Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Tattoos: A Novel by Denise Mathew

Tattoos: A Novel  
by Denise Mathew
Published June 4th 2013

300 pages 

Book Description:  Seventeen-year-old Marilee Mackie has everything going for her, beauty, money and a bright future. But when she’s diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkins Lymphoma her world falls apart, and instead of finishing her senior year she begins the fight of her life.

Nineteen-year-old Jax, an enigmatic hospital orderly, lives on the Strip, the proverbial other side of the tracks. With his edgy attitude, sleeves of tattoos and rocker look, he’s the kind of bad boy that Marilee has always steered clear of.

But when Marilee’s cancer strips away every bit of her identity, leaving her a shadow of the person she once was, all the things that mattered to her before no longer hold any meaning. Determined to make a difference in the world before she dies, Marilee enlists Jax to help her with something she calls the Peace Project, a way to use her college fund money to help the people who need it the most on the Strip.
With Marilee’s money and Jax’s knowledge of the Strip, the teenagers embark on an unforgettable journey. Where two people from completely different worlds find that miracles do exist, and that the darkest cloud of your life may be lined with the brightest rainbow.

Tattoos is a story about love, hope and the preconceived notions and barriers that we put between us for no reason other than the way someone looks or where they live. It’s about letting go of all the things that we thought were important in the quest for our true purpose. And that sometimes the people you never thought you could love, may be exactly who you needed all along. 

Tattoos: A Novel by Denise Mathew
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Marilee had a perfect life. Everything was going her way until the day she was diagnosed with cancer. After losing not only her health but the emotional support from her family and friends, she turns to Jax, a hospital volunteer. Jax was everything Marilee would have stayed away from Before Cancer – he had the bad boy looks and the bad boy attitude. Together they work to try to make a difference in their small corner of the world.

So this book was pretty much awesome. I liked Marilee, though I suspect if I would have met her Before Cancer I might not have. She had the kind of perfect life everyone dreams of. She never gave a thought to anyone else. Not to say she was a bad person – I really can't say since we really didn't get to see her before – but she seemed like your typical teenage girl, worrying about clothes, parties, boys, etc. Along with her diagnosis Marilee's life was changed in the way that only cancer can. Her future became murky, her priorities shifted, and she began to wonder what she would be leaving behind should she not make it through the treatments.

Jax was a nobody in Marilee's world – a hospital orderly sent in to clean up the mess left behind. However, when she took a good look at him he became so much more. I loved that they met when Marilee was at her worst. It is in this that we realize how wonderful he truly is. I do wish we would have gotten more of them together in the hospital. All of Marilee's treatment/sickness and their reactions to such were glossed over. It felt to me as part of their relationship was missing that I would have loved to see.

While I loved the romance in this story, there is so much to it than that. We see both Marilee and Jax grow as individuals as they try to use the resources at their disposal to help others. The emotions the author was able to put into these pages was amazing – I laughed, I cried (consider this a warning if you are reading in public or just applied mascara), and at one memorable moment I wanted to stop reading altogether because I knew what was coming and I wanted to stop it. I couldn't stop it and I didn't stop reading, and the ending made it all worth it.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

View all my reviews

Q & A with Denise Mathew

Q:  Tell us a little bit about Marilee and Jax.
A:  Having grown up in a bubble of affluence, Marilee is quite naïve to the reality of human suffering and real life issues. For most of her life she has tried to be perfect in every way, but when her cancer brings her to her physical worst, she no longer lets life happen to her and instead actively seeks to find true connections. In the process she finds strength that she didn’t know she had. The best part of Marilee is how she’s more of a spitfire than even she knows.

Jax is a streetwise guy with a past that hasn’t been easy. Instead of being bitter about his plight in life he dedicates himself to trying to make a difference in the world, and to helping people who are ignored by society. Through his relationship with Marilee he comes to terms with his long held belief that people with money are inherently bad. After he falls in love with Marilee he realizes that at the core of every person is a human being just trying to be understood. I love how he’s nothing like everyone presumes. 

Q:  Do you have a favorite scene from Tattoos?
There were quite a few scenes that I loved writing, but if I had to choose one I would have to say it was when Jax took Marilee out on their first real date. For me the scene showed that no matter what is going on in our life, good things can still happen.

Q:  What do you see as the biggest challenge for new authors and what have you been doing to overcome that?
I feel the biggest challenge for new authors is standing out, and making their book visible in a sea of literature from both established and emerging writers. Reviews are your best friend and help to overcome the obstacles of obscurity, so you should get as many as you can. The ARR program has been immensely helpful for me because many potential readers rely on reviews to decide whether they want to read your work. Once people have read and reviewed your work, word of mouth can help to create a buzz. But the work doesn’t stop there, it’s extremely important to have a cover that visually pops from others in your genre followed by a fabulous hook (think book flap blurbs) to seal the deal.

Q:  Who do you see playing Marilee and Jax in a movie?
I know readers will have their own ideas about who they visualize playing the characters, so I don’t like to sway their opinions, but if pressed I would say that Emma Roberts would be a great Marilee. I picture Marilee as very wholesome, cute and petite, and I think that Emma Roberts could deliver on those qualities. Jax would definitely be Avan Jogia, Avan isn’t a household name but he embodies everything I imagined about Jax, an edgy look and a heart of gold, not to mention that he’s gorgeous. A quick Google search will show you what I mean. 

Q:  What is the best advice you have been given?
Don’t write to trends, it usually doesn’t work. Write a story that makes your heart sing and begs to be released. If something isn’t working change it up. No matter what obstacles you face never give up on your dream to be a writer. You’ll never know what the future might bring if you throw in the towel before you finish the race. As Dorie said in “Finding Nemo”, just keep swimming, just keep swimming…

Q:  Hard/paperbacks or eBooks?
Tattoos: A Novel is already published in ebook form and is available on all Amazon websites and It will be coming out in paperback by the middle of October 2013.

Q:  If you could have any superpower, what would you choose?
Just like Gran I would love to be able to tell the future, know when good things were going to happen, though there might be the downside of knowing the bad stuff too. But sometimes what we may consider “bad” may teach us our biggest life lessons.

Q:  What book are you reading now?
Right now I’m reading Inferno by Dan Brown, but last week I read Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins and Bared to You by Sylvia Day. My reading tastes are extremely varied just like my writing.

About the Author:  
Denise Mathew loves good chocolate, lots of coffee, her kids and husband, when they behave, and of course writing stories. She believes that housework should be banned and wishes that potato chips were the most healthy and nutritious food on the planet.

She worked as a pediatric nurse for eleven years, once owned an online jewelry business and even taught English in Thailand.

She plans on writing until the stories run out, something she hopes never happens.


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