f0zKg0J4zFLYz-Yq0aednQVqREE Once Upon a Prologue: Review: Blue Sky Days by Marie Landry (@sweetmarie83)
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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Review: Blue Sky Days by Marie Landry (@sweetmarie83)


Blue Sky Days by Marie Landry
Pages: 207
Published: January 17, 2012 (e-book format)  (orig published January 05 2012)
Series or stand-alone: Stand-alone
Rating: Swoon-worthy
Further info/purchase: Goodreads | Amazon | Smashwords
Find the author online: Twitter | Blog | Book Blog

A year after graduating from high school, nineteen-year-old Emma Ward feels lost. She has spent most of her life trying to please her frigid, miserable mother - studying hard, getting good grades, avoiding the whole teenage rebellion thing - and now she feels she has no identity beyond that. Because she spent so many years working hard and planning every moment of her life, she doesn't have any friends, has never had a boyfriend, and basically doesn't know who she is or what she really wants from life. Working two part-time jobs to save money for college hasn't helped her make decisions about her future, so she decides it's time for a change. She leaves home to live with her free-spirited, slightly eccentric Aunt Daisy in a small town that makes Emma feel like she's stepped back in time.

When Emma meets Nicholas Shaw, everything changes - he's unlike anyone she's ever met before, the kind of man she didn't even know existed in the 21st century. Carefree and spirited like Daisy, Nicholas teaches Emma to appreciate life, the beauty around her, and to just let go and live. Between Daisy and Nicholas, Emma feels like she belongs somewhere for the first time in her life, and realizes that you don't always need a plan - sometimes life steers you where you're meant to be.

Life is wonderful, an endless string of blue sky days, until Nicholas is diagnosed with cancer, and life changes once again for Emma in ways she never thought possible. Now it's time for her to help Nicholas the way he's helped her. Emma will have to use her new-found strength, and discover along the way if love really is enough to get you through.



My Review

I've been lucky in the last year or two, since I started reading new authors and genres, to absorb some amazing books, but none of them have touched me in the way that Blue Sky Days has.  From the prologue, I was captivated, and as Marie Landry's debut novel spun a web of self-discovery, longing, and growth around me, I fell deeply in love with the setting, the plot, and the characters, especially the heroine, Emma Ward.  Having graduated high school, but lacking the funds to venture on to college like the rest of her peers, Emma is stuck, watching her life pass her by.  She's spinning her wheels.  Emma was a character I identified with immediately.  Her home life was nothing like mine, but the desire to do more, to BE more, to change who she was, I've been there.  In so many ways, I connected with Emma, and I went on her journey with her. 

Emma was a loner, concentrating on her studies in high school, and although I had a few close, good friends, so was I.  I didn't go to a lot of parties, and I didn't date during high school.  I was too content to just be, to watch everyone else live instead of going out and living, myself.  It wasn't until I graduated that I started taking risks, branching out, and trying to get more involved in my own life, and so to see Emma struggling, at odds with who she was, was so poignant. I felt like Marie had peered back in time and revealed a glimpse of me, and probably, of many other young girls, confused, lost, not quite sure of who they were.  Watching Emma, with the help of her aunt, Daisy, Nicholas, and a few amazing friends learn to discover who she was, who she could be, brought tears to my eyes.  Her evolution as a character felt real and genuine, never forced or preachy.  And the family and friends who helped her along the way were wonderfully fleshed-out, from debonair and earnest Nicholas, pretty and loving Maggie, vivacious, encouraging Daisy, and supportive Vince.  They were such amazing foils to Emma's own mother, and I wanted to wrap my arms around them all.  Watching Emma change struck a nerve in me, reminding me of the years I spent finding out who - I - was.  

Also heart-warming was watching Emma fall in love with Nicholas.  Blue Sky Days is only 207 pages, but Marie Landry made every word, every scene and chapter, count.  I never felt like it was the dreaded insta-love with Emma and Nicholas.  Although they do move somewhat quickly, it also made sense.  Marie Landry perfectly captured the high of first love, those moments when the other person can make you smile, even when they are just a brush across your thoughts.  I was right there with Emma, falling in love for the first time, realizing it IS possible to care SO much about another person, realizing that someone can look at you, of all people, and see someone special.  For all the authors who write about love and romance, Marie got it absolutely right, pinpointing with subtle grace what, exactly, first love and in this case, real love, is.  Nicholas and Emma were heart-warming and their interaction brought me to tears more than once, seeing how much they cared for one another, through good times and through bad - that when it really mattered, when they were both terrified, they were still right there for each other. 

I also really admired the way Marie developed the relationships between Emma and the others in her life.  Her aunt, Daisy, was so full of life, that it was infectious in a good way, and it was easy to see how much she and Emma loved one another.  Daisy was such a good influence on Emma throughout Blue Sky Days, becoming Emma's rock, in some ways.  Maggie and Vince were amazing friends for Emma, who learned through them what friendship was about.  And Nicholas, who taught her so much about life - how to live it and how to love it - was so much more than a boyfriend.  But what I applaud the most is that Emma, although she learns from all of the secondary characters, and leans on all of them in hard times, never becomes TOO dependent on anyone other than herself.  She learns strength and she learns how to believe in herself, and even when faced with hard times, she never crumbles.  I was so proud of her! 

Blue Sky Days moves along nicely - pausing here and there to allow the reader time to fall deeper in love with the story being told - then picks up the pace, bringing me, literally, to the edge of my seat.  At one point, I was shaking, because I knew what was coming, then because I had to know what was next.  I shed tears of happiness, and tears of fear for the characters.  For a short novel, Blue Sky Days was brimming with emotion, and it never felt fake.  I've rarely come across a novel that clicked with me so powerfully; in some ways, I felt almost overwhelmed from how much I cared about the characters, especially Emma and Nicholas, by the end, but it was in a good way.  Marie Landry made me FEEL something for her characters, and when I read the last page, I felt like I was saying not goodbye, but "see you when I see you" to friends.  It's a rare gift, to be able to accomplish that over the course of a novel, but Marie did it.  I won't forget Emma, Nicholas, or Blue Sky Days anytime soon. 

Special Note from the Author:

Marie would like to thank the people who have supported her by showing her appreciation in some small way. So, for every person who buys a copy of Blue Sky Days during the tour and sends Marie proof of purchase via email to irishstar_83{at}hotmail{dot}com she will enter you into a giveaway to win a book of your choice up to $12 CAN from The Book Depository.  

Mini-Interview with Marie Landry 

{ 1 } Is there any one certain special memory or event you associate with writing Blue Sky Days?

Well, when I originally wrote Blue Sky Days, I was 20; I wrote it in a month, and remember being shocked that I wrote an entire book in that amount of time. When I brought the book back out seven years later in 2011, I was researching independent publishing, and constantly going back and forth, unsure if it was a good idea. The moment I knew I was going to take that leap of faith was a memorable one. I felt empowered, terrified, excited, and a million other emotions. All these months later, I still feel that mixture of emotion on an almost-daily basis.

I also have a few great memories that involve my Grama, who passed away in August. She was one of my biggest fans, and every time I visited her, she wanted to know what was happening with the book, how much longer until it was ready, when she could read it, etc. She never got to read the book, which kills me, but I finished the book cover and was able to show it to her in the hospital two days before she died. She was so happy and so proud of me, and I’ll never forget that.

{ 2 } What is one thing you learned about yourself as a writer, while writing Blue Sky Days?

I know it’s kind of clich√©, but I learned that you can do anything if you believe in yourself. I had so many people tell me over the years how hard it was to become a professional writer, that I probably shouldn’t get my hopes up, or that I should find another career and do writing on the side. What they didn’t realize is that writing is all I’ve ever wanted to do. So, I busted my butt doing freelance writing for hardly any money, worked 8-12 hours a day, 7 days a week, overcame a lot of obstacles, and here I am. It took a lot of determination, focus, hard work, and a passion for writing…and, if I’m honest, a little bit of a stubborn streak in wanting to prove the naysayers wrong. ;-)

{ 3 } Who is your favorite character from
Blue Sky Days

That’s tough. I love them all for different reasons, and I became very attached to them. I guess my favorite character is Emma, though, because I poured so much of myself into her, and spent the most time with her. I really tried to get inside her head and feel what she would feel, and listen to what she had to say. I’m sure that sounds completely insane since she’s a fictional character, but I guess that’s why writers are known to be a little crazy and eccentric - our best friends are imaginary people!

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