Sunday, June 28, 2015

Book Spotlight + Guest Post: Molly Lee by Andrew Joyce

What is this adorable dog doing at the top of this post, you ask? I thought he'd get your attention! You'll have to wait patiently to find out, but I can promise you that you won't be disappointed.

Now, on to the book spotlight! Today I have the pleasure of featuring Molly Lee by Andrew Joyce.

Molly is about to set off on the adventure of a lifetime . . . of two lifetimes.

It’s 1861 and the Civil War has just started. Molly is an eighteen-year-old girl living on her family’s farm in Virginia when two deserters from the Southern Cause enter her life. One of them—a twenty-four-year-old Huck Finn—ends up saving her virtue, if not her life.

Molly is so enamored with Huck, she wants to run away with him. But Huck has other plans and is gone the next morning before she awakens. Thus starts a sequence of events that leads Molly into adventure after adventure; most of them not so nice.

We follow the travails of Molly Lee, starting when she is eighteen and ending when she is fifty-six. Even then Life has one more surprise in store for her.

Sounds amazing, doesn't it? I thought so too! Molly Lee is billed as a Historical Fiction/Adventure book, and I can absolutely see why. 

Now, since you've been so very patient, it's time to find out what Danny the dog is doing up at the top of this post! It seems, that he's hijacked Mr. Joyce's guest post for today. I can't say I'm upset about it though, because he's quite charming for a dog ;). Read on my friends, and don't forget to add Molly Lee to your reading list

Add it: Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Kobo | Smashwords

My name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. Jessica has been kind enough to allow me a little space on her blog to promote my latest book, MOLLY LEE. It’s averaging 4.9 stars on Amazon. It is also available in paperback. Please check it out. Here’s the link:

I would love to tell you all about it, but instead, I have to turn the writing duties over to my dog whose name is Danny. You see, he can be pretty insistent at times. We recently had some excitement in our lives and he can’t wait to tell you about it. For what it’s worth, this is a true story. And when you are finished reading it, please click on the link to my book and check it out. Danny is not the only genius in our household.

Danny and the Three Monsters

Hello dog fans, it is I, Danny the Dog! I haven’t been writing much lately because I’ve been helping my human, whose name is Andrew, look after three Labrador retrievers. What a nightmare! There is Chloe, who is fourteen months old, and then there is Beau and Hank. They are both four months old and they are holy terrors. They live on a boat down at the end of the dock. Their human was going out of town and he asked my human to look after them and Andrew, being the idiot that he is, said yes.

First of all, I want to say to Jeff, the human that lives with the three monsters, don’t ever leave them in Andrew’s care again. I wouldn’t trust him to look after a taco, much less three dogs.

The trouble started right away. Jeff had two crates (humans call them crates; I call them cages) for Beau and Hank because, as I’ve said, they are holy terrors. Andrew went over to take them for their first walk after Jeff left, and of course, he has to take me along to help out. Anyway, Andrew gets them out of the crates and is getting them off the boat when clumsy Hank falls into the water.

Let me paint the picture for you. It was nighttime. It was dark. The water was dark and Hank is black. Andrew and I could see nothing of Hank. We could only hear him splashing around. The dock is about five feet above the water so Andrew couldn’t get him out by standing on the dock. Being the genius that he is (just kidding), Andrew got on the swim platform, which—for you landlubbers—is attached to the back of a boat and is only a foot above the water.

Now this is where Andrew’s “genius” comes into play. He took off his glasses and placed them on the transom so they wouldn’t slip off while he was bending over to pull Hank out of the water. He called to Hank. Hank swam over and Andrew got him onto the boat. Then Andrew went to get his glasses and they were not there or anywhere else on the boat. It looked as though Beau knocked them into the water because he had his paws up in that general vicinity while he was watching Andrew rescue his brother (they’re twins). All this in the first five minutes of Andrew looking after the monsters. And it only got better, and by better, I mean worse. I had a ball watching Andrew trying to cope for four days.

On to the next disaster, but first a side note. For some reason Beau is enthralled with me. The damn dog wouldn’t leave me alone. He put his snoot in my face, ran around me, bounced around me; he was a royal pain in my rear end. Finally, I had to growl at him and give him a little nip on his snoot to get some peace.

Now back to Andrew’s genius. We got the dogs back on the boat without further mishaps. Andrew fed them and all was well. But then Andrew decided not to put Hank and Beau in their crates. He felt sorry for them being cooped up like that. Big mistake!

The next morning when we went to get them, there was poop everywhere. The whole floor was covered in it. The babies had gotten into the dog food bag, ripped it open and ate it all. Then they pooped everywhere and walked in it. They got it on the couch, on the sliding glass doors, on everything. I think even on the ceiling. Needless to say, after spending two hours cleaning it all up, Andrew changed his mind about the crates.

Last night we were hanging out. Andrew was staring into space because he did not have his glasses and could not read a book or see the computer screen. I was on the computer starting this story when Chloe came onto our boat. She’s always coming here and stealing my water bowl! To date, she has taken five. But she should have been locked up on her own boat! Andrew got up, looked out, saw Jeff, and said, “Thank God! Thank God!” I barked the same thing. Our days of taking care of the monsters were over. Thank God!

P.S. This morning Jeff came over with Andrew’s glasses. Beau had taken them and hidden them in his stash place. And by the way, I have my own Facebook page and it’s a lot cooler than Andrew’s. Here’s a link:

Andrew Joyce lives on a boat in
Fort Lauderdale, Florida with his dog, Danny.

You can find him here:

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Cover Love: Blood in the Water by Tash McAdam

Happy Saturday ladies and gents! 

I'm a big fan of Glass House Press, and all the things they do. Their authors are amazing, and so I always rush to give them any promotional space they ask for. Plus, I can't deny I'm a sucker for a good cover.

Are you ready for some cover love?


Glass House Press is proud – and slightly giddy – to announce Tash McAdam’s latest YA Fantasy novella, BLOOD IN THE WATER – the first in the Warp Weavers series!

BLOOD IN THE WATER is Glass House’s first book by a queer author, and features brand new LGBTQ characters and storylines. We’re very excited about this novella, and hope you will be, too!

Sea Serpents. In the Thames.

There have always been warps—tears between realities—and they’ve always been a threat to humanity. Most people are blind to them. But Hallie’s eyes are opening. Now that she’s going to school at the Protectorate, she’s learning there’s more to life than fun and games.

The truth is, she’s just become part of Earth’s only shield against the monsters of the warps. Before, she didn’t think she was anything special. Now, yanked from her relatively normal life, she realizes that she doesn’t have a choice.

When the emergency alarm sounds, calling everyone in the school to arms, even the young and inexperienced are needed. As one of the warp weavers—capable of closing the warps and stopping the monsters—Hallie must now work to save lives. And she must do it in the most complicated situation she’s ever experienced. Because there are sea serpents in the Thames, and Hallie has to close the doors that are letting them in.

The problem is, the warps are underwater. And the sea monsters are hungry.

Now everyone is relying on her, and Hallie must find a way to do her job—with a brand new partner—before it’s too late. Because if she fails she’ll die, along with everyone who’s depending on her.

Find Tash McAdam:

Read this book:

Friday, June 26, 2015

Book Review: Siren's Fury (Storm Siren #2) by Mary Weber

Media Type: Ebook
Title: Siren's Fury
Series: Storm Siren #2
Author: Mary Weber
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Pages: Hardcover; 368
Release Date: June 2, 2015
Source: Publisher
Content Screening: Nothing of note.

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who enjoyed the first book in the series and are looking for a follow up.

Add it on: Goodreads | BookLikes | Amazon
“I thrust my hand toward the sky as my voice begs the Elemental inside me to waken and rise. But it’s no use. The curse I’ve spent my entire life abhorring—the thing I trained so hard to control—no longer exists.”

Nym risked her life to save Faelen, her homeland, from a losing war, only to discover that the shapeshifter Draewulf has stolen everything she holds dear. But when the repulsive monster robs Nym of her storm-summoning abilities as well, the beautiful Elemental realizes her war is only just beginning.

Now powerless to control the elements that once emboldened her, Nym stows away on an airship traveling to the metallic kingdom of Bron. She must stop Draewulf. But the horrors he’s brought to life and the secrets of Bron are more than Nym bargained for. Then the disturbing Lord Myles tempts her with new powers that could destroy the monster, and Nym must decide whether she can compromise in the name of good even if it costs her very soul.

As she navigates the stark industrial cityscape of Bron, Nym is faced with an impossible choice: change the future with one slice of a blade . . . or sacrifice the entire kingdom for the one thing her heart just can’t let go.

So, this book was a bit of a quandary. If you'll recall from my review of the first book in this series, I loved the supporting characters but wasn't a huge fan of Nym's unwillingness to fight. I also desperately wished for more world-building and less romance. Picking up Siren's Fury, I mouthed a silent wish that those things would be altered and started reading. Bright side, they were! Down side, not quite the way I'd hoped.

Let's start with the positive points. First off, I was finally given a Nym who had some fire! Granted, it took a decent portion of the story for her to get to that point, but I cheered her on as she finally made actual decisions instead of waffling back and forth. I liked her character much more this time around and, although I missed some of the characters from the first book, it made this read much quicker and more enjoyable. Oh sure, Nym's decisions weren't always fabulous. Still, I was happy to see a girl who was willing to fight back. There still wasn't quite the amount of world-building I was hoping for, but Bron did come sharper into focus. This time around I finally felt like I was more firmly settled into the story. While Nym, Rasha and Lord Myles were hatching their schemes, I was right on board.

Sadly, the two things I asked for were there in place of the two things I loved the first time. As I mentioned, my favorite characters weren't in this particular book. I missed Colin's humor, and his ability to break up the monotony. Also Nym spends a lot of time in her head, trying to make heads or tails of the things she has facing her. That meant that all the new characters, including Rasha, didn't get much face time. They felt a little flat. As for the romance? Well, it was definitely much less of an issue in this story. Except, the emotional ties were still very much there. Nym made a lot of bad decisions because of her inability to separate emotion from action.

So, once again, I have to give this book three stars. I definitely enjoyed it much more than the first, and I'm glad to see that Nym is developing as a character! Alas, I don't think I'll be following her to the final book in this trilogy. It's not a bad series, by any means. It's more that I'm looking for something to blow me away.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Guest Post + Giveaway: Scar of the Downers by Scott Keen

Hello bookish people! I have quite the book to share with you today, written by an author who already has my attention with the guest post that's he's saved for today. Are you a Fantasy reader? Do you love sweeping stories with vivid characters? I do believe you'll be just as excited about Scar of the Downers as I am.

Goodreads | B&N | Amazon
Branded on the slaves in the Northern Reaches beyond Ungstah, the scar marks each one as a Downer. It is who they are. There is no escaping this world. Still, strange things are stirring.

Two foreigners ride through the Northern Reaches on a secret mission. An unknown cloaked figure wanders the streets of the dark city of Ungstah. What they want no one can be sure, but it all centers around a Downer named Crik.

Crik, too scared to seek freedom, spends his days working in his master’s store, avoiding the spirit-eating Ash Kings, and scavenging food for himself and his best friend, Jak. Until he steals from the wrong person. When Jak is sold to satisfy the debt, Crik burns down his master’s house and is sentenced to death.

To survive, Crik and his friends must leave behind their life of slavery to do what no other Downer has ever done before – escape from the city of Ungstah.

Now that I have your attention, please enjoy the guest post below! I love when authors share their favorite books, and I had fun nodding in agreement while reading this one :). Make sure to go all the way to the bottom of this post too, for a giveaway, and don't forget to add Scar of the Downers to your reading list!

I was in a scriptwriting program in graduate school (screenplays and play scripts), but I also had this hidden desire during that time to write a novel. I just didn’t feel that I knew where to start, for it seemed too daunting. Then I read The Book of the Dun Cow by Walter Wangarin, Jr., and it inspired me. I loved the novelty of this book. It was different and imaginative, and even though the characters were animals, they were as nuanced, complex, and flawed as humans.

My list of favorite books would not be complete without including the work of J.R.R Tolkien (The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings). To me, he’s the forerunner of epic fantasy, and I love all of his books and tales, even the lesser known ones (Smith of Wootton Major & Farmer Giles of Ham). The way that he developed Middle Earth and the characters within that world is amazing and awe-inspiring. If I ever need to escape from this world, I know I can visit the Shire or Rivendell and be immediately taken away on an adventure.

I think it’s that element of “going away on an adventure” that made me really like A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. In all of Dickens’ novels, you encounter interesting characters and elaborate storylines, but Two Cities is one of his most adventurous. I lean toward stories that show characters doing the right thing in difficult times, and in this one, the main character, Sydney Carton sacrifices for the one that he loves with no gain for himself. Stories like this one make me want to be good and noble and make me strive to be a better man.

And I’ve never found a better story of self-sacrifice, duty, and love than Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. Here is a broad, epic story of a country in turmoil, but also a highly personal, extremely detailed story of the redemption of one man.

Rounding out this list of my favorite books was difficult. There are so many that I love that it was difficult to choose. But as I was narrowing the choices down, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte kept coming back to me. I’m not sure what I was expecting when I read this, but it certainly wasn’t the dark, disturbing novel that Bronte wrote. Here were characters that had so many horrible things happen to them and who did horrible things to one another, and yet I still liked them. The story was electric at times with elements of fantasy and magic. It made an impression on me that was difficult to shake.

Overall, it is difficult to pick only five books (which I didn’t if you count all of Tolkien’s works) that had an influence on me. Each story I read impacts me in ways I’m aware of and in others way I’m not.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Scott grew up in Black River, NY, the youngest of three children. While in law school, he realized he didn’t want to be a lawyer. So he did the practical thing – he became a writer. Now, many years later with an MFA in script and screenwriting, he is married with four daughters, two of whom he homeschools.
Find Scott: Website | Goodreads | Twitter


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Book Excerpt and Giveaway: BlindSight by Susan Peterson Wisnewski

Go ahead, celebrate. We're half way through the week! If there's one thing I love about Wednesday is that we're one step closer to Friday.

Today we have Susan Peterson Wisnewski's and her book, Blindsight. This book intrigued me as soon as I read the description and I am looking forward to reading it! If you've been following the tour, this is stop number 18! 

Life is already bad enough after Tisha Adams loses both her job and her beautiful Manhattan apartment. Living in a musty garage apartment and working for her uncle in Queens, her life is upended when she witnesses a murder on her train commute.

When the body disappears, she teams up with Detective Murphy, a man with mysterious abilities. But Tisha is keeping a secret of her own, a skill she’s always hated and feared. The dead speak to her. And if she touches a person, their past, present and future are revealed to her.

But as the body count rises, and those closest to Tisha are drawn into the nightmare, Tisha’s only choice is to reach out to her estranged grandmother to learn more about her intuitive talents. In a race against the clock to rescue those in danger and solve the murders, she’ll need all her abilities. Even the gift she’s been afraid to use. The dead will speak, but only if she’s willing to listen.

Buy Links: Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

Sound like something up your alley? Intrigued, and wanting more? We've got you covered! Check out this excerpt, scroll to the bottom for a giveaway, and don't forget to add BlindSight to your reading list!

Relief exuded from my pores, “Oh Daddy,” I squealed and raced to the door to unlock the latch. “What happened? It’s completely black outside.”

“Must be downed power lines or a blown transformer. I don't understand why the backup generators didn't kick in. I heard a scream and was worried. Are you okay?” he asked.

“It was so dark. I thought I was losing my mind.”

“Honey, you're fine. Everything will be fine.” He leaned over and gave me a big hug. I could smell his scent: an earthy mix of musk and sandalwood. He was into incense.

“I brought you a lantern. Should be good until I can get hold of your brother and figure out how he set up the generator. I thought I was the mad scientist in the family able to handle anything, but his configuration has me scratching my head. Want to come down to the garage and help?”

“If you need me, but I don't want to get in the way.”

“Honey, don't be silly. I might need an extra hand.”

“Okay let me throw on some shoes.” I moved the lantern toward my closet and pulled out a pair of sneakers. I sleep in a cozy pair of college sweats and had on a pair of socks.

Susan Peterson Wisnewski is an indie author from the northeast. She writes thrillers and paranormal with a sprinkling of chick lit and horror.

From a cruncher of numbers to a stringer of words, she decided it was time to follow her dreams and put down on paper all of those stories that floated around in her head. Raised in New York City and Long Island, she is a consummate shopaholic having been given the gift of style from her mother and grandmother. When not writing, she can be found shopping, visiting museums, gardening, or being walked by her oversized puppy.

Her books are a genre mix all neatly packaged together. Surprise and twists keep her readers guessing and she has been accused of writing books that can’t be put down. Pushing characters to challenges themselves is her trademark as is a creating strong female characters – no damsels in distress here. Her inspiration comes from seeing a situation and then enhancing it to create an unusual story line. And yes, she does see ghosts, or spirits as they prefer to be called and has had her run ins with a fairy or two.

If you have a book club and live on Long Island or in the Southern Vermont area, she’d be happy to come for a visit.

Find her: Twitter | Facebook | Website

Monday, June 22, 2015

Book Spotlight + Giveaway: In An Instant by Janae Mitchell

Today I have the honor of helping Janae Mitchell share her brand new release, In An Instant. For those of you out there who enjoy contemporary romance, this might be right up your alley!

Sixteen year old Emersyn Moore spends her summer days working part-time in a book store, enjoying her next read, and hanging out with her best friend, Brianna. She also spends a lot of time admiring Brianna’s older brother, Kaden, who has made it clear that he sees Emersyn as nothing more than a sister. Emersyn concedes to her sisterly role, keeping her feelings to herself, as well as the fantasies she knows will never become reality. However, when Kaden is involved in a disabling accident, everything changes, including their relationship.

Will it tear them apart, making her long for the sisterly role she’d always despised, or will this life altering experience bring them closer together, forcing Kaden to see her in a new light? Only time will tell.

Time. They say it will heal all wounds, but Emersyn knows that’s a lie. Some wounds never heal, which is evident every time she looks at Kaden.

If this sounds like something  you'd be interested in, read on! There's goodies galore below, including a giveaway from Janae Mitchell herself! Enjoy, and happy reading!

"In An Instant is the one story that has come from my heart more than any other book I've written. Kaden, one of the main characters, suffers injuries that most would think would make life unlivable, at least to the point where a normal life would never be accomplished. However, my nephew suffered the same fate in a similar accident, and even though his life's story is totally different than Kaden's, both lives give me hope. Every time I see my nephew smile, it's like a rainbow, letting me know that the storms of life, as severe as they may seem, are only temporary. The sun will always return, and it's up to us as to how we're going to enjoy it."

About the Author

“First & foremost, I'm a country girl. I'm no different than most, I just happen to write... a lot. If I’m not writing books, I’m reading them. I live for the HEA! I'm a huge fan of readers! They breathe life into the books we give birth to. Thank you, fellow readers, for making books come alive.”
Janae was born and raised in East Tennessee, where she currently resides with her husband, two children, and their hairless dog, Dobby. In her spare time, she likes to read, play tennis, and spend time with her family on the lake.

Online Release Event 

To celebrate her most recent release, Janae is hosting an IN AN INSTANT Release Event! There will be several other authors there throughout the day celebrating with her and doing giveaways for all the loyal readers who attend, so make sure you join! (Click on event photo below to join!)


FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Graphic Novel Review: Ms. Marvel, Volume 2: Generation Why

Title: Ms. Marvel, Volume 2: Generation Why
Author: G. Willow Wilson
Illustrator: Adrian Alphona
Publisher: Marvel
Pages: Trade Paperback; 136
Recommended Age Group: 13+
Release Date: April 7, 2015
Source: Library

Who is the Inventor, and what does he want with the all-new Ms. Marvel and all her friends? Maybe Wolverine can help! Kamala may be fan-girling out when her favorite (okay maybe Top Five) super hero shows up, but that won't stop her from protecting her hometown. Then, Kamala crosses paths with Inhumanity for the first time - by meeting the royal dog, Lockjaw! Every girl wants a puppy, but this one may be too much of a handful, even for a super hero with embiggening powers. But why is Lockjaw really with Kamala? As Ms. Marvel discovers more about her past, the Inventor continues to threaten her future. The fan-favorite, critically acclaimed, amazing new series continues as Kamala Khan proves why she's the best (and most adorable) new super hero there is!

After reading this second volume, I can't help wishing that this series had been out when I was still a teen. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely adore Kamala right now and I'm well past my teen years. I just keep imagining how much earlier I would have found the world of comics if only things I could relate to were out there! I've never been a huge superhero fan. The physics-defying outfits that female heroes were put into just pushed me away. Kamala though? She's sweet, she's slightly accident prone, and she fan-girls like all the rest of us. What's not to love?

That being said, this second volume is great! More of what I loved in the first, plus a lot more action going on. I can't get over how many times I giggle while reading these. The creators of this amazing series have managed to pack the whole shebang into one volume. You have adorable Kamala, fan-girling over meeting her favorite X-Men member. You have a message to teens that, despite what they may hear, they've got a lot of importance riding on their shoulders. That they are the future. You also have Kamala trying desperately to make her superhero life and her "normal" life mesh. It seems like a lot, but it works beautifully.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. This series is well worth your time! Whether you go into it because you love the Marvel Universe, or to experience the absolutely stunning artwork, or simply because you want to see a person of color as a fabulous main character, pick this up! You won't regret it.

Want to read it?


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Book Review: Backward Compatible by Sarah Daltry & Pete Clark

Media Type: ebook
Title: Backward Compatible
Author: Sarah Daltry & Pete Clark
Publisher: Self
Pages: Paperback, 314
Release Date: December 10, 2013
Source: Author
Content Screening: Strong Language and some Sexual Situations

HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who are into video game culture and sarcasm

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | BookLikes
Not too long ago, in a town that, depending on your current location, is either not super far or actually quite close...

It is a time of chaotic hormones.

Two nerdy gents home for winter break have discovered a female gamer at a midnight release.

During the break, the gamer trio manages to reveal the game's secret boss, a hidden enemy with enough power to destroy anything in its path.

Pursued by other gamers who want to be the first to beat this boss, George and Katie race to level up, and, in so doing, restore decency and sexual activity to their personal galaxy...
This book is definitely for video game lovers who enjoy the "geek culture". The narration switches back and forth between Katie and George as they meet, game, and deal with the trials and tribulations of young adult dating.

As a self proclaimed geeky person, I was excited to dive into this. While it was definitely a light and fun read, I wanted something more. It took me a while to get through the book because it was so detailed in the dialogue and video game explanations. Don't get me wrong, it was a funny story full of snarky characters and the all around goofiness of a group of gamers, but I wanted a little more depth.

Katie and George are both shy and relatively inexperienced in the dating world and reading through their awkward sorta-kinda-dates was adorable and hilarious. From late night Denny's treks to the dreaded hanging at the mall, it really is about the company you keep. I enjoyed the banter between Katie, George, Lanyon and all of the other supporting characters.

What kept this from being a higher rated book for me was the feeling I had when I finished the book. I wanted more character growth or some kind of learning experience. This was not that. It was a light, fun story of a boy meeting a girl.

All in all, if you don't mind some foul language, sarcasm and enjoy stories about gamers (that remind you a little too much of your young adult years) then I would highly recommend this.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Book Review: Station Eleven: A Novel by Emily St. John Mandel

Media Type: Print Book
Title: Station Eleven: A Novel
Author: Emily St. John Mandel
Publisher: Knopf
Pages: Hardcover; 352
Release Date: September 4, 2014
Source: Library
Genre: Science Fiction

HDB Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Readers who want a new take on a post-apocalyptic world.

Add it on: Goodreads | Amazon | BookLikes
An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

One snowy night Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production ofKing Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur’s chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside an apartment, watching out the window as cars clog the highways, gunshots ring out, and life disintegrates around them.

Fifteen years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Written on their caravan, and tattooed on Kirsten’s arm is a line from Star Trek: “Because survival is insufficient.” But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who digs graves for anyone who dares to leave.

Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty. As Arthur falls in and out of love, as Jeevan watches the newscasters say their final good-byes, and as Kirsten finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the prophet, we see the strange twists of fate that connect them all. A novel of art, memory, and ambition, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.
Beautiful. Though it feels odd to say it, Station Eleven was beautiful. It's hard to wrap my head around the fact that a book dealing with such a catastrophic event could be described that way. A plague that kills 99% of the population doesn't seem like something that could ever be beautiful. But it's the silence afterwards. The quiet. The little pieces of humanity that still exist in harmony. All of that is beautiful. Emily St. John Mandel has created this "after" world, and she's done it expertly.

I remember a weekend, about a year ago, when all the electricity on our block went down. A transformer had blown, and it took a good 48 hours for them to fix. My husband and I lived by candlelight that weekend. We ate whatever we could that didn't need to be refrigerated, because opening that door meant possibly needing to binge on the food within. We read quietly in the fading light, and went to bed when it was too dark to see anymore. I remember thinking how beautiful the sky was over our apartment. It's amazing how many stars you can see when all those ambient lights aren't blotting them out.

Things like this are exactly what Station Eleven is all about. Each character who graces us with their presence, has a story to tell about the before and the after. My eyes misted as they shared the things they always took for granted. The ability to send an email. To hear a loved ones voice over the phone. To fly up into the sky, and arrive somewhere hundreds of miles away in a few hours. This is a soft story. There isn't much violence, and where there is it is absolutely necessary. Instead, this is a story of remembrance. Of hope. Of preserving the good.

There's not much else for me to say. In order to fully appreciate the depth that this story has, you'll need to experience it. What I can say, is that it made me revisit a part of myself I always ignore. The part that actually realizes how lucky we all are, but writes it off because that's just normal life. St. John Mandel reminds us not to take anything for granted. To live life with no regrets, and not as a sleepwalker. I needed that reminder, and I'm so thankful that I picked up this book.

FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.


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