Blog Tour: The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfarer by M.G. Buerhlen

Posted March 3, 2014 by Kara in blog tour, book review, Guest Post, Kara / 4 Comments

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Having recently just finished The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare, this book comes highly recommended by me. The writing is fantastic and vivid, and the characters are superb. I have a guest post from the author, M.G. Buerhlen, today, and at the bottom I have reviewed the book in case you are interested in that. There are links to purchase the book as well! 
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Publisher: Strange Chemistry

Release Date: March 4th, 2014
Pages: 416
Genre: Young Adult – Science Fiction
Source: I received an e-galley from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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Synopsis: For as long as 17-year-old Alex Wayfare can remember, she has had visions of the past. Visions that make her feel like she’s really on a ship bound for America, living in Jamestown during the Starving Time, or riding the original Ferris wheel at the World’s Fair.

But these brushes with history pull her from her daily life without warning, sometimes leaving her with strange lasting effects and wounds she can’t explain. Trying to excuse away the aftereffects has booked her more time in the principal’s office than in any of her classes and a permanent place at the bottom of the social hierarchy. Alex is desperate to find out what her visions mean and get rid of them.

It isn’t until she meets Porter, a stranger who knows more than should be possible about her, that she learns the truth: Her visions aren’t really visions. Alex is a Descender – capable of traveling back in time by accessing Limbo, the space between Life and Afterlife. Alex is one soul with fifty-six past lives, fifty-six histories.

Fifty-six lifetimes to explore: the prospect is irresistible to Alex, especially when the same mysterious boy with soulful blue eyes keeps showing up in each of them. But the more she descends, the more it becomes apparent that someone doesn’t want Alex to travel again. Ever.

And will stop at nothing to make this life her last.

Preorder links:
 

 

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Guest Post from M.G. Buerhlen:
 
 
 
Where in the World is Alex Wayfare?
 
Admittedly, one of my favorite TV shows as a kid was Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, so it seemed a fitting title for today’s guest post all about the possible world travels of my main character, Alex.
 
In The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare, Alex is a “Descender,” capable of traveling back in time to her reincarnated past lives. Here are two of the places Alex visits in the past that are still around today:
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Alex visits the Chicago Theater in 1927 to see one of the first showings of The Jazz Singer. Here’s a shot of the theater in 1927 on the left, exactly how Alex would’ve seen it, then here it is today on the right.
 
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Alex visits Buckingham Fountain with her friend Blue in 1927, shortly after it was built and dedicated to the city of Chicago. The fountain hasn’t changed much since then, except for the green oxidation of the copper seahorses, and the extra skyscrapers along the skyline. You can still see a few of the same buildings in the background. Blue and Alex share a kiss beside the fountain. You should stop by sometime and do the same. 🙂
In the first book of the series, Alex also travels back in time to 1800’s Old West Missouri and 1960’s Cincinnati on missions to recover lost treasures in history.
 
But since I’m a travel addict, here are a few of the places I’d love to send Alex in future books. I’d have to book a flight and visit myself, you know, for research purposes.
China
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I’d love to send Alex to China. Perhaps back in time to the Qing Dynasty on a mission to break into the Forbidden City in Beijing. Just thinking about that kind of adventure gives me the tinglie winglies.
Victorian England
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A few early readers have mentioned wanting to see Alex travel back to Victorian England. I’m not sure how Alex would handle the corsets and dresses and society’s limitations on class and gender, but it sure would be fun to see her try. Of course I’d have to take a trip over there and do a Pride & Prejudice tour, amiright? 
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Middle Ages Scotlandeilean-donan-castle.jpg
In the first book, we get a tiny glimpse of one of Alex’s past lives being in Scotland in the Middle Ages. I’d love to have her go back and explore this life further. And while I’m at it, I might need a trip to Scotland to visit some of those ancient castles…
Crete
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This is my personal favorite. How amazing would it be to go back in time and discover the secrets behind the fall of the Minoan Civilization? The Minoans were a peaceful and technologically advanced people, so their disappearance is one of the most fascinating mysteries in history. I’d love to visit Crete and explore the palace ruins, and while I’m there, maybe take a nap on one of their beautiful beaches. Just look at that blue, blue water. The food, I’m guessing, is coma-inducing. Would you like to come with me? We could totally go tomorrow.
Thanks for having me on the blog today!
 

Author bio: When she’s not writing, M.G. moonlights as a web designer and social media/creative director.

She’s the current web ninja lurking behind the hugely popular website YABooksCentral.com,

a social network for YA (and kids!) book lovers. The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare is her debut novel. M.G. lives nestled away in Michigan pines, surrounded by good coffee and good books, with her husband and son and three furbabies. Say hello on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.

Author Links:
 
 
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Review:

This book and I got off to a weird start. I know I am not the only one who has felt that way because there are quite a few DNFs or reviewers complaining about the pacing. I have to honestly say, at the beginning it was an issue for me. But I loved the writing from the very start. It was vivid, loaded with imagery, and since I am a huge visual reader, I really wanted to stick this out and see where it went. I am glad I did, because the second half of this book was brilliant, and it kept getting better as I approached the conclusion. 


I think the best way to get my point of view across here is to do my review by likes and dislikes. It’s kind of the way I read it too. I kept thinking as I went along, “I like this. Nope, I don’t care for this.” Thing is, most of what I have to say is positive. And I ended up giving this book 4 stars. So let’s get the dislikes out of the way first.

Dislikes:

  • The pacing was an issue. I already stated this, but you should know that the more you read, the better it gets. It just takes this one a little while to get going. It is a slower paced book than most other YA novels, but since I read a lot of adult fiction too, it wasn’t hard for me to get into the swing of things.
  • I mentioned loving the writing, and I did, but I did feel the book was a BIT too long. Maybe too wordy? Or maybe just some of the exposition and conversation at the beginning could have been whittled down so the plot moved faster?
  • Honestly, some of the descriptions were a bit odd. I would be trucking along and reading when this really odd sentence would yank me out of the narrative. See example below. 
 
The mouth of the gun still smiled at the ceiling, licking its chops.

 

  • There was also a really odd one towards the beginning where Alex mentions she feels like oatmeal. Not that she is moving sluggishly like she is stuck in oatmeal, but that she actually IS oatmeal. It was just…odd.

 

 
Likes:
 
But now we get to talk about the good stuff. And honestly, there is way more good than there is bad. I showed you an example of where the writing felt off to me, but I want to show you where the writing was awesome too. Because 99% of it was. The following is my favorite quote from the book. And it refers to Alex talking about her sister Audrey who has cancer.
  • It was always that way with us. Whenever we found forgotten or broken objects, I would repair them and bring them back to life, and Audrey would make them beautiful. I was the stoic one with Coke-bottle eyeglasses. Audrey was the beauty, with a laugh that gave color to our world. 
  • The story is just so unique. I usually don’t mesh well with books about time travel. But this one…wow. I just loved the concept and the science behind it. Even though much of it is completely implausible, it was believable within the context of the narrative. And fascinating. Especially the soulmarks. WOW. I loved that we got to relive historical events from the past, and I love that this is a series and that in the next book I will get to relive more important historical events through the protagonist’s eyes. We only really got a glimpse of THREE of Alex’s past lives in this novel, and can you imagine what all the rest of them will be like? The opportunities are ENDLESS.
  •  And then there was Alex herself. Okay, so I didn’t love how judgmental she was of her female peers and I am never a fan of nerdy girls who think they are better than everyone else, but I was able to overlook that one aspect of Alex’s behavior because I loved her relationship with her sisters and her grandparents. I loved how healthy this family was even when a horrible disease was ravaging them from the inside out. I loved their movie nights and I loved grandma’s baking. There were just so many AWWWW moments.
  • And then there was the sort-of love triangle. I say SORT OF because I am not sure where this is going, and I don’t specifically want to call it a triangle because it was so unique in its approach. Unique and I loved it! I don’t want to spoil anything but I do want to discuss it with you if you have finished it. Who do you ship? I have to know. *coughs* Team Jensen. For now.
 
All Together Now:
 
 
I understand why readers DNFed this book. That said, I am so glad that I didn’t. I think that if you can be patient enough to stick it out, the second half is absolutely brilliant. The characterizations are strong, the scenes are cinematic in their lushness, and I am hooked. I cannot wait to see where this book goes next, and this is one series I am definitely interested in continuing. I definitely recommend this one, but I also think you need to be in a patient frame of mind to read it. There may be the chance that you won’t have issues with the pacing at all though. But who wants to take that chance? Trust me when I say you WANT to finish it. The last 50 or so pages are full of unpredictable twists and excitement.
4/5 stars
kara

4 responses to “Blog Tour: The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfarer by M.G. Buerhlen

  1. This sounds really interesting.

    Although I’ll admit that travelling back in time to different periods all around the world is what is sucking me in. I love history. I love travelling. WIN.

    • Yeah, me too. I don’t have much luck with time travel books, but the traveling aspect of this is what really made the book for me. Also, I just really liked Alex.

  2. Love-love the cover and the blurb sounds really mysterious. Also love that the author mentions Carmen Sandiego!!

    It’s so great that this book improved the move you read, I always worry when I DNF because I might miss out on something awesome if I stuck with it. The line about the gun would bother me too, it’s the same issue I have with Mafi’s writing, but the rest sounds fantastic!

    • Me too! And I know. I loved Carmen Sandiego. I didn’t watch the show much but I played the game ALL the time. It was one of my favorites.

      This was one of those books I was so super glad I stuck with. I loved the writing from the beginning so it was enough to keep me going even if I wasn’t invested in the story right off, and I was glad I did.

      With the writing, it doesn’t happen nearly as often as it does with Mafi’s. It’s just like one random statement every other chapter or so. With Mafi it was like every page. Ha.

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