Sunday 23 November 2014

E.L Montes Weekend ~ Review of Perfectly Damaged with Giveaway! Plus Interview with E.L from May 2013

Today we are sharing with you again our review of E.L Montes' standalone, Perfectly Damaged. Don't forget to check out today's giveaway -  2 kindle copies of Perfectly Damaged

We will also reshare with you an interview we did with E.L in May 2013.

Perfectly Damaged

Book Description:

Schizoaffective disorder: a mental illness in which a person experiences a combination of mood disorder and schizophrenia symptoms.

 I know about this illness—very well—because I suffer from it. It’s been four years since my diagnosis, and ever since, I’ve been living in a dark hole. Voices constantly invading my thoughts. Hallucinations. All of which force me to question if what I’m experiencing is even reality.

But here I am, still hanging on, still breathing and living through it.

 That is, until he stumbled into my life. Logan Reed. I don’t want any part of him. I’ve pushed him away, but he isn’t easily deterred. I’ve told him I’m different, but he doesn’t care. He’s trying to slowly break me down. I’m trying just as hard not to let him. He doesn’t know how truly damaged I am; what will happen when he does?

 I know the truth—he’ll never be able to look at me the same way again. Just like everybody else.
Our Review:
Reviewed by Willow ~ 5 Stars (Written 12.05.13)

 "Everyone suffers from their own struggles, whether they're big or small. There's no such thing as having a flawless life."

Two things I absolutely love in books - something a little different from the norm and something we can all relate to in some way. This book has both. Yes we've all read books before where one of the main characters has issues, but I've not read a romance book where the main character has mental health issues and for me this book was more about this and the road to recovery than the romance. As for things we can all relate to, the line I quoted at the start is just one of many (I went highlighter crazy!) I think we will all relate to on some level - it's true, no matter how perfect someone's life appears to be, you never know what they are truly going through.

The book starts in true EL Montes style, with something that will keep you guessing what's happened. Jenna McDaniel has woken up from a nightmare and rushes to her sisters room, only to be met with what she expected, but hoped not to be true - it's empty. Brooke is no longer there. Through the book we learn that Brooke has died, however we are left guessing for sometime as to the how and why. Brooke's death has had a huge impact on Jenna as you can imagine and she is struggling with her grief:

"Grief never goes away. It haunts you, takes over your mind, body and soul. Before you know it, it has won."
But grief isn't all Jenna is going though. Jenna suffers from Schizoaffective disorder. She's depressed and suffers from hallucinations and occasionally voices in her head. This has lead her to be a closed person, she tries not to feel emotion, shutting herself off from the world.

 "Fear is one of my most battled emotions. Fear of the unknown, of never knowing where each step will lead..... It terrifies me."

Jenna's mum has decided to build a guest house and on the construction team is Logan Reed.
"A truck. Tats. And a cocky attitude."
I totally loved Logan and his cocky attitude and I loved the banter that they had. On their first meeting he helps Jenna out of a difficult situation which ends up with them kissing.  

 "He's a good kisser. He tastes like an apple-flavoured Jolly Rancher, which is usually the one flavour I ditch in the pack; after this it may become my favourite."

Sure, Jenna enjoyed it and she is attracted to Logan, but she knows it was just a one off , it can never be anymore, no one will ever want to get close to her when they know all about her. Logan on the other hand thinks a little different. He can't stop thinking about the kiss and wants a repeat performance. As they see each other more, they become friends, Logan wants more though and knows that Jenna is hiding something, if only he can just peel her layers.
Jenna has a real struggle here, she knows what people think of her when they find out about her illness. Will it make Logan run too?

"Jenna McDaniel, the girl with more issues than she can carry. No man will ever be able to handle them. Not even Logan Reed."
As I said before, yes this is a romance book, but it's more about a person suffering with mental illness and the struggles they go through, not only do we watch Jenna struggling with her feeling for Logan, trying to keep him away, but wanting him close, Thinking it's best for him not to know about her illness and the everyday struggles she faces, but we see her dealing with her mother who is a major trigger for her. Readers, make no mistake, this woman is a total bitch, the way she treats Jenna by not supporting, but actually contributing to triggering episodes for Jenna will have you seething. Luckily she does have a best friend on her side, Charlie. Charlie was actually Jenna's sister, Brooke's best friend, but knowing of Jenna's illness Charlie looks out for her and the two became friends. I totally love Charlie, she adds some humour to the book.
The book is told from alternating points of view between Jenna and Logan, which was great seeing not only what Jenna was going through, but how Logan perceived her behaviour and how he felt about it. There was one part of the book though where I would have liked to have seen what Logan was going through but alas, we just got Jenna's pov. I understand why the author chose to do this though ~ I'm just greedy!
I think EL did a fantastic job of portraying the darkness a person feels they have in them and the fear that people might find out and what they would think of them. Also what others around them might have to deal with. There are several things in this book that anyone suffering with, or is supporting someone with depression or other mental illness will relate to.
I do want to just share one of my favourite lines ~ there's hope for us all:
..everyone has issues and there's someone out there, regardless of what you may think, who can handle anything you're dealing with - because maybe that person needs you as much as you need them."
In summary this book has got the right balance of being a great romance book, that highlights mental illness' and the struggles that those suffering with or trying to support someone with an illness has to go through, without it being too heavy.

 "That's why I just live for today, and push for tomorrow."
Interview with E.L Montes (May 2013)
Lets find out a bit about you:
When you are not writing or working what do you enjoy doing?
*taps finger along desk* in the past year, I’ve done nothing but write and work. I started Disastrous on May 20, 2012. I feel as though I have no time for anything else. I use to read A LOT, and watch TV shows, as well as movies. SIGH. I’m taking a long month break to catch up on all of it. ;)

What is your favourite Movie at the moment?
My favorite movie of ALL time would have to be ‘Meet Joe Black’. I know right?! It’s the most dragged out movie, BUT every time it’s on I HAVE to watch it and I cry EVERY.SINGLE.TIME. LOL.

What is your favourite song at the moment?
Wow, I have so many! But at this very moment, I can’t stop playing ‘Blank Page’ by Christina Aguerlia. It’s helping with my thought process on ideas for my standalone ‘Perfectly Damaged’

Who is your favourite book boyfriend? (Apart from Marcus of course!)
Gideon CROSS! That was easy, pfft.

If you could have only one book whilst stranded on a desert Island, what would it be?
Crossfire series. :-D Again, had to pick Gideon freaking Cross!

Lets talk about your writing:

What inspired you to write your first book? 
*huge sigh* I was working on another story (which is terrible by the way) when I came up with the idea for Marcus and Mia’s story. These two characters wouldn’t leave me alone! They poked and poked at my head until I was forced to sit down in front of the computer and write.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Duh! Sylvia Day. I love her writing. I love how she can pull you into a story and fall in love with not only the main characters yet the supporting characters as well. Not to mention her steamy sex scenes and she can whip up a mighty fine Alpha male. Mmmmhuh!

What do you do when you come down with a case of the infamous ʺwriterʹs blockʺ?
I don’t think I ever had “writer’s block.” There were times while writing I felt stuck for a very short period of time, but I just step away from the computer, walked around my kitchen, stretched my legs, basically, just focused on anything else, and then it would hit me and I’d be back on the computer in no time. The longest I was stuck for, may have been a couple of hours.

Do you listen to music when you write? If so what is the song you most associate with Disastrous? Which one for Cautious?
I can’t write without music. It’s like a drug! Weird thing, when I’m surrounded by noise I can’t concentrate, but I can have music blasted in my ears and type away. Interesting.
I have a Spotify Disastrous and Cautious Playlist here’s the link: Disastrous& Cautious  Playlist  but if I had to choose ONE song for each book: with Disastrous I played non-stop ‘He won’t go’ by Adele. And with Cautious I played non-stop ‘Without You’ by Breaking Benjamin.
In Cautious since it was written in both POV’s, with Marcus’ POV I had to write it with all Breaking Benjamin’s music. I don’t know why! It was something about their music that allowed me to connect with Marcus. They’re an awesome band and my top favorite! You should check them out.
Focus on your books in general:
What is your inspiration behind Marcus and Mia's Characters? Are there famous people in your head that you see as Marcus and Mia?  Hmmm… LOL this is hard for me to say, because a lot of readers picture Marcus and Mia in their head a certain way. For me, I haven’t found the Marcus as far as anyone famous. As for Mia? Well every time I see, Jennifer Lawrence, on TV or a magazine I can definitely see her as Mia.
Did you do any research into the mafia or that type of underground criminal activity and did your career as a paralegal play a part in that?
For Disastrous I didn’t do any research. I just went with it. For Cautious I did watch a couple of documentaries, but that was about it. I did work for three years as a Paralegal for a Criminal Defense attorney, but we never dealt with criminal activity involving the mafia.

Your prologue's are amazing at sucking the reader right in and keeping them guessing half way through the book. Do you write the prologue first, or do you write the book first and add the prologue later?
When I wrote Disastrous, the first scene I wrote was the prologue, same as with Cautious. I’m not sure why I write like that. I have to write in order: Prologue, Chapter One, So on, Epilogue. I can’t mix it up. But when I thought of Disastrous the one scene that I focused on was the prologue scene I wrote it, not knowing at the time what Mia would find out, how she would get blood on her silk gown, etc. Everything just flowed as I wrote and blended together.

Focus on Cautious:

What was the hardest part of writing this book?
For Cautious the hardest part was the prologue. It was difficult for me to write in a way to keep the reader’s guessing who’s POV it was, without writing “he/she” or keeping it neutral where it didn’t sound too much like Mia or too my much like Marcus. SIGH. I rewrote it several times. I hope it worked.

What was your favourite chapter (or part) to write and why?
For Cautious it was Marcus’ “dream scene” when he and Mia went away. I wanted to write a scene that showed just how broken and tortured his life was. As well as his inner demons that he battled with on a daily basis, without making him weak, if that makes sense? I hope it worked!

What do you think readers will like most about this book?
I think they’ll appreciate the alternating POV’s and being able to feel and know Marcus’ thoughts.

Is this the end of Marcus and Mia's story?
Yes, this is the end of their story. Though, you will meet with them again in Jimmie’s story which is titled ‘Fighting to Stand’ scheduled to be released Fall 2013/Spring 2014.

Future Projects:

Let’s talk about future projects, what have you got lined up for the future?
So far, I have ‘Perfectly Damaged’ which I’m really excited in writing! This is a standalone with a set of new characters. The main two characters are Jenna McDaniel and Josh Lewis. This is going to be one of those ‘WTF-I can’t believe that happened – rollercoaster of emotional – yet meaningful, read!’ Well at least I hope I can deliver it as that. These two characters are so different from Marcus and Mia, yet I feel I have a stronger connection with them, and that says a lot because I had a very STRONG connection with Marcus and Mia. LOL.

‘Fighting to Stand’ is Jimmie DeLuca’s story. I wasn’t going to continue with the Disastrous series, but while writing Cautious, I felt a pull towards Jimmie. I think it was because I spent more time in Marcus’ head and I was able to connect with Jimmie more as Marcus did, and I knew the more I wrote Cautious that Jimmie needed his HEA as well. I hope I can deliver.

And now, before you go, how about a snippet from Cautious?:

 Here’s a snippet of Cautious in Mia’s POV.
Sniffing back, I couldn’t keep the hot tears from streaming down my face. His expression broke at my words. “What do you want from me? What else can I give you?”

He leaned into me and stared down. We were so close I could feel the heat from his body against mine. With his unsteady breathing, his tortured eyes danced along my face. For a moment, it looked as if he was going to crack, but then he contained himself, took in one deep breath, and shut his eyes. “I need you to trust me when I say it’s important for you to grab Megan and go home.” His eyelids opened, and my heart swelled in pain at his words. He reached up and grazed my cheek with the back of his fingers. I was beyond angry. He was pushing me away when he should’ve been able to confide in me. Before the warmth of his touch seeped through my skin, I tore my face away and stepped back again.

“Mia.” He tenderly whispered.

“Whatever you say, Marcus. I’ll just go home with Megan and sit around and wait for whenever I get to have my Marcus back. Because the one in front me at this very moment . . . I have no idea who he is. I want my Marcus: the loving, caring, and passionate one.” His face was broken, but I needed to say how I felt. “Let me know when he’s back.”

With my back turned to him, I stormed out the door, dragged a highly intoxicated Megan off the dance floor, and grabbed a cab.

Something deep down within me knew that Marcus was involved in something deeper than he had disclosed. It left me nervous and unsettled. Guilt began to seep through me as I thought of the way we had left things. I should have kissed him and held him tightly against me. My deepest regret that night was that I didn’t pull him in and hold him, even if it was just for a few seconds.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us E.L.

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