Monday, October 6, 2014

Review: Becoming Calder and Finding Eden by Mia Sheridan

There is a place in modern day America with no electricity, no plumbing, and no modern conveniences. In this place, there is no room for dreams, no space for self-expression, and no tolerance for ambition.

In this place, there is a boy with the body of a God and the heart of a warrior. He is strong and faithful and serves his family honorably. But he dares to dream of more.

In this place, there is a girl with the face of an angel and a heart full of courage. To her family, she is the vision of obedient perfection. But she dares to want that which she has been told can never be hers.

Becoming Calder is the story of good versus evil, fear versus bravery, and the truth that the light of love has always found its way into even the darkest of places... From the beginning of time, to the end of the world.


4 Hauntingly Heartbreaking Stars! 
Review by Jen Hagen
Mia Sheridan is known to give us a male character that has that one special attribute that makes him stand out above all other males we have met through our reading journey.  We have had whiskey eyes with Archer and now with Calder we have a gravelly voice.   I adore how Ms. Sheridan can take a character facing adversity and make him a hero who rises from the depths, and he quickly becomes a man for us to love. I especially love a cover that holds the mystery of the story and once you read the story, you will know why this cover holds so much meaning.

Calder is an 18-year-old young man with the kindest and gentlest of hearts.  He lives in Arizona with his parents and sister in a very small cabin within a self-sustaining community that has no advancements of modern day.  They have no running water or electricity and have no idea what technology is.  Calder and his family are considered “workers” and Calder is known as “water bearer” as his job is to bring water from the river for everybody to drink.  He has never experienced the luxuries that we all take for granted such as turning a faucet on, flushing a  toilet, or having a shower. He is used to bathing in the river and using an outhouse.  Appearance-wise he is handsome but his clothes and shoes are not what we are accustomed to seeing in our lives.  He is different in those material aspects, but he is still just like all of us in his thinking.  Calder has been educated and he wants to better his life by applying his knowledge and showcasing his potential.  He has dreams just like the rest of us.  He knows that if he can prove himself that he will have a chance at a better life.

Calder first saw Eden when he was 10 years old.  Eden is segregated from the other “worker” children.  Where Eden may know life outside of the community and every-day conveniences, she lacks education.  Eden is not allowed to play with any children and thus has a life of loneliness.   She and Calder both happen to have a mutual escape from reality – the water spring.  It is here that Calder and Eden begin to meet for her tutoring sessions that Calder is willing to give and they develop a friendship.  Calder is forever calling Eden his “morning glory.”

She was definitely a morning glory; pretty as a flower, but with the strength of a weed.

Calder and Eden are from different worlds and are not to integrate into each other’s.   Calder’s obvious infatuation for Eden is hard to dismiss when they are in the same gathering.  Eden’s life is planned out for her, just as Calder is to remain in the community never being able to showcase his vast accruement of knowledge and hard work.   It is not in their destiny to be lovers, but of course one can always sneak around the destiny part and enjoy a little bit of the forbidden love before time runs out.  Calder may lack knowledge in the modern-day technology department, but he certainly knows what his body is capable of doing…

I had no idea where he ended and I began, only that we moved together, seeming to have melted into one unit.   

Besides giving us passionate and heated love making, we also are recipients of heartbreak, anger and madness.  Did I mention that there is anger?  Oh you will feel so much anger.  And you might even cry after that when you realize how horrible it truly was. 

No!  I fell to my knees and let out a loud wail, lifting my head to the ceiling and shouting out my rage, my

pain, and my unrelenting guilt.  What pain had she endured because of me?

The writing is beautiful and the story is unique.  It is told from both Eden and Calder.  The story does end on a cliffhanger and once I had finished reading, allowed the story to process, and to let go of a little smidge of my anger, I came up with so many questions which I am certain that Ms. Sheridan will address in the next installment.  She has yet to disappoint me with any open-ended questions left unanswered. 

I do have to admit that when I started this story there were two factors that held me back from fully immersing myself.  One was the age of the main characters (we meet them when they are 10) as I am not a fan of stories going back that far.  The other is…well…you will just have to read to find out on your own.  Once I moved away from my preconceived notions, I was able to become a silent bystander in their story and embrace their determination to be together no matter what the cost. 

The ending…oh my word…I was not prepared for that.  It still haunts me. 

“I don’t know what’s going to happen after this, Eden, but whatever it is, be brave, morning glory.”

**Finding Eden is the continuation of Becoming Calder. Both books will release simultaneously, October 5, 2014**

5 Fantastic Stars!
Review by Jen Hagen
I love Mia Sheridan’s writing.  She takes a broken down boy and turns him into a strong man, and during the transformation she has the reader falling in love with him.  I just want to take Calder, wrap my arms around him in a big hug, tell him that he is loved for who he is, and then feed him all the butterscotch candies and Coca Cola his heart desires.  My heart was breaking throughout the entire story for Calder.  He is lost…not knowing where he came from and doesn’t know where he belongs in the world.  All he is capable of feeling is grief…grief for the loss of people he sees in his nightmares, grief for the loss of the love of his life, and grief for what he feels caused all the deaths.  He has one constant in his life – his best friend Xander.  Xander is the pillar of strength that is currently holding up Calder, even though Calder doesn’t want to stand.  He would rather fall.

“This life feels so damn long.”-- Calder

I don’t think I’m giving anything away since the title is “Finding Eden.”  Calder and Eden are separated and the grief they feel at the loss of each other is immeasurable.  
“I’ll be waiting for you, by a spring.  Come find me, I’ll be there.” 
 Those are the words that Eden repeats in her head.  She saw the aftermath of the tragedy and knows that there is no way anybody could have survived.  Neither she nor Calder have any way of realizing the other person is as alone in the world as the other one.  There was no common ground for them other than their spring in their community – the community which no longer existent.  She is getting through the days on autopilot, but suddenly a whole new world awaits her with just 4 little words…"I have a name."  
 Eden’s world is opened up with this revelation and her questions are now beginning to have answers.   It won’t bring back her lost Calder, but at least she can attempt to put all the puzzle pieces of her life together.

Xander and Calder have had each other to aide in the discovery of the world outside their community.  They have no official schooling, no diploma, no identity and therefore everything they do is either illegal or under the table.  Xander seems to have adapted to their new lives a little more willingly than Calder – Xander still has nightmares about the time spent in their community but yet he seems to be able to handle it with a sense of humor.  He is upset that he cannot participate in any “Throwback Thursdays” on Facebook because there is no proof he existed,  let alone has a photograph. 


Calder longs for Eden.  He doesn’t seem to care about himself and lives life a little recklessly just tempting fate to take his life.   He has never forgotten her, although he has attempted to move on just to see if the pain would ever lessen…it doesn’t.  His life is beginning to take a different turn when suddenly a ghost appears.  The way he moves to get to her is engrained into my thoughts.  Mia wrote it as if I was physically present and could visualize and feel everything at the same time as Calder and Eden.  I was there… 

A glass he was holding in his hand went crashing to the floor as the people around him gasped.  His expression was a mixture of confusion, shock, and disbelief.  Suddenly his face went dreamy and he tilted his head, his eyes fixed on my face.  He started walking toward me, the people around him stumbling out of the way as he merely bumped them aside with his movement..

This is just an example of the beautiful writing throughout the entire book.  I have to admit I didn’t quite bond with “Finding Calder” due to a couple of my own hangups, but with Finding Eden I couldn’t put the book down.  It was heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time.  Eden is okay with how things have turned out, but Calder is completely lacking any closure in his life.  So much was taken from him during the last days of living in their community.  The people he thought loved him were willing to turn their backs on him and he can’t forget the horror he felt watching them willing to sacrifice his life.   I felt like Calder could never catch a break.  Life was always forcing him two steps backwards.  Every time he was making a step in the positive direction, another curveball would be thrown at him.  His and Eden’s love were resilient towards those obstacles and their faith in each other helped them through the worst of times.   One final obstacle will test their strength and love for one another…

I refused to believe that this had broken him for good.  Yes, it was horrifyingly awful, unthinkable, devastating, and sick on so many levels I hadn’t even tried to count.

How will Calder handle this one last betrayal?  It’s a huge one…one that will take all his strength to overcome.  If he accepts it, he is free of the past.  If he continues to dwell on the past, it will take all the energy out of him and Eden, and their love may not be enough to hold them together. 

This story is so touching.  I hope you all find it as enjoyable as I did.  Mia continues to astound me with every new character that she develops.  Calder was an intelligent man whether he had been schooled or not, but every now and then he could resort to simplicity with his words.

“I love you so much it makes my guts ache.”

To Mia…I love you so much it makes my guts ache.  You are a wonderful author that has given me so many moments of making my eyes wet and making my heart swell. And is it just me or are her sex scenes getting hotter and hotter?  Keep on doing what you’re doing and I will keep on reading!       



1 comment:

  1. I'm really excited to read these! I haven't read anything by this author yet, but I've seen so many glowing reviews for both Becoming Caulder and Finding Eden. Loved your reviews for both and now I'm all stoked to read them!!


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