Drift Stumble Fall by M. Jonathan Lee

Full-cover-final-353x539Drift Stumble Fall
By M. Jonathan Lee
Publisher: Hideaway Fall
ISBN: 9780995492349
Pages: 310
Genre: Fiction/Contemporary

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Richard feels trapped in his hectic life of commitment and responsibility.  From the daily mayhem of having young children, an exhausted wife and pushy in-laws who frequently outstay their welcome, Richard’s existence fills him with panic and resentment. The only place he can escape the dark cloud descending upon him is the bathroom, where he hides for hours on end, door locked, wondering how on earth he can escape.

Often staring out of his window, Richard enviously observes the tranquil life of Bill, his neighbour living in the bungalow across the road.  From the outside, Bill’s world appears filled with comfort and peace.  Yet underneath the apparent domestic bliss of both lives are lies, secrets, imperfections, sadness and suffering far greater than either could have imagined.  Beneath the surface, a family tragedy has left Bill frozen in time and unable to move on.  As he waits for a daughter who may never return, Bill watches Richard’s bustling family life and yearns for the joy it brings.  As the two men watch each other from afar, it soon becomes apparent that other people’s lives are not always what they seem.


My Thoughts

After having read Broken Branches last year, I was certain I would connect with this latest title by M Jonathan Lee. Add my recent interview with the author discussing his important work with mental health and own personal connections, and picking up Drift Stumble Fall felt not only easy but necessary. Simply put, I was compelled do to so, much like I was compelled to finish this book in two small sittings.

The skinny..

Feeling caught in a life of neverending routine & responsibilities, Richard a father of two young children finds himself frequently searching for any form of escape. That escape seems to be limited to his few moments alone, locked away in the bathroom and attempting to drown out the noise and any reminder of his repetitive days. Seeing his neighbor Bill across the street, he desires to trade places. He envies Bill’s peaceful, noneventful life. Unknowingly to Richard, it is a life overshadowed by loss and grief. Bill spends his days longing for the happiness of family and commitments that surely Richard must have. But life is never as simple as it appears on the outside.

What I appreciated..

  • M Jonathan Lee’s incredible ability to immerse the reader deep within the mind of the protagonist.
  • The poetically raw and honest look at life and constant reminder that there are two sides to every coin.
  • The fact that this was not an entirely easy read, as we are exploring the internal struggles that come with exhaustion, depression and even grief.
  • The viable family life portrayed throughout that felt at times reminiscent of my own.
  • A beautifully executed narrative that explores life and its many difficulties through two varying perspectives.

Challenges some may encounter..

  • The slower paced progression and repetitiveness that is utilized to accomplish the themes contained within successfully (they serve their purpose well but be will be difficult for some readers).

Drift Stumble Fall is a heart-rending novel that dives beneath the comforting familiarities and truly explores the human condition. It is that constant and steadfast reminder that life affects each of us on varying levels and cannot be taken at face value.

*I would like to thank Hideaway Fall and the author for this copy. The above review is my own, unbiased and honest opinion.

tea cup

 

The winter setting pairs wonderfully with a nice cup of chai.

Grab a Copy: Amazon.com Amazon.UK

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Happy Reading,

Danielle ❤

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Author Interview with Erin Jensen

EJ Author InterviewI am excited to have Erin Jensen, the author of the Dream Water Series, back on the blog today for an interview and to share the latest installment in her series, Dream Sight.


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1. Dream Waters was a truly unique and beautiful experience for myself as a reader. Can you describe where your drew inspiration for the story from or how the idea first came to you?

Thank you, Danielle. It’s always touching to hear a reader say that my story my story spoke to them. I work as a pharmacist by day, and my career has given me the opportunity to converse with mentally ill individuals at many points along the spectrum of sanity — from the unmedicated schizophrenic to the well-adjusted, high functioning properly medicated patient. In every conversation I’ve had with these individuals, no matter how coherent, I’ve looked into their eyes and seen a soul struggling to connect—to be understood and respected. These poor souls carry such an immense burden, living in the same world as the rest of us and yet perceiving it as something entirely different. It’s heartbreaking to witness. I suppose at it’s heart, DREAM WATERS is my completely fictional attempt to comprehend why mental illness exists.

Originally, DREAM WATERS was meant to be Book 2 in my series. It was going to be the backstory for one of my side characters (Charlie), who was the cousin of one of my original main characters. A few chapters into the writing of my original Book 1, I felt the need to step aside and write a bit of that backstory to get a better feel of where Charlie was coming from. Several chapters in, my husband asked when I was going to get back to writing Book 1. That’s when I realized that this was Book 1. Who knows? Maybe I’ll go back to that original story one day—although, I suspect it’d need a massive overhaul because my writing has matured quite a bit since that original project.

2. Charlie felt incredibly familiar as a protagonist. I found myself establishing a connection with him almost immediately. Was his character or traits influenced by anyone in your life?

No, Charlie just sort of came to me. He’s not modeled after anyone real. Although, I always picture my books playing out like movies in my head. In fact, when I create a character, I almost always pick an actual actor to play the role in my mind. When I describe their physical traits and mannerisms, I am usually describing that actor. I’ll often watch YouTube clips of their movies and interviews before sitting down to write to keep their mannerisms fresh in my mind. Charlie has always been played by Rupert Grint (minus the red hair) in my mind.

3. Has the experience of publishing your first book in this series changed your writing process with the 2nd and 3rd books in anyway?

Absolutely! There is definitely a learning curve to every step of the writing, editing and publishing process. I’ve learned (and continue to learn) what works best for me along the way. It’s a much smoother process once you develop a rhythm. To be truthful, I wasn’t entirely sure what I was doing the first time around. Now, I almost always begin with a rough outline, written on index cards. Each scene I envision becoming a part of the book is jotted down (just a brief sentence or two) on a card. That makes it easy to rearrange the order of events, just by rearranging the cards, adding and subtracting new chapter ideas as I go along. When I’m not sure what should happen next, I can flip through the cards to decide what direction to take in the next chapter. I’ve also found a great group of beta readers to give me feedback on my first drafts. And once the manuscript goes to my editor, I start right in on the next book.

4. I obviously hold Charlie very close as far as protagonists go. Who are your favorite character(s) in the series and why?

I do have my favorites, but I don’t share them because I don’t want to give anything away to readers who haven’t read all the books yet. I love all of my characters (with the exception of Frank. He’s not very lovable). My favorite chapters to write are the ones from the point of view of characters who are nothing at all like me. There’s something thrilling about slipping inside the mind of a villainous character or a crotchety old man and telling their tale. Every character is a product of their circumstances and life experiences. There is always a reason for the rage or hatred or whatever sort of passion drives them. I find it fascinating to unravel what makes them tick and what drives them to do the despicable things that they do.

5. If I understand correctly, there are at least 4 books planned for this series. Do you have a conclusion in mind at this point or are you sort of just seeing where the story takes you?

Yes, there will be at least four books in the series, maybe more depending on how long it takes to cover everything I intend to. The conclusion will be a little of both. There are some plot points that are set in stone, and have been from the beginning—but even stone can be smashed. Sometimes the characters have a mind of their own and when I sit down to write, their veer off in an entirely different direction than I intended. Sometimes you just have to go where the story (and the characters) take you. I suppose that’s only right, considering it’s their story.

6. The cover art for the series is gorgeous! Could you share a bit with us about the process and how it came into existence?

Thank you! I adore my covers and their designer—who also happens to be my husband.
I originally hired a professional designer for my first book cover. After months of anticipation, he sent me a cover that was a complete disappointment. I’m pretty picky about my cover art because that’s what first grabs the reader’s attention. They always say “don’t judge a book by its cover” but let’s be honest, everyone does. If the cover doesn’t catch your eye, you’ll never even pick up the book. Fortunately, I discovered that my husband is amazing at bringing my visions to life. He always gives me the credit because the concepts are mine, but capturing the feel of the book in an eye catching way is an impressive skill. I’m lucky that we make a pretty great team!

7. I know you have a family and work as a pharmacist also. What has been your biggest challenge as a writer?

Time!! Finding the time to write, edit and promote my books is always a challenge. But I squeeze it in whenever I can because it’s absolutely worth it to me. I rarely sit down to watch television before eleven o’clock at night — and more often than not, I fall asleep ten minutes into whether we’re watching. I spend most free minutes during the day doing something bookish. If it isn’t writing or editing, it’s promoting my books on social media or answering interview questions or—my current project—tying ribbons on bookmarks to hand out at signings. If I could add a few extra hours of uninterrupted writing time to my day, I definitely would!

8. Have you written or are you working on or planning any titles outside of the Dream Waters series? What’s next?

Yes, I have been working on an unrelated book lately. I don’t want to give too much away just yet, but the concept for the book was inspired by a character from the show Supernatural. I recently posted a picture of the characters on Facebook with the caption “Random question: Do any of my FB friends watch this show?” because I was hoping to find some Supernatural fans to beta read and it turns out, a ton of my friends watch the show. My favorite response to the FB post was a reader who said “My youngest son is named Dean Samuel!” The book is still in its infancy, but I’ll be sure to share more details with my readers later on!

9. What is the most important thing you have taken away from your experience as a writer?

I would have to say self confidence. I have a lot more self confidence than I started out with. It’s a terrifying step to put yourself out there and share your labor of love with the world. I didn’t even tell most people in my life that I’d written a book until shortly before I released DREAM WATERS. The response from everyone I know—coworkers, friends, family, former fellow students, pharmacy customers, etc.—has been overwhelmingly positive. I am so glad I worked up the courage to share my stories with the world because there is nothing I would rather do.

10. Last but least, I always ask: Do you drink tea and if so, what is your preferred cup?

I do drink tea, although I am more of a coffee drinker. My favorite is chai tea with a splash of milk.
Thanks for the interview, Danielle! As always, it’s been a pleasure chatting with you!


dreamsightbk 1
Dream Sight (Dream Waters #3)
By Erin A Jensen
Publisher: Dream Waters Publishing
ISBN: 9780997171273
Pages: 496
Genre: Adult Contemporary/Fantasy

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Synopsis: 

The clock is ticking for Emma Talbot—if her dormant memories don’t resurface soon, her past will be forever lost to her—but that’s the least of her worries. Abducted from her home by her husband’s worst enemy, Emma is running out of time in more ways than one.

No longer bound by any limits—moral or physical—the Dragon King sets off on a rampage to discover the whereabouts of his missing wife and retrieve her from the monster who took her. And any creature who is fool enough to stand in his way may well condemn himself to a fate worse than death.

As the royal family’s crisis escalates, Charlie has his own struggles to deal with. The weight of the world now rests on his shoulders and although he is physically capable of shouldering the burden in his emergent form, his ability to control the bestial urges that accompany his newfound power might be another story.

Purchase: Amazon.com

dreamwatersDream Waters (Dream Waters #1)
Purchase: Amazon  iTunes  Barnes&Noble  Kobo

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dreamworldDream World (Dream Waters #2)
Purchase: Amazon  iTunes  Barnes&Noble  Kobo

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image1bio

Erin Jensen is the international best selling author of the Dream Waters series. A part-time pharmacist and a full-time creator of imaginary worlds, she lives in upstate New York with her ridiculously supportive husband, two sons (who are both taller than her) and a Yorkshire terrier who thinks he’s the family bodyguard. She once vowed to get a dragon tattoo when her books reached a milestone number of reviews, but she no longer divulges that number— for fear that she might actually reach it and have to go through with it!

Follow Erin: Website  Twitter  Goodreads


I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Erin for her time today and also a huge congratulations for making the best-selling list!

Happy Reading!

Danielle ❤

Connect With Me: FacebookTwitterTumblr and Instagram

My Name is Venus Black by Heather Lloyd

Book Review


mynameisvenusblackbkreviewtemp1 (3)
My Name is Venus Black
By Heather Lloyd
Release Date: 2/27/18
Publisher: Dial Press
ISBN: 9780399592188
Pages: 368
Genre: YA Fiction

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Synopsis:

I think about this a lot lately, trying to figure out how I got here. I trace my life back in time, looking for all those places in the past where, if I could change one key detail, I would never have seen what I saw or done what I did that terrible February night. 

Venus Black is a straitlaced, straight-A student obsessed with the phenomena of astronomy—until the night she commits a shocking crime that tears her family apart and ignites a media firestorm. Venus refuses to talk about what happened or why, except to blame her mother. Adding to the mystery, Venus’s developmentally challenged younger brother, Leo, suddenly goes missing.

Five years later, Venus emerges from prison with a suitcase of used clothes, a fake identity, and a determination to escape her painful past. Estranged from her mother, and with her brother still missing, she sets out to make a fresh start, skittish and alone. But as new people enter her orbit—including a romantic interest and a young girl who seems like a mirror image of her former lost self—old wounds resurface, and Venus realizes that she can’t find a future while she’s running from her past.

In this gripping story, debut novelist Heather Lloyd brilliantly captures ordinary lives upended by extraordinary circumstances. Told through a constellation of captivating voices, My Name Is Venus Black explores the fluidity of right and wrong, the meaning of love and family, and the nature of forgiveness.


thoughts

My Name is Venus Black tells the unpleasant story of 13-year-old Venus Black who has been locked up for a terrible crime that makes national headlines and devastates her family. During her incarceration, Venus struggles with the events that have occurred, blaming her mother and refusing to speak of what has happened or maintain a relationship with her. Tragically, before her release, her younger brother Leo, who the story indicates is autistic, disappears. 5 years later, Venus finds herself thrust back into the real world attempting to scrape together any semblance of a life while coping with the fact that Leo has never returned, and she no longer knows where she belongs.

Told mainly from Venus’ perspective, this was a unique character study that explores what happens when individuals find themselves trapped in terrific circumstances. Venus has done something awful but initially we are not given full details of what has occurred. What is received is a young, angry and closed off teenager who offers little insight. Establishing a connection with Venus is a slow process, but also one that I found to be ultimately rewarding. The author removes those factors of influence and allows us to explore her as an individual before fully divulging what she has done and why.

This is a slower paced story that manages to successfully capture the tension and angst surrounding the characters and their suffering and loss. The plot unfolds through events involving both Venus and Leo. Clever manipulation of time line and revelations provide an experience that feels not only original but gratifying. Narration is clearly defined and fluid, facilitating a somewhat fast read even with the slower pacing. I did find certain moments harder to digest than others, as the topics addressed are heavy ones and possible triggers for some readers. So while I try to avoid spoilers please be aware that there are difficult elements and themes contained within.

Heather Lloyd manages to engage the reader on all emotional fronts while refraining from coaxing them in any specific direction. She simply provides a solid, incredible story and leaves us to our own devices. And it works brilliantly. My only minor complaint might be that the conclusion was the one instance of Venus’ story that felt slightly disconnected from reality, but I highly recommend this to fans of character driven titles with heavy emotional aspects!

*I would like to thank Dial Press & Netgalley for this copy. The review above is my own, unbiased & honest opinion.

Untitled designEnjoyed with a nice cup of Earl Grey & lavender tea.

Purchase Links: Amazon.com Book Depository

Happy Reading,

Danielle ❤

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