Game Review: The Pillars of the Earth

Title: Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth
Developer: Daedalic Entertainment
Release Date: August 15, 2017
Website

Synopsis:

Based on Ken Follett’s world-bestseller, ‘The Pillars of the Earth’ retells the story of the village of Kingsbridge in a whole new interactive way. Play as Jack, Aliena and Philip and change the events of the book through exploration, decision-making and dialogues.

12th century, England: In a time of great poverty and war, a small town begins the construction of a cathedral to claim wealth and security for its people. In their struggle to survive, lives and destinies intertwine. Philip the monk becomes prior of the small abbey of Kingsbridge. At the same time, a boy called Jack is raised in the woods by his outlawed mother. His apprenticeship as a stonemason paves his way to become a gifted master builder. Together with the disgraced noblewoman Aliena, Jack and Philip begin the construction of one of the greatest cathedrals England will ever see.

Review:

The Pillars of the Earth brings to life the book of the same name written by Ken Follett. Whereas the book is divided into six parts, the game is instead split into three. For those who haven’t read it, the world of Pillars of the Earth is a bleak one, full of sadness, sudden deaths, and dashed hopes. In midst of this, there are spots of optimism and humour that allow you to hope that these characters will get the happy ending they deserve. Pillars of the Earth is set in 12th century England during several key historical events that the characters play a part in. Though the setting remains the same, the game presents players with opportunities to make their own choices and diverge slightly from the original storyline. Where some choices simply change the dialogue, others seem to have some lasting impact throughout the rest of the game, which can result in an ending that’s different from the book.

The sprawling plot follows many characters, but the one thing they all have in common is that unlike most other games, none of them are special in any way. The three characters you will play as are Philip, who is a monk, Jack, a young man trying struggling to keep him and his mother alive, and Aliena, a young woman of nobility. There is no chosen one or great saviour, and all of these characters are just everyday folk trying to survive. The Pillars of the Earth deals with many complex themes, from ever-present political schemes and the early church’s impact on everyday life, all the way to buildings were constructed in that time period. However, the main storyline revolves around cathedrals, particularly the process of constructing one and how its construction affects the lives of those around it. The cathedral is the backdrop for the drama that occurs in the game, with characters fighting to get it built or using it as a means to seize power.

Players jump through the story playing as different characters, acting out various scenes from the original book. New settings and characters are introduced as the game builds up a new world before you. Granted, some chapters (i.e. characters and storylines) are more interesting than others, which made me lose interest at times throughout the game. As a whole, the game moves quite slowly. The translation from book to game did not work out quite well as you jump around from scene to scene, setting to setting, playing different roles in the world. I found this same problem in another game by Daedalic – Memoria. While the story was interesting, the jump between storylines and characters led to some confusion. Also, if I was playing through one storyline for a while, I would sometimes forget what was happening/where I left off in the other storyline. This also resulted in some problems where if I left the game too long, I’d forget everything all together.

In addition, I found that there was a lot of telling over showing – something that books and games alike should try to avoid. There were a lot of significant events that would happen in the background and instead of my characters living through it, I’d jump back into the storyline and be updated through narration or conversations. I think this impacted how I experienced the story as well. Though discovery through items, observations, and conversations can have its merits, I would have loved to have worked through some of the big events that were happening around me.

As a whole, the game’s art and dialogue won me over. The style of art is very similar to a cartoon you might see on television with an almost painted look, while the characters almost resembling animated cartoons and the environment itself is extremely detailed and well drawn. The colours are easy on the eyes and help maintain the atmosphere and mood of the scene. Though the action distracts from the background, it’s hard to miss how much the art really helps make this game more visually stimulating when the story is moving along slowly. This also made exploring interesting. As a point-and-click game, the environment is ripe for exploration and discovery as players can examine details and items that may help move the characters’ story forward. Players can further interact with the environment using items in their inventory or from the surrounding area in order to solve puzzles. The way the game’s world is built through art really adds to these elements.

What really impressed me though was the voice acting – the chosen voices helped build the world and the story. Many of the voices, along with the well-written dialogue, helped bring the characters out of the pages. They breathed life into the game. I appreciated that all the voices were so unique – you knew who was talking at any given time just by listening to them. It helped that every voice fit its character so well, and the emotion, tone, and timbres worked to build the game’s tone and atmosphere.

All in all, I don’t know if I’d recommend the game to everyone. I appreciate that the story was given room to breathe, but that also came as a detriment to the pace of the game. I think if you enjoy adventure story-based games, this may be of interest to you, but if you want it to be fast-paced, and immediately gratifying, it’s probably best you look elsewhere. In the end, The Pillars of the Earth is a story you have to work for and earn. Though it is well worth it in the end, the journey getting there may not be appreciated by everyone.

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 5/5
Graphics: 4/5
Gameplay: 3/5
Overall: 4/5

A copy of this game was provided by Daedalic Entertainment in exchange for an honest review.

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Game Review: Night In the Woods

Title: Night in the Woods
Developer: Infinite Fall
Publisher: Finji 
Release Date: January 10, 2017
Website

Synopsis:

College dropout Mae Borowski returns home to the crumbling former mining town of Possum Springs seeking to resume her aimless former life and reconnect with the friends she left behind. But things aren’t the same. Home seems different now and her friends have grown and changed. Leaves are falling and the wind is growing colder. Strange things are happening as the light fades.

And there’s something in the woods.

In 2017 join Mae on a trip through her hometown and into the dark on the other side.

Review:

Night in the Woods surprised me. I initially thought it would be a mysterious story-based game, but it ended up being a lot more than that. The game really hits home as it addresses a wide array of issues that we honestly don’t talk about enough in today’s society.

Mae Borowski returns to her small hometown to find that everything is the same, but also different. The buildings are all there, but some of the businesses have gone under. Her old friends stuck around, but they now have jobs. Mae finds that she has to readjust and relearn how to interact with the people she left behind. The reality of it is – people change, the economy has changed, and the town has been facing problems since they closed their mines down. As you go through the game, Mae chronicles her adventures in her journal (I suspect the blank pages I had means I missed a few things in my two play-through rounds…).

The world reflects our world well. When before we saw thriving businesses in downtown Toronto, companies are finding that they now need to have a gimmick that differentiates them from their competitors. These gimmicks attract young, social media-addicted customers to the businesses in the hopes that they’ll go viral and become popular. This hits harder for smaller towns, like the one Mae lives in. I saw this phenomenon first-hand this past year when I was living in a small town a couple of hours outside of Toronto – some places that were popular still struggled to the point where they had to close their doors or sell their establishments. Night in the Woods depicts this struggle so subtly, but accurately, that it really struck me as I went through the game.

The game also addresses mental illness and gay relationships in a way that doesn’t alienate them. They aren’t seen as “other” because of their choices, and that really should be how our society works. At the heart of it, people are still people and they deserve respect and love. It’s sad to think that this concept seems so novel, despite the fact that our society has been wrestling with these issues for decades.

While all this is going on, we inhabit the role of Mae who is at the center of the story. I feel like we all know a Mae – someone who’s kind of stuck in the past and doesn’t want to face their demons (or reality). She’s quite self-centered and seemingly unredeemable as a character. She likes getting into trouble, enjoys the thrill of stealing, and she doesn’t seem to care much for the problems that her friends might be facing. However, we learn a lot about her character and her friends throughout this game, and that makes sticking with her throughout her journey worth it. The world isn’t just built through Mae’s observations and adventures, but also her interactions with the people. The game provides players with the freedom to choose how they interact with other characters, and this in turn affects what goes into Mae’s journal and what kind of interactions she has later on.

We’ve all heard it before – reading teleports you, it introduces you to new characters, and you walk with them as they navigate the problems of their lives with none of the baggage that you carry. I love reading because books tend to reflect our world. However, there’s a lot behind the scenes that we don’t get to see in books – or rather, authors skip past them because we don’t need to follow every movement of each character. However, the micromovements and details that are often missed in books are found all throughout Night in the Woods, and they paint a painful, yet amazingly executed image of our world and the millennial nightmare.

Everyday, Mae wakes up in her room, wanders through the town, talks to a couple of people, maybe goes on an adventure (but not all the time), and then ventures home again to sleep. Then she does it all over again. She’s unemployed while her friends have work; she is discovering more and more things in the town that are now broken or forgotten but used to be important; and she struggles with idleness. The seeming repetitiveness of the daily grind just to burn away the daylight hours seems monotonous almost, but brings so much attention to the millennial condition.

While the daily walks through town may seem tiresome at some points, there are areas of interest – every couple of days you can look for constellations on the roof of Mr. Chazakov’s house, you can get fun snippets of poetry from Selmers, and there are lots of opportunities to talk to new people in town. In the recent update, you can even take the time to learn songs on your bass in your room!

Though the game has some elements that may stall the story a little, Night in the Woods is probably the realest game I’ve ever played. There was so much relevance to today’s world, and the story, its characters, and their world were impressively developed through quirky art and subtle details. Definitely would recommend this game to readers who’d love to try playing through a YA story, instead of simply reading it!

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 5/5
Graphics: 5/5
Gameplay: 4/5
Overall: 4.5/5

A copy of this game was provided by Finji in exchange for an honest review.

Review: All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover

Title: All Your Perfects
Author: Colleen Hoover
Genre: New Adult/Adult Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: July 17, 2018
GoodReads

Synopsis:

Quinn and Graham’s perfect love is threatened by their imperfect marriage. The memories, mistakes, and secrets that they have built up over the years are now tearing them apart. The one thing that could save them might also be the very thing that pushes their marriage beyond the point of repair.

All Your Perfects is a profound novel about a damaged couple whose potential future hinges on promises made in the past. This is a heartbreaking page-turner that asks: Can a resounding love with a perfect beginning survive a lifetime between two imperfect people?

Review:

I love Colleen Hoover’s books because they’re all so real. She manages to nail every emotion, action, and moment so perfectly that her books hit you right in the feels every single time.

This book moves back and forth between the “Now” and “Then”. “Now” tells us the story of Quinn and Graham in present day and the struggles they’re experiencing in their marriage. “Then” brings us back into time to about 10 years prior and walks us through the couple’s relationship at the beginning.

All Your Perfects opens up dialogue around societal expectations, and how even the most mundane and traditional questions can hurt people. I was watching Don’t Trust the B**** in Apartment 23, and one of the characters was pretending to be in a wheelchair during thanksgiving. As they went around the table, everyone was saying they were thankful for their family, their friends, yams, and this girl suddenly snapped and asked why people weren’t thankful for their legs and their ability to walk. All Your Perfects raises a similar question. What do we take for granted on a daily basis? Why are the struggles we face only up for conversation behind closed doors? And why is it taboo to be open about the obstacles we face?

This novel addresses everyday, human struggles, and how much work and effort is needed to sustain a relationship with another human being for the the rest of your life. It’s so easy to say you’ll make a commitment to another person, but executing that commitment in both the good and bad times is so hard. As much as we try to be, we are not always perfect.

I read this book three months ago, and just thinking about it again has me in tears, and I just can’t. When I get my physical copy in the next few days, I’m doing a reread, because it was just that good. If you’re picking up this book, get ready for a love story that will change hearts, mend marriages, and affect the way you see love. Honestly the best book of the year, hands down.

Plot: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
World Building: 5/5
Writing: 5/5
Pacing: 5/5
Overall: ALL THE STARS.
GoodReads Rating: 4.46/5

Book Depository Buy Link

eARC obtained via Simon and Schuster Canada and Atria Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: The Empress by S.J. Kincaid

Title: The Empress [The Diabolic #2]
Author: S.J. Kincaid
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Publication Date: October 31, 2017
GoodReads

Synopsis:

It’s a new day in the Empire. Tyrus has ascended to the throne with Nemesis by his side and now they can find a new way forward—one where they don’t have to hide or scheme or kill. One where creatures like Nemesis will be given worth and recognition, where science and information can be shared with everyone and not just the elite.

But having power isn’t the same thing as keeping it, and change isn’t always welcome. The ruling class, the Grandiloquy, has held control over planets and systems for centuries—and they are plotting to stop this teenage Emperor and Nemesis, who is considered nothing more than a creature and certainly not worthy of being Empress.

Nemesis will protect Tyrus at any cost. He is the love of her life, and they are partners in this new beginning. But she cannot protect him by being the killing machine she once was. She will have to prove the humanity that she’s found inside herself to the whole Empire—or she and Tyrus may lose more than just the throne. But if proving her humanity means that she and Tyrus must do inhuman things, is the fight worth the cost of winning it?

Review:

What the what did I just what? I don’t think any of you can comprehend how disappointed I was by this book. This isn’t simply second book syndrome, it’s more like why-did-you-force-this-into-a-series-cause-it-is-such-an-absolute-let-down, with a side of what-did-I-just-read kind of syndrome.

I loved The Diabolic. I felt like the first book wrapped up a little too easily in some areas, but the character development was good, the plot was interesting, and the story as a whole was like crack – I was addicted. I burned through The Diabolic twice with ease, and that shows that it’s not S.J. Kincaid, her writing, or her ability to write a good story.

The Empress though. Oof. The. Empress.

The best word to describe The Empress is political warfare. There’s scheming, false promises, betrayals, murder, and a lot of stupid decisions. Which, if you think about it, is interesting. In the first book, everyone is so calculating and careful, with the characters managing to overcome the biggest plot twists. However, in this one, we see how vulnerable people become when they fall in love. We see how this can lead to misplaced trust, broken hearts, and revenge plots.

I just made this book sound super interesting. I’m going to axe that right now and tell you that if you’re not interested in politics, this will be an impossible book for you to get through. Yes, it’s sci-fi, there’s some science and physics that are explained, some space travel, but there’s also internal dialogue that goes on for days, four months that just disappear from existence, and a lot of regular dialogue that just puts you right to sleep.

Now let’s talk about characters. Of the things Nemesis waffles over, being as human as possible isn’t really one of them. Despite what the synopsis says, she doesn’t really dwell on her choices for very long. She know who she wants dead and who she doesn’t and that’s that. Unfortunately, the insecurity of how to navigate through the system, as well as the license-to-kill attitude that she had in the last book really isn’t present in this one. That bothered me. She was almost a whole new person/character, and some of the things she didn’t just wasn’t consistent with what I thought she would do.

And Tyrus. Holy crumb cakes. I don’t know whether I want to hug him, slap him, or kill him. Tyrus’ character went in a direction I kind of didn’t expect from him, but I also saw it coming part way through this book. I can’t say I liked it.

Honestly, the most consistent character was Senator Pasus. Which depresses me a little.

This book had so much potential, but I honestly did not get what I wanted out of this book. The most infuriating thing is that the whole book bored me to death, in that it was slow moving, very political, dialogue heavy, and the characters made me want to rip my hair out, yet I want to read the next book. Know why? Cause the last chapter was everything, and I hate that it took the entire book for that last chapter to happen.

Plot: 2/5
Characters: 1/5
Writing: 4/5
World Building: 4/5
Pacing: 2/5
Overall: 2/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.88

eARC obtained via Simon and Schuster Canada via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: She Regrets Nothing by Andrea Dunlop

Title: She Regrets Nothing
Author: Andrea Dunlop
Genre: Adult Contemporary Fiction
Publication Date: February 6, 2018
GoodReads

Synopsis:

In the tradition of The Emperor’s Children and The House of Mirth, the forgotten granddaughter of one of New York’s wealthiest men is reunited with her family just as she comes of age—and once she’s had a glimpse of their glittering world, she refuses to let it go without a fight.

When Laila Lawrence becomes an orphan at twenty-three, the sudden loss unexpectedly introduces her to three glamorous cousins from New York who show up unannounced at her mother’s funeral. The three siblings are scions of the wealthy family from which Laila’s father had been estranged long before his own untimely demise ten years before.

Two years later, Laila has left behind her quiet life in Grosse Point, Michigan to move to New York City, landing her smack in the middle of her cousins’ decadent world. As the truth about why Laila’s parents became estranged from the family patriarch becomes clear, Laila grows ever more resolved to claim what’s rightfully hers. Caught between longing for the love of her family and her relentless pursuit of the lifestyle she feels she was unfairly denied, Laila finds herself reawakening a long dead family scandal—not to mention setting off several new ones—as she becomes further enmeshed in the lives and love affairs of her cousins. But will Laila ever, truly, belong in their world? Sly and sexy, She Regrets Nothing is a sharply observed and utterly seductive tale about family, fortune, and fate—and the dark side of wealth.

Review:

I don’t think I have ever been so disappointed by a book. I have DNF’d books before, not because they were like this one, but because I knew I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind to enjoy them. One day, I’ll get back to a lot of those books and I know they’ll be good.

This one though… Oh man. She Regrets Nothing made me regret requesting it on NetGalley. When I read the synopsis, I was getting a lot of Gossip Girl vibes, and yet I don’t think anyone in Gossip Girl was as entitled, selfish, and hypocritical as Laila. And that’s saying something, because the GG Upper East Side was fierce.

Laila is the perfect example of how wealth, or even aspiring to inherit wealth, can corrupt one’s character. While we begin the book sympathizing with Laila’s situation, that sympathy quickly dissipates as we see how she begins to treat people once she sees money.

There is gold digger and then there is Laila. She hopes to take New York by storm, and ride on the coattail of her rich and famous cousins. She gets into the good clubs, meets billionaires, and betrays basically everyone who is ever nice to her. Her cousins – Liberty, Nora, and Leo – take Laila under their wing. Nora and Leo let Laila live with them for free, Liberty gives Laila a job, and yet Laila remains the most ungrateful ingrate on earth. She continues to claw for more.

However, this is where the hypocrisy comes in – she faults the men that she meets for doing the exact same thing she is – trying to rise above their station and all that, and she looks down upon them from a high seat that no one ever gave her, and no one really thinks she deserves. Now this plot line goes on for about 80% of the book, and all I could do was sit there utterly exasperated by her. I stick by the rule of not quoting ARCs, but I’m fairly sure at least some of the quotes I have saved up are in the final version, and none of them make her look like a good person at all.

Then there’s the family scandal – no only is that plot line a stub as short as the TTC’s Sheppard line, but it’s not even acknowledged by the older people in the book until about 95% through the book. I was waiting for this huge revelation and I got nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Which leads me to the regret. I spent weeks trying to get through this book because I knew that I wasn’t turned off from it because of my mood, but because of Laila and her terrible character. In the end, I only liked Liberty and Reece, but at the same time, they were barely developed as characters and that drove me bonkers.

As a whole, I was left unimpressed by this book, not just for the terrible MC, but for the lack of plot, the poor execution, and the feeling of what-the-hell I was left with when I turned the last page. Definitely not a satisfying read for me.

Plot: 2/5
Characters: 1/5
Writing: 2/5
World Building: 4/5
Pacing: 1/5
Overall: 1/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.65/5

eARC obtained via Atria Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Books of 2017

2017 Reading Challenge

2017 Reading Challenge
Alicia has completed her goal of 75 books.
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(B) – Bought // (L) – Library // (R) – Received from a Publisher/Author/Contest/NetGalley // (G) Gift // (F) Free

Bolded – Read // Not Bolded – To Read

January:
(B) Poison Study [Study #1] – Maria V. Snyder (5/5) *reread*
(B) Magic Study [Study #2] – Maria V. Snyder (4/5) *reread*
(B) Fire Study [Study #3] – Maria V. Snyder (4/5) *reread*
(B) Good Girl [Love Unexpectedly #2] – Lauren Layne (4/5)
(B) Crushed [Redemption #2] – Lauren Layne (5/5)
(B) Broken [Redemption #1] – Lauren Layne (4/5)
(B) Bossman – Vi Keeland (5/5)
(B) Cocky Bastard – Penelope Ward and Vi Keeland (3/5)

February:
(B) Opal [Lux #3] – Jennifer L. Armentrout (1/5)
(B) Before I Fall – Lauren Oliver (4/5)
(B) Long Way Home [Thunder Road #3] – Katie McGarry (5/5)

March:
(B) Forbidden Dance [Lover’s Dance #1] – Deanna Roy (4/5)
(B) A Court of Thorns and Roses [#1] – Sarah J. Maas (2/5)
(B) A Court of Mist and Fury [ACOTAR #2] – Sarah J. Maas (3/5)
(R) Groupie [Rock-Hard Beautiful #1] – C.M. Stunich (3/5)

April:
(B) Graceling [Graceling Realm #1] – Kristin Cashore (5/5) *reread*
(B) A Darker Shade of Magic [#1] – V.E. Schwab (5/5)
(B) A Gathering of Shadows [ADSOM #2] – V.E. Schwab (5/5)
(R) The Waterfall Traveler – S.J. Lem (4/5)
[Obtained via Xpresso Book Tours]

May:
(B) A Conjuring of Light [ADSOM #3] – V.E. Schwab (5/5)
(B) Court of Wings and Ruin [ACOTAR #3] – Sarah J. Maas (3.5/5)
(B) Shadow and Bone [Shadow and Bone #1] – Leigh Bardugo (4/5) *reread*
(R) Internet Famous – Danika Stone (4.5/5)
[Obtained via Xpresso Book Tours via NetGalley]
(B) Wintersong [Wintersong #1] – S. Jae-Jones (3/5)
(B) Playboy Pilot – Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward (4/5)

June:
(B) Five Ways to Fall [Ten Tiny Breaths #4] – K.A. Tucker
(B) Ten Tiny Breaths [Ten Tiny Breaths #1] – K.A. Tucker
(B) One Tiny Lie [Ten Tiny Breaths #2] – K.A. Tucker
(B) Four Seconds to Lose [Ten Tiny Breaths #3] – K.A. Tucker
(B) Gentleman’s Alliance [#1-7] – Arina Tanemura (4/5)
(B) The Tenderness of Thieves – Donna Freitas (1/5)
(B) Hunted – Meaghan Spooner (4/5)
(B) Magyk [Septimus Heap #1] – Angie Sage (4/5) *reread*
(B) The Red Queen [Red Queen #1] – Victoria Aveyard (3/5)
(B) The Wrong Side of Right – Jenn Marie Thorne (5/5)
(B) The Summoning [Darkest Powers #1] – Kelley Armstrong (5/5) *reread*
(B) The Awakening [Darkest Powers #2] – Kelley Armstrong (5/5) *reread*
(B) The Reckoning [Darkest Powers #3] – Kelley Armstrong (5/5) *reread*

July:
(R) Just Friends – Tiffany Pitcock (4/5)
[Obtained via Xpresso Book Tours via NetGalley]
(R) It Started with Goodbye – Christina June (5/5)
[Obtained via Blink via NetGalley]
(B) Until it Fades – K.A. Tucker (5/5)
(B) Burying Water [Burying Water #1] – K.A. Tucker (4/5)

August:
(B) Chasing River [Burying Water #3] – K.A. Tucker (5/5)
(B) Becoming Rain [Burying Water #2] – K.A. Tucker (5/5)
(B) Surviving Ice [Burying Water #4] – K.A. Tucker (5/5)
(B) Atheists Who Kneel and Pray – Tarryn Fisher (5/5)
(B) He Will Be My Ruin – K.A. Tucker (4/5)
(B) This Savage Song – Victoria Schwab (5/5)

September:
(L) Alex and Eliza – Melissa De La Cruz (2.5/5)
(B) Roadie [Rock-Hard Beautiful #2] – C.M. Stunich (4/5)
(B) Moxie [Rock-Hard Beautiful #3] – C.M. Stunich (4/5)
(B) Beautiful Survivors [Five Forgotten Souls #1] – C.M. Stunich (4/5)
(R) Zero Repeat Forever [The Nahx Invasion #1] – G.S. Prendergast (4/5)
[eBook received via Simon & Schuster via NetGalley]
(B) Black Swan Affair – K.L. Krieg (5/5)

October:
(B) Without Merit – Colleen Hoover (5/5)
(L) Passenger – Alexandra Bracken (3/5)
(B) Archer’s Voice – Mia Sheridan (5/5) *reread*
(R) Spell Book and Scandal [#1] – Jen McConnel (1/5)
[eARC obtained via Xpresso Book Tours]

November:
(L) Sakura Hime [#1-3] – Arina Tanemura (4/5)
(R) Choosing Hope – Holly Kammier (3/5)
[eARC obtained via Xpresso Book Tours]
(R) Exposure [Incandescent #3] – Sylvie Parizeau (4/5)
[eARC obtained via Xpresso Book Tours]

December:
(B) Warcross [#1] – Marie Lu (3/5)
(R) She Regrets Nothing – Andrea Dunlop (1/5)

Book Blitz: The Upside of Falling Down

Welcome to The Upside of Falling Down Book Blitz, hosted by Xpresso Book Tours!

Title: The Upside of Falling Down
Author: Rebekah Crane
Publication Date: January 30, 2018
Publisher: Skyscape
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
GoodReads

Synospsis:

For Clementine Haas, finding herself is more than a nice idea. Ever since she woke up in an Irish hospital with complete amnesia, self-discovery has become her mission.

They tell her she’s the lone survivor of a plane crash. They tell her she’s lucky to be alive. But she doesn’t feel lucky. She feels…lost.

With the relentless Irish press bearing down on her, and a father she may not even recognize on his way from America to take her home, Clementine assumes a new identity and enlists a blue-eyed Irish stranger, Kieran O’Connell, to help her escape her forgotten life…and start a new one.

Hiding out in the sleepy town of Waterville, Ireland, Clementine discovers there’s an upside to a life that’s fallen apart. But as her lies grow, so does her affection for Kieran, and the truth about her identity becomes harder and harder to reveal, forcing Clementine to decide: Can she leave her past behind for a new love she’ll never forget?

Buy Link:
Amazon

Excerpt:

I was born twice. The first time was on July 9 to Paul and Mimi Haas in Cleveland, Ohio. My mother died six years later. My parents hadn’t conceived another child, and my father never remarried. I was born with brown eyes and brown hair, and for eighteen years, I was, for the most part, healthy.

I was delivered again on June 18, just weeks before my nineteenth birthday. The nurses said I was born unconscious with ash tangled in the burned ends of my hair. Rescue workers pulled me from the belly of an airplane, where I was stuck between two seats, like a cushioned sandwich. There was no mother to gaze down at me in amazement or cradle me if I cried, but according to my nurse, Stephen, there were a plethora of camera crews and flashing lights.

Out of the wreckage of that day, which included thirty dead bodies, I was a miracle. Amid so much death and destruction, I was born.

For a day, I lay in the hospital, unconscious, before I opened my eyes to the world for the first time. I had bleached blonde hair and a nasty bump on my head.

When the doctor sat down gently on the chair next to my bed and asked me a question, I could only think to respond with these words, “There are four emergency exits on this plane—two at the front of the cabin and two at the back.”

A handful of nurses and other staff broke into laughter, but my doctor didn’t. She asked me another question, a puzzled expression on her face, to which I replied, “Please take a moment to locate your nearest emergency exit. In some cases, your exit may be behind you.”

That’s when the room went silent. All the laughter fell out of the air.

“Can you tell me where you are?” the doctor asked in an accent unlike my own. It took me a moment to understand her, partly because of the accent, but also because of the odd question.

“Where I am?” I said, feeling around. “Clearly, I’m in a bed.”

A perplexed expression crossed the doctor’s face as the others looked on at the miracle that I was. “Yes, but do you know where? Specifically, what country?” she asked.

I thought for a long while, touching the bump on my head. The bump was a flaw, and something told me that’s not how this was supposed to be. People are born perfect, right?

“What happened to my head?”

“You don’t remember how that happened?” When I shook my head and didn’t offer an answer, the doctor asked me another question. “Can you tell me your name?”

It was a simple question, but at that moment, the complexity of it weighed me down, so much so that I had a hard time breathing.

“Or better yet, can you tell me anything about yourself?” the doctor asked.

“About myself?” I thought long and hard. As if the people gaping at me weren’t clue enough, my confusion should have been. A person shouldn’t have to think so hard about that question. It should come naturally. It’s me. I know me, right? But concentrating so hard made my head start to ache, and I thought I might pass out. And for all that thinking, nothing happened.

Nothing.

The doctor glanced at the nurses, who stared at each other, but all the looking didn’t find them any answers. I started to think answers don’t come that easily.

I died and was reborn on June 18 in a plane crash in Ballycalla, less than eight kilometers from Shannon Airport, and I awoke to a new life a day later in the Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Ireland, not far away. When the nurse called me by name, I didn’t respond.

He touched my arm. “Your name is Clementine, love.”

“Clementine.” I said the name over and over in my head, hoping one idea would stack on top of another and another and create something concrete. A person filled with a lifetime of memories.

But nothing happened. Instead, I said, “I have no idea who you’re talking about.”

About the Author:

Rebekah Crane is the author of three young-adult novels—Playing Nice, Aspen, and The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland. She found a passion for young-adult literature while studying secondary English education at Ohio University. After having two kids and living and teaching in six different cities, Rebekah finally settled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains to write novels and work on screenplays. She now spends her day carpooling kids or tucked behind a laptop at 7,500 feet, where the altitude only enhances the writing experience.

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Giveaway:

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