Thursday, 17 November 2016

Review: Whispers From The East by Eleanor Lloyd-Jones and Katie Fox

30326242 Loneliness is a desolate feeling that claws its way into the very fabric of your life, dragging you to despair. It is an isolation of your heart and soul and a rejection of everything you are, and everything you try to be, by the very people who should be showering you with love and acceptance...

A life of solitude becomes the norm for Charlotte Whittaker. An emptiness fills her with a void so big that she finds herself running to escape it—running to be alone... It takes a new country and a new outlook on friendship for her to begin to build up her trust in others again.

Easton James wraps his heart in tissue paper, locking it away and hiding the key, as he tries to put distance between it and the life he thought was already paved for him. He walks a lonely man—a band of patient friends by his side—searching for answers that will reunite him with the man he knows hides deep inside of himself.

Travelling roads of uncertainty that push and pull them like magnets, the pair discover a middle ground on uncharted territory that gives them hope for a chance at a new kind of love.

Ikira's Review: 5 out of 5 stars (If I could give it more, I would)

I received this book as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) from the authors and was exceptionally pleased to be one of the privileged few to receive one. Having read Housing Elephants, by Elenaor Lloyd-Jones previously; and being blown away by it, I had high hopes for this story before I'd even seen the trailer or read the blurb.

The authors have given a link to a playlist at the beginning of the book with songs which link in to each chapter. I've never read a book with a playlist before so I was intrigued by this and decided to 'play along'. I downloaded the full playlist and initially listened to each song specified for the relevant chapters. The playlist is excellent – the songs are so in tune with the story, it's hard to believe they weren't written precisely for the book. The only drawback to the playlist is how beautiful the lyrics to most of the songs are – they took me away from the story at times, just lying back and listening. I found I had to really turn the volume down and just absorb the overall sound whilst reading so I was able to read – because I really wanted to keep reading!

Anyway – time to actually review the book.

Easton – a dark, brooding, loner type. He has friends around him and its clear he has a story to tell. Charlie – a young, light and carefree girl travelling on her own and absolutely happy to be doing so. At least that's the impression you are given to begin with. Of course, with this type of book, there was always going to be a story behind one or the other of these two and there most definitely is. I've promised no spoilers so I am struggling for what to say without giving anything at all away. I wish I could just tell you the whole story but there's no way I could do it justice and that would also kind of negate the need for you to read it – which you definitely should, by the way.

We are transported to Amsterdam with both our main two characters and a group of friends and we travel along with them, watching how the group interacts together, how deep seated the friendships are, how they develop along the way and what they can withstand.

Easton has been travelling a while now and is quite comfortable doing so. They have their plans, he's enjoying his time and getting on whilst trying to fight his personal demons. Charlie is woefully underprepared for the reality of travelling, let alone by herself and finds she needs a little help and really doesn't like to admit it.

Easton likes to be in control and Charlie is strong willed and stubborn – you know there will be some explosions. There are times I want to shout or scream at one of the group, hug one of them or even bang a couple of their heads together! The others in the travelling group are Cherry, Axel and Enzo. Cherry is awesome. Just the perfect tonic to every situation. She is calm, understanding, kind and absolutely fun. A wonderful character who no doubt has a story of her own to tell (Hope the authors see this and take the hint.) The other two guys – Axel and Enzo don't really bring too much. They are necessary for the story but not in their own right. Their characters could have been written any number of different ways and they'd still have worked because they aren't as intertwined into the story like Cherry is. Cherry has to be the way she is for it to all work and gel correctly. Again, the authors got this absolutely spot on!

The group splits and it's a pivotal point in the story. Little by little, we learn more about Charlie and Easton, what brought them to this point in their lives, why they are travelling Europe and about their home lives. We follow their journey right until the end of the travelling, beyond that and back home. But of course, home for Charlie is in England whereas Easton is to the US. They've both done amazing things for each other in their time together but what does this mean for the friendship they built along the way? Back home for Easton are Lily, Beth and Tommy and his Mom and Dad. These five people are pivitol in the story despite their relatively short parts. We would not know Easton the way we do if not for these five and again, their characters are so well written, you can see them, hear them and understand them like they're your own family.

For Charlie, back home are Mum and Dad – they are also very key to Charlies character and story, they made her the woman she has become and continue to shape her future right to the very last.

The two amazingly strong primary characters come to life inside your head, they take over your own thought process and completely hypnotise you into just keeping reading until you can't.

As I went through this story, I had to stop at a few points. The raw emotions I felt alongside these people was as though they were right here, part of my life, my best friends and I was living it all right there with them. It genuinely became too much for me to bear. I had to stop the music, put down the kindle and get away for a while. But then, whilst I was away, I yearned to be back with them. The ability of the authors to take me right there, to the very campsite or room, almost hearing and smelling what was going on as well as seeing it all in my mind is astounding. I enjoy reading, I wouldn't review if I didn't but it is rare to find a book which has me so engrossed, I stay awake until 1.30am just to finish it whilst simultaneously wishing it would never end!

This story will tear your heart out, stomp on it and throw it away. It will gently pick you up, cuddle you and engulf you with love and it will leave you wanting more. And you will get more, much more than you ever could have imagined.

How does it end? I will tell you this – I cried. Not just a few little tears running down my face but full on sobbing. Tears of joy or pain, I can't say because of the aforementioned spoiler ban but is it worth the ridiculously low pre-order price? Yes – without a doubt!

I hope the authors won't mind but here are a couple of my favourite little snippets from the story -

Fear is a common emotion, an infection, and when it is left to fester like an untreated wound, it seeps into your bloodstream, slowly poisoning you. I was poisoned by fear.”

Well...then I think we may have ourselves a bit of a bind...because you see, I can't breathe without you.”

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