A Million Deaths

I’ve died a million times in my mind’s eye
In a detailed plan that repeats like a lullaby
Every road I take leads to the same bleak end
Yet no one else notices as I pretend

I take my last breath, alone and unguided
In a silence so deafening it leaves me divided
It’s almost peaceful, like a calm before the storm
But the truth is, it’s a restless, lonely form

I’ve replayed this scene a million times or more
Each detail perfected, each gesture a chore
It’s the best of the worst, or so it seems
But nothing is guaranteed, nothing is as it seems

So I draw my last breath, in this self-made purgatory
Wishing for someone to hold me, to make it a reality
But it’s just a fantasy, a dream that I can’t touch
Leaving me trapped, in this mind’s cage, feeling so much.

Blog Tour: This Heart of Mine by C.C. Hunter (Review)

“Don’t do anything you know you’ll regret. But do enough to know exactly what you’ll regret and learn to regret less.”

A new heart saved her life—but will it help her find out what really happened to its donor?

Seventeen-year-old Leah MacKenzie is heartless. An artificial heart in a backpack is keeping her alive. However, this route only offers her a few years. And with her rare blood type, a transplant isn’t likely. Living like you are dying isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. But when a heart becomes available, she’s given a second chance at life. Except Leah discovers who the donor was — a boy from her school — and they’re saying he killed himself. Plagued with dreams since the transplant, she realizes she may hold the clues to what really happened.

Matt refuses to believe his twin killed himself. When Leah seeks him out, he learns they are both having similar dreams and he’s certain it means something. While unraveling the secrets of his brother’s final moments, Leah and Matt find each other, and a love they are terrified to lose. But life and even new hearts don’t come with guarantees. Who knew living, took more courage than dying?

Book Links: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Goodreads | Publisher

Personal Thoughts:

This Heart of Mine is a genuine portrayal of life of a teengage girl living with chronic illness with a dose of mystery.

Leah McKenzie’s heart failed due to virus that caused Myocarditis, so she has an external mechanical heart to keep her alive while waiting for a heart that will match her. But with her rare blood type, Leah is not very optimistic in getting a transplant soon.

Matt Kenner has lost his twin brother, Eric after declared brain-dead due to the gunshot in the head. Eric’s heart match to Leah’s need, so she received a new heart the same day Eric’s died. Leah knew Matt and Eric, they attend the same school and live in the same town, and after realizing that she has Eric’ heart, she can’t help but think that Eric is gone and she is alive because of it.

The police ruled Eric’s case as suicide, but Matt doesn’t believe it. He knows his twin brother very well, and he can’t accept that Eric will take his own life. When Matt and Leah finally able to catch up with each other, they learned that they’ve been having the same dreams lately, and it’s all about Eric. Like Eric is telling them something about his death. The two then try to find out what actually happened that night Eric died, hoping to bring justice for Eric.

Told in alternating views between Leah’s first person and Matt’s third person narrative, This Heart of Mine offers story of griefs; from Leah and her family who is dealing with Leah’s condition, to Matt and his mother’s grief after losing not only Eric but also Matt’s Dad, and also those friends who are somehow connected to those who are gone like Eric.

Aside from dealing with griefs, and the mystery of Eric’s death, and more than the romance between Eric and Leah, the story also reminds readers how important it is to live in the moment and take chances in life. With Leah’s condition, Leah doesn’t know how long she has to live. Even with the new heart, there’s still the possibility that her body will reject it. And Leah learn to accept that the hard way. She learns to appreciate whatever time she got and try to live her life as normal as possible. She seize the moment, try to be brave and be happy with her life even with her condition.

“Don’t be afraid to take a chance. Win or lose. That’s what life is, a bunch of chances.”

C.C. Hunter successfully delivered a heart-warming story with a touch of mystery in this first contemporary novel of her.

A story with a heart.
_

* This review is based on an eGalley I received courtesy of the publisher, MacMillan in exchange of honest opinion about the book.

Celebrating Debutantes 2017: Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index by Julie Israel (Playlist and Giveaway)

Hey everyone! A blessed Sunday to all!

Today for Celebrating Debutantes 2017, I am featuring new author Julie Israel and her debut contemporary novel, Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index.

Julie was so nice as to put together a playlist to help us get in the right mood for this new contemporary novel Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index. She explains each songs below with specific scenes that occur in the book. It is like a soundtrack for the novel. I actually just started reading the book, and I can easily picture some of the songs in the background. I’m only few chapters in but I can already say that this is a fun read. I’ll let you know my whole thoughts once I’m done reading.

In the meantime, listen to the playlist below and experience the feel of the story through each songs.

Following the playlist are some information about the author, Julie Israel along with places where to find her online, as well as the book‘s description and where to get copies of Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index. So don’t forget to grab your copies.

Also, there’s a giveaway at the bottom of the post for a chance to win a copy of Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index and signed bookmarks from the author.

Here’s Julie with Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index Playlist. Happy listening!

Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index Playlist

“The Winner Is” by DeVotchKa

Opening scene. Juniper is numb, forever changed, but life marches on with a new school year.

“Hang Me Up To Dry” by Cold War Kids
There is a particularly destructive scene after school early on and I wanted a song that sounded like losing control/breaking things—“the muck and the mire” is just right, because Juniper is up to her elbows in wet clay!

“Without You” by Oh Wonder
At Pippa’s, a local café, Juniper remembers something she and Camilla left on the bulletin board and finds it buried under layers of fliers. It’s a fond memory, but Juniper hates the hole it makes when she takes it, so she leaves a Dala horse (which reminds her of her sister) in its place.

“Bicycle Race” by Queen
When Juniper confesses that she doesn’t remember the whole night of the accident, Brand fills her in on what happened at the party they both attended beforehand, and where the two had an epic musical battle to this Queen hit.

“Ways To Go” by Grouplove
Is setting up squads a thing? Juniper and Kody wander through a da Vinci exhibit, Juniper ebulliently trying out every contraption and marveling at each piece as she secretly stalls and looks around for a classmate—a loner she hopes to pull into their friendship fold.

“Secrets” by One Republic
This may or may not be a kissing song (it may). In the minutes leading up to midnight on New Years Eve, Brand and Juniper are talking. Things get real and vulnerable between them just before the (actual and figurative) fireworks. :39 seconds, baby.

“Knee Socks” by Arctic Monkeys
Brand kidnaps Juniper (i.e., shows up at her house unannounced and introduces himself to her parents) for a date, and then on said date, where his band is opening for an event, attempts to seduce her with music – a song much like this one. It works.

“400 Lux” by Lorde
Brand + Juniper have become BRUNIPER and have a happy, if thus far private, relationship. When he visits her up in the art loft, Juniper invites Brand to be her public +1 for a scavenger hunt that weekend.

“You Could Be Happy” by Snow Patrol
Kody tries to cheer Juniper up and encourages her to reach out to Brand after a fight with him.

“No. 1 Party Anthem” by Arctic Monkeys
Brand and the rest of Muffin Wars are playing a slow song like this when Juniper slips quietly in to the school dance to finally talk to him.

“Love Illumination” by Franz Ferdinand
I always imagined the Muffin Wars rendition of Sponge’s poem, “Crush,” to be upbeat and sexy like this. When they play it at the Shaker, it’s Brand’s revenge for a misunderstanding and ruins Juniper – but damn if it isn’t catchy until it all goes sideways.

“The Funeral” by Band of Horses
Lost and alone, Juniper visits her sister’s grave.

“So Here We Are” by Bloc Party
Juniper and Brand make up. Brand inadvertently gives Juniper the solution she needs to deliver the letter to You, and we transition to J rallying the troops to work on it. As the song fades out, Kody arrives for a heart to heart after their falling out at the Shaker.

“Float On” by Modest Mouse
After executing her special project, Juniper appears to be in serious trouble with the school principal – but Juni’s mom, having just read 65, laugh-cries off Juniper’s offense and throws her arms around her daughter’s neck. Juniper laugh-cries and hugs back.

“The Universe Expanded” by Franz Ferdinand
This song has been the outro/roll credits in my mind since the first time I heard it (really heard it) after finishing the book. The sorrow-touched sweetness is just right for the final scene in Juniper at the beach, and way the lyrics line up to it is UNCANNY. If you only listen one song from the playlist, let it be this!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Julie Israel lives in Portland, Oregon and holds a B.A. in Creative Writing. After a stint teaching English in Japan, she returned to her native state to write fiction full-time. When not writing, she is likely reading, making art, or learning one of too many languages to keep straight. Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index is her first novel.

Find Julie

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Goodreads


ABOUT THE BOOK

Book Details:

Title: Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index
Author: Julie Israel
Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, Audio

It’s been sixty-five days since the accident that killed Juniper’s sister, and ripped Juniper’s world apart.

Then she finds the love letter: written by Camilla on the day of the accident, addressed mysteriously to “You,” but never sent. Desperate to learn You’s identity and deliver the message, Juniper starts to investigate.

Until she loses something. A card from her Happiness Index: a ritual started by sunny Camie for logging positives each day. It’s what’s been holding Juniper together since her death – but a lost card only widens the hole she left behind. And this particular card contains Juniper’s own dark secret: a memory she can’t let anyone else find out.

The search for You and her card take Juniper to even less expected places, and as she connects with those whose secrets she upturns in the effort, she may just find the means to make peace with her own.

This is a smart, funny, poignant book guaranteed to make you laugh and cry – and maybe even take notes.

Book Links:

Amazon | B&N | BookDepo | Goodreads | IndieBound | Publisher

Giveaway:

What’s up for Grab?

  • Either US or UK Edition of Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index by Julie Israel
  • Signed Juniper Postcards

The Rules:

  • Open to International where Book Depository ships
  • There will be one (1) lucky winner
  • Winner will be chosen and announced by rafflecopter
  • Winner will be contacted thru email & should response within 48 hours
  • Ends July 2nd, 2017
  • Prizes will be sent by the author

To enter fill out the rafflecopter form

Good Luck!!!

Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2017 experience. Click the image below for the full list of schedule and links to each feature post or check out twitter and facebook using #CelebratingDebutantes2017.

 

The Death And Life Of Charlie St. Cloud by Ben Sherwood

“We all shine on. You just have to release your hearts, alert your senses, and pay attention. A leaf, a star, a song, a laugh. Notice all the little things, because somebody is reaching out to you.”

I probably wouldn’t have picked up The Death of Charlie St. Cloud if I am not watching the movie adaptation. I was hesitant reading the book first before seeing the movie but based on my experience, most of the time I love the book more than the movie adaptation. So I go with reading it first, so it would not ruin my reading experience with the book.

The book is just a few hundred pages which I finished reading in one sitting for a couple of hours. Which simply states how much I enjoy the book. It’s simply entertaining and heart warming.

More than the love story between Charlie and Tess this book is the love story between the two brothers – Charlie St. Cloud and his younger brother Sam. The connection that the two brothers share is extraordinary and sweet. It is a love so deep, a promise kept so strong and care more than life of their own.

I love the two characters. I envy the connection between them. When Sam lost his life in the accident and Charlie survived, their bond didn’t stop there. Charlie kept his promise to Sam. Somehow it’s good but keeping his promise also means loosing his own life and happiness. Holding on to the past disrupts the person within him. Charlie didn’t care about that until he met Tess and realized his purpose for living. He learned to let go and find his own life and happiness without totally loosing Sam. Sam on the other hand had his own share of sacrifices too by accepting and letting go of his big brother.

I like how the author delivers his story in a perfect paces of actions. It doesn’t take too long to get the story going. Everything is in just a right amount of details. Not too dragging at all. The writing style is flowing with many heart-tugging sweet lines. The descriptive writing is amazing. It has a serene feel to it. I felt like I could feel the breeze of wind, the splash of the water, the smell of the grass and even the spirit ride. I loved every view of it. The author has such amazing way with words, it’s lyrical yet simple. As if the most simple sentences carry so much weight with them. I found myself laughing at some jokes and sympathize from deep conversations.

The story is filled with emotions and life lessons. It will give you hope and make you believe in miracles. The concept of life after death is something interesting. I wonder what’s really out there beyond this life. The story presents choices between two worlds. It shows both the magic in life and the magic in death. The beauty of love, of loss, and of moving on. It is engaging, touching, moving, mystical and full of hope.

Here is the book description from Goodreads:

The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud tells the haunting story of a young man who narrowly survives a terrible car wreck that kills his little brother. Years later, the brothers’ bond remains so strong that it transcends the normal boundaries separating life and death. Charlie St. Cloud lives in a snug New England fishing village. By day he tends the lawns and monuments of the ancient cemetery where his younger brother, Sam, is buried. Graced with an extraordinary gift after surviving the accident, he can still see, talk, and even play catch with Sam’s spirit. But townsfolk whisper that Charlie has never recovered from his loss.

Into his carefully ordered life comes Tess Carroll, a captivating, adventuresome woman training for a solo sailing trip around the globe. Fate steers her boat into a treacherous storm that blows her back to harbor, to a charged encounter with Charlie, and to a surprise more overwhelming than the violent sea itself. Charlie and Tess discover a beautiful and uncommon connection that leads to a race against time and a desperate choice between death and life, between the past and the future, between holding on and letting go.

Luminous, soulful, and filled with unforgettable characters, The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud is one of those rare, wise books that reveal the mysteries of the unseen world around us, gently transforming the worst pain of loss into hope, healing, and even laughter. Suspenseful and deeply moving, its startling climax reminds us that sometimes tragedies can bring about miracles if we simply open our hearts.

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

tuesdaysmorriesI was re-reading a book while having a chat with my father this morning. We talked about the usual stuffs that we normally discuss every time I got the chance to sit down with him. These includes politics, movies, life, and other common things. I’m not sure if those are the usual father-daughter topics, though. Anyway, he asked about the book I’m reading at that time – “Tuesdays with Morrie” by Mitch Albom. I’ve already read that book few years ago, but I just want to re-read it once more. I even offered it to him, I think it’s a good book and that he might enjoy it. But he refused, because unfortunately the fonts are two small for his eyesight. I also found out from him that some of the books that I am reading are book he already read when he was younger. Like “The Greatest Miracles in the World” , “The Return of the Rag Picker” by Og Mandino and the likes. I wasn’t aware that he had also interest in fictions. I always fancy him as someone who read news but never fictions.

I am not really updated with what is happening with our country, I know nothing about economy, government, politics and other current events. I do not watch news lately. I hate watching news at night because all I got is nasty news about crimes, murders, and some celebrity issues. But I still get some updates once in a while through my Papa. He knows more than I do with regard to those things. And every time we’re talking those stuffs, he’s not just retelling those news from those anchor reporters on television, but he were also voicing his own opinions and asking my views and opinions as well. That’s why talking to him is always a learning process for me. He’s neither a genius nor philosophic type of person. His ideas are not deeper nor always accurate. He makes his points base on his experiences and own understanding. And for me that is the best part of those stories. It makes me know my father a little deeper. The way he thinks and how he feels.

As I was reading the book, Tuesdays with Morrie, I now understand more what is it like to have a mentor like the main character in the story, a teacher name Morrie Schwartz. Someone who is not just will tell you what to do, or what to expect, but a person who is willing to share a part of him to you. I got lots of mentors – My Mom, Dad, brother and other people who walks in and out of my life. Those great people who shares part/s of their lives with me. Wonderful people who tell me not just about life and how to live, but also shows me how. They nourished me with knowledge and understanding more than any books that I have read can offer. They are living examples for me. Their own life stories, ups and downs, achievements and hopes in life makes me aware how life runs.

The Book

“Tuesdays with Morrie” is more than just inspiring, it is a true story that captures the compassion and wisdom of a man who lived his life to the fullest until his very last breath. It explores different life’s fundamental issues like family, culture, money, aging, and death. It discuss the meaning of life in a truthful manner from the perspective of a dying man. This book is a series of lessons a former student has with his teacher about facing death and living life, and to not feel sorry for yourself no matter how bad life treats you.

The main theme of this novel is the meaning of life, which is brought about in a very truthful manner. You may find most of the opinion idealistic, but nevertheless you will realize that they are true.

This book is a “runaway bestseller” for a reason. A little book that you can read for few hours but can give a lot of wisdom throughout a lifetime. If you haven’t read the book yet, I suggest try to read it, If it does not touch you, maybe it is a wrong time and you should not give up but try again in the future.

Life lessons from “Tuesday with Morrie

1. “The culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn’t work, don’t buy it.”

2. “So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they’re busy doing things they think are important. This is because they’re chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”

3 “If you’ve found meaning to in your life you don’t want to go back. You want to go forward. You want to see more, do more.”

4. “Be compassionate.And take responsibility for each other. If we only learned those lessons, this world would be so much a better place.”

5. “As long as you love each other, and remember the feeling of love we had, we can die without ever really going away. All the love you created is still there. All the memories are still there. You live on – inthe hearts of everyone you have touched and nurtured while you were here.”

6. “There is no such thing as ‘too late’ in life.”