Blog Tour + Giveaway: What's Left of Me - Amanda Maxlyn

Saturday, December 14, 2013

For more fun & giveaways, come join our:
Facebook Release Party & Blog Tour Event
Friday, December 13th – CLICK HERE

Happy Release Day to Amanda Maxlyn on her debut novel “What's Left of Me".
Make sure to check out the TEASERS & enter the GIVEAWAY
*for a Kindle HDX and Amazon Gift Cards below!

What's Left of Me - Amanda Maxlyn
Life works in mysterious ways.

Four years ago I became known as the girl with cancer.

I refuse to cry.

And I refuse to give in.

A relationship with a man is the last thing I’m looking for right now, but one night with Parker changes everything. He is persistent, and he knows what he wants. Me.

He doesn’t treat me like I’m fragile.

But he doesn’t know, and I’m not ready to tell him.

What if it changes everything?

Tragedy found me when I was seventeen.

Love found me when I was twenty-one.

My name is Aundrea McCall, and this is my journey.

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My Thoughts:
I would share what Amanda Maxlyn, the author mentioned to me about this book:
“Aundrea, to me, comes across as a very strong woman who just wants to be treated "normal." It's a real, raw, emotional story and hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Instead of, having a character that has cancer and is hiding or running from it.  Her cancer is the story. This is Aundrea's journey of dealing with her cancer all while meeting and falling in love.”

I was in the midst of seeking a unique story in the web of stereotype (having cancer patients as protagonist). Amanda Maxlyn just gave me what I needed. To relish this book would be something every reader who would read this must do.

For me, reading a book is like owning a character on the theater. You would make yourself be the character and know everything about it. As crazy as it would sound, I try and want to be immersed into a character. No matter what the pain that character would go through knowing that it would also lead to a place or a person where she would be in her happiest. In this book, I felt it. I went through with Aundrea. This made me welcome the bond I had with Aundrea.

I was handed a diary and I earned friends.
That was what I felt like when, during and after I read this book. It was the full-on insight of who Aundrea was and her venturing to her journey of constant battles and of finding love.

“Maybe this is wishful thinking,
Probably mindless dreaming,
But if we loved again, I swear I’d love you right.”
-          Back To December by Taylor Swift

But mostly, I loved how they (Parker and Aundrea) loved each other. It was brilliant, it was just amazing. It wasn't too much, it was just fitting.

I once told Amanda that: “Dream of the people who would fall in love with your book. I know I'll be one of them” and honestly, I was (and still is). This would be the debut-novel that would make you cry and make your heart clench; yet it would leave you smiling (through tears) and would say: “That was worth reading.”

To those who wanted a light to heavy story with a heroine with cancer, this book was written for you. To those who knew someone with cancer and to understand that someone, I would definitely recommend that you read this. Or to those curious and strong enough to delve into a whirlwind of nothing but pure, raw, real and the truth about someone who was and still was fighting cancer.

Rating: 5 out of 5!
Here’s to Parker babies!
*that was my wishful thinking so don’t keep your hopes up.

Longer Rantings:

From @iRelateWords on Twitter (posted last 19th November 2013):
“That moment when you can actually feel the pain in your chest from hearing something or seeing something that breaks your heart.”
-          That quote was very fitting – it was not something I neither saw nor heard, but something I felt. Yet it broke my heart both in the bitterest and sweetest pleasure.

First and foremost, I thought: “What’s Left of Me?” given that the author already revealed that Aundrea has cancer. I was expecting some tragic happenings; I knew how I was already thinking of the worst. Shockingly, there were no twists, only a developing story about Aundrea and her life. And for me, that was enough. I thought thoroughly how I knew I would not be able to take any more twists of some sorts because the moment a reader (in my case) read Aundrea’s story it was like listening to a friend sharing her thoughts and feelings – both the aches and the glee.
So what was left of Aundrea?
Would she be looking for a cure for cancer?
Or was Aundrea looking for more time?
But when I read the blurb, she met someone. And that made me smile. Because after everything and melancholy surrounding it – the pain and tears, it left me yearning for something… true and unconditional love.

This was not a typical cancer story. Well for me, it really was not. From the start, the dead giveaway that I knew that the heroine has cancer already piqued my interest. I would not be shocked that it was a twist or something yet as any cancer patient would say, they longed for normality. Yes, even Aundrea. She did not want to be known as the girl with cancer. But that led me to remember in ‘The Fault in Our Stars by John Green’ that cancer is a part of a person; no it should not control you but you should know that it is a part of you. In ‘A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks’, the lead was pretty normal but then her cancer was the twist. Then at ‘No Attachments by Tiffany King’, the heroine wanted to do her bucket list. All of those stories desired normality (sort of in TFiOS) but in so far as they wanted that, they had their romance. In this book, it was like that, and I quote the author, Amanda: “It is a romance story just as much as it is about her cancer.” Aside from that, it was familiar but different, in a way that was refreshing; in here the author showed Aundrea’s struggle, how she fought, had fun and fell in love.

There were countless things that were just perfect about the book. The plot was well-thought, the sequence was continuous, the setting was easy to imagine and the characters were effortless to understand. Yet, the details were the most astonishing and descriptive I had ever read – specific but enough to understand, with words on layman’s terms. Again, I reiterated the beauty of its details, the vividness and the clarity for the author to have shown the setting and the characters. The story was the exact balance of a light to heavy read – the first parts were still mellow with occasional peek to Aundrea’s life. Those bleak moments of Aundrea’s procedures were a knife thrust to my stomach, I felt queasy and I wanted to let Aundrea reach out for me. Mostly, what I loved the most was the connection that the story had to be able to reverberate with its reader. As the story progressed, it was either you were on Aundrea’s shoes or her best bud.

“The more I try the less it’s working, yeah
‘Cause everything inside me screams,
No, no, no, no, no…”
-          Who You Are by Jessie J

The book showed how firm and sturdy Aundrea was, as a character – motivational heroine so to speak. She still had her fun, which I was the normal that I loved. Then again, the author never fails to acknowledge that as much as Aundrea was having fun, the glimpses of Aundrea thinking about her cancer, rose up. During the moments wherein Aundrea was having fun, I had mental lapses of Aundrea’s cancer – to be able to read that she was enjoying herself was something enlightening to read. Whenever she felt happy and normal, I enjoyed that she was feeling it and I let her be. Then as I read the procedures, I felt my body turning into jelly. I felt being weakened. Every scar, Aundrea pointed out, I touched that part of my body. When Aundrea counted how long would it be for her to live, I felt my eyes being pricked. I knew what she saw; I knew what she was feeling. I just wanted to be there for her, to comfort her. She made fun of things and be sarcastic – feisty and humorous, especially when she contradicted herself in her mind. She humored herself which I had come to endear about her. It also showed the struggles of Aundrea's illness with the pains of her cancer and her pains as a person – her shame towards herself, the feeling of defenselessness. Though the author showed this fragile side of Aundrea, it showed her bravery. It earned me another level of respect towards Aundrea.

“Don’t lose who you are in the blur of the stars!
Seeing is deceiving, dreaming is believing,
It’s okay not to be okay.
Sometimes it’s hard, to follow your heart.”
-          Who You Are by Jessie J

The story was continuous, it was just rolling. It did not miss a beat. It had unraveled how the events were taking place while having some past or some of Aundrea’s meanderings. Which eventually led to the romance part. Destiny? Fate? Because they had been pushed consistently. More than a coincidence, I was sure. It was true, when you meet the one; you just knew he would be the one. Being with Parker was like living what Aundrea should have been living. No worries, just passion and all. Normal. Blatant flirting, and thank goodness for no love triangles – this would definitely earn a flying stiletto from me, if ever. The book had its drama and to have another mess would be frustrating (the hair-pulling, screaming and groaning kind). So I was beyond glad that it was only Parker-Aundrea! Then of course, there was definitely the clash of sexual tension but it exploded pretty quickly – they both knew what they wanted and they just got on with it. The love scenes were passionate and desirable – hot, steamy, sexy, hard, gentle, worshipped, love; everything was in there. The author did not lessen the scenes as it formed part as strength for Aundrea to feel as herself and to feel desired and yearned for. And to show to readers how talented Parker was (yes, he so was). As much as I was enjoying the brewing relationship, I understood Aundrea’s reluctance, her hesitant demeanor. Aundrea did not want Parker to know, for he makes her alive, to be her. Not the girl with cancer. Could I blame her? I couldn’t. I read her pains, I cried her aches. She wanted to feel normal and for those times with Parker felt like it. I knew it was wrong but I wanted her to feel that longing of normalness even for a limited time. And Parker knew her as Aundrea, the awesome being that she was.

“And I think about summer, all the beautiful times,
I watched you laughing from the passenger side.
Realized that I loved you in the fall.”
-          Back To December by Taylor Swift

Parker. Parker Cade Jackson. You rendered me speechless. I would try but could I spurt out that you were perfect?! Just wow. He was too good to be true, but it worked. He had that player-flirty aura in him and those god-like charms. He wooed Aundrea with his personality, which was lovable by the way; and his persistent attitude. So when the truth was out? He was just real. His shock would have been my shock if the author did not warn us; thank you for saving us a heart attack, Amanda Maxlyn (the author). What radiated from Parker was his sincerity. I felt his comfort, I felt his gentleness. He was proud of what Aundrea had and was still overcoming. Then he did something that shocked me (*a part of his head), I literally stopped reading and covered my mouth with my hands. He was not scared (well, exclude Aundrea); he was not scared to show his emotions. He was tough like that, a real man. Those moist in his eyes? Those tears? Those shudders while crying? That was what I loved about Parker, he was strong and Aundrea’s cane yet he was still vulnerable and afraid (to lose). This showed his weakness. His fear, that constant fear of his – that he might lose Aundrea. He was a real character, who knew that he was haunted by these fears on his dreams. These nightmares that like Aundrea, he was struggling to keep her. It showed that Aundrea was not alone in her fears and that like Parker; they were each other’s strength to carry on. Every promise that leaves his mouth. Every word, every kiss, every touch, every smile and every look. But just those crystal blue eyes. I feel it real, I feel her gazing, glimpsing but mostly, I felt him looking at her. And mostly, I felt the depth of his love to her.

“Tears don’t mean you’re losing, everybody’s bruising,
Just be true to who you are.”
-          Who You Are by Jessie J

I was clutching my heart during particular moments. I was sobbing (my sisters were asleep beside me and I was trying my best to keep quiet – I did that closed fist on the mouth). I cried a lot in this book. There were moments that would just spring out and would make a reader cry – especially as Aundrea told about the treatments on her cancer and the people around her. There was that moment where everything felt like it was just drowning her and I did not want her to give up. Her shoulders were heaving from the pain and she felt like a burden. Her family kept telling her that everything was going to be okay and that they were sorry. I knew they were trying to make it lessen for Aundrea but the thing was it was doing the opposite. They made her feel worse because she’d rather hear the truth. That was why I loved Jean, her best friend who never made her feel less. The one who would be honest and when lost or could not say anything that would be helpful, she would keep her mouth shut and just listen. I remembered crying my heart out at their phone conversation *catching my breath*. Then there was Genna, Aundrea’s sister which was also the middle – where Aundrea got her strength when she was feeling nothing of any worth and also the person who always said that everything would be okay. I loved these family and friends relationship, which was the real deal even in reality. It showed the broken and firm side of each relationship. It showed the better and worse of it. Just genuine.

“Don’t you worry your pretty little mind,
People throw rocks at things that shine,
And life makes love look hard,
The stakes are high, the water’s rough,
But this love is ours.”
-          Ours by Taylor Swift

It was a book that even if you were not to read the Epilogue was well-done already. No kidding, the epilogue almost killed me. I swear I could not believe it. All the emotions came crashing back at me. However, I wanted those who were about to read this book to read it until the end. Relish that last one word in the end – which made me appreciate the story more. That one word made the story realistic. Yes, it was the ending but reflecting its realness within it. I was bias because I truly cried the hardest at the epilogue and it was set on a different POV. It made me a blubbering mess. The epilogue was the depiction of haunting but beautiful. It worked, it really did. That anything might happen but the knowledge that they were still together, no matter what.

What was left of me? I learned that it wasn’t the cure, not even the time. But it was how you made a mark on a person, as Parker said. You would know when you would be remembered by what you did and when you made your mark and that would make you immortal. I laughed, I cried, I swooned, I fell in love, I had fun… I was left with heartache but not the bad kind, the good one. My heart was being clenched with every beat. I was left with something. A mark, yes. A mark that signified that I had read What’s Left of Me and I gained a more thorough perception that:
“Thinking holds you back from what you want.”

A person does not know what tomorrow would bring and this book pinpointed that too. Sometimes deadlines are good. Why? Because it prepares someone for something. It makes someone want to live life to the fullest, every day. Most of all, it makes you greedy to show the person you love how much you love him or her. Everyone has a deadline, we just do not know when. With cancer or not. It would only be a matter of time, when; the scenario, how; place, where; and the person, who. That who, did he or she marked anyone? Who would immortalize him or her?

For me? This was what the book made me realize:
She did what she said, she survived.
He did what he promised, he stayed.
They did what they do best….
Clinged to each other, savored every moment.

This (book) and they (Aundrea and Parker) left a mark.
Of bittersweet happiness.
Of a happily-ever-after with a perfect realistic view of life,
relationship, pain, love, constant struggle
and of course, the fight of defying the odds of time.

What is left when you give everything?
You would still be yourself.
You just etched your mark to everyone who knew (and will know) you.


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Author Bio:
I am the mother of two little boys, married to the love of my life, and living in one of the smallest towns in Minnesota. When I’m not chasing or cleaning up after my boys (yes, all three), I can be found writing or snuggled up with my kindle, a glass of wine, and spending time with my fictional friends and family.

Author Links:
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-     Jassie

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