Friday, 14 April 2017

GUEST POST: Kelley York and Rowan Altwood (+ review of 'Other Breakable Things')

Welcome to my post on the 'Other Breakable Things' blog tour! I'm stoked to welcome Kelley and Rowan to the blog today, and need to say a huge thank you to both Entangled Teen and Chapter by Chapter Blog Tours for allowing me to be involved.
Before you hear from the writing duo, I've written my review to get you even more excited to read this novel...

According to Japanese legend, folding a thousand paper cranes will grant you healing.
Evelyn Abel will fold two thousand if it will bring Luc back to her. 
Luc Argent has always been intimately acquainted with death. After a car crash got him a second chance at life - via someone else's transplanted heart - he tried to embrace it. He truly did. But he always knew death could be right around the corner again. 
And now it is. 
Sick of hospitals and tired of transplants, Luc is ready to let his failing heart give out, ready to give up. A road trip to Oregon - where death with dignity is legal - is his answer. But along for the ride is his best friend, Evelyn. 
And she's not giving up so easily. 
A thousand miles, a handful of roadside attractions, and one life-altering kiss later, Evelyn's fallen, and Luc's heart is full. But is it enough to save him? Evelyn's betting her heart, her life, that it can be.
Right down to the thousandth paper crane. 

'The rain is coming down in sheets. It has reduced visibility by 50 percent, but damn if it doesn't make for great mood lighting for two people driving down the freeway near midnight with only the glow of the dashboard for company.' 
An appropriately romantic opener, the prologue jumps us to the end of Luc and Evelyn's road trip. Things don't stay this rosy for long, putting you on the edge of your seat throughout the entire novel as you wait to reach this point.

Three years ago, Evelyn Abel had to move to Arizona with her mom and her new boyfriend, Robert. Her mom's relationships normally lasted a couple of months, so three years was a personal best for her, but now they've split up and they're moving back in with Evelyn's grandmother.
Evelyn is nervous to be back. The first thing she does is drive to the home of her childhood best friend - and almost sweetheart - Luc Argent, leaving an origami paper crane on his doorstep. Luc's been unresponsive to her emails, so she's putting the ball in his court: if he wants to see her, he knows where she is.
Luc sees the crane, and can't stop himself for rushing straight to Evelyn's grandmother's house. He's been trying to keep her at arm's length because the week after she left town he had a heart transplant, and the replacement is beginning to fail him. He doesn't want to go through another transplant so he knows he's going to die, and he didn't want to hurt Evelyn by getting close to her but he can't resist the chance to reconnect.
Tensions are high between the pair, because they're both keeping secrets. Evelyn knows Luc's hiding something, and he's not willing to confide in her because he doesn't want to see the pity in her eyes. Evelyn is the only person who treats him like he's not fragile, and it's one of the many things he loves about her.
But when Evelyn's mom and Robert reconcile, Evelyn shares her pain with Luc: Robert was acting inappropriately towards her, and while he didn't physically touch her she's never going to feel comfortable living with him again. She can't tell her mom
"She doesn't need me to be happy. She needs a relationship. When she isn't in love, she's miserable all the time. That's how it's always been. And that's okay, I've come to terms with the fact that I'm second place in her life, but I guess I couldn't stand the possibility of hearing her say that she didn't believe me because Robert was more important to her." 
but she can't go back to Arizona, and she can't think of a way to get out of it.
Luc can. He's been researching the Death With Dignity act, which is legal in Oregon. He'd been planning to travel up there and not return, and while taking Evelyn with him fills him with guilt he has to protect her, and it's the only way he knows how.
Luc's in no rush to meet the end of his life, so he's picked a bunch of tourist locations on the way for them to explore. But as the two of them get closer and the miles stretch behind them, Evelyn uncovers the truth: about Luc's original operation, the rejection, and his interest in euthanasia. Will she support him, or will Evelyn be unable to let the love of her life go?

Luc and Evelyn put the slow in slow burn romance. I'm not a fan of relationships in novels that move this slowly, but I know that aspect will appeal to a lot of people! The 'life-altering kiss' doesn't happen until halfway through the book, and I could feel myself getting bored: there's no point in having a will they won't they relationship if the outcome blatantly spoilered in the synopsis.
As soon as their relationship starts, it gets serious very quickly. Luc proposes to Evelyn and they get married, giving him the peace of mind that she'll be cared for after he dies because she'll get his insurance money.
Evelyn can't bring herself to do anything sexual because it makes her think of Robert, but the second they're married all of her misgivings go out the door. Just because you're married, it doesn't mean you have to have sex. Yes, the tradition calls for you to lose your virginity on your wedding night, but it's not a rule that's set in stone! It would have been better if they'd had a conversation before Luc suggested showering together - just because he assumed it was going to happen, doesn't mean it actually had to!
While I didn't adore the relationship, I really enjoyed the rest of 'Other Breakable Things' (even though it tore my heart out at times). The tourist attractions were brought to life and made me feel as though I'd experienced them myself - particularly the Winchester Mystery House, a place I've always wanted to visit! All of the stops on the trip filled me with an uncontrollable sense of wanderlust, and I don't think it's going to go away any time soon.
The family relationships were also brilliantly explored. The contrast between Luc's smothering parents and Evelyn's self-absorbed mother, the way that their actions caused their children to behave... It's been a long time since I've seen intricate family situations handled delicately and honestly, I just wish we'd been able to see more of the parents before they embarked on their road trip!
The best thing about 'Other Breakable Things' was the way Kelley and Rowan handled illness, which is painfully realistic. They definitely don't make it romantic, showing the harrowing effects that imminent death has on your body. They also show the stress and strain that the relationship experiences without making it over-dramatic. There's no blaming each other or lashing out without reason; all of their arguments and disagreements are because they want the best for each other but they just don't know how to go about it.
You'll have to read for yourself to discover whether Luc decides to go through with his decision to die with dignity, but reading this will make you appreciate your life and your health much more than you already do. I want to make the most of the time I have. I want to see the world and do crazy things (but maybe not as crazy as sleeping in an abandoned army barracks!).

I didn't love the love, but this book has given me a newfound appreciation for life. Make sure you keep the tissues close at hand, because it is a tear-jerker; even the happy bits had me bawling my eyes out!

Because the road trip that Grace and Gabe take is such an integral part of the book, I asked Kelley and Rowan if they could tell me what their ideal road trip would look like: where they'd want to go, and what music they'd want to listen to on the way...
Kelley: I've never gotten to travel much, unfortunately, so there are thousands of places I want to visit. Among my top three, however, are Japan (especially during the winter! The snow there looks so beautiful), Ireland, and the Pacific coast. For someone who grew up in California, there's so much of it I haven't seen. I'm hoping within the next few years, Rowan and I can take a nice, long road trip and hit up places like Disneyland, Monterey, San Jose (Winchester Mystery House, like in the book!), Mare Island, Point Reyes National Seashore (one of our favorite places), Muir Woods, all the way up into Oregon and Washington.
Anytime Rowan and I go on a trip, we have to compromise on music, usually trading off. I prefer a lot of instrumental stuff, like Thomas Bergersun and E.S. Posthumus. Though during our anniversary trip to Point Reyes back in November, I think we listened to a lot of Coldplay and that made me happy. 
Rowan: Haunted road trip! I love abandoned places especially if they're said to be haunted. If I could do a cross-country vacation where we visited places like Waverly Hills and other hospitals, graveyards, and asylums, I'd be happy. For music, I'd load up my iPod with dramatic 70's rock.
Author info:
Kelley York and Rowan Altwood are a wife and wife writing team living in central California with their daughter and way too many cats. Kelley is the author of 'Hushed', 'Made of Stars' and 'Modern Monsters', and 'Other Breakable Things' is Rowan's debut. 
Once again, I'd like to thank Kelley and Rowan for visiting my blog. It's been a pleasure to have them, and I really enjoyed 'Other Breakable Things' (even though it did bring a tear to my eye!).

If you're interested in reading some of the other posts from this blog tour, view the full schedule and visit some of the other hosts. If you'd like to read 'Other Breakable Things', you can purchase a copy here.

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