Showing posts with label review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label review. Show all posts

Friday, December 14, 2018

"The Songs That Brought Me Back" by Mylissa Demeyere


GUEST POST and GIVEAWAY
The Songs That Brought Me Back
(The Songs Series Book 2)
by Mylissa Demeyere

The Songs That Brought Me Back (The Songs Series Book 2) by Mylissa Demeyere

The Songs That Brought Me Back is the second book in The Songs Series by Mylissa Demeyere. You can read an excerpt from the book and a guest post by the author. You can also enter the giveaway. My full review is coming soon. Also available in this series: The Songs of You and Me (read my blog post).

The Songs of You and Me by Mylissa Demeyere

This book tour is hosted by I Am A Reader.


Description
Have you ever made a mistake? One so monumental you lost everything? I did, and I hate myself for it! All I want to do is close my eyes, and let the darkness consume me. Make it all go away. The end.
Ainsley is drowning in the depth of her despair. One wrong decision left her alone, with only regret as her constant companion. To escape it all, she makes another choice. One she hopes will end everything. Instead, she’s thrown into a whole new world filled with opportunities she doesn’t believe she deserves.
Ethan gives the appearance of breezing through life. But underneath his bright facade, he’s scarred by loss. When fate leads him into Ainsley’s world at the exact moment she needs someone the most, he can’t ignore the chance to right the wrongs of his past.
Ainsley and Ethan will struggle to help each other heal and start anew.
They’ll learn that the secret to conquering their pain lies within their power, if only they can do it together.
Always together.
Sometimes the ending is really the beginning.


Book Video


Excerpt
AINSLEY
Beep… Beep…
Floating…I was floating. My body…weightless. For the first time in almost three years, the constant pain that had been pushing on me, threatening to suffocate me…lifted and was gone.
I felt…free.
Beep… Beep…
Finally, I was done and untied, drifting in this place that no longer held me in its terrible grip.
Beep… Beep…
I hovered near the edge, staring down at that empty shell as the doctor and nurses fought to save me. The scene should have sent more anguish through me. The ripped clothes, the chaos, but all I felt was peace.
The body left behind looked like me, but it wasn’t, not really. It hadn’t been me for so long. I had lost myself in that person ages ago.
Something tugged at me, pulling me down, away from the peacefulness I felt and back toward that cold, empty body. My prison. I grasped out around me but only caught handfuls of air. Nothing to hold on to. The pull got stronger. Dread washed over me as I realized what was happening.
I had to go back.
“Push a dose of ketamine, now!”
The weightlessness was out of reach, leaving me confused and exhausted. A new, heavy sensation pushed down on me.
No! I screamed, but no noise left my mouth. Even as the weight of my body and my illness pressed down on me, I longed for the weightlessness I’d felt, the brief glimpse of freedom. I wanted it back.
“Give me a laryngoscope.”
A sharp pain coursed through me, down my mouth, into my throat.
I tried to raise my hand, trying to yank whatever was there away. But it wouldn’t move. The weight was pushing on my hand as well.
No! I screamed again, but no one heard me. It was pointless.
I’m in. Tube her.”
Finally, I surrendered to the darkness as it closed in, and everything went completely black.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]


Praise for the Book
“A heartfelt romance with a powerful message about the sanctity of human life. If you’ve ever simply needed a friend, The Songs That Brought Me Back will resonate – and leave you thankful for the people in your life.” ~ Taylor Dean, author of I’m With You and Chasing Fireflies
“Another remarkable read by Mylissa Demeyere. Ethan and Ainsley had me laughing and crying as they face their own demons and fall in love while doing it. This book adds even more depth as it confronts suicide head on. Suicide has become an epidemic that some are afraid to address; Demeyere brings it to light from both the victims and the survivors giving us insight on the struggles of so many. It does not disappoint and I, again, am excited to see what comes next from this talented writer.” ~ Amazon Reviewer
“A beautiful sequel to The Songs of You and Me that cleverly illustrates that there are always two sides to every story and that it is never too late for love to overcome any challenge.” ~ Amazon Reviewer
“This poignant redemption story about second chances and forgiveness yanked my emotions all over the place. I cried, I yearned, I hoped. A beautiful story about what true love is and does.” ~ Charissa Stastny, author of Between Hope and the Highway and The Ruled Out Romance Series


My Review
I received this book in return for an honest review.


I really wanted to read The Songs of You and Me first, and I’m glad I did! However, that put me behind for reading this book, so I’m not quite finished. But I’m really enjoying it and will post my full review soon.

Playlist


Guest Post by the Author
Why I Wrote Ainsley’s Story
Did you know that every forty seconds 1 person dies due to suicide? That’s close to 800,000 worldwide, each year. There are indications that for each adult who dies of suicide there may have been more than 20 others attempting suicide. That’s an estimate of 16,000,000 attempted suicides worldwide amongst adults. (Source: The World Health Organization).
Five days shy of my sixteenth birthday, my father’s body was found after he had killed himself. Needless to say, it wasn’t the sweet sixteen it could have been.
That event had quite an impact on my life and how I decided to face the challenges I meet.
When I wrote The Songs of You and Me, I delved into Jackson’s past. He got to tell his side of how Ainsley’s choices affected him. I never felt I could leave her tale untold. Each story always has at least two sides to it.
Why does a person make such horrible choices as Ainsley did? What drives them to such selfishness? And does a person like Ainsley have it in her to redeem herself?
My dad made the choice not to fight and right the wrongs in his life. It not only ended his life; it impacted many other lives.
Ainsley’s story is my way of showing you what can happen when people who make mistakes decide to try and do better. Because everyone deserves a second chance to right the wrong and start over again.
This is Ainsley’s story of what happens when you choose to not give up.
I hope that whomever reads this, will realize that we all, at one point in our life need and deserve second chances. When we take those chances, and turn our lives around, miracles can happen. I have seen it firsthand and the stories that follow are beautiful. Not perfect, but definitely worth living.
Even when life seems dark, lost, and like there is no other way than ending it, there is ALWAYS another option.
To everyone who has ever felt like there was never another way, this story is for you. My dad didn’t take the other way, but I hope you will find help. Life isn’t always perfect, but it is a wonderful gift. Definitely worth fighting for.

About the Author
Mylissa Demeyere was born in Belgium and resides in the beautiful city of Ghent. She lives in a somewhat organized home with her four beautiful children and the love of her life. If she isn’t working, she’s writing, running, reading, or enjoying time with her kids, who are growing up way too fast.
The Songs That Brought Me Back is the sequel to The Songs of You and Me, with third book releasing in the middle of 2019.






Giveaway
Enter the blast-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash.


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Friday, December 7, 2018

"Paper Girl" by Cindy R. Wilson


REVIEW and GIVEAWAY
Paper Girl
by Cindy R. Wilson

Paper Girl  by Cindy R. Wilson

Paper Girl by Cindy R. Wilson is currently on tour with YA Bound Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my review, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.


Description
I haven’t left my house in over a year. My doctor says it’s social anxiety, but I know the only things that are safe are made of paper. My room is paper. My world is paper. Everything outside is fire. All it would take is one spark for me to burst into flames. So I stay inside. Where nothing can touch me.
Then my mom hires a tutor. Jackson. This boy I had a crush on before the world became too terrifying to live in. Jackson’s life is the complete opposite of mine, and I can tell he’s got secrets of his own. But he makes me feel things. Makes me want to try again. Makes me want to be brave. I can almost taste the outside world. But so many things could go wrong, and all it takes is one spark for everything I love to disappear ...


Excerpt
ZOE
I heard the elevator ding from down the hallway. Therapist #6. Probably another clone of Dr. Edwards and all the other therapists I’d had over the years. I ducked into my study when Mom told her to come back, and planted myself beside my desk. When she came in, her quick smile suggested she was perfectly comfortable walking into a strange place. Well, strange didn’t even begin to cover me and my room. The proof? Her surprised expression when she realized she’d just entered the Milky Way.
Strewn about the room were paper planets, stars, moons, and hopefully soon a couple of constellations. I folded them, cut them out, and crafted them until they became art. They mostly lined the southern wall, but Jupiter was bound to leak onto the ceiling.
And therein lay 80 percent of my life. Paper art in these four walls.
Therapist #6 said, “Wow. This is…out of this world.”
My cheeks flamed, and I gurgled out a laugh. It sounded so silly, so I kept my gaze averted. She didn’t look like a therapist. In fact, she looked young enough to be Dr. Edwards’s daughter, with her dark skinny jeans, a hip blazer, and a navy scarf with designs that reminded me of the galaxy above us. Her shoes were yellow—the same shade I used to make the sun. Did that mean she was inexperienced?
“Zoe, I’m Dr. Gina Price. You can call me Gina. Dr. Edwards mentioned I was coming when he saw you last week, right?”
I nodded. He’d sprung it on me after our session, right after we’d talked about compulsions and changing behaviors. We’d talked about how my parents were enablers, allowing me to stay cooped up in my large apartment with my own paper playground so I’d have no reason to want to leave. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d talked with them as well. My parents probably didn’t know what to do with a word like that. Enabler. Martin and Yoko King weren’t sure what to do with my therapy, either. They thought I was just “shy” and maybe “a little obsessive.”
“This is really impressive,” Gina said, staring at the ceiling. “How long did it take?”
I flicked a glance at her, surprised she asked. Dr. Edwards never asked about my paper art. My stomach clenched so tight, I thought I might throw up. I knew exactly what she was doing. Making small talk to get me to open up, feel comfortable. I kind of wanted to create paper dolls out of both her and Dr. Edwards so I could make them get swallowed by a black hole.
“A long time,” I said, so quiet I was sure she hadn’t heard me.
She stared up at Pluto, one of my favorite pieces. The dwarf planet and I were more alike than I wanted to admit. Both not quite what everyone thought we should be. It could be cold and lonely out in space.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]


Praise for the Book
“Wilson made me care about the major and minor characters, root for their successes. I read Paper Girl in one sitting.” ~ Amy's Book Reviews
Paper Girl was unique in the way other elements were explored so that the whole story wasn't just focused on teenage anxiety.” ~ Hayley (Backpacking Bookworm), Goodreads
“... this book is amazing, and I believe Cindy R. Wilson did an excellent job telling this story.” ~ Heather, Goodreads
“Highly recommended to anyone that like YA contemporary novels.” ~ Bookish Tiffany
“I LOVED this book. It's a really sweet story, and I loved how pro-therapy it is.” ~ Julie, NetGalley


My Review
I received this book in return for an honest review.


By Lynda Dickson
Zoe is a sixteen-year-old shut-in, while Jackson is seventeen and homeless. She never leaves her house, while he doesn’t even have a house. They are total opposites, but they find each other through an online chess game, where they tell each other their most intimate secrets, not thinking that they could ever meet. Little do they realize that they already know each other. What will happen when Jackson discovers Zoe’s secret identity? Can a relationship be built on lies? And what will happen when the truth eventually comes out? Will Zoe forgive Jackson? Will she ever be able to conquer her fears and live a life in the real world? These questions, and more, will be answered in this cute romance with serious undertones.
The story is told from the points-of-view of Zoe and Jackson, interspersed with their online chess chats. They’re both extremely likeable characters in heartbreaking situations. But you just can’t help but feel optimistic that these two damaged souls with help each other heal. I loved the part Gina plays in Zoe’s recovery, especially when we find out why she does what she does.
Warnings: mental illness, alcoholism, drug abuse, child abuse.

Some of My Favorite Lines
“You can be yourself when you’re anonymous, but in real life you have to answer to who you really are. And sometimes, that’s the scariest thing of all.”
“Maybe Zoe’s childhood had vanished just like mine, and we were both unfortunate adults now.”
“The real world was like paper, and one screw up, one spark, and the whole thing would go up in flames.”
“Most everyone is too wrapped up in themselves to care about what you’re doing. And even if they do, it’s their problem, not yours.”
“How did a perfectly normal teenager go from reading on the bleachers in high school to hiding in her house and creating galaxies of paper?”
“Sometimes what you’re looking for finds you first.”
“If we were never anxious about anything, some things wouldn’t mean quite as much as they do when they happen.”


Playlist


About the Author
Cindy R. Wilson
Cindy lives at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, and loves using Colorado towns and cities as inspiration for settings in her stories. She's the mother of three girls, who provide plenty of fodder for her YA novels. Cindy writes speculative fiction and YA fiction, filled with a healthy dose of romance. You'll often find her hiking or listening to any number of playlists while she comes up with her next story idea.



Giveaway
Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card and Paper Girl themed journal (US only).

Links

Thursday, December 6, 2018

"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje


REVIEW and EXCERPT
Warlight
by Michael Ondaatje

Warlight by Michael Ondaatje

I’ve just joined a book club! Each month, I’ll post my review and the opinions of my fellow book clubbers. This month, we read Warlight by Michael Ondaatje, which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2018.
Next pick is Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak. Why not read along with us? Our next book club meeting is on 31 January, and I will post shortly after that.

Description
From the internationally acclaimed, best-selling author of The English Patient: a mesmerizing new novel that tells a dramatic story set in the decade after World War II through the lives of a small group of unexpected characters and two teenagers whose lives are indelibly shaped by their unwitting involvement.
In a narrative as beguiling and mysterious as memory itself - shadowed and luminous at once - we read the story of fourteen-year-old Nathaniel, and his older sister, Rachel. In 1945, just after World War II, they stay behind in London when their parents move to Singapore, leaving them in the care of a mysterious figure named The Moth. They suspect he might be a criminal, and they grow both more convinced and less concerned as they come to know his eccentric crew of friends: men and women joined by a shared history of unspecified service during the war, all of whom seem, in some way, determined now to protect, and educate (in rather unusual ways) Rachel and Nathaniel.
But are they really what and who they claim to be? And what does it mean when the siblings' mother returns after months of silence without their father, explaining nothing, excusing nothing? A dozen years later, Nathaniel begins to uncover all that he didn't know and understand in that time, and it is this journey - through facts, recollection, and imagination - that he narrates in this masterwork from one of the great writers of our time.

Excerpt
In 1945 our parents went away and left us in the care of two men who may have been criminals. We were living on a street in London called Ruvigny Gardens, and one morning either our mother or our father suggested that after breakfast the family have a talk, and they told us that they would be leaving us and going to Singapore for a year. Not too long, they said, but it would not be a brief trip either. We would of course be well cared for in their absence. I remember our father was sitting on one of those uncomfortable iron garden chairs as he broke the news, while our mother, in a summer dress just behind his shoulder, watched how we responded. After a while she took my sister Rachel’s hand and held it against her waist, as if she could give it warmth.
Neither Rachel nor I said a word. We stared at our father, who was expanding on the details of their flight on the new Avro Tudor I, a descendant of the Lancaster bomber, which could cruise at more than three hundred miles an hour. They would have to land and change planes at least twice before arriving at their destination. He explained he had been promoted to take over the Unilever office in Asia, a step up in his career. It would be good for us all. He spoke seriously and our mother turned away at some point to look at her August garden. After my father had finished talking, seeing that I was confused, she came over to me and ran her fingers like a comb through my hair.
I was fourteen at the time, and Rachel nearly sixteen, and they told us we would be looked after in the holidays by a guardian, as our mother called him. They referred to him as a colleague. We had already met him—we used to call him “The Moth,” a name we had invented. Ours was a family with a habit for nicknames, which meant it was also a family of disguises. Rachel had already told me she suspected he worked as a criminal.
The arrangement appeared strange, but life still was haphazard and confusing during that period after the war; so what had been suggested did not feel unusual. We accepted the decision, as children do, and The Moth, who had recently become our third-floor lodger, a humble man, large but moth-like in his shy movements, was to be the solution. Our parents must have assumed he was reliable. As to whether The Moth’s criminality was evident to them, we were not sure.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]


Praise for the Book
“Our book of the year – and maybe of Ondaatje's career” ~ Daily Telegraph Books of the Year
“A novel of shadowy brilliance.” ~ The Times
“Fiction as rich, as beautiful, as melancholy as life itself, written in the visionary language of memory.” ~ Observer
“Ondaatje brilliantly threads the mysteries and disguises and tangled loyalties and personal yearnings of the secret world ... and has constructed something of real emotional and psychological heft, delicate melancholy and yet, frequently, page-turning plottiness. I haven’t read a better novel this year.” ~ Telegraph
“[A] haunting, brilliant novel from Ondaatje … Mesmerizing from the first sentence, rife with poignant insights and satisfying subplots, this novel about secrets and loss may be Ondaatje’s best work yet.” ~ Publishers Weekly
“A lyrical mystery that plays out in the shadow of World War II … Ondaatje’s shrewd character study plays out in a smart, sophisticated drama, one worth the long wait for fans of wartime intrigue.” ~ Kirkus

Book Clubbers’ Thoughts
“We’re so lucky we didn’t live through any of that. My parents are both English and I’ve heard stories of what they went through. My grandmother had to ‘go away’ during the war and didn’t come back until ten years later. When she died, we found assorted passports and other interesting things. She may have played a role similar to Nathaniel and Rachel’s mother.” ~ Denise
“I thought the greyhound trading and low-level criminality was an interesting aspect.” ~ Jan
“It would make a great movie. It’s an engaging book because it makes you think. It was a really interesting way of telling the story. Nathaniel had to infer what happened to his mother. You never really find out what happened to everyone.” ~ Kerrie
“I liked the historical aspect of the story and learning about the difficulties the characters endured.” ~ Kerry
“I read Nancy Wake’s biography and was interested to compare it to this book. In both books, everyone only knew the part they had to play in the war effort. There was no sharing of information. Warlight is a sad book with many layers. To Nathaniel and Rachel, their mother leaving them was worse than if she had died.” ~ Marie-Louise
“I didn’t really get into it. I thought it lacked emotional depth.” ~ Maryann
Conclusion: generally positive reviews.

My Review
I got this book on loan from the library.


By Lynda Dickson
In 1945, just after World War II, fourteen-year-old Nathaniel and his sixteen-year-old sister Rachel are left in the care of their mysterious boarder when their parents move to Singapore for their father’s new job. In their parents’ absence, Nathaniel and Rachel live a seemingly idyllic life, full of eccentric characters, illicit adventures, and secret romances. But all is not as it seems, and danger is lurking just around the corner. Later, as an adult, Nathaniel takes a job with the Foreign Office, where he tries to uncover the secrets of his mother’s wartime past and learns more than he bargained for.
The novel begins with a great opening line:
“In 1945 our parents went away and left us in the care of two men who may have been criminals.”
What follows is a series of vignettes describing the incidents that shape Nathaniel’s life. His childhood stories are recounted by an adult Nathaniel in the manner of a memoir, complete with lapses of memory and the inability to recall certain details.
“You return to that earlier time armed with the present, and no matter how dark that world was, you do not leave it unlit. You take your adult self with you. It is not to be a reliving, but a rewitnessing.”
When he later attempts to piece together the puzzle which is his mother’s life, it’s interesting to see how he interprets these events differently with the benefit of hindsight. Seemingly insignificant incidents from his childhood - such as the radio program his mother listens to, or the route he travels on through the city – take on a whole new meaning when new information comes to light.
“We order our lives with barely held stories. As if we have been lost in a confusing landscape, gathering what was invisible and unspoken […] sewing it all together in order to survive, incomplete …”
Nathaniel also tells us stories about his mother and the people she was involved with – things that he could not possibly know.
“I had not been told anything, but […] I know how to fill in a story from a grain of sand or a fragment of discovered truth. In retrospect the grains of sand had always been there …”
Throughout the book, the author reveals the depth of his research, giving us a fascinating insight into the day-to-day life of the working class, as well as glimpses into the secret world of wartime espionage. This charming coming-of-age story morphs into a spy mystery and an ode to those unsung heroes of the war.
“There were so many like her, who were content in the modesty of their wartime skills.”
It is also a poignant reflection on how our lives are determined by the things that happen to us in our youth. Nathaniel is very much a product of his unorthodox upbringing.
“What I am now was formed by whatever happened to me then, not by what I have achieved, but by how I got here.”
I just wish we had learned more about Rachel and the impact that these same events had on her life.
Warnings: sexual references, coarse language, sex scenes.

Some of My Favorite Lines
“Nothing lasts. Not even literary or artistic fame protects worldly things around us.”
“I sat silent on the floor, listening to this fairness of sharing I already knew existed nowhere else in the world, which could occur only in dreams.”
“In youth we are not so much embarrassed by the reality of our situation as fearful others might discover and judge it.”
“We passed industrial buildings, their lights muted, faint as stars, as if we were in a time capsule of the war years when blackouts and curfews had been in effect, when there was just warlight and only blind barges were allowed to move along this stretch of river.”
“I think it was becoming clear that it was not just my mother’s past that had become buried and anonymous. I felt I too had disappeared. I had lost my youth.”
“She was unchanged, still constantly new.”
“He’d been an adventurer, and now I stood there, claustrophobic within his life.”
“We lived through a time when events that appeared far-flung were neighbours.”

About the Author
Michael Ondaatje
Michael Ondaatje is the author of six previous novels, a memoir, a nonfiction book on film, and several books of poetry. The English Patient won the Booker Prize; Anil's Ghost won the Irish Times International Fiction Prize, the Giller Prize, and the Prix Médicis. Born in Sri Lanka, Michael Ondaatje now lives in Toronto.







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