Friday, July 25, 2014

Blog Tour/Review: To Live Forever by Andra Watkins

Publication Date: March 1, 2014
Publisher: World Hermit Press
Formats: eBook, Paperback
Genre: General Fiction/Paranormal

My Rating=4 Stars
Source: Received a copy for an honest review

Is remembrance immortality? Nobody wants to be forgotten, least of all the famous.

Meriwether Lewis lived a memorable life. He and William Clark were the first white men to reach the Pacific in their failed attempt to discover a Northwest Passage. Much celebrated upon their return, Lewis was appointed governor of the vast Upper Louisiana Territory and began preparing his eagerly-anticipated journals for publication. But his re-entry into society proved as challenging as his journey. Battling financial and psychological demons and faced with mounting pressure from Washington, Lewis set out on a pivotal trip to the nation’s capital in September 1809. His mission: to publish his journals and salvage his political career. He never made it. He died in a roadside inn on the Natchez Trace in Tennessee from one gunshot to the head and another to the abdomen.

Was it suicide or murder? His mysterious death tainted his legacy and his fame quickly faded. Merry’s own memory of his death is fuzzy at best. All he knows is he’s fallen into Nowhere, where his only shot at redemption lies in the fate of rescuing another. An ill-suited “guardian angel,” Merry comes to in the same New Orleans bar after twelve straight failures. Now, with one drink and a two-dollar bill he is sent on his last assignment, his final shot at escape from the purgatory in which he’s been dwelling for almost 200 years. Merry still believes he can reverse his forgotten fortunes.

Nine-year-old Emmaline Cagney is the daughter of French Quarter madam and a Dixieland bass player. When her mother wins custody in a bitter divorce, Emmaline carves out her childhood among the ladies of Bourbon Street. Bounced between innocence and immorality, she struggles to find her safe haven, even while her mother makes her open her dress and serve tea to grown men.

It isn’t until Emmaline finds the strange cards hidden in her mother’s desk that she realizes why these men are visiting: her mother has offered to sell her to the highest bidder. To escape a life of prostitution, she slips away during a police raid on her mother’s bordello, desperate to find her father in Nashville.

Merry’s fateful two-dollar bill leads him to Emmaline as she is being chased by the winner of her mother’s sick card game: The Judge. A dangerous Nowhere Man convinced that Emmaline is the reincarnation of his long dead wife, Judge Wilkinson is determined to possess her, to tease out his wife’s spirit and marry her when she is ready. That Emmaline is now guarded by Meriwether Lewis, his bitter rival in life, further stokes his obsessive rage.

To elude the Judge, Em and Merry navigate the Mississippi River to Natchez. They set off on an adventure along the storied Natchez Trace, where they meet Cajun bird watchers, Elvis-crooning Siamese twins, War of 1812 re-enactors, Spanish wild boar hunters and ancient mound dwellers. Are these people their allies? Or pawns of the perverted, powerful Judge?

After a bloody confrontation with the Judge at Lewis’s grave, Merry and Em limp into Nashville and discover her father at the Parthenon. Just as Merry wrestles with the specter of success in his mission to deliver Em, The Judge intercedes with renewed determination to win Emmaline, waging a final battle for her soul. Merry vanquishes the Judge and earns his redemption. As his spirit fuses with the body of Em’s living father, Merry discovers that immortality lives within the salvation of another, not the remembrance of the multitude.

This story is mainly told from two points of view: Emmeline Cagney (Em) and Meriwether Lewis (Merry). There are also chapters every once in a while told from the perspective of the "bad man," or the Judge. These are italicized which I liked as I got going so I would know right away it was coming from him. It took me a while to understand what was happening and the beginning was creepy to me. 

Emmaline is 9 years old. Her mother is a madam and her father is a musician. They start with a nasty custody battle in which Em's mother is granted sole custody. Em wants to live with her father since her mother has her dress and act a certain way to attract men's attention. Em figures out that her mom is trying to sell her. There's a raid on her mother's home and Em gets away and meets Merry. She convinces him to take her to Nashville so she can live with her father.

They have lots of adventures along the way and learn to trust each other. They meet people that are trustworthy and willing to help them and others who are helping the Judge track them down. Merry and the Judge have a history and the Judge is especially out to destroy Merry. 

It was interesting to learn what happened between Merry and the Judge long ago and what brings them to where they are now. Merry is trying to live a better life and he comes to care deeply about Em. Em has had to grow up quickly so she didn't seem like a 9-year-old to me at times, and some of the things she said made me sad at how young she was to have lost her innocence. She's funny and inquisitive and willing to trust just about anyone but the Judge. She and Merry had a cute relationship and I enjoyed their scenes together. 

The Judge was a great villain. He totally creeped me out and I found nothing redeeming in him. He's the perfect example of someone having too much power and using it for selfish purposes. This book was quite different from what I was originally expecting but I liked it! It's different than most paranormal books that I've read which was refreshing. I enjoyed the suspense in it as well which kept me reading one more chapter until I got to the end! ;)

Content: Swearing, including two "f" words; talk of prostitution but no details.   


Buy the Book

About the Author

Hey. I’m Andra Watkins. I’m a native of Tennessee, but I’m lucky to call Charleston, South Carolina, home for 23 years. I’m the author of ‘To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis’, coming March 1, 2014. It’s a mishmash of historical fiction, paranormal fiction and suspense that follows Meriwether Lewis (of Lewis & Clark fame) after his mysterious death on the Natchez Trace in 1809.

Natchez Trace Walk

The Natchez Trace is a 10,000-year-old road that runs from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee. Thousands of years ago, animals used its natural ridge line as a migratory route from points in the Ohio River Valley to the salt licks in Mississippi. It was logical for the first Native Americans to settle along the Trace to follow part of their migrating food supply. When the Kaintucks settled west of the Appalachians, they had to sell their goods at ports in New Orleans or Natchez, but before steam power, they had to walk home. The Trace became one of the busiest roads in North America.


To launch To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis, I am the first living person to walk the 444-mile Natchez Trace as the pioneers did since the rise of steam power in the 1820′s. From March 1, 2014 to April 3, 2014, I walked fifteen miles a day. Six days a week. One rest day per week. I spent each night in the modern-day equivalent of stands, places much like Grinder’s Stand, where Meriwether Lewis died from two gunshot wounds on October 11, 1809.

To Live Forever Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, July 21
Review at Unshelfish

Tuesday, July 22
Excerpt at Making My Mark

Thursday, July 24
Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Friday, July 25
Review at Mel’s Shelves

Monday, July 28
Review at Ryann Donnelly
Excerpt & Giveaway at Paranormal Book Club

Wednesday, July 30
Review at The Worm Hole
Guest Post at Sallie’s Book Reviews and More

Monday, August 4
Spotlight & Giveaway at Reading Lark

Wednesday, August 6
Spotlight & Giveaway at Mina’s Bookshelf

Thursday, August 7
Review at Mythical Books

Monday, August 11
Guest Post at Lost in Books

Tuesday, August 12
Review at Beth’s Book Reviews

Wednesday, August 13
Review at The Readers Hollow

Monday, August 18
Spotlight & Giveaway at Susan Heim on Writing

Wednesday, August 20
Interview at To Read or Not to Read

Wednesday, August 21
Interview at Tower of Babel

Monday, August 25
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Tuesday, August 26
Review & Giveaway at My Tangled Skeins Book Reviews

Monday, September 1
Spotlight at Bibliophilia, Please

Tuesday, September 3
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews

Wednesday, September 4
Review at Brooke Blogs


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