Review + Giveaway: Mists of the Serengeti by Leylah Attar

Review

With Mists of the Serengeti, Leylah Attar delivers an extraordinarily evocative story about life, love and loss. Jack and Rodel’s story is a journey enlivened by Attar’s prose, every step felt deeply, acutely.

The story begins with a violent storm of fire, steel and concrete—an explosion in an East Africa mall. Two people suffer an unimaginable loss, a pain which hurls them on a collision course towards each other. Their lives tangle in ways unforeseen and soon enough, inextricably, as they each work through their own heartbreak.

Jack Warden lost his only daughter that day with memories of coffee, yellow balloons and blasts haunting him every moment.

Rodel lost her sister, the girl who was wildly alive and driven to make a difference. When she flies to Africa to pick up her sister’s belongings, she uncovers exactly what her sister had set out to do.

Determined to carry out those unfinished plans, Rodel treks to a coffee farm in Tanzania to look for a man named Jack.

Despite a not-so-great start, Jack and Rodel set off to save the lives of a few in memory of the ones they loved.

With sand and mist swirling around them, they find unexpected hope in each other, strength in the young faces of those who struggle against cultural atrocities.  What’s even more surprising is the kindling of feelings, the resurgence of life and love when they thought it long gone.

“He wore a crown of dried twigs and hay, but he was more royal, more magnificent than all the jeweled kings in all the fairy tales because he walked in real life—mortal, vulnerable, broken, jaded, but still a king—with the heart of a lion, and the soul of an angel.”

Their journey is temporary however. Jack can’t bear to love again, only to lose again. Rodel must return to England, to a life put on pause. But under the guise of starlight and inconsequence, they surrender to each other.

“I want reckless. I want mindless, ruthless, heedless. I want to be swept up in madness. I want your passion. I want your pain. I want you to tell me that you can’t bear the thought of me leaving, that it feels like you can’t breathe, that you want me, that you’ll miss me.”

Jack and Rodel’s story, along with the stories of the many others we encounter along the way, will move you deeply. Poetic, introspective, heartbreaking and hopeful, Mists of the Serengeti is sure to be one of those novels that will stay with you long after you’re done.

A beautiful, must-read book by a talented writer who continues to out-do herself.

“This is what it looks like when you wander somewhere between the sand and stardust, and meet a piece of yourself in someone else.”

About Mists of the Serengeti

Once in Africa, I kissed a king…

“And just like that, in an old red barn at the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, I discovered the elusive magic I had only ever glimpsed between the pages of great love stories. It fluttered around me like a newborn butterfly and settled in a corner of my heart. I held my breath, afraid to exhale for fear it would slip out, never to be found again.”

When a bomb explodes in a mall in East Africa, its aftershocks send two strangers on a collision course that neither one sees coming.

Jack Warden, a divorced coffee farmer in Tanzania, loses his only daughter. An ocean away, in the English countryside, Rodel Emerson loses her only sibling.

Two ordinary people, bound by a tragic afternoon, set out to achieve the extraordinary, as they make three stops to rescue three children across the vast plains of the Serengeti—children who are worth more dead than alive.

But even if they beat the odds, another challenge looms at the end of the line. Can they survive yet another loss—this time of a love that’s bound to slip through their fingers, like the mists that dissipate in the light of the sun?

“Sometimes you come across a rainbow story—one that spans your heart. You might not be able to grasp it or hold on to it, but you can never be sorry for the color and magic it brought.”

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Giveaway

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Exclusive excerpt + giveaway: Mists of the Serengeti by Leylah Attar

Coming January 31st is Mists of the Serengeti—a new standalone contemporary romance from the talented Leylah Attar. Together with some other awesome blogs, we’re giving you a sneak peek at the prologue. Follow the blogs below in order, so you can read the prologue in its entirety!

And don’t forget to pre-order now through iBooks.

23 Jan:  Natasha is a Book Junkie
24 Jan: Shh Moms Reading
25 Jan: Angie and Jessica’s Dreamy Reads
26 Jan: Vilma’s Book Blog (my blog)
27 Jan: Maryse’s Book Blog

About Mists of the Serengeti

Once in Africa, I kissed a king…

“And just like that, in an old red barn at the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, I discovered the elusive magic I had only ever glimpsed between the pages of great love stories. It fluttered around me like a newly born butterfly and settled in a corner of my heart. I held my breath, afraid to exhale for fear it would slip out, never to be found again.”

When a bomb explodes in a mall in East Africa, its aftershocks send two strangers on a collision course that neither one sees coming.

Jack Warden, a divorced coffee farmer in Tanzania, loses his only daughter. An ocean away, in the English countryside, Rodel Emerson loses her only sibling.

Two ordinary people, bound by a tragic afternoon, set out to achieve the extraordinary, as they make three stops to rescue three children across the vast plains of the Serengeti—children who are worth more dead than alive.

But even if they beat the odds, another challenge looms at the end of the line. Can they survive yet another loss—this time of a love that’s bound to slip through their fingers, like the mists that dissipate in the light of the sun?

“Sometimes you come across a rainbow story—one that spans your heart. You might not be able to grasp it or hold on to it, but you can never be sorry for the color and magic it brought.”

Excerpt

– RODEL –

It’s the happiest day of my life, thought Rodel Harris Emerson, as she signed her name on the dotted line.

People assumed it was a man’s name, until they met her. It had happened two years ago when she’d applied for a teaching position in Bourton-on-the-Water, and it happened again when she’d messaged the real estate agent to see the property she was buying now, in the same golden-hued village—affectionately known as The Venice of the Cotswolds—in the English countryside.

“Congratulations!” Andy looked over the contract and smiled. “Your first home.”

“Thank you,” she replied.

He had no idea. It wasn’t just a home; it was a dream she had chased her whole life. And now, at twenty-four, she finally had an anchor, the kind of stability she’d missed growing up in a family that traveled wherever her father’s job took them. It had been a good job, one that had afforded them the luxury of experiencing different cultures, different places, all around the world. But just as Rodel would begin to settle down and start making new friends, they would be off again. Her younger sister, Mo, thrived on it, as did her parents. They were explorers at heart, free spirits that craved new tastes, new sounds, new soil. But Rodel yearned for a rest stop, a little patch of comfort and familiarity—a real home.

And now she had it, in exactly the kind of place that had stirred up her imagination since she’d first watched The Lord of the Rings and had fallen in love with the Shire. She had been twelve then, and it had remained lodged in her mind—a fictional, improbable ideal—until she was searching for job openings after college and came across Bourton-on-the-Water. There, in the heart of England, amongst the rural idyll of peaceful rolling hills, life was unhurried. Footpaths crossed scenic fields that bloomed with snowdrops in January and bluebells in May. Stone cottages nestled alongside tree-lined streets, and low, elegant bridges straddled the river.

“Well, that’s it.” Andy put the paperwork into his briefcase. “There are just a few dates that we need to go over.”

Rodel pulled out her phone and switched to the calendar. It rang just as Andy was about to get started.

He read the name flashing across her screen. “Montego?”

“My sister.” Rodel didn’t share the reason behind their unusual names. Their parents had named both daughters after the places in which they had been conceived: Rodel Harris, for the picturesque village of Rodel on the Isle of Harris in Scotland, and Montego James for Montego Bay in the parish of St. James, Jamaica.

Ro and Mo.

“Please go on.” She sent her sister’s call to voice mail. This wasn’t the time for one of Mo’s rambling chats. Besides, Rodel had big news to share. The I-bought-a-house-so-you-need-to-get-your-arse-down-here kind of news that she’d been dying to share once everything was finalized.

“I can wait if you want to take it.” Andy was chatty and overly accommodating. Rodel had a feeling that his interest in her stretched beyond the professional.

“It’s okay. I’ll call her later.”

They were seated on opposite sides of the kitchen counter in the restored seventeenth-century cottage that Rodel had just purchased. It was a tiny two-story home, but it had an open living area with exposed wood beams, a book nook, and a sunny terrace steps from the river. It was close enough to the school for Rodel to walk, but set in the secluded backwater at the edge of the village. Rodel couldn’t wait to move out of the room she’d been renting for the last two years.

“The sellers have agreed to an early closing so you can have the place in a couple of weeks.” Andy went over the dates.

“That’s perfect.” It meant that Rodel would have the summer to settle in before the school year started in September. “Thank you,” she said, as they concluded their meeting.

Andy stood and cleared his throat. “I was wondering if…umm…you’d like to have a drink. You know, to celebrate and all?”

Another time, Rodel would have turned him down. She had been so focused on working toward her dream of owning a home that her social life was practically non-existent. It didn’t help that she was a book nerd. She had book boyfriends that no flesh-and-blood man could ever live up to. She might have sought tranquility in a home, but in a man, she wanted the tempest—Strider, Aragorn, King of Gondor. Another fictional, improbable ideal. Yes, Lord of the Rings had quite possibly ruined her. She had found the Shire, and she had claimed her Hobbit-hole, but she was pretty sure she would have to recast the hero. Kings like Aragorn simply did not walk among mortal men.

“A drink would be nice,” she said to Andy.

“Well then…” He looked chuffed as he led her to his car—a compact, white hybrid.

They drove to a small, rustic pub overlooking the river. The rough, hewn wooden tables were snug, barely wide enough to hold their beers, and their knees touched as they sat across from each other.

Continue reading at Maryse’s Book Blog

Giveaway

To win an eARC of Mists of the Serengeti by Leylah Attar, to be sent directly to your Kindle, just share this post using the social media buttons below, then come back and leave a comment. Contest ends on 29 Jan 2017 noon CST, and is open internationally!

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Review: The Paper Swan by Leylah Attar

My Thoughts

An intense, tempestuous, suspenseful story of love, vengeance and forgiveness. It’s a bold and gripping novel that will take you on a ride.

5stars

My Thoughts

They say it takes 21 days to form a habit.

They lie.

For 21 days she held on.

But on Day 22, she would have given anything for the sweet slumber of death.

Because on Day 22, she realizes that her only way out means certain death for one of the two men she loves.

 

My Review

This book. It was a torment of emotions. Intense. Gritty. Complicated. Sharp and fluid all at once. It was my first experience reading Leylah Attar and I was immediately struck by her solid, expressive writing. Attar managed to weave a story that raged like a storm. The beginning was frenzied and violent, crashing over me in waves of acute, heart-pounding fear as our protagonist was abducted. Her life clearly at an end.

Who are the last people you think of before you die?

I squeezed my eyes shut, anticipating the click, the cold, lead-weighted inevitability of death.

Those are the ones you loved the most.

Then the story morphs into a different kind of storm altogether, past and presents colliding, vengeance and penance dueling, and everything that we think we know twists unexpectedly. All the while, my emotions vacillate from anger to fear, to confusion and acceptance… even hope and something more. Skye Sedgewick has been taken at gunpoint, broken down physically and emotionally, forced to endure horrifying, hopeless circumstances.

“I felt like all the bits that held me together were slowly coming unglued, falling off, piece by piece. I was disappearing, disintegrating like rocks that get eaten by the sea.”

And every time the storm seemed to calm, something would happen that would get me back on edge, making me lose my footing on the story. But through her inescapable circumstances, as Skye gets closer to Damian, her abductor, she is determined to find answers… and more importantly, a window for escape.

Yet of course, their story ebbs and flows, deepening in feeling and intrigue with every flip of the page. Truths revealed change everything as retribution rages as the primary undercurrent.

“You can either choose love or you can choose hate, because where one lives, the other will die.”

Amidst the maelstrom of truths and conflicted emotions, love finds a way and choices must be made for the future of captor and captive.

There’s much I loved about the book… the cultural backdrop of Mexico, the riot of emotions the story stirs up, the flawed and complex characters, and the gripping and fluid writing.

The story is threaded with flashbacks from the past, tender hearted moments, barely bridled desire, love and hate, loss and forgiveness. This is an edgier, intense novel, not necessarily dark, but certainly one laced with fear and marred by violence. And even more than that, it was certainly a draw to experience an epic kind of romance that is far from perfect, far from simple, but close to heaven for two people who have both endured more pain, deceit, and heartbreak than they should have.

“We are sand and rock and water and sky, anchors on ships and sails in the wind. We are a journey to a destination that shifts every time we dream or fall or leap or weep. We are stars with flaws that still sparkle  and shine.”

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