Thursday, July 31, 2014

"Misplaced" by Lee Murray

by Lee Murray

Misplaced is currently on tour with Xpresso Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my review and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

Adam’s world is falling apart. But perhaps it was already unravelling and Adam just hadn’t seen the signs?
One evening, Adam’s mum pops out for the milk and doesn’t come back, launching a frantic nationwide search. Yet after weeks with no leads, the television crews drift away, the police start asking hairy questions, and Adam’s dad starts seeing someone else. Adam’s life is falling apart. But then he meets Skye, who it seems has misplaced a parent too, and things start to look up. That is, until a body is found …

I lie in the dark.
It’s quiet, except for the faint churn of the dishwasher downstairs, but I can’t sleep. When I was little, if I woke up from a bad dream, I’d hop into Mum’s side of the bed and snuggle into her.
‘Just a bad dream,’ she would murmur, half-asleep, wrapping an arm around me. ‘It’s not real. Go back to sleep.’
But this dream is real.
In the darkness, I reach out my mind to Mum, closing my eyes and sending my thoughts swirling into the universe like tendrils of smoke pouring into the farthest corners, searching for her. If I concentrate hard, I feel I can almost reach her. I can hear her breathe, smell the scent of her, feel the pulsing of her heart, the warmth of her skin. Intuitively, I know that breathing will break the connection, tenuous like a spider web weighed down after rain. I take a deep breath and hold it... holding... holding... holding us together for as long as I can so she knows I’m here and I’m thinking about her, missing her. My head pounds from the strain. I screw my eyes up, feel the tension between my eyebrows. Holding. My heart races. My cheeks scream. Chest bursting. Still, I hold on. Eventually, I can’t help it: I have to breathe.
I lose her in a whoosh.

Praise for the Book
"Misplaced is a gripping, poignant narrative of family loss and teenage discovery. The characterisation is outstanding. An exceptionally well-conceived and executed young adult novel." ~ Graeme Lay, author of more than 40 titles
"From the very first pages, readers are drawn into the tragic and unfathomable mystery facing Adam, a likeable teen struggling to cope with the unexpected disappearance of his mother. In his battle to deal with her disappearance, he calls upon the strength of friends and family only to discover his own inner strengths and love. Told with compassion and touching humour, this intriguing mystery pulls the reader on a tense and totally unforgettable journey." ~ Susan Brocker, author of Restless Spirit and many other titles

Some of My Favorite Lines
About Adam's long eyelashes: "Mum reckons you could sweep the floor with those lashes."
"Across the road, black rooftops silhouette against the graphite sky."
About informing Adam's grandmother about his mother being missing: "Wynn's likely to have a heart attack if we ring her at this hour and tell her we've misplaced your mum."
"On the radio, Katy Perry is kissing a girl and liking it."
"On the airwaves, the guys from Nickelback tell Adam to keep breathing."
"Adam wonders if detectives always come in twos, like girls going to the toilets."
"Adam stares out the window as the magenta sunset bleeds slowly into grey."
"Aunty Mandy's response to all this has been to rabbit on and on, as if incessant talking would fill up the space that used to be occupied by Mum."
"Please don't let her be baking them another batch of her paving stone scones. What does she put in them, cement?"
"If this wasn't so serious, it'd be fun. Tip-toeing around hunting for clues like a paperback detective."
"Adam thinks he might suggest to Mr Penny, the Deputy Principal, that the school introduce a new module in Creative Writing. He'd call it, Talking Trauma: Composing New Ways to Address Those Suffering Loss Without Spouting the Same Trite Platitudes You've Heard Your Parents Use."
"Who wants to be mates with the loser who can't even remember where he left his mother?"
"What's the point of school anyway? What's the point of anything? Why bother putting in an effort when at any moment your life could be shattered by something as pathetic as milk?"

My Review

By Lynda Dickson
The book starts off with seventeen-year-old Adam making a television appeal to his mother Tiffany to come home. Then we go back to when she was last seen and follow the story in real time. Adam has "misplaced" his mum. She goes out to buy some milk one evening and never comes home. Meanwhile, Adam's father is acting suspiciously, as is his mother's friend Maria. What secrets are they hiding?
Through it all, Adam manages to maintain his sense of humor, although missing his mother turns into anger when he starts thinking she has left him and his father. It's great to see Adam get the support he needs from his grandmother, his aunt, the school counselor, and his friends Kieran and Corey. He also manages to be distracted by his track coach, his own search for his mother, and by his developing relationship with Skye, who has family troubles of her own.
Misplaced is told in the third person present tense, giving the story an immediacy and urgency. It is interspersed with first person accounts from Adam. I enjoyed these accounts the best and feel the whole book could have been written this way. The New Zealand dialect and setting add color and interest to the story, and the editing is near-perfect.
*Spoiler Alert* I was, however, disappointed with the ending. I felt that the author was leaving clues throughout the book which would lead to the mystery being solved. However, this was not the case. I was looking for closure, but I guess we are left to feel like those left behind after a loved one goes missing. We are left in the dark, there is no closure, and we just have to move on. I am better able to understand the author's motivation for ending the book this way after reading about her inspiration for writing this story (see below).
Warnings: coarse language, sexual references.

Interview with the Author (originally published on her website)
What concept or situation about your book makes it so unique?
Death is final. It’s terribly sad, but the person is gone. But when someone goes missing, there’s always a chance they might come back. That perennial spark of hope is perhaps the thing that makes loss through disappearance the most difficult. In Misplaced, Adam’s grandpa has Alzheimer’s, an incurable disease in which a person loses their memory over time. I felt this was an important parallel to Adam’s story of loss as a person suffering from Alzheimer’s can have occasional periods of lucidity, providing family members with the cruel hope that the person might one day come back.
Tell us about Misplaced. What was your inspiration for this book?
I’m not sure inspiration is the right word. This story was written for a dear friend, Florence Bloise. One evening in 2003, Florence went missing in France. No trace of her has ever been found. Sadly, this situation is more common than you might think: all over the world people go missing every day. Most turn up after a few days but some, like Florence, are never found. An artist, Florence has three children, now in their teens. In writing Misplaced I wanted to examine how those left behind might cope, or not cope, under those uncertain circumstances. How does one move on? Is it even possible? Perhaps in my own way, I’m still searching for Florence, and for closure.
What is your favourite scene from the book and why?
I particularly like the scenes in which Adam and his friends seek answers from a medium. From the outset the teens are skeptical, something the medium doesn’t know, which made it fun to write.
If you could tell us one thing about the young adult genre that makes your mind spin with ideas, what would that be?
Teenagers are a contradiction. On the cusp of adulthood, they can accomplish almost everything an adult character can: drive a car, make a meal, use a cash machine, wield a sword, incite a riot, design a robot, even have a relationship. Yet their youth means they’re still trying to make sense of the world, so when faced with a particular situation you never quite know how a teenager might react. This makes them hugely exciting to write.

About the Author
Lee Murray is a full-time writer and editor with masters degrees in science and management. Lee wrote Misplaced after a friend, Florence, went missing from her home in France in 2003. Sadly, Florence is still missing. Lee lives in New Zealand with her husband and their two teenage children.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win some a $50 Amazon gift card and an ebook copy of Misplaced by Lee Murray.


"Stim" by Kevin Berry

by Kevin Berry

Stim is the first in Kevin Berry's series about Aspies, or people with Asperger's Syndrome. You can get it for only $0.99! Also available: Kaleidoscope (read my blog post).

This review opportunity is brought to you by Xpresso Book Tours.

Robert is different. He has Asperger's Syndrome. He experiences the world differently to 99% of the population. Follow his entertaining and highly empathetic story as he struggles to realise and accept who he really is, try to understand other people - which he cannot - and find a girlfriend. Especially find a girlfriend - he's decided it's his special project for the year. Accompanied on this transformative journey by his quirky flatmates, Chloe (who also has Asperger's, amongst other things), Stef (who hasn't, but doesn't mind) and their oddly-named kitten, Robert endures a myriad of awkward moments in his quest to meet a nice, normal girl ... and not even a major earthquake will stop him.
This absorbing and humorous story is starkly told from Robert's point of view, through the kaleidoscope of autistic experience.

Meeting Chloe in the café became comfortingly familiar and as regular as clockwork. On Mondays, Tuesdays (twice), Thursdays and Fridays, we convened in the café - nearly always at the same corner table, whenever we could occupy it, and with the same drinks - like déjà vu stuck in some kind of unstoppable time loop. On a few occasions, the time passed without either of us saying anything, but somehow comforted by the other’s presence. Sometimes we talked about our studies or assignments, but mostly we talked about ourselves. Or more accurately, I should say Chloe talked about herself. She had been entirely truthful about the verbal diarrhoea. Words spilled out of her mouth with a rapid staccato, machine-gun-like rhythm.
But I did not mind this. When I was in the café by myself, I could only observe people interacting socially, try to work out what was going on in their minds and what it was they were doing, to try to unravel the mystery of their behaviour. I never actually knew what was going on with them, could never properly interpret what I observed, because I could only imagine. Invariably, people behaved inconsistently and did not do what I expected or wanted them to do, and I could not discern any patterns underlying their actions. This was confusing, sometimes bewildering.
With Chloe, it was all very easy. She just poured herself out to me, wholly and honestly and clearly, and I lapped it all up like a thirsty kitten drinking cream from the saucer of knowledge. For the first time, I had a friend I could understand, and who could understand me, because we seemed to communicate on the same wavelength. I think she felt the same, but she never said exactly.
Chloe told me all about herself, how she had been first diagnosed when young, and passed from doctor to doctor and psychiatrist to psychiatrist, collecting the acronyms of different diagnoses like alphabet soup until finally she was evaluated with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Once she knew that, she sped-read numerous books on the subject, assimilating their collective wisdom. The very best, she told me, were those written by fellow Aspies who had struggled to fit into the NS world but ultimately prevailed to establish their own place within it somehow, and yet remain true to themselves. Chloe said she could identify with their early lives, and that everything in her own life, past and present, made sense to her after reading those books. She had always known she was different, and now she understood why. And I agreed with her. I borrowed the books and read them too. I felt the same.
Chloe explained that her father travelled a lot on business and tried to make up for his frequent absences by ensuring that she always had the best care possible. Evaluations. Psych tests. Personality tests. Private mental hospital whenever she felt especially distressed. A seemingly interminable tweaking of her medications (eleven different combinations so far) in an attempt to find the right mix and dosage, a kind of educated guessing on the part of her doctors. There is so little known about the human mind in general and the Aspie mind in particular. It is so complex that all the doctors can do is just try one thing at a time, pick up the pieces if it does not work out as planned, and try something else, trying to solve the incomplete jigsaw of a fractured human mind.
One day when she met me in the café, my life changed forever.

Praise for this Book
"I think this book would be enjoyed by anyone who likes literary or contemporary fiction and it really should be read by anyone who knows or works with autistic people in any way. The first person point of view really gets you inside Robert's head. Well done, Mr Berry. Stim undoubtedly deserves 5 stars." ~ Tahlia Newland for Awesome Indies
"Very often stories about someone with Asperger Syndrome are written by an NS (non spectrum) observer. No matter how warmly they intend, there is always the coolness of distance, of outsider viewpoint. Not so with Stim. Written by an Aspie, for Aspies, about Aspies, Kevin speaks our language and has the same trials, mishaps and dreams. He observes everything around him and discourses upon it with legendary AS wit, which seems to be the product of literal thinking, social confusion and an innocent, analytical mind. I loved it." ~ Rudy Simone, author of Aspergirls, Asperger’s on the Job, the 22 Things Aspergers books, and Orsath
"A rare insight into the mind of an Aspie, Robert's story is frustrating, shaming, poignant, and ultimately triumphant. Stim is a must-read for everyone." ~ Lee Murray, author of A Dash of Reality, Battle of the Birds, and Misplaced
"Stim is an honest and emotional portrayal of a young man with Asperger’s and living in Christchurch during the beginning of the devastating earthquakes that have rocked the city. It is also incredibly educational without ever feeling forced. A must-read!" ~ Readerly Musings

Some of My Favorite Lines
"We are the square pegs that do not neatly fit into the round holes of life without taking a battering."
"I felt like I was always swimming against the tide or walking into a raging gale. This, I suppose, was the start of the slippery slope descending into the abyss of depression."
"I love it that a book can be relied upon to provide the identical information, or tell the same tale, time after time - unlike people, who can be fickle. Rereading something I already know is grounding for me, and it is pleasing to know that information in a book is always the same each time I look at it."
"I looked eagerly at the empty bookcase, already mentally arranging my books in order by category and (within that) alphabetically by author. I felt a surge of excitement as I anticipated removing them from the cardboard prisons of their boxes, feeling the smooth dust covers in my hands, and placing their regular rectangular shapes neatly onto the white shelves in front of me in a perfectly ordered, systematic manner."
While listening to Robert talking about economics: "Stef's eyes had glazed over a little, I assume with the intense concentration she had on what I was saying."
On stimming: "I lay on the other sofa, twitching my right foot against a cushion every few seconds. I like to do that. The gentle tap of foot on fabric is predictable and self-soothing."
"Finding a girlfriend is my personal project for the year."
"Why do our noses run and our feet smell?"
"Why [...] do you want to be normal, Robert? [...] Well, okay, sometimes you have to put on the happy face and spout the appropriate social responses at the correct time, but you also have to let the real you come out the rest of the time, or else you've lost yourself. You've got to know where your strengths and weakness are."
"We read through nearly everything we picked up, except the dictionary (I gave up on it because it kept changing the subject) and the telephone book (too many characters to follow)."

My Review

By Lynda Dickson
Robert and his flatmate Chloe are both Aspies. They have Asperger's Syndrome, a mild form of Autism. As Robert tells us, "It is difficult for me to know what are emotions and what are not." Most Aspies have an obsession, and Robert's is reading and talking about economics, never mind that he bores everyone silly! He has also made it his mission to find himself a girlfriend this year. After moving into a flat with Chloe and her cousin Stef, Robert experiences the trials and tribulations of having a kitten called Sex, he discovers the joys of Facebook for Aspies, and he gets into trouble when he adjusts the dosage of his antidepressants. His frank and honest comments to others result in some hilarious encounters, while his inability to read people's emotions keeps him from seeing what is right under his nose. It takes a big disaster to bring Robert and Chloe closer together and for Robert to finally find himself.
Robert's personality shines through in both his narration and his diary entries. His lack of use of contractions, while usually annoying, serves perfectly to convey his odd speech patterns. The book is charming and humorous, and it gives us a great insight into the world of an Aspie, as the author is one himself. Stim is full of laugh-out-loud moments. I loved Robert's Girlfriend Equation, his lists of things he's been wondering about, and his definition of NS (Non-Spectrum or "normal") as a disorder.
A true gem of a book.

From the Author
I've been writing off and on approximately forever. I'm middle-aged in a chronological sense, but young at heart. I've got a degree which I've never used and two diplomas, one in Hypnotherapy and the other in a subject I don't mention to anyone, as it was so long ago. I read widely, particularly spec-fic and YA, but also contemporary and some nonfiction. My favourite author is Connie Willis, but I mostly read indie authors nowadays. My other interests include editing, hanging out with other writers, walking, playing backgammon, dancing Ceroc and spending time with my two boys. I also enjoy copy-editing and proofreading other authors' manuscripts.
My unique niche is writing Aspie new adult contemporary novels set in an earthquake zone (Christchurch, New Zealand): Stim and Kaleidoscope. I've also co-authored three humorous fantasy books with Diane Berry [as K. D. Berry]: Dragons Away! (on the strength of which we won the Sir Julius Vogel Award 2012 for Best New Talent), Growing Disenchantments, and Fountain of Forever.


"Hero's Sword" Series by M. E. Sutton

Hero's Sword Series
by M. E. Sutton

Hero's Sword is a series suitable for children ages 8 to 12. It currently consists of: Power Play, Storm Clouds, and Wedding Bliss.
This book blast and giveaway is brought to you by Mother Daughter Book Promotion Services.

Power Play
(Hero's Sword Volume 1)
by M. E. Sutton

All Jaycee Hiller wants to do is survive eighth grade. Mostly that means hanging with her friend, Stu, avoiding the cheerleading squad, secretly
crushing on Nate Fletcher, and playing her favorite video game, Hero’s Sword.
When she receives a new video game controller, Jaycee finds herself magically transported into the Hero's Sword video game world. Survival takes on a whole new meaning. No longer battling with a plastic joystick, Jaycee picks up a real sword and bow & arrow and readies herself for battle.
Can she save Lady Starla's rule in Mallory, keep herself in one piece, and maybe even learn something about surviving middle school?
Kids will love this fast-paced adventure novel and will cheer along with Jaycee's thrilling adventures. What kid hasn't dreamed of actually fighting and battling the villains in their favorite video games? Jaycee finds out if she has what it takes - and what she learns in the fantasy realm of Mallory impacts her mundane, middle school life in unexpected ways.

Download a free sample.

Praise for the Book
"Power Play: Hero’s Sword (Vol. 1) features a relatable main character, fast-paced action, devious enemies, and an exciting plot that will absolutely capture the intended audience’s imagination. I think (and my daughter fully agrees!) that M.E. Sutton has hit on a winning series. I highly recommend Power Play: Hero’s Sword to all tweens, but to reluctant readers in particular, due to the ease of language, the video game setting, and the fast pace and physical length of the book at 64 pages." ~ Renee @ Mother Daughter Book Reviews
"This is a fantastic read to inspire kids against giving up as well as keep their imaginations going because I totally see my son imagining this happening to him as he runs through the house with his sword (could be anything from wrapping paper roll to a stick) noises like he is in a sword fight. I can't wait to finish reading it with him & continuing the series." ~ Cassandra Lost in Books
"This is a quick and fun read. The language is simple, so it is perfect for the intended audience of a middle grade child. It is full of action and I think kids will love the concept of falling into their favorite video game and living out the fantasy. " ~ Bookworm Lisa

Book Links

Storm Clouds
(Hero's Sword Volume 2)
by M. E. Sutton

Eighth-grader Jaycee Hiller is beginning to fear she only imagined her trip to Mallory. But when a rainy afternoon leaves her with hours of playing Hero's Sword, her favorite video game, she finds herself drawn back into the game - literally.
Storm Clouds is the exciting second volume of the Hero's Sword saga - chronicling Jaycee Hiller's trials in eighth grade, and her exciting adventures in Mallory, the setting of her favorite video game. Jaycee enters the video game realm via a special controller and is caught up in the action of this fantasy realm.
In Storm Clouds, a valuable jewel belonging to the neighboring estate of Devin, the Sapphire Star, is missing, stolen at the Spring Consortium. Lady Starla stands accused of the theft. Devin's demands are clear: return the Star or they will take it back by force.
Now it's up to Lyla Stormbringer to find the Star and the thief. before Mallory finds itself at war.

Download a free sample.

Praise for the Book
"This second installment is even better than the first. The storyline has more depth, and more imagery to go along with this tale of adventure, drama, and even a little bit of fairy tale romance. I became more fascinated by the main cast of characters, cementing my interest in this awesome series. The writing style is spot-on for a middle grade adventure, and there is enough action, suspense, and mystery to keep the reader flipping the pages to find out what happens next. I highly recommend this series to fans of middle grade fantasy and video games. I definitely look forward to reading more by this author. " ~ Toni @ My Book Addiction
"This is such a fun series! My ten year old and I thoroughly enjoyed reading these together. I think it’s really special when you can find something worthwhile to read together. " ~ Brooke Blogs
"I think many middle grade kids will enjoy reading about a kid their age falling into their favorite video game and living out the fantasy. It is perfect for kids who enjoy using their imaginations to escape the real world at times (and better to read about video games than to spend all day playing them!)" ~ Susan @ Mom Loves 2 Read

Book Links

Wedding Bliss
(Hero's Sword Volume 3)
by M. E. Sutton

Jaycee Hiller (aka Lyle Stormbringer) has long sensed that Roger and Lady Starla belong together. When handsome and noble Perry Goodhaven shows up and wins Lady Starla's affection, at first glance it seems a more fitting match.
However, those close to Lady Starla notice alarming changes after Perry's arrival - Starla sleeps more often, is often lethargic when she is awake, and begins to defer important decisions to Perry.
With Roger falsely imprisoned, it's up to Lyla Stormbringer to uncover the truth about the man positioning himself to rule Mallory with an iron fist.
Wedding Bliss is the exciting third adventure of the Hero's Sword saga - chronicling Jaycee Hiller's trials in eighth grade, and her exciting adventures in Mallory, the setting of her favorite video game.

Download a free sample.

Praise for the Book
There are no reviews as yet for this NEW RELEASE. Why not be the first to leave a review?

Book Links

About the Author
Mary Sutton has been making up stories, and creating her own endings for other people's stories, for as long as she can remember. After ten years, she decided that making things up was far more satisfying than writing software manuals, and took the jump into fiction.
She writes the Hero's Sword middle-grade fantasy series as M. E. Sutton and finds a lot of inspiration in the lives of her own kids. A lifelong mystery fan, she also writes crime fiction, including The Laurel Highlands Mysteries, under the pen name Liz Milliron. Her short fiction has been published at, (Fall 2013), and in Lucky Charms: 12 Crime Tales (December 2013).

Author Links

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