and very impressive for a debut! There is such strong, vivid writing, and the characters are all fascinating, flawed, and going through their own drama in some way or another. Solid character development with several, and everything just felt “real” for lack of a better word – even though some parts are pretty dark. Dialogue, interactions, scenes, descriptions… Great conversations, although on occasion it did seem more like chit-chat that added little. But it is so much fun putting together the clues and trying to figure out who is behind what, and who to trust and who isn’t what they appear to be. A lot of times I can see plot twists a mile off, but a few really surprised me here. And I really like that the heroine didn’t spend all her time swooning over some boy! Riley has issues, yes, but that is what makes her relatable. All in all a very good adventure/drama book that I’d recommend even to those who don’t normally read this sort of thing …try it, you’ll be pleasantly surprised!