Posted in Blog Tours, Book Events, reviews

The Chanel Sisters by Judithe Little Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

The history of iconic fashion designer Coco Chanel is shown through a new lens as her sister Antoinette takes center stage in author Judithe Little’s “The Chanel Sisters”.

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The Synopsis

A novel of survival, love, loss, triumph—and the sisters who changed fashion forever

Antoinette and Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel know they’re destined for something better. Abandoned by their family years before, they’ve grown up under the guidance of pious nuns preparing them for simple lives as the wives of tradesmen or shopkeepers. At night, their secret stash of romantic novels and magazine cutouts beneath the floorboards are all they have to keep their dreams of the future alive.

The walls of the convent can’t shield them forever, and when they’re finally of age, the Chanel sisters set out together with a fierce determination to prove themselves worthy to a society that has never accepted them. Their journey propels them out of poverty and to the stylish cafés of Moulins, the dazzling performance halls of Vichy—and to a small hat shop on the rue Cambon in Paris, where a business takes hold and expands to the glamorous French resort towns. But when World War I breaks out, their lives are irrevocably changed, and the sisters must gather the courage to fashion their own places in the world, even if apart from each other.

The Review

A truly fascinating look into the life and challenges of Coco Chanel, the author brilliantly places the less well-known sister of Coco, Antoinette, into the shoes of the protagonist, giving readers a perspective of the iconic French fashion designer that few probably had. The blending of known facts from the icon’s life with fiction helps to fill in some of the mysterious gaps in Coco’s life. From an early life spent at a convent as a child, where she learned to sew and began her steps into the world of fashion, to the rise of her stardom and even the early beginnings of her infamous scent, the author shows the icon and her sisters as dreamers who sought “chic” to contrast the mundane, everyday life they were forced to lead as orphans at this convent. 

As a fan of history, it was fascinating to see Coco’s life through Antoinette’s eyes. It has been said that the designer herself was known to embellish or change the story of her past as her fame grew, so to see the history through her own sister’s eyes was an inspired choice creatively. Antoinette herself managed to become the emotional core of this story, despite her sister’s rising fame, and how events like WWI impacted both the business side of things and their lives personally was definitely an emotional driving force in the book’s closing chapters.

The Verdict

A mesmerizing historical fiction like no other, author Judithe Little’s “The Chanel Sisters” is a must-read. Impactful imagery used early on in the book to showcase the harsh reality of the girl’s lives after losing their mother and being abandoned by their father made for an early emotional start, and the shocking and heartfelt finale to this tale will leave readers breathless. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of this amazing read today!

Rating: 8/10

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About the Author

JUDITHE LITTLE is the award-winning author of Wickwythe Hall. She earned a BA in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia and a law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. She grew up in Virginia and now lives with her husband, three teenagers, and three dogs in Houston, Texas. Find her on Instagram, @judithelittle, and on Facebook, facebook.com/judithelittle.

SOCIAL LINKS:

Author website: http://www.judithelittle.com/

Instagram: @judithelittle

FB: @judithe.little

BUY LINKS:

Murder By The Book

Barrington Books

IndieBound

Bookshop.org

Indigo

Amazon

Apple

Kobo

Barnes & Noble

Libro.FM

Audible

Google Play


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Author Q&A

Q: I didn’t know Coco had a sister. How did you come up with the idea for your novel?

A: When I read in a biography of Coco that she had a sister, I knew right away I wanted to write about her.  A lot of books have been written about Coco, but none have been written from the point of view of Antoinette. I thought that the sister of Coco Chanel might have an interesting story to tell, and it turns out that she did.

Q: Explain the staying power and interest in (anything) Chanel?

A: I think that Chanel is the symbol for reinvention and the idea that you can be whoever you want to be and that has a universal appeal.

Q: Do you plan your books in advance or let them develop as you write?

A: They are planned in the sense that they’re based on historical events so there’s already a timeline in place and I know generally what happens. The characters themselves develop as I write.

Q: Have you ever had a character take over a story, and if so, who was it and why?

A: I’ve had minor characters take over small parts of a story such as the baron at Royallieu (I attribute the kite dance idea to him). Arturo also seemed to take over the scenes he was in and tell me what he was going to do instead of vice-versa. 

Q: Which one of The Chanel Sisters’s characters was the hardest to write and why?

A: Julia-Berthe was the hardest to write because of the three sisters, she’s the one about whom the least is known. 

Q: What does a day in the life of Judithe Little look like?

A: Busy! I’m a lawyer so during the day I take care of my law firm work and in the evenings I typically write or do other book-related activities. Mixed in is typical stuff like grocery shopping, errands, and driving my youngest who is a high school sophomore here and there.

Q: What do you use to inspire you when you get Writer’s Block?

A: This may sound strange but I rearrange furniture or shelves or redecorate in some way. Maybe it’s the new perspective but changing my surroundings seems to get the juices flowing again.

Q: Do you have stories on the back burner that are just waiting to be written?

A: I usually have one or two waiting in the wings. 

Q: What advice would you give budding authors about publishing?

A: I think it’s important to have critique partners or a critique group. Mine has been invaluable to me. Persistence and thick skin help too. 

Q: What was the last thing you read?

A:  Bryn Turnball’s The Woman Before Wallis which I loved.

Q: Book you’ve bought just for the cover?

A: Susan Meissner’s Secrets of a Charmed Life because I loved the color of the green dress and the way the figure of the woman was interposed with the river and London. More recently, Jane Smiley’s Perestroika because it has a horse and the Eiffel Tower on the cover–two of my favorite things.

Q: Tell us about what you’re working on now.

A: I’m working on a new novel that takes place in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s and is told from the perspective once again of someone close to Coco Chanel but who was famous in her own right. 


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Excerpt From “The Chanel Sisters”

IN LATER YEARS, I WOULD THINK BACK TO THAT COLD MARCH day in 1897 at the convent orphanage in Aubazine.

We orphelines sat in a circle practicing our stitches, the hush of the workroom interrupted only by my occasional mindless chatter to the girls nearby. When I felt Sister Xavier’s gaze, I quieted, looking down at my work as if in deep concentration. I expected her to scold me as she usually did: Custody of the tongue, Mademoiselle Chanel. Instead, she drew closer to my place near the stove, moving, as all the nuns did, as if she were floating. The smell of incense and the ages fluttered out from the folds of her black wool skirt. Her starched headdress planed unnaturally toward heaven as if she might be lifted up at any moment. I prayed that she would be, a ray of light breaking through the pitched roof and raising her to the clouds in a shining beam of holy salvation.

But such miracles only happened in paintings of angels and saints. She stopped at my shoulder, dark and looming like a storm cloud over the sloping forests of the Massif Central outside the window. She cleared her throat and, as if she were the Holy Roman Emperor himself, made her grim pronouncement.

“You, Antoinette Chanel, talk too much. Your sewing is slovenly. You are always daydreaming. If you don’t take heed, I fear you will turn out to be just like your mother.”

My stomach twisted like a knot. I had to bite the inside of my mouth to keep from arguing back. I looked over at my sister Gabrielle sitting on the other side of the room with the older girls and rolled my eyes.

“Don’t listen to the nuns, Ninette,” Gabrielle said once we’d been dismissed to the courtyard for recreation.

We sat on a bench, surrounded by bare-limbed trees that appeared as frozen as we felt. Why did they lose their leaves in the season they needed them most? Beside us, our oldest sister, Julia-Berthe, tossed bread crumbs from her pockets to a flock of crows that squawked and fought for position.

I pulled my hands into my sleeves, trying to warm them. “I’m not going to be like our mother. I’m not going to be anything the nuns say I’m going to be. I’m not even going to be what they say I can’t be.”

We laughed at this, a bitter laugh. As the temporary keepers of our souls, the nuns thought constantly about the day we would be ready to go out and live in the world. What would become of us? What was to be our place?

We’d been at the convent for two years and by now were used to the nuns’ declarations in the middle of choir practice or as we worked on our handwriting or recited the kings of France.

You, Ondine, with your penmanship, will never be the wife of a tradesman.

You, Pierrette, with your clumsy hands, will never find work with a farm woman. 

You, Hélène, with your weak stomach, will never be the wife of a butcher.

You, Gabrielle, must hope to make an adequate living as a seamstress. 

You, Julia-Berthe, must pray for a calling. Girls with figures like yours should keep to a nunnery.

I was told that if I was lucky, I could convince a plowman to marry me.

I pushed my hands back out of my sleeves and blew on them. “I’m not going to marry a plowman,” I said.

“I’m not going to be a seamstress,” Gabrielle said. “I hate sewing.”

“Then what will you be?” Julia-Berthe gazed at us with wide, questioning eyes. She was considered slow, “touched,” people said. To her everything was simple, black and white like the tunics and veils of the nuns’ habits. If the nuns said it, we would be it.

“Something better,” I said.

“What’s something better?” Julia-Berthe said.

“It’s…” Gabrielle started but didn’t finish.

She didn’t know what Something Better was any more than I did, but I knew she felt it just the same, a tingling in her bones. Restlessness was in our blood.

The nuns said we should be content with our station in life, that it was God-pleasing. But we could never be content where we were, with what we had. We came from a long line of peddlers, of dreamers traveling down winding roads, sure that Something Better was just ahead.

Excerpted from The Chanel Sisters by Judithe Little, Copyright © 2020 by Judithe Little. Published by Graydon House Books. 

Posted in Blog Tours, Book Events, reviews

A Christmas Carol – in rhyme, an audiobook suitable for all ages by Dave McCluskey (Narrated by Liam Scott) Review + Blog Tour

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Author Dave McCluskey and narrator Liam Scott help bring back the classic tale of Charles Dickens’ acclaimed hit story in the audiobook hit, “A Christmas Carol – in rhyme, an audiobook suitable for all ages”. 

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The Synopsis 

A classic Christmas tale, lovingly recreated in this beautiful audio book.

The reviled Scrooge is visited by three spirits who teach him the real meaning of life.

The tale has been turned into rhyme, making this a delightful new twist to the story you know so well. Could it be a new addition to your Christmas traditions?

The Review

An incredibly beautiful retelling of the iconic story, both author and narrator worked well together to help the source material shine for a whole new generation of readers and Christmas lovers alike. The story is both haunting and heartwarming, just as Dickens intended it, bringing to life the chilling tale of Scrooge as he walks the path to find redemption during the holiday season.

The narrator does a great job of not only bringing to life the story and characters themselves but helped craft an atmosphere befitting the Victorian-era story that Dickens wrote in. This story rings even more true in our modern times, as the gap between the wealthy and the middle and lower classes has never been further apart, and a global pandemic and economic crisis have pushed everyone to their limits. A heartfelt tale of finding one’s humanity once more and working to the true meaning of Christmas has never been more important. 

The Verdict

A brilliant retelling of a truly iconic and memorable Christmas story, author Dave McCluskey and narrator Liam Scott’s “A Christmas Carol – in rhyme, an audiobook suitable for all ages” is a must-read and must-listen this holiday season. From memorable characters like Scrooge and Tiny Tim to a hauntingly beautiful atmosphere delivered through the narration, this is a fantastic audiobook you won’t want to miss. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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Author: Dave McCluskey

Narrator: Liam Scott

Length: 1 hour 11 minutes

Publisher: Dammaged Productions

Released: Nov. 20, 2020

Genre: Classics

Add on Goodreads   Continue reading “A Christmas Carol – in rhyme, an audiobook suitable for all ages by Dave McCluskey (Narrated by Liam Scott) Review + Blog Tour”
Posted in Blog Tours, Book Events, Book Giveaways, Guest Post

The Book eNewsletter Industry: Connecting Readers and Authors | Women on Writing Blog Tour

I ran a small press for seven years and published 13 books, including three New York Times Bestsellers, three Hoffer Award Winners, and a book that was optioned for a film. We averaged 6,000 copies sold of each title—including two titles that sold more than 20,000 copies each. 

To put that in perspective: the average U.S. nonfiction book sells fewer than 250 copies per year and fewer than 2,000 copies in its lifetime. The average author-published book sells 250-300 copies in its lifetime. Sales of 5,000 copies of a book is considered respectable by a Big Five publisher, and a “home run” by a small publisher.

We achieved success without traditional distribution and on a shoestring budget. And one of the keys to our success was using e-newsletters and websites that promote books. 

There are dozens of book promotion newsletters (more than 100 by some counts), and I used many of them as a publisher. Earlier this year, after having used these newsletters for many years in my marketing efforts and after having done extensive market research on the industry, Kathleen Meyer and I launched LitNuts, an e-newsletter to bring the “Best of the Indies” to booklovers. 

Today, I want to give you a quick overview of the industry, and tell you why readers should take a closer look at book promotion newsletters and why authors and publishers should include them in their marketing plans. I’ll also tell you why we decided to launch LitNuts despite the crowded playing field. 

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The Book e-Newsletter Industry

You are probably familiar with some book promotion e-newsletters. Some of the more prominent ones are BookBub, Bargain Booksy and eReader News Today. And for every large one, there are many other smaller ones like Book Basset, the Choosy BookWorm and the Frugal eReader. Beyond industry giant BookBub, there is a group that would best be described as mid-sized family-run businesses, and then there are a bunch that are produced by individuals. 

They all follow a similar business model in that the e-newsletters are free to subscribers, and authors and publishers pay to have their books featured in the e-newsletter. The cost to be featured ranges from as low as $10 (even less in some cases) to several hundreds or even thousands of dollars (in the case of BookBub). 

The newsletters are great for readers. In addition to being free, the newsletters mostly focus on bargains, and everybody loves a bargain. 

The only problems from the reader’s perspective are 1) the focus on bargains means a limited universe—not every great book is $2.99 or less, and 2) uneven quality because the only requirement for most newsletters is payment—they are not looking at quality, which means there’s a more-than-middling possibility that the 99 cent “bargain” you just downloaded isn’t worth the time you spent to download it, let alone read it. 

There are additional problems from the perspective of the author or publisher, including convoluted promotion “packages,” tiered pricing structures, and a maze of sometimes complicated order forms.  

Despite the problems, newsletters are a great way for readers to “discover” books, and a great way for authors and publishers to get their books out there for “discovery.” But obviously, there’s room for improvement. That’s why Kathleen and I started LitNuts: we felt we could do some things a little different—and ideally, better.

What Makes LitNuts Different?

One thing that makes LitNuts different is our focus on indie books. No other newsletter has this focus. While the Big Five publishers (Penguin Random House, Hachette Livre, HarperCollins, Macmillan Publishers, and Simon & Schuster) and their ~250 imprints focus on million-dollar deals and the next big bestseller, indie publishers are nurturing new authors and emphasizing quality and innovation over profits. In addition, books from independent, university, small and micro presses have been professionally edited and designed, ensuring a level of quality. (Note: We will also feature author-published works that rise to that same level of quality and meet our standards.) 

Another thing that makes LitNuts different is that while other newsletters focus on bargains, LitNuts features books at all price points, including lots of new releases and award winners. In addition, we feature collections of short stories, essays and poetry—forms of writing that most newsletters exclude simply because collections don’t usually sell as well as book-length works. 

Finally, we’ve made things easier for authors and publishers: no convoluted “packages” to analyze…no tiered pricing…no waiting to see if the date an author wants for a book promotion is available. It’s a very affordable $25 to be featured in LitNuts, and our simple order form allows you to select the date of your book promotion.

Submitting Books to Promotional Newsletters/Websites

Another thing that can be complicated from the author/publisher perspective is coordinating promotions. A lot of times, an author or publisher is planning a sale and will want to schedule multiple promotions in conjunction with the sale. You can do it yourself, but if you want to run multiple promotions at the same time, be prepared to spend lots of hours at the computer filling out order forms. 

There are some economical services that will handle submission to multiple book promotion newsletters and websites if you are giving away free, promotional copies of an e-book:

  • Taranko1 on Fiverr: Will submit free e-books to multiple promotion services for as little as $5.
  • Book Marketing Tools: Will submit free e-books to multiple services for $29. 
  • Author Marketing Club: No charge, but they don’t submit for you. Instead, they have consolidated on one page links that take you directly to the order forms of multiple promotion services. You still have to submit the books yourself, but having all of the order forms in one place will save you time. 

That said, when it comes to submitting books that are on sale for $0.99 or more, you’re pretty much on your own. Which is fine…you can do it! It just takes time. But I will tell you about a service that I recently came across called Book Rank, which has two options: 1) “We Build It” Promotion Services, in which they select the book promotion newsletters/websites for you, and 2) “Build Your Own” Promotional Services, in which you tell them which venues you want to use. 

I’ve not used Book Rank, and the “We Build It” prices are not cheap. But the “Build Your Own” service looks pretty reasonable. It’s $50 plus 6.9% of the total cost of the sites you want to submit to. You can choose from 33 book promotion newsletters/sites (soon to be 34 when they add LitNuts), and your cost will be $50 + the total cost of doing a promotion with each newsletter/website + 6.9%. That’s not a bad deal. But you need to know which ones to use. 

Which Book Promotion Newsletters to Use? 

There’s a good list of book newsletter/promotion services on Reedsy and an even better one on Kindlepreneur—but be careful. Many newsletters don’t generate enough sales to cover the cost of doing a promotion with them. Here are a few that I recommend trying: Bargain Booksy, Free Kindle Books & Tips, Hot Zippy, Book Basset, eReader News Today, The Frugal Reader, Choosy Bookworm and, of course, LitNuts. Kindle Nation Daily can also generate sales, but they also have some of the most convoluted (and expensive!) promotion options. If you use KND, go for one of the lower-priced promotions. 

And then, of course, there’s BookBub. BookBub is expensive, but it gets results. The catch is that you have to apply to be featured in their newsletter—and they are very selective. They only accept 10-15% of the books that are submitted to them. Some of that has to do with price; BookBub requires that “your book must be discounted to at least 50% off the predominant recent price” and “your book cannot have been offered for a better price in the recent past.” In other words, you essentially need to price your book at the lowest price in its history to have it included in BookBub. 

BookBub looks at everything else, too: book cover, professional reviews, online reader reviews, awards, etc. BookBub doesn’t give a number, but I tell people you’d better have at least 25 reader reviews averaging 4 stars or better on Amazon or Goodreads before submitting to BookBub (some say 50 reader reviews averaging 4.5 stars). 

If you think your book will qualify, submit it to BookBub. Prices range from as little as $113 (to promote a free e-book to a very small audience) to as much as $4,000 (to promote an e-book that costs more than $3 to a large audience). The average price to promote a 99 cent e-book is currently $600. That’s a lot—but you will sell hundreds, if not thousands, of e-books as a result of doing a promotion with Bookbub.

Conclusion

Book promotion newsletters are a dynamic component of the overall book industry. They are a boon to readers, bringing you a wide selection of books to consider for your next read. And they are a boon to authors and publishers, and should be part of any marketing plan. But as with all things, proceed with caution. Readers need to be wary of the disproportionate focus on “bargains” that may not be bargains at all, and authors and publishers need to do their homework on which newsletters actually get results and which ones are just taking your money. 

Ideally, book promotion newsletters bring readers and authors together…providing readers with more choices, and authors and publishers with an economical way to share new titles. And ideally, the book promotions will generate enough sales to at least pay for themselves. But even if an author or publisher just breaks even on a promotion, I think you can regard that as a “win.” You got your book into the hands of more readers, which should lead to more online reader reviews (worth their weight in gold) and more word-of-mouth marketing (the Holy Grail of book publishing).

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About LitNuts

For Readers

So, LitNuts brings you books of short stories, essays, or poetry that many other newsletters refuse to include (because collections don’t sell as well as novels). LitNuts also features new releases and award-winning books that other newsletters exclude because of price. (Many newsletters feature ONLY ebooks priced at $2.99 or less, which is fine – but not all great books are $2.99 or less!).

For authors, you’ll be happy to hear that LitNuts founders Mike O’Mary and Kathleen Meyer handled publishing and marketing for an indie press for more than 10 years. This is important because that means they understand the challenge of getting your books in front of readers. 

For Authors

LitNuts is an affordable vehicle that focuses on indie books and has engaged subscribers. Their goal is to help authors increase their book’s sales rank with online retailers, generate more reader reviews, and create positive word-of-mouth. 

Toward that end, they are building a subscriber base of booklovers who want to hear from indie presses. And we are focused on keeping things simple and flexible for authors. They offer a flat price of $25, so it’s simple. No tiered pricing or convoluted advertising offers to analyze.

At the same time, they give authors the flexibility to advertise short story, essay and poetry collections, to link to your website so book lovers can purchase directly from you, and to set the price of your e-book according to your needs.

About LitNut and owners Kathleen Meyer and her father, Mike O’Mary:

LitNuts is a woman-owned, family-run business founded by Kathleen Meyer and her father, Mike O’Mary, who share a love of literature and reading. Kathleen is an avid reader with 10 years of marketing experience, including with Dream of Things, a small press founded by Mike in 2009. During its 10 year history, Dream of Things published three New York Times Bestsellers, three winners of the Hoffer Award, and one book that has been optioned for a film. Kathleen and Mike drew upon their experience of publishing and marketing books on a shoestring budget to create LitNuts, in the hope of helping other indie presses achieve success. 

Authors and readers, visit LitNuts.com to sign up for their newsletter, where you can hear about incredible books from indie publishers that you wouldn’t hear about anywhere else. 

You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

— Blog Tour Dates

November 2nd @ The Muffin

What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Join us WOW’s blog The Muffin as we celebrate the launch of LitNuts.com. Follow along the tour for excellent guest posts written by the owners, reader their interview with us, and enter a giveaway.

https://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com

November 4th @ Caroline Clemmons

Join Caroline as she features LitNuts and their guest post about what kinds of books readers will find at LitNuts.

https://carolineclemmons.blogspot.com/

November 4th @ Reading in the Wildwood

Visit Megan’s blog where she spotlights LitNuts and tells you all about their book newsletter.

https://readinginthewildwood.com/

November 5th @ Karen Brown Tyson

Join Karen Brown Tyson as she features LitNut’s guest post about how to market yourself as a writer.

https://karenbrowntyson.com/blog/

November 7th @ Michelle Cornish
Visit Michelle Cornish’s blog today and you can read a guest post about a closer look inside the world of publishing. 
https://www.michellecornish.com/blog

November 10th @ Books, Beans and Botany
Blogger Ashley Hubbard shares LitNut’s experiences with some of their favorite authors. A fun guest post you don’t want to miss!
https://booksbeansandbotany.com/

November 11th @ Literary Quicksand

Jolissa will be interviewing the LitNuts founders, and discussing everything you’ll want to know about this amazing new bookish newsletter.

http://www.literaryquicksand.com/

November 14th @ Boots, Shoes, and Fashion

Come by Linda’s blog today where she interviews the owners of LitNuts.com

http://bootsshoesandfashion.com/

November 15th @ Choices

Visit Madeline’s blog today and you can get a deeper dive on LitNuts and what makes it so different from other book newsletters.

http://madelinesharples.com/

November 18th @ Create Write Now

Visit Mari’s blog today where you can read an informative post about how to sell 5,000 books in 6 months.

https://www.createwritenow.com/

November 19th @ Knotty Needle

Join Judy Hudgins as she features LitNuts and everything they have to offer readers and authors.

http://knottyneedle.blogspot.com

November 20th @ Author Anthony Avina

Join Anthony as he features LitNuts and their guest post about the book eNewsletter industry and why you want another newsletter about books.

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

November 21st @ LM Harley’s Blog

Join Laura as she features a few excellent book recommendations from LitNuts.com.

https://lmharleywriter.com/blog.html

November 23rd @ The Frugalista Mom
Join Rozelyn as she shares LitNuts’ guest post with some excellent book recommendations you’ll add to your reading list.
https://thefrugalistamom.com

November 24th @ Editor 911

Join Margo as she features the LitNuts guest post about how to launch your book on a shoestring budget.

https://www.editor-911.com

November 25th @ World of My Imagination

Nicole will be featuring LitNuts on her blog and discussing what readers can expect from this amazing newsletter.

https://worldofmyimagination.com

November 27th @ Deborah Adam’s Blog

Join Deborah today where LitNuts features a collection of writing books that you will want to add to your reading list.

http://www.deborah-adams.com/blog/

November 30th @ Memoir Writer’s Journey

Join Kathleen as she features the LitNuts guest post discussing advice for booklovers on finding good books.

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Posted in Blog Tours, Book Events, Interviews

Interview with Author Margi Preus

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

When I didn’t get the part I wanted in the kindergarten musical, I started making up my own plays so I could star in them. Once I learned how to write, I started writing plays (also in which to star)  My friends and I would put on these plays, no doubt after much revision from the cast, for our unwitting parents (or maybe they were witting, I don’t know). In high school I wrote the homecoming skits, in college I got involved writing for and performing in and eventually directing a touring children’s theater company, and after college I started a professional theater company. By that time I had quit performing and was sticking with writing and directing. I did this for a very, very long time before trying my hand at writing books for young readers. But I think all that theater writing as well as working in an ensemble situation really helped me with novel writing.

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

This particular book is the third in a mystery series, so I would have to say the other two books inspired this one! I couldn’t just leave my protagonist hanging there without finally finding out what happened to her mother! (Also I wanted to know,)

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I guess I think more about raising questions for readers to ponder than imparting a takeaway message. In any case, I certainly don’t think I could put a message into a sentence for you— As Isadora Duncan said, “If I could tell you what it meant, there’d be no point in dancing it.” 

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I’ve always loved mysteries. I like to read them; they are also my favorite kind of audiobooks to listen to, and I am devoted to British (and other) TV mystery series. So naturally I wanted to try my hand at writing them. As Eudora Welty said, “Writing comes out of a superior devotion to reading.” I find this to be true—we crave to write what we like to read. 

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

If I told you who and what I would ask, it would give away too much. So I guess I’d ask Francie’s grandfather just what he did in his younger life that he knows how to break out of jail, surveil people (albeit in a nursing home), and give advice on what to do if you feel you’re being followed.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

No doubt any or all would be helpful if I was better at using social media! I am very impressed with writers who write books and keep up a robust presence on social media, and also seem to navigate it so easily. I also feel I am always lagging behind, in every way possible. Of the sites, I guess I favor Instagram (follow me @margipreus—and you’ll see pictures of my dog in a kayak, bears in our backyard, and the snow we had to shovel off our dock before we took it out of the lake this weekend.) But also follow me on FB (Margi Preus Books or Margi Preus) and Twitter (@MargiPreus) Oh! And my brand new Youtube channel. 

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7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Well, it’s always to READ, isn’t it? Good books are your best teachers. Read like a writer, once for enjoyment, then go back and read again to figure out how the author created tension, suspense, all the emotions, all with just little words on paper. It’s some kind of magic, when you think about it. Try to analyze it as if you’re figuring out a magic trick.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I have a couple of picture books in the pipeline. Not due out til 2022 or beyond. And then I have several things on simmer burners. 2020, as crazy as it was, was my year to put out books: Village of Scoundrels, (Feb.) The Littlest Voyageur (March) and The Silver Box (October). C’est la vie!
Et merci, Anthony Avina!

The Silver Box is available to purchase at Amazon.comBarnes and Noble, and Thrift Books. You can also add this to your reading list on GoodReads.com.

About the Author Margi Preus

Margi Preus is the author of the Newbery Honor book Heart of a Samurai and other books for young readers, including the Minnesota Book Award winning West of the Moon, and the Midwest Booksellers Choice Award book The Clue in the Trees. Her books have won multiple awards, landed on the New York Times bestseller list, been honored as ALA/ALSC Notables, selected as an NPR Backseat Book Club pick, chosen for community reads, and translated into several languages. New titles in 2020 include Village of ScoundrelsThe Littlest Voyageur, and The Silver Box, part of the Enchantment Lake mystery series. 

Back when such things were done, Margi enjoyed traveling, speaking, and visiting schools all over the world. Now mostly at home in Duluth, she likes to ski, hike, canoe, or sit quietly with a book in her lap.  

You can follow her online at: 

https://www.margipreus.com/

Twitter: @MargiPreus 

Instagram: @MargiPreus

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MargiPreusBooks/

Youtube

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— Blog Tour Dates

October 12th @ WOW! Women on Writing

What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Stop by WOW’s blog The Muffin and join us as we celebrate the launch of Margi Preus’s book The Silver Box. Enter to win a copy of her entire Enchantment Lake Mystery series.

https://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/

October 13th @ Mindy McGinnis

Join Mindy McGinnis as she interviews author Margi Preus about how she came up with the idea of The Silver Box and the Enchantment Lake Mystery series.

https://www.mindymcginnis.com/

October 14th @ Bring on Lemons

Visit Crystal’s blog today and read her review of Margi Presu book The Silver Box, book three in The Enchantment Lake series. 

http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

October 14th @ Reviews and Interviews

Join Lisa as she interviews Margi Preus and finds out more about this incredible author!

http://lisahaseltonsreviewsandinterviews.blogspot.com/

October 15th @ Karen Brown Tyson’s Blog

Join author Karen Brown Tyson as she interviews author Margi Preus about her book The Silver Box, book three in The Enchantment Lake middle-grade series.

https://karenbrowntyson.com/blog/

October 16th @ The Frugalista Mom

Visit Rozelyn’s blog today and read her review of The Silver Box, book three in The Enchantment Lake series. You can also enter to win a copy of the entire series!

https://thefrugalistamom.com/

October 17th @ Carrie Sorens’ Blog

Visit Carrie’s blog and read author Margi Preus’ guest post about raising big questions for readers to ponder (that don’t always have an answer).

https://www.cksorens.com/blog

October 18th @ Fiona Ingram’s Blog

Visit Fiona’s blog today and read author Margi Preus’ guest post about her writing house.

http://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com/

October 20th @ The Faerie Review

Join Lily as she reviews The Silver Box, book three in The Enchantment Lake middle-grade series.

http://www.thefaeriereview.com/

October 20th @ Susan Uhlig

Join us today as Susan reviews The Silver Box, book three in The Enchantment Lake middle-grade series.

https://susanuhlig.com/

October 21st @ Lady Unemployed

Visit Nicole’s blog today where you can read Margi Preus’ guest post about how all writing is political and how to weave local or national issues into storytelling.

https://ladyunemployed.com

October 21st @ The Frugalista Mom

Rozelyn goes live on Facebook with author Margi Preus. Join them as the author talks about her wonderful middle-grade mystery series.

https://www.facebook.com/AllergyFriendlyHome/

October 22nd @ The Knotty Needle

Visit Judy’s blog today and read her review of The Silver Box, part of the Enchantment Lake middle-grade series.

https://knottyneedle.blogspot.com

October 24th @ Carrie Sorens’ Blog

Join Carrie again where you can read her review of The Silver Box, part of the Enchantment Lake middle-grade series. You can also win a copy of the series too!

https://www.cksorens.com/blog

October 26th @ Bev. A Baird’s Blog

Visit Bev’s blog today where she shares Margi Preus’ guest post about creating a fictional place from an amalgam of places. A must-read if you are working on your story setting today!

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com

October 28th @ Kathleen Pooler’s Blog

Join us at Kathleen’s blog today and read author Margi Preus’ guest post about what she learned from her dog about writing.

https://krpooler.com

October 29th @ It’s Alanna Jean

Stop by Alanna’s blog today where she shares Margi Preus’ guest post about finding inspiration out the window.

http://itsalannajean.com/

October 30th @ Lori Duff Writes

Join Lori Duff as she reviews Margi Preus’ book The Silver Box, the third book in the Enchantment Lake mystery series. 

https://www.loriduffwrites.com/blog/

November 1st @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Visit Anthony’s blog today and read his review of The Silver Box, book three in The Enchantment Lake series. 

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

November 2nd @ World of My Imagination

Join Nicole as she reviews The Silver Box, book three in The Enchantment Lake series. Also, you can enter to win a copy of the whole series.

https://worldofmyimagination.com

November 3rd @ Jill Sheets’ Blog

Visit Jill’s blog today and read author Margi Preus’ guest post about how not writing is probably still writing. 

http://jillsheets.blogspot.com/

November 4th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Join Anthony’s blog again today and you can read his interview with author Margi Preus.

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

November 4th @ Crafty Moms Share

Join Carrie as she reviews The Silver Box by author Margi Preus, the third book in the Enchantment Lake mystery series.

https://www.craftymomsshare.com/

November 5th @ Bev. A Baird’s Blog

Join Bev as she reviews The Silver Box by author Margi Preus, the third book in the Enchantment Lake mystery series. Don’t miss her review of this charming middle-grade fiction series!

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com

November 7th @ BookMama789

Join us over at Jean’s Instagram page as she reads and reviews The Silver Box by author Margi Preus, part of the Enchantment Lake mystery series. 

https://www.instagram.com/bookmama789/

November 8th @ Shoe’s Stories

Join Linda at her blog today and read her review of The Silver Box by author Margi Preus, part of the Enchantment Lake mystery series. 

https://lschuelerca.wordpress.com/

November 9th @ Always in the Middle

Visit Greg’s blog today and read his review of The Silver Box by author Margi Preus. You’ll love hearing about this middle-grade mystery series.

https://gpattridge.com/

November 10th @ Deborah-Zenha Adam’s Blog

Visit Deborah’s blog today and read author Margi Preus’ guest post about the magic ball of yarn and using folk and fairy tales as a guide in story writing.

http://www.deborah-adams.com/dzas-blog/

November 11th @ Bookapotamus

Join Kate as she reviews The Enchantment Lake mystery series, part of The Silver Box blog tour. You’ll love hearing about this middle-grade mystery! 

https://bookapotamusblog.wordpress.com/

November 13th @ Choices

Visit Madeline’s blog today and read author Margi Preus guest post about how research can be a cure for writer’s block.

http://madelinesharples.com/

November 14th @ Reading in the Wildwood

Visit Megan’s blog today she reviews The Enchantment Lake mystery series, part of The Silver Box blog tour. You’ll love hearing about this middle-grade mystery! 

https://readinginthewildwood.com/

November 15th @ Shoe’s Stories

Visit Linda’s blog again today where she shares author Margi Preus’ guest post about whether or not you should know the ending before you start writing.

https://lschuelerca.wordpress.com/

Posted in Blog Tours, Book Events, reviews

The Silver Box: An Enchantment Lake Mystery (Northwoods #3) by Margi Preus Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young girl in possession of a mysterious box finds herself in the midst of a series of investigations, with all signs pointing to the box, and enemies closing in who are willing to do whatever it takes to get it back in author Margi Preus’s “The Silver Box: An Enchantment Lake Mystery”, the third in the Northwoods series. 

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The Synopsis

In the final Enchantment Lake mystery, Francie’s search for the truth about her mother—and herself—plunges her into danger during a North Woods winter

When she wakes in her aunts’ cold cabin on the shore of Enchantment Lake, Francie remembers: everything about her life has changed. Or is about to. Or just might. Everything depends on the small, engraved silver box that she now possesses—if only she can follow its cryptic clues to the whereabouts of her missing mother and understand, finally, just maybe, the truth about who she really is. 

Francie, it turns out, has a lot to learn, and this time the lessons could be deadly. Her search for answers takes her and her best friends Raven and Jay as far afield as an abandoned ranch in Arizona and as close to home as a sketchy plant collector’s conservatory and a musty old museum where shadows lurk around every display case. At the heart of it all is a crime that touches her own adopted North Woods: thieves dig up fragile lady’s slippers, peel bark from birches, strip moss off trees, cut down entire forests of saplings to sell for home décor. But Francie is up against no ordinary plant theft. One ominous clue after another reveal that she possesses something so rare and so valuable that some people are willing to do anything to get it. When Francie’s investigation leads her into the treacherously cold and snowy North Woods, she finds out  that she too is being pursued.

The Review

This was a fantastic read! A modern-day Nancy Drew style heroine takes center stage as Francie takes readers on a personal journey like never before. The mystery surrounding her mother’s disappearance all those years ago finally comes full circle, and the payoff for fans of the series is well worth the wait. Yet the great thing about the way the author writes is that readers who are new to the series are able to jump right into the action. While some of the finer details surrounding Francie’s backstory may be better understood by reading the first two books, the mystery of the Silver Box gives readers plenty of narratives to become engaged in.

The author does a wonderful job of not only setting the tone throughout this read of mystery and suspense but of crafting memorable and well-rounded character arcs for Francie and her friends. Her youthful determination and growth throughout the series is evident as this book comes to a close, and gives young readers someone to relate to and aspire to all at once. 

The Verdict

An evenly-paced, mystery-driven narrative, author Margi Preus’s “The Silver Box” is a must-read YA adventure. The twists and turns the story takes readers and the cast of characters on are a perfect fit for the genre and give readers a satisfying and well-rounded journey overall. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

The Silver Box is available to purchase at Amazon.comBarnes and Noble, and Thrift Books. You can also add this to your reading list on GoodReads.com.

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About the Author Margi Preus

Margi Preus is the author of the Newbery Honor book Heart of a Samurai and other books for young readers, including the Minnesota Book Award winning West of the Moon, and the Midwest Booksellers Choice Award book The Clue in the Trees. Her books have won multiple awards, landed on the New York Times bestseller list, been honored as ALA/ALSC Notables, selected as an NPR Backseat Book Club pick, chosen for community reads, and translated into several languages. New titles in 2020 include Village of ScoundrelsThe Littlest Voyageur, and The Silver Box, part of the Enchantment Lake mystery series. 

Back when such things were done, Margi enjoyed traveling, speaking, and visiting schools all over the world. Now mostly at home in Duluth, she likes to ski, hike, canoe, or sit quietly with a book in her lap.  

You can follow her online at: 

https://www.margipreus.com/

Twitter: @MargiPreus 

Instagram: @MargiPreus

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MargiPreusBooks/

Youtube

— Blog Tour Dates

October 12th @ WOW! Women on Writing

What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Stop by WOW’s blog The Muffin and join us as we celebrate the launch of Margi Preus’s book The Silver Box. Enter to win a copy of her entire Enchantment Lake Mystery series.

https://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/

October 13th @ Mindy McGinnis

Join Mindy McGinnis as she interviews author Margi Preus about how she came up with the idea of The Silver Box and the Enchantment Lake Mystery series.

https://www.mindymcginnis.com/

October 14th @ Bring on Lemons

Visit Crystal’s blog today and read her review of Margi Presu book The Silver Box, book three in The Enchantment Lake series. 

http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

October 14th @ Reviews and Interviews

Join Lisa as she interviews Margi Preus and finds out more about this incredible author!

http://lisahaseltonsreviewsandinterviews.blogspot.com/

October 15th @ Karen Brown Tyson’s Blog

Join author Karen Brown Tyson as she interviews author Margi Preus about her book The Silver Box, book three in The Enchantment Lake middle-grade series.

https://karenbrowntyson.com/blog/

October 16th @ The Frugalista Mom

Visit Rozelyn’s blog today and read her review of The Silver Box, book three in The Enchantment Lake series. You can also enter to win a copy of the entire series!

https://thefrugalistamom.com/

October 17th @ Carrie Sorens’ Blog

Visit Carrie’s blog and read author Margi Preus’ guest post about raising big questions for readers to ponder (that don’t always have an answer).

https://www.cksorens.com/blog

October 18th @ Fiona Ingram’s Blog

Visit Fiona’s blog today and read author Margi Preus’ guest post about her writing house.

http://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com/

October 20th @ The Faerie Review

Join Lily as she reviews The Silver Box, book three in The Enchantment Lake middle-grade series.

http://www.thefaeriereview.com/

October 20th @ Susan Uhlig

Join us today as Susan reviews The Silver Box, book three in The Enchantment Lake middle-grade series.

https://susanuhlig.com/

October 21st @ Lady Unemployed

Visit Nicole’s blog today where you can read Margi Preus’ guest post about how all writing is political and how to weave local or national issues into storytelling.

https://ladyunemployed.com

October 21st @ The Frugalista Mom

Rozelyn goes live on Facebook with author Margi Preus. Join them as the author talks about her wonderful middle-grade mystery series.

https://www.facebook.com/AllergyFriendlyHome/

October 22nd @ The Knotty Needle

Visit Judy’s blog today and read her review of The Silver Box, part of the Enchantment Lake middle-grade series.

https://knottyneedle.blogspot.com

October 24th @ Carrie Sorens’ Blog

Join Carrie again where you can read her review of The Silver Box, part of the Enchantment Lake middle-grade series. You can also win a copy of the series too!

https://www.cksorens.com/blog

October 26th @ Bev. A Baird’s Blog

Visit Bev’s blog today where she shares Margi Preus’ guest post about creating a fictional place from an amalgam of places. A must-read if you are working on your story setting today!

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com

October 28th @ Kathleen Pooler’s Blog

Join us at Kathleen’s blog today and read author Margi Preus’ guest post about what she learned from her dog about writing.

October 29th @ It’s Alanna Jean

Stop by Alanna’s blog today where she shares Margi Preus’ guest post about finding inspiration out the window.

http://itsalannajean.com/

October 30th @ Lori Duff Writes

Join Lori Duff as she reviews Margi Preus’ book The Silver Box, the third book in the Enchantment Lake mystery series. 

https://www.loriduffwrites.com/blog/

November 1st @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Visit Anthony’s blog today and read his review of The Silver Box, book three in The Enchantment Lake series. 

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

November 2nd @ World of My Imagination

Join Nicole as she reviews The Silver Box, book three in The Enchantment Lake series. Also, you can enter to win a copy of the whole series.

https://worldofmyimagination.com

November 3rd @ Jill Sheets’ Blog

Visit Jill’s blog today and read author Margi Preus’ guest post about how not writing is probably still writing. 

http://jillsheets.blogspot.com/

November 4th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Join Anthony’s blog again today and you can read his interview with author Margi Preus.

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

November 4th @ Crafty Moms Share

Join Carrie as she reviews The Silver Box by author Margi Preus, the third book in the Enchantment Lake mystery series.

https://www.craftymomsshare.com/

November 5th @ Bev. A Baird’s Blog

Join Bev as she reviews The Silver Box by author Margi Preus, the third book in the Enchantment Lake mystery series. Don’t miss her review of this charming middle-grade fiction series!

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com

November 7th @ BookMama789

Join us over at Jean’s Instagram page as she reads and reviews The Silver Box by author Margi Preus, part of the Enchantment Lake mystery series. 

https://www.instagram.com/bookmama789/

November 8th @ Shoe’s Stories

Join Linda at her blog today and read her review of The Silver Box by author Margi Preus, part of the Enchantment Lake mystery series. 

https://lschuelerca.wordpress.com/

November 9th @ Always in the Middle

Visit Greg’s blog today and read his review of The Silver Box by author Margi Preus. You’ll love hearing about this middle-grade mystery series.

https://gpattridge.com/

November 10th @ Deborah-Zenha Adam’s Blog

Visit Deborah’s blog today and read author Margi Preus’ guest post about the magic ball of yarn and using folk and fairy tales as a guide in story writing.

http://www.deborah-adams.com/dzas-blog/

November 11th @ Bookapotamus

Join Kate as she reviews The Enchantment Lake mystery series, part of The Silver Box blog tour. You’ll love hearing about this middle-grade mystery! 

https://bookapotamusblog.wordpress.com/

November 13th @ Choices

Visit Madeline’s blog today and read author Margi Preus guest post about how research can be a cure for writer’s block.

http://madelinesharples.com/

November 14th @ Reading in the Wildwood

Visit Megan’s blog today she reviews The Enchantment Lake mystery series, part of The Silver Box blog tour. You’ll love hearing about this middle-grade mystery! 

https://readinginthewildwood.com/

November 15th @ Shoe’s Stories

Visit Linda’s blog again today where she shares author Margi Preus’ guest post about whether or not you should know the ending before you start writing.

https://lschuelerca.wordpress.com/

Posted in Blog Tours, Book Events, reviews

The Halves of Us by Sydney Paige Richardson Audiobook Tour and Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Twin sisters find themselves tied to family secrets and dangerous prophecies as the fate of their world hangs in the balance in author Sydney Paige Richardson’s “The Halves of Us”, the first in the Halves of Us Trilogy. 

The Synopsis

Twin Sisters: one destined to rule, one cursed to destroy.

Some say blood is thicker than water. But for twin sisters, Adie and Aura, their connection runs even deeper than blood.

After investigating a surprise attack carried out by dark souls controlled by the Wicked Willow, an evil  residing in a neighboring region, Aura uncovers a family secret: she is the fulfillment of a curse placed upon her family centuries ago.

While Aura is destined to destroy their planet, Thindoral, Adie is fated to follow in their mother’s footsteps and become Ruler, but even Adie’s path comes with revelations. Dangerous premonitions plague her dreams, all depicting Thindoral’s demise at the hand of her sister.

As darkness takes control of her mind, Aura must determine whether defying fate and time is the choice that will seal her destruction, or if self-sacrifice will save all she holds dear. Meanwhile, Adie is faced with an impossible decision: save her sister, or protect their world?

The Review

A beautifully written and spoken audiobook, author Sydney Paige Richardson has done a marvelous job crafting a YA fantasy world readers will want to immediately dive into. The concept of twin sisters and each having a dangerous journey with a deadly future looming over them both gave readers a strong relationship to hang onto from the get-go. 

Each girl’s journey to discovering their fate and destiny and the decisions they have to make to protect the world around them was a magnificent example of strong character growth. The author develops a powerful and easily-engaging mythology that has become the cornerstone of the YA Fantasy genre. Accompanied by a beautifully narrated audiobook that brought the protagonists to life perfectly, this book has done a marvelous job of drawing readers into the narrative.

The Verdict

A beautifully-written YA Fantasy world filled with action, suspense and dark secrets, author Sydney Paige Richardson’s “The Halves of Us” is a must-read. With a unique two protagonists, emotionally-impactful relationships that grow and change throughout the narrative, and a lovely narration that captures the magic and heart of the book, be sure to grab your copies of this important read today!

Rating: 10/10

Buy on 

AmazonAudible

About the Author: Sydney Paige Richardson

Sydney wrote her first book, Girls, in the second grade, about her and her best friends in college [because college was super cool when you were 8]. They went on treasure hunts and fought bad guys with their super powers. Her second-grade teacher was so impressed with her, she laminated a cover and bound it. That will forever be the moment Sydney dreamed of holding a copy of her own book and placing it on a shelf.

Now all grown up, Sydney’s head still stays in the fantasy world, fashioning worlds where the power of a star can be harnessed and used for time travel, flying is just as easy as walking here on earth – and her best friends are fairies. Her characters are dark and lost individuals, but your love for them will grow when you realize not everything is black and white.

WebsiteTwitterFacebookGoodreadsInstagram

About the Narrator: Rocky Taylor

Rocky hails from Washington State and frequently haunts the Oregon coast. She holds a BA from The Evergreen State College and has worked as a stagehand since 2008.  After years of bringing stories to life behind the scenes she has transitioned from backstage to behind the mic. An avid reader, traveler, and lover of humanity, she brings all of that to the world of story-telling. 

When not in her studio, she volunteers as a community mediator, loves partner dancing and like all Pacific Northwesterners, lives for beautiful summer days.

WebsiteInstagram

Guest Post by Author Sydney Paige Richardson

  1. Favorite book covers

I almost feel like it’s cliché now to say don’t judge a book by its cover. Because we do. We can’t deny it. The literary world is filled with cover reveals and bookstagram features. Covers are really just an extension of the story – so in my opinion, it’s just as important. 

Example – you’re scrolling through Instagram and see an amazing bookstagram shot. It’s got the cover, surrounded by flickering black candles, bottled herbs, dried flowers, and a skull. The cover is just as creepy with twisted font with crimson light behind it – yeah I am going to stop, admire, like/heart, and read the premise – probably even add to my Goodreads or pre-order. 

What book covers have made me do this? Check out some of them below and let us know which cover lures you in.

This is book two in The Ascent series, and while the cover for book one (Iniquity) was amazing too – this cover was STUNNING. The yellow mixed with the blue, the twisted limbs around her, her hair floating – I am just so intrigued! The story was just as great, dark and keeping me on my toes. You can find book one, here. And you can find Adversity, here

Maybe I am a little biased with this cover, as I know the author and the publishing house but holy crap this cover is amazing. The colors, the chaos – it drew me in and this book did not disappoint. You can find it here

Clare at Sixteen (Clare Bleecker Book 1) by [Don Roff]

I can’t watch scary movies – but I can read the hell out of scary books. *shrugs* And this cover gave me chills, which made me want to snatch it right up. It’s not out until March 2021, but you can pre-order here

Leigh Bardugo is queen. And this cover is everything. Need I say more? 

When I first saw this cover, I knew I wanted it in my hands, on my shelf, and to read every word inside. It’s crazy when a cover does that. And this story – Sugalski’s storytelling ability– it’s everything. You can get it here

This one I purchased recently and is on my to be read stack by my bed. It caught me off guard for a minute – there are just a few colors: blue, white, black (maybe some grey). But the drawing was detailed, yet whimsical. The title seemed vague, but The Mirror Visitor verbiage got me. I have an obsession with mirrors in stories– they fascinate me. And something in me told me to snatch it up. I haven’t read it yet – but the cover remains on my mind. That just goes to show you how covers can catch someone’s eye. 

I don’t think I could have made this list without including Cinder. The cover is so classic to me, but at the same time brings something new to the table. Whoever made this cover is brilliant to merge those two together for this retelling. 

Okay, maybe I am a little biased on this one. But I can’t make this list without it. The Halves of Us is my first novel – and includes my pictures on the cover. I am a fine art photographer (you can see more of my work on Instagram and my website), and I sent these photos off to my publisher, not thinking they would use them for the cover, but maybe for advertisement. But when I got the cover and saw them on there – it was everything. Everything. Shayne at the Parliament House is an amazing book designer and I will forever be grateful she used my photos and created this STUNNING cover. 

I feel like I could’ve added about ten more covers to this – but I think this list covers some of my always favorites, some most recent favorites, and my little book baby, The Halves of Us. Please check out the audiobook – Rocky Taylor did an amazing job bringing Adie and Aura’s story to life. 

Author: Sydney Paige Richardson

Narrator: Rocky Taylor

Length: 11 hours 37 minutes

Series: The Halves of Us Trilogy, Book 1

Publisher: The Parliament House

Released: Sep. 3, 2020

Genre: YA Fantasy

Continue reading “The Halves of Us by Sydney Paige Richardson Audiobook Tour and Review”
Posted in Blog Tours, Book Events, reviews

Out of No Way: Madam CJ Walker & A’Lelia Walker A Poetic Drama By Roje Augustin Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A breathtaking and creative look into one of America’s first self-made female millionaires during a time of great and violent racial tension comes to life throughout beautiful poetry in author Roje Augustin’s “Out of No Way”. 

The Synopsis

Author, producer, and emerging poet Roj Augustin has written a groundbreaking debut collection of dramatic poems about hair care entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker and her daughter, A’Lelia. Roj’s singular and accomplished work is presented through the intimate lens of the mother-daughter relationship via different poetic forms – from lyric to haiku, blackout to narrative. (One poem takes its inspiration from Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven.) Written in tribute to Walker, Out of No Way deftly and beautifully explores themes of race, motherhood, sacrifice, beauty, and the meaning of success in Jim Crow America. 

The Review

The author brilliantly captures the lives of mother and daughter and those in their lives with this work of art. The poetry is moving and inspiring, pulling forth everything from everyday discussion between a mother and daughter to the pain of witnessing the loss of life during such a violent and turbulent era of racial injustice and the strain it all has on these two women’s relationships. 

The stand-out to me as a reader in this book was not just the story the author told using poetry, but the poetry itself. The author does a marvelous job of effortlessly integrating various forms of poetry, from haiku and sonnets to nursery rhymes and villanelle, giving each chapter of the women’s lives a different type of poetry to embody that moment. It felt natural and as raw as the emotions these moments invoked, making this book truly shine. 

The Verdict

Breathtaking, often heartbreaking and yet a fast-paced and eloquent read, author Roje Augustin’s “Out of No Way” is a majestic book of poetry and biographical fiction read that is not to be missed. Readers will be enthralled with the author’s unique voice within this poetry while the characters and people involved will keep the reader invested entirely. If you haven’t be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Rojé Augustin is a native New Yorker who grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Her first novel, The Unraveling of Bebe Jones, won the 2013 National Indie Excellence Award in African American fiction.  She wrote the novel while living in London and Sydney as a stay-at-home-mom.  Rojé continues to work as a producer while also writing in her spare time.  She currently lives in Sydney with her husband and two daughters.

Elegy for my Mother

Why Our Hair is not Straight:

The Lost Letters:

Graves & Thrones:

Blog Tour Schedule:

Sept. 9: The Book Connection (Review)
Sept. 16: Anthony Avina Blog (Guest Post)
Sept. 18: Anthony Avina Blog (Review)
Sept. 23: Impressions in Ink (Review)
Sept. 24: The Book Lover’s Boudoir (Review)
Sept. 29 Diary of an Eccentric (Guest Post)
Oct. 5: Jorie Loves A Story (Interview)
Oct. 8: Everything Distils into Reading (Review)
Oct. 14: Suko’s Notebook (Review)
Oct. 20: True Book Addict (Guest Post)
Oct. 26: CelticLady’s Reviews (Review)
Oct. 29: True Book Addict (Review)

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The Orphan of Cemetery Hill by Hester Fox Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young woman born with a unique gift to commune with the dead finds herself in the middle of a dastardly plot involving grave robberies and murder in author Hester Fox’s “The Orphan of Cemetery Hill”. 

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The Synopsis

The dead won’t bother you if you don’t give them permission.

Boston, 1844.


Tabby has a peculiar gift: she can communicate with the recently departed. It makes her special, but it also makes her dangerous.

As an orphaned child, she fled with her sister, Alice, from their charlatan aunt Bellefonte, who wanted only to exploit Tabby’s gift so she could profit from the recent craze for seances.

Now a young woman and tragically separated from Alice, Tabby works with her adopted father, Eli, the kind caretaker of a large Boston cemetery. When a series of macabre grave robberies begins to plague the city, Tabby is ensnared in a deadly plot by the perpetrators, known only as the “Resurrection Men.”

In the end, Tabby’s gift will either save both her and the cemetery—or bring about her own destruction.

The Review

What a beautiful written Gothic-Horror novel. The author wonderfully captures the early to mid-19th century era of Boston and brings readers into the narrative with ease. Tabby is a sympathetic and strong protagonist and the vivid imagery used to showcase to readers what her ability is like makes this a truly astounding read.

The narrative is served best by the amazing character development and the setting of this story. The reader is instantly transported into this gothic world and the eerie atmosphere and storyline felt like an homage to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in a lot of ways, capturing the obsession of man’s understanding of science and conquering nature.

The Verdict

The perfect way to start off the beginning of the scary/horror season, author Hester Fox’s “The Orphan of Cemetery Hill” is a must-read gothic horror like no other. The amazing characters and the many twists and turns they take as the mystery of these “Resurrection Men” deepens will keep readers on the edge of their seat. With a fantastic ending and an evenly-paced narrative, be sure to grab your copy of this phenomenal novel today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Hester Fox is a full-time writer and mother, with a background in museum work and historical archaeology. Most weekends you can find Hester exploring one of the many historic cemeteries in the area, browsing bookshops, or enjoying a seasonal latte while writing at a café. She lives outside of Boston with her husband and their son.

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Author Website: http://hesterfox.com/

TWITTER: @HesterBFox

Insta: @trotfoxwrite

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17440931.Hester_Fox

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Book Excerpt

1

IN WHICH WE MEET OUR YOUNG HEROINE.

Boston, 1844

Tabby’s legs ached and the wind had long since snatched her flimsy bonnet away, but she kept running through the night, her thin leather shoes pounding the cobbled Boston streets. She didn’t know where she was going, only that she had to get somewhere safe, somewhere away from the bustling theaters and crowds of the city. Every time someone shouted at her to watch where she was going, or ask if she was lost, she was sure that they were one of her aunt and uncle’s friends. Would they drag her kicking and screaming back to Amherst? Tabby shuddered. She wouldn’t go back. She couldn’t. 

Her weary feet carried her up a hill lined with narrow houses, and gradually she left behind the streets choked with theatergoers and artificially brightened with gas lamps. After cresting the hill, she paused just long enough to catch her breath and survey her unfamiliar surroundings. 

It was quieter here, the only sounds the groaning of ships in the harbor and the distant call of a fruit hawker trying to sell off the last of the day’s soft apples. Going back down into the heart of the city wasn’t an option, yet a wrought-iron gate blocked her way any farther, forbidding pikes piercing the night sky. Pale headstones glowed faintly in the moonlight beyond the gate. A cemetery. 

Tabby stood teetering, her heart still pounding. Dry weeds rustled in the thin night breeze, whispering what might have been a welcome, or a warning. Behind her was the land of the living with house windows glowing smugly yellow, the promise of families tucked safe inside. In front of her lay the land of the dead. One of those worlds was as familiar to her as the back of her hand, the other was only a distant fairy tale. Taking a deep breath, she shimmied through the gap in the gate. 

She waded through the overgrown grass and weeds, thorny branches snagging at her thin dimity dress and scratching her. Panic gripped her as she heard the hem tear clean away; what would Aunt Bellefonte say if she found that Tabby had ruined her only frock? Would she smack her across her cheek? Would Uncle lock her in the little cupboard in the eaves? Aunt Bellefonte isn’t here. You’re safe, she reminded herself. As she pulled away to free herself, her foot caught in a tangle of roots in a sunken grave bed and she went sprawling into the dirt. Her lip wobbled and tears threatened to overflow. She was almost twelve years old, yet she felt as small and adrift as the day she’d learned that her parents had perished in a carriage accident and would never step through the front door again.

 This wasn’t how her first day of freedom was supposed to be. Her sister, Alice, had planned their escape from Amherst last week, promising Tabby that they would get a little room in a boarding house in the city. Alice would get a job at a laundry and Tabby would take in mending to contribute to their room and board. They would be their own little family, and they would put behind them the trauma that their aunt and uncle had wrought, making a new life for themselves. That had been the plan, anyway. 

When she and Alice had arrived in the city earlier that day, her older sister had sat her down on the steps of a church and told her to wait while she went and inquired about lodgings. Tabby had dutifully waited for what had felt like hours, but Alice never returned. The September evening had turned dark and cold, and Tabby had resolved to simply wrap her shawl tighter and wait. But then a man with red-rimmed eyes and a foul-smelling old coat had stumbled up the steps, heading right toward her. Tabby had taken one look at him and bolted, sure that he had dark designs on her. She had soon become lost and, in a city jumbled with old churches, hadn’t been able to find the right one again. 

Another thorn snagged her, pricking her finger and drawing blood. She should have taken shelter in the church; at least then she would have a roof over her head. At least then Alice would know where to find her when she came back. If she came back. 

Tabby stopped short. Toward the back of the cemetery, amongst the crooked graves of Revolutionary heroes, stood a row of crypts built into the earth. Most of them were sealed up with iron doors and bolts, but one had a gate that stood just enough ajar for a small, malnourished girl to wriggle through. 

Holding her breath against the damp musk, Tabby plunged inside. Without any sort of light, she had to painstakingly feel her way down the crude stone steps. Lower into the earth she descended until she reached the burial chamber.

 Don’t invite them in. As she groped around in the dark for a resting place, Tabby tried to remember what her mother had always told her. Memories of her mother were few and far between, but her words concerning Tabby’s ability remained as sharp in her mind as words etched with a diamond upon glass. The dead won’t bother you if you don’t give them permission, if you don’t make yourself a willing receptacle for their messages. At least, that was how it was supposed to work. 

The only other thing she had learned regarding her gift was that she should never, ever tell anyone of it, and the lesson had been a hard one. She couldn’t have been more than six, because her parents had still been alive and had sent her out to the orchard to collect the fallen apples for cider. Their neighbor, little Beth Bunn, had been there, picking wild asters, but she hadn’t been alone; there was a little boy Tabby had never seen before, watching the girls with serious eyes from a branch in an apple tree. Tabby had asked Beth who he was, but Beth insisted she didn’t know what Tabby was talking about. Certain that Beth was playing some sort of trick on her, Tabby grew upset and nearly started crying as she described the little boy with blond hair and big green eyes. “Oh,” Beth said, looking at her askance. “Do you mean to say you see Ollie Pickett? He used to live here, but he’s been dead for three years.” That was how Tabby learned that not everyone saw the people she saw around her. A week later she had been playing in the churchyard and noticed that all the other children were clustered at the far end, whispering and pointing at her. “Curious Tabby,” they had called her. And that was how Tabby learned that she could never tell a soul about her strange and frightening ability. 

But even in a place so filled with death, the dead did not bother Tabby that night. With a dirt floor for her bed and the skittering of insects for her lullaby, Tabby pulled her knees up to her chest and allowed the tears she’d held in all day to finally pour out. She was lost, scared, and without her sister, utterly alone in the world.

Excerpted from The Orphan of Cemetery Hill by Hester Fox Copyright © Tess Fedore. Published by Graydon House Books.