Friday, January 16, 2015

Book Review and GIVEAWAY - Nine Lives of Adam Blake by Ryan Gladney

Publication Date: February 22nd, 2014
Genre: Science Fiction
My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Where to Buy:

Here's the Summary:

What would you do differently if you could live life over again? 

Adam Blake has lived an unexceptional life. Once a vibrant, adventurous child with big dreams for his future, Adam now looks back and wonders where it all went wrong. He has blundered into a career that bores him, severed ties with his parents, and been so unlucky in love he can no longer talk to women without the goading of friends and encouragement of too many drinks. When he dies in a traffic accident on a cold winter night halfway through his thirtieth year, his life flashes before his eyes, nothing skipped or overlooked, and Adam is faced with a long, painful procession of regrets. 

Thankfully for Adam, death is nothing but a second chance at life... 

Adam wakes to an unexpected version of the afterlife: It is his own life, lived over and over again. As Adam journeys through one life to the next, he is free to right past wrongs, avoid past mistakes, pursue any interest, and chase any dream. He can make amends with the woman he once loved—the electric, unpredictable Tamar Núñez—and build upon the relationship that ended in heartbreak the first time around. But as Adam's march of life after life continues on and on, he begins to wonder if there is even more to his strange predicament than meets the eye. He must know: What is the true nature of his seemingly endless parade of lives? What is its cause? How will it end? And what awaits him on the other side of death when death comes for the final time? 

NINE LIVES OF ADAM BLAKE is a thought-provoking, heart-warming journey into the nature of life, the meaning of true love, and the pursuit of happiness that lasts a lifetime—and beyond.

My Review:

This book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Where to begin with a story like this? It’s so uniquely crafted and worlds apart from anything I’m used to reading. When I accepted this book for review, I knew I was stepping out of my typical reading comfort zone, but man… am I glad I did. This part fantasy, part sci-fi, part paranormal, part contemporary novel (okay, I know all those things sound like my typical reads, but I assure you, this book is not lol) does more than entertain, it wakens the part of your psyche that often lies dormant – the part that rises above the day to day motions and grasps for a bigger meaning to our lives. It challenges you to think twice about the decisions you make and how that can affect not only your life, but others’ lives around you. And that, my lovelies, is the mark of a fantastic story: entertaining, yet thought provoking.

Here’s the skinny:

The Good:

All of it. The writing, the character development, the premise, the message… all of it! You can tell from the get-go that Mr. Gladney took his time developing and fine tuning and fleshing out every little detail, down to when he reveals the answer to the big question: why in the world is Adam reliving his life over and over in a Groundhog Day type way? And let me tell you, everything you think you might know, or can come up with as an explanation (if you can even come up with anything at all) is wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. And even though the explanation leaves you as deflated as the character in a reeling, holy crap, kind of way, you come to realize (like him) that the utter bleakness of it all is actually the beauty of it. Because, at the end of the day, your purpose is found in not some groundbreaking revelation, it’s in the way you live your life and what you do with what’s handed to you. And in Adam’s case, an infinite number of times. One of my favorite quotes from the book:

“Perhaps we are better off living every moment—every action, idea, choice, and word—as if it were the very reason we were born. How much more beauty and meaning would you find in everyday things if that were your approach? Imagine a life in which each day is engaged with sacredness and honor, as if it were the most important in the world...”

So let’s talk a little about the actual storyline, shall we? At the end of every life, Adam wakes up at twelve-years-old in a hospital bed, only to relive his fairly ordinary life in an extraordinary way – with memories of his past lives still vivid in his mind. So basically, when he’s reliving his younger years again and again, he’s an old soul trapped in a young man’s body. He experiences the same traumas (out of his realm of influence), but learns how to make the best of them each time around. He meets Tamar, his (quite literally) endless love, whom he gets to meet, court, fall in love with and marry over and over again (after he finally gets it right). To some, that might sound boring, but as Adam comes to realize, it truly is a gift. Our lives are already (and should be) shadowed with a we only get one chance, so we need to make it count way of thinking, but what if you got multiple chances? Infinite chances? Were able to right some wrongs? Do things differently? Do everything differently? It blew my mind, to be honest.

And here is the part where I make my point regarding Ryan Gladley’s storytelling ability: if your story revolves around a character experiencing the same thing over and over, yet you still successfully engage the reader (not one time was I bored) and leave them wanting to buy the book in print (which I did!) so you can read it over and over again to infinity and beyond (pun intended) then you know you have chops. And you, Mr. Gladney, have chops. :)

The Bad:

Nothing to say in this category.

The Ugly:

Nothing to say in this category.

In conclusion, if you read anything at all this year, it needs to be this compelling, thought-provoking story of life, love and how the decisions we make can greatly alter both of them. Unlike Adam, we don’t get an infinite number of chances, so let’s make the most of the ones we have now.

Favorite Quote:

"Do not dwell in the past, or dream of the future, but concentrate on the present moment... It is only when the past is forgotten, and the future released from our worried grasp, that life may be lived as truly intended: as a joyful, steady procession of everlasting nows.

About the Author:

Ryan was born in St. Louis, and has lived in Boston, Orange Country, Ann Arbor, Los Angeles, and Minnesota. He attended college at the University of Michigan. When not writing (or working), Ryan spends most of his time with his wife, son, and cats. He’s an active book-clubber, kickballer, bike-rider, brunch-eater, and live music aficionado. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The Giveaway:

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