The Love Virus – blog tour and book review

Eleni Cay

“I opened my eyes …
there were no templates for the sky.
It was an open-ended playground for water creations.
That’s why the sky never judges, never offers personalised service.”

The Love Virus by Elina Cay is a verse novel with different storylines; the past and the present woven together into a beautiful and heartfelt fabric of the speaker’s life. The protagonist, Katie, is nineteen years old and suffers from MS2 and Multiple Sclerosis who struggles her way into a normal life that is, a life she led before the disease(s). As an independent and strong willed person she finds it excruciatingly difficult to cope up with the daily struggles of life

When I started reading the novel, I intended to read it quickly like any other novel, but this being in verse demanded patience and time and after the first few chapters, I eventually relented to the pace of the novel and enjoyed it a little more than I was initially.
The novel demands time and asks of the reader, understanding and cooperation as it progresses, to feel what she is feeling, to have an insight into her consciousness.

It is an inside look at the mental and emotional overburden one feels when they are betrayed by the only thing worth their hundred percent trust, the anatomical body.

The detailed description of Katie’s everyday battle with herself, her paranoia and her body is beautiful and painful in contrast to her imaginary and lively trip to Andratalia where she meets Paul and Rosemary who are poles apart, one a tech savvy and the other a nature enthusiast.
Now and then Cay brings in the two worlds together with the precision of a story teller with heart-wrenching poetry at places that just demands to be read endlessly and medical language in flawless verses.

The core of the narrative is the resilient protagonist and her determination to help herself out of the imaginary rooster that haunts her whenever she’s at her worst or when she doubts herself and to cope up with the after effects of the binary nature of things around her; the diagnosis and misdiagnosis, the technology and the nature, the bodily and the emotional and the brain and the heart.

“A small feather slowly slips out.
Then more and more, creating a giant golden gate. The feathers float around me,

they land on my hair,
on my shoulders.
They look like colourful snow.
They are small feathers,
with soft barbules at the tips.
I’m bathing in them,
in their tranquil world
my body dancing,
gently whirled.”

“I opened my eyes … there were no templates for the sky.

It was an open-ended playground for water creations.

That’s why the sky never judges, never offers personalised service.”

Mood-board for The Love Virus

You Know I’m No Good – blog tour and book review

Jessie Ann Foley

“When pain bumps against pain can it create joy? Can it breed love? I hope so.”

You Know I’m No Good by Jessie Ann Foley is one book that would make you forget the decency in the world and it really does scramble the brain given the harsh realities of life. The protagonist, Mia Dempsey, is a “troubled teen” at least that’s what everybody believes her to be, who abuses drugs, is promiscuous, defiant, an alcoholic and intelligent. These attributes have gained her her ‘slut’ reputation that consequently has her life become a talk show for others to mock at.

On one such occassion, when her dad and stepmom decide that they couldn’t do anything more to have her on the right path, practically stage her kidnapping by having her transported to a boarding school for troubled girls far deep into the wilderness without her knowledge. There she meets more such ‘troubled teen girls’ who’ve been living there for as many as two years, completely cut-off from the civilization, to help them heal, to help them to deal with their issues and consequently behaviours.
However, what they fail to realize is that these behaviours and issues might have their roots deep into traumatic memories, things and people and situations that made them troubled in the first place.

Mia, likewise, has some reasons too which her parents decided to completely ignore and instead put the blame on her for being a bad child which is very forthcoming because aren’t all kids responsible for their behaviours and issues they go on suffering from while growing up in a negligent household?
Everybody has different means of reacting to such negligency and Mia decides the self-derogatory ones which obviously cause physical harm but makes her mentally calm and strong. She has strong opinions, an appreciative perspective and a steely willpower. However, what she lacks is self-confidence as she wishes of being dead and considers herself as nothing more than a piece of shit.

The book talks about so many real issues at ground level that it becomes difficult to read it continuously. The brain reaches a saturation point where it can no longer soak in the extremities of human behaviour and you need a good few minutes to believe what you’re reading. It is a ride through the emotional, mental and physical trauma one could experience in and by the society they live in. It recounts pain over and over till it starts feeling tangible enough to grab it by its very core.

It’s a hard read. I wish there were some light elements in the book to make it more enduring. Some things made me shiver while some made me smile and cheerful. I swear if I had the hardcopy of the book I would have thrown it across the room several times in light of the various triggering events.
Rating – 4/5

Thank you Turn the page tours for having me as a host for this amazing book.

Felix Ever After

Kacen Callender

“I mean, I WANT to be in love. That’s something I’ve always wanted to feel. What’s it like, to be in love and have that other person love you, too? Is it another level of friendship? Another level of trust, vulnerability, always telling that person your thoughts and feelings, sharing every little thing with them so that you’re so in sync that it’s like you’re one person? Is it like every time you see them, your heart goes wild, and you can’t think because you’re so effing happy? Is it like whenever they’re away, you feel like you’re missing a piece of yourself? Does knowing someone loves you fill  you with confidence, because you know you’re the type of person who deserves love? And what’s it like to break up with someone you love? What’s it like to decide to try again, and let yourself fall in love with someone else? To decide to take that chance you might get hurt, but still want to try? I don’t know. But I want to.”

I wasn’t really expecting too much from this book because I’m a literary-fiction lover but I didn’t know I needed it so much until I read it. Felix Love, a black, trans and queer faces discrimination and is called a misogynist for deciding to be a guy because “you can’t be a feminist and decide you don’t want to be a woman anymore.” A disturbing thought, I know. He questions this, his destiny, his journey and his identity throughout the book and comes out a transformed boy; bold, expressive, self-inspiring, and love-instilling. The book is a real-life journey of Felix, a coming-of-age narrative discussing the various aspects of societal constructed-ness related to gender identification, sexuality, love and friendship. He faces  the dread of confronting himself, in admitting to the flaws, still, he comes out empowered with a new flare of self confidence and the will to strive for more, to face the self and the world zealously. His journey to self-identification and self-love left me craving for more, to know how he loved life afterward with love by his side.

TOUR SCHEDULE: You Know I’m No Good

You Know I’m No Goodby Jessie Ann FoleyPublished by Quill Tree BooksReleasing on October 13th, 2020YA FICTION—ContemporaryTRIGGER WARNINGS—Sexual Assault, Suicidal Ideation, Drug and Alcohol Use, Self-Harm From Printz Honor winner and William C. Morris Award finalist Jessie Ann Foley comes the story of one girl’s battle to define herself as something other than her reputation. […]

TOUR SCHEDULE: You Know I’m No Good

I’m so happy and thrilled to be a part of this tour!!! 😍♥️

Auschwitz Lullaby

Mario Escobar

The novel is an emotional read, telling of love, hope and sacrifice that shook me to the very core. The mishaps of the camp, the inhuman living conditions, the brutal killings and punishments meted out to the innocent people whose only crime was their being born as Gypsies and Jews, the unhealthy and filthy barracks, the unsanitary toilets and the meagre ‘food’, the imbalance of life and death with death more prominent and a daily event; all describe the fanaticism and it’s after effects of the Nazis.
The Nazis were left with nothing but their status of being a Nazi and they didn’t want to be stripped of it for the fear of becoming the nobody they were. For them, like the doctor in the book, the protagonist, Helene Hannemann was just a purebred German, wasting her life after her filthy little Gypsy kids because Nazis put individualism before personal sentiment that by default is nobility ahead of humanity.
But Helene could not leave her five children at any cost; she stood tall and superior to the Nazis because of her sacrifice and love for humanity. She never shied away from asking answers to impossible questions; groped at every possibility of loving just another day, never lost hope, wished for everybody’s lives and was grateful for the very little happiness she literally had to scratch from the unending fear and horror despite the thought of her losing her husband forever gnawing at her insides all the time. Her immense and selfless love and devotion towards her children and to people in general is inspiring and powerful. The narrative is like several emotions overlapping each other in humongous waves drenching the reader to the very bones in the events of 1943-44. It gives a wholesome description of the lives and times of Nazi Germany, making one sob and curl up and to actually think how grateful one is to have born in a free world.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Taylor Jenkins Reid

‘The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo’ is a heartfelt book that gives an insight into the life of an actor on the very surface but it’s underlying topics are of much relevance than thought.
Evelyn Herrara, or Evelyn Hugo; celebrities undergo change of their names to make them sound and appear more popular than their original names would make them, don’t they?

She made her name in Hollywood by selling herself, by using her most prized asset, her breasts. She was, as the popular opinion goes in the book, all tits and no ass. She used this all tits body of hers to reach to the top of Hollywood and succeeded. Her movies, bold and realistic, are a scandal because they put on display the true desires of women which tend to threaten the society at large; she says people talked of it, liked it and chastised her because they weren’t happy that they like it. She had been made a sexpot by the very society and subsequently chastised for the same.

She never regretted her decisions be it anything, however degrading and manipulative and selfish.
She taught me how one can be sorry for something but not regret it. And whilst her interview with the narrator, she yet again proves how she does not regret still.

Hugo comes out as a strong, and no-nonsense personality who believes that “sometimes doing the right thing gets ugly” because the world “doesn’t give things, you take things.” She spent a large part of her life learning and ultimately mastering how to spin the truth and she tries to do the same thing with Monique Grant because the world who was at that time, deaf to the sexual needs of the people, saw her only as someone having seven scandalous marriages refusing to allow themselves to glance at the reason that might have been possible for her on-and-off relationships.

The love of her life was a woman whom she loved with all her being; a love so pure that she made her affairs with men scandalous deliberately, married two men just to be in as much close proximity with her as possible but the world that time had been unable to accept anything outside the heterosexual norm and thus she had to unintentionally break the-love-of-her-life’s heart multiple times only to crave her presence, her touch and her love endlessly. Hugo defines love as something that is extremely close to the heart, which can be kept secret and yet public, something that does not always pertain necessarily to the sexual needs; love without an ounce of guilt, of second-thoughts, of denial. The way she loved the-love-of-her-life, the same way she loved her husbands, Don Adler and Harry Cameron with the latter being a fellow homosexual. And she asks Monique to tell the world, “don’t ignore half of me so you can fit me into a box” when Grant calls her lesbian upon the revelation of the-love-of-her-life. Hugo’s narrative is of importance since it reveals the actual dilemma the ‘Other’ faces. Throughout her life, she struggled to make herself feel at peace and home by settling down with her love by doing what was needed to not make them both public and hence vulnerable but throughout her life she only feared tearing down what she’d made so arduously, at the cost of worsening things with her life partner and losing her twice. But at the age of fifty, she finally marries for the last time with a man, and off she goes to live with her love with society unconsidered; and finally she marries her love for the first time completing her life. Hugo explicitly distinguishes between sex and sexuality saying, “There’s a difference between sexuality and sex. I used sex to get what I wanted. Sex is just an act. Sexuality is a sincere expression of desire and pleasure.” She shared the act with many but she shared the desire with her one and only.

This book touches the heart, tears it open, makes it bleed, causes immense pain and finally chooses to love it all the more. It defines love, sexuality, sacrifice, pain and all the beautiful feelings that one may have forgotten or buried long ago. It rekindles the hearts’ capacity to love boundlessly, to feel immensely and to pour abundantly.

Daughters of the Brothel

Daughters of the Brothel by Deepak Yadav.
It is an amazing book that gave an insight to the red light district of Delhi, GB Road. The book is a collection of short stories of those women who lived there and ultimately had to accept their way of life to merely survive. How they endured the pain, the disrespect and the cuss words thrown at them and they above all, had no choice but to accept these. The book gives an insight into the pitiful lives of these sex workers who got rated on the basis of the customers they entertained per day. How they endured everything and had to let go of their own family and peaceful lives because of them being thrown out, running from their home or having no place to live just made me realize the sad world we live in and the disturbing circumstances they were put through inhabited by people like me enjoying a peaceful and happy life who care not to mention and think about them just as if that side does not exist coz we are unaware of it. Deepak Yadav has done an incredible work on bringing the reality on the front foot. This book is an insight to his ideas and feelings about the people depicted in it. And he’s done an amazing job.
The reality made me sad but it’s incredible how they managed to live without any bitterness in their hearts despite what they have went through and that is something to be learned. And we here, despite having everything crib about almost everything.
It’s a sad world but one can come out being strong and this is what I have learned from the book.

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