Book Review: Light From Other Stars by Erika Swyler. Bloomsbury Publishing.

 

51SANwLEReL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_

 

Light From Other Stars by Erika Swyler

 

 

Hi my lovely peeps. I have another book review for you, I’ve just closed the final page on this Stella read, and I’m now struggling to focus on anything else. I feel a huge book hangover coming on, one that I really wasn’t expecting! Here is the official synopsis:

galaxygirlblonde

From the author of national bestseller The Book of Speculation, a poignant, fantastical novel about the electric combination of ambition and wonder that keeps us reaching toward the heavens.

Eleven-year-old Nedda Papas is obsessed with becoming an astronaut. In 1986 in Easter, a small Florida Space Coast town, her dreams seem almost within reach–if she can just grow up fast enough. Theo, the scientist father she idolizes, is consumed by his own obsessions. Laid off from his job at NASA and still reeling from the loss of Nedda’s newborn brother several years before, Theo turns to the dangerous dream of extending his living daughter’s childhood just a little longer. The result is an invention that alters the fabric of time.

_BirthdayQueen_0003_4

Amidst the chaos that erupts, Nedda must confront her father and his secrets, the ramifications of which will irrevocably change her life, her community, and the entire world. But she finds an unexpected ally in Betheen, the mother she’s never quite understood, who surprises Nedda by seeing her more clearly than anyone else. Decades later, Nedda has achieved her long-held dream, and as she floats in antigravity, far from earth, she and her crewmates face a serious crisis. Nedda may hold the key to the solution, if she can come to terms with her past and the future that awaits her.

Light from Other Stars is about fathers and daughters, women and the forces that hold them back, and the cost of meaningful work. It questions how our lives have changed, what progress looks like, and what it really means to sacrifice for the greater good.

 

star-cluster2

I was luckily enough to be sent an advance reader copy of this book from the lovely folks at Bloomsbury publishing, so while I had the house to myself yesterday, I picked it up and began to read…and finally closed the last page this afternoon. I couldn’t put it down.

 

 

Water Ice Planet

I

 

always give you an honest review, so I need to admit right up front, that the opening pages didn’t grab me as I’d hoped they would. My problem is this: we are immediately thrown into a space mission that Nedda is on. We see that there are complications happening, and tension mounting, but as this is our first introduction to  Nedda, we do not have an affinity with her yet, as she is an unknown quantity. So whatever is happening, the reader is initially one step removed. Similarly, the synopsis shows that being an astronaut is her life long dream, and within the first page, we see that she has achieved it. my first impressions suggested that there was not much more that I was going to learn.

 

However, I was wrong and I’m not too proud to admit it!

I did choose to read on, and I’m so pleased that I did, as what I discovered was a beautifully rich story which is both a multi-layered and potent tale of love in all it’s varied forms. Swyler’s writing is both lyrical and enchanting, as the story volley’s back and forth between Nedda’s childhood and her space mission, colliding eventually in a magnificent ending that took my breath away!

star-cluster1

The genius of this book for me, is not the plot, but the characters growth and change -in most unexpected ways. The lesson is in their evolution, arising out of secrets from their pasts, and the revelations that later haunt them.

 

I love reading about flawed characters who act on good intentions. For example, Nedda’s father used to be a scientist for NASA until he was laid off. Now, when he is not teaching, he is locked in their basement, running experiments that he hopes will lead to an invention that will give his daughter more time with him. But of course, the paradox is that he is actually stealing from their time together, while he searches.

 

Her mother, Betheen, comes across as somewhat of a cold character, who also has little time for Nedda, as she throws herself into her baking obsession. However, during the course of the book, we learn the many reasons for this, and we begin to see much more depth in her character as time moves on.

Abstract Green Planet.png

And talking about time…

 

The book raises some questions: While we all wish that we had more time to spend together, would you really wish to make time stand still?

And is it better to look forward or back?

 

I’m giving this read four stars. It may have taken me a couple of chapters to warm up to it, but after that I was riveted. The story was anything but predictable. It flowed beautifully, had real emotional depth and a solid plot line;  the lyrical writing was a joy to read.

 

I’ve so happy to have been sent this lovely book. I know there are so many hidden gems of books that I would never have discovered if I had stuck to reading only what I thought I would like ( Stephen King’s Dark Tower series being the latest case in point). This is where #bookstagram, #booktube and #bookblogs come into their own, right? Thanks to everyone sharing their reads, we can all find the key to worlds that we may never have found otherwise. I hope my review will entice you into this one too.

 

Light From Other Stars was published on May 7th 2019 by Bloomsbury Publishing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

BOOK REVIEW: THE STORY WEB

THE STORY WEB BY MEGAN FRAZER BLAKEMORE.

 

Once upon a time ….

…there was a story that stole my heart. It was a story that was filled with magic, mystery, and moral lessons that middle grade readers will love.

 

rug

The story is set in the small town of Independence, Maine, where everybody knows everybody, and Alice Dingwell is discovering that this is not necessarily a good thing. It’s already tough enough growing up, without having everything falling apart around you too.

 

ModernMom_0019

 

Alice feels invisible. Her former friends don’t want to hang around with her any more, she feels awkward around her best friend, Lewis, and nobody is talking about the bad thing that happened with her Dad. robin4-1

Alice adores her Dad. She used to live for his stories, how he made the world feel like such a magical place, how he wove tales that entranced her. He made life bigger, brighter and more beautiful. But now he has gone away, and nobody wants to talk about what happened; least of all, Alice.

018

So Alice keeps her head down. She no longer wants to play Ice Hockey with the town team, even though she is a talented player. She’s too busy punishing herself for her Dad’s absence, even if it means hurting her best friend Lewis.

 

Lewis is confused. He has no idea why Alice has been cool with him. He blames himself. He thinks he could have been a better friend. But Lewis is patient and waits for Alice to figure out what she needs.

 

AutumnFairytaleClips_0027_1

 

Melanie, is also invisible. The niece of the strange woman who lives in what is known as ‘The Bird House’ to the locals, Melanie has a hard time making friends. The town rumor is that her Aunt is a Witch, just because she keeps herself to herself. And so, Melanie has no friends, and instead, focuses on her love of animals.When Lewis begins to hang out with her, Melanie is happy but reticent.

 

When Alice was young, she wandered into the forest and found a huge spiderweb. Her Dad explained that only certain people could see this gigantic web, and he called it the Story Web, explaining that each of the strands on the web were stories that hold the fabric of our world together. If people stop telling stories, the web, and our world will fall apart.

Now, when forest animals begin to appear around the town, and most surprisingly, in front of Alice, she realizes that they are trying to tell her something.

deer-head

Could it be that the story Web is in danger, and if so, is the world falling apart. Alice needs to figure out what she can do to stop this, and in the meantime, she also learns some important lessons about life, friendship and family.

bedlam bear

This is a most heartwarming tale of love and loyalty, during those difficult years of transitioning into a teenager. Written with wit and whimsy, Blakemore weaves a beautiful tale that will keep your middle grader (and you) turning the page, long after it should be ‘lights out’

The Story Web will be published  by Bloomsbury Books on June 4th 2019. Be sure to save the date!

book blue

How I run a #Bookstagram Giveaway.

_BirthdayQueen_0017_18

 

 

Hello my lovelies. It’s been a little while since we talked.

Today, since I’ve just finished running one, I thought I’d talk about giveaways with you and share some details of  how I organize mine. I’m always receiving DM’s in Instagram asking me questions about this, so I figured I’d write a post that hopefully will help some of you if you’re thinking of hosting one and don’t know where to start.

valley19

I have to say, I just LOVE running giveaways, and I am always on the lookout for fun bookish merchandise when I’m shopping . I pick up bits n’ bobs all the time, and squirrel them away ready for the next one.

I hosted my very first giveaway about six months after I started my Bookstagram account. I’d already been on Instagram for about five years with a personal account, so I knew my way around the site, but I was new to the whole Bookstagram corner. I hosted my first giveaway with the hope that the people who entered would find that they enjoyed my feed, and would stick around!

books

When you first start your account, it’s difficult to get new followers right away, and running a small giveaway is a fun way to direct people to your feed and have them notice you. Not everyone who follows you will stay, but it’s a super way to start making new friends. Fellow readers  will follow for a chance to win, but will hopefully stay because they enjoy your feed and find they have common interests with you. My first giveaway only attracted about fifty entries, but it was exciting for me and I
made many new friends.

book girl chair1

So, my first and most important piece of advice for you if you are considering hosting a giveaway of your own is to  please only spend what you can afford. Please do not get yourself into debt by purchasing giveaway gifts that you will leave you broke. In fact you don’t even have to buy new. Many Bookstagrammer’s offer giveaways for books that they have recently read and want to pass on. This is a wonderful way to pay it forward!

 

If you are buying new, then I’d suggest that you try and buy things that are universally liked in the bookish world (hello Harry Potter) and/ or can be associated with your feed (if you want to get technical we can say ‘your personal brand’). My signature giveaway gifts started off as always including a book, a cup and a candle, to underline my instagram handle of @bookscupsandcandles . As time passed I started including extra goodies as I spotted them, and my giveaways have now grown to multiple choice ones as I try to find something for everyone. I love to make people happy!

alloween witch 28

 

I’m blessed to life right next to the ‘happiest place on earth’ -Disney, and also Universal studio’s here in Orlando. I’m also very aware that many people may never be lucky enough to visit these places, so I try to add something special and unique to my choices so that the winner can have a piece of Disney or Authentic Harry Potter gifts, for example. Likewise, I know how popular Funko Pops are, as
I’m a constant collector myself. I try to include an exclusive funko pop in most of my choices, so that the winner can have something extra special and rare in their prize pack.

donut set-coffee-cup

I started offering multiple choices simply because I wanted to provide something special for everyone. It may be hard to believe but not everyone is a Harry Potter fan (only 99% of the bookstagram world is, lol). So I try to cover as many fandoms and age groups as I can.

classics 18

Similarly, in my giveaways you may wonder why I ask you to repost the particular picture of your prize choice, on your grid. The reason I do this is not to lock you into a particular choice- you can always change your mind if you win- I actually do this to gauge for myself which fandom and prize pack will be the most popular. I want to see what you want. It gives me a sense of direction for future giveaways, so I know what to look for, what you guys really want to see offered in a giveaway. Because I do this, I now know for sure that I can never run a giveaway without including something for the Harry Potter fans. I think I’d be lynched if I didn’t include him!

rectangle-stroke-pinksblues-1

So, you have your giveaway prize pack ready and you’re eager to begin it. WAIT! The first thing you need to do now is factor the shipping/ postage costs into your equation. First decide how much you can afford to pay for shipping. If your budget is around twenty dollars/pound etc, then keep it as a national giveaway. Shipping around the world is expensive. Before I start my giveaways I always make sure I have the shipping costs set aside. As a rule of thumb, when sending from the United States internationally, it costs between $70-$100 for a package if you’re sending books, mugs, candles. So always be sure you have the funds if you want to go international.

lvebksallvignette

The way I send my prizes out these days is so much different to when I first started. I send the book part of the prize pack separately now and use Amazon global shipping to purchase it, and they send direct. This way I avoid the huge costs that are incurred with a heavy weight in my parcel, and also customs costs . Similarly, I’ll often send the cup/mug part of my prize pack seperately too. I buy them from either Society6 or Redbubble and they ship internationally free!

_theSecretGardenClips_0014_15

Finally, I then make up a cute prize box of the remaining items and send them off of their merry way to the lucky winner. In most cases the winner is thrilled to receive their prizes and are eager to share on a post of their own. I’ve only had one case where the winner didn’t seem to care. I’ll be honest, it broke my heart, They did not appear grateful at all and only  eventually reposted a half hearted response after I asked them to. I do hope that my winners repost  when they receive their gifts, because I want the other entrants to know that my giveaways are authentic. So many companies host giveaways and you never find out who won. I don’t trust those at all.

And besides, if you share a picture of your giveaway winnings, I’m going to repost it and that too will draw more people to your own feed. Win/win!

 

Drawing the giveaway is definitely my least favorite part of the process. I’m sure there are much quicker ways to do it, but I’m a creature of habit and I wait until the closing date and then I input the names into a word document. I start by going through the comments where people have tagged their friends. I ‘like’ the tag to show that I’ve seen it, and then I go onto their feed/grid to be sure that they are following me and that they have taken the time to repost the prize pack picture. When I see it, I ‘like’ it and we’re done. The entry is in and the picture can now be taken down.

hydrangea 5

Now let’s be honest, nobody really wants to repost any of the giveaway pictures on their beautiful feeds. But its a small ask. You can easily edit them to fit your feed. The way to look at it is that the host of the giveaway has spent a long time searching for the perfect items, paid for them out of their own pocket (in my case anyway) and has to ship them too. My philosophy with this is that: If you care, you share! We are helping each other after all.

 

I hope this post has helped you if you are thinking about hosting your own giveaway. I’m by no means suggesting that my methods are perfect- far from it,  but I did want to highlight why I run them, how I choose what to offer, and how I count the entries.

 

day off 6

As I said earlier, I LOVE hosting giveaways, its fun, its exciting and I really believe that it brings the community together a little. I can’t tell you how often I smile when I see you all tagging each other and getting excited about it. And YES, when people take the time to thank me along with the tag, it always warms my heart. xxxx

garland