The Song Journey is a beautiful and intriguing story of time travel, love, loss and family, with an invigorating backdrop of social history and music. Singer Julia MacAllistair receives a unique gift from her great-grandmother Etty before she dies. Five sheets of music which are able to transport her back in time. The magic starts when Julia begins to sing the first piece and is immediately transported back to 1906 Chicago. Each piece of music is able to transport Julia back to a time when the song had meaning. For instance, when she begins to sing Bob Dylan’s ‘A Hard Rain is Gonna Fall’ she wakes up in war torn Vietnam, singing for the troops. She also visits 1940’s New Zealand, and America just before the Civil War. When she is living in each time zone, she has no idea how or when she will return home. There always seems to be a reason she is there, or a person she is supposed to meet, including family members. During these visits, Julia becomes intricately involved in the lives of the people she meets, which leads her to constantly fear she is altering history. As the music takes her away to a different time and place, each adventure is unique, yet her journey inspires her to ask questions about her own family, their past and her future. Are there lessons to be learnt from the people she meets, and in particular, her Great Grandmother Etty?
As Julia moves through time, she experiences love, death, war and intolerance. When back in her own time, sometimes years pass before she feels able to open the box and sing the next piece of music. During this time, Julia has her own life to live and problems to solve. With so much going on in terms of story and content, it would be easy for things to get confusing, but the author does a wonderfully gentle job of weaving the timelines and experiences across the length of the novel. Everything flows so effortlessly from one situation and realisation to the next, that the reader feels rather like they are part of it all, listening to beautiful, evocative music and riding on the waves as the story unfolds. There were a few places where the story felt a little slow to me, but I cared enough about Julia and the other characters, to want to keep on reading. I felt terribly involved in her own life decisions and revelations as well as those of the people she meets on her travels. A really fascinating and uniquely told story, with a wonderfully strong narrative voice and characters to remember. Readers who enjoy romance, adventure and historical novels will enjoy this book immensely.
The Song Journey is a beautiful and intriguing story of time travel, love, loss and family, with an invigorating backdrop of social history and music. Singer Julia MacAllistair receives a unique gift from her great-grandmother Etty before she dies. Five sheets of music which are able to transport her back in time. Five adventures await her, where she will meet members of her own family, and face danger in war torn Vietnam, as well as true love in 1940’s New Zealand. A beautifully evocative and visual book about the power of music, with a wonderfully strong narrative voice and characters to remember. Readers who enjoy romance, adventure and historical novels will enjoy this book immensely.
The Rating4 Stars (out of 5): Recommended. For the right audience, this book is a great read. It can hold its own against any traditionally published novel in its genre.
The Pros & ConsPros: Characterization, Dialogue, Emotional, Plot, Prose
Cons: Slow in Places
Amy R. BiddleVisit Amy R. Biddle‘s website.
If you had a writing motto what would it be?
'Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.' I'm certainly not the first to suggest that William Wordsworth's words inspire me to write, but I remember the day I read 'Intimations of Immortality' in which Wordsworth writes, 'Though nothing can bring back the hour of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower; we will grieve not, rather find strength in what remains behind.' It was as if he were writing to me...reminding me of a hope of something greater. I went in pursuit of the things that inspire me...music, literature, art, love. In fact, all of my endeavors in life stem from my 'heart's breathing.' It seems the most fulfilling way to live.
Where do you draw your inspiration?
I draw most of my inspiration from the setting around me. I've spent my life immersed in the musical world, so naturally, music infuses what I write. I also happen to live in one of the most spectacular parts of the world...New Zealand. It is a country of vast beauty. It is a young country built upon people's sweat and labor. I find their stories and histories very inspiring.
What is one interesting fact about you?
I met my now-husband when he was five and I was eight. My family had moved from the States to New Zealand in the early 80s and our families became fast friends. We moved back to the US six years later, visiting NZ occasionally over the following years. Twenty years later, the young, blond childhood friend of my brother appeared on my Texas doorstep. He was slightly more appealing, I must admit. After a quick engagement, we were married and moved back to the green land of my childhood where we now run a little farm and wrangle our two children.
Have you learned anything from the self publishing process and would you do anything differently next time?
I've learned that it's a hard business! Writers want to write. But indie writers have to write, market, self-promote, swallow their pride, accept rejection, celebrate success, advertise, and keep on writing. I'm not sure that I would seek representation the second time around, but getting reviews and validation is certainly one of the hardest parts of indie publishing. I'd love to just write!
What has been your most successful marketing strategy?
Facebook promotion has been a very positive marketing strategy. Perhaps it's my gracious friends who wish to see me succeed, but people have generously shared my Facebook page and promotions. I've also found Goodreads Giveaways to be a very cost-effective way of getting my book out there. Of course, shipping to the States is not cheap, but it's well worth it when several hundred people request a copy!
What is the best kept secret you have found in regard to indie publishing?
There was once a stigma associated with self-published books. As a former English teacher, I wanted the validation of a publishing house. But today we live in a different world. There are great works of writing on the indie scene and it has been the power of the people to discover them. No longer are writers at the mercy of agents and publishing houses. Stories that might never have been told are now in the hands of readers. I think that's a powerful thing.
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